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Turkey’s Christian minority sends four deputies to parliament

Turkey’s Christian minority will be represented in the Turkish parliament in greater number after a long absence as four members of the community will become deputies after the June 7 elections.

The results of the parliamentary election, one of the most critical and closely fought in years, ended the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) 13-year one-party rule, while also propelling four members of the Christian minority to the legislature.

Markar Esayan, an Armenian-Turkish journalist for the pro-AKP daily Yeni Şafak, entered the parliament on an AKP ticket as the 12th candidate from Istanbul’s second election area.

Selina Doğan, from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), was elected as the first deputy candidate from the second election area of the CHP’s Istanbul list. Doğan, who is of Armenian origin, practices law as an attorney.

CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said while introducing Doğan as a candidate that her candidacy was an important message for the world.

“We do not want division in this society. We want to grow and develop together,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in early April.

Two Christians will also enter parliament from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) ticket, one from Istanbul and the other from the southeastern province of Mardin.

Garo Paylan, who ran for parliament as the second nominee from the HDP’s third election area in Istanbul, holds Armenian roots and is listed as a trainer on the Supreme Election Board (YSK) candidate list.

Erol Dora, who is a member of Turkey’s Syriac community and a lawyer, was the HDP’s third deputy candidate from Mardin and an incumbent in the legislature.

In addition to the four Christians, two members of Turkey’s small Yazidi community were also elected for the HDP – Feleknas Uca from Diyarbakır and Ali Atalan from Batman.


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Armenian Candidates' Bid To Run For Turkey's Parliament Linked To Genocide Issue - Orientalist

10:44 * 02.06.15

The three Armenian candidates' bid to run for Turkey's parliament makes the upcoming elections slightly different others, an Armenian Turkologist said, attributing the trend to the Genocide issue.

Speaking to, Ruben Melkonyan, a deputy dean at the Yerevan State University's Oriental Studies Department, noted no Armenian candidates had won seats in the country's chief law making body since 1960.

The parliamentary elections in Turkey are slated for June 7.

The expert said he sees that the internalization of the Genocide issue in politics and the media gives the Armenians in Turkey a higher political weight.

"With the exception of the Nationalist Movement Party, all the rest - both the ruling and opposition Kemalist parties, as well as the Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party - have nominated Armenian candidates," he said, pointing out to a high likelihood of several candidates' success in the polls, judging by their ranking on the election lists.

"The important thing is that the ruling party's candidate, Margar Yesayan, is known for pro-government views; he is a journalist who, over the course of his professional career, backed Erdogan and his administration. Hence naturally, election to the parliament will add only a new trait to - instead of changing - Yesayan's image: he will be not only a journalist lauding the Turkish authorities' general policies but also a lawmaker forming part of and implementing those policies," Margaryan said, adding that he doesn't thus expect a revolutionary move by that candidate.

The orientalist said he finds that the same applies also to the opposition Kemalist Party's candidate, who is thought to have low chances of election.

"The only interesting candidate is Karo Pailian, the People's Democratic Party's nominee, who always raises the problem of Armenian schools and brings the Armenian community's burning issues to the agenda. In case of being elected, he will maintain his image, so we can expect the Turkish parliament to have a member whose statements will differ from the scenarios outlined by the Turkish authorities; they will focus more on the Armenian community in Istanbul," Melkonyan added.

The expert said he thinks that the Armenian candidates, if elected, will have two main functions in Turkey's legislative: they will give the Turkish authorities the trump card of looking tolerant to European structures and serve as the Turkish authorities' tool at critical moments, making statement on their behalf as "messages" to the world.

Commenting on possible speculations over the Genocide as part of the pre-election campaign, the Turkologist said he sees that the issue has simply become part of the country's political rhetoric. "The question was high on the agenda during the presidential polls. As for the parliamentary elections, it is relatively passive. Only the Kurdish party raises it, but it too, at times avoids the issue as it sees a serious threat of losing votes," he added.

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