“Armedia” IAA presents an exclusive interview with Selina Dogan, the Armenian representative of Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP), on Turkey local elections of March 31.
-Mrs Dogan, what did local elections highlight in Turkey? Can we say that these elections revealed Erdogan’s weakened position?
-First of all for an opposition party in Turkey there were actually all the possibilities to win. In a country, where the economical situation is getting worse, where the polarization in the society is extremely high, where the hate speech is so high, when everyday you’re getting far away from Europe, so the opposition gets all the possibilities to win. However, we were not running, campaigning on equal platform. It was not a fair contest, because AKP used all the media resources which belong to them. They used all the public resources for their political party and violated constitutional principles. So we didn’t have equal opportunities. But even in these conditions, we won; we won in Ankara, we won in Izmir, in Antalya. Actually we won also in Istanbul but the election results there are now being disputed by the AKP. They don’t accept the results and they are counting again and again. They cannot accept that they have lost Istanbul, because Istanbul is a very important city. Even in one of his last meetings he said that losing Istanbul will mean the losing Turkey on the whole. The reason is that Istanbul municipality has huge financial resources, that they transfer to their conservative Islamic Foundations. So it is a great loss for them. These elections highlighted the beginning of their downfall. And currently they are preparing their electorate for this failure. And they are trying to gain time to hand over the documents of municipalities.
-How will local elections impact Turkey’s domestic policy?
-It was not a campaign conducted by the local candidates of the ruling party. The campaign was conducted by Erdogan himself. They referred to these elections not as local, but as general elections. They don’t have anything new to tell their voters in the cities. So they preferred raising general issues as always. They used basic populist discourses they used during the last elections. So they again created enemies, they said it’s a question of the future of this country, without mentioning the problems of the cities. So the elections were a question of life and death for them. And the results show that they have lost not only in local elections but also mark the beginning of their downfall in general elections also.
In general, the Turkish society has been greatly polarized in the recent years. The situation was either support us or leave the country. And actually thousands of people left the country, including Armenians, because they couldn’t breathe anymore. However, now people have the hope to become united and enjoy the peace in this country. For me the most important impact is to unifying the society again. This is what we need, because the politicians’ hate speech has become very common and negatively impacts the society. So we hope that the society will live in peace. Besides, after the elections the economical situation will get better. Also it will promote the legitimacy of the country at the international level, unless a country recognizes the results of the elections it won’t have legitimacy in the international community.
-One of the key topics for the Armenian community nowadays is the issue of the elections of Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. Can the local elections influence it?
-The key topic for the Armenian community is not only the elections of the Patriarch, but also the question of a letter addressed not only to the Armenian, but also to the foundations of other minorities. These questions are related to each other, because we can’t elect our foundations’ members and on the other hand we can’t elect our Patriarch.
Before the death of Mesrob Mutafyan the question of elections had already been there. It’s not a new question; it has a ten-year history. I believe that the process will go on after a 40-day period of mourning, after the 21st of April. And to tell the truth, I don’t see any link with the local elections, as there has been an ongoing process. Perhaps the unexpected election results, quite the opposite, may postpone the elections of Patriarch, since there is no rule of law in this country. We’ll see.
-You have been elected as a member of the Council of Elders in the Istanbul district of Sisli. What are Your priorities?
– Sisli is a very important district, where we have churches, synagogues for not only different religions but also for different sects, as well as minority schools and foundations related to these schools. It is really a cosmopolitan district, where I personally live. I can rely on my parliament experience at local level as well. By the way, I have already got my certificate. Sisli offers many opportunities. It has a large number of population, as well as business and cultural centers. We have many projects and I’m excited because I will have the chance to be closer to our citizens and be useful to them.