22 February 2007

1448) Media Scanner Feb 2007 Part 2 (213 Items)


 This content mirrored from  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix
  1. French Minister: I have special attitude towards Armenia and Armenians
  2. Dual citizenship bill likely to expand diaspora's impact in Armenia
  3. Is Armenia The Homeland Of Armenians Or...?
  4. Historian Halacoglu: Let's excavate disputed site together
  5. Hrant Dink and Armenians in Turkey Hratch Tchilingirian
  6. Debate on Turkish influence on Genocide denying historians to be held in London
  7. US companies should help cancel 'genocide' bill, says advisorISTANBUL – TDN
  8. Beyoglu Talks hosts photography legend Ara Güler
  9. US congresswoman supports Turkish stand on Armenian issue
  10. A letter about genocide from an Argentinean deputy ABDULHAMIT BILICI
  11. ‘Passage of Armenian resolution would hurt projects worth billions’
  12. US retreats from supporting Turkish cross-border operation
  13. Turkish and Armenian historians are gathering
  14. Gloom and hope YAVUZ BAYDAR
  15. What is a journalist for?
  16. Turkish husband is making a difference Elif Özmenek NEW YORK
  17. Armenia aims at regional cooperation
  18. Turkey's Violent New Nationalism
  19. Armenian historian comes to Turkey in spite of Diaspora
  20. Politicians have a warm approach towards historians' meeting
  21. Turkish And Armenian Historians Are Meeting At Last Duygu Guvenc
  22. Tomris Azeri: Azerbaijani-Americans called for legislators not to support resolution on false Armenian
  23. genocide
APA
  • Turkey to invite Armenian language specialists from Azerbaijan

  • Ottoman Armenians: “Who Killed Who ?”

  • Outside View: America's Turkey problem By F. STEPHEN LARRABEE AND SUAT KINIKLIOGLU -UPI

  • France To Issue Stamps Featuring Hrant Dink NTV MSNBC, Turkey

  • Armenian-Turkish Relations Discussed At Uk Parliament armradio.am

  • Samvel Karapetian: Turkish Specialists Restore Surb Khach Church With Mastery And Skill Exciting Envy Noyan Tapan Armenians Today

  • Armenian Genocide Resolution Is Under Consideration Of House Committee On Foreign Affairs Arminfo

  • The Anti-Armenian Action Of Azeri And Turkish Journalists armradio.am

  • Meeting On Armenia At British House Of Commons Azg

  • Dual Citizenship Bill Likely To Expand Diaspora’s Impact In Armenia Today's Zaman

  • Turkey Up In Arms Over House Resolution Against Armenian 'Genocide' New York Sun

  • Armenian Opposition Urges Dialogue With Ankara, Baku Turkish Daily News

  • Kocharian: Turkey Threatens Armenia's Security Turkish Daily News

  • Turkish-Armenians’ pivotal role in Turkey’s history revealed Hasim Söylemez - Sedat Gülmez

  • Book Review - Turkey at the crossroads

  • The New Turkey: The Quiet Revolution at the Edge of Europe

  • Armenian genocide folly Soner Cagaptay washingtontimes.com

  • Controversial French bill on Armenian genocide fades away Lucia Kubosova EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS

  • France Senate ducks Armenian genocide bill Joshua Pantesco

  • The Idea of Europe

  • Why do the Armenian genocide allegations outrage the Turkish public? EKREM DUMANLI

  • Turkey’s new foreign policy: ‘If you’re not everywhere, you’re nowhere’ KERIM BALCI

  • Turkish and Armenian historians are meeting at last DUYGU GÜVENÇ

  • Ataturk's perspective of America and the Americans (I)* Yilmaz Oz

  • Armenian Expert Praises Turks For Restoration Of Armenian Church, But Says It Is To Make Money Armenpress

  • Deportation And Annihilation Of Armenians Wasn't Caused By Religion PanARMENIAN.Net

  • Adoption Of Armenian Genocide Resolution By Germany Is Advance PanARMENIAN.Net

  • Armenian Historian Accepted Suggestion Of Turkish Counterpart On Joint Work PanARMENIAN.Net

  • The Mistakes Of Armenia And The Success Of Azerbaijan Sedat Laciner

  • Turkish Premier, Us Legislator Discuss "Armenian Genocide" Anatolia News Agency

  • Ankara Readies Group To Fight 'Genocide' Resolution The New Anatolian

  • Armenian Cinematographers Wish To Shoot A New Film On Armenian Genocide By Using Documents Kept In German Archives Noyan Tapan Armenians Today

  • Establishing Dialogue Through Historians Or Politicians? Irem GUNEY

  • Former Armenian Parliament's Chief: "Armenia Has Become Captive Of Its Past" Today Az

  • Turkey and the Armenians Genocide wars The Economist print edition

  • Mehmet Ali Birand: Armenian Genocide Bill Will Disgrace Turkey Panarmenian

  • Impossible To Reach Armenian Genocide Recognition By Lobbying Only Panarmenian

  • Schiff, Dreier Back Genocide Resolution Canada Valley Sun

  • Humanity lessons

  • Please, don't save us! YUSUF KANLI

  • This lark cannot fly YASEMI.N SI.M ESMEN

  • Gross injustice Gunduz Aktan

  • The Hrant Dink assassination and neo-nationalism (ulusalcilik) in Turkey Onder Aytac & Emre Uslu

  • Forced policy...1 million Armenian deaths. From CIA website

  • What is the US waiting for? Orhan KILERCIOGLU

  • An exceptional reception for Büyükan?t in Washington Cengiz ÇANDAR

  • Cheney conveyed a message to Büyükan?t Mehmet Ali Birand

  • Büyükan?t welcomes White House support against Armenian resolution ÜMI.T ENGI.NSOY

  • A new name for an old political disease: 'Pet Country Syndrome' David Judson

  • Report: Armenian resolution damaging to US-Turkey ties

  • ‘US administration firm to block Armenian resolution’

  • It is time for the Armenian genocide bill, what should we do? M.A.Birand

  • Papadopulos commanded to "terminate Turks"

  • Let it be over and done with! Gunduz Aktan

  • US genocide bill angers Turks Simon Tisdall

  • Armenian Genocide At The Berlin Film Festival 'The Lark Farm' Wakens Turkish Ghosts By Wolfgang Höbel and Alexander Smoltczyk

  • Turkeys needs confidence, not fear HANS A.H.C. DE WIT

  • 'Facing history' at Bilgi University

  • Analysts: ‘Vigilante’ group offensive

  • Support Turkey to Win in Iraq Scott Sullivan

  • Man-To-Man Marking Turkish Press

  • Gül's Serious Mistake Cüneyt Ülsever TDN

  • Mass Grave Outside Of Mardin To Be Opened By International Delegation Hürriyet

  • Mumcu: Genocide Is Invention Of West TNA

  • George Bush Against Armenian Genocide Bill APA

  • When nationalism fails ANDREW FINKEL

  • The troubles of being a hegemon IBRAHIM KALIN

  • Turkey apprehensive about US Congress Armenian resolution FATMA DISLI

  • Three errors in the debate on nationalism

  • Pentagon and the CIA on the move for the bill MEHMET ALI BIRAND

  • ‘Armenian genocide’ as the Zildjian Secret Alloy GÖKHAN YÜCEL

  • The Armenian question: Ali BAYRAMOG(LU,

  • The lies the National Forces tell: Taha AKYOL,

  • Turkey needs a better course on Armenia: Nick Asisian

  • Relations with Argentina under scrutiny

  • Dink family files suit in Istanbul yesterday

  • Let Turkey be Turkey SUAT KINIKLIOGLU

  • Armenian resolution in US Congress FATMA DISLI

  • Folders on the table and an asymmetrical power balance BULENT KENES

  • Rightist ‘vigilantes’ state peaceful intent ANDREW FINKEL

  • General Buyukanit to meet with US Congressman Tom Lantos re Armenian bill

  • Whose Graves: Armenians' or Turks'? Irem GUNEY

  • Turkey battles genocide claims in Hollywood DUYGU GÜVENÇ

  • Turkey threatens US troops in Iraq, say pro-Armenian lawmakers ÜMI.T ENGI.NSOY

  • Armenian lobby: "Turkey is threatening the U.S"

  • US Armenians angry over Turkey’s warnings

  • The bigger picture NICOLE POPE

  • Mass grave outside of Mardin to be opened by international delegation

  • 'Turkey making threats over 'genocide' resolution' TNA

  • The genocide and confrontation MEHMET METI.NER

  • State-like Subconsciously everyone knows that we can not serve the country by acting like a state body. MAHI.R KAYNAK

  • ‘The authoritarian state is the problem, not 301’

  • Human scenes from Trabzon

  • Escape seems tough this time MEHMET ALI BIRAND

  • Turkish and Swedish teams to excavate mass grave

  • Just a warning to US from a friend YUSUF KANLI

  • Bananas

  • A journey through history of nationalism: Hasan Celal GÜZEL, Radikal

  • Ogün Samast production center:Gülay GÖKTÜRK

  • Alliance on the left is left to some other time:Sabah, Mahmut Övür

  • Turkey divided over identity nationalism Dog(u ERGI.L

  • CFR report generating momentum for a new era in US-Turkey relations ELI.F ÖZMENEK

  • Interview with Demirel: Deep state is the military Yusuf KANLI & Göksel BOZKURT

  • U.S. Pressing For Turkish-Armenian Rapprochement ArmeniaLiberty

  • Surfacing Bazaars and Byzantine Backstreets in Trabzon, Turkey By DARIA VAISMAN

  • What if Congress adopts the ‘genocide’ resolution? SAHIN ALPAY

  • Rule by fear IHSAN DAGI

  • The name of the Rose (Gül), the flavor of the relations ALI H. ASLAN

  • Same criteria - but double standards? CEM OZDEMIR

  • Accreditation seen as hidden form of censorship in Turkey

  • Turkey to promote self in North America

  • Büyükanit in US amid looming crisis over Armenian resolution

  • The lack of limits MURAT BELGE

  • Democratic fascism ERGUN BABAHAN

  • Bush to write letters against 'genocide resolution' The New Anatolian

  • Turkish-French consortium wins Samsun Light Metro consultancy tender EkoTürk News Agency

  • “A1 Plus”: Armenian Expert: “Armenia Lost Chance to Become Transit Country”

  • Deadly Nationalism The Struggle of Orhan Pamuk and Turkey's Intellectuals Annette Grossbongardt SPIEGEL ONLINE

  • ‘We cannot suppress public demand’

  • Deep media ‘versus’ deep state IHSAN YILMAZ

  • Deep state: Whose hand is in whose pocket

  • ‘Genocide’ film sponsored by Euroimages irks Turkey

  • There has to be a way YAVUZ BAYDAR

  • Bryza: Freer speech best answer to ‘genocide’ lobby abroad ANDREW FINKEL

  • Mt. Musa Armenians express concern over Stallone movie

  • ‘Nationalism race’ MÜMTAZ’ER TÜRKÖNE

  • Negative and positive versions of nationalism YASI.N DOG(AN

  • Turkish foreign minister’s US visit BERIL DEDEOGLU

  • Diplomat or acrobat? ABDULHAMIT BILICI

  • How green was my valley! M. NEDIM HAZAR

  • Thanks to Nuri Gündes, MEHMET ALI BIRAND

  • Negative and positive nationalism: Yasin DOG(AN

  • Why does nationalism surprise us? Mustafa ERDOG(AN

  • Why the Jewish lobby? Güneri CIVAOG(LU

  • Hrant Dink's dream Elif S,AFAK

  • A ‘Hollywood' way to resolve the Armenian question:

  • Ar?nç claims the ‘article champion' title:

  • Rak? is here to stay NIKI GAMM

  • Opposition calls for police chief’s dismissal TDN

  • Television news makes people sick:

  • Bad news for Turkey's lobby:

  • Article 301:

  • Refugee Seyit becomes Christian:

  • Investigation launched into ‘souvenir' photos:

  • Gov't fights illegal groups within the state, PM says:

  • Erdog(an, MHP clash over ‘nationalism':

  • Istanbul police intelligence chief suspended:

  • US Senate set to condemn Dink murder:

  • Sezer: Definition of secularism clear:

  • Deputy PM: Problem is 301 interpretation:

  • Penal code contains more problems, says NGO:

  • Couchepin addresses Armenian murders

  • Armenian play at Trabzon Theater

  • Dark spots in Turkish history KERIM BALCI

  • Bryza: Right To Self-Determination And Territorial Integrity Possible To Be Combined PanARMENIAN.Net

  • Currently Armenian Genocide Issue Too Politicized PanARMENIAN.Net

  • Some Changes Noticed In American Jewish Lobby Stance On Armenian Genocide Issue

  • Propaganda Wars: Paradoxical Publication Policy Of Time Magazine M. Serdar PALABIYIK

  • AAA: George Bush Not To Nominate Ambassador To Armenia Bypassing Senate's Confirmation Panarmenian.Net

  • 'To show death in order to persuade one to settle for malaria' Cüneyt Ülsever

  • Büyükanit can influence the Armenian genocide bill MEHMET ALI BIRAND

  • Yerevan: Caucasus railway cannot damage Armenia FULYA ÖZERKAN

  • US implies genocide measure may pass, says Congress is independent ÜMI.T ENGI.NSOY

  • Multiculturalism in Turkey: Just shoot a gun! BURAK BEKDIL

  • What is the matter with Trabzon? CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA

  • EP report says Dink’s approach more effective than Armenian diaspora

  • Why are we so surprised by nationalism, anyway?

  • We should reject imposition HUSEYIN GULERCE

  • France and freedom ALI BULAC

  • Mutafyan: I've been threatened since Dink killing The New Anatolian

  • Baykal hints at deeper plot in Dink murder The New Anatolian

  • Dink assassination, and disinformation campaign for what? Onder Aytac & Emre Uslu

  • Gul presses against 'genocide' resolution The New Anatolian

  • In defense of polish plumbers JAN KRZYSZTOF BIELECKI

  • ‘Turkey should start a new initiative to fight the genocide bill in Congress’ James H. Holmes -ATC

  • ‘Knowledge is a potent instrument for change’. Interview with Dogu Ergil

  • Cutting the Gordions Knot - Are the questions since 1915 going to be answered?

  • Closing The Barn Door After The Horses Are Out: Gul And The Armenian Claims

  • Self-critique is a must for Armenians, too

  • Sukru Elekdag: Turkey should stop flights to Yerevan, ban indirect trade & deport Armenians from country

  • If I were the foreign minister . . .

  • Armenian diaspora invited to church opening

  • Pianist Rüya Taner: An artist without a country

  • What to do about the ‘genocide’resolutions

  • Turks want closer ties with Armenia & Kocharian offers joint committee

  • Diaspora insurance payments

  • Washington Times: Congress Has More Important Priorities Than Revisiting Armenian "Genocide"

  • Washington Times: Pelosi's Pandering Against Turkey

  • Armenia Fears Population Crisis

  • DYP protests Google Search Results for ‘Armenian Genocide'


  • French Minister: I have special attitude towards Armenia and Armenians
    24.02.2007
    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Armenia and France have much in common, and first of all our cultures are very much alike. The best evidence of it is the Year of Armenia in France, French Minister-Delegate for Regional Development Christian Estrosi told reporters in Yerevan. He said, the Armenian Diaspora of France is well-organized and plays a great role in social-political life of the country. `They all are descendant of those who survived the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and found their second motherland in France. Armenians of France are our citizens who work for the welfare and prosperity of the French Republic,' Estrosi underlined. He also noted that despite all difficulties of past few years, Armenia managed to keep her political culture and originality. `I have special attitude towards Armenia and Armenians,' he said.




    Dual citizenship bill likely to expand diaspora's impact in Armenia
    Today's Zaman
    23.02.07
    A bill adopted earlier this week by Armenia's Parliament has paved the way for naturalization of Armenia's massive and influential foreign diaspora abroad as it allows them dual citizenship.

    While the Armenian opposition objects to the idea of giving a say to those who live abroad concerning the fate of the country, the bill also led to concerns in Turkey because of the diaspora's hard-line stance on genocide allegations against Turkey.

    Yerevan took the first step toward adopting this law in 2005 when a referendum struck from the country's constitution an article forbidding dual citizenship. Wedged between Georgia, Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan, Armenia has a population of just 3.2 million but a diaspora of 8 million spread across the globe, mainly in the US, Russia and France.

    "We can easily say that the Armenian diaspora is moving in next door and Armenia can no longer be described as an independent country," Dr. Sedat Laçiner, head of the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO/USAK), told Today's Zaman Thursday when asked about possible impacts of this new bill on neighboring Armenia.

    Armenia's current President Robert Kocharian is known with his close relations with the Armenian diaspora, unlike his predecessor Levon Ter-Petrossyan, who served between 1991 and 1998, Laçiner explained, noting that Ter-Petrossyan was very careful about his relations with the influential diaspora.

    "Most of all, Ter-Petrossyan was always careful about not letting the diaspora as well as Russia intervene in the domestic affairs of his country," he added.

    As soon as he came to power, Ter-Petrossyan's successor Kocharian began to act in line with the diaspora's policies, Laçiner said.

    "The diaspora was already influential concerning Armenia's policies, but now its impact on overall policies will be much more stronger," he emphasized, while bringing to mind that the Armenian diaspora had already bought much property in Armenia. "They live in those houses only for the summer or for a limited period of time in the year. During the rest of the year those houses are empty, thus they are not bought for investment."

    Ankara and Yerevan have no diplomatic relations and the border between the two countries has been shut since 1993 because of Armenia's unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.

    Armenia accuses Turkey of genocide in the killings of up to 1.5 million Anatolian Armenians during World War I under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey staunchly denies accusations, arguing that Armenian deaths were part of general partisan fighting in which both sides suffered.




    Is Armenia The Homeland Of Armenians Or...?
    22 February, 2007
    A+1
    On February 22, deputes of RA National Assembly held a debate on the admission of the packet on dual citizenship.

    `Armenia exists due to the people living in the country who have overcome the hardships and tortures of the recent years', NA Speaker Tigran Torosyan announced during the debate. He assumes that it is unjust to ensure equal rights and conditions for the people living in Armenia and beyond its boundaries.

    Regardless of his respect towards the Diaspora Armenians, Mr. Torosyan reminded that they have countered no obstacles over the past 15 years to return to Armenia, get citizenship and settle in their homeland.

    NA Deputy Speaker Vahan Hovhanissyan asked a rhetoric question, `Do Armenians living in the Republic of Armenia always decide their own fates and do they always form the power?' In this respect, he highlighted the importance of holding free and just elections in the country; the remark was addressed to the Republican Party.

    As for the notion of `resident', Vahan Hovhanissyan wondered that once a person is the RA citizen and not a resident, he doesn't pay income tax as he has no income, should he be deprived of the right to vote.

    ARF Dashnaktsutyun, at the head of Vahan Hovhannisyan, finds it inadmissible that RA dual citizenship implies that RA citizens must have families in Armenia, business or they must have lived in Armenia for at least six months over the past 5 years.

    Mr. Hovhannisyan inquired what will become of the RA President and MPs in case they become citizens of other countries during their office.

    `There is one legal solution to this problem', answered David Haroutyunyan. `In case they admit the citizenship of other country they must be considered criminals under the Penal Code'.

    To note, tomorrow the bill will be put to voting. By the way, Republican Party and ARF Dashnaktsutyun tried to conceal the antagonism between their parties and underlined that they both endorsed double citizenship; their opinions differ concerning the ways and methods of its implementation.




    Historian Halacoglu: Let's excavate disputed site together
    The New Anatolian / Ankara
    26 February 2007
    Yusuf Halacoglu, head of the Turkish Historical Society (TTK), is urging a leading Armenian historian to officially declare his intent to work alongside Turkish historians at an alleged mass grave site near Harput.

    Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Halacoglu said that Armenian historian Ara Sarafian claimed Leslie Davis, who was on the Harput Council in 1915, said 12,000 Armenian were killed and thrown into a valley near Lake Hazar.

    "Upon his allegations I told Sarafian we should open this so-called mass grave together," said Halacoglu. "The allegations are so groundless that it wasn't possible to find a grave to put 12,000 people in those days. Moreover, it was impossible to cover up 12,000 people by working with shovels."

    Halacoglu said that when the Armenian historian went there to do research he didn't find anything. "So I told him that he can't claim what he didn't find as real by citing some reports as evidence," he continued. "Basing allegations on rumors of missionaries without researching the Ottoman archives or other archives isn't suitable for a scholar or historian. I proposed to Sarafian that we investigate together what had happened to the Armenians all over Anatolia in those days, and what had happened to Muslims; in other words what happened generally in 1915. Upon my offer I think they came with a suggestion to work together regarding the alleged mass grave in Nusaybin."

    Claiming that both Ottoman and Armenian archives should be researched thoroughly regarding the issue, Halacoglu said that working alone doesn't work out.

    The historian added that Sarafian didn't write to him directly. "He should have make contact directly with us," said Halacoglu. "Now if he didn't write to us officially his intention won't be seen as sincere. They should have sent us their offer officially. We can't solve a problem by just saying, 'Let's deal with an event in Harput.' It may only be a beginning. The reason behind my accepting his suggestion immediately was to show that we don't have anything to hide. We can work wherever they want."

    Halacoglu said that they are ready to confront everything with every kind of method. "If they want to open a grave, then let's do it; if the want to do research, let's do it," he said.

    Stating that the atrocities Armenian committees committed on Turks and Muslims should also be dealt with, Halacoglu said that the Armenian Dashnak organization's atrocities were recorded in archives in Yerevan and Boston. He added that opening these archives will shed light on history.

    Halacoglu also said that forming a tribunal to deal with the 1915 events is not possible. "If such a court is formed, then it should deal with the deeds of many countries," he claimed. "What Armenians or Russians or Greeks did to Turks should be investigated by the tribunal as well. In other words, 5.5 million people were deported in the Balkans, which can be called ethnic cleansing. This should also be investigated."

    Halacoglu said that some world parliaments say Turks should confront their past. "But which Turks? Turks in the Middle East, in the Caucasus, the Balkans? Turks today?" he asked. "How can they accuse me of committing the worst crime of humanity before giving me a chance to defend myself? If I make an application at the European Court of Human Rights I can get compensation. Accusing them of hurting me and humiliating me with their accusations, I can get a huge amount of compensation. We can do it together."

    Halacoglu said that rather than officials, ordinary people and non-governmental groups should do this against the 19 countries which have taken decisions regarding the so-called Armenian genocide, including Italy, Germany, Belgium, Poland and France.

    Armenians claim that large numbers of Armenians -- with figures ranging between 600,000 and 1.5 million -- were massacred by Turks during World War I, which they say amounts to genocide. The Turkish side says that there were many deaths on both sides, fiercely denying any systematic massacres.




    Hrant Dink and Armenians in Turkey
    Hratch Tchilingirian
    Open Democracy, UK
    Feb 23 2007
    The assassination of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink on 19 January 2007 and its aftermath highlighted both change and resistance to change in Turkish society. To understand how far Turkey has travelled in the past generation, Hratch Tchilingirian examines the role of Hrant Dink himself in the context of the Armenian community of which he was voice, critic, and emblem.

    On 18 October 1994 a press conference called by the then Patriarch of the Armenian Church, Karekin Kazanjian, was held at the Armenian patriarchate in Kumkapi, Istanbul. It was organised to correct what the church saw as misinformation amounting to a slander campaign against the Armenian church in particular and the Armenian community in Turkey in general. The "highlight" of this campaign was an attempt by the patriarchate to voice protest against false, even lethal, accusations in Turkish media and political circles that Armenian clergymen were supporting Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists in their secessionist struggle against the Turkish state.

    A photograph allegedly depicting an Armenian priest in the company of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, widely distributed on posters, was a key instrument of these accusations. Indeed, shouted slogans such as Apo, Ermeni pici ("Apo [Öcalan's nickname], Armenian bastard") were at the time commonly heard during nationalist demonstrations and street protests.

    The patriarchate's communiqué on the matter categorically denied the existence of any ties between the Armenian community in Turkey and any terrorist organisation, and explained that the priest in the relevant photo was not a cleric of the Armenian church. The document went on to condemn such anti-Armenian insinuations in both print and broadcast media, expressing the serious concern that such false rumours, assumptions and misrepresentations were endangering the Armenian community in Turkey and making the lives of individual Armenians difficult.

    Hratch Tchilingirian is associate director of the Eurasia Research Programme at the Judge Business School, Cambridge University

    The press conference - attended by some seventy Turkish and foreign journalists - was a tense affair. Several journalists harassed the patriarch with presumptuous questions laced with innuendo about contentious issues, including the PKK and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (Asala) - a small, Lebanon-based terrorist group that had killed thirty-four Turks (mainly diplomats) between 1975 and 1983, mainly in western Europe. (Asala had no presence, links or any type of backing among Armenians in Turkey, and minimal support even among diaspora Armenians).

    As the interrogators became increasingly belligerent, a tall figure forced himself into the heart of the journalistic melèe. "As a member of the patriarchate's press office, I would like to answer that question", Hrant Dink announced. He continued:

    "Respectable representatives of the press, we are trying to shake off from our shoulders a discomfort which causes pressure. It is for this reason that we are trying to voice our protest against a false claim. Apart from that, all your questions have been answered many times before. The Armenians of Turkey are not terrorists and they have never provided aid to terrorism, from whichever direction that may come. From now on too, this is the way it is going to be. Armenians will never support terrorism. As citizens of this country, we would like to live in peace and tranquility. This is the message of this press conference. ... The Armenians, all Armenians in the world, especially Armenians in Turkey, at this moment have only one preoccupation: peace, peace, and peace" (see Marmara [Istanbul], 19 October 1994).

    This was the moment Hrant Dink fully entered public life. The occasion, the pressure, the times themselves were such that he chose - publicly, confidently and courageously - to address the "discomforts" and "burdens" put upon his community by the state and a highly politicised media. It was the moment Hrant Dink openly began to deal with the dilemma of being simultaneously a citizen of one country, Turkey, while being part of another nation, Armenia.

    A time of silence
    It was never going to be easy, for the challenge was at once institutional, legal, and political.

    The Armenian community, like that of other minorities in Turkey, experienced shame, humiliation, harassment and intimidation across the long decades from the 1950s to the 1990s without being able to speak up in its defence - and in a very different atmosphere to later controversies over Article 301 and even minimal debate about the genocide of 1915. The Armenian community in Turkey in this period was characterised by its reclusive existence and collective silence.

    The defining institutions of the Armenian community in Turkey were and are the church and the school. Both faced (and face) perennial problems that kept Hrant Dink and his colleagues awake at night. The interference and heavy-handedness of the Turkish government in the Armenian community's process of electing a patriarch (in 1990, and again in 1998) were among the arduous legal problems enmeshing this key Armenian body. On the second occasion Hrant wrote:

    "We are sad ... The (Armenian) community is deeply hurt by the uncertainty created by the escalation of the senseless crisis about the election of an acting patriarch. These are trying days ... We are observing with shame" (see "Uzgunuz", Agos, 21 August 1998).

    The situation with the Armenian schools was (and is) no better. Hrant wrote many columns about the state of Armenian schools in Turkey, and took special interest in their administration. While criticising his own community for its shortcomings, he also berated the Turkish government for imposing numerous administrative restrictions on minority (and not only Armenian) schools.

    Hrant passionately recorded the constant indignities experienced by Armenian educators. In August 1998 he wrote:

    "If I am not mistaken, it was three years ago ... One of the vice-directors of the ministry of national education's Istanbul office - who was later convicted of corruption and bribe-taking -said the following to the "vice-principals" he appointed (whom the minority schools call "Turkish vice-principals"): "You are our eyes and ears ... You are to inform us of even the minutest mistakes that these people make." He said this in the presence of the minority school principals, with total disregard for their dignity and common courtesy.

    "... And what was I fantasising all these years ... With my 45-year-old brain, I was thinking: 'would, one day, a minister of national education start the ceremony for the new school year in a minority school?' Sweet thoughts ... My naïveté ... Sorry ..." (see "Kinkel ve Valilik", Agos, 21 August 1998

    A voice of dignity
    Hrant Dink and his colleagues were symbols as well as agents of change in relation to the Armenian community in Turkey. They were determined to express the indignation and resentment they experienced as citizens of the Republic of Turkey. If society and the political system did not allow them to voice their fears, concerns, and hopes for their community and for Turkey, the silence surrounding them -they believed - must be made audible.

    Hrant Dink was from 1996 the editor-in-chief and a columnist of the Armenian-language weekly newspaper Agos in Istanbul. The paper aims to provide a voice for the Armenian community in Turkey and to further dialogue between Turks and Armenians

    On 19 January 2007, Hrant Dink was assassinated outside Agos's offices in Istanbul

    It was to a large extent this combination - of the hunger to speak and the desire to address the "existential" problems surrounding the Armenian church and educational establishments - that sparked the creation of the bilingual weekly newspaper Agos in April 1996.


    The five colleagues who founded Agos were: Diran Bakar, a laywer; Luiz Bakar, also a lawyer and (since 1994) the spokesperson of the patriarchate; Harutiun Sesetian, a businessman; Anna Turay, a public-relations professional; and Hrant Dink, who at the time owned a bookshop.

    The founding members - as is the case with any equivalent innovative project - were to have their differences in subsequent years. But at its heart, Agos (and Hrant in particular) remained consistent in the effort to open channels of communication and dialogue between the reclusive - and at times isolated - Armenian community and Turkish society.

    Hrant defined one of the newspaper's purposes as "(trying) to identify and explain our problems to the government and to Turkish society", while acknowledging that "because of this, we sometimes have problems" (Armenian International Magazine, 11/3, March 2000). His core belief was that prejudices could be overcome by education and dialogue.

    The target of this education and dialogue was not just misunderstanding and prejudice in Turkish society, but the Armenian community itself. Hrant's critical discourse about the Armenian community, and especially the Armenian patriarchate, was unpopular, costing him supporters and even friends.

    In June 2001, for example, on the occasion of the 1,700th anniversary of Armenian Christianity, he wrote: "The Armenian church has suffered divisions throughout history and it is evident that it has not learned from its own history. The 'one nation - one church' rule, which has been repeated almost everywhere during these last years, is nothing but a slogan void of content" (see "Spiritual Chess", Agos, 1 June 2004 - translated from Turkish by Anahit Dagci).

    At the same time, many found his passion, genuine concern and sincerity disarming. Most people in the Armenian community saw Agos as a courageous publication where issues related to Armenian identity and community were discussed with refreshing openness, reason and a genuine desire to build bridges across large divides - whether within Turkey, with Armenia or with the diaspora.

    In the course of this work, Hrant came to a profound realisation: that the resolution of the problems of the Armenian community in Turkey was intimately related to the progress of tolerance, democracy and freedom in Turkey.

    Armenians, here and there
    Dogu Ergil observed after Hrant's death that he had "aimed to promote the idea that there are other ethnic-cultural groups in Turkey than Turks and Muslims, and (that) they can very well blend into the nation cleansed of stereotypes and biases". Hrant wanted, said Ergil, to "defend Armenians against majority fanaticism in Turkey and to defend Turks/Turkey against the fanaticism and hypocrisy of foreigners and diaspora Armenians" (see "Hrant Dink: Requiem to a Lesser Turkey", EU Turkey Civic Commission, 25 January 2007).

    In recent years, the "Armenian issue" - as the problem of the genocide is referred to in Turkey - had indeed become a central theme in Hrant's public discourse. The centrality of the "Armenian issue", in fact, has come to cast a shadow over the other problems of the Armenian community in Turkey: ownership of property, community foundations, education of clergy, school administration, and church elections among them. (Why, for example, should the affairs of minorities in Turkey still be "administered" by Turkey's council of ministers, interior ministry, the security and intelligence agencies, and the foreign ministry?).

    If the central, heated question of genocide came to dominate discussion of Armenians and Turkey, it is one that Hrant Dink and a considerable segment of the Armenian diaspora could not agree on. On the eve of the 24 April commemorations in 2002, for example, he addressed members of the Armenian diaspora in France in an interview with L'Express newspaper.

    "Do not seek Armenian identity among the 1915 graves", he advised. "I am ready to discuss all issues with you ... I am proud to be a Turkish Armenian. I want to represent, with my newspaper, the rebirth of this society. Armenia will never be safe unless Turkey achieves democratisation. I believe Turkey may be a chance for that young state which is on the brink of drowning. Tomorrow, thanks to Turkey, Armenia will get the chance to become neighbors with the European Union. Turkey is Armenia's only chance" (Turkish Daily News, 23 April 2002).

    More than the semantics of the issue, Hrant's approach to the issue of 1915 and Turkey-Armenia relations focused on the substance of reconciliation. "I know what happened to my grandparents", he told AFP. "It does not matter what you called it: genocide, massacres or deportation" (Agence France Presse, 8 October 2000). Hrant strongly believed - to the dismay of many in the diaspora - that the more essential thing was to influence Turkish public opinion. "The winning of the empathy and compassion of the Turkish population is far more important than the adoption of Armenian resolutions in hundreds of parliaments elsewhere".

    Hrant spent considerable time and energy in seeking to persuade the diaspora that there is a new dynamic and a new openness in Turkey, involving an unprecedented interest in and discussion of Armenian issues. He said that "this process has been developing very slowly, just like the democratisation of Turkey", in a way that encouraged him to believe that "the taboo (of 1915) too will be broken".

    Yet anyone who is familiar with "breaking taboos" in Turkey knows the extreme dangers involved in such a process. Hrant himself was well aware of the possible consequences: "We never deny our own history. But Armenians (in Turkey) are unable to discuss it for fear it will harm the community's existence" (see Ayla Jean Yackley, "Turks confront dark chapter of Armenian massacres", Reuters, 26 April 2005).

    In his response to this predicament, Hrant displayed one of his largest virtues: courage. As he wrote in openDemocracy in 2005:

    "Where fear is dominant, it produces symptoms of resistance to change at all levels of society. The more some people yearn and work for openness and enlightenment, the more others who are afraid of such changes struggle to keep society closed. In Turkey, the legal cases against Hrant Dink, Orhan Pamuk, Ragip Zarakolu or Murat Belge are examples of how the breaking of every taboo causes panic in the end. This is especially true of the Armenian issue: the greatest of all taboos in Turkey, one that was present at the creation of the state and which represents the principal "other" of Turkish national identity" ("The water finds its crack: an Armenian in Turkey", 13 December 2005).

    Hrant Dink "was Turkey in its complexity", wrote Dogu Ergil. "He was a Turk against Armenian extremism and an Armenian against Turkish extremism."

    The day of Hrant Dink's funeral was the evidence of how far Turkey had travelled since that press conference at Istanbul's Patriarchate in 1994. More than twelve years on, the Ermeni pic epithet hurled by nationalists was overtaken by the cries of Hepimiz Ermeniz ("We are all Armenians!") in the throats of tens of thousands of Turks. Hrant himself, in his life as much as his death, had played an enormous role in bringing about that change. He opened the door to a future that Armenians and Turks must find together.





    Debate on Turkish influence on Genocide denying historians to be held in London

    23.02.2007
    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenia Solidarity (an independent organization, formerly known as Wales-Armenia Solidarity), The Voice of New Generation and the British-Armenian All Party Parliamentary Group informed that British Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon calls for debate on Turkish influence on historians denying the Armenian Genocide. He made this statement in a letter to Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, who had forwarded to him an inquiry as to the government's position on the Armenian Genocide, independent French journalist Jean Eckian told PanARMENIAN.Net.

    `Whether some historians are under Turkish influence or not is itself a matter for debate,' Hoon said. Presumably, these are the historians who insist that evidence for Genocide was `not sufficiently unequivocal.'

    `It is only two months since the Minister for Europe agreed that `over a million Armenians were killed in the massacres of 1915'. We are confident that the Minister will be informed that the government's refusal to equate the killing of "over a million Armenians in the massacres of 1915"(the government's words) with genocide as defined in the UN 1948 Convention defies all known forms of logic. Our response to this will be to invite him to debate the extent of Turkish influence on notorious denialist historians such as Heath Lowry, Justin McCarthy and Norman Stone. Prominent UK historians will be invited to the debate, which will be held in the House of Commons April 24 following our presentation of compelling evidence for the Genocide. The public is also invited,' says the statement issued by Armenia Solidarity, The Voice of New Generation and the British-Armenian All Party Parliamentary Group.




    US companies should help cancel 'genocide' bill, says advisor
    February 24, 2007
    ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
    The foreign policy advisor to the prime minister, Egemen Bag(?s,, called on U.S. companies in Turkey to tell U.S. politicians that the draft resolution in U.S. Congress to recognize the alleged Armenian genocide would hurt relations between Turkey and the United States.

    Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Turkish-American Business Association - American Chamber of Commerce in Turkey (TABA-AmCham), foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog(an and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Istanbul deputy Egemen Bag(?s, met with U.S. Consul General Deborah Jones and other U.S. economics experts and undersecretaries for a lunch in Istanbul yesterday. Speaking to the U.S. officials and the members of TABA-AmCham, Bag(?s, evaluated the relationship between Turkey and the United States. The economy advisor of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara Thomas Goldberger and Commerce Undersecretary James Fluker also attended the meeting.

