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Turkish EU Minister Downplays Value of Landmark Assyrian Monastery

EU Minister Egemen Bağış has downplayed the value of the historical Mor Gabriel Monastery, which is an issue of debate between the government and the Syriac Community, saying it was worth even less than the EU Affairs building in central Istanbul.

"I would like to say that, as to the property value, the building in Ortak√∂y, where we are right now, is worth more than the Mor Gabriel [Monastery]," said Bağış, speaking to journalists at a meeting in Istanbul.

The EU minister added that the government could not carry out any decision regarding the monastery, a 1,700-year-old historic monastery located in the southeastern province of Mardin's Midyat district, as the judicial process was ongoing.

In 2008, the Forestry Ministry, the Land Registry Office and three nearby villages sued the monastery, an example of the classical Syriac architecture, 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 (ECHR).

Editor's note: click here for full coverage of the St. Gabriel Monastery case.

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