Business card in Armenian issued by Parliament delights lawmaker
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULFeb 23, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Feb 23, 2016 12:00 am
Turkey's evolution into a state recognizing the rights of minorities achieved further progress when Parliament issued a business card in Armenian for a deputy for the first time. Garo Paylan, an Istanbul lawmaker for the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), welcomed the news as he shared his new business card on his Twitter account. "The printing house of the Turkish Grand National Assembly printed my cards in Armenian and Turkish. This step on Native Language Day is very meaningful. I hope it will be applied to other languages as well," he tweeted, referring to Sunday's International Mother Language Day, observed on Feb. 21.
The move, although symbolic, comes amid efforts by the government to restore rights of Turkey's oft-neglected minorities. Turkey hosts a small community of Armenians, mainly concentrated in Istanbul, and like Greeks and other minorities, they have suffered from violation of their rights in the past, especially in terms of arbitrary seizure of their properties. The controversial wealth tax imposed in 1942, which targeted rich non-Muslims, a pogrom in 1955 and the deportation of non-Muslim Turkish citizens in 1964, all added to "a fear of the state" among non-Muslim minorities. The "democratization package" announced by the government a few years ago aims to change the state's view of minorities and restore their rights. Then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced in 2011 that hundreds of properties confiscated from minorities over the years would be returned, and compensation would be paid for properties which had been sold to third parties. Though no comprehensive laws exist to restore property rights, Turkish courts have gradually returned properties to minorities who prove ownership.
Armenians enjoy the largest representation among other minorities in the Parliament, with three lawmakers hailing from the community in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), HDP and the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).