    Although Bag(?s, emphasized that Turkey and the United States are old allies, he also emphasized the struggle against the illegal Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the unity of Iraq and the draft resolution in the U.S. Congress on an alleged Armenian genocide as three critical points that should be agreed upon. Paying special attention to the Armenian resolution in Congress, Bag(?s, stressed heavily that Turkish people would be hurt very much if the resolution were approved.

    'US companies more aware of consequences of draft genocide resolution':
    U.S. politicians brought the resolution on the agenda because of their will to satisfy the Armenian diaspora, Bag(?s, said in the meeting. Emphasizing that Turkey needs to makes its case better, Bag(?s, said the members of Congress they spoke with were convinced the resolution should not be passed for the sake of the relationship between the two countries.

    U.S. companies that are doing business in Turkey can recognize the possible consequences of the draft bill better, Bag(?s, said, recalling the reaction against Italian products in Turkey when PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was hiding in Italy in 1998. U.S. companies should tell their CEOs and local senators and politicians about the meaning of the draft resolution to Turkey and the importance of it, Bag(?s, told the businessmen.

    ‘Turkish lobby in US determined':
    Bag(?s, also said the Turkish lobby in the United States was small but determined. Saying that the Turkish lobby in the United States consists of first generation Turks, Bag(?s, said that they are not powerful yet like the Armenian or Greek lobby, which consists of sixth or even seventh generation immigrants. The Turkish lobby criticizes too much, he said, “This is unfair.” The responsibility of the Turkish lobby is to familiarize the United States with Turkey, Bag(?s, said.




    Beyoglu Talks hosts photography legend Ara Güler
    "My best photos are the ones I couldn't take," said Ara Güler during February's installment of Beyoglu Talks, a monthly series of gatherings at which the public is able to to meet with famous personalities and discuss the municipality of Beyoglu.

    "I didn't have my camera with me at those moments," he admitted.
    Güler related his memories on his long and distinguished photography career at the Özel Zapyon Rum Lisesi in Beyoglu.

    Güler answered Coskun Aral's questions about his life and career in photography. He revealed he had lost almost 800,000 photos due to the lack of proper archival systems at the magazines and newspapers he has worked for. Güler criticized newspapers for not paying enough attention to photojournalists: "Our newspapers work improperly. But international newspapers are not like that. They are strict about archives."

    Once a member of the famous photo agency Magnum, Güler's career spans five decades as a photojournalist covering nearly all parts of the world. Published and exhibited countless times and the winner of several prestigious awards, Güler is sometimes called the "Eye of Istanbul" for his famous black and white pictures of his native city.

    He lamented the picture of today's Istanbul: "We are living in a finished Beyoglu. We are walking on a corpse and the Beyoglu corpse has started to smell. The house of Atatürk's wife Latife Hanim used to be in Taksim but now there is a car park in its place. This is too bad," Güler told Beyoglu Mayor Ahmet Misbah Demircan.

    24.02.2007
    Today’s Zaman Istanbul




    US congresswoman supports Turkish stand on Armenian issue
    Turkish-American relations would be negatively affected if the Armenian genocide resolution gets approval from the House of Representatives, said Virginia Foxx, a Republican member of the US Congress.

    Virginia Foxx
    Virginia Foxx, Republican member of the US Congress

    As US President George W. Bush puts special importance on national security and counter-terrorism, the US administration is concerned that approval of the resolution would have a negative impact on the American fight against terror and its relations with Turkey.

    Foxx's statements came after a luncheon meeting with the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry held in her honor at a Turkish restaurant in New York. Fox joined the Turkish-American Friendship Group in the US Congress, after she was elected the North Carolina representative, in an effort to help improve relations between Turkey and America.

    Putting her personal stance on the resolution in words that expressed opposition to the bill because, she believed, there was no sound reason behind it, Foxx further said that most representatives who signed the resolution do not actually know much about it and have not thought about it deeply. Foxx added that the recent shift of power in the House of Representatives from the Republicans to the Democrats was adding to the concerns of the US administration. Historically, US Democrats have been more supportive of the Armenian claims than Republicans.
    House Speaker and Democrat Nancy Pelosi has expressed support for the resolution. The Armenian genocide resolution was introduced on January 30th and currently has about 170 co-sponsors.

    Mustafa Merç, the president of the Chamber, told the Anatolia news agency that they were maintaining a series of one-to-one connections with US congressmen in order to convey a truthful picture of problems facing Turkey, to improve the American image of Turkey and to prevent the passage of the Armenian resolution.

    24.02.2007
    Today's Zaman with wires Istanbul




    A letter about genocide from an Argentinean deputy
    ABDULHAMIT BILICI a.bilici@todayszaman.com
    As April gradually approaches, discussions over genocide have once again appeared on the agenda. But we have a rather different situation now: There is the distinct possibility that the Armenian theses might be approved of in the US Congress.

    As always, the US administration is against the draft bill. But this time, political stability is somewhat different. Tensions between the Democrats and the Bush administration are high after it lost its Congressional majority in the last elections over which many see as the war in Iraq. Besides, the US House of Representatives has Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic speaker, who has constantly approved of the genocide thesis and who is so tough and uncompromising in her views that she did not even accept to meet with Turkish FM Abdullah Gül.

    For reasons that relate both to the significance and weight of mutual relations for the world, a possible American approval of the draft bill will of course lead to various interpretations. But, this will not be the first time the draft bill gets parliamentary approval. Unfortunately, many countries, including Russia, Canada, France, and the Netherlands, have approved of similar draft bills. As you may also know, Argentina joined in January the list of countries that recognized the genocide claims.

    Unanimously passed by the Senate on Dec. 13, 2006, the draft bill began to take effect on Jan. 11 after Argentinean President Nestor Kirchner granted his official approval to it. The Argentinean version of the bill suggests announcing every April 24 as a day remembrance to improve tolerance and respect among people in memory of the Armenian genocide, as well as allowing students and employees of Armenian origin to take April 24 off each year.

    Turkish Foreign Ministry officials in Argentina worked hard to prevent the draft bill from being granted parliamentary approval. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally wrote a letter to the Argentinean president to convey his concerns. But none of this worked.

    One cannot help asking: Why is it the Armenian thesis, and not the Turkish one, that finds acceptance? There may be more than one answer to this question, though it is difficult to cite animosity toward Turks or sympathy for Armenians as a reason. Obviously the Armenian lobby is working relentlessly, and it is getting the results it wants. We cannot, however, even succeed in explaining our thesis plausibly, accounting the real story and making clear how some Armenians were promoted to important positions in the Ottoman system of government, or elucidating the conditions that existed during World War I, in spelling out the corporation of Armenians with the enemy, and in arguing that there were Armenians living in many parts of the country at a time when the genocide is argued to have happened, and even that some Ottoman officials were convicted and sentenced to prison because they made mistakes with the immigration process. Our thesis remains so unknown across the world that some senior foreigner officials who think about this issue do not even know that the incident happened during Ottoman times.

    After the draft bill was passed in Argentina, I asked Mauricio Bossa, an Argentinean deputy, whom I met at an international meeting, why they made a decision of this kind. Bossa's letter of response showed how the Armenian claims received acceptance and highlighted the fact that the Turkish theses remain almost unheard-of. The following are statements from Bosso, who left the parliament in early 2006: "As you may know, there is a very important Armenian community living in Argentina. In my country, there are people of Armenian descent who occupy significant positions. A considerable proportion of those people are wealthy. And as you may guess, the Armenian lobby here is quite organized and powerful. The lobby has been working toward this goal for a long time. In my view, the Argentineans are taking sides with Armenian theses as they maintain very little contact with people who support the Turkish theses. In fact, we had a similar draft bill in the 1990s, when the politics at the time played a major role in convincing former President Carlos Menem to veto it because he had strong ties with the US administration.

    "My personal approach to this subject is complex. I have many friends of Armenian origin and, naturally, I know quite well of their position. Besides, I have special sensitivity toward people who were exposed to religious or political discrimination. This is my impression of this situation: This incident took place many years ago. And it happened before the 1920s when Turkey was not yet politically transformed. Is today's Turkey the same as the Turkey in the early 20th century? Turkey is trying to become a member of the European Union as a country with strong ties to the West. Under these circumstances, I have difficulty in making sense of discussions over something that happened one hundred years ago. "Most importantly, I want to better know the Turkish thesis about the issue. I admit that I only know about the Armenian thesis and nothing about the Turkish one, if we don't count the meeting we had."

    Bosso concluded his letter suggesting that I speak to an Armenian journalist who wanted to know more about the Turkish thesis.

    Isn't it obvious that we have a long way to go to make ourselves understood? As long as we do not walk this way, will we ever have the right to be put out with anyone else?
    24.02.2007




    ‘Passage of Armenian resolution would hurt projects worth billions’
    A Turkish studies expert based in Washington has said if it was passed in the House, the Armenian genocide resolution would sever the bilateral ties between Washington and Ankara.

    In an article at Washington Times titled "Armenian genocide folly," Soner Çagaptay, director of the Turkish research program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote:
    "At this critical juncture of spiraling instability in Iraq and a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, the United States cannot afford to lose Turkey, a major, if underappreciated, partner for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan alike."

    Recalling that America's favorability rating in Turkish opinion polls is at an all-time low of 7 percent, Çagaptay noted, "By passing the resolution, the Congress would be passing judgment on Turkish history, which the Turks would see as the ultimate insult."

    A majority of Turks say that the 1915 deportation of Armenians from Anatolia to Syria in the Ottoman Empire does not constitute genocide, yet the House resolution will declares the events of 1915 to be considered a genocide.

    Çagaptay argues that the House resolution would cause a massive public outpouring of Turkish resentment against the United States and this would inevitably cripple US-Turkish military cooperation.

    "Three-quarters of all air cargo bound for Iraq transits through Incirlik [air base in southern Turkey], and Turkey provides blanket clearance for military over flights supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. With its proximity to Iraq, Incirlik also helps defray the cost of American operations there. Six U.S. C-17 cargo aircraft based at Incirlik do the job of nine or 10 military aircraft based in Germany, saving the United States $160 million per year."

    According to Çagaptay, the passage of the Armenian resolution would also hurt US businesses and consumers since Ankara is engaged in several major defense cooperation projects with the United States, including the Joint Strike Fighter in which Turkey has $175 million invested and an expected purchase of 100 jets, and the upgrading of 200-plus Turkish F-16 fighters at a cost of $1.6 billion.

    "The Armenian resolution would jeopardize such cooperative projects, as well as kill a number of pending Turkish defense purchases from the United States, including the Patriot PAC III Air Defense System for $1.3 billion, 52 Sikorsky Black Hawks helicopters at a value of $800 million, 10 heavy-lift Boeing and Sikorsky helicopters worth $500 million and between 30 and 50 Boeing Apache or Bell Cobra helicopters worth between $1.5 and $2 billion," Çagaptay noted.

    24.02.2007
    Today's Zaman Istanbul




    US retreats from supporting Turkish cross-border operation
    Fearing that a possible Turkish cross-border limited operation into northern Iraq to hit the PKK camps there could become another destabilizing factor with the possibility of civilian casualties, the US administration has reportedly stepped back from its earlier assessment that Washington might give backing to a limited Turkish operation provided that it would be strictly coordinated with the US.

    The main target of the Turkish military in past operations has been the PKK base in Kandil, about 330 kilometers north of Baghdad where terrorists find safe heaven.

    Well informed Turkish intelligence sources speaking to Today's Zaman recalled a meeting that took place in Washington on Jan. 24 during which both senior US intelligence and administration officials got together to decide on the options available to stop the PKK's possible increased infiltration into Turkey as snow started melting in the region.

    Bearing in mind that Turkey has never ruled out a unilateral operation into northern Iraq (though the US suspects that this possibility has been used to put pressure on Washington to do something concrete against the PKK), US top officials examined the option of allowing Turkey a limited cross-border operation that would not exceed two weeks and the set geographical boundaries.

    But unlike the US military officials, civilians at that meeting considered the possible collateral damage that such a limited operation could inflict even if it was coordinated with the US. Thus, the US dropped the limited cross-border operation option to the bottom of the list, at least for now.

    Some participants at the meeting raised concerns that a Turkish bomb dropped during an operation, killing civilians even if accidentally, could turn out to be a serious destabilizing factor in the region, which is relatively calm compared with the other parts of Iraq.

    "No one in the US will undertake such a responsibility. Possible civilian casualties and their repercussions in the region was understood to have made the US officials stall the idea of giving backing to even a limited Turkish cross-border operation," said the Turkish intelligence sources.
    The US's preference to seek other options to help Turkey's fight against the PKK, such as to increase cooperation between Turkey, Iraqi government and the Iraqi Kurds, have appeared to have gained priority on the list of options as evident by Tom Casey's, deputy spokesperson of the US State Department, remarks on Feb. 21 press briefing.

    Casey said that the Iraqi government adhered to the principle of working closely with both Washington and Ankara to stop PKK's activities.

    Casey also went on to say that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, as well as the regional Kurdish administration in northern Iraq have been collaborating with both Ankara and Washington in the fight against the PKK.

    Through Casey, the US administration has also been responding to General Büyükanit, Turkish chief of general staff, who said during a press conference in Washington lately that at least the Turkish military would not talk to the Iraqi Kurds whom he blamed for cooperating with the PKK.

    Büyükanit's statement came soon after Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan's remarks that if it was going to help for peace he was ready to have a dialogue with the Iraqi Kurdish administration.

    What next?
    It has become obvious that there has been a serious rift between the Turkish political authority and the military over northern Iraq and on how to deal with the PKK, though the Turkish government's patience has also been wearing thin over the US's failure to take concrete measures against Turkey's outlawed terrorist organization i.e. the PKK.

    As Turkey enters into presidential as well as national elections this year, it was not ruled out that the ruling AK Party government would like to see a cross-border operation sometime in late March to ease Turkish ultra-nationalistic sentiments.

    Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether the Turkish government, despite objections from the military, will enter into a dialogue on the PKK with the Iraqi Kurdish administration recognized by the newly designed Iraqi Constitution.

    Such a collaboration might force Massoud Barzani, leader of the Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the head of the Kurdish regional government to stop the supply of food, ammunition and other sorts of logistic support to the PKK from northern Iraq while taking over the control of the Turkish-Iraqi border form the PKK.

    Additionally, the US might drop a bomb on a major PKK camp in the Kandil mountains in northern Iraq bordering Iran and extradite senior members of the PKK to Turkey.

    Such measures, though impossible to know for sure, might satisfy the Turkish side.
    But the adoption of a so-called Armenian resolution by the Democrat-controlled US Congress sometime in late March or early April, and a possible major offensive to be launched by the PKK in Turkey causing severe casualties might be important factors for the Turkish unilateral operation into Northern Iraq.
    The adoption of an Armenian resolution, which is a very emotional subject for Turkey, might trigger Turkish unilateral action into northern Iraq, said a Western military analyst.

    23.02.2007
    LALE SARIIBRAHIMOGLU ISTANBUL




    Turkish and Armenian historians are gathering
    The British historian with an Armenian origin Sarafyan responded positively to the call Professor Halacoglu, the chairman of Turkish History Institution of "let's conduct research on Armenian genocide claims together". Sarafyan said: "let's conduct a research in Harput together."

    Turkey's suggestion that the historians should research the Armenian claims was finally accepted. The British historian with an Armenian origin Ara Sarafyan said: "let's conduct a research in Harput together" as a response to the suggestion of the chairman of Turkish History Institution of "let's conduct research on Armenian genocide claims together". Halacoglu said: "this is a really significant event. As the chairman of the Turkish History Institute, I announce that I accept this suggestion officially." Sarafyan said: "Turkish historians should reveal the Ottoman records regarding the Armenians who were forced emigration from Harut and located other places".




    Gloom and hope
    YAVUZ BAYDAR y.baydar@todayszaman.com
    A visit to the Turkish capital and meetings with diplomats between Turkish and foreign journalists reveal that the climate of relations between Ankara and Brussels is very cold, if not frozen.
    But it is a complex picture. It was interesting to note that the EU ambassador Marc Pierini sounded much more optimistic than his Turkish counterparts on the progress.

    Journalists from Today’s Zaman, Milliyet, Hürriyet, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the French Liberation and Romania Libera, who met for two days and participated in a couple of conferences, exchanged and reflected on ideas that dominate their respective countries, still seemed to agree that it will take time and efforts before Turkey’s pace of EU membership accelerates again.

    Although Friday’s interview with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, published in Today’s Zaman, conveys a considerable dose of determination to continue domestic reforms, other Turkish sources sounded less optimistic about the current state of affairs between Turkey and EU.

    My conversations in Ankara with reliable sources show that much of the government’s excitement on EU aspirations has evaporated. Visits between Ankara and EU capitals have decreased considerably and a position paper on the EU accession chapter on Enterprise and Industrial Policy sent to Brussels and bounced back from the commission has lent to Turkey feeling weary on its EU path.

    It is impossible to avoid mentioning the burden of the presence of Cyprus at every stage of current phase of negotiations with endless steps that are causing obstructions at every level in these conversations. But all the more, as it was pointed out, the assassination of Hrant Dink and the way government deals with the matter of Article 301 added more salt to the wounds, sinking hopes of a Turkey more secure and freer for its writers and intellectuals who want to speak out.

    Despite reassurances by Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Erdogan that a change is to come on Article 301 in a matter of weeks, skepticism remains here even within the government that even if a substantial amendment passed in parliament, there are no guarantees that a new wave of court cases won’t come.

    Skeptics point out that in a social climate even more threatening than before, prosecutors and judges, some of whom tend to act on their on “old habits, loyalties and fears” -- as one source put it -- can still misinterpret the new article or the other similar ones, such as Article 216 (on “inciting hatred”).
    The picture is rather clear: It is not sufficient to change Article 301. Minds in the judiciary must be changed by a vigorous work of the government.

    But there are even those that do not believe that a government would manage to overcome its inner differences by changing Article 301. Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek indicated that he would oppose moves for an amendment. In his resistance he may be joined by other ministers, fearful of “turning vulnerable” before the elections.

    Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal’s latest statement -- “I am even against the mention of a change to 301” -- feeds such fears and weakens hopeful statements by ministers like Gül.

    As the gloom is clearly being sensed, Marc Pierini is the diplomat who can brighten up the horizon. Relatively new in Ankara, Pierini shows he has a firm grasp of the realities in Ankara and displays a pragmatic view in his approach. According to him it is wrong to even call the eight chapters “frozen.” “Because,” he says, “technical processes go on even then.”

    Pierini dismisses the debates in Europe as to whether Turkey belongs to Europe and discussions on religious identity as negative feeders that does not help make emotions better here. He puts priority on the negotiations rather than the fundamental debates because, as he points out, “There is no plan B on a Turkish membership and EU’s decision last December remains that negotiations will continue.” He shrugs off the gloom with his peculiar realism: “Nobody said that Turkish accession would be easy,” he told us, implying that 17 months into process was still “fresh.” Reminding us other negotiation processes were also painful, he cites Cyprus as the main cause for the lack of excitement on the EU here.
    To Pierini, we should all take the current situation calmly. There are very many areas where cooperation with Turkey develops, and economic signs of growth and foreign investments should make us hopeful.So perhaps 2007’s motto for Turkey should be “Don’t worry, be happy.” When all the elections are all over, it may be back to business. Who knows
    25.02.2007




    What is a journalist for?
    We could easily argue that a journalist's social function is far beyond being a medium, especially when we remember that a significant proportion of great men of literature and thinkers were journalists at some part of their lives.

    Would it be right to argue that many men of literature and thinkers like Karl Marx and Ernest Hemingway showed interest in journalism to serve as testifiers? Like a novelist, a journalist also constructs his own story, for each news story is a re-constructed story. It is reconstruction of life, events and human relations through somebody else's eye. The characteristics of a contemporary journalist are a) a journalist lacks historical knowledge b) a journalist is culturally alienated. A look at the kind of language reporters tend to use when they are sent to a Middle Eastern country will reveal what kind of journalism is in use today.

    23.02.2007
    AKIF EMRE, YENI SAFAK




    Turkish husband is making a difference
    February 24, 2007
    Elif Özmenek
    NEW YORK - Turkish Daily News
    In 1985, Mustafa Özdemir came to the United States to work on a cruise ship as a wine steward. He met his wife Theresa, an accountant for the cruise company in Miami during that time. The couple got married three years later and settled down in North Carolina. Özdemir started to work at his in-laws' landscaping company. Eventually, in 2005, when his mother in law, Virginia Foxx, became a Republican Congresswoman from North Carolina, Özdemir's presence in the family made a great difference for Turkey in Washington.

    "My son in law is from Turkey. From the time that he came into our family I have had an interest in Turkey. When I was elected to Congress I joined the Turkish caucus and I have become more and more involved in how the United States and Turkey can work closely together on the issues that concern us," said Congresswoman Foxx to the press, explaining her interest in Turkey.

    Taking steps to ensure Turkish-American voices are heard in Washington leading Turkish-American businessmen have begun a strategy used by other strong minority groups in the United States - lobbying via campaign donations and meeting with politicians on a regular basis. In this respect the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TACCI) invited Congresswoman Foxx for a lunch in New York.

    During the lunch the main question that revolved around the table was the resolution on the alleged Armenian genocide. "There are a lot of people who signed on to that resolution so I have to hope that they know what it is. However, I would bet most other members have not heard about it or are not familiar with it," said Foxx, with her son in law at her side, in an effort to calm concerned Turkish-American businessmen.

    Yet what she said afterwards was very worrisome. "If it does not pass this year I would say that might diminish its chances of passing but there are many ways that one can get things to pass in Congress," she said. The resolution could be brought up at the last minute just before Congress is about to adjourn late at night or before holidays when everybody is preoccupied with their travel plans is one example Foxx gave of how to pass a resolution in Congress. "It is not a trick so much as it is being smart," Foxx added. The draft resolution has received support from 150 congressmen. The Congresswoman, however, said she still has hope for blocking the resolution. "I know that there is great concern on the part of the administration. The State Department in particular is very concerned about the resolution and what impact it might have on our relationship with Turkey. There are a lot of us who would like to not see that resolution pass."

    Foxx also said that the Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkish Relations is planning to go to Turkey in May to return the visit of the Turkish parliamentarians who came to Washington in November as she was showing pictures of her grandkids to the press.

    TACCI Chairman Mustafa Merç said that as a part of new strategy they are actively communicating with Congressmen and Senators. TACCI will be inviting Representative Ed Whitfield next month to New York. Whitfield is one of the three representatives that lead the Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkish Relations.

    Time will show whether the new initiative taken by Turkish businessmen will be successful, but according to TACCI, a lunch with Congresswomen Virginia Foxx is a step closer to ensuring Turkish-American voices are heard in Washington. Many believe the initiative is very important because it constitutes the first seeds of a strong "grassroots" movement within the Turkish-American community.


    Armenia aims at regional cooperation
    February 24, 2007
    Armenian permanent representative to the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Karen Mirzoyan said dialogue and cooperation are two vital elements in the region
    VERCIHAN ZIFLIOGLU
    ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
    Armenian permanent representative to the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Karen Mirzoyan describes the “Ring Road” project to connect the Black Sea countries as a promising development for the region.

    The BSEC consists of member countries situated in the Black Sea region and is working to unite the two rival countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Though Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations, Armenian BSEC representative Mirzoyan has been serving in Turkey for the last five years in the BSEC.

    Mirzoyan spoke to the Turkish Daily News this week regarding the effects of the closed Armenia-Turkey border and about cooperation between the two countries, the Armenian perspective, Armenian businessmen and BSEC studies.

    Mirzoyan said the BSEC Armenia Office of Representative, which was opened in 2001 in Istanbul, has failed to perform active duties since the Turkish-Armenian border is closed. “BSEC is an unparalleled organization,” he said. To improve cooperation among neighboring countries is one of the primary aims of Armenian foreign policy, says Mirzoyan, who thinks both regional and global issues could be resolved through inter-country dialogue.

    Mirzoyan said the Black Sea basin is not an area that is closed to the outside, adding, “Dialogue and cooperation are two vital elements; otherwise, problems cannot be solved,” as he voices the Armenian businessmen's modest approach to cooperation with Turkey.

    We're hopeful for region's future:
    As for his assessments regarding international institutions, Mirzoyan emphasizes that Armenia has a liberal economy; therefore, foreign businessmen from various countries do business in Armenia.

    The European Union is interested in the region for its geographical location, according to the Armenian BSEC representative, and the BSEC plans new projects to conduct bilateral studies with the EU. It is also advantageous for BSEC member countries to become EU members in order to facilitate implementation of future projects.

    The BSEC pays attention to the future of the region rather than political issues. “We include economic matters on the BSEC's agenda. We are an organization to unite not to separate,” Mirzoyan concludes.

    BSEC to get stronger with ‘Ring Road' project:
    BSEC countries cover an area of nearly 20 million square kilometers in the region and have a total population of 350 million people and trade volume of $300 billion. After the end of the Cold War, the organization came into existence with the initiatives of the late Turkish President Turgut Özal in 1992. In June, Turkey again will be the BSEC term president. With a summit for its 15th establishment anniversary, it is expected that the organization's activities will be accelerated.

    Its first vital project to be realized is the “Ring Road,” a Black Sea beltway to interconnect regional countries. With the project, the BSEC will become a bridge to connect Europe and Asia. The Bosporus Statement was signed on June 25, 1992 in Istanbul to give birth to the BSEC, which consists of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

    Who is Karen Mirzoyan?:
    Karen Mirzoyan was born in 1965 in Yerevan, graduated from the Armenian State University Faculty of Eastern Sciences and has held office at the Armenia Foreign Ministry since 1993. Mirzoyan was appointed as the Armenia permanent representative to the BSEC in 2005.

    MSNBC.com




    Turkey's Violent New Nationalism
    Turkey's pro-European elite is the target of a growing wave of violent ultra-nationalism.
    By Owen Matthews
    Newsweek International
    March 5, 2007 issue - The threats have been arriving daily, often via e-mail. "You traitors to Turkey have had your day," reads one. "Stop prostituting yourself and your country to foreigners or you will face the consequences."

    Not long ago, E, a prominent Turkish writer, would have shrugged off such missives—as did his friend Hrank Dink, the editor of Agos, Turkey's main Armenian-language newspaper, who for years had been a target of nationalist hate-mail. But after Dink was shot dead last month by a 17-year-old ultranationalist assassin, the threats suddenly became deadly serious. "Things are changing in Turkey, very much for the worse," says E, asking that his name not be used for fear of reprisals. "Before Dink's murder, I always spoke out against nationalism and narrow-mindedness. Now I fear for my life."

    A wave of violence is sweeping Turkey, targeting its modern, pro-European elite. Prominent liberals like Can Dundar, a columnist at the newspaper Milliyet who supported a 100,000-strong march in Istanbul protesting Dink's killing, have received warnings to "be smart" and tone down their coverage. Nobel Prize-winning writer Orhan Pamuk, vilified by nationalists for comments he made last year condemning the massacres of Ottoman Armenians in 1915, canceled a reading tour in Germany and has left Turkey for self-imposed exile in the United States. Many other academics and journalists have been given police protection.

    It's not only intellectuals who feel beseiged. Turkey's ruling AK Party faces the same peril—a nationalist backlash that is undermining four years of sweeping progress. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once feared by Turkey's pro-Western elite for his Islamist background, finds himself fighting to protect liberal values on everything from human rights and free expression to membership in the European Union. Erdogan condemned Dink's murder as "a bullet fired at the heart of Turkish democracy." The killers, he said, were "not nationalists but racists," bent on isolating Turkey from the modern world. But the evidence is mounting that the tide is turning against him and his European agenda.

    The nationalists have a growing list of grievances. Chief among them: that Erdogan, prodded by Brussels, granted more cultural rights to the country's 13 million Kurds. But instead of peace, the last year has seen an upsurge in Kurdish guerrilla attacks on Turkish soldiers. That's given rise, in turn, to a number of anti-Kurdish nationalist groups. The leader of one such group, the Patriotic Forces in Mersin, an ethnically mixed town in the largely Kurdish southeast, recently called on "Turkish patriots" to take to the streets to prevent Kurds from "taking over." Worse, Erdogan's entire EU project was called into question last December when Brussels partially suspended talks in a dispute over Cyprus. After so many sacrifices for Brussels' sake, many Turks considered it "a slap in the face," says Naci Tunc, an activist for the Nationalist Action Party, or MHP.

    With national elections this fall, Erdogan himself is under intense political pressure to take a more nationalist line. Recent polls in Milliyet show that support for the MHP has risen to 14.1 percent, up from 8.4 percent in the 2003 vote, while support for the AK Party has slipped from 33 percent to 26. A bellwether of just how far Erodogan is willing to go in accommodating the nationalists involves the notorious Article 301, a provision of the national legal code that criminalizes "denigrating Turkishness" and has been used to prosecute dozens of journalists and writers, including Pamuk. Brussels insists that it must go; all of Turkey's opposition parties, chasing nationalist votes, insist it must stay. "We want to change the article," says a senior member of Erdogan's cabinet. "But we are alone."

    Another test comes in April, when Erdogan must decide whether or not to run for president—a largely symbolic post, but one which carries veto power over all legislation. The president is elected by Parliament, where Erdogan enjoys a comfortable majority. But as a former Islamist, imprisoned as recently 1999 for sedition, he faces strong opposition from conservatives in Turkey's politically powerful and staunchly secular military, judiciary and bureaucracy—collectively known as the "deep state." They insist on a more moderate, secular president as a counterbalance to Erdogan, or whomever the AK Party might choose to succeed him.

    Perhaps not even Erdogan himself, as yet, knows whether he will indeed make a play for the presidency. But if he does, Islamist-hating nationalist radicals are sure to be inflamed. Dangerously, there's evidence linking many of Turkey's ultranationalists to the Army and security forces. A video leaked to the media earlier this month showed Dink's 17-year-old killer, Ogün Samast, posing with smiling police officers and holding a Turkish flag after his arrest. An internal investigation has also shown that warnings of plans to kill Dink were ignored by Istanbul police—though it's not clear whether due to negligence or malice.

    Erdogan is too canny a politician to antagonize the country's Army to the point that an old-style coup becomes likely. But at the same time, he must tread carefully. Last week the chief of the military General Staff, Yasar Buyukanit, spoke out against those who sought to "split the state." It was a clear warning to pro-Armenian liberals and separatist Kurds, but most of all to Erdogan as he considers the thorny problems of reforming Article 301 and whether to run for president.

    It's a delicate balancing act. He must at once crack down on ultranationalist thuggery, without alienating an increasingly nationalist electorate. And he needs to continue with his government's program of reform, lest Turkey's EU bid fail irrecoverably. As resistance to his policies continues to grow more violent, that job will become vastly more difficult—if not impossible.

    With Sami Kohen in Istanbul
    © 2007 Newsweek, Inc.




    Armenian historian comes to Turkey in spite of Diaspora
    25 February 2007
    The director of Gomidas institute, Ara Sarafyan said that he will meet with Turkish history Professor Halacoglu although the extreme nationalist
    Armenians said "you are not a real Armenian, Turks will foul you".

    The extreme nationalist Armenians reacted harshly to the suggestion of Sarafyan to conduct a collaborative research with the chairman of the Turkish Historical Society, Professor Yusuf Halacoglu in Harput town about the past events regarding Armenians.

    Sarafyan stated that he received criticisms such as "you are not a real Armenian, Turks will foul you, and you are making a mistake."

    Sarafyan stated that he will not quit in spite of the criticisms.

    Armenian extremists name 1915 Events as genocide though they reject to come to Turkey to make scientific searches to prove their allegations.

    Sabah and the JTW
    25 February 2007




    Politicians have a warm approach towards historians' meeting
    The affirmative response of the Armenian historian Ara Sarafyan to the offer made by the chairman of the Turkish Institute of History, Yusuf Halaçoğlu, to conduct research together had positive repercussions in the political arena.

    Metin Kaşıkçıoğlu from the AKP (Justice and Development Party) said: "our prime minister had offered to leave this business to the historians. This is a healthy development. The truth should be uncovered.

    Orhan Erdem from the AKP (Justice and Development Party) said: "we had already brought it to the agenda that historians should cooperate and form a committee on this issue. This is a positive step."

    Onur Öymen, the vice chairman of the CHP (Republican People's Party) said: "what matters is the Armenians agree to discuss the issue within a scientific framework and to accept the truth to be revealed."

    Today's Zaman, Turkey
    Feb 22 2007




    Turkish And Armenian Historians Are Meeting At Last
    Duygu Guvenc
    Turkish Daily News
    Feb 22 2007
    Turkish and Armenian historians are meeting to discuss "what happened on the Harput Plain" and "how many people died" during the expulsion of the Armenians

    Ahead of the possible adoption of an Armenian genocide resolution recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, the President of the Turkish History Institute (TTK) Yusuf Halacoğlu and a historian from the Gomitas Institute (London) Ara Sarafyan are expected meet this year to discuss claims about the number of deaths in Turkey's southeastern Harput plain.

    The two historians will meet face-to-face first to determine the procedure of their investigation, a historian from the TTK told the Turkish Daily News yesterday. He added that at the moment it is not clear whether the two historians will establish a commission or simply discuss the allegations among themselves. The cemeteries in Harput may be opened during the investigation, the same sources said.

    The same sources emphasized that the idea first emerged during an Istanbul conference where academics discussed genocide claims in March 2006. It was at the conference that Halacoğlu and Sarafyan first debated the number of deaths in Harput after the Ottoman Empire made their expulsion decision in 1915. While Sarafyan insisted that 12,000 Armenians died, Halacoğlu refuted the claims calling on him to make a public investigation into Harput. Sarafyan replied to the proposal two days ago with a letter to Halacoğlu.

    Turkish diplomatic sources drew attention to the timing of the letter, saying Ankara proposed to set up a joint commission of historians to study the genocide allegations in 2005. Ankara does not judge the value of the letter as an official reply by Armenia but evaluates it as a first step. "We accept Sarafyan's proposal to start an investigation into Harput without any condition and we hope that this will give a chance to continue research about other cities, like Erzurum as well," said a historian from the TTK.

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a letter to the Armenian President Robert Kocharian officially proposing the formation of a joint commission between the two countries to study the genocide allegations about the 1915-1919 events, but the proposal was rejected by Kocharian, who in turn proposed to set up an intergovernmental commission for the beginning of diplomatic relations in reply to Erdoğan's letter.

    Copyright 2007, Turkish Daily News.




    Tomris Azeri: Azerbaijani-Americans called for legislators not to support resolution on false Armenian genocide
    23 Feb 2007
    APA has interviewed Tomris Azeri, President of Azerbaijan Society of America (ASA).

    - Who stand behind the idea of establishing of Azerbaijan Society of America 50 years ago?
    - I understand that ASA is actually the second oldest Azerbaijani Diaspora organization in the world. The first one was established in Ankara, Turkey in early 1950’s, just a few years before ASA was established in the United States. The founding fathers of the Azerbaijan Society of America wanted to create an organization that would help their children and grandchildren who were born in America to learn about Azerbaijan’s history and culture. They were devoted to the dissemination of important cultural and historical information about Azerbaijan and they dedicated their time and energy to cultivate the language, the culture and the history of Azerbaijan. In 1957, the goal of the organization was to bring together all the young Azeri children who were growing up in the U.S. and make it possible for them to learn about their shared history and culture. Of course, ASA’s goals and perspectives have expanded since Azerbaijan’s independence in 1991. Azerbaijan’s occupied lands, the plight of the refugees, and the importance of informing the world community of the aggression our people endure are also high priorities now.

    - Your ancestors were among of first tycoons of ADR. Did this fact play role in creating the ASA?
    - The founding fathers of the ASA understood what independence was all about and the overwhelming importance of an independent republic. Even though they resided in the U.S., they continued to support the fight for an independent Azerbaijan. They prayed for it, they wrote about it, they talked about it to their children and grandchildren. They knew that one day Azerbaijan would again be the free and independent republic of which they had, although ever so briefly, been a part of. Sadly, they also knew that they would not live to see it, but that their children would. That is why they prepared us, and made us ready to be a part of it when independence returned to Azerbaijan.

    I remember my grandfather Nagi Seykzamanli, who was the minister of National Security of ADR, saying, “I firmly believe that any Russian or other domination of Azerbaijan will not take root and last in our country. The Azerbaijani people, who hold their freedom above all else, will rise and gain their independence again. My mortal body and eyes longing for freedom may not see this glorious day, but my children and grandchildren will,” he said. Those were strong and inspiring words for a child like me to hear.

