THE TURKISH ARMENIAN NEWSPAPER MARMARA ASKS OUTSIDERS NOT TO ACT AS MEDIATOR
BRUSSELS–The European Commission adopted and published on October 9–a report on Turkey’s progress toward accession to the European Union–reported the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (formerly ANC-Europe).
As in past years–the report is composed of three parts–examining in detail economic and political criteria (democracy and constitutional issues–human rights and minority protection–Cyprus–peaceful resolution of borders disputes)–as well as the capacity of Turkey to meet general standards (the 29 chapters of Acquis Communautaire).
In the segment dedicated to human rights–the Commission exposed difficulties encountered by national minorities–essentially due to the lack of legal recognition and property rights–such as official harassment of clergy–the obligation for religious communities’ schools to have a Muslim deputy director representing the Ministry of National Education–as well as the ban of the training of clergy for religious minorities.
The Commission devoted considerable attention to the problems stemming from the 1936 law on the properties of non-Muslim community foundations. Indeed–according to law 2762 of 1936–only properties declared in 1936 are legally recognized–with properties acquired after 1936 being subject to confiscation by the State. Under this provision–Armenian–Greek and Catholic properties have been seized–or remain at risk. The report cites two cases of Armenian properties being confiscated in recent months.
The report underlines the considerable limits regarding the application of amendmen’s adopted by Turkey in this area of law last August. The implementation of these measures is entrusted to the Council of Ministers–without the right of appeal. Furthermore–a deadline of six months has been fixed for registering properties currently in use and no indication is given as to which administrative body these requests should be addressed. The European Commission considers the lack of specific mechanisms and the brief window of opportunity to register properties to represent practical hindrances for the implementation of the reforms adopted in this area.
"After so many years of injustice–the Christian and Jewish religious communities are faced yet again with such a bureaucratic labyrinth that they have lost hope that any of these promised reforms will actually be implemented," declared Hilda Tchoboian–Chairwoman of the European Armenian Federation.
In light of this situation–the European Armenian Federation has launched a European campaign for the abolition of anti-Armenian laws in Turkey (see attached text). As part of this effort–the Federation urges the Commission to press Turkey to abolish all these anti-Armenian decrees adopted in 1920’s and 1930’s–consistent with its own pronouncemen’s.
"The nations of Europe–having rightfully and forcefully condemned the anti-Jewish decrees adopted prior to and during World War II–must reject a candidate for EU membership that openly legitimizes such patently racially discriminatory legislation. These laws–very simply–represent the continuation of the Armenian Genocide of 1915–as does Turkey’s ongoing blockade of Armenia," noted Hilda Tchoboian.
Concerning this last subject–the European Armenian Federation is troubled by the Commission’s excessive over-cautiousness in denouncing Turkey’s illegal blockade of Armenia as an act unacceptable for a candidate country. The Federation considers that the euphemistic expression "closed border" to describe this act of aggression is far too lenient. In addition–describing this aggressive and over-armed country as an "important actor in promoting stability and security in Balkans and Caucasus region" constitutes a serious distortion of reality.
Finally–the European Armenian Federation is troubled that the Commission does not include the recognition of the Armenian Genocide under the political part of Copenhagen criteria–and that it did not urge Turkey to end its denial of this crime against humanity. The Federation recalls that–rather than openly confronting its past–Turkey persists in actively denying its crimes–including through the recent decision of the Turkish Minister of National Education to teach Genocide denial this semester to Turkish elementary schools and high schools children.
CAMPAIGN FOR THE ABOLITION OF ANTI ARMENIAN LAWS IN TURKEY
Following the extermination of the two thirds of its Armenian population and the exile of the survivors of this slaughter–the Turkish State created an extensive legal framework to legitimize the confiscation of Armenian goods and properties it described as "left unattended. These unjust laws required the victims of the Genocide to return and reclaim their possessions in the immediate wake of the Genocide. This law and its consequences remain full force today on the remaining Armenian community in Turkey–which due to ongoing repression and intimidation is unable to denounce the injustice of the Turkish government’s actions.
At the recent Copenhagen summit–European citizens launched an appeal to the leaders of European Union countries to urge Turkey to abolish Genocide-era anti-Armenian laws and decrees at the same time that it presses Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.
The nations of Europe–having rightfully and forcefully condemned the anti-Jewish decrees adopted prior to and during World War II–must reject a candidate for EU membership that openly legitimizes such patently racially discriminatory legislation. These laws–very simply–represent the continuation of the Armenian Genocide of 1915–as does Turkey’s ongoing blockade of Armenia.
The Federation also appeals to European Parliamentarians who will express themselves soon on Commission’s report to act in a manner worthy of their European values and consistent with the level of trust invested in them by their constituents.
Reacting to AEF’s campaign to end anti-Armenian laws in Turkey–the Bolis-based Marmara Armenian newspaper writes: "With its stern criticism of Turkey–the AEF report has caused great unease in Turkish political circles–as well as within our community. As it has been said on every occasion–the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey and our community has consistently asked that outsiders not act as mediators in these matters and allow Armenia’s of Turkey to protect their rights by establishing a dialogue with the government. The common belief is that outside mediation makes the job of Armenia’s in Turkey more difficult. We won’t at all be surprised if this new mediation causes great uproar in Turkish public opinion."