- Union Of Turkish Associations In Europe Protests France
- Why France Shouldn't Legislate Turkey's Past
- Council Of Europe Leader Says French Armenian Act Not To Affect Turkey's Eu Talks
- Behind the scenes of the last two weeks
- Why should we turn to our history?
- We get letters...
- ‘Turkish accession danger for Europe, illusion for Turkey’
- A friend's blow to Orhan Pamuk
- PvdA Takes a Step Back; Immigrants Cautious
- Europe Discusses Cyprus more than us; No Consensus Reached yet
- Leaked report shows EU reluctance to admit Turkey
- Geopolitical realities in Ankara
- The European Union’s Turkish dilemma
- Armenian Law Designed to Keep Turkey Out of the EU
- If Ataturk Had Lived
- Turks still rule Europe
- “Creation of a Common Future: Reconciling Turks and Armenians”
- US seeks to contain damage on looming Armenian resolution
- Dutch Turks to boycott parties over Armenian issue:
Union Of Turkish Associations In Europe Protests France
Anatolian Times, Turkey
Oct 30 2006
BERLIN - The Union of Turkish Associations in Europe laid black wreaths in front of French consulates general in four German cities --Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Munich and Stuttgart-- to protest the bill criminalizing denial of so-called Armenian genocide that was approved by French national assembly on October 12th, 2006.
Recep Yildirim, chairman of the Union of Turkish Associations in Europe, said that France, which defended human rights and freedom of expression, has blackened its history due to adoption of the bill.
Yildirim added, "we hope that the bill will not be approved in the Senate."
Why France Shouldn't Legislate Turkey's Past
by Philip H. Gordon & Omer Taspinar
The New Republic, DC
Oct 30 2006
As European nations debate the idea of accepting Turkey into their ranks, vestiges of the country's authoritarian nationalism--particularly its tendency to constrain free speech in the name of national honor and unity--have antagonized proponents of the European Union's accepted liberal values. For example, when Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk was recently prosecuted for claiming that a million Armenians were massacred by the Ottomans during World War I--in violation of a Turkish law that prohibits "insulting Turkish identity"--Europeans howled in protest until the charges were finally dropped. In recognition of his politics and his writing, Pamuk was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.
More recently, the Turkish stance on the Armenian massacres themselves is becoming an obstacle to its entry into the EU. On a recent visit to Armenia, for example, French President Jacques Chirac suggested that Turkey should not be allowed to join the EU until it recognizes the Armenian genocide. The European Parliament has similarly requested that Turkey "acknowledge" the genocide, although it has so far avoided making that a formal condition for membership.
But, while liberal states that demand accountability for the past are usually well-intentioned, they can also go too far--as new legislation in France clearly shows. In a blatant ploy to win over France's 500,000 residents of Armenian origin, the lower house of France's parliament passed a bill on October 12 that, if agreed to by the Senate, will make it illegal to deny that the 1915 massacres of Armenians constituted genocide. The Socialist-proposed bill, which gives sentences of up to a year in jail or up to a ~@45,000 fine, passed by a lopsided vote of 106-19, and it was supported by the two leading candidates in the presidential election scheduled for next spring, Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolène Royal. The parliament even rejected a proposed amendment to exempt scholarly research from the reach of the bill.
Not surprisingly, the reaction in Turkey to all of this has been furious. Well beyond the extremists demonstrating in the streets, nearly all Turks--including the most liberal and pro-European ones--resent seeing one of the most sensitive issues in their history being used as a pawn in French politics. Pamuk himself, no flack for the Turkish government, has criticized the French legislation. Turks rightly see the legislation as a cynical ploy not only to win Armenian votes but to put one more obstacle on the path to Turkey's EU membership, which France has formally, if unenthusiastically, promised to negotiate. The backers of the new law claim that its purpose is to facilitate Turkish-Armenian reconciliation; its effect will likely be the opposite.
Worse, the French parliament's vote is a dangerous step down a slippery slope. If it is a crime to disagree that what happened to Armenians 90 years ago should be considered genocide, why stop there?
Shouldn't it be a crime to minimize the impact of other historical tragedies, such as colonialism or the slave trade? Should the Turkish parliament pass a law making it a criminal offense to deny that France practiced torture in Algeria or that a million Muslims were killed there? Should African governments make it illegal to deny that genocide took place in Rwanda? Once you go down that road, it is hard to see where the line should be drawn.
Indeed, the new French legislation is just the latest illiberal policy in Europe masquerading as liberalism. Since the end of World War II, a number of European countries, including Germany, Austria, and France, have passed laws against Holocaust denial. Proponents of the laws argue that they allow these nations to atone politically for their past sins, while working to ensure that Holocaust deniers could not foster the same sort of anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust in the first place. Now, however, they could also serve as inspiration to scores of different ethnic and religious groups that wish to win legal acknowledgement of their own past suffering and historical grievances, as the Armenians have. But parliaments across Europe would be better off taking the current legislation off the books than giving equal treatment to every group's claims. Do we really want the government to start deciding that some historical views are acceptable but others merit prison sentences? And would the historical narratives that won legislative protection be those most clearly supported by "the facts" or those which had the most powerful political support?
Moreover, though the laws against Holocaust denial were--emotionally and politically--difficult to oppose, the consequences of compromising free speech are becoming clear. This February, for example, several months after European leaders defended the right of a Danish newspaper to publish a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad that offended Muslims, an Austrian Court sentenced historian David Irving to prison for Holocaust denial. The trial exposed European free speech advocates to charges of hypocrisy and undermined their efforts to convince Muslims that their tolerance of the cartoons was based on principle--and not a double standard.
To his credit--and despite his wish that Turkey acknowledge the Armenian genocide--Chirac and his government opposed the new legislation, arguing that history should be left up to historians, not lawmakers. He took the same principled stance last year, when he successfully opposed a law, backed by a majority in his coalition, that praised the "positive role" of colonialism.
As Pamuk's prosecution reminds us, Turkey's own record on free speech is far from pristine, and Turks would do well to be more open about their past. Instead of prosecuting those who challenge the official history, Ankara should support debating it openly and accepting its scars. Already, there are signs that this is taking place. Last year, Istanbul's Bilgi University held a conference on Armenian history at which a range of views were presented. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan supported that conference, and he has also come out in favor of a joint Turkish-American committee of historians to study and report on the issue.
Turks should keep moving in this direction and do more to acknowledge that atrocities--however characterized--occurred. But these initiatives need to come from Turks themselves in a spirit of reconciliation, instead of being imposed from the outside under threat of prosecution. Ultimately, historians, not governments, should be the ones to decide these sensitive issues. The response to illiberalism in Turkey must not be illiberalism in France. What an irony if Turkey is kept out of the EU because of its position on free speech by a country that would put historians in jail for questioning the official line.
