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Istanbul Armenians to establish new community hospital

ISTANBUL - HÜRRIYET DAILY NEWS | 4/7/2011 12:00:00 AM | VERCİHAN ZİFLİOĞLU

Istanbul’s Armenian community has started efforts to establish a community hospital fully equipped with the latest technology.

Istanbul’s Armenian community has started efforts to establish a community hospital fully equipped with the latest technology.

The Armenian community already has two hospitals in Istanbul. One is owned by the Armenian Apostolic Church, the other by the Armenian Catholic Church; both were established in Ottoman times.

The new hospital will be established on a 0.45 hectare area directly across from the Surp Pırgiç Armenian Foundation Hospital in the Kazlıçeşme neighborhood of Zeytinburnu. Surp Pırgiç Hospital was founded by Harutyun Amira Bezciyan after an order from Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II.

The area allocated for the construction of the new hospital was confiscated by the General Directorate of Foundations, although it was previously owned by the Surp Pırgiç Foundation Hospital.

Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, Surp Pırgiç Foundation Chairman Bedros Şirinoğlu said that as the Law for Foundations had changed in recent years, the Armenian community had started to reclaim the once-confiscated property. “We have started a series of efforts about the confiscated area. Finally, we submitted the project dossier.”

[HH] A first in Turkey

The Surp Pırgiç Armenian Hospital serves not only the Armenian community but also the general public. The hospital is fully equipped with the latest technology and has a bed capacity of 150.

The hospital has all sorts of medical branches including psychiatry, oncology and a nursing home and it relies on revenue from patients as well as donations from members of the community.

Providing information about the new hospital plan, Şirinoğlu said part of the current hospital would be transferred to the new institution, and the new hospital would contain a fully established oncology department.

“This hospital is a first for the Armenian community in the history of the Republic of Turkey. Not only for the Armenian community, but this also is a first for the Republic of Turkey.”

Şirinoğlu said that the Surp Pırgiç Foundation Hospital was the second in protocol in Ankara after the patriarchate, adding that politicians had visited the hospital a few times in the last two years.

"For the first time in history the hospital welcomed a prime minister, then was visited by the health minister, and in the meantime all political party leaders visited the hospital.”

He also said that this interest in the hospital by the Turkish people stemmed from the fact that so many ethnicities live together here, which he found “very positive.”

Noting that a skyscraper is being built on land owned by the Armenian community’s Karagözyan orphanage in the Şişli neighborhood, in addition to the luxurious Lotus Houses being constructed in the Ortaköy neighborhood, Şirinoğlu said: "As the community retrieves more of its lands or properties it will also help reconstruct its hard-won economic balance. Schools, churches and all other community institutions have barely survived.”

Şirinoğlu is a deputy candidate from the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and he is considered to have a high chance in the upcoming elections. Şirinoğlu abstained from making any further comments apart from saying he has been in contact with the AKP about the national elections.

On being asked what he considers he would bring to the Turkish political life if he gets a chiar in Parliament, he said, "My priority is to address the country’s totality; another priority of mine is to establish a dialogue bridge between Turks and Armenians.”

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