Turkey’s policy is to strip national minorities of their identity – Ruben Safrastyan  

14:20 • 12.02.17



Turkey is pursuing a Kemalist policy by denying the fact of other peoples living there, Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies Ruben Safrastyan told Tert.am as he spoke of the problems involving the national minorities in the new education programs in Turkey.

“The recent period has seen the public and academic community taking a softer line on the matter, but it has not yet been included in school textbooks,” the expert said.

Mr Safrastyan believes the purpose is to force non-Turkish young people to “become of the same kind.”

Turkey’s new educational program will soon be launched, but the problems arousing the religious minorities’ concern have not been settled.

The new educational program has been criticized in both technical and ideological respects. Specifically, the plans to force religious lessons on the Alevi have been harshly criticized.

It is only in recent years that Turkey has been perceived as a multinational and multi-religious state. In the 2000s, Turkey’s foreign office prohibited using the phrase ‘Turkey is a multinational country.’

“Kemalism is gradually giving up, but this process will continue for a long period for Turkey to meet the standards Europe wants it to meet,” Mr Safrastyan said.

He does not trust the statistical data claiming that national minorities constitute 1% of Turkey’s population.

“A European survey agency conducted a poll in Turkey, and 40% of the respondents denied their being Turks. They noted they were descendants of Kurds or Assyrians,” Mr Safrastyan said.

As Turkey is turning into a police state, with restriction of the rights, the national minorities, including Armenians, will face problems in defending their rights.

“Yes, this ideology, which could be branded as ‘Erdogan’s Turkey’, is alienating the country from European values. The current processes – constitutional reforms, for example – will turn Turkey into an authoritarian state.”

Mr Safrastyan points out the fact of nationalist tendencies with Islamism gaining strength.

“It could incite Turkey to even less think of the national minorities. On the other hand, we have to consider the discussions that Turkey’s present-day borders are not its real borders. New maps of Turkey show part of the Balkan Peninsula, part of Batumi, Mosul, Cyprus and so on as part of Turkey. The circles supporting the ideology of Neo-Ottomanism, as well as extremist and nationalistic sentiments, are gaining strength in Turkey, and they are aimed at not only the national minorities inside the country, but also outside it.”

Hripsime Hovhannisyan





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