43,160 Square Meter Estate to be Returned
By Verihan Ziflioglu
ISTANBUL — an Istanbul court has ruled in favor of the Surp Pirgic (Sourp Perguich) Armenian Hospital Foundation to impose an interim injunction over foundation lands that had been expropriated by the state and transferred over to Zeytinburnu Municipality in 1985.
“The AKP [Justice and Development Party] blazed a trail in Republican history with the [passing of] the Foundations Law. The prime minister issued a directive for the return of our properties. An AKP mayor is now going against a law legislated by the head of the party, and more significant, by a prime minister,” Bedros Sirinoglu, the head of the foundation, told Hurriyet Daily News on Jan 3rd.
The court decided to impose the interim junction over a 43,160 square meter estate occupied by Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu Municipality with the new Foundations Law.
“People who want to buy the tracts in question had begun visiting the hospital leading the foundation to file the suit to impose the interim injunction,” Ali Elbeyoglu, the lawyer for the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey told the Daily News.
“Zeytinburnu Municipality was planning to build a stadium over the grounds in question but has now suspended the project due to the court’s ruling,” the municipality’s press adviser, Ismael Uluhan told the Daily News but did not elaborate further.
Sirinoglu said they had filed the suit without even first attempting to contact the municipality due to the new Foundations Law and added they were planning to construct Istanbul’s third Armenian hospital over the territory in dispute.
The land was originally bought during the 19th century by Calouste Gulbekian, the founder of Lisbon’s Gulbekian Museum. Gulbekian then donated the land to the foundation to provide a continuous income for the hospital.
“We would have had a rough time unless the Foundations Law had gone into effect,” Elbeyoglu said adding that the municipality had been accruing unlawful profits through the estate since it was expropriated in 1985.