    - What kind of events you already scheduled because of anniversary of ASA?
    - The Azerbaijan Society of America will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. This important date will be marked by a glittering black-tie Anniversary Gala in the Broadway Ballroom of the famous New York Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square, the heart of Manhattan. The date is Friday, May 11, 2007 and the theme is “Hands across the Ocean.” In keeping with this theme, we expect many dignitaries in government, business and the arts from both Azerbaijan and the United States to attend. Additionally, we are planning to bring in the mayors of the three US - Azerbaijan sister cities

    Additionally, we will be presenting our Guest of Honor with a special award and will be bringing in some fantastic Azerbaijani entertainers. It also will help U.S. legislators to see that there is a strong Azerbaijani-American community here in the United States.

    - What we see is that since last elections in Congress, positions of Armenian Diaspora have become more powerful in the USA. How in this reality Azeri Diaspora may help our Turkish friends, for example, in blocking the “genocide resolution”?

    - No one can deny that the Armenian Diaspora in the United States is well organized. They have a firm agenda and everyone in their Diaspora community believes and follows this agenda. The Armenian Diaspora communities and businesses see it as their duty and obligation to finance and support their organizations. And, therefore, everyone takes pride in the accomplishments that are achieved by hard work. These organizations do not depend on the Armenian government for support. Rather, their strength lies in the fact that each Diaspora member supports the organizations individually. Over many years, they focused on achieving goals that they believed in, and these goals became a reality. Azerbaijani-Americans need to constantly work to inform and educate our legislators about matters that are important to us. ASA worked vigorously within the Azeri-American community to block the “genocide resolution” in the U.S. by organizing writing campaigns and by calling our district representatives. As a result, I believe that some of the original representatives who signed this resolution withdrew their name from it.

    - Don’t you think that in this year we have a real threat of adoption of false Armenian genocide resolution by the House?
    - Over many years, the Armenian Diaspora attempted to get such a resolution passed and every year they failed, and I do hope the result will be the same again this year. Turkey is also a strategically important ally of the United States and this fact has not escaped many members of the U.S. Congress, not to mention the Administration.

    The U.S. Administration and the Congress have many important issues before them for consideration. On these issues they may agree or disagree, but at the end of the day they all work for the best national interests of the USA.

    - On March we expect a first Azeri-Turkish Diasporas forum will be held in Baku. What kind of practical benefits it will bring both Azeri and Turkish lobbies in the USA?
    - As Vice-President of the World Azerbaijanis Coordinating Committee and as President of ASA, I am truly looking forward to attending this event. It is a wonderful idea to gather these two communities together in 2007, but we have been working together for many years. ASA has been a member of both The Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) in Washington DC and of The Federation of Turkish American organizations (FTAA) in New York. I am proud to have served on the Boards of both of these organizations as Vice-President many times and both organizations have been supporters of our cause for many years. We will continue to work together. At the same time, we also need to be involved with other ethnic communities in the United States. The ASA is building good relations with the Pakistani-American groups, since Azerbaijan and Pakistan also have excellent relations. Pakistani and Azerbaijani-American communities are working on plans to reach out to each community and organize joint events. The ASA has excellent relationships with many Jewish-American communities and organizations, including the American Jewish Committee. We have many shared plans for future activities together. These kinds of involvements are vital for the future.

    - What are main impediments in creating Assembly of Azeri Associations of America (AAAA)?
    - In theory, forming an assembly is a very simple step. The structure of the assembly must be addressed by the various Azerbaijani-American organizations and Board of Directors of all the organizations must be involved in the process. They must be professionally organized and administered, focused on a common agenda, and intent on working for the common good and goals of both America and Azerbaijan. I am disturbed to see some new organizations without a solid agenda and program, but only with personal purpose and gain in mind. The concept of an Assembly must emanate from the U.S. not overseas. I believe the foundation of such an Assembly must be built on strong ground, with solid bylaws and agenda on which all the organizations could agree. If such a coalition does not succeed, it will damage all the successful Diaspora-building that has been achieved. We can not afford this. /APA/




    Turkey to invite Armenian language specialists from Azerbaijan
    23 Feb 2007
    Turkish History Organization chief, Professor Yusuf Halachioglu said that Turkish historians will be taught Armenian in order to investigate the Armenian documents in foreign archives, APA’s Turkey bureau reports.

    Halachioglu said while both Armenian and European historians are investigating Turkish archives, Turkish historians can not investigate historical documents as they do not know Armenian.
    The only scientist knowing Armenian is professor of Ankara University Birsen Garaca. Halacioglu noted that after the amendment to the law in Turkish parliament that will allow inviting specialists from abroad, Armenian language specialists will be invited from Azerbaijan.
    “We will invite Armenian language specialists from Azerbaijan’s region Karabakh,” he said.
    Halachioglu said that after the language courses are over Turkish historians will be sent to make investigation in Armenian archives abroad. /APA/




    Ottoman Armenians: “Who Killed Who ?”
    I. Introduction: “Chronology and History”

    These two branches are confused in general; unfortunately, we witness such confusion initiated by several persons, having studied history.

    In fact, while the first of these branches places the events in time and place, the second branch researches or is obligated to research reasons and consequences of such events. While the history is making the research, it shall stick to the time-table presented by the chronologist, but at the same time evaluate its information on legal, cultural, geographical, sociological matters and the like.

    We will able to get the conclusion only after the examination we would carry out under the following titles:

    II. Reasons Triggering Degeneration of the Ottoman-Armenian Relations

    1. Sovereignty Fight Lasted for five (5) Centuries in the Balkans: “Bogomilism”
    When the Ottoman/Turkish Army entered the Balkans in the mid of XIVth century, both anarchy and despotism existed in the peninsula. The political power was tyrannically exploiting small principalities based on territory and the village class people through these principalities and the village class people were not able to resist impositions and insistences of the political power and were being oppressed by the bandits living in the rural areas.

    On the other hand, the real victims of the fight between the churches were the small principalities and the villagers; while the Catholics on one hand and the Orthodoxies on the other hand were fighting. Large blocks of people were wildly being exterminated by these two denominations, as they have strictly believed in Bogomilism.

    The Ottoman Empire has benefited such situation by the way of securing and protecting the oppressed classes; and therefore in a short period of time, it could find the way to settle in the Balkan peninsula. In the meantime, Turk tributes continuously and Sufistic Connoisseurs (“Tasavvuf Erbabi”) migrating from Asia were constantly being placed in the Balkans. Although this spread was suspended and even regressed upon lost of Ankara war in the East and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, it was going to be completed more strongly than ever within fifty years and the South and Central Balkans were going to be Ottomanized/Turkicized. In the mid of the XVth century. Ottoman-Germen fight was going to continue for one more century in the North Balkans, constituting the current Hungary. The challenge on the Balkans was going to continue until the beginning of the XVIIIth century and until even today. The difference is that Austria, representing the Germen authority, left its role to the Tsarist Russia since XVIII.

    Russia, which has been more dangerous than the Austrian Empire, has planned the policy of “sailing along the warm waters” for establishing its sovereignty in the territory and considered this as a matter of life and death. However, this has been considered by Austria as an economic development area. Then, having eliminated its powerful neighbor Sweden, it has edged towards the Ottoman Empire with all of its power but had to divide its power, as Austria could not have solved its problems in the Western Europe. However, the most important point is that as Austria was catholic, the Orthodox Church was on the side of the Ottoman Empire. At that time, Russia usurped the church. Furthermore, Russia’s being a Slav Country was going to turn the conflict between the church and the nationalists to its own pims; so the Ottoman was going to gradually be considered to be a foreigner or occupier in that territory.

    2. Russia and Pan-Slavism: “Küçük Kaynarca Treaty and First Political Losses”
    Nobody should doubt that that the date to be considered to be milestone in Ottoman-Russian fight was the execution of 1774 Küçük Kaynarca Treaty. Until this date, Ottoman Empire from time to time lost or won the wars it entered; but, no records other than border arrangements and/or commercial matters have been kept to bear political consequences. However, it was the first time that it was accepted in this treaty that Russia was the protector of the orthodoxies in the Ottoman State and they would be able to open a consulate anywhere they wish.

    This situation, considered unimportant by many of our well-known historians, has been described by Hammer, Austrian Historian as follows: “…this peace has been the reason for all the troubles of the Republic of Turkiye (“Turkiye”) since then and has been the commencement of dissolution of this Empire and was going to cause disintegration of the same at least in the West”.

    Before ending this matter, we should emphasize: “these provisions, considered to be critical, have been continuously imposed to Turks thereafter and are still imposed even today.” We call you to think on this matter.”

    However, we would like to draw attention to the expression of “at least in the West”. This is because, at that time, Armenians were still considered “Loyal Nation” as expressed as “Tebaa-i Sâdika or Millet-î Sidika” in the Ottoman Turkish and they were not expected to have contrary acts against the State. Anyhow, there has been no reason for such a contrary action; this loyal nation has increased their welfare by conducting the activities of trade and by governing the foreign relations of the Ottoman Empire.

    Upon the execution of Küçük Kaynarca Treaty, the Russians have increased their activities in the Balkans. They have established consulates and accordingly, sensitive zones. They have firstly formed armed committees by sending weapons and ammunition and even rebels; and afterwards caused rebellions. They had roles in establishment of independent Romania, Greece and Serbia. However, they could not in any way rouse the Armenian public mind in the Eastern Anatolia; because Armenians have preferred to be under the control of the Ottoman Empire where they have dominant situation in economic terms, as they had fear for religious sovereignty to possibly be established by Orthodox Russia. This lasted until the mid of the XIXth century.

    3. Events until Paris Imperial Reform Edict: “The Issue of Minorities”
    Russia already seized the Eastern Anatolia in 1828s and has been in close contact with the Armenian population. A significant change occurred in the mid of XIXth century. Having expanded, Russia reached the border of India; and England has suffered from this progress and France has suffered from availability of Russian navy in the Mediterranean. In the future these two countries, would on the side of the Ottoman Empire (in the future the Kingdom of Piedmont would join to them) declare war against Russia by using Russia’s request of control of the straits as an excuse.

    Although Russia lost the war, the peace settlement was going to cause dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. However, after England had secured the Indian border and together with France, settled the matter of Straits, these two countries put the “Matter of Minorities” in the Ottoman Empire on the agenda, as if they won the war together with Russia against the Ottoman Empire; and thereafter, commenced to discuss the articles required to be accepted by the Grand Governorship. Sublime Porte, afraid of such a plot hatched against it, was obligated to declare in Istanbul a mandate including a series of arrangement upon recommendation and even intervention of a French Representative, while Paris Conference was going on. This mandate was briefly regarding equal rights and liabilities granted to non-Muslims in the Empire.

    It is quite strange that the objection to the provisions of this mandate was raised by the non-Muslims, who have been granted equal rights with the Muslims. Moreover, even Fener (“Phanar”) Greek Patriarch has read the mandate and stated “I hope it would not any longer come out of its bag” and replaced it into the bag. The reason is quite simple: “Equal rights and liabilities as well as the status of the Muslim Ottoman Society, who spent 20 years of their lives in the military service and failed to penetrate into the commercial life, do not suit the purpose of the other societies in the Empire, who have been exempted from the military service until that time”. However, Europe has placed pressure on this matter and the non-Muslims would have been exempted from such duty by the way of payment of the “cost” of the military service and would have maintained their economic superiority.

    During all of these arrangements, Armenians were still loyal Ottoman citizens, who have been stuck to the State. However, this was not going to last long !..

    Due to the influence of the missioners, who have entered from the borders, opened following Paris Conference, and due to enthusiasm for the scholarships granted, Armenians were going to be willing to go to Europe or Russia and start to be organized against the State there. However, it is not coincidence that committees, which were going to be, in the future, a great trouble to both Armenians and Turks, have been established in either Europe or Russia: “Tasnakustyan (“Tasnak” or “Tashnak”) Committee was established in Tiflis and Hinchak (“Hinçak”) Committee was established in Geneva.”

    Following the Treaty of Ayastefanos executed on March 3, 1978 after the war called “93 War”, concluded with great defeat of the Ottoman Empire and following the Berlin Conference, which is a darned version of the preceding Treaty in terms of borders; the Ottoman shrinked in the east; therefore, 800 years of Turkish sovereignty in the North-East Anatolia ended; and the territories as well as the Muslim society living thereon were left on the hook of the Armenians together with whom they have lived for 800 years.
    The Ottomans, aware of the aforementioned facts, have been obligated to ignore a series of agitations in the country due to binding treaties and in order to prevent any jeopardy to the Muslims left on the hook of Armenians. Of course, this situation was going to be considered to be soft spot of the Ottoman Empire and the Armenian societies were going to aggravate the situation. For instance, members of Hinchak Committee were going to start consecutive rebellions.

    4. Ottoman - Russian War: “Erzurum Cemetery, Dram and Muslims Force to Emigrate”
    While border arrangement was being made following the Ottoman-Russian War in 1978, Russian delegates and Ottoman Delegates gathered at the provincial house. Russians demanded the province of Erzurum in addition to Kars, Ardahan and Agri, they occupied in this war. As support, or in other terms proof, for such demand, they asserted the claim that the majority of the population of these territories was constituted by Armenians. Upon such claim, one of the Ottoman delegates took the Russian delegate by the arm to the window and said: “this is the Erzurum Cemetery; this large land from here to there is the cemetery of the Muslims and this small part is the cemetery of Armenians. As we know, Armenians bury their corpses as we do, but don’t eat !..” This dialogue is in fact quite dramatic.

    Then, the idea adopted in the East was: “If a peace negotiation is held and the population of one of the parties is higher than the other one’s, the other party is going to loose the relevant territories” Therefore, the Muslims on the other side of the border were forced to emigrate with pressure of any nature. When the war was started, Armenians on this side of the border were compulsorily being repressed. We should particularly state that while the oppressions to the Muslims in the Russian side were wildly being made by Tashnak Armenian Guerillas, the obligatory emigration on this side of the border was conducted by the disciplinary gendarme.

    5. 1914 Declaration of War against Russia and Armenian Rebellions: “Obligatory Emigration-Emigrants”
    As soon as war was declared against Russia in 1914 autumn, Russia forced approximately 387,000 Muslims to immediately cross the border and emigrate into the Ottoman Side. Afterwards, the Sublime Porte decided that the villages would be evicted excluding Armenians, such as the doctors, pharmacists and veterinaries, offering public services in the villages on the borders; and the emigrant Armenians would be transferred and placed in the South under security; and the immigrants coming from the Russia would be placed in the evicted villages.

    Three points should be considered in this decision:
    i. The decision was made after Russia had forced the Muslim society to emigrate.
    ii. The decision is not related to emigration of Armenians and members of several occupational group living in the provinces. This means that this is not a decision made against a group, as they are Armenians.
    iii. The decision has arrangements with respect to that Armenians would be sent to South for residence and the assets of these Armenians would be sold and the costs of the same would be delivered to them or to the Armenian church, in case of failure in finding the owners of such assets. Documents evidencing such arrangements are available.

    6. Obligatory Emigration Circumstances: “Fatigue, Diseases and Kurdish Bandits”
    At the preliminary stage, 180,000 - 300,000 Armenians were gathered together and repressed from their villages and collectively caused to depart towards the South. This departure lasted under quite hard circumstances and particularly old population died of fatigue and diseases and young population in considerable number died of the attacks of the Kurdish Bandits. There are many telegrams filed by the guardian officers requesting subsidiary forces.

    7. Armenian Rebellions: “Yozgat and Tokat”
    In the meantime, there has been considerable number of Armenians stayed. These have been Armenians living in the provinces or those, succeeded in staying in the villages by hiding or bribing. Those staying in the territory (Erzurum, Oltu, Ercis, Van, Malazgirt, Mus surrounding, Tekman), occupied by general attacks of the Russian Army upon Sarikamis Event and in the provinces left to Russia by 1978 Treaty, have put to the torture and killed the Muslim society in the territory. As for Armenians living in the provinces; the major evidence that these Armenians have not been forced to emigrate is 1917 Yozgat, 1917 and 1918 Sivas Armenian Rebellions. If these Armenians had been murdered, it is so hard to understand how they were up in arms !..

    8. The fact of Van: “Paris of the Orient”
    We kindly ask you to allow us to disclose a fact, the evidence of which still exists today, about Van with respect to which we have talked to the old people:

    The city of Van has born the title of “Paris of the Orient” and the Muslim or Non-Muslim ladies of Van had been wandering around the lake by silver embossed phaetons at sundown at the beginning of the last century according to the claims. The population of Van had consisted of 1/3 Muslims, 1/3 Armenians and 1/3 Jews.

    Well off Muslim society had resided in the quarter on the coast of the lake in the skirts of the castle, remained from the ancient Urartu times, and all of the aforementioned societies had lived together in the skirts of the mountain, 4-5 km far from the lake.

    After the Russian Army had arrived, a considerable number of Muslims left Van together with the Turkish Army falling back towards Edremit. Afterwards, Armenians of Van set fire to the Turkish quarters and in their own words “they left not a stick standing”. Relevant evidences are available.

    Even, according to what told by an old native of Van, “Armenians of Van, who hide their neighbors, have shipped these people in the vessels for the so-called purpose of missing them, brought them to Ahdamar Island under the Armenian Control and shot them”. When the Turkish Army pulled back Van, Armenians of Van, afraid of retaliation, evicted their quarters together with the Russian Army falling back. The Turks coming resided in the evicted Armenian quarters. Then, magnificent city of Van on the coast of the lake disappeared and today’s Van became a land city.


    9. “Armenian State” and “Armenia” in Kars
    Armenians, surviving compulsory emigration, has put to the North together with Russian Army falling back in all directions. They have settled down in the “Kars centered Armenian State”. The life of this State has been so short and they have been repelled by Kazim Karabekir Pascha as far as today’s Armenia and left Anatolia.

    III. Incrimination of Armenian Genocide: “Malta and Berlin”

    1. Malta: “No Evidence”
    As mentioned in the first section hereof, Cabinet in London had difficulties, as no evidence could have been collected about 140 high officials of the State sent to Malta by English forces, based on a series of crime regarding massacres against Armenians in South Caucasus (refers to Eastern Anatolia within the borders of the Ottoman Empire).

    However, the Cabinet in London has called off establishment of courts as per Article 230 of Sèvres Treaty, as they could not have found any evidence either in the archives under their possession or in the archives of the Ottoman. Nevertheless, they have decided to request from the USA authorities to submit evidences and documents these authorities have been supposed to possess (!), in order to procure that those in Malta were going to be arrested to no purpose.

    In the meantime, the Chief Public Prosecutor of England, with its Note dated July 29, 1921, stated that there had been no possibility to file an action based on the documents submitted to them as evidences or statements, the reality of which had been impossible to be believed by any court.”

    Having made the situation worse, the response coming from USA has caused disappointment. Washington Embassy in England (dated 13 July 1921 and by British Ambassador Mr. R.C. Craigie in Washington), in its Letter issued to Lord CURZON Committee, authorized to prepare files of the actions against the arrested officials in Malta, has stated: “There is no evidence available regarding the aforementioned arrested officials and there are several groundless oral complaints about two of them. The original of this document is as follows:

    '.......... I regret to inform Your Lordship that there was nothing there in which could be used as evidence against the Turks who are being detained for trial at Malta.....

    Having regards to this stipulation and the fact that the reports in the possession of the Department do not appear in any case to contain evidence against these Turks which would be useful even for the purpose of corroborating information already in the possession of His Majesty's Government.'.

    We would like to draw attention to one point herein: “No evidence could have been found against the arrested officials at Malta”. We would later on return to this matter while evaluating the legal situation.

    When the required evidences could not have been found in USA, the English Government has waived from all of its claims and converted the arrested officials into political hostages from the status of possible offenders and accepted their exchange with the prisoner Englishmen in the Anatolia on a subsequent date; but this matter is out of the scope of our matter in respect of its feature.

    2. Berlin: “Tayleryan who murdered Talat Pascha” and “Andonian Documents”
    The second stage of the request of referral of the event to international platforms has been launched in Berlin.

    Talat Pasha, the second important person of the Union and Progress Government (Ittihat and Terakki) and the last Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Vizier, was shot by an Armenian commissioner named “Tayleryan” in May 1921. The murderer was caught. At the trial of the relevant case, it was claimed: Talat Pasha is responsible for genocide against Armenians (the first pronunciation of the word “genocide”) and Tayleryan is not a murderer but an executor and he acted in such a manner under a grievous provocation.” As evidence for this case, telegram texts, which were going to be named “Andonian Documents” in the future; which have been claimed to have been issued from Istanbul Internal Affairs Office (Ministry) (to Sam and Halep Administrations), then handwriting copies of the same were submitted to the court, as the “originals”, have been burned in a fire, as claimed. In these documents, expressions ordering eradication of Armenians brought for imprisonment were used. The Court REJECTED to take these into consideration as evidence.

    These documents have been quite important in claims regarding Armenian Genocide and have even been known as the only source.

    Although the Turkish side has claimed that these documents have been false; and that neither the style nor the numbers thereon nor the writing technique has not been compatible; nobody has believed this. Consequently, 75 years has elapsed from these events and falsity of these documents has been detected after the archives were opened and examined.

    [* A Technical Matter: A internal affairs telegram may not be deleted from the archives; this is because it is registered in at least six books from the Ministry (Office) to the Administrations (Ministry’s roes, telegram arrival book, telegram acceptance book, receiver telegram house entry book , telegram delivery roes and administration’s entry book). Moreover, nobody claims this; but we wrote for those, who may possibly not know.]

    When it was detected that these telegrams were false, came the most ridiculous defense from the Armenian supporters: They firstly claimed; “Armenian genocide has been carried out in the past because Andonian Documents evidence this genocide”, later they started to claim: “Falsity of the Andonian documents does not change anything, this is because it is real that these events occurred.” (Chalian; Les Armenians).

    IV. Sèvres Peace Treaty: “Negotiations”
    In the meantime, Sèvres peace negations have been held in Paris. Some of you may perhaps wonder why Sèvres Peace Treaty Negotiations have been held in Paris (and signed on August 10, 1920). This is quite simple; Sèvres Peace Treaty was negotiated by and between the winners at a hotel room in Paris; furthermore, they have neither accepted the interview request of Ottoman Grand Vizier, who has begged for being heard, nor read the letter send by this Grand Vizier.

    During these negotiations, any and all opposing groups or ethnic groups, including but not limited to Armenians, were heard but the Turks were REJECTED. After issuance of a decision, the Ottoman delegates were called to Paris and notified of this decision.

    Referral of the event to the international platform by Armenians has not come to naught and they have been granted the Eastern Anatolia by a treaty.

    When during the war of liberation, the Eastern Provinces were taken back by the 3rd Army, the Armenian events were completely forgotten.

    After execution of the Peace Treaty of Gümrü (dated December 3, 1920) which ended this action, the chief delegates of both sides each uttered only one but expressive word:

    - “Having left the pen, Turkish chief delegate, asked the Armenian Chief Delegate: “WHY ?.”

    - The response of the Armenian Chief Delegate was “WE’VE BEEN DELUDED !..”.

    V. Armenian Diaspora: “ASALA” and Kurds: “PKK”
    Hereafter, deceptions were tended from Armenians to the Kurds. The requests of Armenians have been forgotten due to the effects of Dersim and Sheik (“Seyh”) Sait rebellions, financial crisis of 1930s, 2nd World War, Korean War and Cold War.

    Communities of interest, which have considered in 1960s that they would do nothing with the Kurds, organized the Armenian Diaspora and founded and supported ASALA.

    After each murder by ASALA, the Western Media had repeated the same sentences and supported Armenians. Then, the public, which has not been accustomed to ask any questions, has accepted the same as an “event”. Another update…the number of the lost people, notified by the Patriarchy as 180-300 thousands in 1920s, was mentioned to be one (1) million as of 1966 and thereafter as 1.5 - 2 million.

    Accordingly, we guess that these Armenians, the only nation whose population continues to increase although they die, have losses in 1915.

    After seriously acting for approximately 15 years, ASALA has disintegrated officially due to internal conflicts and non-officially as a result of the efforts of the Turkish Intelligence Service.

    Afterwards, somehow, the Kurds were started to be used and “PKK” was caused to be established. You know thereafter.

    Today, precipitation of PKK, other than small PKK groups, has leaded the effort to re-agitate Armenians” or “create a new purpose”. What would these excitements lead against us in the future ?.

    Sometime several games have been intended to be played on “Alevi society” and they have started to be organized seriously in Germany and Belgium; but the majority of the Alevi society disregards such efforts for the time being

    VI. Armenian Emigration and Rebellions
    The act of 1915 Armenian forced emigration (obligatory emigration) was not against a group of a religion or a race.

    According to the documents under our possession, the political will relating to the event was for non-erudite Armenians, supposed to be Russian comsymps or under the influence of the Russians in the territories adjacent to the front line and it has been understood that such forced emigration was conducted particularly for wiping out of the territory in military terms and making the territory convenient for a military act. However, at the beginning, erudite Armenians such as doctors, pharmacists etc., as well as Armenians living in the cities, Armenians working in the state authorities, sick and older villager Armenians were exempted;

    We have a memory; 2 Turkish officers told how they have been taken prisoners and how their imprisonments have been. These two officers could have gone to the 3rd Army in Erzurum from Istanbul in 42 days. The most important reason for their delay has been interruption of their travels due to the Armenian gangs or their short laps. These gangs’ generally being Protestant Armenians might have been taken as basis for issuance of decision on emigration. However, in our opinion, the trigger of the event was the intention to clear a field in the critical zone for about 300,000 Turks, forced to emigrate from Russian side to Turkish side. In fact, firstly 300,000 Turks were banished; thereupon 300,000 - 600,000 Armenians were forced to emigrate to the South.

    Has the Armenian population been as mentioned above? No, but I could not understand the importance of the number of this population; because the entire of this population has not been forced to emigrate. The evidences are the rebellions, which have consecutively broken out after 1915 and particularly upon regression of the Russian Army after dissolution of the Tsarist Russia in the last years of the war. Even if, we disregarded the zones under Russian occupation in 1915s such as Kars, Ardahan, Dogu Beyazit. If there have not been Armenians in the zones such as Yozgat, Sivas and Merzifon, how would these rebellions been explained then ? !...

    According to what we told in our article relating to lives of the entire of Armenians in the territory of Van in 1916, how could general emigration of Armenians be mentioned without any bad faith? It is hard for a normal person to consider the same! You know that any single Armenian has not been disturbed in the territories of Maras and Kilikya (“Cilisia”). Moreover, a telegram is regarding refusal by the Armenians in the relevant zone of the efforts for placement, in Kilikya, of Armenians forced to emigrate from the East. We should deem well of the same !..

    One day, an Armenian Professor, during his visit to Ani Ruins, told us: “The worst behavior of you was conscription of the men and assassination of the women and children in the villages without men”. We told him that “his knowledge was completely wrong. Regardless of whether the women and children in these villages have been murdered, the Armenian men in this zone have established Tashnak gangs and attacked the Turkish villages or taken shelter of the Russian Army and constituted Armenian troops”. We told him that “the Armenian soldiers he mentioned were the aforementioned villagers. He had never heard something like this !..”. We would like to repeat that it was calculated that the Armenian men, taken shelter of the Russian Army and taken part in the newly formed Armenian troops immediately upon commencement of the war before 1915 events counted at least 70,000. Moreover, during the Russian occupation, these are the Armenians, who have caused injustices to the extent these have stroked the Russian officers the wrong way !..

    VII. Conclusions: “Our Specialists and Our Situation”

    1. In Terms of Political Will: “False Documents of Lewy Aram Andonyan”
    We told in our article that Armenians’ attitude was so illogical and extraordinary that the lawyers even could not understand. After the archives had been opened and the falsification of the Andonian documents had been understood, Armenians and their supporters, who at the beginning, made the availability of this political will depend on completely falsified Andonian documents, wisely and coolly stated: “This changes nothing; because the Armenian Genocide is anyhow real and other documents are absolutely available (?!); but, nowadays they are not accessible !..”.

    2. In Legal Terms: “Burden of Proof”
    Objective side, contrary to the logic of law, is that the world public opinion has taken the burden of proof from Armenians asserting the claim and given the same to us, Turks. They asked us to prove that such claim is not true instead of asking Armenians to prove their claim. Moreover, they have even not heard our defense. Let’s say “c’est de bonne guerre” in French terms up to that point. Interests prevail instead of rights and law between the states.

    However, the point, which desolates us and which we have difficulty in understanding is that: WE STILL HOLD OURSELVES RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS MATTER; AND WE PREFER ACCEPTANCE OF PRESSURE OF THE FOREIGNERS TO WHAT TOLD BY OUR MEN OF LETTERS AND OUR HISTORIANS.

    3. In Other Terms
    Yes, this is true; this act has not been conducted without blood. We guess that approximately 60,000 Armenians have died on the ways and nearly same number of Armenians in the communication zones due to climatic conditions in the territory on one hand and their insufficient supply on the other hand and particularly due to continuous attacks by the Kurdish Gangs to these public processions, emigrating with their precious belongings.

    However, Istanbul Armenian Patriarchy has firstly mentioned that 300,000 Armenians have died. The figures, claimed today, are not true and are for the purpose of stirring up disorder in the public opinion. Those wondering the facts may reach information on census of population held during the Constitutional Monarchy (“Mesrutiyet”) and may notice that the population in the territory may not be enough for this.

    We would conclude our article with a current event: A program to which a Turkish specialist (?!) attended was held in a Belgian-French Channel. On the matter of acceptance of Armenians by the European Union and request from Turkiye for recognition of the Armenian Genocide and if not acceptable, request from EU Parliament for issuance of a decision on this matter, this Specialist (!) only and only stated that this is not possible under EU negotiation conditions and such a condition may not be claimed. He even uttered any other unfortunate sentences. If we were in his shoes, we would state that there has been no Armenian Genocide and the claims on this matter are factitious instead of stating that negotiation of this matter is not possible.

    Do you consider the claim of Armenians that those accepting the Armenian Genocide has been made are sentenced to imprisonment according to the Turkish Former Criminal Code? A specialist (!?), being at the same time a legal advisor, did not state that there is not such a provision in the Turkish Former Criminal Code; but instead he stated that there has been no person put in the prison for such reason. Do you consider our situation ?!..

    Mustafa Kemal ATATÜRK, at his speech during the opening of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, stated: “The problem called as “Armenian Problem” and intended to be resolved according to the economic interests of the world capitalists rather than according to the requests of the Armenian Nation was resolved by the Treaty of Kars in the most correct manner. Good faith relations of the two hardworking societies living together in amity for centuries were re-established with pleasure.”

    Please take into consideration my writings as a knowledge sharing. How come that everybody informs its studies and such studies are not considered to be abnormal, we would also like to share our knowledge as they do.
    Kindly submitted…

    Hakan HANLI
    Attorney at Law
    International and EU Law Specialist
    Brussels, April 23, 2006 atthakanhanli@skynet.be
    Copyright © 2006 Hakan HANLI. All rights reserved.
    www.kodadimedya.com | Copyright © 2002 - 2006




    Outside View: America's Turkey problem
    By F. STEPHEN LARRABEE AND SUAT KINIKLIOGLU
    UPI

    WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- As America struggles to stabilize Iraq while fighting rages, the last thing it needs is to become embroiled in a new crisis with Turkey.

    But that is where Washington appears headed if Congress passes a resolution recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. and several colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives accusing Turkey of committing genocide against Armenians from 1915 to 1918.

    Turkey denies claims by Armenians that the Ottoman Empire, Turkey's predecessor government, caused the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians in a genocide. The Turkish government contends that far fewer Armenians died, and that Armenians were killed or displaced in civil unrest when the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

    Clarifying the events surrounding the tragic deaths of the Armenians is an important issue and deserves attention. But passage of the proposed congressional resolution would open a Pandora's box of new problems by aggravating U.S.-Turkish relations and seriously impairing the progress Turkey has made to address the Armenian issue -- all while failing to promote the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation that is most needed.

    The Bush administration has warned that even congressional debate of the resolution could damage U.S.-Turkish relations. And even Schiff has acknowledged that the resolution might harm relations between the two countries in the short term.

    The resolution comes at a particularly sensitive moment in Turkish domestic politics. Turkey is entering a volatile electoral period, with presidential elections in May and parliamentary elections in November.

    As these elections approach, Turkish politicians will be tempted to play to the galleries. Consequently, the passage of the genocide resolution could put the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan under strong domestic pressure to reduce cooperation with the United States.

    A new crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations would hurt America at a time when the two nations are beginning to overcome the strains caused by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and could undercut President Bush's new strategy to stabilize Iraq.

    Some 60 percent of all U.S. military equipment destined for Iraq goes through the territory or airspace of Turkey, a Muslim ally and member of NATO. If this route to Iraq were restricted or closed entirely, the ability of the United States to effectively combat the insurgency and violent militias in Iraq would be impaired.

    The Erdogan government could also come under domestic pressure to restrict U.S. use of the air base at Incirlik in southern Turkey to re-supply American troops in Afghanistan.

    In the last several years, Turkey has begun to address the Armenian issue more openly, recently opening up to scholars the Ottoman archives from the period. In addition, Erdogan offered in 2005 to set up an international commission of historians to examine the Armenian issue and deliver its findings to the world community.

    In addition, motivated by Turkey's negotiations to join the European Union, a lively internal debate has begun within Turkish society. In March 2006, a major international conference devoted to the fate of the Armenians was held in Istanbul -- a development unthinkable a few years ago.

    Rather than taking steps that will inflame popular opinion in Turkey and undercut this process of greater openness, Congress and the White House should work together to press Turkey and Armenia to take concrete steps to promote bilateral reconciliation and regional security.

    In particular, the United States should press Armenia to make a more vigorous effort to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh border dispute with neighboring Azerbaijan.

    At the same time, Turkey should be encouraged to alter Article 301 of the Penal Code, a broad law that restricts free speech and press by making it a crime to insult Turkish identity. And Turkey should also take additional steps to address the Armenian issue more openly.

    These moves could pave the way for an opening of the Turkish-Armenian border, closed since l993. Both sides would benefit from such a move. Opening the border would enable Armenia to reduce its current economic isolation and dependence on Russia and Iran. It would also open new possibilities for Armenia to participate in regional economic cooperation and energy initiatives from which it has so far been excluded. In addition, it would remove an important obstacle in Turkey's relations with the European Union.

    When it comes to U.S.-Turkish relations, as well as Turkish-Armenian relations, all parties benefit by steps that promote reconciliation rather than confrontation.

    --
    (F. Stephen Larrabee holds the Chair in European Security at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization. Suat Kiniklioglu is head of the Ankara office of the German Marshall Fund.)
    --

    (United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interest of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

    © Copyright 2007 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
    United Press International, UPI, the UPI logo, and other trademarks and service marks, are registered or unregistered trademarks of United Press International, Inc. in the United States and in other countries.




    France To Issue Stamps Featuring Hrant Dink
    NTV MSNBC, Turkey
    Feb 22 2007
    French collection maker Christian Genevier had printed stamps in the memory of the so-called "Armenian genocide" last year.

    PARIS - France is to issue a stamp commemorating slain Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

    Christian Genevier told Turkish television station NTV that he had decided to design Dink stamp after he observed the shock among Armenians in Turkey and France at the journalist's murder. He added that stamps were ready to go to print and that he already received orders.

    In a question whether he sought the permission of the Dink family to issue the stamp Genevier responded saying, 'I did not find the need to do. I found the photograph on the internet and used it.'

    He added that he did not think that there should be a problem and said that had he printed stamps of murdered Russian journalist Anna Politovskaya without her family's permission.

    The stamps designed by Genevier are being printed by the French Post authority and in comparison with the standard stamp price of 0.5 Euro the Dink stamps would be sold for 2.5 Euro.




    Armenian-Turkish Relations Discussed At Uk Parliament
    armradio.am
    22.02.2007
    February 20 in the UK House of Commons the RA Ambassador to Great Britain Vahe Gabrielyan met with members of both chambers of Parliament and representatives of the British Armenian community.

    RA MFA Press and Information Department informs that the meeting was dedicated to two proposals to hold discussions on the blockade of Armenia by Turkey and the Armenian Genocide in the British Parliament.

    The suggestion to hold a discussion on the Armenian Genocide was submitted by Conservative MP Bob Spink. Up to now the suggestion has been supported by 68 Deputies. The proposal denouncing the blockade of Armenia has been submitted by Laborite Nia Griffit. 66 MPs supported the initiative.

    In his speech Vahe Gabrielyan thanked members of the British Parliament for their activity in the direction of recognition of the Armenian Genocide and lifting of the blockade. The Ambassador thoroughly presented Armenia's stances on the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, urging on British MPs to make best use of their ties with Turkey to help open the border and establish relations.




    Samvel Karapetian: Turkish Specialists Restore Surb Khach Church With Mastery And Skill Exciting Envy
    Noyan Tapan
    Armenians Today
    Feb 22 2007
    YEREVAN
    The restoration works of the Surb Khach (Saint Cross) Church of the Akhtamar Island were done at high level. Stating about it at the meeting with journalists, specialist on monuments Samvel Karapetian emphasized that Turk specialists restored the church "with mastery and skill exciting envy," by using every removed or pulled down stone. Opening of the Surb Khach Church will take place on April 15. According to the rumours being in circulation, the RA Minister of Culture and Youth Issues will also be invited to it. In S.Karapetian's words, there is yet no official information about the invitation.