Philip H. Gordon is a senior fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution. Omer Taspinar is a professor at the National War College and a research fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Council Of Europe Leader Says French Armenian Act Not To Affect Turkey's Eu Talks
Anatolia news agency, Ankara,
28 Oct 06
Gelibolu, 28 October: The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) president, Rene van der Linden, who is visiting Gelibolu town of northwestern city of Canakkale, said that even France reacted to the decision of French National Assembly regarding so-called Armenian genocide.
Replying to a question on effect of the bill criminalizing denial of so-called Armenian genocide that was approved in the French National Assembly to Turkey's EU accession process, Linden indicated, "Turkey is a part of Europe but this process can take a long time. The decision made by the French National Assembly will not make a negative impact on Turkey's EU accession process because even France reacted to this decision. It was not approved in many European countries, either."
Stating that PACE had a positive stance regarding Turkey, Linden underlined that Turkey has been playing a significant role in works and efforts of the EU for a long time.
Behind the scenes of the last two weeks
Mehmet Ali Birand
October 31, 2006
Important changes were occurring in Turkey’s relations with the EU while we were taking it easy during the bayram holiday. I would like to share the ‘behind-the-scenes’ section I prepared for KRİTER magazine’s October issue.
In the past two weeks, Turkey's relations with the European Union underwent a huge change. The way people talked and looked changed. Especially after the vote in the French parliament, the way people looked at Turkey changed a lot.
I conducted an extensive study on the matter for the KRİTER magazine supplement of Radikal daily. I saw a tremendously different state of affairs. I would like to share it with you.
The month of October was full of excitement in terms of Turkish-EU relations and the results were very interesting and positive. You may be surprised about it, but the vote on the Armenian genocide allegations in the French parliament was seen from a very different perspective in the EU media. It allowed the cool winds that were dominating the bilateral relations to become warmer.
Suddenly, the number of people who said Turkey was treated unfairly and was pressured needlessly increased. When you just browse the media organs, you see that more people are saying attacking Turkey in such a way will be counterproductive.
In short, the mood is now slightly favoring Turkey. While it was trying to punish Turkey, the French parliament damaged its own prestige. The criticisms were so widespread that Turkey was suddenly seen as taking the appropriate stance.
This attitude was also reflected in the way the European Commission and the term presidency viewed Turkey.
As the storm that resulted from the decision of the French parliament continued, it was decided that it would be unfortunate to further attack Turkey with a negative EU Commission report, scheduled to be released on Nov. 8. They feared an exaggerated response from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which would be forced to take a strong stance due to the approaching election and public pressure. Finally, the EU Commission decided to approve the proposal submitted by the EU term president Finland.
According to the proposal, the progress report won't include harsh warnings on Cyprus. We can see this already from the leaked portions of the document.
The commission will just re-approve the decision taken on Sept. 21, 2005 that said: “Failure of Turkey to comply with its responsibilities may affect the negotiations.”
This way, Finland will be able to have enough time to find a solution to prevent a train accident. This initiative may even save the talks before the end of 2007, which means the problem of opening of Turkey's ports to Greek Cypriot shipping will be postponed until after the elections.
This agreement allowed Brussels to take a breather because most member countries don't want to suspend the talks with Turkey. The indirect support of France to these activities allowed the postponement of the train accident.
Turkey signals fine-tuning of Article 301:
EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn's last visit to Ankara was full of ups and downs. The impression the European delegation received was very interesting. After talking with all the shakers and movers in Ankara, they listed the disagreements as follows.
1-- Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç was more sympathetic and warm. However, we didn't see any hopeful signs from him on Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
2-- The meeting with Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek was the hardest. Especially on Article 301, the justice minister just shared his already public opinions on the matter and noted the double standards practiced by Europe. He explained why it was impossible to change the article. The meeting's conclusion was negative.
3-- Our meeting with parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission Chairman Yaşar Yakış and his friends was a disappointment. While Yakış was seen as a person with common sense, he displayed a very harsh attitude.
4-- The meetings with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül were very positive. Both emphasized the importance of the EU process. While neither openly promised to do anything on Article 301, they gave the impression that there could be changes made in the article. From what they said, we got the impression that the Cabinet was divided on the matter.
5-- Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal was tougher. He said he opposed everything the AKP did and Article 301 was just one issue. He told us as the opposition leader that nothing else should be expected of him.
© 2005 Dogan Daily News Inc. turkishdailynews.com.tr
From the columns
October 31, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
Why should we turn to our history?:
Zaman Mehmed Niyaz: If we go down the history of European civilization, we can accept that Montesquieu was one of the influential minds shaping that culture. The most distinguishing feature of great people is their ability to be objective. Montesquieu, in his Persian Letter, despite not having a very positive view of us, says: “Among all nations, my dear Usbek, there can be no other superior to the Turks both in terms of greatness and grandness of its conquests. This nation is the real ruler of the world. It is as if, other nations have been brought to the world in order to serve this nation. Imagine, this is such a nation that they have established empires on the face of the world, and swept away other empires. ... The only deficiency of this outstanding nation is its failure to have raised historians to record the splendor and grandeur of the memories. This brave nation of warriors is satisfied simply with the victories of its time and lives with a heart that would kill its enemies during any period of history, however, it does not even think of looking to the future through the glorious and inspiring conquests of the past.” Note that Montesquieu says we didn't have any great historians because we had brave hearts confident in our victory. Remember he wrote this letter in 1715. Since then, much water has gone under the bridge. Now we have to dig into our history and find out what exactly made us great in the past.
We get letters...
October 31, 2006
I am ever so grateful to all my readers who write with comments on my articles. The messages arrive from the four corners of the world, from readers with differing ethnic backgrounds, cultures, religions and lifestyles. I feel like this corner is a melting pot where common sense usually prevails. Today I have chosen just a few samples to share with you.
Remember that your comments elate (or deflate) me, which is what life is all about anyway. When we write we are not even certain if anyone will be interested enough to read our words. I don't know who said it, but I love and often refer to this true observation: "If a tree falls in the forest and there is no eardrum to catch the noise, there will be no sound." I thank all of you who write in and assure me there is a strong sound.
Dear Ms. Özgün,
I refer to your article, "All wars of independence are tragic" on the Armenian issue. Somehow I will get you an invitation to France (No thank you! a.ö.). First perhaps Café Babel, a “Young European” site.
As to the incidents in Cilicia, the French then disarmed most of their Armenian troops due to excessive violence and disorder.
I don't remember currently in which historical work I read about it, but it was definitely a serious one.
Hans-Peter Geissen ***
Regarding your article, "All wars of independence Are tragic," I think your column on this issue is remarkably well presented. If you'll permit me, I would like to forward your write-up to the Turkish Forum Web site, which sends out newsletters to its 200,000 members. I'd like every member to read it.
Thank you for a great article.
Bill Glanville ***
‘Turkish accession danger for Europe, illusion for Turkey’
October 30, 2006
STRASBOURG - Turkish Daily News
Jacques Toubon, French member of the European Parliament, voiced strong opposition to Turkey's bid to join the European Union, defending privileged partnership for Ankara instead of full membership.
