From Forum 18:
Religious communities in Turkey have seen no significant progress in 2009 in resolving the long-standing property problems faced by communities as diverse as Alevi Muslims, Catholics, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Greek Orthodox, Protestants, and the Syrian Orthodox Church.
Several legal cases in 2009 highlight the difficulties religious minority communities face in regaining or retaining their property. The Mor Gabriel Syrian Orthodox Monastery in Mardin in eastern Turkey is facing long-running legal cases aiming to deprive it of some its lands. Despite appeals by Pope Benedict XVI, the Turkish government has refused to hand back for Christian worship St Paul’s Church in Tarsus, a significant historical site for Christians and place of pilgrimage where worship has been curtailed since summer 2009. And victories by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Greek Orthodox foundations in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg have not achieved the recovery of confiscated communal property. Nor has the Patriarchate’s long-closed Halki seminary been allowed to reopen.
Read “Turkey: No progress on religious property in 2009″ by Otmar Oehring, Head of the Human Rights Office of Missio.
Also see “Turkey: An ally no more” by Daniel Pipes on the Jerusalem Post.
As Barry Rubin notes, “the Turkish government is closer politically to Iran and Syria than to the United States and Israel.” Caroline Glick, a Jerusalem Post columnist, goes further: Ankara already “left the Western alliance and became a full member of the Iranian axis.” But official circles in the West seem nearly oblivious to this momentous change in Turkey’s allegiance or its implications.