ASIA/TURKEY – Dissatisfaction and “malaise” with the new Foundation regulations. Armenian Patriarch appeals to Erdogan
Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) – In a letter addressed directly to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople Sahak II Masalyan expresses the “unease” and the growing discontent of the Armenians of Turkey following the publication of the new electoral regulations of the Related Foundations to non-Muslim religious communities and their governing bodies must be renewed. This unique initiative aims to alert Turkey’s highest civil authority to the possibility that the growing unease among the Armenian communities of Turkey could lead to an outright boycott of the electoral procedures used to allocate leadership and administrative positions within of each Foundation. In his letter – according to local media, including the Turkish-Armenian bilingual newspaper “Agos” – Patriarch Sahak proposes to provide all foundations with clear guidelines defining the criteria for submitting voter lists on a regional basis in accordance with the approved regulations repeated unequivocal.
The text of the new rules for the election of governing bodies of foundations was published in the Turkish Official Gazette on Saturday 18 June. The publication of the new regulations was intended to put an end to a long period of deadlock and legislative uncertainty which, in recent years, has hampered and partially prevented the normal exercise of the functions of these bodies for the benefit of non-Muslim communities in Turkey. . From the first reading of the new regulations, representatives of local minority religious communities criticized the new provisions. In particular, the new territorial subdivision of the constituencies for the elections for the renewal of the boards of directors of each foundation and the fact that the activities of the foundations which manage hospitals and other health establishments are subject to the control of the Ministry of Health have been repeatedly criticized.
The system of “foundations” is the legal instrument by which Turkish institutions regulate their relations with non-Muslim religious communities. Currently, 167 foundations associated with Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Jewish, Syrian, Chaldean, Bulgarian, Georgian and Maronite communities in Turkey, commonly referred to as “minorities”, report to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
In Turkey, the management of minority foundations is closely linked to the life of local Christian and Jewish communities. These bodies are responsible for managing places of worship (churches and synagogues), real estate and public facilities – such as cultural centers and hospitals – of the various non-Muslim communities.
The process of drawing up new regulations, especially electoral ones, has resumed in recent years after a long period of deadlock (see Fides, 27/1/2022). Previous electoral regulations for the senior management of foundations were suspended in 2013 after the government pledged to introduce new procedures and justified the measure mainly with the intention of wanting to make the management of entrusted assets more functional and transparent. to these institutions.
The legal status of the foundations goes back to the Peace Treaty of Lausanne signed in 1923 by Turkey and the Entente Powers (British Empire, France and Russian Empire) who emerged victorious from the First World War.
Sahak II’s letter to Erdogan also gains importance as the Patriarch always uses a cordial and respectful tone towards the President and the Turkish authorities. Early 2020, just weeks after his election as Patriarch
(see Fides 3/1/2020), Patriarch Masalyan told the Turkish media: “All minorities in Turkey are of the same opinion: under the government of the AKP party, we are living the most peaceful and happiest period since the foundation of the Turkish Republic”. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 8/27/2022)