“Our position is to be against full accession of Turkey into the EU and in favor of privileged partnership. We think Europe will no longer be Europe we want if Turkey becomes a full member of the bloc,” Toubon, a Christian Democrat, former French minister of budget and spokesperson of President Jacques Chirac's government, told a group of Turkish reporters here.
The European parliamentarian argued that Turkey was not European in any sense and accused one of the Turkish reporters of being provocative when they asked if Turkey and Greek Cyprus were located on the same longitude, how was it possible to say that Turkey did not belong to Europe geographically, while the latter did.
“In Turkey this EU issue is a fantasy… The EU accession is not [your] only destiny. You have a good future without the EU. Turkey's accession is a danger for Europe and an illusion for Turkey,” he said.
“Why is Article 301 already on the penal code? It is a question of national sovereignty. Are you ready to abandon your sovereignty? Are you ready to get rid of your principals?” he asked.
Toubon also criticized the French bill penalizing any denial of the alleged Armenian genocide, saying: “I'm strongly against it. History is not made by law. History is made by facts. If we want to discuss [history] we have to avoid provocation.”
He also stressed the EU was not a Christian club and said if Turkey remained as regional power and privileged partner of the EU, the bloc would then have a strong ally “in this crucial region of the world.”
Major headlines from Turkish newspapers and their summaries on Oct. 29, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
A friend's blow to Orhan Pamuk:Sabah yesterday reported that Taner Akçam, a Turkish academic who maintains that mass killings of Armenians in 1915 were part of an organized campaign tantamount to genocide, is set to publish a book on the alleged genocide in the United States. The report referred to academic Taner Akçam as a “writer of the books accusing Turkey of genocide of Armenians.”The book, titled “A Shameful Act,” includes a letter from Orhan Pamuk, controversial Turkish winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. After Pamuk's award was announced, he was criticized at home for having “sold out” his country to clinch the Nobel.
Pamuk had previously said that Turks killed 30,000 Kurds and 1,000,000 Armenians, subjects about which the Turkish people are very sensitive. Some Turks felt that his political statements were the major reason he was awarded the Nobel. In its report, Sabah recalled that, following reactions to his words and his Nobel, Pamuk had toned down his stance on the Armenian genocide allegations. However, his letter in Akçam's book says, “This book is a perfect retrospective on the organized destruction of Ottoman Armenians written by a daring Turkish academic who has dedicated his life to record historical realities.”Sabah said these expressions would be likely to give Pamuk a difficult time when he was in the midst of making an effort to deaden the Armenian controversy surrounding his Nobel.
PvdA Takes a Step Back; Immigrants Cautious
By Basri Dogan
October 30, 2006
The Dutch Social Democrat Labor Party (PvdA) has backpedaled about genocide allegations; this after it had removed the names of Turkish deputies from its electoral lists prior to general elections on Nov. 22 on the grounds that they did not recognize an Armenian genocide.
In a notice distributed to party members, the PvdA administration termed the 1915 incidents as a “massacre” admitting that no legal genocide had taken place.
However, Turkish immigrants in the country found party’s attitude insincere, feeling that the party acted out of political concerns.
In a letter to Amsterdam and Rotterdam party groups, PvdA leader Michel Van Hulten said there had been massacres following the events in 1915; however, there had been no legal genocide.
Van Hulten wrote the letter after he met with Turkish origin members in the party and indicated that there had been a change in the party’s opinion about an Armenian genocide.
When asked about the party’s opinion, Hulten quoted Turkish origin candidate Nebahat Albayrak who said, “There were massacres; however, there is no genocide in legal terms.”
Hulten’s letter also mentioned that historians and jurists should discuss this issue, and added that as the PvdA, they are against the adoption of the Armenian bill the French National Assembly passed earlier this month.
Europe Discusses Cyprus more than us; No Consensus Reached yet
By Bahtiyar Kucuk, Brussels, Strasbourg
October 31, 2006
Brussels and Strasbourg are two small cities where the heart of the 450 million-strong European Union beats.
There are currently exciting and heated debates going on in these cities where the European Commission (EC), European Parliament (EP), European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and European Council are located.
The main item on the agenda prior to the release of Turkey’s Progress Report on Nov. 8 is the Cyprus issue. Representatives in the EU’s administration units exchanged views with Turkish journalists in a seminar, “Making More Sense of the EU,” organized by the European Journalism Center.
An EU official says that they are spending all their energy on the Finnish plan in Europe, where different voices clamor for the future of the island.
An expert from the Cyprus desk stressed that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is geographically within the borders of EU and claimed that the TRNC would go on to live as a minority within Cyprus.
Another EU official said that it was a big mistake for the EU to accept a divided country into the union while another one said that several countries hide behind South Cyprus for their own political purposes.
The most interesting statement about the Cyprus issue came from Jacques Toubon, French member of the European Parliament. The Christian Democrat Toubon defended that Turkey would never be a part of Europe. When asked, “What percentage of Cyprus is in Europe?” he responded, “Cyprus is geographically in Asia; however, it is historically linked to Greece.”
EU officials, who say that there will be hot debates in the EU Council in December, think that it is a risky thing to consider another plan for Cyprus.
The best thing to do is to change article 301
Diplomatic sources who talked about Turkey’s diplomatic performance with admiration before the start of negotiations expect similar steps from Turkey.
The best thing for Turkey to do is abolish article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. Authorities point out that Turkey’s “wait and see” policy is wrong on this issue and think that hundreds of lawsuits because of article 301 will be a headache for Ankara in the upcoming years.
Hannes Swobodo, deputy chairman of the EP Socialist Group explained that the Armenian Bill passed in the French parliament was a blow to freedom of expression, and added that countries should first look to their own histories.
Although France is a founding member of the EU, it comes to the issue with a history of torture perpetrated in Algeria, Swobodo reiterated.
One of the main concerns about Turkey’s membership to the union is the idea that the EU is a Christian club. This apparently a concern in Austria and some parts of Germany and France as well.
EU sources indicated that they had refrained from starting negotiations with Turkey for years due to Turkey’s failure in maintaining democracy, human rights and liberties, but they say that they believe in the sincerity of the present administration.
Stressing that Turkey is a free and strong country, the EU sources say, “We are not a teacher and you are not students”.
The EU officials also warned: “The reform process should continue. Otherwise, negotiations may be suspended”.
Leaked report shows EU reluctance to admit Turkey
David Charter, of The Times, in Brussels
Times Online October 31, 2006
Crisis talks to try to put Turkey back on track to join the European Union were called tonight as a leaked assessment found the country’s progress stalling in a number of key areas.
A review of Turkish reforms due out next week will be critical of the state’s continued use of torture and its harassment of writers, according to a draft made public today.
