The Armenian Community in Turkey Is in a Difficult Situation
As the political tension in Turkey is escalating, experts point out that the Turkish nationalists' attacks on the Kurdish settlements and the offices of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) have both internal and regional reasons.

Among the political factors, experts single out the fact that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost the absolute majority in the Parliament following the elections in June 2015, as well as the fact that the pro-Kurdish HDP crossed the threshold into the Parliament. As regards the regional factors, experts point out the bloody chaos in the Middle East – in Syria and Iraq, where Ankara has recently launched military operations against the detachments of the Kurdistan Workers' Party.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's troops resist the Islamic State terrorist organization and have already gained some success.

The aggravation of the national problem amid the law-enforcers' punitive measures and the military operations, as well as the domestic political shocks in the Kurdish-populated eastern provinces of Turkey pose a serious threat both to the Armenians living in Turkey and directly to Armenia, the analysts say.

In the current situation Yerevan should be as vigilant as possible, keep a close watch on the developments and make the relevant conclusions. This issue was the focus of the Sept 14 discussions involving Kiro Manoyan, Head of ARFD Bureau's Hay Dat and Political Affairs Office, Bagrat Estukian, editor of the Armenian department of the Istanbul-based Agos newspaper, and analyst Vicken Cheterian, who joined the discussion via a video call.

Estukian characterizes the ongoing developments in Turkey as large-scale persecutions against the Kurdish population and the pro-Kurdish HDP, which has crossed the threshold into the Parliament. He thinks the authorities seek to change the domestic political balance of forces because the ruling AKP has lost the absolute majority.

To regain its domestic political foothold, the AKP has turned the country into a battle field. This is especially conspicuous in the Kurdish-inhabited regions of the country, with Kurds constituting about 20-25% of the country's population. Estukian said that shots are heard everywhere, the police brutality is growing and a state of emergency has been declared.

He thinks that the attacks on the HDP offices and the persecutions against the HDP supporters have only one goal – to discredit the pro-Kurdish party and regain the AKP's political prevalence during the snap elections scheduled for November 1.

The aggravation of the national problem in Turkey creates a complicated situation for the Armenian community as well. Though there are no attacks on the Armenians, nevertheless, in the media the nationalist circles are conducting an intensive propaganda against both Kurds and Armenians, who voted mostly for the pro-Kurdish party during the recent elections.

“The nationalists perfectly know where the Armenian cultural and educational centers are. They also know when the classes begin and end. This is the information the police are also aware of,” said Estukian.

Kiro Manoyan shares Estukian's opinion. He is convinced that before the snap parliamentary elections in Turkey, the situation will only keep aggravating. “The attacks on Kurds and the persecutions against the pro-Kurdish party aim to restore the AKP's foothold. By the way, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has recently said explicitly that if the population does not want the situation to aggravate, it should vote for the ruling party. It is not hard to guess what Davutoglu was hinting at,” said Manoyan.

He thinks the developments in Turkey may echo across the entire region. Armenia should be vigilant, because all these processes are not going on far from its borders. The events in Turkey have a certain impact on Azerbaijan as well, because the frequent blasts in certain sections of the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline trigger problems for energy supply, which, in turn, affects the financial abilities of Azerbaijan, he said.

Analyst Vicken Cheterian considers the situation in Turkey not only in terms of domestic political factors but also in the light of the regional processes.

He said that the situation in Turkey aggravated after the act of terrorism in the Kurdish-inhabited town of Suruc. This was followed by persecutions against the Kurdish population, as well as military operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party. By that time the latter had achieved immense success against the Islamic State. The Kurds had taken control of about 400 km of territory adjacent to Turkey. “That is to say, in the south Turkey would have bordered on the Kurdish autonomy instead of Syria. That is where Ankara smelled the threat,” he stressed.

Arshaluis Mghdesyan

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