Once a study of Ottoman properties in Bulgaria proves they belong to Muslims, the Bulgarian government will start work on conferring those properties to Muslim minority foundations, an official from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has said.
The OIC research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) has completed its study revealing the names of the properties, which belonged to the old Ottoman Empire when the empire ruled what is today Bulgaria, and presents detailed information about the properties, aiming to prove that they should now belong to Muslim minority foundations and to urge the government to confer the property titles on these foundations. The research, which will be published in several months, will also allow the Muslims in the country to find out more about local Muslim foundation properties.
Bulgaria, since it is an EU member, has to return properties rightfully belonging to minority community foundations to their owners and the Bulgarian government previously announced that it will confer these properties to their rightful owners if such applications are made.
Speaking to Today's Zaman, IRCICA Director Halit Eren said that even though the research has not yet been published, the organization has already sent it to some Muslim foundations in Bulgaria to enable them to begin the application process as soon as possible. He added that similar studies will be carried out for other Balkan countries such as Greece and Macedonia.
Mentioning the research center's other work in the areas of history and civilization, Eren said that they have made restorations to Mostar Bridge in Bosnia and they want to use the experiences they gained there in their planned project to restore a number of places in Jerusalem.
IRCICA Director Eren has said that the research center's headquarters in historical Yıldız Palace in İstanbul constantly receives many visitors from around the world, as if it has taken up a diplomatic mission. “IRCICA has become a much-visited place for state officials and leaders who have come to İstanbul. Saudi princes who do not usually go to anywhere visit our headquarters and hold meetings here,” said Eren, adding that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is one of the people who has visited their headquarters. He asserted that Yıldız Palace, where the headquarters are located and which was once used by Abdul Hamid II during the Ottoman Empire, provides for an arena for diplomacy for both the OIC and Turkey.
The IRCICA has also restored a building in poor consition in Yıldız Palace that was once an armory and turned it into a large library, now housing more than 70,000 books in various languages.