The progress update next Tuesday will also warn that Turkey’s accession talks face suspension unless it ends its blockade of vessels from Cyprus, an EU member state which Ankara refuses to recognise.
The Finns, who hold the rotating EU presidency, are trying to gather key players from Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Turkish Northern Cyprus and the European Commission together this weekend to try and break the deadlock.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, indicated that he would send a representative, but warned that progress was only possible in return for ending the international isolation of Northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Turkey after its troops seized it in 1974.
Details of the compromise plan remain secret but are understood to focus on lifting the EU trade embargo on Northern Cyprus with a reciprocal opening of Turkey’s ports to Cypriot vessels.
"We will discuss the Finnish plan but this plan is not very reasonable," Mr Erdogan was quoted as saying by Turkish Daily News today.
"There is no change in our stance. The EU must keep its word and break the isolation . If this does not happen, no one should expect us to move forward."
Talks began on Turkey’s accession to the EU a year ago but have suffered a series of blows in recent months, with both the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy suggesting that the country could become a "privileged partner" rather than a member.
Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, acknowledged last month that the speed of Turkey’s accession was slipping and noted that it could take 20 years to fulfil the entry criteria.
The leaked draft of the report on Turkey being prepared by Olli Rehn, the EU enlargement commissioner, stated that, while there had been a reduction in the state use of torture, "cases of torture and ill treatment are still being reported, in particular outside detention centres".
For several months he has been calling for the modification or scrapping of Article 301 of Turkey’s penal code under which dozens of writers and authors have been pursued by the courts, including Orhan Pamuk, the 2006 Nobel literature prize winner.
Mr Rehn’s draft report added: "Prosecutions and convictions for the expression of non-violent opinion...are a serious cause for concern." It also criticises Turkey for failing to tackle corruption, establish the independence of the judiciary or adequately protect the rights of minority groups.
The appetite for meeting EU demands has waned in Turkey in line with the growing "enlargement fatigue" being expressed in Europe and observers believe there is little chance of reviving enthusiasm ahead of elections in March.
A senior Commission official said: "I would not say that Turkey has gone into reverse but they have not moved when there was an expectation of change. They seem to have got stuck.
"Of course there are the elections in March next year but nevertheless you would have expected to see more.
"The question is, can we keep the show on the road over the next few months or do we actually start going into reverse?"
Mr Rehn has warned of a looming "train crash" in Turkey’s accession talks which will come to a head at an EU summit in December.
Geopolitical realities in Ankara
October 31, 2006
Turkey faces an exceptional dilemma: retaining its cultural heritage while maintaining the character of its majority-Muslim population and making sure that its secular principles and foundation remain aligned with the goals of a modernized Western future.
The Turkish public distrusts all traditionally accepted Western alliances, from the U.S. and NATO to the U.N. and the EU. Turks looked to the U.N. for approval of the Iraq war, yet still feel the organization is ineffective and rarely solves conflicts. Turkish officials say they will abide by any U.N. Security Council decision on Iran, if and when one passes. Turks, however, wonder whether the U.N. will help Turkey when its economy is threatened by possible radical Islamist attacks. Cyprus is a good example.
Greek Cypriots rejected the U.N.'s 2004 plan to end the separation of the island. Turkish Cypriots accepted it, and neither the U.N. nor the EU seems to care. They seem to not care whether they promised to lift economic sanctions, which would boost Turkish Cypriot economy and eventually eliminate one of the main reasons the Greek Cypriots did not accept the unification plan. The image of Turks as barbarians is so pervasive and so harmful that EU member countries forget that north Cyprus is a working democracy.
Germans were similarly concerned about the economic gap between East Germany and West Germany when the Berlin wall came down, with the added complication of Communism. The difference was in how Germany approached it -- determined to close the gap rather than making it an obstacle.
Yet Oli Rehn, the EU Enlargement Commissioner, recently warned Ankara that talks could come to a crashing halt if Turkey fails to implement a customs union with Cyprus. Turks question thegrounds on which the EU accepted Greek Cypriots, especially after Turkish Cypriots accepted the U.N. plan despite its heavy price.
The EU's demands on Turkey are endless, from explicit conditions demanded by signed agreements to pressure to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide. Turks admit that the country's politics are problematic to say the very least -- but the country should not be treated this way, with its culture insulted and its people treated as second-class citizens. Turks feel that the West is Turk-bashing.
Before the second Iraq war began, it took NATO more than a month to decide to plan to help Turkey if Saddam Hussein launched retaliatory attacks against it. That lag time left Turks with the impression that the other NATO members think their lives are less valuable than those of others in the coalition. But if Turkey does not send its troops into combat in places like Afghanistan and refuses to be the "proof" that the war on terror is not a fight between Christians and Muslims, it faces condemnation.
Turkey had led ISAF twice and has proven its capabilities. But according to Turkish media reports, CENTCOM commander, Gen. John Abizaid, said he would not allow Turkey to cross the border to Northern Iraq -- even at a time when he was visiting Kandahar, Afghanistan. Turkey's only motivation for going into Northern Iraq is to defend itself against attacks from separatist Kurdish terrorists. Turks conflict with Kurdish nationalists who claim Turkish sovereign land, and they are continually suspicious about whether the U.S. supports such an independent Kurdistan.
The debates about the future of NATO, the relevance of the U.N. and the possibility of the EU's dissolution have the potential to make all local politics global. The international community has a responsibility to be clear about the future of these institutions.The West also has a responsibility to keep its ally from falling victim to political Islam. It is important -- indeed, fundamental to the character and principles of the Turkish nation -- to focus on how Turks' present actions will affect their future.
It is time for Turkey to think hard about the consequences of anti-Americanism and anti-Westernism within its own borders, and really look at what allowing those conditions to continue will cost the country as a whole.
A Turkey pushed away from the Western alliance will turn old friends into foes, and radical Islamists will reap the benefits. Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer should issue warnings about the republic's threatened principles and radical Islamists on the rise. He should lay out clear and constructive plans to fight those conditions before his term ends in May -- or the consequences that will follow if the next president represents political Islam could prove devastating.
Tulin Daloglu is a free-lance writer.
The European Union’s Turkish dilemma
A tough year for the European project could become a critical decade unless the prospect of Turkish accession becomes an imperative to a meeting of minds on both sides and at every level, says Krzysztof Bobinski.
Tony Blair’s bid to save the United Kingdom’s budget rebate by cutting funds for the ten new member-states that joined the European Union in May 2004 has shocked central European capitals. London, they have realised, is not willing to shoulder its share of the cost of enlargement. As the 15-16 December summit that will crown Britain’s disappointing six-month presidency of the union approaches, Blair is not alone. Other net contributors like Sweden and Germany would like the 2007-2013 budget to be limited to 1% of GDP, or to be reduced to less than it was when the EU had fifteen
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The leaders of the fifteen pre-enlargement EU states got no less of a shock when voters in France and Holland voted down the constitutional treaty in May-June 2005, partly in reaction to the perceived threat to their lifestyles through the accession of ten poorer, more needy countries mainly to the east.
