Patriarch Says New Laws Don’t Address Concerns

ISTANBUL(Marmara)–The January 3 edition of Radikal newspaper published an article regarding reforms in laws governing minorities living in Turkey–with an emphasis on provisions for ethnic communities to own assets and land.

The newspaper specifically highlighted concerns raised by the Armenian Patriarch Archbishop Mesrob Mutafyan–who found the reform process encouraging–especially as it pertained to the provision–which stipulates that any property purchased after 1936 cannot be owned by a minority community.

However–Mutafyan noted that the reforms were overshadowed by stipulations that the legalization of assets purchased following 1936 would be determined by the internal and foreign ministries–as well as leaders of the said minority communities. Mutafyan stressed that the reforms do not contain language–which clearly describes the process.

The post-1936 provision has been a contentious issues in Turkey–as leaders of the Armenian community–especially the Patriarch have waged a legal battle challenging the existing law.

As Turkey is reforming most of its laws to correspond with European Union standards–it has recognized that a verdict issued by a court regarding the 1936 provision is illegal. However–until a resolution is found on this matter–the Turkish government–one-by-one–has confiscated property–which has enormous value to the Armenian community there.

Based on legal reform drafts issued by the state ministry in Turkey–all minority-owned property will be placed under state control.

The law–however–does not stipulate that based on what criteria will the internal and foreign ministries determine the legalization of the said properties.

Another issue not addressed in the new reforms is whether minority communities can acquire new properties and assets–after the dispute over the existing assets is settled.

The current reforms stipulate that based on provisions of the Lausanne Treaty–minorities will be able to acquire new property–in order to provide relief–educational and social services as stipulated in the Lausanne treaty.

The patriarch told Radikal that the current reform drafts are far from acceptable for the Armenian community.

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