Babadağ welcomes first Armenian-origin district governor

Babadağ welcomes first Armenian-origin district governor

Ece Çelik - DENİZLİ
Babadağ welcomes first Armenian-origin district governor

Berk Acar, Türkiye’s first district governor of Armenian origin starting his post in the western district of Babadağ at the beginning of the week has been embraced by residents without any discrimination.

In the western province of Denizli’s Babadağ, where mostly retired people live, Acar first met and greeted the residents during a visit he paid to an open-air market and the Aug. 30 ceremonies.

Aug. 30 each year is celebrated as “Victory Day” to mark the biggest battle of Türkiye’s Independence War that led to the birth of the Turkish Republic.

Musa Yılmaz, who works in a coffee house in the district, said, “It doesn’t matter to us whether someone is Turkish, Kurdish or Armenian, it’s enough to be human.”

Noting that an open-air market is held in the district on Tuesdays, Recep Arıcan, a former head of the Idealist Hearts, also known as Ülkü Ocakları in Turkish, a nationalist group which has links with Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said, “He made a visit to the market with the mayor as soon as he took office. He seems like a decent person.”

“I consider this very positive for Babadağ. This is proof of how peaceful our district is. Babadağ is a broad-minded district as conscious people live here,” he added.

“It is not important for us where the district governor is from or his religion, what matters is his services,” said Hüseyin Gündoğan, another resident of the district.

Pointing out that the cost of living in the area is high and young people move from the district as it is a landslide area and transportation is difficult, Gündoğan added, “Our expectation from people such as the district governor and mayor is to find solutions to such problems.”

Şefik Çalık, another resident, stated that it is a good step for a minority to be appointed to such a position for the first time since the establishment of the republic. “Alevis, Greeks or other minority groups should be able to take high state positions as such steps soften the social climate.”

The 27-year-old, a lawyer by profession, sat the official exam for district governor in July 2021 and passed the exam finishing in 72nd place among the 13,374 participants.

He was one of the 475 people then invited to attend the oral exam. After successfully passing the final stage, he replaced the previous governor Adem Karataş.

Born in 1995, Acar went to the Sahakyan Nunyan Armenian Secondary School and Işık High School in Istanbul and graduated from Istanbul Bilgi University’s Law Faculty in 2020. He served his internship in a law firm in Istanbul’s Şişli district before sitting the exams for district governor.