Turkish-Armenian ruling party lawmaker laid to rest

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Turkish Presidency

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, fourth left, and his wife Emine Erdogan attend a funeral ceremony for Markar Esayan, a Turkish lawmaker from Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party, who died of cancer at 51, at the Armenian Patriarchate Church, in Istanbul, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.(Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)

ISTANBUL – A Turkish-Armenian ruling party lawmaker was laid to rest Thursday following a ceremony in the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul, which was attended by Turkey’s president.

Markar Esayan, 51, died on Oct. 16 after battling stomach cancer. He was a former journalist and a politician, serving as a lawmaker of the ruling Justice and Development Party from 2015 until his death.

Speaking at the ceremony, Sahak Mashalian, the Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul, called Esayan a “bridge” between the Armenian and Turkish communities.

Mashalian thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for attending the funeral of his party’s lawmaker.

“Your sharing of our pain in an Armenian church during these heated days of the Karabakh conflict contains meaningful messages,” he said, referring to renewed fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey supports Azerbaijan in the hostilities and has vowed to provide troops for the fighting if Baku requests them.

Last week, Erdogan tweeted his condolences: "We will never forget his contributions to our country’s politics and democracy.”