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The Marmara Daily stands as a testament to the vitality of Turkey’s Armenian community and its commitment to preserving its language and cultural perspective. For nearly half a century, it has cultivated and informed a loyal readership.

The man behind the daily is the erudite Robert Haddedjian. Its owner and editor in chief, he is also one of Turkey’s most celebrated Armenian authors and poets, with more than 60 published books to his credit.

From his modest office cluttered with books and folders, Mr. Haddedjian describes the newspaper’s mission. “We publish stories of general news interest to the Armenian community of Istanbul and the diaspora. We feature Istanbul-Armenian poets and writers for whom The Marmara Daily is very important as an instrument in keeping the Western Armenian language alive and vibrant.”

Though the daily covers news and politics, Mr. Haddedjian personally identifies more with its literary aspect. “I am an essayist. Never political. I consider myself a man of literature rather than a politician.”

He then explains that Western Armenian, which developed in Turkish Anatolia, is a dialect distinct from the one used in Armenia proper. Though both employ the same written script, some of the grammar and vocabulary differ. With some practice, speakers of either dialect can understand those of the other.

For Mr. Haddedjian, the loss of Western Armenian is today the greatest threat to Armenian-Turkish identity.

“Less and less is spoken every day. Though they get taught the language in school, as soon as they get onto the streets the kids start speaking Turkish.”

The editor and poet, however, remains enthusiastic about his work and optimistic that his newspaper — a showcase of the Armenian-Turkish worldview and a forum for Western Armenian writers — will help nurture a new generation of Armenian-Turkish intellectuals.

“I have owned this newspaper for 40 years, running it now with the help of my two sons who take care of the technical side of things. I was born in Istanbul and love this city!”

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This is photojournalist Sean Sprague’s 50th contribution to ONE magazine.

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Tags: Cultural Identity Armenia Turkey Armenian Apostolic Church Armenian Catholic Church