THE GREEKS OF TURKEY
1993-1994-1995 FACT SHEET
During 1994, the Greek Community in Turkey witnessed defamation of its religious
sanctuaries, threats against its religious leaders, discrimination against its youth, and
intimidation of its advocates.
Defamation of Religious Sanctuaries
In July and August 1993, the Christian Orthodox cemetery in Yenikoy, Istanbul, was
attacked by vandals and desecrated.
In October 1994, the ancient Greek-Orthodox Church of Haghia Eirene in Istanbul was used
as a stage of a beauty contest. The Church was built by the Emperor Justinianus I in the
sixth century AD. Since then, it was used as the Imperial Chapel of Constantinople. In
1453, after the
fall of Constantinople to the Turks, it was converted to a
mosque. Turkish Republic transformed it to a museum in 1923. Haghia Eirene is one of the
most important existing Orthodox monuments, classified by UNESCO as part of the world's
Religious and Educational Discrimination
The Ecumenical Patriarchate
The Ecumenical Patriarchate is oldest active institution in Eastern Europe and the Balkans
today. It is the spiritual center for more than 250,000,000 Orthodox Christians worldwide,
including approximately 5,000,000 in the United States.
The Turkish Government arbitrarily closed the Halke Patriarchal School of Theology in
1971. The current government refuses to re-open the School, in spite of the
continuous requests by Patriarch Vartholomeos I. The closing of the Halke School of
Theology is in violation of
International Treaties to which Turkey has been a signatory, including the Treaty of
Lausanne, the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, and the Charter of Paris;
Discrimination in Higher Education
In September 1994, more than one hundred Greek high-school graduates in Constantinople
were not allowed to enroll to Turkish Universities. The pupils had succeeded in the
nation-wide entrance exams. The pretext for not allowing their enrollment was that they
did not attend the
course of physical education during the last school-year. It was because of the Turkish
authorities, however, that this course was not taught: Turkey violated the Lausanne Treaty
of 1923 by not allowing the entrance of teachers from Greece to teach in Greek minority
The Turkish state, with a number of secret decrees (1964, 1985, 1986), revoked the right
of ethnic Greeks to trade, buy and inherit properties. Greeks who are trying to retain
their properties have to sustain years of judicial struggle; most of them are obliged to
sell out their property to Turks for nominal prices.
Elpida Frangopoulou, an ethnic Greek lawyer in Istanbul was charged with "insulting
the Turkish nation" when she protested after being discriminated against when trying
to get a copy of her high-school diploma. After two years of judicial struggle she was
convicted to two months imprisonment and was put on probation. Ms. Frangopoulou is
well-known for her continuous struggle to save the vast wealth of thousands of ethnic
Greeks of Constantinople following a 1964 secret Turkish decree which confiscated their
The Aegean islands of Imvros and Tenedos, which under the Lausanne Treaty were supposed to
be granted special autonomy status, are still being used as open prisons. Inmates have
been terrorizing the Greek inhabitants who are gradually leaving their ancestral lands.
Besides the Greek communities of Constantinople, Imvros and Tenedos, there are other
ethnic Greek communities throughout Turkey. Some have lost their Christian Orthodox faith,
others still practice it underground (underground-Christians). All of them have no right
whatsoever to express freely, maintain and cherish their culture, identity, and language.
Those who reside outside Constantinople and remain Christian Orthodox, are obliged by
Turkish law to perform their religious services in Turkish.