House of Lords written question – answered on 11th February 2014.

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Photo of Lord Patten Lord Patten Conservative

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 28 January (WA 227–8), whether they will now list in which respect Turkey has, in their view, made progress in recent years concerning respect for religious and ethnic minorities.

Photo of Baroness Warsi Baroness Warsi Senior Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Jointly with the Department for Communities and Local Government), Senior Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Faith and Communities) (also in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The British Government continues to monitor closely the situation of religious minorities in Turkey.

We have noted the continued implementation of legislation from 2011, which amended the 2008 Law on Foundations, to allow the return of properties to religious minorities or the payment of compensation.

Religious services are now permitted at the Greek Orthodox Sumela Monastery and Armenian Orthodox Akdamar Church.

The Ministry of National Education has begun the issuing of updated religious textbooks for schools which include information on the Alevi faith. During consultations for a new constitution, faith groups were invited to parliament to give their views. We also welcome the continued outreach by the Turkish government to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew, particularly on the issue of the Halki Seminary. Prime

Minister Erdogan announced on 30 September 2013 that the land containing the Mor Gabriel Monastary will be returned to the Syriac community in Turkey.

We welcome these positive steps taken by the Turkish government and, together with our EU partners, will continue to encourage further progress.

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