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The Greek Minority Lyceum in Fener – The case before the ECHR

Greek Minority Lyceum in Fener (Megali tou Genous Sxoli/Fener Rum Erkek Lisesi Vakfi) received a gift of part of a building in Istanbul (1952) and purchased another part of that building (1958).

In 1992 the Treasury (Hazine) applied to the Turkish courts for an order setting aside the applicant foundation’s title to that property and deleting its name from the land register. In 1996, the Istanbul High Court granted the Treasury’s application. The main argument on the part of Turkey was that based on a Court of Cassation decision (1974), foundations whose membership was made up of religious minorities and whose constitutive documents did not contain a statement pursuant to Law 2762/1935 – considered by the Turkish authorities as a statute – that they had capacity to acquire immovable property were precluded from purchasing or accepting a gift of such property.

In November 1996 the Greek Minority Lyceum in Fener lodged an application with the European Commission of Human Rights which was transmitted to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). It was declared admissible on 8 July 2004. A Chamber hearing took place in public in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg, on 20 September 2005.

The ECHR judgment was handed down on 9 January 2007 (press release), considering Turkey imputable for breaching article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention (right of property). The Court held that Turkey was to re-enter the property in question into the land register under the applicant foundation’s name within three months of the date on which the Court’s judgment became final. Failing such re-registration, the State was to pay the applicant foundation €890,000 in pecuniary damages. Turkey opted for the second option.

This unprecedented – and therefore historic – ruling, issued before the adoption of the new vakif law in Turkey, condemned the practice ongoing for many decades in Turkey and the relevant decision by the Turkish courts in 1974, based on which foundations who

Last Updated Thursday, 14 June 2018