Why the surprise? After all, enlargement was well prepared from the point of view of the acquis communautaire, the body of law that aspiring member-states have to subscribe to before joining. The former Soviet-bloc entrants were keen to join. Old member-state leaders said they wanted the continent reunited after the cold war. The dream of the founding fathers of a Europe whole and at peace was achieved. But no one told the good news to the voters in the “EU fifteen”.
It is clear that before accession the two sides – the “fifteen” and the “ten” - never really faced up to the political and financial implications of reunification. There was little discussion between old and new members on establishing a consensus on what they could expect of each other so that post-entry shocks could be avoided. Thus the entrants continued to hope that EU funds would flow from richer to not-so-rich states as they had after previous enlargements. Meanwhile, the old member-states made a mental note of the fact that the days of generosity on the Helmut Kohl scale were over.
An explosive Rubik cube
Now, actions are dispelling the illusions as the European Union bickers over the budget in serious pre-summit squabbles. At the same time, the EU is limbering up for a new round of enlargement negotiations with Turkey. But there seems to be no attempt to achieve a genuine meeting of minds on the costs and benefits of bringing this large, not very rich, Islamic society with a patchy democratic record into the union. In contrast to the accession of the post-Soviet states, the doubts about the whole process are being made palpably clear. Some member-states, notably Austria but including Germany under the new chancellorship of Angela Merkel, are already implying that negotiations could stop short of full membership for Turkey.
On the Turkish side too analysts are drawing attention to the challenges facing EU and Turkish policy makers. At a recent seminar in Warsaw, Mehmet Ugur, an academic from London’s Greenwich University, asked if the Turkish government is doing enough to build a pro-European consensus that would be necessary to surmount them. The ownership of the Europeanisation project in Turkey, he suggested, has changed hands: the secular-Kemalist elite has begun to lose interest in this project, while those who once contested the basic principles of the Turkish state have moved to support it.
Moreover, Turkish patience will be severely tested in the coming period by the needs of resolving the Cyprus issue, addressing Armenian claims and dealing with the Kurdish question. As if this agenda were not already sticky, Turkey’s efforts would be accompanied by the constant drumbeat of European Commission demands for adaptation to the acquis.
In previous enlargements the EU used the stick-and-carrot approach. Candidate countries grinned and bore the demands for change because they knew that their countries would benefit after accession. Turkey sees that there will be few carrots and lots of stick. With Turkey, in contrast to what is happening now between the old and new member-states, the shocks are coming up front.
Nevertheless it would do the cause of Turkish accession a lot of good to go beyond the language of fear and reach out to an underlying consensus between the two sides on what they are to expect of each other. That consensus would include a commitment by the EU to show sensitivity to the fact that internal Turkish politics resemble an explosive Rubik cube. A false move in attempting to align the various domestic stakeholders in the process could see the cube blow up in Turkish leaders’ faces. EU pressure on Turkey is part of this game and Brussels must make sure that it does not provoke a blast.
The Turks, for their part, must think in terms of being co-responsible for internal EU developments. As Katinka Barysch at the Centre for European Reform suggests, Turkey must present itself as a “normal” European country. If Turkey is to join the EU, the traditional take-it-or-leave-it accession method must be modified as both sides share a willingness to work together on easing the other’s political problems. This dialogue would be greatly strengthened by a major increase of mutual study-trips and conferences by people from all walks of life.
Turkish membership of the European Union is too important to the peaceful and democratic development of the region and to the credibility of the EU itself to be allowed to fail. But if it is to succeed, work on building an underlying consensus between the two sides needs to start now – or the next shock will be the biggest.
Armenian Law Designed to Keep Turkey Out of the EU
Gwynne Dyer, Arab News
Words matter. The holocaust of the European Jews during World War II was a genocide. The mass deportation of Chechens from their Caucasian homeland during the same war was a crime but not a genocide, even though half of them died, because Moscow’s aim was to keep them from collaborating with German troops who were nearing Chechnya, not to exterminate them. Which brings us to the far more controversial case of the Armenians and the Turks.
On Oct. 12, the French Parliament passed a law declaring that anyone who denies that the mass murder of Armenians in eastern Turkey in 1915-17 was a genocide will face a year in prison. But the French Foreign Ministry called the law “unnecessary and untimely,” and President Jacques Chirac telephoned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan to apologize.
“Chirac called me and told me he was sorry. He said that he is listening to our statements and he thinks we are right and he will do what he can in the upcoming process (of ratifying the legislation),” said Erdogan later. Since Chirac can veto the law, that should be the end of that, but the point of passing the law was never really to get it on the books. It was to alienate Turkish public opinion and to curry favor with the half-million French citizens of Armenian descent.
Why would the conservative majority in the French Parliament deliberately set out to annoy the Turks, knowing that the law would eventually be vetoed by the president? Because they hope to provoke a nationalist backlash in Turkey that would further damage that country’s already difficult relationship with the European Union.
French public opinion is already in a xenophobic mood over the last expansion of the EU, with folk-tales of “Polish plumbers” working for peanuts and stealing the jobs of honest French workers causing outrage, especially among right-wing voters who never much liked foreigners anyway. The prospect of eighty million Turks — Muslim Turks — joining the European Union, even if it is at least ten years away, is enough to make their blood boil. So a big row with Turkey should attract lots of votes to the right’s presidential candidate in next May’s election, who is likely to be none other than current Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy — who announced last month that Turkey should never be allowed to join the EU: “We have to say who is European and who isn’t. It’s no longer possible to leave this question open.” The new law is not really about Armenians or Turks. It’s about the French election.
Meanwhile, in Turkey, anti-EU nationalists have their own game underway. While Turkey was busy amending its penal code to make it conform to EU standards over the past few years, hard-line lawyers and bureaucrats smuggled in a new law, Article 301, that provides severe penalties for “insulting Turkishness.” In practice, that mainly means trying to ban public discussion of the Armenian massacres, and some seventy prosecutions have already been brought by the ultra-right-wing Union of Lawyers against Turkish authors, journalists and other public figures.
For several generations the Turkish government flatly denied any guilt for the Armenian massacres, insisting that they didn’t happen and if they did, it was the Armenians’ own fault for rebelling against the Turkish state in wartime. Latterly, a new generation of Turkish intellectuals has been saying that a million or more Armenians did die in the mass deportations from eastern Anatolia, and that Turkey needs to admit its guilt and apologize — though most still refuse to call it a genocide.
Most Armenians, of course, desperately want the label “genocide” to be applied to their ancestors’ suffering, since they feel that any other term demotes it to a lower rank of tragedy. But there is room for dialogue and even reconciliation here, if people can get past the issue of nomenclature.
