Aug 31 2012

Minority foundations are request extra time for the return of their
properties, saying that the one year period given to minorities
to demand the return of their property is not long enough due to
bureaucratic obstacles.

The one year period given to minority foundations for the return of
their property has expired, but complaints are still ongoing. The
council members of various minority foundations have underlined that
the process has gone well for a year, but that a one year period is
not enough for them to receive back their property and extra time
is needed.

Speaking to the Hurriyet Daily News, Harutyun Şanlı, a member of the
coordination committee of the Armenian Foundations Solidarity Platform,
or VADIP, said they had met Foundations General Director Adnan Ertem
in early August.

"Adnan Ertem said we had 600 properties, but were not working hard
enough to take them back.

Foundation heads are all amateurs. A serious examination is required
to reveal properties. Some of our lands are occupied, some had
highways constructed on them. Such cases must be detected," Şanlı
said. "However, bureaucratic procedures and the indifference of some
foundation heads make it difficult. We have neither sufficient data
nor the 1936 declaration."

Following the Lausanne Treaty, a law was passed in 1936 that suggested
the recording of all minority foundations. Apart from the property
recorded in the declaration, the foundations were prevented from
obtaining new properties. With the Foundations Law enacted by the
Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in 2008, it became
possible for properties belonging to minorities to be returned to them.

"Extra time should be given, and the elections [of foundation heads]
should be open to the whole of Istanbul. New legislation should be
introduced to prevent the misuse of authority, so that foundation
heads will not just act as they wish," Şanlı said.

Within the one-year period, Armenian Foundations received some of
their most important foundations back in Istanbul, including the
historic Surp Hac Tıbrevank High School in the Uskudar district,
the Selamet Han in Eminonu, which belongs to the Yedikule Surp Pırgic
Hospital-Foundation in Zeytinburnu.

Controversial Mor Gabriel case

Meanwhile, the Mor Gabriel Monastery in the Midyat district of the
southeastern province of Mardin - one of the most important monasteries
in the Syriac world - has been engaged in a lawsuit since 2008.

The head of the Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation Kuryakos Ergun said
the time limit was too short and that during the one year period given
none of the properties belonging to foundations in the southeastern
region had been re-possessed.

"The southeastern region was declared an emergency region because of
terrorism. In 2008, the Land Registry Cadastre Office registered all
of our property under their name and they also sued us. For trivial
reasons, the Supreme Court of Appeals considered us squatters on
our own property, and our appeal to take back one of our lands was
suspended for three months," Ergun said.

Hagia Dimitrios Church Foundation Head Dimitri Zotos said they
experienced great difficulty in obtaining the land title records, and
were trapped in the obstacles of bureaucracy. "We could not receive
back even one of our foundations. We had taken this for granted,
but each foundation has a different condition," Zotos said.

From: A. Papazian