Armenians ask for equal citizenship in new charter
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Acting Armenian Patriarch Aram Ateşyan joins a meeting in Parliament.Acting Patriarch Aram Ateşyan, the religious leader of Turkish Armenians, asked for equal citizenship for all the Turkish Republic’s citizens, as well as an “embracing” charter, during an appearance in front of Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission yesterday.
Ateşyan issued a call for a definition of “constitutional citizenship” during his presentation. His definition was reportedly different from the Greek Patriarchate, which had asked for citizenship under the definition of Turkishness.
“There may not be any definition of citizenship in the Constitution. But if there is to be a definition, then anybody born on the soil of the Republic of Turkey, or one who has acquired Turkish citizenship, or one whose parents or father are citizens of the Republic of Turkey, is a citizen of the Republic of Turkey,” Ateşyan said.
Demand for property rights
Ateşyan also asked for an arrangement in the new constitution that would provide “equal citizenship” that would pave the way to the “right of property” and “equal benefit from state opportunities.”
Non-Muslim minorities in Turkey have legal rights based on the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, Ateşyan said, adding that they were true children of the country and did not want to be “treated as foreigners.”
Ateşyan also demanded that Armenians be allowed to take jobs at state institutions.
Ateşyan submitted an 11-page proposal for the new constitution including constitutional guarantees against hate crimes. Expressing his wish for an “equalitarian, pluralist and liberal” constitution, he asked that freedom of religion and conscience be provided.
‘We want to train the clergy’
Asking for the right to form, manage and supervise any kind of educational institution to train the clergy, Ateşyan said the state, which provides all kinds of support for public schools, should also support non-profit minority schools that are also doing a public service.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Ateşyan said: “The constitution actually should be like a mother [a reference to the Turkish word for constitution which starts with ‘ana’ (mother)]. It should be like a mother who is warm, embracing, merciful, conscientious, one that does not discriminate among her children, one that keeps the same distance from all her children. The Constitution should serve this purpose. We believe this constitution will serve this propose.” k HDN