IDC, HALC, and ANCA Call on State Department to Reject Turkey’s Aggressive Claim to Region’s Christian Heritage

File Photo: Μουαουλμάνοι προσεύχονται μπροστά από την Αγιά Σοφιά, στην Κωνσταντινούπολη. EPA, ERDEM SAHIN

WASHINGTON, DC – In Defense of Christians (IDC), Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) today issued a joint statement against Turkey’s request for a one-sided bilateral U.S.-Turkey Memorandum of Understanding that would grant Turkey rights over the vast religio-cultural heritage of the region’s indigenous peoples and other minority populations.

Turkey’s proposal, formally titled “Request by the Government of Turkey to the United States of America for Imposing Import Restrictions to Protect its Cultural Patrimony under Article 9 of the 1970 Convention,” is currently under consideration by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, led by Assistant Secretary of State Marie Royce.

The full text of the proposed accord is available via this link.

The joint IDC/HALC/ANCA statement is provided below:

“The Memorandum of Understanding proposed by Turkey would, if agreed to, endanger the preservation, protection, and sustainability of cultural heritage, particularly the religio-cultural heritage of the Christian communities (Greek, Armenian, Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac-Aramean) who were indigenous to Anatolia before the arrival of Turkic tribes into the region.”

“The overly broad, historically expansive, and arbitrary definitions of Turkish cultural heritage proposed by Ankara would effectively empower the Turkish state to continue utilizing violent and non-violent policy tools that are well documented by international heritage, legal, and religious freedom experts, in order to destroy, appropriate, and expropriate the religious heritage of the historic Christian populations, as well as more recently established Christian communities, the Jewish community, the Alevi community, and Kurdish and other Sunni ethnic minorities.”

A broad array of cultural organizations are on record opposing the MOU, among them Association of Art Museum Directors. Read AAMD’s detailed objections here.

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