    S.Karapetian expressed confidence that restoration of this church by the Turkish government has political and economic interest: in the first case this state wants to look like as civilized one, in the second case, it has clear economic accounting: this place is one of tourism points. "If I am mistaken why the Nareka vank (Narek monastery) which is just near the Surb Khach Church and other lakeside monasteries which were blown up in 60-70s are not restored," the speaker said. S.Karapetian, again touching upon destruction of the Jugha graveyard, inflexibly mentioned that Armenians also have their part of guilt in it: in his words, Europeans as well accused Armenians of this issue, saying that it was necessary to take adequate steps in time. The specialist on monuments also facted that preservation of monuments being in the territory of Armenia is also in poor state today.

    During the Soviet years, the Committee on Preservation of Monuments was among the structures attached to government, but today it decreased and became an agency with 7 employees. "This is an obvious state ill-will towards our monuments, and we speak about strangers' attitude," he emphasized.




    Armenian Genocide Resolution Is Under Consideration Of House Committee On Foreign Affairs
    Arminfo
    2007-02-22

    The resolution is now before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, whose chairman, Rep. Tom Lantos of California, has supported the Armenian genocide resolution in recent sessions, though he opposed it in the past.

    Turkey was so alarmed by a proposed House resolution calling the mass slaughter of Armenians by Turks during World War I a "genocide" that it dispatched its foreign minister to persuade American Jewish leaders to lobby against it. At a suite at the Willard Hotel in Washington on February 5, Abdullah Gul met with representatives of the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Friends of Lubavitch, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and United Jewish Communities.

    According to one participant in the meeting, the Turkish foreign minister "made a hard sell," against House resolution 106, whose short title is "Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution." This participant, who asked not to be named, said Mr. Gul appealed to the assembled Jewish representatives by noting the singularity of the German genocide against the Jews and warning that the House resolution, if passed, would rupture American-Turkish relations.

    The Turks have reason to be worried. Although the resolution has faced opposition from the House leadership in previous congressional sessions, the current speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, is said to support it. Indeed, Ms. Pelosi has supported similar resolutions in the past.




    The Anti-Armenian Action Of Azeri And Turkish Journalists
    armradio.am
    22.02.2007
    Turkish and Azerbaijani journalists intend to launch a new anti-Armenian action. Azeri media report that the league of independent correspondents intends to create a center to investigate "the crimes of Armenians against the Turkish nation." "The aim of the center is to inform the society about the facts of crimes perpetrated by Armenians," the press release says. The authors of the initiative intend to publish the results of their investigations in Azerbaijani, Turkish, English, French and other languages and send to international organizations and representations of the Azerbaijani community abroad.

    The center also intends to create an "Armenian researches" magazine.

    It can be concluded that most part of the "researches" will be simply falsified by "journalists of the two brother countries."




    Meeting On Armenia At British House Of Commons
    23 February 2007
    Azg
    Armenian ambassador to Great Britain Vahe Gabrielian on February 20 met with representatives of the both Houses of the British Parliament and prominent members of the Armenian community at the UK House of Commons. The event was organized by the Armenia Solidarity group and supported by the London-based "Nor Seroundi Dzain" ("New Generation's Voice") magazine.

    The Armenian Foreign Ministry informs that the meeting was dedicated to two motions submitted to the Parliament suggesting debates on Turkish blockade of Armenia and Armenian Genocide.

    One of the motions, suggesting debates over the Armenian Genocide, was submitted by Bob Spink, representatibve of the Conservator Party. So far it has been endorsed by 68 Parliament members. The second motion on Turkish blockade of Armenia was submitted by Nia Griffith from the Labor Party and supported by 66 MPs.

    According to the Foreign Ministry’s report, the Ambassador thanked British MPs for their efforts urging debates on these two very important problems. He spoke extensively on Armenia's approaches to these and other issues and called upon the parliamentarians to use Britain's close ties with Turkey to force it to open the border with Armenia and establish relations with it.

    Mutafian Patriarch Meets With Internal Minister Of Turkey
    23 February 2007
    Azg
    "Lraber" ("The Harbinger"), information center of the Armenian Patriarchy of Constantinople, reports that on February 11 Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafian met with the Internal Affairs Minister of Turkey Abdulkadir Aksu. On the meeting the Patriarch raised the question of reconstruction of the Armenian churches in Diarbekir, Kesaria and Kirikhan. He also spoke of the murder of Hrant Dink and declared that the Armenian Patriarchu and the Armenian community of Turkey demand most thoroughly investigation of the crime.

    hr>

    Dual Citizenship Bill Likely To Expand Diaspora’s Impact In Armenia
    23 February 2007
    Today's Zaman
    A bill adopted earlier this week by Armenia's Parliament has paved the way for naturalization of Armenia's massive and influential foreign diaspora abroad as it allows them dual citizenship. While the Armenian opposition objects to the idea of giving a say to those who live abroad concerning the fate of the country, the bill also led to concerns in Turkey because of the diaspora's hard-line stance on genocide allegations against Turkey.

    Yerevan took the first step toward adopting this law in 2005 when a referendum struck from the country's constitution an article forbidding dual citizenship. Wedged between Georgia, Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan, Armenia has a population of just 3.2 million but a diaspora of 8 million spread across the globe, mainly in the US, Russia and France.

    "We can easily say that the Armenian diaspora is moving in next door and Armenia can no longer be described as an independent country," Dr. Sedat Laçiner, head of the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO/USAK), told Today's Zaman Thursday when asked about possible impacts of this new bill on neighboring Armenia.

    Armenia's current President Robert Kocharian is known with his close relations with the Armenian diaspora, unlike his predecessor Levon Ter-Petrossyan, who served between 1991 and 1998, Laçiner explained, noting that Ter-Petrossyan was very careful about his relations with the influential diaspora.
    "Most of all, Ter-Petrossyan was always careful about not letting the diaspora as well as Russia intervene in the domestic affairs of his country," he added.

    As soon as he came to power, Ter-Petrossyan's successor Kocharian began to act in line with the diaspora's policies, Laçiner said.

    "The diaspora was already influential concerning Armenia's policies, but now its impact on overall policies will be much more stronger," he emphasized, while bringing to mind that the Armenian diaspora had already bought much property in Armenia. "They live in those houses only for the summer or for a limited period of time in the year. During the rest of the year those houses are empty, thus they are not bought for investment."

    Ankara and Yerevan have no diplomatic relations and the border between the two countries has been shut since 1993 because of Armenia's unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
    Armenia accuses Turkey of genocide in the killings of up to 1.5 million Anatolian Armenians during World War I under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey staunchly denies accusations, arguing that Armenian deaths were part of general partisan fighting in which both sides suffered.




    Turkey Up In Arms Over House Resolution Against Armenian 'Genocide'
    23 February 2007
    New York Sun
    Turkey was so alarmed by a proposed House resolution calling the mass slaughter of Armenians by Turks during World War I a "genocide" that it dispatched its foreign minister to persuade American Jewish leaders to lobby against it. At a suite at the Willard Hotel in Washington on February 5, Abdullah Gül met with representatives of the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Friends of Lubavitch, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and United Jewish Communities. According to one participant in the meeting, the Turkish foreign minister "made a hard sell," against House resolution 106, whose short title is "Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution."

    This participant, who asked not to be named, said Mr. Gül appealed to the assembled Jewish representatives by noting the singularity of the German genocide against the Jews and warning that the House resolution, if passed, would rupture American-Turkish relations.

    The Turks have reason to be worried. Although the resolution has faced opposition from the House leadership in previous congressional sessions, the current speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, is said to support it. Indeed, Ms. Pelosi has supported similar resolutions in the past. The resolution is now before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, whose chairman, Rep. Tom Lantos of California, has supported the Armenian genocide resolution in recent sessions, though he opposed it in the past.




    Armenian Opposition Urges Dialogue With Ankara, Baku
    23 February 2007
    Turkish Daily News
    Artur Baghdasaryan, head of Armenian opposition party, said that dwelling on history hampered his country's relations with its neighbors and suggested that Yerevan normalize ties with both Turkey and Azerbaijan. “Given the huge benefits Azerbaijani energy supplies and Turkish investments would have for Armenia's economy, normalizing our ties with these two countries – with which we have no diplomatic relations – would be crucial for us and the entire region,” Baghdasaryan wrote in an article published in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

    He complained that much of Armenia's establishment remains trapped in the past and, “…Dwelling on sad memories hampers our relationship with our neighbors, chiefly Turkey and Azerbaijan. This cannot be conducive to peace, stability and long-term prosperity.”

    More than a decade ago, when Armenian troops began occupying the Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey closed their border to Armenia and also severed diplomatic relations with the country.

    In comments regarding the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Baghdasaryan said that the persistence of this issue dilutes the strategic value of Armenia as well as the entire region. “We have a common interest in ensuring that our region can capitalize on its geopolitical position and become the link between Eastern European and Central Asian markets. The only durable solution is a negotiated settlement which will require compromises on both sides,” he added.




    Kocharian: Turkey Threatens Armenia's Security
    Turkish Daily News
    Feb 22 2007
    At a dinner held by Armenian community groups in Paris, Armenian President Robert Kocharian claimed that Turkey's failure to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide was not just an ethical matter, but also a threat to Armenia's national security, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported yesterday. Kocharian asserted that there was a risk that the events of 1915 could happen again.


    Turkish-Armenians’ pivotal role in Turkey’s history revealed
    Hasim Söylemez - Sedat Gülmez
    22 February 2007

    New findings revealed by the four-year study of Dr. Cafer Ulu opens a different and solemn window to the Armenian problem. Ulu reveals that Armenians played a significant role in giving the surname "Ataturk" to Mustafa Kemal, penning a signature for him.

    At a time when Anatolia was engulfed in its battle for independence, a delegation from the Black Sea region met with Armenian David Sahakkulu, who was working as a translator for a group monitoring the straits set up by the occupying Allied Forces, and asked for help with an arms shipment. He was asked to inform Turks of the Allied forces’ guard hours and numbers in order to safely ship Turkish arms from Istanbul to Trabzon. He was even offered money. He agreed to help but rejected the money, saying he owed what he possessed to Turkey and its schools. However, many other Armenians, particularly Armenian Patriarch Zaven Efendi, were acting against the Anatolian liberation movement at that time.

    Sahakkulu is one of the Armenians who helped the self-proclaimed Turkish government during the War of Independence between 1919-1922. The efforts of Sahakkulu and other Armenians are important at a time when debates over Turkish-Armenian relations are reduced to the forced migration of Armenians in 1915, Armenian massacres and the so-called genocide, although they have a 400-year history. Even so, documents about such people and their activities have not been disclosed until recently.


    Newly revealed documents prove that there were patriotic Armenian-Turkish citizens during the War of Independence who risked a backlash from their community. Prominent examples of this are Muslim Armenians Hasan and Necati, two members of the Mim-Mim Group, which shipped arms to Anatolia from Istanbul ; naval soldier Pandikyan, an operative in the British intelligence service who leaked classified information to Turks about security controls; and singer Madam Blans,, who collected money for the Red Crescent after performances.

    New findings revealed by the four-year study of Dr. Cafer Ulu, a historian from Fatih University in I.stanbul, opens a different and solemn window to the Armenian problem. Ulu’s findings suggest debating the issue separately from the 1915 forced migration act. He also reveals that Armenians played a significant role in giving the surname “Ataturk” to Mustafa Kemal, penning a signature for him, and had significant involvement in linguistic studies during initial years of the Turkish Republic.

    Madam Blans,, an Armenian-Turkish singer in the early 1920s, was known for collecting money for soldiers at the front following every concert she performed. She would take to the stage with Turkish flags. The Red Crescent volunteers, which included Greek, Armenian and Jewish girls, would collect donations, and people who had no money would donate their jewels.

    There were many non-Muslims in the Karakol Cemiyeti and Mim-Mim Groups, two organization that shipped arms into Anatolia during the War of Independence. Hüsamettin Ertürk, a leading figure in the War of Independence, described the activities of Hasan and Necati :

    “There were non-Muslim supporters of our cause who worked for us in the offices of the Allied countries in Istanbul. They were working for the lands they lived on despite the difference of religion. Necati, who was working for the British intelligence service, was one of these people. He spied on the British for us.”

    Another patriotic Armenian was Pandikyan, who was rewarded for his work by then-Defense Minister Marshal Fevzi Çakmak. Panidkyan was the head of the Galata Intelligence Service, which was affiliated with the British intelligence service, and he leaked a great deal of information to the Turks. He contributed to releasing people detained for supporting the Anatolian liberation movement, informing those who were certain to be captured, returning or destroying classified documents seized by British authorities that could be used against the movement and smuggling ammunition and other military equipment.

    Ulu noted that this was the first time such information was made public. “The Armenian problem has so far been restricted to events in 1915. There are certainly events and players beyond those events. In this regard, it is not appropriate to ignore or reject contributions of Armenian-Turkish citizens during the War of Independence and after the establishment of the republic,” he said.
    Armenian-Turks suggested ‘Ataturk’ surname for Mustafa Kemal

    Agop Martayan Dilaçar was enlisted in the Ottoman army at the age of 19 when the World War I broke out. He first served on the Caucasus front and later on the Damascus front when the forced migration act was approved. He met Mustafa Kemal in Damascus. They established good relations in the following years, and Dilaçar was appointed chief expert at the Turkish Language Association (TDK) during the Second Turkish Language Assembly held in August 1934. Ataturk appreciated his contribution and gave him the surname Dilaçar in 1935.

    The Armenian Church in Istanbul published an almanac titled “Turkish Armenians in the 75th Year of the Republic.” It is stated in the almanac that Dilaçar suggested the surname Ataturk during a meeting of the TDK and that it was accepted. This point is agreed on by the majority of Armenians even though it was not revealed until recently but only voiced by Armenians. Turkey’s second president, I.smet I.nönü, and 22 lawmakers presented a bill to the Turkish Parliament on Nov. 24, 1934 granting the surname Ataturk to Mustafa Kemal. According to Ulu, it was Armenians who penned Ataturk’s signature. He said: “There is no strong objection at this point. This topic was brought up by Armenians in the past but was not explored by our researchers and historians. Moreover, there is no point in wailing over an Armenian citizen’s having suggested it.”
    Kas?m Gülek and Ecevit’s teacher was Armenian

    When Mustafa Kemal expressed his wish to use Latin characters in his signature, Hagop Vahram Çerçiyan, then-calligraphy teacher at Roberts College, was asked to draw a signature. He prepared five different signatures and sent them to Mustafa Kemal. Three days later, Mustafa Kemal conveyed his thanks to Çerçiyan with a letter saying he had chosen one of them. Çerçiyan was famed not only for designing Mustafa Kemal’s signature but also for teaching leading Turkish politicians. Bülent Ecevit, Kas?m Gülek, Selim Sarper, Ömer Celal and Behçet Ag(aog(lu were all instructed by Çerçiyan during his 50-year teaching career.

    A decade after the establishment of the republic, there were still opponents of Mustafa Kemal’s reforms. On Oct. 21, 1935, Mustafa Kemal’s radical opponents were mobilized to assassinate him. The plot, which was claimed to have been led by Çerkez Ethem, was foiled. After the foiled plot was made public, protests were held nationwide. There were Armenian-Turkish citizens among the protestors because the target of the assassination attempt was the president of their country. Following the foiled attempt, the Armenian community in Turkey organized a meeting at the Armenian church in the Galata district of Istanbul. Top Armenian clerics attended the meeting and expressed their anger at the attempt. Along with this meeting, the Armenian community held services at all Armenian churches located in Istanbul to express their support for Mustafa Kemal.

    Ulu noted that research on this issue would deepen due to the newly disclosed documents: “The documents we used during our studies prove that Turkish-Armenian relations have a deep-rooted background and show that the two societies could not be easily separated from each other. What should be done for the future is that both sides should express only the facts, leaving aside prejudices and fears.”

    www.turquieeuropeenne.org




    Book Review - Turkey at the crossroads

    The New Turkey: The Quiet Revolution at the Edge of Europe. By Chris Morris. London: Granta Publications, pp. 245, 2005, HB, £17.99.

    Modern Turkey consists of only a fraction of its former self. Chris Morris, the author of the book under review, is right to say “Trying to understand contemporary Turkey is impossible if you don’t know something of its historical roots. A country which is now ninety-nine per cent Muslim contains some of Christianity’s earliest sites, such as the underground rock of Cappaddocia, and the ancient Syrian monasteries of Tur Abdin, where monks still speak Aramaic, the language of Christ. The modern Turkish state, which tried to craft a single ethnic identity for three-quarters of a century, is heir to one of the greatest multi-ethnic empires the world has ever seen. When we talk about the new Turkey we need to know about all the old Turkeys as well. History didn’t begin when Kemal Ataturk proclaimed the Turkish republic in 1923.” (p12) Indeed, it would not be possible to understand and appreciate modern Turkey, its culture and heritage without first exploring its rich and remarkable historical legacy.
    Historians often divide Turkish history into two parts, namely the pre-Islamic and post-Islamic periods. Although the pre-Islamic period of Turkish history is not well documented, according to the historians, the early Turkic people only came to be noticed after certain “Chinese sources mention a people in Mongolia and southern Siberia called the Tujue (T’u-chue), whom modern scholars identify as Turks.” (C.V. Findley, The Turks in World History, New York, 2005, p 21)

    Originating from different parts of Inner Asia, the Turks not only went on to establish and rule numerous empires and dynasties, they also became key players within some of the Muslim world’s most powerful empires (such as the Abbasid and Ayyubid dynasties). Well known for their military skills, physical prowess and fierce loyalty, it was a certain Uthman Bey who inaugurated the Ottoman Empire (Uthmaniyyah Khilafah) in the beginning of the fourteenth century, which was destined to expand into three continents, namely Asia, Africa and Europe and become one of the world’s great superpowers under the tutelage of such famous Ottoman rulers like Sultan Muhammad (Fatih) II and Sultan Sulaiman I (also known as ‘The Magnificent’).

    Located strategically between Europe and the Middle East, Turkey has neither been a European country nor was it an integral part of the Middle East or Asia. Yet, after more than six centuries of political, economic and military dominance over much of Europe, Africa and Asia, the Ottoman Empire began to irreversibly decline during the nineteenth century until Mustafa Kemal, who was a Turkish military general, emerged during the beginning of the twentieth century to save Turkey from being dismembered by the leading European nations (such as Britain and France).
    Disgusted by the incompetence and ineptitude of both the Ottoman Sultans as well as the Young Turks, Mustafa Kemal not only inspired the Turkish people to defend their motherland from European encroachment, he also installed himself as the president of the new Turkish republic in 1924 – after sending Abd al-Majid, the last Ottoman Caliph, into exile to Switzerland.

    Inspired by European Enlightenment, thinkers like Voltaire and Rousseau, Mustafa Kemal tried to reform Turkish culture, society and educational institutions in the light of Western modernity. Although brought up in a deeply religious family, he developed an indifferent attitude to religion. He banned the traditional Turkish attire including the fez; the Hijri calendar was replaced with the Gregorian one, and the Turkish educational system was thoroughly secularised in order to undermine the influence of Islam within the Turkish society.

    In Morris’s own words, “In the early republican years centuries of tradition were swept away, and the dust never had a chance to settle. It wasn’t a democratic revolution; it was Ataturk’s personal revolution – often imposed against the will of the uncomprehending majority. It was a remarkable feat and he probably couldn’t have done it any other way, but it meant that his successors inherited an incomplete model. Scattered among all the positive aspects of Ataturk’s legacy – the secular state and his relentless drive towards modernity – were the autocratic tendencies and democratic flaws which still live on in the system today. The changes he wrought were so far-reaching that it is hardly surprising that they are still the subject of such intense debate.” (p 37)

    Despite the controversies surrounding Mustafa Kemal’s radical social, cultural and educational reforms in Turkey, there is no doubt that he is still deeply admired by the Turks to this day due to his remarkable contribution to the Turkish War of Independence. Not surprisingly, his pictures, portraits and statutes continue to greet you wherever you go in Turkey to this day.

    However, as Morris explains, Mustafa Kemal’s legacy is now increasingly coming under threat from his opponents, much to the dismay of his die-hard followers within the Turkish political and military hierarchy. Keen to preserve and protect the Kemalist vision of the future, over the years the Turkish secular elite have been witnessing the resurgence of Islam throughout Turkey with both shock and horror. “Honour and duty: the watchwords of these self-appointed guardians of the Kemalist tradition. For years, the armed forces have been the most popular and most revered institution in the country. And the most trusted. Even when the generals intervened directly in politics – in 1960, 1971 and 1980 – they did so with the support of much of the population. They still retain respect as the heirs of Ataturk, and of the men who won the War of Independence. But that was all a long time ago, and since the 1980s, in particular, their country has been changing before their eyes.” (p 43)

    Unlike Iran (where Muhammad Reza Shah also instigated wide-ranging social, cultural and educational reforms in order to westernise the country, which led to a huge backlash from the Iranian people, culminating as it did in the Iranian revolution of 1979), in Turkey Islamic awareness and change has been happening slowly and incrementally. But the fact that there has been a major shift in the Turkish people’s perception and understanding of Islam is not in doubt, not even the most die-hard Kemalists within the Turkish military would deny this fact.

    This raises an interesting question: Where is modern Turkey heading? Towards a full membership of the European Union (EU) or is it likely to remain the ‘sick man of Europe’ for a long time to come?

    There are no easy and straight forward answers to these questions. On the one hand some European countries (such as Britain and France) want Turkey to be granted full membership to the EU, while on the other hand countries such as Germany and Greece oppose Turkey’s accession into the so-called ‘Christian Club’. If the European nations are divided on the question of Turkey’s membership to the EU, then it should not surprise one to learn that the Turkish people are equally confused about the future direction of their country. Mustafa Kemal may have been instrumental in winning the Turkish War of Independence, but he was also responsible for creating the political, social, cultural and economic confusion and disarray in which contemporary Turkey finds itself. Secular and at the same time Islamic; European and also steeped in Eastern cultures and heritage; a champion of Western modernity and intellectual trends, yet more than ninety-nine per cent of its population are professed Muslims – today Turkey finds itself literally caught between two worlds.

    But this does not have to be the case. Unlike Morris, I think the real challenge facing modern Turkey and its current leaders is whether they can reconcile their past with their vision of the future. Having been an Islamic superpower for more than six centuries, suddenly Turkey cannot pretend to be an integral part of a secular and humanistic Europe; it needs to come to terms with its Islamic roots as well as its future aspirations to become a member of the EU. This, I hope, will enable Turkey to develop a new and vibrant culture and identity for itself, one that is Islamic and Western at the same time, so that it becomes a shining example of tolerance, prosperity and progress for the rest of Europe as well as the Islamic world.

    Chris Morris’s book is a very timely and pertinent contribution. Although I have been studying Islamic history, culture and civilisation for nearly two decades, and have read widely on Ottoman history and culture, yet this book is one of the best I have read on the problems and predicament facing contemporary Turkey.

    Muhammad Khan
    mkhan6@hotmail.co.uk

    www.muslimnews.co.uk




    Armenian genocide folly

    TODAY'S COLUMNIST
    By Soner Cagaptay
    February 22, 2007

    U.S.-Turkish relations, already battered since the Iraq war, face a new challenge this spring: the "Armenian genocide" resolution. This resolution, introduced Jan. 30 in the House of Representatives, will likely come to the floor soon.
    If passed in the House, the resolution would sever the bilateral ties between Washington and Ankara. The resolution would also be the Democratic majority's first foreign-policy blunder in the new Congress. At this critical juncture of spiraling instability in Iraq and a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, the United States cannot afford to lose Turkey, a major, if underappreciated, partner for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan alike.

    An overwhelming number of Turks say that the 1915 deportation of Armenians from Anatolia to Syria in the Ottoman Empire does not constitute genocide, yet the House resolution declares 1915 to be a genocide. By passing the resolution, the Congress would be passing judgment on Turkish history, which the Turks would see as the ultimate insult. This is bad news at a time when America's favorability rating in Turkish opinion polls is already at an all-time low of 7 percent.

    The House resolution would cause a massive public outpouring of Turkish resentment against the United States. This backlash would inevitably cripple U.S.-Turkish military cooperation.

    In November 2006, the French parliament passed a resolution declaring 1915 a genocide. The Turkish response was unforgiving and harsh, especially in the military sphere. Turkey halted bilateral military exchanges and froze all reciprocal military visits and joint military exercises with France. Paris was barred from bidding for Turkish defense contracts, and on their own initiative Turkish generals whom France had honored returned their decorations.
    The likely similar Turkish response to the passage of the Armenian resolution would have a devastating effect on U.S. plans, especially in Iraq.

    For starters, the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, an invaluable asset for U.S. military operations in the Middle East, would come under pressure. Three-quarters of all air cargo bound for Iraq transits Incirlik, and Turkey provides blanket clearance for military overflights supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. For instance, KC-135 tankers operating out of Incirlik have flown 3,400 sorties and delivered 35 million gallons of fuel to U.S. fighter and transport aircraft on missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    With its proximity to Iraq, Incirlik also helps defray the cost of American operations there. Six U.S. C-17 cargo aircraft based at Incirlik do the job of nine or 10 military aircraft based in Germany, saving the United States $160 million per year.

    In September 2000, when another Armenian resolution was submitted to Congress, more than 10,000 Turks demonstrated outside Incirlik, shutting down the base for three days. U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot afford a repeat of demonstrations that close the airbase.

    In addition to Incirlik, the Habur border gate between Turkey and Iraq is another critical supply line. Turkey is the only developed economy bordering Iraq, and the provision of goods and services from Turkey to Iraq through Habur is of crucial importance. Though Iraq is rich in oil reserves, its crippled infrastructure requires Iraq to import gas from Turkey. Half of the fuel used by Iraqi consumers enters Iraq through Habur. Turkey also provides 19 percent of Iraq's food and water, and will soon supply 25 percent of its electricity. Habur is also vital for the U.S. military because one-quarter of the fuel used by coalition troops enters Iraq from Turkey via Habur.

    The passage of the Armenian resolution would also hurt U.S. businesses and consumers. Ankara is engaged in several major defense cooperation projects with the United States, including the Joint Strike Fighter, in which Turkey has $175 million invested and an expected purchase of 100 jets, and the upgrading of 200-plus Turkish F-16 fighters at a cost of $1.6 billion. The Armenian resolution would jeopardize such cooperative projects, as well as kill a number of pending Turkish defense purchases from the United States, including Patriot PAC III Air Defense System for $1.3 billion, 52 Sikorsky Black Hawks helicopters at a value of $800 million, 10 heavy-lift Boeing and Sikorsky helicopters worth $500 million and between 30 and 50 Boeing Apache or Bell Cobra helicopters worth between $1.5 and $2 billion.

    Passing the Armenian resolution would spark a major bilateral crisis that would be detrimental to American interests. The United States needs Turkey in Afghanistan. Whether in the end it opts for a smart surge or a staged withdrawal, the United States cannot succeed in Iraq without Turkish assets. The Bush administration and the Democrat-led Congress both should be interested in preventing an Armenian train wreck in Iraq. In today's hyperpartisan Washington, this spectacle should be a refreshing opportunity for bipartisan agreement.

    Soner Cagaptay is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and an Ertegun professor at Princeton University.

    washingtontimes.com




    Controversial French bill on Armenian genocide fades away
    21.02.2007 By Lucia Kubosova
    EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - A French bill criminalising the denial of the Armenian genocide has failed to become law, but a prominent Turkish writer Elif Shafak - previously tried in her country for comments on the sensitive subject - tells EUobserver about the nationalist backlash the French debate sparked.

    The controversial dispute centres around the claim by Armenia that Ottoman Turks in 1915 killed an estimated 1.5 million of its citizens - something Turkey has always strongly denied.

    France's National Assembly last October approved a socialist-drafted proposal which stated that those denying the genocide should be punished by one year in prison and pay a fine of €45,000.

    In order to come into force, the bill would have had to be approved by the country's senate where the current centre-right government of Dominique de Villepin and President Jacques Chirac - both opposing the bill - holds a majority.

    But French diplomats confirmed to EUobserver that as a result of a political decision, the bill has not been put on the upper house's agenda and that the parliamentary session is now almost over ahead of the electoral campaign for the presidential and legislative poll to be held in April, May and June.

    Asked whether this means the controversial legislation is off the table even after the new parliament convenes, a French diplomat said the "draft bill would have to be voted again by the new National Assembly to resume the process."

    Be careful about political power games
    The bill's adoption in France's lower house last autumn led to strong criticism by both the European Commission and the Turkish authorities.

    It came at the same time as an EU deadline for Ankara to fulfil its obligation over Cyprus or face a freeze of its membership talks and was seen in Turkey as yet another negative political message against its European aspirations.

    Elif Shafak, one of the best known Turkish novelists, says that the French move sparked nationalist reactions in her country that eventually mainly harmed people like herself who are trying to push for an open debate about sensitive issues such as the Armenian genocide.

    "I think that 1915 is such a sensitive and delicate political theme that it shouldn't be subject to political power games. It should not be up to politicians to decide which version of history should be acknowledged by everyone," she told EUobserver.

    "I criticise my own government for curbing freedom of expression. But it is a universal principle. If I defend it in Turkey, I will defend it in France or everywhere with the same zeal and dedication. And the French bill was very much against this principle."

    Ms Shafak was acquitted last September for charges of insulting Turkish national identity due to comments made by characters in her latest novel on the mass killings of Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.

    Just as her other professional counterparts - like the 2006 Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk - Elif Shafak is a strong critic of Article 301 of Turkey's penal code which enables legal prosecutions undermining the freedom of expression in her country.

    Spark of hope as part of negative trends
    But she argues that the trials in Turkey of intellectuals and authors for their comments on this and other taboo topics is actually evidence of the ongoing transformation of Turkish society.

    "Whenever there are big societal changes in a country, those people who want to keep the status quo panic and retaliate. And as Turkey moves closer to the EU, the people who fear these changes will do everything they can to stop the process."

    Still, the novelist pointed out that while the backlash in the Islamic country comes from an organised minority, she has come across a much stronger negative sentiment from Turkish immigrants already living in Europe - also concerning the Armenian genocide debate.

    "I sometimes receive hateful messages, hate emails from nationalist people reacting to my novels or comments but most of those come from Turks living abroad rather than those living in Turkey."

    She believes the phenomenon can be explained as the "immigrants' psychology", adding "Most immigrants freeze their mindset and they become much more conservative. They embrace and defend their identity strongly because they always try to retaliate in response to a bigger majority identity.

    "Turks living in Europe or in America are less open to social transformation than those living in Turkey. They are always defensive."

    © 2007 EUobserver, All rights reserve





    France Senate ducks Armenian genocide bill
    Joshua Pantesco

    [JURIST] Lawmakers in the French Senate have buried a draft bill [text, in French] that would have criminalized any denial that the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey during World War I [ANI backgrounder] constituted genocide. The bill has been taken off the Senate agenda, and as presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for April through June, the new National Assembly [official website, in French] would have to hold a second vote on the bill to place it back on the agenda. EUobserver has more.

    French lawmakers first tried to pass the bill [JURIST report] last May, but the legislative session ended before parliament could agree on its terms. When the debate came up again in October, the Turkish parliament [official website, in Turkish] threatened [JURIST report] to pass a similar bill [JURIST report] labeling the colonial killings of Algerians [JURIST report] by French authorities as genocide and making it illegal to deny France's culpability. The National Assembly eventually passed the bill [JURIST report]. France, home to thousands of Armenians, has already recognized the 1915-1919 killings as genocide. Turkey denies the genocide label [JURIST comment], saying the killings were part of a partisan war in which many Muslim Turks died as well.

    http://jurist.law.pitt.edu




    The Idea of Europe

    In an article published in the journal Foreign Affairs during the summer of 1993, Harvard political scientist Prof Samuel P. Huntington hypothesised about what he saw as a possible emergence of a new source of conflict in the Post Cold War world. He famously called his idea ‘The Clash of Civilisations’.

    In his article Huntingdon explored the likelihood that with the halt of the geopolitical clash of ideologies and interests that had characterised the Cold War, conflicts of the future would instead more likely occur where there was simply a fault line of culture. His argument was that where in the past political ideology and geo politics had divided the major powers they still retained the essential bond of all being of the same ‘Civilisation’. In a future, with the near annulment of all global ideologically-based confrontations, fault lines may emerge instead where other differences occur, most notably of culture, religion and even race.

    It seems that recent history is unfortunately proving Professor Huntington to be largely correct. The ethnic divides leading to the wars following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, the continuing failure of the warring parties in the Middle East in finding a peaceful solution and the Iraq catastrophe are all examples of sorts of ethnic/civilisation divides resulting in horrific outcomes, as before all were in one way or another pinned down by an overarching global rivalry.

    It is one such divide that is currently causing debate across much of Europe. The issue is that of Turkey and its claim of a European identity. It is clear that what is causing the procrastination in many (mostly Western) European Capitals is not whether or not Turkey is politically ready or willing for Union, militarily allied to or even geographically Europe, but the unease felt by many towards what differentiates Turkey from much of the rest of the Continent.

    The Turkish population is overwhelmingly Muslim and numbers over 80 million, roughly the same as Germany. What many Western politicians openly fear is an influx of migrant Turkish labour upon membership being achieved, following trends seen after the admission of the first states from the former Eastern Bloc. Politicians in France, Italy and Austria have openly stated their belief that Europe is a Christian continent and must stay that way.

    The subject of eventual Turkish accession to the Union and full European rights being given to its populace has become a political football within the Union itself. Traditionally sceptic states such as the UK and the Scandinavian members are generally in favour of Turkish membership. Many believe this is because it may lead to a diluting of the Union and that therefore the more Euro sceptic states back Turkish membership as they know that the ‘core’ members who traditionally back further integration will resist if confronted by the fear of a ‘Turkish influx’ of people and Islamic culture - if Turkey ever gains full membership.

    This wavering by the 27 member EU is having damaging consequences for the Union's relations with the Turkish state. Some opposition parties in Ankara have already begun to seize on some of the more negative comments coming from Brussels as a sign that the recent, sometimes painful, changes Turkey has made to bring itself in line for membership have not been worth it as they will never be accepted by a Christian Europe. Instead, certain right wing groups are calling for closer ties not with the West but with the East and with a rededication to the Muslim heritage of the state. This will be clearly in contrast to the moves made by recent Turkish governments to draw clearer distinctions between religion and government activity.

    What is surely clear since the end of the Cold War is that what Europe has represented to those outside it is not just the formation of a ‘United States of Europe’, a lucrative new trade bloc or secure membership of a military alliance, but essentially the liberal and co-operative ideals of its founders forged as they were from the ashes of the Second World War. It is in truth this liberalism that caused the disolvement of the Spanish and Portuguese Dictatorships of the late 1970s and early 1980s, helped hasten the end of the Cold War, and speeded the liberalising reforms since introduced by a vast majority of the former Eastern Bloc which now act as a beacon to countries once thought far beyond Europe’s boundaries.

    In 20 years Europe could include Turkey, Belarus, Ukraine, Serbia, and Albania and maybe even Georgia and Azerbaijan, including all that these rich and diverse populations have to offer the old continent. Europe with Turkish membership would even border Iraq. The effect of having a large, liberal and inclusive neighbour to the north of that most troubled of nations can only be seen as being positive for Iraq, Europe and the wider world.

    The ability to show that the religion or the culture of a state should not bar membership to the European Union is surely essential in maintaining the ideals and dynamism of the European Project and at the same time in a wider context showing that Samuel Huntington’s theory of a cultural divide occurring in the world remain just that; a theory.

    [Blogging by Dan]

    http://assistantbrighton.blogspot.com/


    Why do the Armenian genocide allegations outrage the Turkish public?
    EKREM DUMANLI e.dumanli@todayszaman.com
    Whenever a debate on the so-called Armenian genocide pushes the Turkish Republic into a corner, the Turkish people react.

    This is owing not only to a reflex of nationalistic feelings but also because Turks base their reactions on their own historical grounds. Where and when such grounds are not known, Turks appear to be almost too patriotic and sensitive to historical issues. I would like to list a few reasons to help those unfamiliar with the subject to understand Turks’ reactions.

    1. The Turkish public is skeptical about the sincerity of those European countries that insist on keeping the Armenian genocide on their agenda. Turkish people believe the Armenian issue is being used as a tool to keep Turkey outside EU membership. A feeling prevalent among Turkish citizens is that France, an EU member, is using the Armenian issue as leverage against Turkey’s accession to the EU. In other words, for some Western countries the problem is not Armenia, it’s Turkey. Western countries that want to keep Turkey, with its Muslim identity, outside the EU go to great lengths to hinder Turkey in its efforts to develop good relations with the West and to make progress in its EU bid.

