TURKISH PRESIDENT VETOES EU-INSPIRED LAW ON NON-MUSLIM PROPERTIES

Agence France Presse -- English
November 29, 2006 Wednesday 3:49 PM GMT

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer on Wednesday sent back
to parliament for reconsideration a bill aimed at improving the
property rights of Turkey's tiny Christian and Jewish communities,
a key European Union demand.

Sezer's veto coincided with a European Commission recommendation to
suspend membership talks with Turkey in several areas as a result of
a trade row over Cyprus.

Christian minority rights are expected to figure high on the agenda
of talks between Pope Benedict XVI, currently on a visit to Turkey,
and community representatives he will meet in Istanbul late Wednesday
and Thursday.

Sezer objected to nine provisions in the overhauled Foundations Law,
which, he said, give foundations broad economic rights that go beyond
the objective of charity work.

"It is not possible to define foundations... as economic actors
or models of political and social organization or non-governmental
organizations," he said.

The main aim of the bill passed by parliament in early November was
to pave the way for mainly Greek, Armenian and Jewish foundations to
recover properties seized by the state since 1974 under a controversial
court ruling.

Community representatives welcomed the bill, but said it fell short
of fully meeting their expectations.

The legislation also aimed to loosen tight state control over all
foundations in the country and broadening their rights on property
and administration.