ISTANBUL â€“ TDN with wire dispatches
The Housing Development Administration of Turkey, or TOKÄ°, has plans to build villa type houses in the southeastern province of Mardin in order to encourage the return of Syriacs, news agencies reported Wednesday.
Â Although the Syriac community welcomed the project, they still harbor doubts. â€œWe are excited about the project as Syriacs living in the region,â€ said Yusuf BektaÅŸ, the general secretary of Mardin and DiyarbakÄ±r Syriac Metropolit. Around 500,000 Syriacs have emigrated from Turkey, especially to European countries. â€œWe hope the project will have repercussions among Syriacs abroad,â€ BektaÅŸ said. The Mardin Governor’s Office prepared the project and presented it Wednesday to Syriac muhtars, village heads elected by the villagers and the religious representatives of the Syriac community. The project aims to encourage the return of those people who migrated from the city to other provinces of Turkey and abroad, said sources from the Mardin government.
Security and culture matters
Â However, it is too early to say whether the project would accelerate the Syriacs’ return, BektaÅŸ said, as this depends on the solution of problems in southeastern and eastern Anatolia. â€œIf people decide to return to this country, they would consider very general criteria,â€ he said.
Â Yuhanna AktaÅŸ, the deputy head of the Midyat Syriac Culture Association in Mardin’s Midyat district also said a housing project alone is not enough. To achieve the objective of bringing Syriacs back, it is necessary that the Syriac churches and monasteries, which are still being destroyed, be maintained and restored, Syriacs from abroad said in the meeting with the governor, according to AktaÅŸ. â€œThere are no factors connecting young people who lived abroad to here, they said. If it is about a house, they have houses there too,â€ AktaÅŸ said. Syriacs who want to return to their villages encounter security problems too, he said, adding that they need permission from various institutions to return.
Â Syriac families who are already returning to their hometowns have started to build their own houses in their villages, leading to some problems in infrastructure like running water and electricity, sources at the governor’s office said. The project aims to eliminate those problems through TOKÄ° projects. The governor’s office also requested the contact information of Syriac community representatives abroad in order to present the project to them, and also asked that Syriacs in Turkey inform their communities about the project. The project is not meant for Syriacs only, but for all other people who might want to return to their villages.