ISTANBUL (Jamanak, Nor Marmara) – Armenian member of Turkish Parliament Garo Paylan, a member of the HDP party representing Diyarbakir, on successive occasions has brought onto the agenda the question of suspended elections for the administrative bodies of non-Muslim minority communities. [Translator’s note: the reference is to vakifs which are foundations with elected boards of directors by which all churches, schools and other institutions of the various Christian and Jewish communities, including the Armenian community, must be administered, according to Turkish law. Each church, school, etc. has its own vakif under the law.]
“Why have national minorities not been able to organize elections, if it was announced a year ago that the issue was solved?” Paylan asked. Paylan presented an official question in conjunction with this to the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy. He reminded Ersoy that on January 19, 2013, the regulation through which the elections were organized for the minority vakifs was abolished. It has been seven years since then and a new regulation has yet to be published, contrary to the expectations of the minority communities.
Despite multiple demands and suggestions for a solution presented by the minority communities to the appropriate bodies, the AKP authorities have not ratified the new election regulations. On March 11, 2019, The General Directorship of Vakifs issued a circular, which created new disillusionment among the minorities. In the circular, it was indicated that parish councils, boards of trustees, etc., would be able to fill their boards with new members if there were resignations or if deaths occurred.
According to Paylan, it has been seven years since an election has taken place and during this period five ministers have come and gone. Directing his words to the present minister, Ersoy, Garo Paylan indicated that on November 14, 2019, the minister announced that immediately after the election of the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, their first job would be to prepare a new regulation for the election of the minority vakifs. At that time Ersoy indicated within the halls of Parliament that this problem was already solved. A year has passed and there has been no action taken, the minister’s proclamation aside.
Garo Paylan addressed four fundamental questions concerning the situation thus created to Mehmet Nuri Ersoy:
- Why are the elections for the minority vakifs not taking place, despite the proclamation made by the minister a year ago in reference to this problem being solved?
- What is the excuse by which, for seven years, the regulation has not been published, through which the elections are organized for the administrative bodies of the vakifs of the minority communities?
- When will the regulation be published?
- Is it being taken into account that as a result of the elections not taking place the vakifs of the minorities are not being run in an effective manner?