Two giant, conciliatory steps forward

Hurriyet, Turkey
March 25 2010

Two giant, conciliatory steps forward

Thursday, March 25, 2010

In our own recent struggles to produce a Turkish newspaper in the
English language, we have often resorted to the example of the
`Mehter,’ the slow-moving traditional march of the Ottoman
janissaries. As it involves one step backwards, and then two steps
forward, we have often found it an apt metaphor for the way we do
things at the Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review.

But today we seize on the Mehter metaphor for different reasons. It is
the best way we can sum up two positive developments which we can only
praise.

The first is the news yesterday that an Islamic foundation in Malatya,
the TepebaÅ?ı Mosque Construction and Preservation Society, has applied
to the Ministry of Culture to undertake a novel project. This Muslim
foundation wants to use its own resources to restore an Armenian
church and make it available for worship by Christians. That the
TaÅ?horon Church is in the neighborhood where assassinated journalist
Hrant Dink was born makes this gesture all the more symbolic and
gratifying. `This is proof that our culture is based on tolerance and
freedom of faith,’ said Latif Yıldırım, chief of the foundation.

We know our colleague Hrant, who dedicated his life, and ultimately
gave it, to the cause of reconciliation between peoples would approve
of this effort in his home town. At a time of growing political
tensions between Turks and Armenians, amid a faltering diplomatic bid
to normalize ties between their two nations, this effort is all the
more welcome.

A second major step forward is the news we report in today’s newspaper
that the government is seeking to do a 180-degree turn on the prime
minister’s offensive remarks of last week that rising tensions could
lead to the expulsion of Armenian citizens working as undocumented
laborers in Turkey. ErdoÄ?an claimed after the fact that his remarks
were misrepresented. They were not. But we accept the sincerity of his
contrition nonetheless. Because the government has announced it is
taking steps to enable the minor children of Armenian citizens in
Turkey to attend school.

This is a topic on which we have reported. The number of Armenian
citizens working without papers in Turkey is variously estimated to
range up to 14,000. Many have children, some who were born in Turkey,
who have no access to education other than informal home schooling. As
their status is not covered by the Lausanne Treaty which provides for
Turkish Armenians to attend community schools, they cannot go there.
As they are not Turkish citizens, or registered foreigners, they
cannot attend regular Turkish state schools.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, the legal means to
solve this problem is at hand and is strongly supported by ErdoÄ?an.

We won’t comment on recent steps backward. But we surely welcome these
giant steps forward

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS