Archbishop Aykazian Asks HDP Co-Leader Demirtas About Armenian Genocide

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By Danielle Saroyan

Armenian Agenda Associate Editor

‪On December 3, during the Middle
East Institute 6th Annual Conference on Turkey in Washington, ‪D.C., Armenian Diocese Archbishop
Vicken Aykazian asked Kurdish HDP Party Co-Leader Selahattin Demirtas about whether
or not he sees Turkey acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.

“More than
one and a half million Armenians were massacred and this year is the 100th
anniversary for the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Two thousand seven
hundred churches that are occupied and destroyed, only one was given back in
your birth place, Diyarbakir,” Archbishop Aykazian said. “You, as a politician,
what do you think the Turkish or when do you think the Turkish government is
going to accept the Armenian Genocide?”

During his
response, Demirtas said that there needs to
be a discussion between the two countries on this issue. There have been
measures in the past to normalize relations, such as a friendly soccer match
between Armenia and Turkey, but it is time for Turkey to overcome hostility and
confront it face to face.

Armenian Assembly of America Regional Analyst Alin Ozinian translated Demirtas’ response from Turkish to English.

“Turkey
should overcome this and courageously discuss it.

AKP
Government had handled the subject in the past. At that time, when Abdullah
Gul was the President and Erdogan was the Prime Minister, friendly mutual
[between Turkey-Armenia] steps had been taken. National [soccer] matches organized
and border opened for the counter trade. In few words, they
[Turkey-Armenia] tried to create an environment of mutual trust. But it was a
process which needed durability. There are historical events which force us to confront
the past.

We
need a confrontation which should not aim to accuse the Turkish public. This confrontation should not make new wounds. This confrontation should unite the people who
all feel this pain and suffering. This confrontation also should restore the trust
between people and ensure this [1915] will not repeat. Confrontation must be
such a thing.

What
I am trying to explain here does not make any sense in Turkey. Turkey does not
work in this direction. “Truth Commissions” can help both sides for confrontation. We [HDP] always proposed
to create similar commissions but never get a result.

It is hard to make a prediction when
Turkish society or the Turkish state officially can face this. But I know we
can’t go further while we are leaving behind
these sorrow. If we find an opportunity to recover relations, not blame the Turkish
people, discuss the issue, and make a sincere apology, that will be good job, I
assume…

About the murder of Tahir Elçi, I
express my condolences…”

Later on,
during the third panel titled “Turkey’s Western Partnerships During Troubled
Times,” Atlantic Council Vice President and Former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey
Francis Ricciardone congratulated the Middle East Institute for setting a
healthy and helpful environment where an Armenian American can ask such a
question about the Armenian Genocide and receive an honest response.

Photo
Caption: Middle East Institute Center for Turkish Studies Gonul Tol moderating
the keynote discussion with Kurdish HDP Co-Leader Selahattin Demirtas.

Video
Caption 1: Armenian Diocese Archbishop Vicken Aykazian asks Kurdish HDP Party Co-Leader
Selahattin Demirtas about Turkey acknowledging the Armenian Genocide during the
Middle East Institute 6th Annual Conference on Turkey in Washington, ‪D.C.

Video
Caption 2: Kurdish HDP Party Co-Leader Selahattin Demirtas responds to Armenian
Diocese Archbishop Vicken Aykazian’s question about Turkey acknowledging the
Armenian Genocide during the Middle East Institute 6th Annual Conference on
Turkey in Washington, ‪D.C. (See the full Turkish text and the English translation on the Assembly’s YouTube page).

Three Armenians Elected to Turkey’s Parliament in Historic Vote

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(Garo Paylan, Selina Dogan, Markar Esayan)

By Nick Rejebian (@nrejebbs), Assembly Public
Affairs Intern

AAANews Blog

 

June
9, 2015

With
86% of Turkey at the ballot box on Sunday, three Christian Armenian candidates,
Garo Paylan, Selina Dogan, and Markar Esayan, were elected to the Turkish
Parliament.

Garo
Paylan, a founding member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was elected
in the Istanbul 3rd Region. Born in Malatya in 1972 and raised in
Istanbul, Paylan began working humbly as a manager at Armenian schools. Since
the HDP’s founding in 2012, Paylan aided its growth as a member of the party’s
central executive committee. In Sunday’s election, Paylan competed for one of
31 regional seats; and with HDP receiving 14% of the vote and five seats,
Paylan won the 2nd seat.

Selina
Dogan, of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), is the first elected
Armenian female deputy Member of Parliament, representing Istanbul’s 2nd
Region. Born in Istanbul in 1977, Dogan rose quickly in academia as she pursued
her Faculty of Law from Galatasaray University, and completed her graduate
studies at the Informations University. With 26 regional seats at stake, the
CHP won 27% of the votes. Of these eight seats, Ms. Dogan was elected to the 1st
seat garnering the most votes of the CHP in the district.

Finally,
Markar Esayan, a member of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) competed in
Istanbul’s 2nd region. Born in 1969 in Istanbul, Esayan began
writing for the bi-lingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos in 1997, and left the pro-AKP daily newspaper Yeni Safak to run for parliament. Esayan
is also a published novelist having written five books since 2005. For the 2015
election, the AKP won 42% of the vote in the Istanbul’s 2nd region
thus earning 12 of the 26 seats. Esayan was elected to the 12th
seat.  

An
estimated 70,000 Armenians live in Turkey today, and with the Turkish
population around 78 million Armenians make up less than 0.01%. The Armenian community
in Turkey now has three individuals, proud of their heritage, representing them
in the Turkish parliament. The question is, will the voices of the suppressed finally
be heard in what promises to be the beginning of a new liberal democracy in
Turkey?

 

Nicholas
Rejebian is an intern with the Armenian Assembly for America’s Terjenian-Thomas
Summer Internship Program in Washington, DC. A native of Evanston, Illinois,
Nicholas studies Political Science and Economics at Dickinson College.