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Ethnic Greek School in Istanbul Vindicated By a European Court Ruling

The European Court of Human Rights, by virtue of a ruling, has ordered the Turkish state to return to the Megali tou Genous Scholi (Great School of the Nation) in Istanbul property seized in 1974, the board of directors of the charitable ethnic Greek foundation that runs the school said on Tuesday. The ruling, which was officially announced to the foundation's board the same day, orders the Turkish state to return the property within three months or pay it compensation of 900,000 euros. Failure to comply with the ruling within the three-month deadline means that penalty interest rates will apply to the sum of the indemnity for every day of delay.

The foundation's board met on Tuesday to be briefed on the landmark ECHR ruling and to decide its next steps, stressing that it was imperative to maintain the foundation's right and ability to manage its assets unobstructed.

Board members and legal experts also noted that whatever deficiencies in new legislation being prepared by the Turkish government can now be remedied via the justice system.

This was the first ruling by the European Court of Human Rights condemning Turkey on matters concerning public benefit and charitable foundations of religious minorities in that country.

Up until now, the administrations of such foundations avoided seeking recourse to the courts, but instead placed their hopes for vindication in pressure applied by European governments on the Turkish government and Ankara's attempts to harmonise with the Union's acquis communautaire.