The Turkish government led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, has decided to return properties confiscated from religious minorities 75 years ago. According to a decree issued this week, property taken away from minority religious foundations under a 1936 declaration will be returned to them.

The Turkish government says it will pay compensation for properties that were seized and later sold. Minority foundations will have 12 months to apply to Turkish authorities to reclaim their property.

The European Commission quickly welcomed the decree, but said in a statement that it will monitor closely the implementation of this new legislation.

The return of such properties has been a key demand of the European Union, which Turkey is seeking to join, and many observers believe that the decision will help ease Turkey's much strained relations with Europe.

In this episode, we ask: Is this a move to appease the European Union or an attempt to fend off the Islamist image of the ruling AK party?

Inside Story, with presenter Jane Dutton, discusses with guests: Andrew Finkel, a veteran journalist on Turkish affairs whose upcoming book is entitled Turkey – what everyone needs to know; Hussein Bagci, a professor of international relations at Middle East Technical University; and Cem Sofuoglu, a Turkish lawyer representing minority communities.

Source: Al Jazeera