Saturday, November 27, 2010

Foreign Ministry Asks for Re-registration of Orthodox Orphanage to Patriarchate

Foreign Ministry asks for re-registration of Orthodox orphanage to patriarchate

26 November 2010, Friday / İLYAS KOÇ, İSTANBUL
The Foreign Ministry has asked the Ministry of Justice to re-register the historic Büyükada Orthodox Orphanage to the İstanbul-based Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in one of its recent correspondence.

The Foreign Ministry cited an earlier decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to re-register the orphanage to the patriarchate. The court had also told Ankara to pay 26,000 euros in total to the patriarchate for both non-pecuniary damages and costs and expenses. The ministry said the sum has not yet been paid.

The orphanage, one of the largest wooden buildings in the world, was bought by the patriarchate in 1902 and its management was handed over to the Büyükada Greek Orphanage Foundation in 1903. The title deed of the orphanage has been under the control of the General Directorate for Foundations since 1997 and was registered as a property of the Büyükada Greek Orphanage Foundation by the directorate through a court order dated 2004. While the Turkish government argued that the property was sold to the patriarchate at the time by the Şehzade Sultan Mehmet Foundation for the building of an orphanage -- and thus the property rightfully belonged to the Büyükada Greek Orphanage Foundation -- the patriarchate insisted that the property had been registered to the patriarchate in Ottoman Empire archives and was also registered in the land office of the Turkish Republic in 1929, following the establishment of the republic in 1923.

Cem Murat Sofuoğlu, the lawyer for the patriarchate, said it was the first time Turkey agreed to put an ECtHR decision through internal judicial bodies. “It is out of the question that Turkey’s decision is linked to the opinions coming from the two ministries and the General Directorate for Foundations. Turkey made a nice gesture by showing that it respects international conventions and pledges,” he noted.

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