Patriarchate Calls for Equal Rights for Turkey’s Armenians

Arch. Ateshian (center) seen at the inaugural Mass at Diyarbakir Church

ISTANBUL—The acting leader of the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey, Archbishop Aram Ateshian, called on a Turkish parliament commission on Monday to ensure equal rights for all citizens of Turkey, reported the Hurriyet newspaper.

Addressing the Turkish National Assembly’s Constitution Conciliation Commission, Ateshian called for a definition of “constitutional citizenship.”

“There may not be any definition of citizenship in the Constitution. But if there is to be a definition, then anybody born on the territory of the Republic of Turkey, or one who has acquired Turkish citizenship, or one whose parents or father are citizens of the Republic of Turkey, is a citizen of the Republic of Turkey,” Ateshian told the commission, according to Hurriyet.

Ateshian also asked for an arrangement in the new constitution that would provide “equal citizenship” that would pave the way to the “right of property” and “equal benefit from state opportunities.”

Ateshian also demanded that Armenians be allowed to take jobs at state institutions. He submitted an 11-page proposal for the new constitution including constitutional guarantees against hate crimes. Expressing his wish for an “equal, pluralist and liberal” constitution, he asked that freedom of religion and conscience be provided.

Asking for the right to form, manage and supervise any kind of educational institution to train the clergy, Ateshian said the state, which provides all kinds of support for public schools, should also support non-profit minority schools that are also doing public service.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Ateshian said: “The constitution actually should be like a mother [a reference to the Turkish word for constitution which starts with ‘ana’ (mother). It should be like a mother who is warm, embracing, merciful, conscientious… One that does not discriminate against her children, one that keeps the same distance from all her children. The Constitution should serve this purpose. We believe this constitution will serve this propose.”

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