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Turkey: Christianity

Volume 487: debated on Monday 2 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations about reported attacks on the title and practice of the Christian Syriac Orthodox Church in Turkey to that country's government; and if he will make a statement. (246694)

We are aware of ongoing difficulties faced by all Christian groups in Turkey, including the Syriac Orthodox Church which faces particular difficulties as it is not recognised as a minority under the Lausanne Treaty (1923) and thus not formally recognised as such by the Turkish Government. As part of our ongoing bilateral dialogue we encourage Turkey to create an atmosphere of tolerance of religious difference and, where necessary, to make legislative changes to assist these groups.

We are particularly concerned about recent legal judgments relating to property claimed by the Syriac Orthodox Church in south-eastern Turkey, which are under appeal. EU representatives have attended court hearings and the EU has also raised these cases with the Turkish authorities.