Turkey allocates record sums to minority schools: What are the motives behind the move?

Sona Hakobyan
Armine Gevorgyan
Public Radio of Armenia

Twelve Armenian schools in Turkey recently received 7,843 million Liras as part of a government program aimed at assisting ethnic minorities’ educational institutions.

The total cost of the program is 9.5 million Liras, Milliyet reported. The amount is thought to be a record figure in the country’s history. The sum was distributed among 18 minority schools.

Expert of Turkish studies Artak Shakaryan assesses the step as generally positive, although says he’s aware the move is not just a humanitarian initiative, but also a political step by Turkish President Recep Tayyop Erdogan.

“We should keep in mind that he is a politician, and he needs to flatter his electorate before the next elections,” he said.

Editor-in-Chief of the Istanbul-based “Zhamanak” daily Ara Gochunyan does not share the opinion. He says the program is part of the reforms of the Turkish government.

“Within the framework of this program the government draws attention to private schools. Taking into consideration that the Armenian community is an absolute majority, 70-75% of all fund was allocated to the Armenian schools,” Gochunyan told Public Radio of Armenia.

Artak Shakaryan says that “with this step Erdogan shows he attaches importance to the relations with national minorities. Besides, one should never forget that Turkey has not abandoned plans to move towards the European Union, he added.

Artak Shakaryan does not rule out that the initiative is a sly step ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

“I would not like to say Erdogan has changed or Turkey has changed. Turkey remains a country denying genocide and viewing Armenians as enemies. However, the approaches are milder under Erdogan’s presidency, and the authorities are not only applying force, but also trying to start dialogue through flattering,” Shakaryan told Public Radio of Armenia.

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