    2. The incident described as the Armenian genocide took place in 1915 during the Ottoman period. The Sultanate was abolished and the Turkish Republic was established in 1923. Thus, a century-old incident is constantly being brought to the fore to pressure Turkey. A sincere Europe would first take a look at its own recent past. France, for example, must account for its Algerian massacre, and many other Western countries could be held responsible for the war in Bosnia. Europe cannot clear its conscience by blaming the Bosnian massacre on a Serbian dictator.

    3. The Turkish people do not perceive the events of 1915 as genocide. They believe that nationalist Armenian leaders collaborated with the enemy, namely, the French and the Russians, to invade Ottoman territory. They believe the alleged genocide was actually a forced emigration. The Ottoman administration foresaw a clash between Turks and Armenians owing to the Armenian cooperation with the invading forces; thus it was forced to evacuate the Armenian minority.

    4. It is well known that archives demonstrate that a number of officials in the Ottoman administration were prosecuted for abusing their power during the forced emigration. Some were convicted and punished for failing to effect the safety of the emigrating Armenians. The Turkish public believes that the Ottoman administration, which executed the Bogazliyan district governor for abusing his power, did not commit genocide.

    5. Armenians and the Ottomans lived in peace and harmony for nearly five centuries. The first Armenian church was opened by the conqueror of Istanbul, Sultan Fatih. With Fatih ascending the throne, all religious minorities -- and of course the Armenians-- enjoyed freedom of religion and equal rights, as they do today. Throughout history, Armenian relations have been honored and their rights have been respected since many Armenians served as pashas and worked in foreign affairs and in other important echelons of the Ottoman state. Toward the end of the Ottoman era, an Armenian reached the position of sadrazam, or the second most powerful person in the state bureaucracy. Even during the days of forced emigration there were high-level Armenian officials in office. But polarization, a consequence of the nation-state, began in the 19th century and has continued to the present day. Despite the growing polarization, relations among citizens have remained amicable.

    6. The Turkish people do not harbor animosity toward Armenians. There are many Armenians in Turkish cinema, sports, theater and arts: Asu Maralman, Arto, Onno Tunç, Garo Mafyan, soccer player Lefter, photographer Ara Güler and actors Kenan Pars and Sami Hazinses. This list could go on to name many who have become role models; the Turkish and Muslim majority of Turkey’s citizens are not upset by this.

    The Turkish government suggested that both sides open up the archives and start debates on the basis of documented evidence. But European countries remained mum and the Armenian diaspora ignored Turkey’s invitation, prompting a reaction from the Turkish public.

    That’s the way it is. One could offer a broader range of reasons; however, the few reasons enumerated above should be sufficient to understand why Turks react to the Armenian claims. Until these doubts are cleared up, Turks seem not be eager to discuss the Armenian issue.
    22.02.2007




    Turkey’s new foreign policy: ‘If you’re not everywhere, you’re nowhere’
    KERIM BALCI k.balci@todayszaman.com
    Ankara is passing through a busy period. The top items on the domestic political agenda are changing positions with a dazzling speed.

    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül is already the Speedy Gonzalez of world politics. Within the last month, he has been to Albania, France, the US and Saudi Arabia. Next week, he will be in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Simply following his mobility as an analyst is difficult.

    Turkey’s foreign policy initiatives are not limited to the activities of Gül. Chief EU negotiator Ali Babacan is quite active on the EU front. The prime minister himself is participating both rhetorically and practically in the foreign policy execution process. And there is the chief of the general staff, who not only visits foreign countries, but also uses the opportunity of meaningful distance provided by these trips to criticize, support and lead Turkey’s foreign policy.

    Classic Turkish foreign policy was one dimensional. Ankara had a non-proactive, all-cards-in-the-same-deck crisis resolution tactic. Whenever Cyprus was an issue, the Aegean continental shelf would be pushed to the edge of the policy making process. And elections… the ballot box was the black hole of Turkish foreign policy.

    Today, the government of Turkey has a multifaceted foreign policy. This is not to glorify the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government; this is the new face of world politics. In the past, the ruling paradigm of international politics was a bloc-based correspondence. Most of Turkey’s foreign policy options were either created or eliminated within the framework of NATO. But today Russian President Vladimir Putin is wrong; the world is no longer uni-polar. It is true that the US is able to impose military occupation on countries, but it is not able to impose foreign policy decisions. Even not on its strategic allies!

    The first fruits of a multifaceted Turkish foreign policy, it seems, will be harvested in the Middle East. Turkey has already convinced the leaders of the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq -- and that without even directly speaking to any one of them -- that it is better not to speak about an independent Kurdistan. The Greek Cypriots’ claim for oil exploration in the Mediterranean was repulsed at the same time as Turkey was dealing with the Armenian genocide resolution waiting in the US Congress. In addition, it was dealing with European pressure to amend the so-called “Notorious” Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code; it was dealing with the approaching threat of a commencement of Kurdish separatist terrorism and it was dealing with its new role as a mediator in Israeli-Arab relations … and, cross your fingers, Ankara hasn’t stumbled.

    Turkey’s new dynamism in regional and global politics was probably also felt in regional capitals. This explains the recent traffic between Ankara and these capitals. Israel’s acceptance of a Turkish delegation to inspect the recent excavations in the vicinity of the Aqsa Mosque, or Iran’s offer to engage in strategic relations including joint oil production and marketing all attest to the truth that this role is welcomed in the region. Now the critical question is whether Turkey will be able to fulfill this role.

    The biggest necessity of a multi-faceted foreign policy is qualified human resources management. In order to knock the doors, one needs only a finger, but once the doors are open there need to be a mouth and a brain working at every door. And these brains need to be interconnected and in a constructive dialogue. The apparent discrepancies between foreign policy discourses of the prime minister, president and the chief of the general staff not only consist of foreign policy makers, but leverage is also given to foreign diplomats opposed to Ankara’s new role.
    22.02.2007




    Turkish and Armenian historians are meeting at last
    DUYGU GÜVENÇ
    ANKARA Turkish Daily News
    February 22, 2007
    Turkish and Armenian historians are meeting to discuss "what happened on the Harput Plain" and "how many people died" during the expulsion of the Armenians

    Ahead of the possible adoption of an Armenian genocide resolution recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, the President of the Turkish History Institute (TTK) Yusuf Halaçoglu and a historian from the Gomitas Institute (London) Ara Sarafyan are expected meet this year to discuss claims about the number of deaths in Turkey's southeastern Harput plain.

    The two historians will meet face-to-face first to determine the procedure of their investigation, a historian from the TTK told the Turkish Daily News yesterday. He added that at the moment it is not clear whether the two historians will establish a commission or simply discuss the allegations among themselves. The cemeteries in Harput may be opened during the investigation, the same sources said.

    The same sources emphasized that the idea first emerged during an Istanbul conference where academics discussed genocide claims in March 2006. It was at the conference that Halaçoglu and Sarafyan first debated the number of deaths in Harput after the Ottoman Empire made their expulsion decision in 1915. While Sarafyan insisted that 12,000 Armenians died, Halaçoglu refuted the claims calling on him to make a public investigation into Harput. Sarafyan replied to the proposal two days ago with a letter to Halaçoglu.

    Turkish diplomatic sources drew attention to the timing of the letter, saying Ankara proposed to set up a joint commission of historians to study the genocide allegations in 2005. Ankara does not judge the value of the letter as an official reply by Armenia but evaluates it as a first step. ?We accept Sarafyan's proposal to start an investigation into Harput without any condition and we hope that this will give a chance to continue research about other cities, like Erzurum as well,? said a historian from the TTK.

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter to the Armenian President Robert Kocharian officially proposing the formation of a joint commission between the two countries to study the genocide allegations about the 1915-1919 events, but the proposal was rejected by Kocharian, who in turn proposed to set up an intergovernmental commission for the beginning of diplomatic relations in reply to Erdogan's letter.




    Ataturk's perspective of America and the Americans (I)*
    Yilmaz Oz
    22 February 2007
    It is perhaps appropriate on this the anniversary of the birthday of George Washington ("the Founding Father of the U.S.") to remember what did ATATURK ("the Father of All Turks") think of America and the Americans, a subject on which very little has been written. To analyze and appreciate this, however, one must revisit the circumstances which led to the First World War and the kaleidoscopic changes which followed it during the opening years of the 20th century.

    Up until World War I, the United States and Ottoman Turkey were two nations sitting worlds apart. Ottoman Turkish-American relations were, in general, related only to trade, and that, only at a modest scale. At the outbreak of the War, there were also a great number of American schools and missions. Visits to Turkish ports by U.S. warships; U.S. assistance in the building of ships and shipyards; provision of consultants and experts in agriculture, medicine, mining and the like.

    The Great War had prompted the United States which, starting in 1917, had taken an active part to bring it to a successful end resulting, in a definite growth of her prestige. When the War ended, the U.S. began to wield more of her influence on the post-war designs of the victorious Allied Powers. In consequence, an American official mission to the Near East in 1919 was able to report that the moral influence of the United States in that region of the World was greater than of any other power. President Wilson was looked upon as the champion of small nations and oppressed peoples. "Americans were considered to be charitable and generous to a fault,"and the United States was hailed as the only nation which had entered the War for unselfish purposes.

    It is worthwhile to remember in this context that although Ottoman Turkey and the U.S. were on opposite camps during the Great War, there had been no formal declaration of war, hence no hostilities, as between themselves. Nonetheless, when Germany capitulated in the Western Front, Turkey too as her ally, was forced to sign an Armistice on the Island of Mondros in the Aegean, though really not having suffered any defeat in any major battle during the War and the Allied Powers moved by opportunism and vengeance, embarked on a scheme to execute a final "coup de grace"on what they had nick-named as the "Sick Man of Europe"and to dismember it. They proceeded to carve out the Ottoman Empire, including those areas in which the Turks reside. The Allies, while on the one hand, letting the Greeks occupy Izmir and Western Anatolia, also pursued their own schemes to occupy Istanbul (that prize target of the bloody campaign in the Dardanelles in 1915-1916, where half a million soldiers from both sides had perished in vain), as well as, other areas of Turkey. And, eventually they imposed their collective will on the captive Ottoman Government through a treaty which they made that Government sign under duress at Sevres on August 20, 1920. According to this Treaty which put the final stamp of approval on the occupation which was then an already accomplished fact, Turkey was not only to lose all her non-Turkish territories, but parts of her own domain, as well.

    The occupation of Istanbul and Western Turkey, immediately following the Armistice, of course, had helped fire Turkish pride and determination and the resultant emergence of a Nationalists "Resistance and Independence Movement"in open rebellion against the Sultan's Government in Istanbul. This meant a further and continued bloody struggle on Anatolian soil against the Greeks, the French, the British and the Italians for another three years.

    Meanwhile, having already enunciated his famous 14-Points on January 8, 1918, President Wilson had declared that "full sovereignty ought to be given to that portion of the Ottoman Empire in which Turks reside."He went to Versailles against this background and perspective. Once there, however, he met with great pressure from the other victorious powers to accept "mandates"over, at least, two portions of Turkey: First, the Straits and Istanbul, and secondly, over what-was-claimed-to-constitute Armenia. Yielding to these, President Wilson agreed to send a fact-finding team to assess the situation in the Near East and in the Caucasus, first-hand.

    The so-called Wilson Principles, actually, proved to be a double-edged sword, because while it promoted the idea of self-determination for peoples in other areas of the Ottoman Empire, it also worked to the advantage of the Nationalists as they, eventually, succeeded to win recognition of their sovereignty over that portion of the Ottoman Domain which they had announced right from the outset of the Movement. In fact, Lord Kinross, the renowned British historian and Turcologist reconfirms that "The Turks too, in applying for the Armistice had notified President Wilson of their readiness to treat for peace on the basis of his 14-Points, namely the principle of consent."

    Of course, the Turks' final and decisive Turkish victories on the plains of Anatolia in 1922, causing the Allied Powers to sue for peace, and to recognize the Kemalist Government of Ankara, helped to bring to an end the full-implementation of the original schemes for a total dismemberment of the Ottoman Domain. And, out of the ashes of that Empire a new Turkey was born.

    The subject of possible mandates in favor of the United States over some portions of the Ottoman Domain was quite popular in those post-War years. Many eminent Americans strongly believed that the U.S.should push for and accept a Philippines-style mandate over most of Ottoman Turkey. And, there were even some Turks too who were not unsympathetic to this idea. However, as the originator and the leader of the Nationalist Movement, Mustafa Kemal never favored it and both the Declarations adopted in the Congresses of Erzurum and Sivas (July and September, 1919) quite unequivocally rejected any idea of mandate or protectorate. In the end, it was the Lausanne Treaty which effectively put an end to and eliminated further discussions on mandates, which prompted The New York Times, to label the whole thing as a "fiasco"(July 28, 1923).

    A Chronology of Mustafa Kemal and the Americans
    Mustafa Kemal Pasha (who was later to be named Ghazi, and then again, ATATURK) started the Resistance and Independence Movement the moment he landed at Samsun on May 19, 1919, barely four days after the landings in Izmir by the Greek Army supported by the British, French (and, even American) battleships.

    The New York Times carried the first news about the Turkish Movement in its issues of July 9 and August 31, 1919. It appears, from the very onset, the American Government, as well as, the public followed the Turkish Movement with interest. Rear Admiral Mark L. Bristol, the second United States High Commissioner in Istanbul had won the sympathy of the Turks by his honest and straightforward attitude, and, the reports he passed unto Washington were known to be, generally, favorable.

    About a month after the invasion of Izmir and its environs, we find out from a telegram sent by Mustafa Kemal Pasha to the Governor of Erzurum on June 15, 1919, that a team of American observers headed by Messrs. Henry C. King and Charles R. Crane (later to come to be known as the King–Crane Commission) was reported to have arrived in Istanbul on June 4th and that this team would visit Eastern Turkey, as soon as another team expected from Paris would join it.

    On August 21, 1919, Mustafa Kemal Pasha sent telegrams to the Governors of Sivas and the Army Commander there, informing them that "Americans are reportedly much impressed by the Congress held in Erzurum on July 23, 1919, and they desire to send in two official observers to the Congress called to convene in Sivas on September 4, 1919."Indeed, it was late in September of 1919, a U.S.Mission headed by Major General James G. Harbord, who was General Pershing's Chief of Staff during the Great War, arrived in Sivas, after first stopping in occupied Istanbul and then trekking their way to Sivas through the Anatolian plains. This was the team sent by President Wilson at the urging of Mr. Hoover, moved more by allegations of Armenian massacres or deportations (which, history has since shown, were not only vastly exaggerated but also reciprocal) . According to its own terms of reference, the mission of General Harbord and his team which included Brig. Gen. George van Horn Moseley and Brig. Gen. Frank R.McCoy, was "to investigate and report on political, military, geographical, administrative, economic and other considerations involved in possible American interests and responsibilities in Eastern Turkey." However, the Mission, actually, was concentrated on the question of possible mandates in the American interest.

    Ataturk in his famous 6-day Speech at the Grand National Assembly several years later, mentions his encounter with General Harbord saying that "he explained to the General, the origins, the nature as well as, the objectives of the Turkish Independence Movement, at great length and that the General seemed genuinely to appreciate his replies."

    To comply with General Harbord's request, Mustafa Kemal Pasha furnished him with an 11-page Memorandum in which he further amplified his replies and provided supplementary information regarding the two National Congresses held in Erzurum and Sivas, (enclosing copies of the resolutions adopted, as well) and about the schemes being pursued by the British. And, finally, in connection with the Armenian Question, this is what Ataturk had to say about America, in the final paragraphs of this historic document which was included in Gen. Harbord's own report to the U.S. Government:

    "Following the Armistice, the European Powers committed the error of thinking that the Turkish nation was not aware of her rights and was unready to defend the same. They treated us as if an anemic, infirm or moribund nation. At Versailles, they decided to divvy up our country making gifts of portions thereof to hither and thither. Fortunately, these decisions which were completely devoid of logic and which were sure to lead Humanity unto a new conflagration have now been deferred. The fact that the final decision regarding our fate would now be closely tied to the (action by) the U.S. Congress is a fortunate thing for us. The belief, as nurtured by the noble nationalistic principles advanced by the American people, secured the ending of the Great War which resulted in the soil everywhere being soaked in blood and filled with corpses thus causing endless and untold grief. We have an unshakeable faith in the securing of an atmosphere necessary for the establishment of an all-encompassing peace on a permanent basis. Thanks to their humanitarian disposition, we have no doubt that the American people and their Congress, as the representatives of civilization, justice and righteousness, have now been sufficiently informed as to the golden-hearts of the Turks and as to the extent of their dedication to civilization, and that the most effective, impartial, just resolution as appropriate, will be adopted regarding our fate, leaving us with feelings of gratitude..... The Wilson Doctrine represents the principle of nationalism, and, the humanitarian and just spirit being exhibited by the American people which guarantees the success of this Doctrine fills us with great hopes....."(However, General Harbord's report, first summarized in the April 4, 1920 issue of The New York Times, and later as printed in its entirety in the June 1920 issue of "International Reconciliation"contained a recommendation as to placing "the whole of Turkish Empire under the government of a single mandatory would be simpler and proportionately more economical, than to divide it." It further asserted that "if America accepts a mandate for the region, it will undoubtedly do so from a strong sense of international duty, and at the unanimous desire –so expressed at least- of its colleagues in the League of Nations."

    In a subsequent interview with Laurence S. Moore –as published in the April 1922 issue of the magazine, "Asia"-- Ataturk said: "Americans have always complained about not having had the opportunity to get to know the Turks. Yet, the World over they are known to be the most-traveling people. Some have already visited Turkey. And, your missionaries, teachers, and peace volunteers have been living in our midst for many years. We expected a better understanding. If the outside World has failed to grasp our real motives and objectives, it is not us to blame).

    Charles R. Crane, the U.S. High Commissioner in the Near East, whose King-Crane Commission had studied the mandate question, was sent an invitation to attend the Congress in Sivas. Mr. Crane himself did not attend, but arranged for Edgar Louis Browne of the Chicago Daily News to go to Sivas, in his stead. Mr. Browne arrived in Sivas on September 2, 1919 and stayed there for 18 days, during which time he was an eye-witness to many of the important deliberations of the Congress (such as the question of an American mandate and its formal refusal; the sending of an ultimatum to the Grand Vizier in Istanbul that if the Sultan keeps cooperating with the Allies, the Nationalists will sever all relations with Istanbul). On Rauf Bey's motion, apparently, as prompted by Mr. Browne, the Congress also dispatched the following cablegram to the United States Senate on September 19, 1919, duly signed by Mustafa Kemal Pasha and the others. This cablegram was sent in English and it read.

    "To the President of the Senate of the United States of America:
    The National Congress of Sivas, representing the entire Mohammedan population of European Turkey and Asia Minor, and composed of delegates representing every province and state in said portions of the Ottoman Empire, assembled on September 4, 1919, for the purpose of securing the fulfillment of the wishes of the majority of the population of the Empire with protection of all minorities, and, with life, liberty, justice and inviolability of property rights guaranteed for all;

    The National Congress of Sivas by unanimous vote on September 9, 1919, passed a Resolution outlining the desires of the majority of the population of the Ottoman Empire and embodying the principles which will guide the future actions of the Congress at Sivas, the Central Committee which it will elect from among its members before dispersal, and all of the subsidiary organizations within the frontiers of the Empire;

    In accordance with the said Resolution of policy, the National Congress of Sivas, this day, by unanimous vote, requests the Senate of the United States of America to send a committee of its members to visit all confines of the Ottoman Empire for the purpose of investigating with clear vision of a disinterested nation, conditions as they actually are in the Ottoman Empire before permitting the arbitrary disposal of the peoples and territories of the Ottoman Empire by a treaty of peace.

    In the name of the National Congress of Sivas:
    President, M. Kemal Pasha
    Vice President, H. Raouf
    2nd Vice President and two Secretaries
    Sivas, Turkey – September 9, 1919"

    *Article contributed to The New Anatolian




    Armenian Expert Praises Turks For Restoration Of Armenian Church, But Says It Is To Make Money
    Armenpress
    Feb 21 2007
    YEREVAN: A reputed Armenian expert on historical and cultural monuments praised today a Turkish company for a good job, which it did to restore the Armenian Akhtamar Church on an island off the southern shore of lake Van in eastern Anatolia, but blamed the Turkish authorities saying their goal is not to take care of a brilliant pattern of medieval Armenian architecture, but to make money from thousands of tourists, especially from Armenian Diaspora, who will visit the site.

    Samvel Karapetian, one of the best experts on Armenian architecture, said that hundreds of other Armenian monuments which have survived in Turkey are ignored. He said no traces have remained of an Armenian monastery that was 5 km off the Akhtamar Church.

    Turkish authorities have already announced that the Church of the Holy Cross will be opened on April 15.

    Earlier reports from Turkey suggested that Turkish authorities planned originally to open it on April 24 when Armenians across the globe will be marking the 92-nd anniversary of the 1915 genocide, but they revised this decision after complaints from Armenian Diaspora organizations and particularly from Patriarch Mesrop Mutafian, head of the Turkish Patriarchate of the Armenian Church.

    Akhtamar Church was constructed by Armenian architect Manuel between 915 and 921 A.D. under the supervision of King Gagik I. Turkey has spent nearly $2 million to restore it. In a recent interview with a Turkish daily Zaman Turkish culture minister Koc shrugged off allegations that the renovation was an attempt to counter the Armenian campaign for the international recognition of the 1915 genocide.

    "We repair the houses of worship not only of monotheistic but also of polytheistic religions, because we consider them our inherited legacy, our wealth," he said. Koc said Turkish Tourism Ministry has already extended official invitations to prominent individuals from the Armenian Diaspora and leading Armenian religious leaders and plans also to extend invitations to the culture minister of Armenia and countries that host significant Armenian population at home, such as Lebanon, Ukraine, Russia and the United States.

    Koc said also the renovation is out of respect for Turkey's cultural inheritance as opening of the renewed Akhtamar Church may come as a further incentive to ease acrimony between Turks and Armenians.




    Deportation And Annihilation Of Armenians Wasn't Caused By Religion
    PanARMENIAN.Net
    21.02.2007
    The idea of deporting Armenians from Anatolia occurred to Turkish leaders in 1913 after suffering a defeat in the Balkan war. At those times Turks concluded they can't live with Christians, Turkish historian Taner Akcam said in an interview with Minneapolis Star Tribune. "In October 1912 the Ottoman Empire lost 69% of its territory, a homeland for young Turks. They lost because of Christians.

    Armenians made 45% of the population of Anatolia," the Turkish historian said. According to him, in 1914 the Ottoman government proceeded to elaboration of a plan for deploying troops in Anatolia. "However, I do not think that religion was a cause for deportation and annihilation of Armenians. Majority of Armenians received education in Europe and were atheists.

    Religion was used for uniting the Muslim population against Armenians," Taner Akcam said, reports RFE/RL.

    Taner Akcam is one of the first Turkish historians to recognize the Armenian Genocide. In 1978 he immigrated to Germany and was granted the status of a political refugee. Presently he is a professor of history at the Minnesota University.




    Adoption Of Armenian Genocide Resolution By Germany Is Advance
    PanARMENIAN.Net
    21.02.2007
    The adoption of the Armenian Genocide resolution by Germany in 2005 is a great advance, RA Ambassador to Germany Karine Ghazinyan told a news conference in Yerevan. According to her, it's extremely hard to pass such a resolution in state where the Turkish Diaspora is the most numerous and the Armenian community is not influential.

    Ghazinyan remarked that importance of the resolution is not diminished by the absence of term "genocide".

    "The document maintains the word "extermination" what is semantically identical with genocide," she said.

    July 16, 2005 the German Bundestag unanimously passed a resolution titled "The Day of Commemoration of Armenians on the Occasion of the 90th Anniversary of 1915, April 24 Massacre: Germany Should Contribute to Reconciliation between Armenians and Turks."




    Armenian Historian Accepted Suggestion Of Turkish Counterpart On Joint Work
    PanARMENIAN.Net
    21.02.2007
    For the first ever time an Armenian historian has accepted Turkey's thesis of collaborative study. As reported by Sabah newspaper, Ara Sarafyan, one of the most important historians of the Armenian Diaspora and the editor of Blue Book accepted the suggestion of the chairman of the Turkish History Institution, Halacoğlu, to carry out a collaborative study.

    It's worth noting that Armenian President Robert Kocharian stated that normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey depends on governments but not on historians. The Armenian leader underscored that Armenia is ready for dialogue with Turkey without preconditions.

    The Blue Book by British historians Lord James Bryce and Arnold Toynbee which is formally known as The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1916 is one of the most important written evidence of the Armenian Genocide.




    The Mistakes Of Armenia And The Success Of Azerbaijan
    Sedat Laciner
    Journal of Turkish Weekly, Turkey
    Feb 20 2007
    Armenia and Azerbaijan have become independent countries just like other former Soviet Republics after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    Some of the Republics were really ready for this "happy ending" whereas for the others the collapse of the Soviet Union was an expected situation which would supposedly never come. In other words, many of them were not ready for independence in economic, political and more importantly in mental terms. Two of these Republics were both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

    Armenia could not manage to be independent in modern times except the period of first establishment of Armenia (1918-1920). The Armenians in the first Republic had no clue about independence and state administration. Until the World War I, Armenians lived under the Ottoman, Russian and Iranian sovereignty. And the World War I exactly transformed Armenians into a Diaspora nation. Armenians that spread all around the world due to commercial, political and other reasons have become more romantic and idealist after falling apart with Turkey. The difficulties of living in foreign land are reflected on every aspect of the lives of Armenian people. As the conflicts between Turks and Armenians have mostly been exaggerated, the 1915 was idealized and in a way became legendary. The hatred for Turks has become the cement that sticks them together in diaspora. Not being able to found a state, to gain important successes at least to protect the dignity of Armenian nation against the Turks or the lack of unifying successes in other parts, did not allow Armenians to criticize and question themselves. However, the Greeks after founding their state and winning some important battles against Turks have become less romantic and established relatively good relations with the Turks. On the other hand, Armenians unfortunately lived in a world of fantasies. In fact, one of the most important reasons for the first Armenian state to be short-lived this much was their extreme idealism. Armenians chose to conduct assassinations against Turkish diplomats instead of establishing good relations with their newly established neighbor countries. This endeavor, which is called Nemesis campaign in a way alienated Armenia and Armenians from their real problems. However, in the same period, the new Turkish Republic emerging from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire was not infusing its people to attack to the Greeks or Armenians or any other neighbor.

    The leader of the Young Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, was telling its people "We have just come out from a war. However, the real and greater war begins right now. And this is the war of development."

    According to him, being independent in real sense could be maintained through the way of economic independence and development. Due to this, Turkey should not waste any time on the previous issues. In this context, Ataturk tried to reestablish relations with Greece and other countries which were subjects of the Ottoman Empire. Armenia was in this list, but they could not approach positively to this brave effort.

    PETROSYAN: A FAILED ARMENIAN REVOLUTION ATTEMPT
    In this regard, it was so important that Armenia emerged in the scene of history once again in 1991. Having a new state, Armenians could pursue a path which is more realistic. Turkey's expectation was also in this direction since it was expecting to find a party with whom it could communicate on Armenian issue. Also, the first Armenian President; Levon Ter Petrosyan and some of his advisors believed that they should not repeat the same mistakes. According to Petrosyan, the first and the most crucial mistake of Armenians was to set objectives going well beyond their capacities. Although they had known that they could not be successful with their own power, relying on other countries -especially on the Russians- they rioted against the Ottoman Empire to establish a separate state on the Ottoman territories. In accordance with their point of view, the Russians would support Armenians whereas United Kingdom, USA, France and other Christian countries would put strain upon Turks on the international arena, in order to make them accept the demands of Armenians.

    Accordingly, the only thing they should do was to keep their demands alive ever more. In this regard, Armenians resorted to terrorist movements, rioting and many other methods during the 20th century. In World War I, even they fought against Ottoman Empire in the French and Russian side. However, in the end it was always the Armenians to lose. They lost their people and their lands on which they had lived for the centuries. It seems so that Armenians did what Russia and even England and France had told to them. In 1915, they rioted against the Ottoman Empire in the east part of the country when the allies had sent the most powerful fleet of the world to the Dardanelles (the Western front). But Armenians could not gain any success. Among the invaders, the first one was France to leave the country when it encountered with difficulties. Russia never fully supported Armenians to the end after the First World War, but newly established Turkey. If these countries had supported an independent Armenia, the Ottoman Empire could not resist against this much great power pressure. This was the first analysis of Levon Ter Petrosyan: Armenians should count on their own power. It was a big mistake for Armenians to build their all policies on the support of other nations.

    The second analysis proposed by Levon Ter Petrosyan was that Armenia was a small, poor, sea-locked country having no significant natural resources and surrounded by the Turkish peoples. In the west, there is Turkey with its population of 75 million, whereas in the north Azerbaijan with its population of about 7 million and the south according to some sources there are more than 30 million of Azeri Turks of Iran. On the other hand, Georgians in the north have always been the ally of Turks for the centuries. Armenia has no border with Russia. Under these circumstances, only way to exist had to develop good relations with its neighbors, especially with the Turks. The third important analysis proposed by Mr. Petrosyan was, if Armenia wants to be independent in real terms, it should have diverged from the Moscow. Yerevan being dependent so much on Moscow for decades should have dissolved its bonds and stand on its own feet. To sum, the deductions of Petrosyan as follow:

    Armenians should not rely on other countries' support for objectives which go beyond their own capabilities and powers, Relations would be developed with neighbors especially with Turkey, Dependency on Russia in particular would be decreased rapidly and an Armenia which is fully independent would be established.

    Petrosyan and his team were about to realize a crucial revolution in Armenian thought. However, being so enthusiastic about independence was not indicating that they are ready for it. They were still into nationalism, which was so romantic and territory-centric. What Armenians conceived from the term "homeland" was just a territory and unrealistic ideals. They were considering annexing the regions of Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nakhcevan (Azerbaijan) and Jevakheti (Georgia) into Armenia as the foremost priority. Even before the collapse of Soviet Union ultra-nationalist Armenians had started to struggle for Karabakh's annexation to Armenia. Thus, before Petrosyan's plan was implemented, Karabakh issue became dominant in the region. In addition to the turmoil in Azerbaijan, thanks to the direct support of Russia, Armenians not only captured Karabakh but also the cities and villages, in which only Azeri people live. They attacked to the Nakhcivan, but as a result of Turkey's immediate warnings the war remained limited in the Eastern front.

    Following these developments, Petrosyan lost his chance to compromise with Turks. Issues of Karabakh and regions under occupation caused relations to break off with Azerbaijan and Turkey. Although Turkey was among the countries which recognized Armenia in the first place, it stopped diplomatic relations with Armenia and closed its borders.

    This was so normal since both Turkey and Azerbaijan are Turkish states. Moreover, there were millions of citizens who were Azeri oriented in Turkey. During the Armenian War, streets of Turkey were full of protests. In addition, Turkey was a country that promotes status quo more than any other country in its region since 1923. The most important Turkish foreign policy principle was that there could be no way for a border change by force of arms in the region. Turkey has resisted all efforts to change the borders by force for the decades and Turkey saw the Armenian occupation as illegal attempt to change the borders.

    Despite this fact, Turkey searched for ways to prevent a possible deadlock in terms of the problem. Turkish leaders expected that Armenia at least would withdraw from the regions except Karabakh. If Armenia had taken a step in this regard, Turkey could take bigger steps. Messages sent to Armenia again and again during the 1990s.

    Even Turkey sent food aid to Armenian people after the war due to the emergence of the dramatic situation. Moreover, donations and aid sent from the European and American states only could be transferred to Armenia through Turkey. As an indicator of good faith Turkey opened its airspace to Armenians and started regular flights between Turkey and Armenia. However, Petrosyan understood that as long as he could take steps in Karabakh issue, he would not resolve any problems. He was about to take radical steps in his last days in the government but Russia and ultra-nationalist diaspora Armenians came on the scene and brought down Petrosyan. It is known that Dashnaks, who were banned by Ter Petrosyan, played an important role in this process.

    KOCHARIAN PERIOD
    After Petrosyan, extremely romantic Robert Kocharian has come to power. He was not even a citizen of the Armenian state when he became the President. He attended to the elections by cheating and he had no idea even about what state means. He was totally a warrior and knew well about the Armenian people and whatever it takes Armenians should be defended. In accordance with his opinions Turks were bad, Armenians were good and Russia was a friend whereas Azerbaijan and Turkey were enemies. His vision was as shallow as this much.

    Thus, the era of Petrosyan came to an end and the hopes of peace faded away with him. The policies and analysis of Kocharyan were adverse that of previous terms;

    - Relations with Russia developed further and many Russians and supporters of Russia came to more effective positions in Armenia. In this period, while the former Soviet Republics was diverging from the Moscow economically and politically, Armenia became even more dependent on the Moscow than the times of the Soviet era. Especially, Russia became an energy monopoly in Armenia. While becoming dominant in Armenian economy, Russians also took control of the Armenian politics. Armenia became the only Russian base in Caucasus, yet it could not receive the essential supports from Russia.

    Kocharian team made enormous efforts to develop relations with the Diaspora. They especially hoped to find new credit and financial aid sources in the diaspora. The Diaspora could provide economic and political support. However, the expected economic support was received so late and less than anticipated. Moreover, the extremists began to constitute a monopoly in relations with Armenia and they captured even the control of domestic politics. Armenia failed being an independent country that can stand on its own feet.

    - Kocharian Administration nearly declared war against the Turkish people. A campaign has been started against Turkey to pass the so-called genocide bill in the parliaments all over the world. In this way, Turkey would be in a tough position in the international arena and had to accept the Armenian demands. In other words, Kocharyan was implementing the classic Armenian tactics once again.

    Not relying on its power but on that of the others', Armenia was disrupting relations with its neighbors.

    - Lastly, Armenia under Kocharian pursued an uncompromising policy about Karabakh issue. It is said that Karabakh was an independent country and would never be returned to Azerbaijan. For the other regions under Armenian occupation, they would not make any concessions. Kocharyan, being from Karabakh, hired Karabakhian guards to protect his presidency and took precautions. Karabakh issue therefore took the control of domestic and foreign Armenian policy.

    WHO WON, WHO LOST? AZERBAIJAN OR ARMENIA?
    While turning back to its previous policy Armenia was thinking that it had gained a crucial victory against Azerbaijan. However, it was the Azeris who really gained a victory;

    It was perhaps Azerbaijan to be the most unprepared country for independence among the former Soviet Republics. The concept of national conscience could not be created yet. On one hand communists wanted an Azerbaijan bounded to Moscow, on the other hand nationalists were as idealist and romantic as to dream a big Turkish state including Central Asia, Iran and Turkey. In the end, as a result of the domestic conflicts and debates and the direct Russian support to Armenians, Azeris could not protect 20% of their territory and Armenia occupied these regions. One million Azeri became refugees and this problem has continued so far. Azerbaijan lost territories at least for a while but it gained its national unity, development and a market integrated with the world. Let's look at what Azerbaijan won in its conflict against Armenia:

    - Azerbaijan has become a real nation aftermath of the Armenian attacks and thanks to the Armenian attacks, a solid national conscience was created. Without Armenian attacks, the period to create a national conscience would take so long.

    - Azerbaijan has become a more homogeneous country. During the war about 500.000 Armenians left Azerbaijan and all of the Azeri people left Armenia. However, Azerbaijan Armenians were more powerful in Azerbaijan than the Armenia Azeris in Armenia. The Azeri Armenians were the richest and the most influential people of Baku. Thus, their leaving this country in a way means gaining real independence for Azerbaijan. Even the Karabakh Armenians were relatively rich and had all of the freedoms. When Armenians occupied the Azeri territories they lost their special position in Azeri economy and politics but gained only the territories.

    - Without the war Azerbaijan would only be a puppet of Moscow and could never gain its independence in a short time in a real sense.

    The war resulted with broken ties -in a way that could never be repaired- between Russia and Azerbaijan. Today, if Azerbaijan really is an independent country, it owes this to Armenian aggression.

    - Owing to the uncompromising and aggressive attitude of Armenia, Azerbaijan succeeded to isolate Armenia in the region. As a matter of fact, Baku is happy with the Armenian polices towards Turkey and Azerbaijan. Thus Armenia has been left outside of all regional co-operations and integration projects.

    - Having rich petroleum and natural gas reserves Azerbaijan grew stronger and stronger, while Armenia got damaged in economic terms.

    It was really hard to stand on its own feet for Armenia in the existence of conflicts with its neighbors. Occupied Karabakh was not a region that worth it in this regard. It did not contribute to Armenia even it became a burden for Armenian economy. In this situation Azerbaijan has made the following analyzes;

    It was obvious that it could not recapture Karabakh with the help of its army right now. The most important reason for this; Russia was still supporting Armenia. Azeri forces attempted to recapture Karabakh in 1999, but Russians warned them and said "if you insist on this, you would lose Gence city too."

