Greek Orthodox Church Struggles to Survive

Country: Turkey

Date of incident: October 30, 2010

The Greek-Orthodox Church, school, and community in Turkey has been gradually stripped of rights by the Turkish government. European law organizations declare this a violation of human rights.



The Greek-Orthodox community in Turkey has been stripped of the following rights: the Patriarchate has been systematically denied the ability to own and maintain property; the theological school in Halki has been shut down; no government funding is available to the Church; and the Patriarchate is denied use of the Ecumenical title, nor is he granted legal personality to request protection under the law. 

While Turkish law recognizes free exercise of any creed, religion or belief, and establishes equality to all inhabitants without distinction of religion, the Turkish government has implemented several measures that force members of the Greek-Orthodox church to lose everything or leave the country. The Greek-Orthodox population in Turkey has decreased by nearly 97% in the last fifty years, as now only 3,000 remain in Constantinople due to riots and property deprivation.

Turkish government argues that it can deny the rights of movements holding fundamental roots that may threaten democratic values and national security, thus justifying acts such as government interference with Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate election.

The European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) understands that the means and the level of interference utilized by the Turkish government are not necessary in a democratic society. The unequal treatment of non-Muslim religions therefore fails to meet European Convention for Human rights and the Treaty of Lausanne standard.