The regulation, little-known beyond the island, prevented Turkey's Greek Orthodox citizens living on the island of Gökçeada (Imbros) in the north Aegean from buying property on the island.
The issue emerged when lawyer Erhan Pekçe filed a complaint with a court earlier this year about officials who set up difficulties before non-Muslims on the island who want to acquire property. He first petitioned Gökçeada's Land Registry and Cadastre Office, demanding to know why Muslims can easily buy property on Gökçeada while members of the Greek Orthodox community cannot. The Land Registry Office admitted to preventing non-Muslims from buying property, citing a National Security Council (MGK) decision, but refused to give further details.
The office said the details constituted state secrets and giving out the information might harm national security, foreign relations and national defense. Pekçe took the issue to an administrative court in Bursa earlier this year. The court ruled that Pekçe has the right to be informed by the bureau about the dubious property sale procedures on the island. However, the Gökçeada Land Registry and Cadastre Office appealed the ruling to the Council of State. The office argued in its appeal that both Gökçeada and another island, Bozcaada, are located in a strategic area in terms of national security.
An administrative court hearing the issue ruled that the sale of property to Turkish citizens of Greek descent was not against national security. The Land Registry Office appealed the case, but the Interior Ministry stepped in and issued a directive for the abolishment of the regulation.
Speaking about these latest developments to the Taraf daily, Pekçe said: “We are very happy about this development. An injustice that has been in practice for years has come to an end.”