Statement of the Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans (EFC)

Forum on Minority Issues --7th session--

“Preventing and addressing violence and atrocity crimes targeted against minorities”

Geneva 25-26 November 2014

 Item 3: Understanding the root causes of violence and atrocity crimes

 Delivered by Dr Dominique Morabito

The Greek-Orthodox Minority of the Republic of Turkey is unfortunately a very particular minority case on which a large scale and long lasting human and minority rights violations were committed in such a degree that forced its members to live still nowadays as an expatriated Community outside their native fatherland to an overwhelming percentage reaching the 98%.

Although the Greek-Orthodox Minority of Istanbul and the islands of Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos) is a minority community with an international legal status established by the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, since then the Community progressively faced an intensive violation of all four key pillars of minority rights protection and most importantly its right to existence. For example they faced, the mobilization of men aged 18-45 into work battalion camps (1941-42); the implementation of a capital tax aimed at their economical destruction (1942-44); the massive scale of pogrom in Istanbul on the night of September 6th 1955 against the Community members and institutions; or even worst, the massive deportation and forced expatriation of members, which were exempted from the Exchange of Population Agreement, in March 16th 1964.

Although since 2003 the Turkish government took some measures of abandoning anti-minority policies, several administrative measures of the previous era still exist as recognized by the Prime Minister Circular of May 15th 2010, while the remedy measures are very limited. For instance, the State still doesn’t recognize the legal status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the last 19 months there is a prohibition of the elections at the Minority Welfare Foundations, despite numerous appeals towards the government of Turkey.

The most disappointing is that the President of Turkey, in his statement of September 2nd 2014, insists in regarding the protection of human minority rights as theme of reciprocity of bilateral relations between states. The EFC would like to suggest putting into consideration the encouragement by the States, the UN bodies and the non-state actors involved of promoting the implementation of Resolution 60/147 of the UN General Assembly regarding the obligation for remedy and reparation as the only safe practice appropriate for preventing and addressing violence and atrocities targeted against minorities. The EFC has submitted specific proposals towards this direction and is willing to support and provide with accurate assistance the Republic of Turkey and any other relevant entity.

Thank you for your attention.