Mor Gabriel, school on agenda of meeting between Turkish FM and Syriac leaders
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (C) meets with Syriac religious leaders. DAILY NEWS photo/Selahattin SÖNMEZThe issue of Mor Gabriel Monastery and the Syriacs’ demand for a school were on the agenda of a meeting between Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Syriac leaders on March 18.
The Mor Gabriel Foundation’s head, Kuryakos Ergün, said Davutoğlu offered to pay rent for the historic monastery, an offer that Syriac leaders turned down.
“Mr. Davutoğlu said he visited the Monastery before taking office as Foreign Minister,” Ergün said.
Mor Gabriel is a 1,700-year-old historic monastery located in the southeastern province of Mardin’s Midyat district. In 2008, the Forestry Ministry, the Land Registry Cadastre Office and the villages of Yayvantepe, Çandarlı and Eğlence sued the monastery for allegedly occupying their fields. The lawsuit was finalized last year, recognizing the monastery as an “occupier.” The case was then brought to the European Court of Human Rights. The future of the monastery currently hinges on the ECHR’s decision.
Demand for a Syriac School
The Syriac community’s need for a school was also discussed in the meeting. The community attempted to open a kindergarten last year, but Ankara did not authorize it. “When the matter of a school was opened up, they naturally reminded [us] that we are exempt from the Lausanne [Treaty]. Mr. Davutoğlu said we were not minorities,” Ergün said. According to the Lausanne Treaty signed in 1923, Syriacs are not recognized among Turkey’s minority communities.
“We also conveyed to him the problems Syriacs have on that matter,” Ergün said.
Istanbul Metropolitan Yusuf Çetin, Turkish Syriac Catholic Deputy Patriarch Chorepiscopus Yusuf Sağ, Turabidin Metropolitan Samuel Aktaş, Adıyaman Metropolitan Melki Ürek, Mardin-Diyarbakır Metropolitan Saliba Özmen and the Mor Gabriel Foundation’s head, Kuryakos Ergün, were present at the meeting in Ankara.