Greek foundation to get back EU Ministry office
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
The historic building, once the Ayia Foka Greek Elementary School, is currently serving as the EU Ministry’s office in Istanbul’s Ortaköy district. Daily News Photo, Emrah GürelThe Foundations Directorate General has decided to return the historical Ayia Foka Greek Elementary School, which currently serves as the EU Ministry’s office, to Turkey’s Greek community.
Transferred to the Treasury in 1972, the school’s foundation in Istanbul’s Ortaköy district has been in a legal struggle for years. The case was also taken to the European Court of Human Rights.
Laki Vingas, who is in charge of minority foundations at the Foundations Directorate General, told the Hürriyet Daily News that the decision had been announced to him just after a meeting on the legal entities of minority foundations held in Ankara.
“The foundation’s administration will decide how to use the property,” Vingas said, adding that the decision is very pleasing.
Vingas also said the return of the school building had symbolic importance. “The building’s symbolic importance comes from the fact that it is used as a ministry office,” he said.
Case to be withdrawn from ECHR
The press agents of the EU Ministry said they had been informed about the decision but it had not been officially announced to them yet. “The process is being closely followed; we will implement the requirements of the law,” a press agent said, referring to the previous remarks of EU Minister Egemen Bağış.
Ayia Foka Foundation head Strato Dolçinyadis also said they were very pleased with the decision and would withdraw the case they had filed to the ECHR on that matter.
Dolçinyadis said they had been in a legal struggle to take back the building since 1987. “If it is deemed suitable, we are planning to rent the building to the EU Ministry,” Dolçinyadis said upon the question of how they would use the building. Greek Foundations Association (Rumvader) deputy head Andon Parizyanos also said they welcomed the decision with a great pleasure. Like Vingas, Parizyanos also said the foundation administration would decide how to use the building.
The school, located on the coastline of the Ortaköy district, had been closed and transferred to the Treasury by the government in 1972. The historical building has served as a police station, municipality building and the EU Ministry’s office respectively.