(Hurriyet Daily News) - The legal status of Catholic foundations and other minority institutions in Turkey will be negotiated at a conference in Ankara on May 13.
Led by Laki Vingas, who is in charge of minority foundations in the General Directorate of Foundations, the conference will begin at 10.30 a.m. on May 13 at Ankara University Political Science Faculty’s Human Rights Center. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Interior Minister Muammer Güler, EU Minister Egemen Bağış and Foundation Director General Adnan Ertem were invited to the meeting.
Many institutions belonging to religious or ethnic minorities such as churches, cemeteries, and hospitals are deprived of legal entity rights including the Fener Greek Patriarchate, Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate, Jewish Chief Rabbi’s Office, and various Catholic institutions. Vingas said the issue of legal entity was one of the leading problems they often came across.
“Over my five years in office, I observed that the institutions could not work effectively due to the issue of legal status, and cannot comply with today’s conditions,” Vingas said. “Formerly we used to have difficulties in going to Ankara and expressing our problems there. Now such a problem does not exist,” Vingas said about the location of the meeting.
“Patriarchates, chief rabbis, and Catholic churches do not have legal status. There are political relations with Vatican; but still, Turkey does not recognize churches,” Vingas added.
“We are talking about institutions that have at least 150 years of history. Not only religious institutions, also nursing homes, hospitals, and cemeteries lack legal entity rights. We receive complaints from Adana and Adıyaman with regards to cemeteries, but we cannot do anything. We want to immediately discuss the problem and try to offer solutions through dialogue,” Vingas said. Vingas is currently attempting to bring together all the foundations under a federation.