Saturday, August 15, 2009

Erdogan ‘promises’ reform in Turkey towards Religious Minorities

He is not the first Turkish leader to attempt and woo the remaining indigenous minorities of Turkey with promises of change, yet in a surprise meeting with religious minority leaders, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan announced today that his administration was serious in bring about democratic reforms on issues important to indigenous Hellenes, Armenians, and other religious minorities.

The meeting took place on Prinkipos (commonly known today as Buyukada Island), the largest of nine islands referred to as the Princes’ Islands in the Marmara Sea, near Constantinople. Leaders from the Armenian, Jewish, Syriac Orthodox and Catholic communities, along with the Hellenic Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met with Erdogan and other Turkish Ministers. During a speech about broader reform reports claim that Erdogan was quoted in saying, “It is now for us essential to embrace all 71.5 million of this nation’s people in respect and love”.

Well Prime Minister Erdogan, I truly hope you and your administration are serious in your pledge to embrace all Turkish citizens, with respect and love. Unfortunately you have a long way to go until ethnic Hellenes can trust any promises you and your administration offer in the face of EU pressure. If you are serious, in bring about democratic reforms, perhaps you should consider recognizing the Hellenic, Armenian and Assyrians Genocides or developing a government program to allow expelled indigenous minorities to return to their historical homelands. Crack down on radical elements inside Turkish society like the Grey Wolves who promote Anti-Hellenic discrimination and hate to a new generation of Turkish Citizens. Change Turkey’s position on Cyprus and allow for justice to prevail. Prime Minister Erdogan, I welcome your promises on reform and possibly reopening the Halki Seminary, however, this is not enough if you truly hope to embrace the indigenous minorities of Turkey with respect and love. What is truly ‘essential’ is for Turkey to ‘man up’ to its past and enact real acts of reform, not just empty promises at surprise lunch meetings.

Turkish PM promises reform to religious minorities
By Ayla Jean Yackley
Saturday, August 15, 2009; 3:13 PM
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