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Veteran diplomat, Armenian patriarch lend support to AKP
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) received support from two different prominent names, as both Morton Abramowitz, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, and Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan, the religious leader of the Turkish Armenian community, lent their support to the government in separate articles.
Partiarch Mutafyan, speaking to the German weekly Der Spiegel, claimed the Armenian community would prefer the AKP to the social democrat Republican People's Party (CHP), while Abramowitz, in an opinion piece he penned for Newsweek International, said the "secular elite" in Turkey is terrified of losing power to the AKP.
Speaking about the murder of prominent Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink in a Der Spiegel interview published on June 1, Mutafyan said the mood of solidarity, evident in the aftermath of the crime, faded away soon and made way for an upsurge of ultra-nationalistic rhetoric among the Turkish society. "We the Armenians were left alone again" he said.
"I do not think that the investigation [on the murder] will move forward," Mutafyan claimed. "Apparently those who organized it are backed and protected by some circles."
Plans to visit Ankara:
Mutafyan announced he plans to visit Ankara to hold talks with the "chief of the military," claiming "there are rumors that the security forces might have some links" with those who committed the crime. "I will ask him: What do you recommend to the Armenians? What should the Armenians do?" said Mutafyan.
It appears that those who want to drive Armenians away from Turkey are strengthening, Mutafyan said. But he also criticized the Armenian diaspora: "Armenians in the diaspora do not understand our situation. We cannot deny the bloodshed in 1915 but we have to look to the future and try to promote the dialogue between Turks and Armenians."
The Armenians would "prefer the AKP over the CHP, Mutafyan claimed. He also noted that the approach of the AKP to minorities is coherent and less nationalist. "Our choice for the upcoming elections is [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan," he concluded according to Spiegel Online.
Abramowitz raps ‘secular elite':
Meanwhile, Turkey suffers a political crisis "once a decade or so," argued veteran diplomat Morton Abramowitz. He also claimed that the latest tension between the AKP government and the powerful military shows that "the secular elite is terrified of losing more power to the AKP."
The crisis highlights an international question of what role should Islam play in political life, the veteran diplomat argued.
Taking note of economical steps taken by the AKP to integrate the country into the global economy, Abramowitz said the "secular establishment" is "deathly afraid of losing more power to the AKP," which enjoys support from "poor, pious Muslims."
In his recent trip to Turkey, a professor friend of his had said "many parts of Istanbul now look more and more like the Middle East." Abramowitz continued: "‘Is this what Atatürk fought for?' I heard over and over." Many of the people who have such concerns would choose the military, if they were forced to choose between the military and the AKP, he said.
Looking ahead to the elections, Abramowitz said that if the AKP wins a majority in Parliament, "troubles could multiply."
"Will the military allow an AKP-controlled Parliament able to elect its own president, something the generals have fought hard to prevent?" he asked. "The Turkish Republic faces a defining moment. Can it remain free, democratic and pious at the same time, while deepening its place in the Western firmament? … Finding a consensus grows harder by the day as passions mount."