To assist the United States Congress to adopt a balanced approach on these matters, a comparative summary of the state of religious freedoms and rights of minorities as well as the state of religious/cultural heritage in Greece, Greek Cyprus, Armenia and Turkey is provided for below.
- Athens is the only European capital without a functioning mosque. The historical Fethiye Mosque remains closed despite Turkey’s offers to help with the restoration.
- There are also no functioning mosques in Thessaloniki. The historical Alaca Imaret Mosque is in despair and one part of the mosque is being used as a public toilet.
- The right of the Turkish minority in Greece to freely select its religious leaders (i.e. “Muftis”) is not recognized. Rather, Greek authorities impose their appointed “Muftis” on the Turkish minority instead of them being elected by the Turkish/Muslim voters of Greece as dictated by international treaty law (see, for example, articles 40 and 45 of the Treaty of Lausanne).
- The right of the Turkish minority in Greece to articulate itself as “Turkish” is denied. The Greek Government considers this a criminal offense and presses charges against members of the Turkish minority that use the adjective “Turkish” in identifying themselves. This policy has led to the banning of several civic associations which use the adjective “Turkish”. Despite unanimous judgments in favor of the Turkish minority by the European Court of Human Rights, the Greek government continues this denial of identity to ethnic Turks in Greece.
- Turks in Greece are prevented from running their pious foundations, resulting in the confiscation or despair of their properties. Turks in Greece are frequently prevented from repairing their mosques and other religious sites. There are cases of prison sentences and fines for simply repairing a mosque.
- Turkish historical and cultural heritage sites are neglected.
- Greece does not recognize its Macedonian minority in Greece and does not allow the Macedonian Church to function in Greece.
- There are only three active mosques in Greek Cyprus, but they are without full-time clergy due to Greek Cypriot restrictions.
- The request of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to appoint full-time Muslim clerics (i.e. “Imam”) for the benefit of the Turkish Cypriots has been consistently refused by the Greek Cypriot administration.
- Greek Cypriot authorities continue to hinder Turkish Cypriots and others of Turkish descent to hold services at religious sites in Southern Cyprus.
- In contrast, there are 19 active churches, chapels and monasteries in the TRNC. Furthermore, the Government of Northern Cyprus recognizes two full-time clergy; also, visiting Orthodox Greek clergy are allowed to hold services. In addition, Greek Cypriots from Southern Cyprus and others are permitted to visit and hold services at religious sites.
- There is only one functioning mosque in entire Armenia today, the Blue Mosque (or Goy Mescit). All other mosques, save for one which is non-functioning, have been destroyed. In the second half of the 19th Century alone, there used to be over 200 mosques in what are today the borders of Armenia.
- According to a report by Forum 18, a Christian religious freedoms watchdog, on July 15, 2011, ‘Armenia's religious minorities face barriers to their exercising freedom of religion or belief from senior officials, politicians, media outlets and priests of the dominant Armenian Apostolic Church.’ Persecuted religious minorities included Pentecostals and Yehovah’s Witnesses. In addition, both the Collaboration for Democracy Centre and the Helsinki Committee of Armenia has documented numerous instances of official and media intolerance, leading to denials of freedom of religion or belief, Forum 18 reports.
- There are 101 places of worship for less than 5,000 Greek Orthodox citizens of Turkey.
- There are 55 (Gregorian, Catholic and Protestant) Armenian Churches in Turkey open to religious services of the nearly 60,000 Armenian citizens of Turkey.
- There are 36 synagogues for about 25,000 Jewish citizens of Turkey.
- The Greek Orthodox Patriarch is freely elected by members of the Holy Synod (i.e. metropolitans). Non-Turkish citizens are not only allowed to be metropolitans, but they may also acquire Turkish citizenship.
- Turkey has become the first country to implement a property verdict by the European Court of Human Rights, returning a historical orphanage to the Greek Orthodox minority.
- Turkey has restored 12 Christian and Jewish heritage sites, including 1 synagogue and 12 churches from 2003-2010, restoration continues at 2 synagogues, 2 monastery and 3 churches. Among the most notable Christian heritage sites restored by Turkey are the Akdamar Armenian church in Van and the Osk Vank Georgian church near Erzurum. A major restoration project is being undertaken by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and the World Monuments Fund to restore the historical Armenian heritage site of Ani in Kars, including the Ani Cathedral and the Church of the Holy Savior.