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Turkish property rights still fail to meet EU standards: report

[JURIST] The Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (Tesev) [foundation website, in Turkish] issued a report [text, PDF, in Turkish] Saturday saying that despite recent attempts by the country to broaden property rights for religious minorities, it still falls short of requirements to join the European Union [accession website]. The majority Muslim country had long confiscated the property of non-Muslim religious foundations [HRAA backgrounder], but has in recent years decreased restrictions on minority and foreign property ownership, and in 2008 enacted legislation [AsiaNews report] providing for the return of some of the confiscated property. Despite these improvements, Tesev said that Turkey has not implemented a fair system to handle returns, and still heavily restricts the ability of minority foundations to acquire new property.

Property rights of minorities is one of several issues that Turkey has recently been addressing in efforts to join the EU. In October 2008, the Constitutional Court of Turkey [official website, in Turkish] struck down [text, in Turkish; JURIST report] an amendment to its constitution [text; materials] which would have allowed the wearing of headscarves in universities, after the European Court of Human Rights upheld [JURIST report] the ban. The court also rejected [JURIST report] a 2008 bid to ban [JURIST report] the country's ruling Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish], a decision praised by EU officials.

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