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Today's Zaman reports on 'Turkey's Greek minority to open school on Gökçeada

Today's Zaman newspaper recently reported on 'Turkey's Greek minority to open school on Gökçeada'.

Today's Zaman is one of two English-language dailies based in Turkey and reports on domestic and international coverage. The published article can be read in its entirety below.


Turkey's Greek minority to open school on Gökçeada
1/12/2012

Read this article on the website of Today's Zaman.

The Ministry of Education has given permission to the Greek community to open a primary school on Gökçeada (Imbros), an island in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Çanakkale province.

 

Laki Vingas, elected representative of non-Muslim foundations at the Council of the General Assembly of the Directorate General for Foundations (VGM), was quoted in the Milliyet daily on Thursday as saying that the ministry gave permission verbally and that the Greeks of Gökçeada can start the process of opening a Greek school on the island.

Turkey's Greek schools are on the verge of closure because the Greek community's population is close to the point of extinction. There are estimated to be only 180-200 Turkish citizens of Greek origin on Gökçeada, and the number of Greek students expected to attend a Greek school on the island is expected to be low. But Vingas said that even if there are 10 students, the initiative would be important because it gives hopes for the future of the Greek community in Turkey.

Even though the Greek population in Turkey was no less than 100,000 in the 1930s, tension between Turkey and Greece has greatly affected their survival in Turkey. Following the İstanbul Riots of Sept. 6-7, 1955 and the 1964 deportation of roughly 12,000 ethnic Greeks without Turkish citizenship, the Greek population has been in constant decline. By 1966, the Greek population in İstanbul was reduced to less than 30,000 and it has been diminishing ever since. The population of Turkey's Greek community is estimated to be around 3,000 today.

In total, there are 250 ethnic Greek students in Turkey attending the few Greek schools left in İstanbul. One of these schools is Zografyon Greek High School, established in 1893. It has only 40 students.

Another one is the Zapyon Greek Primary and High School of İstanbul. A long time ago, when it was established in 1875, it was a lively school with 1,500 students; now, it only has 110 students. It remains the only Greek school in Turkey comprising a kindergarten, a primary and a high school. There are only eight students in the first grade this year.

There were about 80 Greek schools in İstanbul, in comparison to today's handful.

Nikos Kefalas, the representative of the founder of Zapyon, told Today's Zaman that the Greek schools and the Greek community should have been strengthened in Turkey to save them from extinction.

According to the report in Milliyet, the Association of Gökçeada Residents in Greece was pleased with the news that there are plans for a new Greek school on Gökçeada.

“Some Greek families who live in İstanbul and some Greek families who live in Athens are ready to return to the island if a school is opened,” said Kostas Hristoforidis, who chairs the association, as quoted by Milliyet.

The Greek community of Gökçeada is expected to apply to the Çanakkale Governor's Office seeking to open a school on the island.

 


Armenian Patriarchate applies for return of property

Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, deputy patriarch of the Armenian Patriarchate based in İstanbul, has demanded that the Directorate General for Foundations (VGM) return their property, the Sansaryan building, the Hürriyet daily reported on Thursday.

The building was confiscated by the Turkish government of the time from the patriarchate as part of a political move in the 1930s. In a recent move, the government issued a decree to return properties confiscated from religious minorities since 1936, and in cases where property belonging to such organizations has been sold by the state to third parties, the religious foundation will be paid the market value of the property by the Ministry of Finance.

The Sansaryan building was first given to the İstanbul municipality and then to the VGM. Ali Elbeyoğlu, an attorney for the patriarchate, said the 13th Court of First Instance in İstanbul ruled last week that the VGM should not enter into contracts with new renters for the Sansaryan building's offices until the court issues its final ruling.

The building became infamous ever since it was used in the 1960s as a place of torture. Well-known figures, such as poets and writers, including Nâzım Hikmet, Vedat Türkali, Ece Ayhan, Attila İlhan, Mihri Belli, Ahmet Arif and Ruhi Su, were tortured by government officials in the building because of their political views.