1040) Digging up the ashes of history will not do any good for the future

Advice for Mr. Eurlings

The European Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey, Camiel Eurlings, said that "Turkey must reconcile with its history and have good relations with its neighbors." It is a nice remark. Personally I agree with him.

Digging up the ashes of history will not do any good for the future. We should forget the atrocities of the Bulgarians in the 19th century Balkan Wars, we should wipe out our memories about what the Arabs did to the Ottomans with British gold during World War I. We should bury the inhumane atrocities committed by Arabs in Damascus and other parts of the Islamic holy land in 1916-17. . .

We shouldn't even take events of the past into account when dealing with them in 2006. Let bygones be bygones. However, I think that this advice should also be given to our neighbors. Let me remind you of some events to clarify what I'm trying to say. Saudi Arabian authorities decided to demolish a Turkish castle in Mecca called Ecyad which was built by the Ottomans to defend the holy Kaaba. And they did it.

Can anyone explain to me the reason for dismantling that historical castle other than the greed for money?

Turkish words praising the holy prophet and Islam carved in the columns of the Holy Prophet's tomb in Medina were covered over in cement by the same Arabs. Only one was left uncovered and readable: "Visitors greet and pray your pure existence with thousands of salutes"(Bin salat ile selam eyler zuvvar pakine).

Is there anything in these words that offends Arabs?

The covered words were also carved over with almost the same words, only in Arabic. Again, what was wrong with them other than the fact that they were in Turkish?
These few examples basically show the Arab view of Turks.
Now let me give you another example.

According to the news, a poll was recently conducted in Armenia about the people's opinion of other countries. According the poll, 79.6 percent of Armenians have a positive opinion of Russia and 49 percent of the United States. But they consider Turkey (80.1 percent), Azerbaijan (86.5 percent) and Georgia (54.7 percent) as their "enemy countries." A total of 57.7 percent of respondents advocated the opening of Armenia-Turkish borders, and one in three Armenians is against this.

I have nothing to add to that.

Let's say that same type of poll was conducted in Greece; the result, I am sure, would be close to the Armenians'. They might not say "enemy," but will never say friend.

But believe me, I understand Arabs, Armenians and Greeks.
What if we did the same thing in Turkey?

The result would be nearly the same.

That reminds me of a story told by Zulfu Livaneli. He was giving a concert with a Greek singer in a town on Crete. In the audience was a heavily built old man wearing traditional Cretan clothes. The German TV station covering the concert did an interview with him. He said that he came to the concert to watch "the Turco." When they asked his opinion of Turks, he said, "They are our enemies." Then the reporter asked why he came to watch Livaneli. "Are you a German?" the old man asked. The reporter said he was. Then the old man concluded, "You can't understand."
Now, Mr. Eurlings. This is the Middle East. "You can't understand."

Recep Guvelioglu
25 September 2006


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