Rental Of Armenian Building In Istanbul Creates Controversy


Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

The Sansaryan Inn

ISTANBUL–The Turkish Prime Ministry’s Directorate General of
Foundations has initiated a tender to rent the historical Sansaryan
Inn, belonging to Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate, at a time when the
legal process over the building’s ownership is still ongoing.

The Sansaryan Inn, which is located on Istanbul’s historical
peninsula, became an issue of controversy after the Directorate
General of Foundations initiated a tender to rent the building to a
third party, even though the case is still going through a court

Å~^ahin Gezer of the Armenian Patriarchate Real Estate Commission told
the Hurriyet Daily News that they did not want to make any comment
until the tender was finalized. “I hope the controversy will be
handled and we will solve the problem through reconciliation,” said
Gezer, stressing that the legal case was continuing. “We have all the
documents to show that Sansaryan Inn belongs to the [Armenian]

The building, which was donated to the Armenian Patriarchate in 1881
by Mıgırdic Sansaryan, a Russian Armenian, was confiscated by the then
government in 1935. The patriarchate took action against the
Directorate General of Foundations upon a ruling on the return of the
minority assets in 2011. While the case is in court, the tender to
rent the inn to a third party for 50 years was published in the
Official Gazette. The tender is expected to take place on July 18.

The Directorate General of Foundations declined to make any statement
on the topic for the Daily News.

Laki Vingas, minority foundations representative for the Directorate
General of Foundations, said it was natural that the patriarchate
claimed the rights to the historical building as an open will of the
endower about the donation’s purpose was present. Vingas said the
controversy arose because patriarchates and community foundations did
not have legal entity status and a change in the law was needed to
overcome these problems.

“There are foundations that are listed as “unregistered” though they
belong to communities. These foundations can be returned [to the
owners] by an amendment to the law,” added Vingas.

Sansaryan Inn was famous for torture during the time the building was
used as the Police Department. The renowned Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet,
writer Ali Nesin and Armenian intellectual Aram Pehlivanian are among
the people who were tortured in the building. The inn also served as a
courthouse for a while.

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