Significant changes in support of religious minorities' public benefit (charities) foundations in Turkey were published over the weekend in the government gazette here, following a relevant government decree announced on Aug. 22.
Such charities are known as "Vakufs" in Turkey.
The development coincided with a high-profile "Iftar" reception Sunday in honor of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan, hosted in Istanbul by the country's non-Muslim religious leaders, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (Vartholomeos).
Based on a revision of the law on Vakufs, Greek minority public benefit foundations stand to re-acquire property for which no title holder is listed, along with property that has been transferred to the state's registry, the Vakuf general directorate, municipalities and prefectures through appropriation, purchases and land exchanges. Additionally, the control of several cemeteries will also return to the charities, as municipalities had assumed control.
In all three cases, affected properties had been listed by the religious minority foundations in 1936.
Under the new law, foundations must file a request within 12 months, which will conceivably be satisfied after an evaluation by the Vakufs directorate.
Compensation, at current market values, will be paid for property taken from foundations and subsequently sold to third parties.
One of the issues not resolved via the new law is the matter of so-called "occupied vakufs", foundations that have been appropriated by the Turkish state with their property and their board of directors. Amongst such entities are 24 that belong to Turkey's Greek Orthodox minority.