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Assyrians Make Their Mark in Historic Meet With Turkish President
By Vercihan Ziflioğlu

The details regarding a recent meeting in which Turkish President Abdullah Gül hosted the leaders of eight of Turkey's minority foundations on July 27 in Istanbul have been revealed. Accordingly, the three participant Syriac [Assyrian] foundations made their mark at the meeting, especially regarding the ongoing conflict regarding the Mor Gabriel (Deyrulumur) Monastery case and the relocation of the Syriac Church's patriarchate from Beirut to Turkey.

During the meeting, which was planned to be 45 minutes but took about 1.5 hours, Gül paid great attention to the problems communicated but didn't make any remarks about any problem, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

The Syriac foundations also demanded the return of their historical patriarchate building in Mardin, which has been turned into a museum.

In previous months, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held a series of negotiations with Syriacs on the topic and proposed bringing Beirut's Catholic and Damascus' Syriac Kadim patriarchates to Turkey. Besides the patriarchate issue, Syriac's Kadim Church foundation put the historical Mor Gabriel Monastery in Mardin on the agenda, which has been the subject of a conflict between Turkey and the Mor Gabriel Foundation.

Other minority leaders also brought education problems in minority schools and expectations regarding citizenship rights to the table.

Foundations Law

Yedikule Surp Pırgiç Armenian Hospital Foundation President Bedros Şirinoğlu also joined the meeting to represent Armenian foundations.

"We have already been speaking about our problems generally with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç. So, instead of repeating our problems to the president, we wanted to express our regards for his support of the Minority Foundations Law," he said.

Laki Vingas, a council member of the Foundations Directorate General and the organizer of the meeting, told the Daily News the meeting had been held under very good conditions, the leaders of minorities expressed their gratitude for the Foundations Law and return of properties and they spoke about education problems.

In addition to Şirinoğlu and Vingas, Syriac Catholic leader Zeki Başdemir, Armenian Catholic Foundation leader Bernard Sarıbay, Syriac Kadim Foundation representative Sait Susin, Greek Foundation representative Andon Parisyoanos, Jewish Community representative Sami Herman and Bulgarian community representative Vasil Liyaze attended the meeting.


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