600 minority estates lost in Turkey

1,560 applications have been made requesting the return of minority community estates in Turkey, but the whereabouts of 600 estates are unknown.

600 minority estates lost in Turkey

World Bulletin / News Desk

In the past two years, community-run foundations have requested the return of 1,560 estates. So far around 250 estates have been returned, while 500 applications are currently being assessed by the General Management of Foundations.

The general manager, Adnan Ertem, has said that the whereabouts of approximately 600 estates are not known. Speaking to Yeni Şafak, Ertem said: ‘We get applications for a shop in Edirne…how are we supposed to find and return this shop? They are troubling us unnecessarily. Even if they do not have the deeds for that shop, if they were to come and claim ownership of it, we would find their details and return it. We would even send a member of staff to the area to find it.’

He also mentioned the Sansaryan Han estate in Istanbul’s Eminönü, which has been at the heart of controversy as of late. ‘When the 1936 Declarations Act was being drawn up, religious communities were told to declare ownership of their estates. Not only did they declare their own properties, but they also declared properties not yet belonging to them as their own.’

Some of the properties were even declared in the name of Jesus and Mary. When no one claimed ownership of the Mıgırdıç Ağa Sansaryan Han, it was brought under the ownership of the General Management of Foundations and declared as seized unclaimed property. The law does not allow the return of seized unclaimed property. The Armenian community claims that the religious community founded by Mığırdıç Ağa was for them, and therefore the properties he donated to the community also belong to them. However, the fact that they did not declare ownership of it in 1936 makes it an seized unclaimed property.

‘When we rented it out in return for the restoration works, the community took us to court. They also applied for an interim injunction but they lost. If there is no interim injunction, there is no problem with us renting out the estate,’ he said. Noting that the General Management had no involvement in estates owned by a third party, Adnan Ertem said that this particular issue was one that only concerned the members of religious community foundations.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Eylül 2013, 12:01