Turkey’s Main Opposition Leaders Visit Patriarchate

On the steps of the Istanbul Patriarchate following CHP leaders’ visit

On the steps of the Istanbul Patriarchate following CHP leaders’ visit

ISTANBUL—Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy President and Foreign Relation Representative Osman Korutürk and General Secretary Bihlun Tamaylıgil paid a visit to the Greek and Armenian patriarchates on Monday and Tuesday, ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections, reported the Hurriyet Daily News.

The opposition’s effort to court minorities was met with harsh questions to party leaders who, last month, disqualified a Turkish-Armenian to run on the CHP ticket.

At the Armenian Patriarchate, the CHP leaders were met by Archbishop Aram Ateshian, who escorted them to meet with community representatives, in an assembly that was closed to the press.

A Hurriyet correspondent inquired about Koruturk’s view on the Armenian Genocide, to which he replied: “Both of the sides experienced agonies, it would be unjust to say they are one-sided. As two rival parties the CHP, and Justice and Development Party, or AKP, we brought on the agenda the proposal of establishing a history commission. Nevertheless, the proposal was not approved in Armenia.”

While at the Patriarchate the opposition leaders were queried about their decision to disqualify the candidacy of Arev Cebeci, who wanted to represent the Armenian community in the upcoming polls.

“More than 4,300 people applied and 550 of them won. We do not have an Armenian deputy in Parliament on behalf of our party. However, we have Armenian-origin citizens taking positions in the administration of CHP and local levels,” explained Koruturk.

The chairman of the Istanbul Armenian Foundation Bedros Marzubanyan told the visiting political leaders that recent statement by the party’s leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, had upset the community.

“Some people said Kılıçdaroğlu’s mother is an Armenian from Dersim and he tried to prove his mother is not an Armenian. I would like to ask him whether being an Armenian is really such a bad thing after all,” explained Marzubanyan, who also added that getting acquainted with the CHP’s positions was important since it is the main opposition in the country.

“There should have been at least two Armenian parliamentarians both in government and in the opposition. It is said on each occasion Turkey is a mosaic. If the parliament is a place where this mosaic is represented, and that is the case, as far as I know, then the pieces missing from the mosaic must be completed. We have deputy mayors and village headmen, but now we want to send a representative to parliament,” said Marzubanyan, who highlighted the fact that the 50,000-strong Armenians in Turkey did not have a single representative in parliament.

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