    Secondly, USA and the EU did not respond well enough to Armenia after the occupation of the Azeri territories. Owing to Armenian Diaspora's activities primarily France and the US have been following delay tactic against Azerbaijan. Karabakh and the other cities continue to be remain under the Armenian occupation, and the Western countries still promise to do something. Azerbaijan understood that the West will not make enough pressure on the occupier Armenia at least for a while.

    USA and Europe were interested in Azeri oil and natural gas but this had not turned into a political support yet.

    Turkey, alone itself could not bring an end to the occupation.

    Under these circumstances, instead of wasting its energy for nothing, Azerbaijan decided to strengthen its army while pushing Armenia in difficult position. For the solution of the problem according to the Azeri politicians for a while a deadlock policy should be pursued. In this period, Azerbaijan should be strengthened while Armenia getting weaker. In other words, the issue of continuation of the occupied regions was in favor of Azerbaijan.

    Azerbaijan did turn out to be right. Having an attitude, this was so uncompromising and extreme that Armenians did not even move slightly from the land which they occupied. While wasting its time on the occupied regions, Azeris externalized Armenia from all of the regional cooperation projects. The most important of them is Baku - Tbilisi -Ceyhan Crude Oil Pipeline Project. It was certain that this pipeline would pass through Armenia if Yerevan Government succeeded to soften its attitudes a little. Either the project would be canceled or Armenia would be preferred simply because it was shorter and most economic route for the pipeline. Since the USA and Europe were the ones to provide the required capital for this project even Azerbaijan could not prevent this if Armenia moved wisely during the 1990s. Secondly, natural gas pipeline also by- passed Armenia and now Kars-Baku railway project is to by-pass Armenia. The railway that passes through Armenia cannot be used and this pushed Turkey and Azerbaijan to construct another one that passes through Georgia.

    Armenians tried prevent this in all over the world, including American Congress and Europe. Even they tried to guarantee that they would not damage the trains that would pass through Armenia. However, it was too little and too late. The most important of all, the cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey were becoming more intense in all aspects -from military to economics- that cover a broad spectrum. Armenia has been fully isolated in the region and Russia's political support did not help out for economic development in Armenia. Not having border with Russia and Russia's commercial approach instead of behaving like a strategic partner isolated Armenia and put it in a challenging situation. In 15 years, the population of Armenia declined from 3 million to almost 2 million of people. Once again they spread all over the world. Even to live and work they came to Turkey and currently 50-75.000 Armenians live in Turkey.

    Another success of Azerbaijan is that step by step they achieved to attract the attention of the USA and the Europe countries. Armenians are still influential in these countries and Azerbaijan is still the same Azerbaijan.

    Nevertheless, Azerbaijan is engaged with a close collaboration with Western companies in terms of energy and in other sectors and these countries has gradually begun to understand the importance of Azerbaijan.

    For instance, for the energy security of the European Union, Azerbaijan has a key importance. The BTC pipeline transports the Caspian Basin's oil resources to the European and Mediterranean markets. Italia is the country that mostly takes the advantage of this. The BTC pipeline represents an important alternative for European Markets against Russian and Middle Eastern oil.

    Similarly, transportation of Azerbaijan's natural gas to Europe through Georgia and Turkey, and joining of Kazakh and even Turkmen gas to this would constitute a crucial alternative for Europe.

    Even in the current situation, European companies have an important share in Azerbaijan's energy resources and in this regard Azerbaijan is not a country that can be easily sacrificed anymore.

    The same situation is valid for the US. It wants to break the dominancy of Russia in the region and mostly interested in petroleum.

    Not only Azerbaijan and Central Asian Republics might become an important alternative to Russia but also they would get out of the influence of Russia if they could become independent energy actors and break their dependency to Russia.

    For this reason the USA attaches importance to Azerbaijan and the other Central Asian Republics.

    Another factor that makes Azerbaijan important for the USA is its neighboring to Iran and Azeri population more than 30 million in this country. In order to destabilize Iran and against Russia, the USA expects so much from Azerbaijan. Through collaboration with Georgia and Turkey, the attitude of Azerbaijan to tend towards the West constitutes the base of the US policies.

    Nevertheless, the repercussions of this cannot be witnessed on the Karabakh issue. Armenian lobbies are still influential on decision makers of the US and the EU, thus the cooperation with Azerbaijan can be blocked in some areas. Especially, the US and the EU do not have the maneuvering field that they want. In spite of this, they perfectly collaborate in economic terms and this will continue in the future.

    Azerbaijan keeps its expectations limited in this regard. It does not expect Western World to bring the Armenian occupation to an end.

    Azerbaijan knows that it needs time for this result. In fact, this situation in a way serves for the interests of Azerbaijan. If pressure is made to Armenia and due to this Armenia withdraws from the regions that it has occupied, demographic and political balances could change rapidly in Azerbaijan and this could lead country to an unstable situation.

    Besides, hundreds of thousands of people that come from Karabakh and the other occupied regions move into houses from the tents that they live. Some of them are just got employed and in a certain level they accepted the situation.

    Sudden changes in the current situation could cause different radical expectations to emerge. Under these circumstances, a gradual transformation seems better. And Azerbaijan exploits the position of Armenia as an "occupant" to the end.

    Also, it externalizes Armenia from all of the regional projects.

    While wasting its time on the occupied lands for almost nothing, Armenia's economy cannot be integrated nor to the world neither to the region. On the other hand, Azerbaijan is turning into a growing regional power.

    The real success of Azerbaijan certainly is its economic development.

    Particularly, with the implementation of BTC pipeline project, Azeri economy has boomed. Growth in 2005 was 26.4 % and it seems that in 2006 growth rate will exceed this number (around 30,6-32,5 %). Even a little decrease in this rate is anticipated for 2007; a similar growth rate is expected. Oil and natural gas revenues have an important share in this growth rate. However, growth in non-petroleum sector is around 9.5 %, which also is a high rate. It can easily be supposed that with the flow of revenues that would come from energy sector to the other sectors, the growth rate in non-petroleum sector will increase further. Parallel to this, also budget deficit is decreasing rapidly. There are significant increases in exports and imports. It is easy to observe the spread of prosperity in Baku. Per capita income has exceeded $ 7.300 in 2006 and this will increase further. Unemployment rate is around 1.2 %.

    Nevertheless, Armenia pursues a different route. Even though the growth rate was around % 12 in 2006, this number could be deceptive to understand an economy, which is so small, like in Armenia. The economy, which can hardly survive with financial aids and transfers, is not sufficient to keep the population in the country. Construction sector has an important share in the growth of Armenian economy.

    Diaspora transfers an important amount of money to the country. This resource causes high growth rates. However, this is not something sustainable. Armenian economy cannot create its own dynamics and has an image that this economy needs much more financial aids and transfers. Unemployment in Armenia is still around 30 %. Investments of private sector mostly come from Diaspora. This means the dominancy of Diaspora on economy and certainly on politics. Similarly, Russia has taken the control of certain sectors like energy. Despite of the virtual growth in the economy per capita income is around $1.513.

    Even this number exceeds $5.000 with PPP; it is so interesting that per capita income remains in this level despite of declining population. On the other hand, the biggest problem of Armenia is the uncertainty which Karabakh causes on its economy. Even some Diaspora companies hesitate to invest in the country. Similarly, the closed borders of Azerbaijan and Turkey between Armenia and having no exits to sea increase the dependency on the borders of Georgia and Iran.

    Accordingly, this increases the customs expenses of Armenia.

    CONCLUSION
    Briefly, Armenia thinks it gained a victory in Karabakh and in the other regions that it has occupied. It considers that in time it can make other countries to forget this occupation, but for what. It endangers the whole Armenia only for Karabakh territories. Armenia could not comprehend the changing nation-state concept. Armenia still preserve the old-fashioned state concept of the 19th century. Just for land they endanger their nation and the state they could found so late. Armenians could build their policies on fight against Turks even though they are surrounded by 110 million Turks. Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink defended that Armenian identity should not be built on conflicts with Turks. In accordance with his opinions, this was the poison in the Armenian blood. Wherever they are, according to Mr. Dink, Armenians should get rid of this poison and create a holy alliance with Armenia. This alliance should be created on keeping Armenia alive, not to satisfy the personal and ideological interests through Armenia.

    Citizens serve for their countries and try to glorify it. However, Armenians try to satisfy their feelings and needs by sacrificing Armenia. Respecting to their sorrows in the past, I could not understand whether they want to glorify Armenian nation or try to satisfy their personal and political ambitions by means of fighting with the Turks.

    They could not appreciate the first Armenian state. Tashnaks firstly used this state to take revenge, and then handed it over to the Bolsheviks. We hope history to not repeat itself. Maybe they will be surprised but we will be the ones to worry the most. Turkey and the region needs a stronger and really independent Armenia than the Diaspora Armenians need.





    Turkish Premier, Us Legislator Discuss "Armenian Genocide"
    Anatolia News Agency, Turkey
    February 21, 2007
    Istanbul, 21 February: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Jane Harman, a member of the United States House of Representatives, discussed the Armenian resolution (presented to the US Congress earlier) in Istanbul today.

    According to Prime Minister's Office sources, Erdogan-Harman meeting was very fruitful and constructive.

    Erdogan and Harman discussed diverse issues, as Iraq, Palestine, Israel, tragedy in Darfur and Armenian genocide allegations.

    Sources said that Harman understood Turkey's sensitivity towards a resolution on so-called Armenian genocide better after speaking with Erdogan.




    Ankara Readies Group To Fight 'Genocide' Resolution
    The New Anatolian, Turkey
    Belgium
    Feb 21 2007

    The Turkish Parliament has assembled its team to fight against the so-called Armenian genocide resolution before the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Turkish deputies were set to lobby in the U.S. against the resolution, but the delegation's visit was postponed in order to assess the outcome of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Chief of General Yasar Buyukanit's recent talks with American officials.

    Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Onur Oymen accused the government last month of acting alone in actions against the Armenian genocide claims and stated that government didn't invite CHP deputies to visit the U.S.

    A diplomatic source said that while the first group of deputies will start a one-week visit to the U.S. this Sunday, a second group will follow on March 11. The last group is planning to go later next month.

    The CHP delegation includes Haluk Koc, Mehmet Nessar, Onur Oymen, Sukru Elekdag, Bihlun Tamayligul, Ersin Arioglu while the Justice and Development Party delegation covers Egemen Bagis, Omer Celik, Yasar Yakis, Murat Mercan, Saban Disli, Necdet Budak, Reha Denemec, Muzaffer Gulyurt, and Mehmet Dulger.

    Diplomatic sources said that Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) will organize meetings in the U.S. with the participation of 30 Turkish deputies.

    The resolution, which claims that 1.5 million Armenians were killed almost a century ago in what it describes as genocide, is likely to draw protests from Turkey. The Bush administration has warned that even congressional debate on the genocide question could damage relations with a vital Muslim ally and member of NATO.

    Parliament Foreign Affairs Commission head Dulger told The New Anatolian earlier that they are preparing documents for a U.S. visit.

    "There are different perspectives on the so-called Armenian genocide," he added. "We will convey our views to our American counterparts. We are preparing our documents regarding economic, social, political and historical factors."

    Turkey strongly opposes the claims that its predecessor state, the Ottoman government, caused the Armenian deaths in a planned genocide.

    The Turkish government has said the toll is wildly inflated and that Armenians were killed or displaced in civil unrest during the empire's collapse and the World War I conditions. Ankara's proposal to Yerevan to set up a joint commission of historians to study the events of 1915 is still awaiting a positive response from the Armenian side.

    After French lawmakers voted last October to make it a crime to deny that the claims were genocide, Turkey said it would suspend military relations with France. Turkey provides vital support to U.S. military operations. Incirlik Air Force Base, a major base in southern Turkey,

    In related news, the Washington Times warned yesterday that passage of the Armenian genocide resolution would hurt ties between Turkey and U.S.

    Passage of the resolution has "the potential to damage our current ability to maintain Turkey's cooperation in stabilizing Iraq, where upwards of 140,000 American troops are stationed, and to do grave damage to our relationship with an ally of long standing, a country that has long been a bulwark against regional rogue states like Syria," stated the right-wing daily, which has been periodically critical of Turkey. "For many years, Turkey was the only Muslim nation in the Middle East to have trade and diplomatic relations with Israel

    The daily stated that the U.S. needs to be working more closely with both Kurdish friends in Iraq and Turkish allies. "But Mrs. Pelosi seems more interested in playing ethnic politics in order to score some cheap political points and win additional votes," it commented.




    Armenian Cinematographers Wish To Shoot A New Film On Armenian Genocide By Using Documents Kept In German Archives
    Noyan Tapan Armenians Today
    Feb 21 2007
    YEREVAN
    A great number of documents on Armenian Genocide are kept in German Foreign Ministry's archives.

    Wolfgand Gust, the editor of Spigel well-known German magazine, touched upon most of them in his works.

    As Karine Ghazinian, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Armenia to Germany, reported at the February 21 press conference, a group of Armenian cinematographers is in Germany in these days. This group expressed willingness to use these documents in a new film on Armenian Genocide. She said that the Embassy has already applied to the German Foreign Ministry for receiving the respective permission.




    Establishing Dialogue Through Historians Or Politicians?
    Irem GUNEY
    22 February 2007 - Turkish Weekly
    Despite the first signs of the change in Turkish and Armenian perspectives after the assassination of the Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, it is a big question how long the optimist climate is going to prevail. The never ending discussions between Armenia and Turkey are recently reanimated once again in the last days. In his visit to Paris, Armenian president Rober Kocharyan rejected Turkey's offer to set up a joint panel of historians and experts to debate the issue, and suggested an intergovernmental commission while stating that Yerevan is ready to start the diplomatic relations with Turkey. In his view, it is the politicians who will start the diplomatic relations not the historians. Although he does not set any preconditions for the establishment of diplomatic ties, Kocharyan stresses on their expectation of Turkey’s acceptance of the Armenian claims. In his view, “Turkish foreign policy towards Armenia will be aggressive and threatening as long as Turkey does not apologize for what happened in 1915”.

    The Turkish side of the coin is on the other hand quite different. Turkey has suspended her diplomatic relations with Armenia after the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh where Armenian and Azerbaijani forces fought from 1988 to 1994. The conflict resulted in Armenia winning control over Karabakh and seven surrounding Azerbaijani regions. In 2005, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe once again stated that the territory is under the Armenian occupation agreeing with the OSCE decision on this issue. Another crucial aspect is the Armenian Declaration of Independence in 1991 which was accepted as part of the Armenian constitution by the Armenian Parliament. In this declaration, Turkish territories are referred to as the Western Armenia.

    Although Kocharyan’s suggestion to reestablish the diplomatic relations might be viewed as a positive attempt, one must also note that his statements do not consider the other side of the coin. This consequently calls for skepticism about his statements.

    On the other hand, Ara Sarafyan, the British historian with Armenian origin responded affirmatively to the suggestion from Prof. Dr. Yusuf Halaçoglu, the head of the Turkish Historical Society, who was asking for a collaborative study about the “genocide” claims. Sarafyan wants to conduct the study in Harput town, where there was a significant Armenian population during the Ottoman Empire.

    Halaçoglu accepts Sarafyan’s suggestion and evaluates this as a “really significant event”.

    The latest news in the last days is crucial when one takes Kocharyan’s claims and the thin line of objectivity between history and politics. Obviously, the future will show us to what extent and by whom-the politicians or the historians- the relations between two neighbors will be formed.




    Former Armenian Parliament's Chief: "Armenia Has Become Captive Of Its Past"
    22 February 2007
    Today Az
    Great part of Armenian political elite live with its past. But sad memories about history present obstacle to the development of the relations with neighbour countries, particularly with Turkey and Azerbaijan. It does not contribute to peace, stability and economic flourishing. If we took into account the advantages of transporting energy deliveries from Azerbaijan and Turkish investment to Armenian economy, we can realize the importance of the of normalizing relations for us and for the whole South Caucasus, reads the article 'Armenian is the captive of its past' by Arthur Bagdasarian, former chairman of Armenian parliament, leader of oppositional party 'Orinats Erkir' published in Wall Street Journal, APA reports.

    Noting that parliamentary elections will be held in Armenia in May, and nine months later presidential elections, Bagdasarian said that Armenia is in cross-road now.

    According to him, there are forces trying to falsify elections in Armenia, that is why there is need for foreign observers.

    Armenian politician considers that the Nagorno Karabakh conflict reduces strategical importance of Armenia and South Caucasus.

    He stressed that talented persons, who do not believe prospective of Armenia, have abandoned Armenia and people suffer from non-democratic political system and corruption.

    Turkey and the Armenians
    Genocide wars
    Feb 15th 2007 | ANKARA
    The Economist print edition

    A new dispute over the Armenians may sour Turkish-American relations

    TURKEY'S fraught relationship with America is heading into a new crisis. This may intensify anti-American feelings among millions of Turks. It could even hurt America's efforts to restore order in Iraq.

    The latest spat stems from a bill in America's Congress that would recognise the mass slaughter of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as the first genocide of the 20th century. The fate of the Armenians remains Turkey's biggest taboo. Denying the official version, which says that Armenians killed Turks in larger numbers than they were killed themselves, has landed scores of Turkish academics and writers, including a Nobel prize-winning author, Orhan Pamuk, in court. Last month, a Turkish-Armenian editor, Hrant Dink, was murdered by an ultra-nationalist teenager, who accused Mr Dink of insulting Turkey.

    Successive American administrations have quashed genocide resolutions, arguing that Turkey is too precious an ally to lose. Jewish groups, grateful for Turkey's warm links to Israel, have helped. But the background landscape has changed.

    First came the Turkish parliament's refusal in March 2003 to let American troops cross its soil to invade Iraq. Next were the Turkish government's overtures to Iran, Syria and Hamas, which infuriated many in Washington, DC. Throw America's refusal to attack PKK Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq, and Turkish threats to do the job themselves, into this “bubbling noxious stew, and we're heading for a perfect storm,” says one administration official.

    Nancy Pelosi, the new Democratic speaker of America's House of Representatives, whose Californian constituents include many rich Armenians, refused to meet Turkey's foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, in Washington last week. Mr Gul spoke of “lasting damage” if America joined 18 countries that term the Armenian massacres genocide. American officials agree that vital interests are at stake. Turkey has approved the overflight of 4,900 sorties to Iraq for unspecified “combat support” since the start of the war, as well as the treatment of wounded American soldiers in Turkish hospitals.

    Some worry that, if an Armenian-genocide bill is passed, Turkey's mildly Islamist prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, may end this co-operation, so as to woo nationalist votes in the run-up to Turkey's parliamentary election later this year. Hawks in the opposition are already baying for the expulsion of thousands of illegal migrant workers from Armenia and for a ban on flights between Armenia and Turkey. Fear is mounting among Turkey's own ethnic Armenians: racist graffiti have been scrawled on the walls of their churches, and threatening e-mails continue to flood the offices of Agos, the weekly newspaper Mr Dink founded and ran.

    What to do? Turkey could start by scrapping article 301 of the penal code, which makes it a crime to “insult Turkishness”. As Mr Dink argued, recognition of Turkey's past misdeeds would best come from unfettered debate among Turks, not from vote-seeking foreign politicians. In a hopeful sign, Mr Gul has complained that “people outside Turkey think you can be thrown into jail for opening your mouth.” Worse, as Mr Dink tragically discovered, you can be killed.




    Mehmet Ali Birand: Armenian Genocide Bill Will Disgrace Turkey
    16 February 2007
    Panarmenian
    “The adoption of the bill recognizing the Armenian Genocide will mean that Turkey is disgraced and that this is made a fact by the world’s only super power. We must prevent our grandchildren from suffering such a shame,” writes Turkish observer Mehmet Ali Birand in the Turkish Daily News. In his words, Turkey’s agenda next week will be dominated by the Armenian Genocide bill in the U.S. Congress. The article tells about the “benefits” the U.S. derives from cooperation with Turkey including contribution to the NATO force in Afghanistan by sending soldiers, reinforcement of the NATO force in Kosovo and substantial role in the Caucasus (especially in the Armenian-Georgian-Azerbaijani triangle). “Both Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül and Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt put this list in front of the U.S. administrators and asked: What good will it do to risk such a vital collaboration, such a profound relationship just to satisfy a couple of thousand Armenians? It is really a hard choice,” Birand says.

    The author thinks that the Jewish lobby should use its influence. “Drawing attention to Turkey's direct and indirect support to Israel's security, Turkish authorities say, “We cannot accept our Jewish friends' watching the developments from afar. They need to use their influence.” Saying, “If the Jewish lobby does not oppose the Armenian Genocide bill, they should not expect the same support from us, a high-level government official who closely observes the process in Washington indicated that Büyükanıt will repeat this message during his Washington meetings,” Birand continues.

    “What will happen if the U.S. Congress accepts the Armenian genocide bill? What will we lose? Will they convince us to pay compensation or will they force us to give land?” the observer asks. “Leave the U.S. Congress do whatever they want. But we must also know well what awaits us at the end of the road. Let us not forget that the passing of the bill will not mean the end of the world and that the Turkish-U.S. relations will survive under all conditions,” he resumes.




    Impossible To Reach Armenian Genocide Recognition By Lobbying Only
    16 February 2007
    Panarmenian
    “A former ambassador has the right to express his standpoint that is not usually tied with the state’s foreign policy,” President of the Analytical Center of Globalization and Regional Cooperation Stepan Grigoryan said when commenting on former Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Sukru Elekdag’s statement that “after Armenia became independent the foreign line and coordination of Diaspora’s activities is exercised by Yerevan and directed by the Armenian ambassador in Washington.” According to Grigoryan, the former ambassador has formed a hypertrophied opinion on the role of Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora in the Armenian Genocide issue. “It’s impossible to reach the Armenian Genocide recognition by lobbying only. The states which recognized the Genocide did it proceeding from their own interests but not due to the pressure exerted by Diaspora or the RA government,” Grigoryan underscored.

    “Nevertheless, no one can deprive the Armenian Diaspora of the right to struggle for the Genocide recognition. Diaspora is the result of the Genocide what cannot be said about the Polish or Ukrainian Diasporas which formed as a consequence of political changes. If Turkey wants to join the EU it should reconsider its attitude towards Armenia and Armenians living in Turkey. As to Armenia’s foreign policy, official Yerevan has numerously reiterated readiness to normalize relations with Turkey without preconditions. I would also like to stress that the RA government is not engaged in lobbying,” the Armenian expert said.




    Schiff, Dreier Back Genocide Resolution
    16 February 2007
    Canada Valley Sun
    Both local congressional members are supporting a call for the United States to give official recognition to the Armenian genocide of 1915. Congressman Adam Schiff of Glendale, who represents a large number of Armenian-Americans in his district, has become the point man in the effort to get official recognition for the deaths which began in 1915, and were blamed on the Ottoman Empire. This year he has a record number of co-sponsors, some 150, including the leader of the Republican delegation from California, David Dreier.

    In the past, the Republican Congressional leadership has bottled up the matter, to avoid putting President George Bush on the spot with U.S ally Turkey. This year, with Democrats in control of both houses, the likelihood of success is greater.

    Schiff was joined at a news conference by the original co-sponsors of the resolution Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), George Radanovich (R-CA) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Genocide survivors Mrs. Rose Baboyan and Mrs. Sirarpi Khoyan, who recently turned 100 years old.

    "The United States has a compelling historical and moral reason to recognize the Armenian Genocide, which cost a million and a half people their lives," said Schiff. "But we also have a powerful contemporary reason as well — how can we take effective action against the genocide in Darfur if we lack the will to condemn genocide whenever and wherever it occurs? With the new leadership in Congress, I am hopeful we can finally get this resolution passed."


    "The Affirmation of the U.S. Record on the Armenian Genocide" resolution has bipartisan support from of over 150 members of the House of Representatives. It calls on the president to "ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding" of the "Armenian Genocide" and to "accurately characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians as genocide."

    The resolution also has the support of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), and US-Armenia Public Affairs Committee (USAPAC).

    A total of 38 Republican members have signed on as co-sponsors, including Dreier, and 39 members of the House delegation from California.




    Humanity lessons

    For the tens of thousands who sent off Hrant Dink by shouting "We are all Hrant... We are all Armenian" Rakel Dink commented on this:

    "The thing they did was an act of sharing our pain. We were honored and we were grateful. For years at our schools, we all were saying 'I am a Turk, I am just,' but did I become a Turk? The person is what they were born as; no one chooses their nationality. I can't understand the person who can't understand this. In the end, if you are human, another human is your brother or sister. They have the same human rights as you. If you have three children at your house and you distinguish between them and this person, would there be peace in that house?" "We need to look at the state in this way. It shouldn't divide the children in its house. To give one fewer rights than the other or to allow one to insult and not allow the other to speak is injustice. We need to educate our children in a righteous and sincere way. We need to destroy those enemy seeds; if we don't, the situation will never change."

    16.02.2007
    ŞAHİN ALPAY, ZAMAN




    Please, don't save us!
    YUSUF KANLI
    February 17, 2007
    Our recent history demonstrates how bitterly this country has suffered from 'saviors'

    When it comes to the defense of the issues of high importance for the Turkish state and nation, somehow the Turkish diaspora in the United States or in various countries of Europe prove to be so ineffective that we often complain of the absence of a Turkish lobby abroad.

    There are well over 350,000 or so Turks in France, but the Armenian community there successfully shapes the public opinion against Turkey while our Turks just complain – not to the French, but to the Turkish media and politicians – about the prejudices against their “motherland” in their “new homeland.” In Germany there are conflicting figures as regards to the number of Turks living there or the number of Turks who have acquired German citizenship and thus become an element contributing to the shaping of German policies. Still, it is a fact that for many years both in local administrations and federal politics there has always been a number of Turks in very effective positions. Turks living in the Netherlands have a minister in the new government, Nebahat Albayrak.

    In the United States Turks have been quite active in fundraising activities, but when it comes to political efficiency they almost have no power, largely because they have so been unsuccessful in forming a strong umbrella organization that would bring together Turkish associations all through the United States and also because Turks are not concentrated in any state, but dispersed throughout that large geography. Like the party activity of social democratic people in Turkey, every three Turks form an association, when the association grows by few more members, then it splits up and eventually we have too many small associations and federations satisfying the egos of some “prominent” Turks, but no effective lobby activity.

    Diaspora radicalism:
    In Europe or in the United States or elsewhere, the Turkish “lobbies” are ineffective in helping Turkey promote its causes, but when it comes to nationalism we have to admit they are far better nationalists than their brethren in Turkey and indeed they do care about the problems of their homeland far better than those trying to survive problems back home.

    One could say, “That's quite normal… That is diaspora radicalism… People longing for their homeland often become more nationalist than the people in their homeland.” Indeed no one should have any objection for people living abroad having strong bonds of affiliation with their home country. We often criticize “ghettos” in Europe, particularly in Germany, of Turks who have moved to those countries in the 1960s as “guest workers” and since settled but been unable to integrate into society, instead living together. Such groups cannot adequately follow developments back home or in their new countries and consequently became “foreigners” in both. However, it is a fact that the neglect of Turkey and the host countries to concentrate on the integration of such people, not the guest workers themselves, is responsible for this development. The end result is that we have a diaspora far more conservative and radical than the average Turk in Turkey.

    Radicalism of all sorts:
    The difference between Turks in Europe and those in the United States on the other hand is rather striking. The Turks of Europe were mostly descendants of guest workers, selected and taken to a European city as workers before they had even seen the town next to their village. Whereas the U.S. Turks have generally migrated of their own volition and most come from wealthy urban Turkish backgrounds. The end result is that Turks in Europe are often more conservative and Islamist, while those in the United States are more Kemalist and secularist.

    While going through news reports about appeals by some prominent American Turks at a Washington reception for Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt to “save Turkey,” I remembered a recent remark by former President Süleyman Demirel in which he noted how much we have suffered from “saviors” since the country moved to a multi-party democracy in 1950.

    In view of the troubles our democracy has gone through after being rescued so many times, has not the time come to say “Please don't save us!”?




    This lark cannot fly
    February 17, 2007
    YASEMİN SİM ESMEN
    ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
    'The Lark Farm,' by the Italian Taviani brothers premieres at the Berlin Film Festival. Though the subject caught the attention of Turkish professionals in Berlin, the cinematic qualities of the film fell short

    Recounting the sufferings of an Armenian family during the events of 1915, Italian directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's most recent film “La Masseria delle Allodole” (“The Lark Farm”) far from impressed its viewers during its premiere on Wednesday at the Berlin Film Festival, said Turkish film critics attending the festival.

    While the Berlin Film Festival, also called “Berlinale,” was previously a showcase for small budget independent films, it has expanded to become a major film market for distributors around the world, which in turn increased attendance. Such major festivals are excellent venues for independent films, where producers choose to premiere their films.

    The film, based on a book of the same name by Antonia Arslan, an Italian-Armenian, tells the story of a wealthy Armenian family, the Avakians, living in a small town in Turkey. It is 1915, and with World War I in full force, the political environment is changing. Meanwhile, the pretty daughter of the family, Nunik, falls in love with a young Turkish soldier, who later becomes the family's protector after all the men in the family are murdered and the women are forcibly deported.

    During the last years of the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman forces reportedly killed or deported hundreds of thousands of Armenians living throughout Turkey, based on the grounds that, in their struggle for independence, some Armenian groups in Turkey were cooperating with imperial powers that were at war with the Ottomans. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians are said to have died or have been killed during forced deportation marches. Armenians and people all over the world have characterized these events as genocide.

    The film's cinematic attributes were less than remarkable, according to the critics and industry professionals who attended the Berlinale. The CEO of the Turkish independent film distribution company Bir Film, Ersan Çongar, was at the festival acquiring film exhibition rights for the Turkish market but chose not to take this film. According to Çongar, it was not only the subject matter but also the quality of the film that influenced him. “Just the fact that it was not elected to the competitive part of the festival says a lot about the quality of the film,” he told the Turkish Daily News in a phone interview on Thursday.

    Those who have viewed the film find it cinematically unsubstantial, like the prominent Turkish film critic Atilla Dorsay, who, in his review of the film in Sabah daily newspaper on Thursday, wrote, “Of course, there are scenes in the film that can be hard for us [the Turkish audience] to watch. However, they do not go beyond the credibility level of a school play.”

    Dorsay is not the only viewer that has found the film lacking. The former Turkish representative of the European cinema support fund Eurimages, which supported and provided funding for the film, Ahmet Boyacıoğlu was also in Berlin and found the film unconvincing. “It is for sure that the Taviani brothers set out to make an epic film. However, the end result is a very boring television movie. Dozens of press members left the theater before the film was over. I think this is very telling,” he wrote in his article in Thursday's daily Radikal newspaper. He added that after the screening, what foreign press members were most curious about was whether Turks might generate a disturbance during public screenings, he added. "Only Turks can make such an insignificant movie as ‘The Lark Farm' famous," he said. "For example, it would be a perfect way to advertise this movie if there were 300-500 Turkish youngsters gathered in front of the theater before the screening.”

    The Turkish public believes that the 1978 movie “Midnight Express,” telling the story of a young American imprisoned in Turkey for smuggling drugs, has imposed a very negative view of Turkey in the international arena. This sensitivity prevails; the 2002 film by Atom Egoyan, “Ararat,” about a young man whose life changed while making a film about the Armenian genocide claims, received mixed reviews in Turkey. The film did not attract much attention or generate too much at the box office among international audiences.




    Gross injustice
    Gunduz Aktan
    17 February 2007
    Following last month's assassination of Hrant Dink, some U.S. State Department officials and Armenia's foreign minister urged Turkey to use this opportunity to normalize relations with Armenia by opening the border and "face our history" by abolishing Article 301.

    The Americans say that if Turkey "helps itself" by taking such steps, the administration will be able to defend Turkey more easily in Congress. One cannot help wondering whether the "opportunity" that arose as a result of Dink's murder is for Turkey to use in order to serve the interests of the U.S. and Armenia.

    Even though Turkey hasn't established diplomatic relations with Armenia, it recognizes the country. The Turkish-Armenian border is closed, but goods are transported annually by 4,000 TIR trucks to Armenia via Georgia. In this way, Turkey is the second-biggest trading partner for Armenia. There are 60,000-70,000 Armenians illegally working in Turkey. Flights are operating to Istanbul and Antalya, etc.

    Despite these facts, an additional demand to open the border and set up diplomatic relations would mean abandoning Azerbaijan in the face of the continuing Armenian occupation of Karabakh and other parts of this country. Moreover we have to keep in mind that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) does everything for a solution while the international embargo against it continues.

    There is not a single Ottoman monument left in Armenia. Not a single Turk or Azeri lives there. You could think that the Ottoman Empire's Revan province never existed. However, we invited the Armenian diaspora to restore the Akhdamar Church. Since there was no reply, Turkey did the restoration as a gesture. In return, the infamous bill was introduced to the French Parliament and a resolution introduced at the U.S. Congress.

    Meanwhile, pressure on us to repeal Article 301 is continuing. Thus, we are expected to "face our history" and recognize that the 1915 events amounted to genocide. Actually, if we accepted the genocide, nobody would want us to face our past.

    Today, Armenia is a Tashnak dictatorship. But it dares to urge us to expand freedom of expression. Not a single book that denies the genocide claims is sold in Armenia. Let alone those written by the Turks or foreigners, even the report (rather the testament) submitted to the Tashnak Assembly of 1923 at Bucharest by the first prime minister of the independent Armenia and the most important Tashnak leader of the era, Hovhannes Katchaznouni, is still banned. They do not read documents by even those who played a leading role in their history so that they can keep intact their belief in a genocide.

    Considering that it is almost impossible to have serious cooperation with such a country, the U.S. should be expected to put pressure on Armenia with a view to accelerating the democratization of its regime. The U.S. not only does not do this, it does not even try to prevent the unilateral genocide propaganda in its schools. But it gives priority to influencing our attitude.

    Under these conditions, there is no alternative other than seeking a solution to the problem by adjudication or arbitration. Mr. Gul expressed this view in December during the budget debates. In response, not a word was heard from the U.S. administration, EU countries or institutions, Armenia or the Armenian diaspora. It's as if all of a sudden everyone became deaf and mute.

    In Turkey too, none of those who consider themselves intellectuals said, "All right, let's solve the problem by adjudication or arbitration." They murmur, "It cannot be done through adjudication. We should face our history and use empathy with the Armenians," just as Armenia and the Armenian diaspora demand. I hope that they do not render these services without remuneration.

    Can adjudication be done without facing history? All the archives will be opened and population statistics, forensic research, hospital records and all incidents that happened during the relocation will be thoroughly examined. Nothing better can be done to face history.

    No, they urge only us to face history. They wish to ignore Armenian insurrections, massacres, collaboration with the enemy, and betrayal. As a result we would appear as perpetrators and they as victims.

    The attempts to portray Turks as being responsible for genocide are the basic reason for the current psychological regression and the harsh nationalist reaction in our society. Nobody should entertain any illusion that Turkey will eventually yield to these unilateral allegations. We will take Armenia and its supporters to court and will make them face history together with us. And we will make them respect our dead as well.

    There is no way out for anyone anymore.




    The Hrant Dink assassination and neo-nationalism (ulusalcilik) in Turkey
    Onder Aytac & Emre Uslu
    17 February 2007
    Nationalism has been a powerful force in Turkish politics since the founding of the republic. Lately, however, nationalist activists have become unusually strident in their rhetoric, and they have coalesced around various radical political platforms to seek the ousting of the Justice and Development (AK) Party regime, either through the ballot box, or by violent means.

    As nationalist themes gain more prominence in Turkish political discourse, a radical new nationalist movement has emerged: the ulusalcilar, or neo-nationalists, whose influence appears to be spreading to the highest levels of state and society. This movement is not an organized group with an established doctrine. Its various components have their philosophical differences. Nevertheless, we can distinguish three fundamental elements in ulusalci thought: the externalization of Islam from Turkish nationalism, uncompromising anti-Westernism and ethnic exclusionism.

    Although the nationalism adopted by the founders of the Turkish Republic had a distinctly secular tone, it internalized Islam as psychological glue to ensure that ethnically different populations within the boundaries of the new Turkey remained united. Ulusalcilar however, prioritize symbols of Turkish nationalism and the Turkish race, and accord secondary importance to Kemalism and secularism. They oppose leftist ideologies, broad applications of democracy, and minority rights whenever the homogeneity of Turkish nationalism might be threatened.

    If orthodox nationalists have adopted anti-European and anti-American positions on foreign policy issues, Turkey's neo-nationalists absolutely reject Westernization as an operating principle.

