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Genocide Discussion in Turkish Parliament More Important for Local Armenians, Activist Says

The majority of Turkey's Armenian community does not agree with the opinion of Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, General Vicar of Armenian Patriarch in Turkey, about the Armenian Genocide resolution passed by the German Bundestag, Istanbul-based human rights activist and member of Nor Zartonk movement Sayat Tekir said in conversation with Epress.am, referring to Ateşyan's letter to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in which the Archbishop claimed that the Bundestag's recognition of the Armenian Genocide had “caused deep regret in Turkish Armenians society.”

At the same time, Tekir added, some representatives of the community, who also support Erdoğan's ruling A.K. Party, do share Ateşyan's feelings on the issue, and Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos' response to the Archbishop's letter was therefore essential in the sense that it reflected the opinion of the majority of local Armenians and shed some light on manipulations coming from Turkish authorities. In particular, the activist said, pro-government press has been actively promoting the idea that Kurds had joined Armenians outside the German parliament to celebrate the decision by German lawmakers and that “these two nations are fighting together against Turkey.”

“Hence, they are inciting hatred against Armenians and Kurds living in Turkey. They want to foster the impression that Armenians do not want prosperity in Turkey. In various parts of the country, the word 'Armenian' is perceived as an insult; it is, in some sense, a devilized word, so they are using this opportunity to discredit and devilize the current Kurdish movement. It’s not only about the Genocide recognition: Erdoğan is also using the issue to solve some of his internal political problems,” Sayat Tekir stated.

Ateşyan's letter to Erdoğan's, he went on to say, cannot be explained solely by pressure coming from Turkey's ruling authorities since there are Turkish Armenians who cooperate with the A.K. Party, are well aware of Erdoğan's supporters' opinions on this or that issue and act accordingly.

“I can't claim that [Ateşyan has been pressured to write the letter]; but there are people in the community who could do such a thing for the sake of their own interests,” Tekir noted.

The recognition of the Armenian Genocide by third countries is undeniably important, but, according to the activist, for Turkey's Armenian community it is essential that the issue be discussed on the Turkish parliament floor. “Unfortunately, Turkey's government stays true to its denial policy […] and even increases the pressure on the representatives of the Armenian community, using its propaganda machine to spread hatred against them.”