11/20/2021, 09.46
TURKEY
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Erdogan and the Akp deny funding for Turkish minority schools

Today there are only 22 institutes linked to the Greek, Armenian and Jewish communities.The estimate needs at over three million euros to be allocated in the 2022 state budget. The request made by an Armenian MP was rejected by the Parliament with a contrary vote of the government majority. Institutional crisis linked to the collapse of minorities. 

 

Istanbul (AsiaNews) -  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denied funding for schools belonging to the country's minorities: Armenian, Greek and Jewish. A minimum number, only 22 in total those left, estimated needs at just over three million euros to ensure the smooth running of the school year by covering all costs. However, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) rejected teh allocation in a previous request made in Parliament by Armenian MP Garo Paylan, of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), an opposition movement that unites left-wing and pro-Kurdish forces. 

The schools run by the Armenian, Jewish and Greek minorities in Turkey have been experiencing significant financial difficulties for some time, exacerbated by the gradual decline in the number of students. Hence the initiative of the Armenian MP Paylan, who on November 2 presented a bill aimed at "increasing resources" in the 2022 state budget of the Turkish Ministry of Education. 

 

This is a minimal increase, to allow institutions "part of this country" to survive by covering "the cost of salaries for teachers and the immediate needs of students." Schools linked to minorities take in about 4 thousand students and require 40 million Turkish liras (about 3.2 million euros). However, the Chamber, on the recommendation of the government party (and the nationalist allies of the Mhp) have rejected the proposal; the abstention of the Republicans (Chp) should also be underlined. A vote, critics point out, that once again expresses the "supremacy" of the Turkish Islamic front in Parliament that "does not place the slightest interest" for other components - albeit important - of the nation. 

This is not the first time Paylan has experienced first-hand this discriminatory approach towards minorities. Before entering Parliament, he served for a long time as principal of the Yeşilköy Armenian School in Istanbul. In a 2010 interview, he recalled how Armenian schools were largely dependent on donations for their survival, while the state increasingly closed the taps by cancelling funding provided through the Ministry of Education.

However, for seven years the request for at least an additional 2,000 Turkish liras per student has gone unheeded and the situation has progressively deteriorated. According to experts, the problem is the progressive erosion of Turkey's non-Muslim population, where the percentage of Christians and Jews is 0.1% out of a total of 80 million. A decline that began with the Armenian genocide of 1915, never recognized by Ankara, which was instrumental in the demographic upheaval.

At the beginning of the last century there were 1,996 Armenian schools, with 173,022 pupils; of these, 1,251 with over 76,548 students were located in Western Armenia (or Eastern Turkey). Today, there are no longer any Armenian schools in this area, and the few survivors operate in Istanbul, amid systematic discrimination and hostile passages in textbooks toward minorities.

A 2017 report by the Constantinopolitan Society, explains : “Anti-minority references continue to exist in schoolbooks used for teaching in Turkey. Turkish identity and nationalism are promoted as fundamental values in the education system, while minority culture is ignored. While school books do not include information about Greek minority, its history and culture, some of them include discriminatory, xenophobic statements against it.”

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