Berlin — The German parliament decides today, on Thursday [June 14, 2012] evening, on an application introduced by the parliamentary groups of the CDU / CSU and FDP for ensuring continued existence of the Syrian Orthodox monastery St. Gabriel in southeast Turkey. The chairman of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group, Volker Kauder, explains:
“The existence of the monastery of St. Gabriel has to be secured. It is one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world. Due to the attitude of the authorities and courts in Turkey over a long time, it is threatened in its survival. We request to refrain from all, which may jeopardize the unique place of Christendom.
Our advocacy for the monastery has a sad relevance. On June 13, 2012, the court date in the “forest” case against the chairman of the community foundation of the monastery, Mr. Kyriakos Ergün has been postponed again — meanwhile for the fifth time. The reasons put forward by the court cannot hide the fact that this is a protraction of the legal clarification of the lawsuit.
Turkey has signed all the relevant European and international conventions to guarantee civil liberties such as freedom of religion or freedom of the press. Whether it shares the beliefs that unite Europe and the convictions expressed here remains actually doubtful, given the sad reality. By ensuring the existence of the monastery of St. Gabriel the Turkish state can exemplify how serious actually it takes it with regards to the rights of freedom for religious minorities in their own country.
We note that the monastery is threatened in its existence for years by several persisting litigations. Based on excuses the monastery is denied centuries-old property titles, judgments in favor of the monastery are controverted, and the administration of justice is delayed over and over again. An end of a tradition and culture that existed for 1600 years emerges on top of that. The unique monastic complex and its determining tradition need protection and support from the state. Although the Turkish authorities have agreed to do so several times, they do not act. On the contrary: In Turkey, minorities are discriminated.
We are pleased that the sister party of the CDU / CSU in the Netherlands, the CDA, on June 20, 2012 submitted an application to the second chamber of the Parliament in The Hague that deals with the existence of the monastery. Similarly, the advocacy of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and the French UMP for the survival of the monastery of St. Gabriel emphasizes this: The European Union is a community of values, which takes violations of human rights such as freedom of religion very serious.
I thank our Chairman of the Working Group for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid, Erika Steinbach, and the chairwoman of the Group in the Committee for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid, Ute Granold that they have prepared the application, together with their colleagues in the liberal party and introduced into the House.”
Translated from German by AINA