YEREVAN(Public Radio of Armenia) — In continuation of the landmark case for the return of the historical Seat of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia at the Monastery of St. Sophia in Kozan, Turkey, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I held a meeting with his legal team in Geneva on Saturday, March 5. The goal of the meeting was to discuss the progress of the case filed before the Constitutional Court of Turkey on April 28, 2015.
The claim of the Catholicosate is that it retains ownership rights over its historic Seat and that under international law and the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, the Government of Turkey is under an obligation to return this property so that it may be restored and used for religious worship.
In order to expedite the case, the lawyer of the Catholicosate in Turkey recently submitted a petition requesting a prompt hearing. If the Government of Turkey does not voluntarily return the Monastery, or if the Constitutional Court does not order its return, the Catholicos has previously indicated that the case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, which has the jurisdiction to issue a legally binding decision against Turkey.
In April 2015, Armenian Church leaders announced during a press conference the launch of legal action before Turkey’s Constitutional Court to regain ownership of the historical headquarters of the Church.
In August 2015, it was stated that the Turkish Constitutional Court will most likely admit the case and will begin reviewing it.
This site was confiscated by the Turkish Government following the Genocide of 1915.
This lawsuit reflects the determination of Armenians worldwide to reclaim their sacred religious property and Christian heritage in lands where they lived peacefully for centuries.
The Catholicosate which is the administrative center of the church, was moved from Armenia to Cilicia in the 10th century, and after changing a few locations it was finally established in Sis (Kozan) in the year 1295. It remained in Sis till 1921. Under the Ottoman Empire, the Catholicosate of Cilicia was recognized as an independent church. During the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923, the Armenian population of Sis was massacred and deported, and its Christian holy sites were pillaged and confiscated.