ISTANBUL: Education Min. makes surprise visit to Armenian foundation

Turkish education minister makes surprise visit to Armenian foundation

Sunday, May 22, 2011
ISTANBUL – Daily News with wires

Å?irinoÄ?lu claimed there is underlying sympathy within the Armenian
community toward the ruling AKP for its role in passing new laws about
minority foundations.

Education Minister Nimet �ubukçu paid a surprise visit to the Surp
Pırgiç Armenian Hospital Foundation and held an exclusive meeting that
lasted for roughly half an hour with the foundation’s president Bedros
Å?irinoÄ?lu on Saturday afternoon.

Despite objections to such meetings from certain quarters within
Turkey’s Armenian community, Å?irinoÄ?lu claimed there is underlying
sympathy within the Armenian community toward the ruling AKP for its
role in passing new laws about minority foundations.

`All visits to the hospital are [normally] scheduled from many days
ahead, whereas Minister Ã?ubukçu’s visit was quite abrupt. Frankly that
was quite a surprise. We primarily spoke about the election process,’
Å?irinoÄ?lu, the foundation’s president and a businessman, told the
Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

After the meeting, �ubukçu also spent some time with the occupants in
a retirement house that operates under the hospital foundation and
distributed flowers to them. The minister did not make any comments
regarding her conversation with Å?irinoÄ?lu.

`Turkey is undergoing a process of change. The Turkish people want to
know more about the peoples they are living together with. As of
course, there is also some curiosity within political parties, [and]
that is very favorable,’ said Å?irinoÄ?lu, who met with Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip ErdoÄ?an on March 26 and told the Daily News at the time
that he was warm on the idea of running for a seat in Parliament.
Å?irinoÄ?lu, however, also said he was not going to declare himself a
parliamentary candidate unless the AKP made an official proposal to

The Surp Pırgiç Armenian Hospital Foundation in Istanbul’s KazlıçeÅ?me
neighborhood is only second to the Armenian Patriarchate in terms of
its protocol status in Ankara. Political party leaders, however, have
paid frequent visits to Å?irinoÄ?lu over the past year, rather than
going to the Patriarchate itself.

These visits were quite natural, frank and sincere, said Å?irinoÄ?lu,
despite occasional objections arising from the Armenian community.

`I have difficulty understanding why [the Armenian community] reacts
[to these meetings.] If it were not me but some other foundation
president, these appointments would still have been granted.
Unfortunately, I end up having to give the same explanation to the
community on each occasion. Our protocol status in Ankara ranks in
second place after the Patriarchate. These visits, therefore, are paid
to the foundation president, and not to my person as such,’ said

New laws passed during the AKP’s rule have allowed the Armenian
community to reclaim their foundations through lawsuits in recent
years. These gains have created sympathy for the ruling AKP, according
to Å?irinoÄ?lu.

`It will be easier to maintain the community’s balance thanks to the
property we retrieved due to the changes enacted in laws pertaining to
foundations. All community institutions are kept through donations,’
said Å?irinoÄ?lu and also added they were holding cordial meetings with
the government in Ankara to retrieve the currently occupied area
across from the hospital.

Å?irinoÄ?lu further said they were hopeful about regaining the area and
that another fully equipped Armenian hospital was also in the works;
if such a hospital is opened, it will be the third in the Republic’s

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