19 October 2006

1156) The French Ambassador Is Right / Bekir Coskun: One day, when we're not angry at anyone / Food for thought: French cheese....

The bill punishing freedom of expression and social research passed this week by the French Parliament has sparked frustration and anger in Turkey, as expected. But is this situation permanent, or is it a passing phenomenon that will soon be yesterday's news? . .

In his first statement after the passage of the bill, French Ambassador to Turkey Paul Poudade argued that the anger is temporary. He also said that he will try to mend Turkish-French relations after a few tough weeks. Leaving diplomatic courtesy aside, what the statement emphasizes is the temporary nature of the anger.

We have a history that confirms these remarks, which emphasize the weakness of our social memory. When the first Armenian monument was unveiled in Marseille, then Turkish Ambassador to France Hasan Esat Isik, who was also later defense minister, immediately returned to Ankara on his own initiative. But the protest couldn't be sustained by the succeeding governments. France continued to be the home of Armenian gangs. Our diplomats were murdered by an Armenian terrorist group, the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), until the terrorist group killed French citizens with a bomb that exploded at the Turkish Airlines (THY) office at Orly airport. However, French governments didn't lift a finger while dozens of Turkish diplomats were being killed. The French government banned ASALA's activities only following the Orly incident in which French citizens were killed. The group was replaced by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which chose Turkish territory as the place for its activities.

Five years ago, when France passed a bill recognizing the so-called Armenian genocide, protests were again rife in Turkey. But in a confirmation of the French ambassador's remarks, such protests couldn't be sustained and the issue was forgotten. However, if the protests had been sustained as a state policy, the bill stipulating one year in prison and a 45,000 euro fine for denying an Armenian genocide wouldn't have been passed by the French Parliament. The best proof of the effectiveness of sustained protests was that against Italy for harboring PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. The witness to that is Italy's current foreign minister and then prime minister.

The real disaster starts when the weakness of collective memory in Turkey coincides with the weakness of governments in foreign policy. This is the situation today. The incompetence of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party government brought along this irresponsible attitude and the insulting decision of the French Parliament. If the government continues such incompetence, the French Parliament's decision will be passed in the Senate as well and approved by the French president who visited Yerevan before this week's decision.

What's worse than the current situation is the possibility of new claims being added to the Armenian genocide claims. As a natural result of European countries voicing the Armenian claims, everybody expects the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Kurds, who are trying to make their voices heard through bloody terrorist activities, and even Muslim sects that are not Sunni, taking their turns to level similar genocide claims. Those who don't believe this possibility can take a look at the recent European Parliament Foreign Affairs Commission decisions.

Western civilization, which makes concepts like democracy, human rights, universal law, etc. meaningless, use them as the most dangerous weapons that will establish their dominance. Those who don't believe this can take a look at the would-be democracy in Iraq.

Governments can forget, as society does, but history never does. Verba volant, scripta manent.

19 October 2006
New Anatolian

These days, if you want to get onto TV, all you have to do is grab the nearest French goods, whether it be a French tie, a French tee-shirt, a French pair of socks, ANYTHING, dip these pieces of clothing into some benzene, then run with a lighter and prepare to set fire to then in front of the nearest TV cameras

You'll see gathered in the spot you've run to some other citizens, all with ties, coats, cookie containers, umbrellas, and old shoes in one hand, lighters in the other.

These citizens also want to get onto TV.

It would be helpful if you yelled "France, France, hear our voices....." as you set fire to what you're holding; you'll see, that'll help you be broadcast on the evening news that night.
Contributions from our citizens are helping the spread of these protests against France. In an after school "lesson house" in Konya, French courses have been cancelled. I guess we'll have to turn the French teachers into English teachers.

My mind wanders to a conversation I heard between a Turkish citizen returning from Germany to live in Turkey, and some reporters on the plane:

"I just don't like Germans. Just to be stubborn, I didn't learn a single word of German the entire 45 years I lived there."

Hmmm-good for you.

Anyway, onwards with the protests. There have been quite a few "French goods not for sale here" signs hung in store windows. Even though most of the stores where these signs are hung have French names, this is still a good thing.

As a matter of fact, I've begun my own protest at home. I said just yesterday "I am starting a boycott, no more use of French goods for you" to my wife. She just respectfully hung her head.

You know, I think that one day, when we become a mature, productive, adventurous, democratic, modern, non-bribery loving, completely clean and developed society, we really won't feel the need anymore to be angry with anyone.

Hurriyet Newspaper

Bekir Coskun:Food for thought: French cheese.....
Some are saying that we should round up Armenians who are working illegally in Turkey and send them back to their country. What else can we do? Then there always this advice: "Let's not eat anymore French cheese." I like that one. Especially since we are definitely not prepared to throw away our Renaults. Also, if you boycott your French satellite dishes, you won't be able to see what happens at the end of your favorite series....

Yep, all that's left is the French cheese then.


I think the best is to just sit back and let the French make this bill into a law. After all, there can be no greater punishment than to allow them to go down in history with such a shame of their own making. The embarassment of bringing out a law so primitive that it calls for jailtime for those who publicly deny the Armenian genocide will literally destroy the French "democratic" character. France will forever after stand as guilty before the thinking world. What greater punishment could there be? Children will even be embarassed.


We all know that kind of pressure and embarassment. When a hotel in Turkey, filled with intellectuals, was lighted on fire, or when gunshots have rung out to take life from intellectuals walking on the street.....Or what about when our writers are brought to court, facing flag-bearing crowds ready to lynch them, all because of article 301 from our penal code? Yes, we have felt the rising sense of embarassment from all this. So now, let the French be embarassed.


Refusing to consume French cheese is certainly one stance we could take. If nothing else, at least French cows would feel the effect. But what's interesting in this all is that for the first time, those EU spokepersons who are always so quick to leap and insult Turkey when given the chance, are actually siding with us on this matter. For the first time, on an issue like "freedom of thought," they are supporting us. EU Commissioner for Expansion, Olli Rehn, actually warned the French the other day to "Be serious." And so herein lies the true opportunity for Turkey: rather than jumping up and down in tribalistic fashion while burning flags and refusing to eat cheese, we finally get to see how a state which shows no respect for the freedom of thought (even if that state is France) brings itself down in the eyes of others. Food for thought.

What more could we ask for?


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