From the very first beginning of its tenure, the AK Party made sincere efforts to positively transform state's mentality toward non-Muslim communities. As a result, today these community's ties with Turkey is strengthened
I am writing an article for the first time about my candidacy for the coming elections, June 7. I thought that perhaps some of our citizens who follow us from abroad might wonder why an Armenian was nominated as a candidate for a party. Turkey might be a country that is difficult to grasp from a distance. Actually, this goes for every country when any attempt is made to understand it from outside. For example, some calculations can be easily made about the U.S., where annually approximately 500 black citizens are killed by the police. However, the same U.S. is also one of the leading representatives of democracy. The problems in U.S. laws, police officers with racist tendencies and the fact that income and opportunity equalities do not favor blacks and Hispanics do not mean that we should discredit U.S. democracy entirely.
Turkey is a complex country in this same sense. This difficulty is valid for the people of Turkey who migrated, leaving Turkey during the dark times years before. Since they reluctantly left their country in difficult times, the last scene in their memories regarding the country is quite dark and negative. However, time passes and every country evolves in its own way. Turkey entered a period of radical transformation on Nov. 3, 2002, which has favored democracy. Naturally, the most disadvantaged segments of society benefited from the changes most. The Unionist state mindset used to dominate the country during the 20th-century Republican period, implementations such as the Property Tax exhausted minority communities, and the Republican People's Party (CHP) used to act as the political representative of this mindset.
The greatest strike was the state's practice of seizing foundation properties that were acquired after 1936 with the implementation of Declaration 36. This practice was overtly designed with a motivation to deter minorities and it achieved its target. This declaration cut the floor out from under non-Muslim minorities since they used to manage their schools, churches, cemeteries, hospitals and associations through these foundations. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) did not only put an end this practice, but also amended the Foundations Law for the return of the seized foundation properties. This was not accomplished easily. The CHP brought the law to the Constitutional Court with CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's signature on the grounds that the AK Party "dynamites the grounds of our nation by returning the properties of foreigners."
All of our cemeteries across Turkey were restored and rejuvenated by AK Party municipalities. The Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on Akhtamar Island in Lake Van was restored in accordance with its original condition and opened for worship. The seized Syriac Mor Gabriel Monastery was returned to the Syriacs through a government initiative, although the judicial processes were blocked. Syriacs have just started to construct their own church in the Republican period on land endowed to them in Istanbul's Yeşilköy district. So far, 400 valuable foundation properties have been returned and compensated for financially. The rights of Kurds and all the "others" have been returned and will continue to be returned during the AK Party period. However, this movement is targeted by some segments of the population that regard themselves as secular and modern since it is a conservative movement. The party is constantly criticized with false data and misinformation. There are many efforts to discredit the party.Lately, a problem was experienced regarding the Tuzla Orphanage, where the assassinated Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, and his wife, Rakel, spent time and met each other for the first time. The orphanage building and land, which were seized by the state in 1983, passed onto other hands over time and the foundation did not closely monitor the process. Although it was possible to benefit from the law enacted by the AK Party, paying caution money was avoided and the process was not followed. This was a case of a serious weakness of management. When the current owner began demolishing the building upon a court order, the government intervened and stopped the demolition process.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is personally involved in the case. Also, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş has promised to resolve the problem. With a new formula, they will enable the relevant use of the land and return it to its owner. I guess this problem will also be permanently resolved soon. Of course what is important here is not the return of a property. What really matters is the fact that the state mindset is undergoing a transformation, which has been achieved by the AK Party. Despite these positive developments, they are exposed to some negative attitudes they do not deserve as a result of false or imperfect knowledge, prejudices or misinformation. But I cannot say that they are concerned with this, either. The AK Party is confidently progressing on its own path and is confident about its direction and the steps it has achieved. Sooner or later, the world will have to comprehend and accept the New Turkey. At least for the sake of consistency.
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