    Achieving "honorable and equal" status in the "world society of nations" requires shunning all formal association -- political, military, or economic -- with the Western world, not merely the EU and the "strategic partnership" with the U.S. A review of ulusalci manifestos and policy statements reveals a common "Turkey for the Turks" theme. Turkish natural resources must belong to the citizens of Turkey, not to foreign capitalists. "Globalization" is a particularly ugly word in the neo-nationalist vocabulary. For neo-nationalists, the Kurds, whether in Turkey or Iraq, are agents of American imperialism. Therefore, the usual formulae offered to "solve" the Kurdish problem are without foundation.

    Inevitably, the Bush administration's unstinting support for Israel has led fringe media commentators, including and some ulusalci outlets, to charge that the U.S. government is "in the hands of the Jews," and therefore, they suggest, Erdogan, as a handmaiden of U.S. policy in the Middle East, is at the same time an agent of Zionism.

    Why has ulusalcilik blossomed into such a potent political force today?

    The fundamental causes were, first, the overwhelming victory of the Justice and Development (AK) Party in the 2002 general elections, which enabled the AK Party to establish a single-party government; and second, the AK Party government's implementation of the fast forward reformation process toward membership in the European Union.

    Turkey's state elites -- the civil service, judiciary and military -- are rigidly secular. They have never trusted Erdogan, and believe that he and the AK Party have a "secret agenda" to introduce elements of Sharia into Turkey's legal and constitutional system. Elitist discontent lies more in Erdogan's appointment of individuals loyal to the AK Party to senior bureaucratic posts, occupied throughout previous republican history by the secular establishment. Also, to meet the EU's Copenhagen criteria, AK Party legislation has reduced the military's influence in the National Security Council (MGK) and eliminated military membership in the security courts and the Board of Higher Education (YOK). Hence the disempowered civilian secular elite view the military as allies in the struggle against Erdogan and his presumed Islamist program.

    In addition, the AK Party's liberal economic policies have created a thriving private sector and stimulated increased foreign investment. Nationalists accuse the AK Party (as they did earlier governments led by Turgut Ozal) of reviving the "capitulations" the West imposed on the Ottoman Empire and violating Ataturk's principle of etatism.

    Furthermore, Turkish nationalists came late to an understanding that the EU accession process involved the sacrifice of much of their status and ideology. For the country to qualify for EU membership, the AK Party regime, taking advantage of their overwhelming majority in Parliament, swiftly passed a broad series of major reform measures. Many of these enhanced individual freedoms, and thus implicitly threatened the authority of the powerful state bureaucracy, which had for so long served as the power base of secular nationalism. That the reform legislation was being promoted by a political party with an agenda far different from their own was further cause for alarm.

    Who are the ulusalcilar?
    As stated, the neo-nationalists have no political party or overarching command structure, but there are a number of activist organizations that can be identified as ulusalci, based on their members' shared acceptance of the movement's principles.

    Activist neo-nationalist organizations include the purposefully named Kuvaiye Milliye Hareketi (Nationalist Forces Movement) and the Vatansever Kuvvetler Guc Birligi Hareketi (Patriotic Forces United Movement, VKGB). The VKGB, led by senior retired military officers, claims more than 100 branches in 46 cities and towns. The Kemalist Thought Association (ADD), led by former Gendarmerie Commander Sener Eruygur, has sought preeminence in the movement on doctrinal and ideological matters. Its roster of founders includes an impressive number of professors and PhD's, and it claims a nationwide membership of 4,852. Better known is the Buyuk Hukukcular Birligi (the Great Union of Jurists) and its leader, Kemal Kerincsiz. It is Kerincsiz and his organization that have been responsible for the numerous lawsuits brought under the notorious Article 301 against Turkish intellectuals and writers -- most famously Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk and Armenian-origin journalist Hrant Dink for "insulting Turkishness."

    The neo-nationalists boast an impressive array of media outlets. They control one daily newspaper, Yeni Cag; several periodicals, among them the bi-weekly Turk Solu and its youth magazine, Ileri; Yeni Hayat; Turkeli, a publication of the VKGB, and the weekly Aydinlik, the mouthpiece of the Turk Isci Partisi (Turkish Labor Party) and its venerable Marxist leader Dogu Perincek, who has lately reinvented himself as a staunch Kemalist. There are two neo-nationalist TV channels: KanalTurk and Mesaj TV.

    Additionally, Istanbul daily Cumhuriyet, favored by the older Kemalist intelligentsia, frequently voices ulusalci themes. Cumhuriyet was once the most respected newspaper in the country, but through its venomous attacks against AK Party leaders and their policies it has lost any claim to objectivity. Additionally, several mainstream newspapers carry the columns of ulusalci pundits alongside more orthodox commentators -- among them Emin Colasan (Hurriyet) and Melih Asik (Milliyet). (Yeni Cag's lead columnist is the popular hard-lining nationalist and former president of the TRNC, Rauf Denktas.)

    Turkish neo-nationalists have their own underground network, involving both active and retired military officers, significant elements of which were exposed in a series of startling revelations in the middle of last year. Police investigations into last May's murder of a Court of Appeals judge revealed that the murderer had been under the control of a neo-nationalist group of retired military personnel and that the shooting was probably a "black" operation intended to look like the work of religious reactionaries. Another series of arrests revealed the existence of the Atabeyler Gang, composed largely of low-ranking active Special Forces officers, who possessed diagrams apparently intended to support assassination attempts against Erdogan and his chief foreign policy advisor, Cuneyt Zapsu. More worrisome still, a third clandestine outfit neutralized by the police, the Sauna Gang, which specialized in blackmail and extortion, included both ulusalci military and ex-military personnel and members of the Turkish mafia.

    The Hrant Dink assassination
    Ulusalcilik provided the ideological context for last month's assassination of Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink; and the lawsuit against Dink, brought under Article 301 by Kemal Kerincsiz, head of the neo-nationalist Istanbul Lawyers Union, made him a likely target of extremist violence. It appears the 17-year-old assassin, Ogun Samast, was merely a member of a small gang of adolescents who had gathered around a braggart with vague but strongly expressed extremist and xenophobic views. Some believe this small, apparently independent gang is representative of a new and nasty phenomenon. They call themselves, nationalist, ulusalci or anti-imperialist, find their like-minded friends through the Internet, and select their targets. These people are horizontally organized, loosely connected and more secretive than the traditional terror groups. Dink received death threats from notorious neo-nationalist bullies, like retired Col. Veli Kucuk, who allegedly is the leader of these ulusalci mafia-rings, but there is no evidence that links these unsavory elements to his murder.

    Nationalist and ulusalci commentators have engaged in a shameless campaign to gain propaganda capital from this heinous crime. Various columnists have hinted darkly at the involvement of Western intelligence services. Several saw the motivation for the assassination in the likelihood that it would smooth the passage of the Armenian "genocide" resolution through the U.S. Congress, and Tercuman newspaper actually claimed that Samast was an ethnic Armenian! Inevitably, some, including senior spokesmen of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), explicitly blamed the CIA, Mossad, or both. Meanwhile, a neo-nationalist columnist with an established reputation for uncovering elaborate conspiracies on the basis of minimal evidence linked the location of Samast's gang in his native Trabzon to a certain "U.S. Black Sea project." This project, the author alleged, is intended to project American influence in areas east of Turkey and involves, as a key element, securing Trabzon as an American base. Of the leading ulusalcilar, only the man most responsible for this dreadful affair, Kerincsiz, showed any contrition, condemning, in a public statement shortly after the crime, the use of violence to achieve political ends. Ulusalci bellwether Turk Solu, however, in its editorial written by Gokce Firat, placed the conspiracy closer to home, describing Dink's assassination as a propaganda ploy by Turkey's "Kurdish-Islamist fascist dictatorship" to maintain themselves in power. Firat, demonstrating the ability to harbor two contradictory opinions at the same time, is also cheered by the assassination. "Turkey has lost an enemy!" he advised his readers, with evident happiness.




    Forced policy...1 million Armenian deaths. THAT IS GEOCIDE.

    "Ottoman Turkey instituted a policy of forced resettlement coupled with other harsh practices that resulted in an estimated 1 million Armenian deaths."
    From CIA website
    https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/am.html

    Van Zakarean



    What is the US waiting for?
    February 15, 2007
    Orhan KILERCIOGLU
    Turkey is distressed by the slow and restrictive US policy on the threat from the PKK

    Turkey has been battling the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) since the 1980s. Threatening Turkey's integrity, the PKK survives in the chair of Massoud Barzani, head of the autonomous Kurdish administration in northern Iraq.

    It is known that the PKK carries on its activities with the monetary and spiritual support or some countries and its supporters abroad. In return for this it is widely believed that the PKK is used as a pawn by the governments of these countries to attain their goals. The PKK received help from a number of countries such as Syria, Russia, Italy and Greece. The memories of the adventures of Abdullah Öcalan, the now-imprisoned head of the PKK, in these countries still remain fresh. The acceptance and protection provided by these states to such a terrorist leader has become archetypal in the history of terrorism.

    At this time the United States, due to the importance it attaches to battling terrorism, supported its ally, Turkey. The United States has accepted the PKK as a terrorist organization and elicited the freezing of the organization's assets. Furthermore it asked some European countries to accept the PKK as a terrorist group and applied pressure in this regard.

    Departures in U.S. policy after the Iraq crisis caused some question marks, though. What was the reason for the change? Was it the result of the Turkish Parliament's refusal on Mar 1, 2003, to allow U.S. troops to use Turkish territory as a base from which to invade Iraq from the north? Or did it stem from U.S. policy on northern Iraq? On the other hand, today seeing the United States opposing the idea of a military campaign in northern Iraq by Turkey against the PKK, exhibiting attitudes not befitting of an ally, gives one food for thought. Another important issue to consider is that the United States still points to Iraq as the address for the resolution of the PKK issue.

    The confusion in both the government and the public mind over how the coordination mechanism formed at the United States' suggestion will be successful causes concerns as to whether time is being lost and we are being delayed. Turkey is distressed by this slow and restrictive U.S. policy. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül voice their complaints from time to time. Moreover, some U.S. security reports also criticize U.S. policy on the matter. It is clear that the United States has some uncertainties, or at the least some expectations, in the combat against the PKK.

    PEJAK becoming an ally?
    Among the current information attained, the Party for a Free Life in Iranian Kurdistan (PEJAK) is supported logistically and ideologically by the PKK, while U.S. soldiers provide training. What does this mean? It is possible that these terrorist elements will be used in future plans concerning Middle East policy. What do the activities of these pawns in Iran mean?

    The United States constantly declares that the Iraq operation is helped by the Kurds and offers them resources beyond their imagination. In the meanwhile, the PKK, fed and protected by the Kurds of northern Iraq, uses these resources to sustain its threat against Turkey.

    The United States, on the other hand, cannot determine its final policy and maintains uncertainty against the ever-rising chaos in northern Iraq. Our concerns are further heightened by the possibility that even the employment of Iraqi forces and additional forces will not be enough to change the current circumstances.

    These developments delay the battle with the PKK, thereby holding back Turkey.

    We will experience the effects of Gül's expression of Turkey's discomfort on this issue and its importance during his Washington meetings. If the United States cannot attain stability in Iraq, or it is late to do so, it will be inevitable that Turkey re-evaluates specific methods of activity.

    Furthermore, the employment of the PKK against Turkey as well as the employment of PEJAK against Iran may have grave consequences for peace in the region. Expectations of support from such terrorist groups will only amplify the current chaos and damage good intentions. The current situation in northern Iraq is more complex and risky beyond estimation. A resolution seems very difficult. Taking concrete steps against the PKK is closely tied to the stability of Iraq. That, again, means losing time.

    The United States is in a quagmire in Iraq. The only thing it can do is to try find ways to get out as soon as possible. The solution lies in collaboration with Turkey and other governments in the region and staying away from new adventures.

    An exceptional reception for Büyükanıt in Washington
    February 15, 2007
    Cengiz ÇANDAR
    It is a matter of whether or not the Americans trust the civilian authorities in Turkey for cooperation in the Middle East.

    Turkey's Chief of General Staff Gen.Yaşar Büyükanıt yesterday met with U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley in Washington, D.C. He was paying a scheduled visit to the U.S. capital as the guest of his counterpart, Gen. Peter Pace. His meetings should be evaluated as an extraordinary occurance: we could not recall if at any time in the past a chief of general staff from any country had been received by both the vice-president and the national security advisor while visiting Washington.

    Both are considered the top U.S. civilian officials, right under the president and the U.S. system does not allow for the exceptional treatment that has been accorded to Gen. Büyükanit. That is indeed an exceptional case. Of particular note was that his itinerary of contacts was nearly the same as that of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül. At the same moment Gül was stepping foot on the tarmac of Ankara's Esenboğa Airport, Gen. Büyükanit was leaving for Washington.


    The ‘strongman' of Turkey:
    The unusual high-level reception accorded to Gen. Büyükanit would raise eyebrows in any democratic country and could well add to the interpretation that he is the “strongman” of Turkey, if Turkey were not, officially, a country aiming for accession to the European Union. That fact makes the issue of Büyükanit's Washington visit even more controversial and also demonstrates another fact as to what extent the present U.S. authorities may be identified by democratic credentials, particularly after they signed themselves up to “democratic regime change” in the Greater Middle East and North Africa.

    One explanation is, no doubt, the peculiarity of Turkey's geopolitics and its concerns emanating from the unenviable security situation in Iraq. For many, including Gen. Büyükanit himself, Iraq is seen as being on the verge of disintegration, with a potentially contagious impact on Turkey. His unequivocal remarks made at the reception held in his honor at the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington contest to Turkey's peculiarities.

    “The Republic of Turkey, since 1923, was never faced with risks, threats and troubles at a larger magnitude than it currently faces. On our borders there is the question of Iraq. This question is a question for our neighbors, for the region as a whole and for the United States. The question of Iraq does not only have one aspect. The north of Iraq is a separate question to that of the entirety of Iraq. This is a fact. Today Iraq is facing the danger of disintegration. Nobody can deny this. There is a terrorist organization in the north of Iraq. This is Turkey's problem; the problem of the region. Turkey has a problem over Cyprus. Moreover the Caucasus is an area of risks. We do not how that may unfold in the future. Apart from these, Turkey has a common border with Iran. That is also a potential risk area. Turkey has never faced this number of questions altogether and simultaneously during its republican history. While we have these questions, are we going to deal with them on our own or through international relations?”

    The accentuation on the problems that Turkey is facing and the question he posed over the mechanism of resolving them defines the reason and the content of Gen. Büyükanit's Washington visit, as well as the peculiarity of Turkey's case in international relations and its exclusive nature in U.S. policy.

    Yet all these well-justified facts are still far from explaining why Turkey's chief of General Staff is accorded an equal, or even a higher reception, than Turkey's foreign minister – who was there only a few days ago.

    It is a matter of whether or not the Americans trust the civilian authorities in Turkey for cooperating in the Middle East. If not, that would exacerbate the already very complex situation in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.




    Cheney conveyed a message to Büyükanıt
    February 16, 2007
    Mehmet Ali Birand
    International relations are often strange. Sometimes, even the fact that a meeting took place can be interpreted in different ways. While messages can be communicated openly behind closed doors, a series of conclusions can also be made when some issues remain untouched.

    This is the type of meeting that took place between the U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt.

    First of all, this meeting took place between two equals. One is the hard-pressed vice president of a superpower, another the military chief of general staff. One is civilian while the other is a military man. More importantly, the meeting request came from the vice president.

    This meeting cannot be described as ordinary, regular or mundane. It is quite extraordinary and this extraordinariness alone has attracted a lot of attention.

    We more or less know what was discussed during this meeting. However, I would like to add the issues that were not discussed to those that were and reflect what the observers concluded.

    When one calculates not only Büyükanıt's trip, but also all messages that were and were not communicated during all rendezvous since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's last meeting at the White House, the picture presents itself as follows: The United States administration openly illustrated that it did not want any distress to or hindrance of the democratization process during the upcoming elections. It showed its support for the Justice and Development Party (AKP), even if only due to lack of other options. By requesting to meet with Büyükanıt, Cheney demonstrated that he saw the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) as an element of stability and that he supports the role TSK plays in Turkey. The United States administration preferred to explain to Turkey face-to-face its opinions on Iraq, the Kurds of northern Iraq, Iran, Israel's security and energy highways.


    What can the media do if you are incompetent?:
    We hear a lot of steam, high-pitched roars and complaints.

    The spokesmen for the government, the prime minister and all ministers shout in unison:

    “We have been successful during our term. This nation was miserable only four years ago but we have relieved its misery. The private sector was forced to sell its assets cheap; we added value to their production assets. But the media does not see this. One part of it is ignorant, the other hostile…”

    Opposition parties are no different – they also complain:
    “The media does not mention us because it is afraid of the government. But we are a very successful opposition. Even then we cannot get our voices heard. A part of the media flatters the government and the other is hostile toward us. This is why we cannot get our voices heard.”

    Even if it is not in a harsh tone, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), too, is among the complainants. They think that neither the press nor the broadcast media gives them enough coverage.

    Let's look at he other side of the coin.

    In Turkey, similar complaints are also made about the foreign press. We say that especially the western press is prejudiced against Turkey and that it always reflects the negative aspects.

    As it can be seen, we are unable to communicate.

    Now it is my turn to ask questions…

    Ladies and gentlemen, do you ever ask yourselves whether you know how to communicate?

    Could there be a healthy communication with two or ten page declarations, void statements, words that cannot be found when needed and leaders that talk for hours when they are given a microphone?

    No, there cannot be.

    Similar problems are also experienced in other parts of the world. However, those who know the subject very well, and know how to communicate, win. Those who do not, continue to complain.




    Büyükanıt welcomes White House support against Armenian resolution
    February 16, 2007
    ÜMİT ENGİNSOY
    WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News

    Visiting top military commander Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt said on Wednesday that he was pleased by U.S. President George W. Bush's administration's resolve to oppose the passage of an Armenian genocide resolution in the House of Representatives.

    "I have personally heard from them that they are very determined against the Armenian resolution," Chief of General Staff Büyükanıt told reporters after talks with Vice President Dick Cheney and Bush's National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley at the White House.

    He was referring to a measure introduced in the House of Representatives, Congress' lower chamber, in late January calling on formal recognition of World War I-era killings or Armenians during the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

    Nancy Pelosi, the House's new Democratic speaker, has pledged to back efforts for a genocide resolution, and it is not clear if the Bush administration's opposition can prevent the measure's approval.

    A meeting between Büyükanıt and Tom Lantos, Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, planned for early Wednesday could not take place because of a winter storm in the Washington area, however, officials said that the gathering was rescheduled for today.

    Lantos' committee is the first platform to handle the Armenian resolution. If discussed and approved by this panel, the measure will go to the House floor for further consideration. It will then be up to Pelosi whether to hold a House floor vote on the resolution.

    Büyükanıt said a day earlier that the resolution's passage would "hurt us."

    Asked if Cheney and Hadley also seemed determined on measures against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Büyükanıt said, "yes."

    The PKK attacks Turkish targets from bases in northern Iraq and Ankara has been calling on the United States to take action to put an end to that terrorist group's presence inside Iraqi territory.

    Nevertheless, anti-PKK efforts have failed so far, causing frustration in the Turkish public and prompting recent U.S. pledges for a more focused work.

    Several people accused of involvement in the PKK's financing network in European countries were arrested earlier this month and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül said last week that the United States had "played a role" in the operation.

    Asked if the White House gave an impression on whether it could use military force against Iran because of Tehran's nuclear program, Büyükanıt said the issue had not been discussed during his meetings.

    Büyükanıt said he would make a detailed assessment of his Washington visit, continuing since Tuesday, at a news conference scheduled for today.

    The top Turkish commander was meeting with Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace and Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman, the Defense Department's number three official and a former U.S. ambassador to Ankara, at the Pentagon on Thursday.




    A new name for an old political disease: 'Pet Country Syndrome'
    February 16, 2007
    David Judson
    In Berlin this past week, I learned of a new political-sociological syndrome. I suppose its comparable to those maladies more familiar in political discourse: “compassion fatigue,” or “imperial overstretch,” or even the well-known “Vietnam Syndrome.” It is just that it is more insidious and subject to various mutations. This term, new to me, is “Pet Country Syndrome.”

    Like most diseases, this one has probably been around for a while, awaiting the practitioner to describe it and add it to the literature. And so that step occurred, the work of an international group of social scientists gathered over dinner for a post-mortem on a conference earlier in the day in this famous capital. The venerable Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) sponsored the conference on EU-Turkish relations.

    “Pet Country Syndrome” is a social disease that affects communications systems. And it did so here. Its victims – or carriers - are generally leftist-oriented, minor party politicians who count themselves as “friends of Turkey.” Among the ravages of the disease is the fact that while these politicians are condemning the real and growing threat of “extreme nationalism” in Turkey, they are in fact contributing to this dangerous current. And all the while, they are totally unaware of what they are doing.

    However, let me back up to how I came to learn of the “Pet Country Syndrome.” For it is not my discovery. I was just an observer here. The conference I came to attend was set to discuss all the grim realities of Turkish-EU relations: suspended chapters, Turkey's stalled reforms and of course the growing anti-Turkishness in just about every European country and the reverse. That we were assembling to talk about these things in the wake of the brutal murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink added both a sense of urgency and a sense of mourning. But I am not sure how much we really accomplished.

    The absence of reciprocity:
    Unspoken throughout the day was a pall of tension between the European and Turkish participants. Being personally in neither category, perhaps I should constrain my judgment. So I will try and stick to observation. The source of the tension was that when the EU-member participants were criticizing Turkey, the Turks were generally both in accord and reflective. You can imagine the topics: infamous “Article 301,” human rights, women's rights, democratization. Nevertheless, reciprocity was not in evidence. For example, when the conversation turned to a report TESEV published in December, “Seeking Kant in EU-Turkey Relations,” the Europeans would have none of it. This, of course, is a report we've discussed in the pages of the Turkish Daily News; keying off the values of the Enlightenment philosopher Emmanuel Kant, it examines the many double standards in the EU treatment of Turkey when compared with other candidate countries. Turkey's many imperfections are fair game for analysis; those of the EU are not.

    I won't get into names, we are talking about figures frequently in the media and I am sure readers know of whom I speak. It is the specific dialogue killer worthy of attention: when a Turkish social scientist moves to examine an EU frailty, the automatic and dismissive response is that this is simply a manifestation of either “nationalism” or its cousin, “national pride.” As “nationalism” has no legitimacy, any observation that might proceed from it lacks legitimacy as well. It is an elegantly intellectual way to say, “Shut up.” Except that, this is not a debating technique, but the sum of assumed premises, a world view. One group has a set of views that are noble and the other does not.

    The label of ‘nationalist':
    After we had left behind the microphones, name cards and the protocols, we reassembled as a much smaller group for dinner in a neighborhood of the former East Berlin. The discussion around the table ultimately turned back to the phenomenon I describe. And that was when someone named it, “Pet Country Syndrome.”

    “The problem is that these people see Turkey as their pet country. They either are, or aspire to be, minor parliamentarians of minor European parties and as such they haven't got a lot to do,” one observer allowed. “The route to an international platform is the hero's role, a mission to save Turkey. If one crosses them, one is instantly labeled as a nationalist.”

    Another at the table weighed in: “I feel it's like Greenpeace and its mission to save the baby seals. Except, we are not baby seals.”

    A young German at the table, who grew up in the former East Germany and who fled before the fall of the Berlin Wall through Hungary, offered a particularly valuable insight. This was from someone who spent years in a refugee camp as the two German sides were uniting and his recollections were poignant. “I understand exactly what you are talking about,” he told the little assembly. “We Easterners experienced precisely the same thing. Because the Westerners were our ‘big brothers' the slightest questioning was regarded as ingratitude. The result was that in the integration of East and West, we were hard pressed to defend our own natural rights and in the end, I think we made far more concessions than we should have. However, you cannot explain this to a Westerner. They simply cannot understand.”

    A columnist for the TDN's sister newspaper, Nabi Yağcı, has touched on this topic in the past, under the headline of “Orientalism.” “The westerners unfortunately, have everything to teach Turkey,” he wrote. “But they have virtually nothing to learn from Turkey.”

    The discussion at the table took me back to a conversation I recalled with the late Turkish playwright Memet Baydur. In those years, he lived in Washington. In my first career in the newspaper business, we used to get together from time to time. One night he spoke of “the irony of a particular brand of cultural imperialism that flows from the left.” He went on to discuss a frustration that was alive at the dinner table in Berlin. “We don't need teachers, we don't need elder brothers, we don't need wise men to show us the enlightened path,” said Memet. “What we do need is collaborators who share our values. And these are few.”

    At the time of Memet's observations, I had no intention of ever returning to Turkey in a professional capacity. Since I resumed my craft at Referans three years ago, and now continue it at the TDN, I have recalled his words a thousands times. I did so again in Berlin.

    The difference this time was the diagnosis of this ambiguous disease, “Pet Country Syndrome.” It is the most apt of descriptions.

    In these perilous times, I worry deeply about the disease of extreme nationalism and where it may take Turkey. But I worry more about the contributors to this scourge, the attitudes that can inflame nationalism. “Pet Country Syndrome” is at the top of my list.

    Nationalism can be confronted with education, with economic development, with a thoughtful and effective news media. But “Pet Country Syndrome?” The cure to this disease, I fear, will remain elusive.




    Report: Armenian resolution damaging to US-Turkey ties
    A leading publisher of economic and political intelligence on Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia has reported that the Armenian resolution pending in the US Congress is an extremely emotional issue for Turkey and damaging to the US-Turkish relations.

    Based in London, the Oxford Business Group (OBG), in a report titled "Turkey: Tough Demands," highlights three issues concerning Turkish-US relations: "…Turkey's political heavyweights are doing their rounds in Washington this month, lobbying and pressuring members of the US elite over three particularly explosive issues -- the Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) continued and undeterred presence in Northern Iraq, a destabilising referendum in Iraq's oil-rich city of Kirkuk and the controversial Armenian resolution that threatens to pass through the House of Representatives this year."

    Published Feb. 15, the OBG report indicates "the most emotive -- if not provocative -- for the Turks" is the Armenian genocide resolution pending in the US Congress.

    "The Bush administration needs little convincing of how damaging a resolution would be, with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging Congress to drop the issue, or risk poising [sic] relations with an essential Muslim ally bordering Iraq, Iran and Syria. Yet, the White House has only limited leverage over a Congress dominated by Democrats and led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is adamant to pursue the issue with the backing of the Armenian lobby in her Congressional district. Pelosi's unwillingness to meet [with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah] Gul during his visit was duly noted by Ankara."

    The Armenian genocide resolution was introduced on Jan. 30 by Rep. Adam Schiff along with Reps. George Radanovich, Frank Pallone, Joe Knollenberg, Brad Sherman and Thaddeus McCotter and currently has 170 co-sponsors.
    The resolution would urge the president to properly characterize the Armenian sufferings during the World War I as genocide.

    While US President George W. Bush commemorates the massacres each year in a speech, his administration had stopped short of backing the genocide bills.

    Turkey rejects the genocide label and argues that 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife, when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with Russian troops invading the crumbling Ottoman Empire during World War I.

    "Meanwhile, the continued presence of the PKK in Northern Iraq remains an itching sore for the Turks, with Ankara determined that the organisation be flushed out from its safe-haven across the border," the report said. "But the Turks have long been nonplussed by the US stance, with no concerted effort by the Americans to respond to Turkish security concerns next door. … Yet, the US administration has not sent any public signals to suggest that it would tolerate a cross-border incursion by the Turkish military to eradicate the PKK."
    The OBG report indicated that turbulence and instability in the Middle East has made the US-Turkish relationship more important than ever, and Turkey has been pressing Washington to demonstrate the importance of the relationship more clearly, "if not, relations will suffer."

    16.02.2007
    İstanbul Today's Zaman




    ‘US administration firm to block Armenian resolution’
    Turkey's top military commander has said he has observed determination on the part of the US administration to stop an Armenian genocide resolution from passage in the US Congress.

    "I heard senior US administration officials saying decisive words on stopping the Armenian genocide resolution from securing recognition in Congress," said Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt, referring to his talks with US Vice President Dick Cheney and US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

    When asked to comment on whether the US administration seems firm in its resolve to fight outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorism, Gen. Büyükanıt said, "Yes."

    Büyükanıt's scheduled meeting with US House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee head Tom Lantos, which was canceled yesterday due to severe weather conditions, is to take place on Friday. The Armenian resolution, which has already been presented to the US House of Representatives, will be the main subject of this meeting.
    Gen. Büyükanıt is to meet today with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman.

    Upon being asked a question as to whether there is any possibility that the US may resort to force against Iran's nuclear program, Büyükanıt said: "No, we did not talk about this issue. We always prioritize issues that are in our own agenda."

    16.02.2007
    Today's Zaman Washington




    It is time for the Armenian genocide bill, what should we do?
    M.A.Birand
    Last year we discussed a train crash between the European Union and Turkey. While we were still trying to estimate whether the crash would occur, we got survived with only minor injuries.

    On this year’s agenda there is a possible train crash between Turkey and the United States.

    This time the crash is about Armenian genocide allegations.

    It has been the same scenario for years. As April nears, the members of the U.S. House of Representatives close to Armenians take action and try to make the U.S. Congress officially accept an Armenian “genocide.” A bill is sent to the House of Representatives to be voted on followed by the Turkish government’s knocking on the U.S. government’s door. The Turkish government gives warnings on a wide variety of issues from strategic significance to arms bids. A crisis that lasts weeks takes place on the Ankara-Washington axis, and the current government forestalls the passing of the bill, drawing attention to “the prominence of Turkey’s strategic being.”

    It will be the same scenario this year.
    However, things took a more serious turn this year. This time, it looks like Armenians can get what they want. Unlike the previous years, the winds are blowing the Armenian way. Nancy Pelosi, who supports the Armenian cause whole-heartedly, was appointed as the speaker of House of Representatives. The number of democrats who approach Armenians sympathetically have increased in the House. More important is the weakening of the White House, regarded as the most powerful establishment supporting Turkey in the House of Representatives. President Bush does not have the influence he used to.

    So what will happen now?
    Our worst habit is to wait until the last minute to take action. For us to take any measures, we need to first get terrible results. Then we start shouting and uttering threats that we will not grant them the bids and that we will embargo them.

    This was how it used to be. We would threaten, get what we want, and then lie down and hibernate. We would not make preparations or develop new policies.

    The situation is very different now.
    There is little time left before the train crash. It is very hard to get out of the mess with threats now.

    Now, we need to wake up, get rid of old habits and come up with a new policy. It is inevitable for us to get rid of the old rhetoric, to look at the issue from a different point of view and to escape the genocide stain.

    Let’s not wait until the last minute.

    We have no other options left but to surprise the world:
    Maybe we do not take it seriously, but the Armenian genocide allegations are getting much more serious. This official clamp gets tighter each year. The parliaments of 18 countries have carried resolutions that Turkey has inflicted genocide on Armenians. There are at least as many more on their way.

    We should not just be uneasy but we should in fact panic against this scenario. Those parliaments who have resolved that Turkey committed genocide will in the near future decide that it is “against the law” to deny an Armenian genocide. They will then pressure their governments to “apply sanctions on Turkey to force it to accept the genocide.” Then paying indemnities to the families of deceased Armenians during those incidents will become a subject for discussion.

    Above all, if the bill in the U.S. Congress passes, it will be exemplary and other countries will follow course.

    Turkey needs to see this fact and show the courage to take realistic steps. From now on it will be impossible to go anywhere claiming, “We are right, the Armenian community is deceiving the world.” The international public opinion cannot be affected by broadcasting documentaries, distributing books and organizing conferences.

    We have missed that train.

    If we would like to get rid of genocide allegations or postpone them for a while, then we need to take measures that will surprise the world.

    The choice is clear.

    Either the same policies will be followed (i.e. there will be much “empty” rhetoric and only the Armenian community will be blamed) to end up pressed against the same genocide wall, or completely different approaches will have to be followed and people will be baffled.

    I do not personally see any other way to prevent the genocide bill in the U.S. Congress, or any other country’s parliament.




    Papadopulos commanded to "terminate Turks"
    The book written by a Turkish academician Dr. Kızılyürek revealed very shocking facts: "Papadopulos was caught commanding to terminate Turkish Cypriots if Turkey place soldiers at that period".

    The Cypriot Turkish historian and author and the member of Cyprus (Greek) University, Dr. Niyazi Kızılyürek's book seems to have great repercussions. The book written in Greek and named "Glafkos Klerides: A travel to Cyprus from past to present" tells about the former leader of Greek government and his successor Tasos Papadopulos and about the events at that time: "after the establishment of Northern Cyprus Republic, the problems were of the kind that could be solved via dialogue. Despite the establishment of Cyprus Republic, a secret organization was formed upon the command of Makarios and Polikarpos with the purpose of Enosis. In the conflicts between 1963-64, Klerides took the family of Denktaş to airport in his car with the request of Denktaş. Between the years of 1963-74, Papadopulos threatened that in case Turkey placed soldiers to the island, the Turkish Cypriots will be terminated. He was caught giving the command via phone and scolded by Makarios and Yorgacis.

    http://english.sabah.com.tr/2007/02/16/im/DBF689F07934C84F8D6DBCA4b.jpg




    Let it be over and done with!
    Gunduz Aktan
    15 February 2007
    The Armenian genocide resolution has been presented to the House of Representatives. It's expected to be passed this time. Even though such congressional resolutions aren't legally binding, this does not reduce its symbolic importance for Turkey.

    At a meeting held in Washington in September 2005 with the participation of all governmental foreign policy institutions, I said that if the U.S. believes that the 1915 incidents are genocide, President Bush should stop indirectly defining the genocide in his April 24 messages and clearly use the word "genocide." The Congress should also take a genocide decision. Then we, as two friendly and allied countries, should apply for adjudication or arbitration. Otherwise the damage to be done by this problem, which has been poisoning our relations for years, may be much more severe. The others at the meeting remained silent, probably because they weren't ready for such a move.

    Contrary to what people usually think, the problem created by the Armenian genocide allegations for our relations with the U.S. does not stem from the Congress but from the fault of the administrations. To date, U.S. presidents have somehow implied that the 1915 incidents were genocide. So it's understandable that the Congress wants to use the word "genocide" in a country where politics is much more local than elsewhere and ethnic Armenians constitute a hyperactive pressure group.

    Britain, which was the occupying power during World War I, had access to all the Ottoman archives. Knowing the realities of the time, British governments explicitly state at the House of Lords almost annually that the 1915 incidents are not genocide according to the 1948 UN convention. U.S. presidents cannot make this statement.

    In order to prevent passage of the resolution by the House, the administration uses the argument that Turkey is an ally which has great strategic importance and if the resolution were passed, bilateral relations would be damaged. This actually means condemning rather than defending Turkey.

    By contrast it would be much more beneficial for all of us if the administration pointed out the mistakes in the resolution of the Congress. The feeling of injustice to be created as a result of passing this resolution by one-half of the legislative organ of the world's greatest power would also be prevented in this way.

    The resolution discards important parts of the Harbord report, does not mention the insignificance of Henry Morgenthau's book and ignores the fact that the genocide definition which lies behind Raphael Lemkin's Armenian genocide allegations is not incorporated in the UN genocide convention. But let's put this aside.

    Referring to the American archives, this draft says that out of 2 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1.5 million were subjected to genocide between 1915 and 1923 (Why 1923?). I don't believe that there is a single American archive document showing that there were 2 million Armenians in prewar Ottoman Anatolia. However, an American archive document dated November 1922, which was declassified on May 5, 1961, states that 281,000 Armenians were living in Istanbul and Anatolia in addition to 817,873 Armenian refugees outside the Ottoman Empire, and 95,000 Armenians were converted to Islam. In other words, the total Armenian "survivors" at the end the war were not half a million, but almost 1.2 million.

    Why doesn't the administration tell Congress this fact?

    The resolution claims that the Armenian genocide was recognized in the UN Genocide Convention of 1948 and the first UN General Assembly resolution 96 (1) on genocide. But these claims are incorrect. Doesn't this situation disturb the administration?

    The resolution alleges that the UN human rights subcommission recognized the Armenian genocide in August 1985. In reality this decision wasn't adopted by the subcommission and wasn't forwarded to the commission. If this decision and the related minutes aren't available at the U.S. State Department, I can provide them free of charge from my personal archives.

    I can't find anything to say about the argument that the Holocaust occurred because those who were responsible for the Armenian genocide were not punished. Did the punishment of the Holocaust prevent the Western powers from being onlookers to the Bosnia and Rwanda genocides?

    There is one more question. Why don't the statistics concerning the civilian Turks who died or were killed between 1915 and 1917 find their way into resolutions of Congress? Aren't Turks considered human beings?

    As of now we should declare that we will invite the U.S. to go to court together with us, as soon as this resolution is adopted by the House of Representatives.

    This scandalous situation ought to be brought to an end.




    US genocide bill angers Turks
    Simon Tisdall
    February 15, 2007
    Guardian Unlimited
    It seems an odd way to treat a friend. Washington's relations with Turkey, a key Nato ally, have been on the slide since 2003, when Ankara's parliament refused to allow US troops to transit into Iraq. That infuriated the Bush administration.