The prosecutions for “insulting Turkishness” — even against Turkey’s greatest living novelist, Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk — are not just an attempt to stifle this dialogue among Turks, or between Turks and Armenians. The ultra-nationalists also want to derail the negotiations for EU membership by painting Turkey as an authoritarian and intolerant state that does not belong in Europe. They are, in effect, Sarkozy’s objective allies.
But Prime Minister Erdogan will probably repeal Article 301 once next year’s elections are past. France’s law, which requires people to discuss the Armenian massacres in precisely the terms that 301 bans, will probably be vetoed by Chirac. And Turkey’s best-known Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, who has already been prosecuted several times under 301, has just announced that he will go to France “to protest against this madness and violate the (new) law...And I will commit the crime to be prosecuted there, so that these two irrational mentalities can race to put me into jail.”
If Ataturk Had Lived
MILLIYET- Ataturk was the one who published a declaration to the Islamic world before the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM, Parliament) opened in an Islamic style. He was the leader who wrote a letter to Lenin saying that Turkey would establish an economic order much like the Bolsheviks. Ataturk also said that nations in the east will fight for the survival of non-aggressive states against imperialism and capitalism. It is again Ataturk who told the Izmir Economic Congress that we are against capitulations but open to foreign capital even as the diplomatic war at Lausanne went on. He told French journalist Maurice Pernot that we were always oriented to the West and that his aim is a European Turkey or, more precisely, a Turkey oriented to the West.
In politics, Ataturk once said that we remained backward because we didn’t obey Allah’s instructions on working and later he said that we couldn’t establish strong bonds with Europe due to the sultans. Ataturk was once for a one-party system, but later saw things going sour and said that there is a need for an opposition party. He branded liberal economies 'colonialist,' but he kept Ismet Inonu, a statist, from being prime minister and gave Celal Bayar, a liberal, the post of prime minister. By asking how many millionaires we have, Ataturk sought to have more capitalists. And as World War II was looming, he insisted on a meeting with British Ambassador Percy Loraine.
Ataturk lived through three different eras of world history: the Great War, the complex and revolutionary world after this war, and the collapse of the world economy in 1929. He didn’t get stuck in any of these periods. Ataturk’s most important feature is his pragmatism, not dogmatism. He was a genius who could analyze the many conditions he lived in and develop new policies accordingly. How would he act in today’s globalized world, and what would he think about the problems and dynamics of today? This is a misguided question. Ataturk didn’t allow his opinions and actions to become a system. For example, he closed down a journal which tried to do this. What we have to look at to understand today’s problems is the time in which we live. Of course Ataturk had basic principles. They are patriotism and the aim at reaching contemporary civilization. The sub-headings of these two can vary according to the time. That’s way Turkey was able to make a transition from a one-party system to democracy, from statism to a market economy.
Turks still rule Europe
If you are reading me for the first time, please read to the end before sending me hate mail. Yes, it is provocative to claim such a thing. You may be asking yourself, "How come this poor nation which has no major contribution to Europe other than Turkish coffee, doner(shwarma) and kebap can rule Europe?" But, at the end of this article you will probably have some sympathy for me, of which I need a lot. Love me!
We, Turks, with our tiny GDP and large population, are ruling Europe without doing anything. Absolutely anything…We watch our Ibo Shows on Sunday nights, we curse to referees and football players on Saturdays, invade Cyprus and kill Armenians for the rest of the week, and that is enough for Turks to rule Europe…
You may be thinking that I am becoming sarcastic again, and yes, you are right!
But honestly, weren't the Turks a determining factor in the EU constitution referendums in Holland and France? How about the German elections? Let's think about the coming French elections, too. Meanwhile, what is happening in Austria?
So, what are Turks doing to humbly enjoy this much importance? Nothing, a million zeros without any significant digits…
Think about the referendums across Europe: What if Turkey had asserted its position as "If there is a 'Yes' for this constitution, we will not be joining Europe and we will skip out on our plans to be in the union.". This move alone may result with 5 or 6 percent shift between confronting opinions, which will be more than enough to get the constitution approved.
In France, being anti-Turkish may earn you those crucial points to be a president. Turkey saying that "We will increase our trade and aspire to join EU if Sarkozy is elected. Oh meanwhile, Sarkozy privately promised us to join Schengen by 2008" will probably neutralize the Armenian game. Worse than that, it may cost Sarkozy the French presidency… A dirty game to rule Europe!
How about Austria? The election billboards based on Turkey- EU relations are helping the some political parties to increase their share and hence power in the parliament. If someone can spice up another "Armenian game" for Austria, Turkey can be one of the crucial elements in determining the government in Austria.
But once again, what is the role of the Turks in this? Absolutely nothing! The whole "European Turkey" discussion is going on with little or no interference from the Turks. The European leaders promise "carrots", show their "Armenian", "Cyprus", and "Kurdish" sticks, but at the end of the day, they become locked inside these carrot-stick policies…
Actually, I have a much more radical, sarcastic theory. Turks determine the governments in major parts of Europe. They are enjoying this power, which the Ottoman Empire could only dream of.
There is also that paradox, I suspect, which may be quite real. The road to the power is made up of several parameters. Generally, there are not too many differences between political parties regarding economic, military, and social policies. But the main differences appear as Turks enter into any one of these parameters.
So being against a "European Turkey" becomes a key determinant for power. But after grabbing power, a new picture emerges in which there is the necessity to integrate Turkey into Europe somehow (full/privileged membership), as we have seen with elected leaders changing position like Merkel and possibly, in the future, Sarkozy. This is not an indication of the changing ideas but real politik.
Think otherwise, when Turkey rejects being part of the EU, the EU presses Turkey more for completing reforms and being part of a larger EU. When Turkey completes the reforms and expects end results, the EU will start discussing whether Turkey is part of Europe or not. This discussion will annoy Turks and Turkey will once again suspend being part of Europe, and again Europe presses and so on….
Why is Turkey hard to reject or accept? This has many answers, which I do not have time to discuss…
During the power play, this real politik ebbs from the popularity of these elected leaders, because of their way of manipulating the public opinion to grab the power. And once again, Turks cost these leaders their thrones.
Also, in this political game, Turks owe most to the Armenian Diasporas, Greek Cyprus, and other anti-Turkish lobby groups. It is a pleasure to sit in our homes, watching TV, and being able to determine the governments in Europe by just being fantastic "Conan the Barbarian"-like characters in the poor European voters' mind.
It is a pleasure dear guys, especially Armenians, Cypriots, and Christian Europeanists! Work more. If you do so, and if I like it, I will buy you candy.
A flashback to the original question… In a Europe, where the differences between political parties and their leaders become less and less visible, what are the main parameters to determine those crucial 4-5 points for the power? You cannot deny that Turks or Turkey joining Europe is among one of them.
Do you still think I am provocative? I may be…but whether Turkey is European or not, Turks still and probably will rule Europe and European politics. Now, you can kiss my hand!
