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WikiLeaks: 2009-09-14: 09ISTANBUL350: Turkish Armenians Relate Hope for Progress in Turkey

by WikiLeaks. 09ISTANBUL350: September 14, 2009.

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 09:19 AM UT


Viewing cable 09ISTANBUL350, TURKISH ARMENIANS RELATE HOPE FOR PROGRESS IN

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09ISTANBUL350 2009-09-14 08:52 CONFIDENTIAL Consulate Istanbul
VZCZCXRO4689
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHIT #0350/01 2570852
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 140852Z SEP 09
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9180
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISTANBUL 000350 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/09/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM OSCE AR TU
SUBJECT: TURKISH ARMENIANS RELATE HOPE FOR PROGRESS IN 
TURKEY 
 
REF: ISTANBUL 69 
 
Classified By: Consul General Sharon A. Wiener for reasons 1.4 (b) and 
(d). 
 
1.  (SBU) Summary.  During a meeting on September 4, Armenian 
Archbishop and acting Patriarch Aram Atesyan shared with 
visiting Ambassador Yovanovitch his optimism about the 
Turkish-Armenian rapprochement despite his conviction that 
Turkey will not change its stance on the events of 1915. He 
explained the continued need for many Armenian Turks to 
conceal their Armenian Christian identity in Anatolia, even 
though "as a people we have no problems with Turks." 
Publishing coordinator for the Armenian and Turkish language 
weekly Agos, Maide Saris, said that while Armenian Turks 
still cannot be civil servants due to an unwritten law, they 
face no discrimination in the private sector. Saris concluded 
that it really is very exciting to live in Turkey as an 
Armenian today. End Summary. 
 
2.  (C) Atesyan reported that GOT's EU Affairs Minister 
Egemen Bagis had told him on September 3 that he has great 
hope that the rapprochement protocols will be signed by both 
parliaments and the border opened.  "If the Diasporan 
Armenians shut their mouths, we will have progress" on this 
issue, Atesyan opined, contending that the only problem 
between the Armenian Diaspora and Turkey is 1915 - "and 
solving that is hopeless." 
 
3.  (SBU) According to Atesyan, the 70,000 illegal Armenian 
migrants to Turkey would be happy if the border were opened 
and relations normalized.  Atesyan pointed out that most 
migrants to Turkey from Armenia are women and children.  He 
contends that because of their illegal status the children 
are unable to attend Turkish public schools, and because they 
are not Turkish citizens, cannot attend the Turkish Armenian 
minority schools.  The future of an entire generation of 
Armenian migrant children "is based on political relations 
between the two countries," Atesyan argued. 
 
4.  (C) As the leader of the Armenian Orthodox community and 
church in Turkey, Atesyan said he cannot talk about the 
massacres of 1915 nor April 24. "It would cause too many 
problems."   He commented on the continued antagonism toward 
Armenian Christians in Anatolia.  He explained that he has 
cousins who converted to Islam in Diyarbakir for perceived 
personal safety concerns who want to baptize their child. 
However, Atesyan said he is unwilling to baptize their child 
until they convert back (officially changing the religion on 
their identity cards to read "Armenian Orthodox" rather than 
"Islam").  They will only do this when and if they move to 
the more tolerant Istanbul "because otherwise they feel it 
would not be safe to be openly Armenian Orthodox in 
Anatolia." 
 
5.  (SBU) Prior to the founding of the Turkish Republic, 
Atesyan explained that there were 2,200 Armenian churches, of 
which only 45 remain with only 22 priests to serve the 
parishioners (Ref A). Currently the fewer than 1,000 Armenian 
Orthodox remaining in Adiyaman must attend a Syriac Orthodox 
church because there is no Armenian church available for 
them.  The properties and schools can only be maintained with 
support from wealthy parishioners as 50 percent of students 
in Armenian minority schools are on scholarship.  The 
Armenian General Benevolent Union in the United States covers 
10 percent of the schools' budget through donations, Atesyan 
said. 
 
6.  (C) Atesyan expressed his belief that the problems of the 
minorities come from the state rather than the GOT and 
contended that if AKP were to remain in power for another 20 
years, many of Turkey's problems would be solved.  He related 
a situation in which PM Erdogan, addressing Patriarch 
Mutafyan and Atesyan, gestured to a portrait of Ataturk and 
asked which was better for the Armenians: the Ottoman Empire 
or the new Turkish Republic. Atesyan said the PM was implying 
that he understood that Turkey's minorities lived better 
under the Ottoman Empire's millet system. 
 
7.  (SBU) In a separate meeting, publishing coordinator for 
the Armenian and Turkish language weekly Agos, Maide Saris, 
shared with the Ambassador that while Armenian Turks de facto 
still cannot be civil servants, they face no discrimination 
in the private sector. Unlike 10 years ago, Maide commented, 
Agos is now able to report on the events of September 1955 in 
which hundreds of properties owned by minorities were 
 
ISTANBUL 00000350  002 OF 002 
 
 
destroyed.  "Turkey is now reading, talking, and learning 
about the issue" of the Armenian question. 
 
8.  (C) Comment: The enhanced dialogue on the topic of the 
events of 1915 over the past year and the AKP's positive 
relationship with most minority communities provides some 
hope that some of the challenges facing these communities 
will be addressed, if not comprehensively resolved. Atesyan 
echoes the voices of many who believe the Turkish-Armenian 
rapprochement can only provide positive results for all 
involved, but may be correct in his assessment of the limited 
likelihood that the state and people will change its views on 
the events of 1915. End Comment. 
WIENER

 



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