The Response of Turkey’s Armenians to the New Artsakh War

4 m.   |  2020-10-01


A ll the communities of the Armenian Diaspora responded to the resumption of the Artsakh war. In this context, the Armenian community of Constantinople in Turkey has a certain peculiarity. The peculiarity is conditioned by the fact that the Armenians of Constantinople are in a dual situation. On the one hand, they are citizens of Turkey, which openly declared itself a side of the Artsakh conflict. Every day, they listen to the statements of the official circles and analytical community of Turkey, strongly condemning Armenia and expressing an unconditional support to Azerbaijan. Taking into account the nature of the Turkish state, it can be said, that they are held hostage. On the other hand, they are Armenians, against the homeland of whom (against the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh) Turkey unleashed a war. Every time, there is a tension in the relations of Armenia-Turkey, Diaspora-Turkey, it seems that the Armenians of Istanbul are between the two fires.

However, it is impossible to completely avoid the reaction, especially in the conditions that the Artsakh war received a great global resonance.

As it is known, since the Ottoman times, the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople has been the governing body of the Armenians in Turkey and their representative to the state. The patriarchate still maintains that status. It has traditionally had a loyal attitude towards the state. The pro-governmental community figures and intellectual circles are also united around the patriarchate.

Perceiving its responsibility for the security of the Armenian community, as well as trying not to escalate the already explosive situation, the patriarchate responded with a call for piece to the outbreak of hostilities in Artsakh. In its message, the patriarchate wished that the weapons were silenced, peace and reconciliation were established an hour earlier. The patriarchate considers the role of Turkey very important in this matter. The peace of the patriarchate reaches such a level, that the message recalls the Soviet times. “Armenia and Azerbaijan has an experience of coexisting side by side and it is desirable that they used the phrase “brotherly peoples of Armenian and Azeri” as they used to at the time”, it is noted in the message [1]. The patriarchate also expresses its condolences to the victims.

However, there is also a “dissident” circle of Armenian politicians and intellectuals in Turkey, who have oppositional stance towards Erdogan’s regime and criticize its domestic and foreign policy. The most active of them is the MP and the member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party Garo Paylan. His approaches to the resumed Artsakh war differ from both the approaches of Turkish official circles and the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. He considers Turkey and Azerbaijan responsible for the situation. In addition, the views of Garo Paylan are not just personal. The People’s Democratic Party also has such an approach.

We mentioned in the previous article [2], that Garo Paylan called on Turkey to refrain from escalating steps. The Armenian MP and his party go on defending their position. On September 28, four main parties of Turkey, Justice and Development Party, Republican People’s Party, Nationalist Movement Party and IYI Party issued a joint statement by condemning Armenia and expressing their support to Azerbaijan. For that step, they were awarded with President R. Erdogan’s word of gratitude.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party refused to join the above-mentioned statement and openly announced that it supports Armenia. Garo Paylan, ignoring the fierce attacks against him on social networks, called Turkey and Azerbaijan responsible for the hostilities by condemning their activities. According to the Armenian politician, it is the two countries wishing to change a situation in Artsakh [3].

Every time, during the strained relations with Armenia and Diaspora, some individuals and organizations in Turkey target the Armenians living there, both the traditional community and the Armenian migrants, who are there for work. It should be noted, that in recent times, the Azerbaijani community in Turkey is quite active in this regard. The anti-Armenian activities of the latter were quite obvious during the Armenian-Azerbaijani border tensions in July. This time as well there was no exception.

It should also be noted that the ruling Justice and Development Party’s Spokesperson Omer Celik condemned the treats and accusations towards the Armenians in Turkey, considering them an attack to Turkey [4].

[1] The patriarchate wished that peace was established an hour ago, Nor Maragha, 29.09.2020.

[2] V. Hovyan, Diaspora’s Response to the New War in Artsakh

[3] War on the borders of Artsakh, Nor Maragha, 29.09.2020.

[4] AKP Spokesperson Omer Celik’s statement, Nor Maragha, 29.09.2020.