“Creation of a Common Future: Reconciling Turks and Armenians”
Fatma Müge Göçek :Speech Part I
University of Michigan
I want to start my talk with two sets of thanks, to those of you in the audience for being here and to the organizers of the “Facing History and Ourselves” on both sides of the Atlantic for inviting me to give this talk. I want to note at this juncture that this is the first time I am giving a talk on this very significant yet politically polarizing topic outside of an academic setting: I had as a matter of principle decided not to talk outside academia because of the very emotional connection Armenians and Turks have toward the historical events associated with 1915.
Why is 1915 so emotional for the Turks and the Armenians? For the Armenians, 1915 signifies death, destruction and suffering, a forced deportation and final removal from their ancestral homelands, it signifies years of wandering as they settle throughout the world forced to start anew from scratch in societies alien to them, carving out new lives for themselves while yearning for what they left behind without being able to return, while trying to explain to their children why they can not go back to their homeland; what happened to them and why; why their children do not have grandparents like the others around them; why they cannot mourn their past tragedies faced by the denial of their suffering by the Turkish state. As a consequence, 1915 translates into mounting frustration, sometimes into hatred toward the Turkish state, extends into dislike of Turks in general, and disappointment with humanity and the loss of hope in ever making peace with themselves and, more importantly, of establishing a peaceful world for their children.
For the Turks, 1915 likewise signifies a political injustice foisted upon them by a unified West intent upon keeping them out of the European Union, a historical event that indeed may be a tragedy but is actually one of the many tragedies that the Turks faced in the process of the destruction of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the Turkish Republic; for the Turks, being forced to recognize this particular tragedy may bring about memories that may fragment them and tear them apart to the point of no return. It is not that the West actually cares about the Armenian tragedy, but is actually exploiting this particular event, as it has done so many times in the past, as an excuse to once again keep the Turks out of Europe; it cannot openly state it does not want Turkey in Europe so it makes the most use of each and every opportunity to keep them out. So for the Turks too, 1915 translates into mounting frustration, sometimes into hatred toward the European Union, extends into dislike of the West in general, and disappointment with humanity and the loss of hope in ever making peace with themselves and, more importantly, of establishing a peaceful world for their children.
So you see that the end-result for the two groups is the same: disappointment with humanity and the loss of hope in ever making peace with themselves and, more importantly, of establishing a peaceful world for their children. And this is why I have decided to make an exception and accepted the invitation of the “Facing History and Ourselves” because they provide us with a peaceful vision and a solution that will take us away from this very polarized and dangerous juncture. For this polarized and politicized environment benefits no one: it does not benefit the Armenians who still have to live with their escalating anger, hatred and frustration, awaiting futilely as they have for so many years for the chance to grieve and mourn for their tragic losses and start their healing process confronted yet again by a Turkey moving away from them; and it does not benefit the Turks who once again turn inward and suppress amongst themselves all vestiges of difference, liberty and democracy in the name of national unity, withdrawing inward, away from the West, away from all that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the Turkish Republic once aspired for toward an uncertain future. It does not benefit a Europe that attempts to become global in an increasingly multi-cultural world but seems to falter when it is time to accept as a member a country that is ‘different’ than the rest, withdraw instead to its traditional borders under various excuses.
Why is the endeavor of “Facing History” so significant? I think the only way our new twenty-first century is going to produce peaceful solutions is if all societies, including the Turkish, Armenian, British, American, French as well as countless others, can truly confront their histories, their past again and again, constantly and systematically, to account for the numerous injustices embedded in them with the intention to make sure they are not repeated in the future. To thus ascertain that these injustices do not keep repeating themselves to produce so much pain and suffering, pain and suffering to destroy and maim not only cultures, civilizations and generations of people, but also their descendants for decades and centuries. Bright futures are only possible by confronting, facing the evils of the past, not by burying them, or by chastising, censoring or punishing those who research the past. And the mission is to research and generate knowledge and understanding not to politicize, not to impose one particular version of the past at the expense of others: in this process, total freedom in both conducting research into the past and into expressing one’s various interpretations of the past is, of course, a must. This is why it is important to have, rather than states, foundations, academic institutions and scholars involved in the research of the past for states have particular political agendas and develop their own nationalist histories of the past.
With this introduction, what I want to do during the rest of my talk is to share with you my own history of my research on the events surrounding 1915. I have been trained as a historical sociologist and as such I study specifically how history is negotiated in the present by contemporary societies. Before I do so, however, let me provide you with a brief summary of what happened in 1915 that is still with us as if it happened yesterday.
What happened in 1915 and how has it impacted the course of events until today? . The origins of the problem can be traced back to the 19th century intersection of the ability of Europe to embark on an imperialist expansion at the expense of the Ottoman Empire, the inability of the Ottoman Empire to meet the challenges of the rising West, and the concomitant inability of the Ottoman Armenians to meet their economic and political aspirations within the Ottoman Empire. A majority of Armenians, having lost their state in their homeland in the 11th century, had been living under Ottoman rule since the 16th century, the balance having been absorbed into the Persian and later Russian empires. Even though the Ottoman Empire undertook a series of reforms at this particular intersection, they ultimately failed to improve the conditions of rural and small town Armenian subjects or alleviate their unequal status within the Ottoman state dominated by Muslim Turks.
On the eve of World War I, the situation became more polarized with the advent of the ideology of nationalism. After reform minded officials of the Committee of Union and Progress first intervened to establish constitutional rule in the empire in 1908, a handful of military minded ones among them carried out a coup to assume direct power in 1913, thereby creating a dangerous political context: this proto-nationalist group in power from among the Young Turks defined the preservation of their power and the state at all costs as their top priority and sacred duty. They started to view and define the Armenian political parties and leadership that in general sought assistance for reforms from the Great Powers as a major threat against the Ottoman state.
The parameters of the conflict between the Armenians and the Turks as it appears today were thus delineated in the years 1915-1917 during World War I when the Ottoman Turkish government orchestrated the deportation of most and massacre of an estimated one million Armenians from throughout Anatolia that had been their ancestral lands. The government justified its actions then as the removal of a perceived threat against the Ottoman state. Based on the testimonies of the victims, the eyewitness accounts of the foreigners, Western consular reports and other documentation, the world community of scholars has eventually identified and termed what happened to the Armenians as genocide. The Republic of Turkey that succeeded the Ottoman state, however, has denied this assessment to this day and has argued instead that what occurred was a deportation instigated by the seditious behavior of the Armenian subjects of the empire against the Ottoman army defending the state. Hence, not only does the Turkish state reject that the initial intention had been to massacre the Armenians, but it also justifies the actions that were taken by continuing to accuse the victims themselves for their subsequent destruction.
The victim’s expectation that the crime committed against it be recognized as such has instead encountered the Turkish counter-view, which places its own victimization by the Great Powers at the center of its own perception of history. By replacing their own victimization by the Great Powers with the victimization of the Armenians that they are asked to account for, the Turkish counter-view thus makes what happened to the Armenians an almost irrelevant detail, a nuisance at best, something that should be denied, trivialized, or explained away. The mainline official Turkish position has been to do all three, at the same time.
