Armenian Claims And Historical Facts Questions And Answers –10
QUESTION 10: WHAT ARE THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE ARMENIANS OF TURKEY LIVE?
Armenian nationalist propagandists ever so often claim that the Armenians of Turkey are subject to persecution. They resort to this tactic, not only to reinforce their allegations that Turks persecuted Armenians throughout history, but also to provide a unifying bond for Armenian action groups and to get foreign states intervene in Turkey's internal affairs. Like other Armenian claims, this also is not based on facts.
In Turkey all citizens are equal before the law. They enjoy the same rights and have the same obligations without discrimination of any kind. The exercise of these rights and freedoms are under constitutional guarantee. Armenians, like other non-Muslim religious communities in Turkey, enjoy additional safeguards extended to them by the Lausanne Peace Treaty which recognizes their minority status.
The 50,000 Armenians living in Turkey today are in no way separated from their fellow Turkish citizens. They are full citizens, with the same rights and privileges as other Turkish citizens, having their lives, liberties and happiness guaranteed by law. The Armenians of Turkey continue to worship in their own churches and teach in their own language in their own schools. They publish newspapers, books and magazines in Armenian and have their own social and cultural institutions in addition to participating fully in those open to all Turkish citizens. The Armenian community in Istanbul has 18 schools, 17 cultural and social organizations, three daily newspapers, five periodicals, two sports clubs, 57 churches, 58 foundations and two hospitals.
In this context, there has been significant progress in Turkey in improving the legislation concerning religious minorities as well. The fourth EU harmonization package adopted in January 2003 facilitated the acquisition of real estate by non-Muslim religious foundations by revising the Law on Foundations. The sixth harmonization package adopted in July 2003 prolonged the application period granted to non-Muslim religious foundations to acquire real estate currently in their possession. The same package revised the Law on Construction to meet the needs for places of worship by religions and faiths other than Islam. A bylaw adopted in January 2005 transferred the duties of the Directorate General of Security concerning the issues related to religious minorities to the Governorship and Sub-governorship offices.
Turkey is a secular state with a predominantly Muslim population. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in its resolution No. 1380 (2004), confirmed that "this unique state of affairs is evidence of its attachment to European democratic values based on tolerance and mutual respect". As a constituent principle, secularism in the Republic of Turkey ensures the state's neutrality towards its citizens whatever their religious beliefs are.
The Armenians of Turkey are enjoying the advantages of a free society to live prosperous and happy lives as Turkish citizens belonging to other faiths. Many of them are prosperous merchants, prominent artists or prestigious academicians. The Armenians of Turkey are proud to be Turkish citizens and, along with all other Turks, deeply resent the lies about their country spread in their name by radical Armenian nationalists abroad.
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