ISTANBUL (Today’s Zaman) — The Armenian community in Turkey has not been directly represented in Parliament since 1964, when Berc Sahak Turan’s term in the then-Turkish Senate ended. For the first time in 51 years, Armenian deputies will represent Turkey’s most fragile minority group. More interestingly, three of the four parties that will be represented in Parliament will have an Armenian deputy, according to the unofficial final results of the election.
Talking to Sunday’s Zaman, Pakrat Estukyan, a prominent journalist with Agos weekly, Turkey’s leading newspaper for the Armenian community, said that “[The high number of Armenian deputies] will surely have a positive effect on our community. It is precious [for us] in terms of morale, first of all; we will see in time whether their [the deputies’] actions will also have positive impact [on our community].”
Karabet Garo Paylan, who was elected as a deputy for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) representing İstanbul, is an important Armenian figure with a background in serving Armenian civil society. Paylan, who on the board of Yeşilköy Armenian Grammar School, took an active role in saving the historic Camp Armen Armenian orphanage from destruction in mid-May. The orphanage would have been destroyed as part of a construction plan to build luxury villas.
Estukyan commented on Paylan’s previous active role in the Armenian community, saying, “Paylan has contributed to the community in many ways, especially in the fields of education, to an extent that he was embraced by society.” Estukyan added that he has a high opinion of Paylan’s role in helping the Armenian community under the HDP’s leadership.
Turkish-Armenian deputy Selina Dogan will be representing İstanbul’s second region for the Republican People’s Party (CHP). Dogan, who has a legal background, said in an interview with the ANKA news agency in April that besides being Armenian and being enthusiastic about representing her community, she also hopes to bring up issues of gender inequality in Parliament.
Even from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), officials from which were previously recorded using derogatory language regarding Armenians, there is an important Armenian deputy: Markar Esayan. Having been a journalist in a pro-government daily, Esayan, however, has been criticized by an Armenian foundation for using events related to his community for promoting the AK Party.