The dispute over this historical event has had serious consequences. Internationally, it has forced the Turkish state to spend millions of dollars over the decades and make constant political and military concessions to defend and sustain its claims; domestically, the production of historical research and information on the event has had to be tightly controlled both in the public sphere as well as in school textbooks, producing a citizenry that by and large remains ignorant of this and so many other similar events of Ottoman history. Faced with the Turkish state denial, the Armenian Diaspora was also adversely affected. Not only has it had to suffer through the trauma of the genocide and the subsequent displacement, but because of this denial, it could not start to mourn and eventually heal: it has therefore had to continue living with the pain and suffering of 1915 to this day, accompanied in the meanwhile by escalating anger and hatred. The Diaspora too has had to spend millions of dollars to prove that what happened to them was indeed genocide.
Three generations after the historical events the battle lines have been drawn on either side of their characterization. On the level of individuals, most Armenians and Turks recognize each other through the way in which they define their identity in relation to the term genocide: while the Armenians insist on employing the term the Turks demand its rejection. The Armenian agenda to compel others to recognize the genocide has become a principle of community organization and power legitimation. As a consequence, energies concentrate almost exclusively on genocide recognition at the expense of many social, political and economic concerns. For the security minded Turkish state, the fight against such recognition emerges as a significant dimension of the continued and continuously promoted “Sevres syndrome,” the fear of the intent of the world to dismember Turkey. As a result, militaristic thinking and repressive policies dominate within the country at the expense of more democratic developments.
A number of countries have also not refrained from utilizing this battle around genocide recognition to their own advantage whenever it fits into their agenda. They have, for instance, employed this battle as a tool of pressure on Turkey, during her application to join the European Union or to compel her to participate in conflicts in the Middle East. For others that do not wish to see relations between Turkey and independent Armenia normalize, the battle around genocide recognition has provided an excellent field of action within which to polarize the two sides. And it is unfortunate that for the policy-makers in Turkey, this continued international engagement in the battle around genocide recognition only serves to justify and feed into their fears and repressive policies, thereby confining their choice of actions. As can be surmised, this highly destructive state of affairs makes reconciliation all the more relevant and urgent for regional and international peace and stability as well as for the peoples affected.
Why did I decide to work on this issue? My knowledge about what happened in 1915 was practically non-existent when I was in Turkey because this subject was not taught in our textbooks: I think that what I was taught in my history courses back then was very nationalistic and highly selective. My first encounter with the topic was an emotional one and probably resembles that of many other Turks: I arrived in the United States in 1981 to do my doctoral research at Princeton University and as I met Armenians on social occasions I was immediately asked as to why I murdered their grandparents. This is highly offensive when you do not know what has happened in the past and you are suddenly accused with a heinous crime you know nothing about: you cannot react in any way except to deny or justify or withdraw. In my case, as I was training to become a historical sociologist, I decided to slowly research this phenomenon. But I did so gradually, after I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the rise of the bourgeoisie and the demise of the Ottoman Empire and after I received tenure at the University of Michigan. For I was aware that this was also a highly politically contentious topic and one that could only be approached if one belonged to a community of scholars who shared a certain vision of the future. It helped, nevertheless, that I had been working in the Ottoman archives since 1979 and I knew Ottoman documents and sources; I therefore knew many scholars who worked on Ottoman and Middle Eastern history.
It was in 1998, however, that I made the specific decision to concentrate on 1915 as the topic of my next book particularly as a consequence of the intersection of two events. One concerned the issue of democracy in Turkey where I was focusing on a specific question: what were the historical processes that hindered Turkey’s democratization?
US seeks to contain damage on looming Armenian resolution
November 1, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
U.S. congressmen are very likely to pass a resolution recognizing the alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, with Democrats on course to win control over at least one of the two chambers of the Congress in next week's elections, but this would not mean U.S. policy has changed on the matter, Professor Clyde Wilcox said yesterday.
Democrats are almost certain to win control of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the U.S Congress, in the Nov. 7 mid-term congressional elections. All of the 435 seats in the House and 33 seats in the 100-member Senate are up for election.
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is widely expected to become the first Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives in 12 years in the event of a Democratic victory, has pledged to push for a dormant draft resolution to recognize the alleged genocide. “There have been politicians who have pledged to bring the resolution forward, and I would predict Nancy Pelosi would probably do it,” Wilcox, a professor of government at Georgetown University, told a group of Turkish journalists in Ankara during a visit here.
In the outgoing House, there also were resolutions for genocide recognition, but Dennis Hastert, the current speaker and a close Bush ally, never had brought them to a full floor vote. Pelosi says there is strong bipartisan backing for “genocide” recognition in the House, and her position as speaker will be a great encouragement for Armenian groups who emphatically will seek a genocide resolution's passage shortly before April 24 next year.
Wilcox said the outcome would probably be a House of Representatives statement recognizing the Armenian allegations but underlined that this would not mean the Americans are taking stance on that issue nor that the U.S. administration's stance is changing. “The House passes resolutions almost every day, almost every day is declared some day,” he said.
“Most of the Americans cannot show [you] Armenia on the map, and they would not know anything about the issue,” he added, emphasizing that it would just mean that Pelosi was listening to a group representing a certain number of voters that says the U.S. House of Representative should recognize the so-called genocide.
The resolution needs to be passed by the Senate as well and signed by the president to become effective, which he said would be “highly unlikely.”
Pelosi, in a recent message to a U.S. Armenian publisher, said: “I have supported legislation ... that would properly acknowledge the Armenian genocide. It is imperative that the United States recognize this atrocity and move to renew our commitment to eliminate genocide whenever and wherever it exists. This effort enjoys strong bipartisan support in the House, and I will continue to support these efforts in the 110th Congress.”
Turkey has warned that the consequences of the U.S. Congress throwing its support behind Armenian allegations would be dire.
U.S. presidents traditionally issue a message every April 24, but they have all avoided using the term “genocide” to describe the events of the World War I years.
Dutch Turks to boycott parties over Armenian issue:
November 1, 2006
ANK - AP with TDN
A lobbying group began a campaign on Tuesday to urge Dutch voters of Turkish ancestry to boycott any party that recognizes the Armenian allegations of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
Coming three weeks before the national elections on Nov. 22, the campaign was a setback for both major parties, the governing Christian Democrats and the Labor Party, which have struck ethnic Turk candidates off their rolls for refusing to use the term genocide to describe the killing of Armenians in World War I.
The Turks Forum distributed posters urging voters to vote for a candidate of the small centrist D-66 Party in the elections -- the only mainstream party that doesn't refer to the Armenian incident as genocide. “Who should the Turkish community's votes go to? Let's use the ballot to teach a lesson to those who want to limit our democratic rights!” said the poster by Turks Forum, endorsing the D-66 candidate.