    Ensuing chaos in Iraq and the impetus the occupation has given Kurdish secessionism infuriated Turks in their turn. Iran and Hamas are other points of strain. One recent poll found 81% disapproved of US policies.

    Now the relationship is heading for a potentially spectacular rupture after the decision of the US House of Representatives' newly installed Democratic leadership to follow France in endorsing a bill officially recognising as genocide the 1915 killings of Christian Armenians by Muslim Turks. As matters stand, there is sufficient bipartisan support to pass the measure if, as expected, it is put to a vote in the next few weeks.

    The genocide label is an ultra-sensitive issue in Turkey. The country has long claimed that mass killings at the time by both sides were part of the civil upheavals accompanying the collapse of the Ottoman empire. "If this measure is adopted it will create a very serious problem in US-Turkish relations," a senior Turkish official said yesterday. "You cannot put Turkey in the same shoes as the Nazis."

    Armenia (and the Armenian diaspora) should accept a proposal by Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to set up a joint commission to study what happened, the official said.

    But politics in Ankara and Washington are stoking confrontation. A presidential election is due in Turkey in May, followed by parliamentary polls this autumn. Neither Mr Erdogan, tipped as the next president, nor other candidates can ignore intense national feelings stirred by the genocide debate.

    At the same time, the Democratic speaker, Nancy Pelosi, like other members from California, has a vociferous Armenian-American constituency to placate. When Turkey's foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, was in Washington last week, she refused to meet him. "Local politics must not be allowed to poison strategic ties," Mr Gul said later; passage of the bill would create a "nightmare".

    Calls are already being heard in Turkey for a downgrading of bilateral military cooperation, including logistical assistance to US forces in Iraq. General Yasar Büyükanit, chief of the Turkish general staff, went to the Pentagon this week to spell out the possible damaging consequences.

    "Turkey is playing the security card against the genocide bill," wrote columnist Mehmet Ali Birand of the Turkish Daily News. That meant, he said, reminding the Americans of Turkey's contributions in Afghanistan and Kosovo, its supportive ties to Israel - Ehud Olmert was in Ankara yesterday - and the way it "actively participates in communications between Iran and the US".

    The White House opposes the bill but may be unable to stop it. Meanwhile, the US is urging Turkish "outreach" to Armenia in the wake of the Hrant Dink murder.

    But new reasons for killing off the resolution are emerging every day. One is that a surge in anti-Americanism after its passage could translate into a Turkish decision to ignore Washington and send its troops into northern Iraq, with potentially disastrous consequences for US efforts to stabilise the country.

    The senior Turkish official said there was no plan to intervene and no link to the genocide bill. But Ankara is increasingly impatient over US reluctance to suppress armed PKK separatists who launch raids into south-east Turkey from Iraqi Kurdistan. And according to Asli Aydinbas, of the paper Sabah, a "limited and defined" Turkish military intervention in Iraq is already on the cards.

    "The US government believes passage of the Armenian resolution would make a cross-border operation more likely," he said. "Even a debate on the floor of the House of Representatives would end Washington's power to deter such an operation." Seen this way, the genocide bill could spark a whole new bloodbath.

    s.tisdall@guardian.co.uk




    Armenian Genocide At The Berlin Film Festival
    'The Lark Farm' Wakens Turkish Ghosts
    By Wolfgang Höbel and Alexander Smoltczyk
    The film "The Lark Farm" is sure to stir up controversy at this year's Berlin Film Festival. It takes a close look at Turkey's most sensitive taboo -- the 1915 genocide against the Armenians. Extra security has been brought in for the Wednesday evening premiere.

    All that was missing at the Festival Palace was the wave cheer, given the level of enthusiasm with which Dieter Kosslick, the festival's director, staged the opening gala of the 57th Berlin International Film Festival last Thursday. Once again, Kosslick has managed to position the German capital as a world-class film city, and this year's Berlinale again vies with past festivals in its relentless determination to deliver euphoria.

    The French film "La Vie en rose," the first film on the festival's schedule, matched the effusive mood of the event. In the film, director Olivier Dahan tells the life story of singer Edith Piaf, sumptuously portraying her descent into drug addiction and disastrous love affairs. The president of the festival's jury Paul Schrader -- himself a writer, director and film critic -- has said he sees film as a kind of museum, or cultural memory bank. It's an interpretation that clearly applies to this year's festival.

    Steven Soderbergh's black-and-white drama "The Good German," provides a good example. George Clooney portrays an American reporter in post-World War II Germany who is tragically in love with a beautiful but mysterious woman (Cate Blanchett). The American thriller "The Good Shepherd," starring Angelina Jolie, Matt Damon and Alec Baldwin and directed by Robert De Niro, is a story about the early days of the CIA. In the historical drama "Die Fälscher" ("The Counterfeiters"), Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky describes how inmates at the Nazi concentration camp in Sachsenhausen were forced to print British pound notes in a counterfeiting workshop.

    Taboo in Turkey
    But there is one film that will encounter little competition for being the most important and stirring contribution to the culture of reminiscence. It deals with the Turkish genocide of the Armenians, a topic that is still considered taboo in Turkey. Indeed, sentiments on the issue are so strong that representatives of the Turkish government are still trying to convince others to avoid the topic as well. Last week, for example, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül made it clear that relations between his country and the United States could be seriously jeopardized by a resolution proposed in the US Congress that would officially condemn the 1915 genocide committed by the Turks.

    "If this resolution is approved," Gül threatened representatives of the Bush administration, which is seeking a strategic partnership with Turkey, "why should we continue to support one another?"

    Close to a century after the Armenian genocide, the issue remains explosive. When Turkish novelist and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk had the courage to write about the genocide, he was promptly taken to court by ultra-nationalists. After the murder of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, Pamuk, fearing for his own life, fled abroad.

    The Armenian genocide is sure to become a hot-button issue in Berlin -- home to about 250,000 Turks -- where legendary directors Paolo and Vittoria Taviani will premiere their new film "The Lark Farm" on Wednesday evening. It is a shocking film about the genocide and the film's distributor is nervous. The festival management, fearing riots, has hired additional security.

    Bundles of flesh
    It is a film filled with vivid images and meaningful gestures. In one scene, a Turkish soldier stands awkwardly next to an opulently set table. He carefully picks up the soup bowl, lifts it into the air, pauses for a moment, and then slowly pours the soup over the damask tablecloth. The horror begins with the insignificant, setting the stage for the unimaginable in the most polite of ways.

    In another scene, Turkish servants suddenly refuse to unload the truck belonging to their Armenian masters, saying that it's too late in the day for work. A short time later, the masters, already earmarked for slaughter as enemies of the people, have been reduced to sobbing bundles of flesh as they beg for their lives. Such is how genocide begins.

    In their past masterpieces, "Padre Padrone" (1977) and "Notte di San Lorenzo" ("The Night of San Lorenzo") (1982), Italian directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, both well into their seventies, dealt with the human effects of persecution and political violence -- and with the desire to rebel against fate. While "The Night of San Lorenzo," an episode from the Italian resistance movement against Mussolini's fascist militia, managed to describe the senselessness of violence with the tools of absurdist comedy, "The Lark Farm" is a deeply dark melodrama.

    In the political inferno the film portrays, Moritz Bleibtreu and Paz Vega are perfectly cast as tragic lovers. "It is not a film against Turkey, on the contrary," they say, and rightfully so. But the editors who published the Danish cartoons that so inflamed the Muslim world were also in the right. "The Lark Farm" could well become the political scandal at this year's Berlinale.

    Obedience, cowardice, expediencey and vileness
    The screenplay, based on a novel by Antonia Arslan -- a literature professor who now lives in Padua -- deals with the history of Arslan's family. The novel portrays the Avakians, a respected middle-class Armenian family that lives in a provincial city, hoping that things will not take a turn for the worse. The film begins with intimate scenes of beautiful faces and women wearing long dresses, filmed in the light of a Vermeer painting. The family patriarch has died, and even the Turkish Colonel Arkan (André Dussollier) bows to pay his respects to the deceased.

    But then Arkan receives his orders from Istanbul, orders he promptly obeys. In only a few scenes, the directors depict the mixture of obedience and cowardice, of expediency and vileness that has always made ethnic cleansing and pogroms possible.

    The men and boys are crucified, castrated and hacked to pieces, and the women are sent on a starvation march into the deserts of eastern Anatolia. Nazim, a beggar (played by Palestinian filmmaker Mohammed Bakri), betrays his masters but then regrets it and attempts to at least help the women. Youssuf (Moritz Bleibtreu), a Turkish soldier, is drawn to the family's proud surviving daughter (Paz Vega) and falls in love with her. In an attempt to flee, Nunik sacrifices herself to enable her nieces to escape. When Youssuf receives his orders -- "Throw them into the fire first, then cut off their heads" -- he decapitates Nunik to save her from being burned alive.

    The outstanding performances -- and the sheer incomprehensibility of the events -- keep the film from descending into sentimentality, despite the costumes and the over-abundance of stage blood. The Tavianis have managed to produce images the film's viewers will regret having seen, because these are the kinds of images one has trouble forgetting. This is both the film's achievement and its curse.

    Watching the film is almost unbearable. According to some eyewitnesses, soldiers gave Armenian mothers the option of killing their newborn boys themselves. Others say that women were forced to place their babies in a rucksack and stand back-to-back with another woman, their arms interlocked and... One doesn't want to know or see what actually happened.

    A muffled silence
    This is what Vittorio Taviani has to say about it: "The murder of the innocent has been a part of theater history since the Greeks, since Shakespeare. Three years ago we discovered the Armenian tragedy, almost by accident, when we read the book by Antonia Arslan. We wanted to tell it with the means at our disposal."

    Arsinée Khanjian, a Canadian of Armenian heritage who lost part of her own family, plays the role of Armineh Avakian. In one scene the severed head of her husband is thrown into her lap. "She was adamant about acting in our film. She felt that it was a sort of obligation to her murdered great-grandparents. We promised her that we would only shoot this scene once, and without rehearsal," says Paolo Taviani. "According to the script, she was supposed to scream. But all that came out was a muffled silence. We left it that way."

    The Armenians were Christians, often educated and affluent. As such, they made for the ideal fifth column when the Ottoman Empire attacked Russia. But the Ottomans lost the war. According to the official version in Ankara, the Armenians had to be resettled during the war, and most of them died as a result of disease and at the hands of Kurdish tribes. But many contest that version.

    "One million Armenians were murdered. This is something hardly anyone dares to say," said Orhan Pamuk prior to his winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. His words immediately made Pamuk the victim of nationalist, hate-mongering propaganda. The persecution and murder of the Armenian minority remains the foremost trauma of the founding of modern Turkey.

    It was, in fact, the "young Turks," those who were eager to found a new and modern state, who issued the orders which led to the deaths of the Armenians. Recognizing the genocide as such would be tantamount to admitting that the spiritual founders of modern Turkey were men who today would be easily convicted of war crimes by the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. And yet the majority of officers charged with crimes against the Armenians were promptly released after the war.

    Efforts in vain
    For the past 70 years, Hollywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has had plans to film the Armenian epic "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh," by Czech-born poet, playwright and novelist Franz Werfel. And Sylvester Stallone has likewise recently indicated he would be interested in making the movie. But the project was repeatedly shelved for political reasons. Keeping NATO's eastern flank happy was apparently more important that bringing justice to a minority that had already been heavily decimated.

    Even today the European Union avoids using the word "genocide," anxious not to cast a shadow on the negotiations over Turkey's bid for EU membership.

    The film is an Italian-French-Bulgarian-Spanish co-production. Turkey's delegate to the European film fund Eurimage attempted to put a stop to the Taviani project. But this time Turkey's efforts were in vain.

    Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan




    Turkeys needs confidence, not fear
    February 16, 2007
    HANS A.H.C. DE WIT
    Istanbul cannot be renamed Constantinople anymore: Istanbul is already a brand name

    Is Turkey acting responsibly in the international scene? Looking at it from the point of view of an independent communication manager, I would say “no,” at least “not always.” Turkey wants to be loved very much and as everyone knows, if you are desperately seeking love, you won't get it.

    Actually, Turkey is facing hot issues these days, mainly unsolved problems of the past. Problems which became ghosts haunting Turkish identity: the alleged Armenian genocide (or shall we call it, for a change, democide) and Cyprus. There is also the ongoing hostility with some of Turkey's neighbors, like Armenia, Greece (still) and Iraq. But to make these things clear, Turkey must withhold its traditional way of reacting in order to become a serious and rational sparring and business partner. International statesmen and diplomats always appear rational and employ PR agents to guide them and make them understandable. Why not in Turkey? Since when is nationalism more important than the prosperity and health of a nation and its citizens? Nationalism becomes more and more an empty word these days.

    What to do in a colorful world:
    Is Turkey reliable for peace and security in the region? For sure, most Turks believe that they protected Europe from communism. They have a point, but the international arena has changed dramatically. The current situation in the Middle East is in fact a perfect chance for Turkey to show its negotiating skills since its has good relations with all countries in this region. But somehow, its image as a former conqueror doesn't help. Turkey has done a terrible job in convincing the world that its intentions since Atatürk are sincere; that it can bring mediation to the region and can be a stabilizer of importance. None of the Muslim Arabic countries can fulfill this duty or has the intention to do so.

    For a regional superpower, Turkey is acting static, like the Bosporus Bridge: but Turkey is both East and West.

    Unfortunately for Turkey, the world today is colorblind and you need several glasses to understand what's really going on: the Republicans in the United States are using the color red as their national symbol. The European socialists promote themselves with red roses. The U.S. left Democrats are using blue as their party color while the Dutch and German right wing liberals associate themselves with blue. The Greens in Europe are on the left while the Green money of the Middle East is considered in Turkey as Islamic. How ironic... How confusing...

    So how can Turkey position itself in this colorful world? A Red Flag is obviously inadequate; one must show it has more to offer. To be a reliable partner you cannot be changing course all the time, but more important: you have to send consistent and coherent signals and stick to your course set by Atatürk.

    Turkey has to follow the modern trends, but does not need to blindly follow the “West.” In reputation management this means: work from your own strengths and stop trying to cover your weaknesses - in short, improve yourself.

    Enough with militarism:
    The fact that most Turks trust the military more than their government gives the impression of a non-democratic and aggressive country, despite being involved in peace keeping operations for the last 50 years in Korea, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia and recently Lebanon. Did anyone notice this in the EU? Yes, but nobody is really aware of this and it seems that Turkey doesn't get any credits for it. Or is the EU suspicious of Turkey's peacekeeping efforts since its significance is lessened by the influence the military still exerts in Turkish politics?

    A country must be governed by its institutions, not by its mighty military presence. Take a look at Israel and you understand what I mean. Israel is - as Turkey should be - ruled by elected politicians, not by generals. The several coupes d'etats in Turkey harmed the country's image more than the movie Midnight Express, which dehumanized the Turkish population at large.

    Turkey and Israel share something in common: both are states surrounded by those who in many aspects don't accept them. And both capitals are still under threat, for different reasons. But Istanbul cannot be renamed Constantinople anymore: Istanbul is already a brand name! Istanbul will be the European cultural capital of 2010. The European cultural capital?! What more can be said…

    Hans A.H.C. de Wit is an international communication manager based in Istanbul and Amsterdam. (dewithco@consultant.com)


    'Facing history' at Bilgi University
    February 15, 2007
    Istanbul - Turkish Daily News

    Istanbul Bilgi University will host an international conference titled “From the Burden of the Past to Societal Peace and Democracy.” The conference intends to analyze the terms "nation" and "society" by sharing international experiences and by focusing on Turkey in forum events.

    The conference, co-organized with Bilgi University and the German Heinrich Böll Stiftung Foundation, will take place in the Dolapdere campus of the university on Feb. 24 and 25. Local academics Murat Belge, Ahmet İnsel, Turgut Tarhanlı, Tanıl Bora, and Avni Özgürel will discuss their perspectives on Turkey's past while participants from Germany, South Africa, Beirut, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brussels and Austria will share their own experiences. Joost Lagendijk, the European Union-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Commission co-chairman, will give a speech on “Europe as a place for common memory.”

    Last year, the conference "Ottoman Armenians During the Decline of the Empire: Issues of Scientific Responsibility and Democracy," organized by historians from three of Turkey's leading universities, Bogaziçi, Istanbul Bilgi and Sabanci, was cancelled in May after Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek's reaction to the content of the conference which included debating Armenian claims of genocide. Some Turkish citizens opposed the cancellation while nationalist groups threatened the organizers. Finally, a two-day conference took place under high security in October.




    Analysts: ‘Vigilante’ group offensive
    For scholars, groups that are organized “to do what is necessary” on the grounds that Turkey is under threat, and which have recently garnered attention with an oath-taking ceremony and made arrangements for armed training in Düzce, is horrendous.

    Scholars and legal experts find the groups that interpret patriotism in ways “contrary to its nature” as contrary to democratic pluralism. Professor Atilla Yayla said, “To get organized in order to save the country under the illusion of some imaginary enemy is offensive.”

    Ahmet İyimaya, a politician and a lawyer, pointed out: “Such organizations are contrary to the nature of nationalism and of democratic pluralism. These should be considered superficial and deviant behaviors.” Chairman of Parliamentary Constitutional Committee Professor Burhan Kuzu said that Turkey would overcome these problems with the help of the rule of law.

    Retired Col. Fikri Karadağ is chairman of National Forces Association. It recently gained attention with an oath-taking ceremony in Mersin, claiming to have a list of “13,500 traitors,” which they would disclose when the time came. Arguing that the country was in danger, Col. Karadağ called on patriots to assume their duties: “If you continue to remain silent, you will start to live as foreigners in your own homeland.”
    In response to Today’s Zaman’s questions, İyimaya said that nationalism would not accept such superficiality. For İyimaya, nationalism is a misunderstood concept.

    “Nationalism is construed in ways contrary to its nature. However, nationalism that is not based on cultural or ethnical origins and that aims to ensure national development and welfare is a supreme, common value,” he said.
    İyimaya pointed out: “In Turkey, there is a tendency toward perceiving institutions, concepts or values in terms of their negative aspects, not of their essential and positive characteristics. Discriminatory nationalism or a nationalism which humiliates other nations was a disease of the 19th century. No nationalism, especially Turkish nationalism, can and will allow such shallowness.”

    Yayla finds the images of oath-taking as dreadful. “In democracies, these acts cannot be considered normal. This implies that some self-commissioned groups attempted to eradicate the rule of law and replace legitimate institutions,” he pointed out.

    Yayla stated that “Nobody is entitled to initiate such an organization by assuming duties on his own. If Turkey was under occupation and official and legitimate security forces of Turkey were unable to resist this occupation, and if the ordinary people had no choice but to act on their own, such organizations could be regarded as normal. But Turkey has an operational legal system. There are public organizations in charge of security. There are organizations which are commissioned by law and which are accountable.”

    15.02.2007
    ALİ ASLAN KILIÇ ANKARA



    Support Turkey to Win in Iraq
    Scott Sullivan
    February 14, 2007
    © 2005-2007 The Conservative Voice
    Republicans should ignore the White House happy talk that it is winning the war on terrorism. Instead, the US is losing Turkey as an ally and is surrendering Iraq to Iran.

    US-Turkish relations will reach the point of no return with the vote on the Armenian genocide resolution, now scheduled in April. This resolution is favored to pass. With this vote the Congress will deeply alienate Turkey, a key NATO ally in the war on terrorism. Meanwhile, the White House is further alienating Turkey by favoring Iran and the Kurds in Iraq, especially the Kurds by awarding them control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. US decisions on Armenian genocide and Kirkuk will humiliate Turkey. The Turkish government will retaliate against the Kurds, a response that could easily derail US plans for Iraq and the US war on terrorism in general.

    To begin with Iraq, Turkey sees US policy in Iraq as hostile and directed and in favor of Iran and the Kurds. Turkey looks behind the White House rhetoric against Iran and notes that the US and Iran are now quietly cooperating in support of Prime Minister Maliki’s government. Turkey anticipates that this US-Iranian cooperation will deepen as pressure builds in Congress, thanks to the Democrats, for an early withdrawal of US troops.

    To be specific, the US needs to find a partner so that it can hand over power as it withdraws from Iraq. From Turkey’s perspective, the new US partner in Iraq will be Iran, not Turkey.

    Even more alarming from Turkey’s perspective is the fear that Kurdistan also benefits from US policy. In fact, the new state of Kurdistan, under US military protection, is already emerging on Iraq’s territory. Turkey is concerned that this new Kurdistan will encourage rebellion by Turkey’s own Kurds and the PKK. A PKK insurgency in Turkey claimed 30,000 lives in the mid-1990’s.

    Turkey is now fearful that their worst fears about US policy are justified as the US and Iraq prepare to turn over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk to Kurdistan via a referendum scheduled for December of this year (Kirkuk is located just outside Kurdistan’s territory and is claimed by Kurdistan). Kurdistan’s acquisition of Kirkuk would be an enormous humiliation for Turkey, as has been made clear by repeated statements from the Turkish government, largely ignored by the Bush Administration.

    Turkey’s concerns over Kirkuk will be magnified by Turkey’s defeat at the hands of congressional democrats on the Armenian genocide resolution. It now appears a sure bet that congress will pass an Armenian genocide resolution before Kirkuk passes into Kurdistan’s control.

    In sum, Turkey faces a crisis due to the Kirkuk referendum and the congressional vote on the Armenian genocide resolution. So far, the White House has given no sign that it can help with Congress on the genocide resolution and refuses to postpone Kirkuk’s referendum in December.

    Turkey can do little or nothing about the Armenian genocide resolution. Indeed, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Biden and Senator Reid all conspicuously snubbed Turkish Foreign Minister Gul when he requested meetings last week to discuss the resolution.

    Turkey can, however, do something about the Kirkuk referendum. Indeed, Turkey’s defeat on the genocide resolution greatly increases the pressure on Turkey’s government to block the referendum, as it has vowed to do. Turkey has both the military capability and the influence in Kirkuk’s political affairs to block the referendum.

    In short, Turkey’s actions on Kirkuk will derail President Bush’s plan for Iraq and his war on terrorism, where Iraq is the centerpiece, as Bush has often stated. Bush’s policy in Iraq of handing over power, while withdrawing forces, to Iran and Kurdistan will go by the wayside, a victim of Democratic Party activism against Turkey and Turkey’s retaliation against Kurdistan. For those who had doubts about the Bush plan for Iraq all along, these developments will come as welcome relief. Iran and Kurdistan will be the big losers.




    Man-To-Man Marking
    13 February 2007
    Turkish Press
    Following are the highlights from today's Turkish daily SABAH. The Anadolu Agency is not responsible of opinions expressed or the context of the editorials and does not vouch for their accuracy: "Turkish Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc and FM Abdullah Gul held a meeting quietly after a bill on so-called Armenian genocide was submitted to U.S. Congress.

    According to their decision, 16 Turkish MPs will be dispatched to Washington for man-to-man marking at the US Congress (to avoid the passing of the bill)," wrote Sabah's columnist Metehan Demir.

    Ankara is getting prepared for a historical 'invasion' of Washington to block the bill on the so-called Armenian genocide, which is expected to be adopted at U.S. Congress in April.

    Recently after some Congressmen --who are representing Armenian interests in the United States-- presented the bill, FM Gul and Arinc held a meeting and decided to take action urgently.

    According to the decision of Gul and Arinc, 16 Turkish deputies, who has good command of English and experienced in foreign politics, will be in Washington from February 10th till the end of March, and will try to convince U.S. Congressmen.

    First delegation will leave in the week Feb. 10-17. It will be comprised of Yasar Yakis, Mehmet Dulger, Gulsum Bilgehan Toker, Murat Mercan and Erol Cebeci.

    The second delegation which has to leave between Feb. 24th and March 3rd, will be comprised of Saban Disli, Ibrahim Ozal, Inal Batu, Vahit Erdem, Necdet Budak and Yakup Kepenek. The third delegation which will include close names to Prime Minister will be in Washington between March 11th and 18th. Egemen Bagis, Reha Denemec, Zeynep Damla Gurel, Sukru Elekdag and Mevlut Cavusoglu will be part of this group.

    Washington operation will not be limited to those initiatives. The Union of Chambers & Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) will also send 32 more deputies who know the United States well and have close contact with prominent figures there. This delegation will closely follow-up U.S. business community.

    FM Gul will leave for Washington this weekend and will carry the message "if the bill on the so-called Armenian genocide is adopted, our strategic partnership will grow worse".

    On the other hand, Premier Erdogan's foreign policy advisor Egemen Bagis is pursuing lobbying activities which he started a while ago in political circles and think- tank organizations in the United States.

    The bill will be debated first in foreign affairs committee of the House of Representatives. If it is adopted in the committee, it will be sent to general assembly.

    Afterwards it will be within the capacity of Chairperson Nancy Pelosi (who is known as an Armenian friend), whether to put it to vote or not.




    Gül's Serious Mistake
    Cüneyt Ülsever
    TDN
    The foreign minister’s remark in Washington, 'We cannot contain the public if the Armenian genocide bill passes,' is very open to provocative utilization. One of the goals of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül's visit to the United States was to prevent, to whatever extent possible, the seemingly inevitable passing of the Armenian genocide bill by Congress. The minister's efforts in this cause, even if they prove to be in vain, are both a consequence of his rights and his responsibility. The passing of this bill in Congress will deal the biggest blow in history to U.S.-Turkey relations. It is the minister's responsibility to warn against such a situation.

    However, I think that one of his remarks was unfortunate and very open to misinterpretation and use as provocation.

    …Gül said that, in the case that the [Armenian] bill is accepted at the House of Representatives, there will be a real shock in Turkey' and that the Turkish government could not contain the demands by the public to halt cooperation with the United States… (Hürriyet Web site, Feb. 08).

    This remark is truly unfortunate at a time when Turkish public opinion has been divided over the Hrant Dink murder, the concepts of good and evil have been mixed, the public is on edge, ethnic nationalism is gaining pace, and a general climate of pessimism prevails.

    The bill will most probably pass in Congress, which will vote on it before Apr. 24. Around this date Turkey will be choosing its 11th president; perhaps preparing for Abdullah Gül's term as prime minister.

    Remember the dark days of September:
    I would like to remind Gül of the recent past: The events of Sept. 6-7, 1955. As Wikipedia reports, on Sept. 6, 1955, while officials of Foreign Ministry were conducting their meetings in London over the Cyprus issue, news was broadcast over Turkish radios that a bomb had exploded in Atatürk's house in Thessalonica. The news stories were false. However, during the subsequent events between 13 and 16 Greeks and one Armenian died and 32 Greeks were seriously injured. The material damage amounted to 4,348 shops and more than 1,000 homes owned by Greeks, 110 hotels, 27 pharmacies, 23 schools, 21 factories and 73 churches.

    The economic damage was calculated at 69.5 million Turkish lira, according to the Turkish government; 100 million pounds, according to English diplomatic sources; $150 million, according to the World Church Association; and $500 million according to the Greek Government. The Democratic Party (DP) government paid 60 million Turkish lira in compensation to those who registered their losses. After the attack the Greek predominance in the Turkish economy started to dissolve and Turkish dominance in the capital accelerated. As a result of the emigration in the aftermath of these events the Greek minority in Turkey has dwindles to almost nothing. The number of Greeks in Istanbul was 200,000 in 1924 and 1,500 in 2005.

    One of my readers informed me that, on Sept. 6, 1955, the then-Foreign Minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu uttered in London similar words to Gül's.

    The words Gül has pronounced only to alert the United States can be manipulated in an anti-American or anti-Armenian a provocation in the future, claiming they are the orders of the minister. The goal of this article is to prevent such a provocation with an early warning system and save the minister from such accusations.

    I expect there to be all sorts of provocations in the time leading up to the presidential elections. I think that political figures in particular need to pay a lot of attention to their remarks.

    I wrote this article thinking that the politicians' competition of late about who is more nationalist? is generating an environment and creating an excuse for these troubled times.




    Mass Grave Outside Of Mardin To Be Opened By International Delegation
    Hürriyet
    Mass grave outside of Mardin to be opened by international delegationAssertions made in an article in the Turkish magazine "Nokta" last year that mass Armenian graves could be found in the town of Nusaybin outside of the city of Mardin were taken up by Swedish professor David Gaunt, who then brought these assertions to the attention of the Swedish Parliament.

    Gaunt's accusations have elicited a response from the head of the Turkish History Foundation (TTK), Professor Yusuf Halacoglu, who has invited all interested parties to come to Turkey and participate together in an opening up the gravesite in question. Professor Halacoglu, who subsequently received an affirmative answer from Professor Gaunt, said the following regarding the situation:

    "Professor Gaunt has said that he would be pleased to cooperate in the opening up of the gravesite in the Mardin area town of Nusaybin. However, he has some preconditions: During digging, he wants complete freedom in the region. In addition, he is requesting the opportunity to speak with anyone in the area who claims to know something about these mass graves....We have naturally accepted all of these demands. In fact, we have said that we are prepared to meet any needs that his delegation may have while in Turkey. We suggested that March would be a good time, as the weather would be perfect. Now we are waiting for the confirmation that they will in fact come."

    Professor Halacoglu noted that if the mass grave in question does in fact turn out to hold the bodies of Armenians and/or Suryanis, he will be prepared to apologize in a public press conference, but if not, he is expecting that Professor Gaunt will apologize.




    Mumcu: Genocide Is Invention Of West
    New Anatolian
    Motherland Party (ANAVATAN) leader Erkan Mumcu yesterday criticized Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul for his recent U.S. visit where he claimed Gul was lectured about the Armenian genocide resolution set for debate in the U.S. House of Representatives. "They say Turkey should face its past," Mumcu said of U.S. congressmen, adding that the homeland of crimes against humanity is the West. "No one has right to scold out foreign minister, our nation," said Mumcu, adding that the West should first face its history.

    The only mistake of the foreign minister is his failure to counter their words, said Mumcu, adding that Gul failed to tell them that they invented the genocide and that they made the Armenians and Turks kill each other during World War I.

    Apart from the so-called genocide claims, the West all but orders Turkey to annul Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Article 301, said Mumcu. "What is their problem with 301?" he asked, calling the law a regulation penalizing insults to the state and the nation. "The meaning of their insistence is doing away with the block before insults to the nation."

    He also said that his party is not seeking a pre-election alliance with other political parties, responding to criticism of his meeting with former True Path Party (DYP) leader Tansu Ciller.

    He said that he never hold talks with people without prior notice.

    Mumcu also scolded main opposition party leader Deniz Baykal for his attitude towards May's presidential election, saying that one cannot elect a president as if looking for a bride.

    He said that presidential debate wastes the country's time and money.




    George Bush Against Armenian Genocide Bill
    APA
    The US President George Bush wrote to the House of Representatives expressing his disagreement with the approval of the bill on Armenian genocide, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said, APA reports. He said that Bush administration is against the bill and will do its best to impede the approval of the bill. Gul said if the bill is approved, US-Turkey relations will face crisis.

    “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also promised to do her best to prevent the bill,” he said.
    Armenian lobby is going to submit analogous bill to the Senate. Pro-Armenian congressmen Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg wrote to Tom Lantos, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that Turkey blackmails the US which is inadmissible. They say Ankara threatens Washington with suspension of transportation foodstuff, fuel, weapons to the US servicemen in Iraq through Turkey.

    The bill on alleged Armenian genocide will be first discussed at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.




    When nationalism fails
    ANDREW FINKEL a.finkel@todayszaman.com
    “When Prophesy Fails” -- a famous sociological treatise written some time ago -- looked at what happened to the beliefs of a millenarian sect when the world did not end at 8 a.m. on Dec. 21, 1953, and flying saucers demonstrably did not come to rescue members of the sect the previous day. It was a pioneering study in the concept of cognitive dissonance -- that uncomfortable feeling when reality appears to contradict belief. The author, Leon Festinger, hypothesized that the group, rather than accept they might be wrong, would seek ways to reinforce the truths they knew. This indeed turned out to be the case. Whereas previously they been closed and secretive, after prophesy failed the sect members went to the newspapers and attempting to recruit new members by asserting that the pristine quality of their beliefs had saved the world.

    Although I last read the book decades ago, I remember a particularly vivid incident. Festinger was eager to get first hand observations of the group, so he dispatched two graduate students to investigate. They pretended to be members of the public wanting to join the sect and were welcomed with open arms -- although not for the reasons they expected. The sectarians assumed that the two students were an advance party from the planet Clarion, comubf to whisk them away. Try as they could, the pair could not dissuade their hosts who nodded and winked at their protestations.

    The reason I remembered this is that I felt similarly flummoxed this week as I sat in the office of the president of the National Forces Association (Kuvay-ı Milliye Derneği), a right-wing group dedicated to the defense of the nation. Try as I could, I could not disabuse him of his believe that I was not so much an alien come to Turkey’s rescue, but an agent of a foreign intelligence service hell bent on the country’s dismemberment. I realized that when he used the expression “siz” (you) he was not referring to me but my masters back at Langley.

    Col. Fikri Karadağ is by no means an unsophisticated man, although some of his views on world trade and the flow of capital I found unconvincing. He sees Turkey under threat from American imperialism but has no quarrel with Microsoft or Coca-Cola. Ozal’s opening up of the economy was a good thing, but he seemed to live in a pre-Ozal universe when the greatest threat to the economy was perceived as wealthy Turks smuggling assets abroad. One of the things he believes strongly is foreigners should not be allowed to buy property in Turkey. On this point at least, I suggested, there was reciprocity. Turkish citizens, with the exception of Swiss cantons, can buy property throughout the Europe and America, but he simply could not accept this might be so.

    It was more difficult to discuss the case for Turkey entering the EU. His argument was not that Turkey shouldn’t join but that there was absolutely no possibility of Europe letting it in. All the silly things that Ankara had done to appease Brussels, like abolishing the death penalty, it had done in vain.

    “What happiness to the one who can say ‘I am a Turk’” appears proudly on the Kuvay-i Milliye Web page (below a graphic display critical of those who tried to identify with the murdered Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink), but I have to say the people in the organization’s headquarters did not appear content with life. They seemed angry at the world, disappointed in post-war history of their country and complained of being mal-administered since the death of Atatürk nearly 70 years ago. The solution is not to join the many movements for better governance, but to eliminate the perpetrators -- those who have tried to obscure the light of Turkish purity from shining through.

    All this would be of academic interest if this institutionalized suspicion of reality were not becoming the dominant discourse from television serials to newspaper headlines. Like Festinger’s millenarians, much of Turkey is banding together, united by some notion of purity to save itself from the flood, a catastrophe of its own devising.
    15.02.2007




    The troubles of being a hegemon
    IBRAHIM KALIN i.kalin@todayszaman.com
    The Bush administration’s troubles in the Middle East and at home show no sign of diminishing. More and more Americans are coming forward to call the US policy in Iraq a total disaster. Their remedy is immediate withdrawal from Iraq. But there is more to US troubles than the mismanagement of an unjustified war. After much fanfare, the Bush administration’s “new strategy on Iraq” turned out to be similar to shooting in the dark hoping that some shots will hit their target. Sending more troops to Iraq without pressuring the Maliki government to stop sectarian violence was received with more suspicion than ever. Many Iraqis believe more American troops will lead to more attacks and violence. So far, the calls for engaging Iran and Syria to stabilize Iraq fell on deaf ears at the White House. While everyone is fixated on Iraq because of the appalling number of deaths everyday, Afghanistan is boiling. The war of words between the Afghani and Pakistani presidents is indicative of deeper troubles. There is now a broad consensus that Americans should leave Iraq sooner than later. And prepare for the consequences of doing so.

    Most recently, Nicholas Kristof (New York Times, Feb.13) joined David Ignatius (Washington Post, Feb. 8) in calling for a swift withdrawal from Iraq. There seems to be no way out of the quagmire that the Bush administration finds itself in Iraq. The assumption that an immediate US withdrawal will lead to chaos and violence appears to be more open to question. According to some news reports, most Iraqis see a US withdrawal as a step towards the cessation, not escalation, of violence. Once the American troops leave, the insurgents, they argue, will have little excuse to fight. As for the sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites, the Iraqis themselves will have to find a way to somehow stop it. The growing sentiment in both Iraq and the US is that it is time for the Americans to leave.
    There is no doubt that more mistakes in Iraq will not only lead to more violence in Baghdad and beyond, but more instability in the region, with disastrous consequences for Turkey, Iran and other Arab countries.

    As the Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül made clear in his visit to the US last week, Turkey will not sit and wait forever for Americans to pretend to do something about the PKK camps in Northern Iraq. (The Armenian genocide bill will make things absolutely worse). Iran will not tolerate any more bullying from Washington and, if cornered, is ready to use its capacity to mobilize its Shiite friends to make things far more difficult for Americans. Arab countries are already tired of American mistakes in the region and will not keep silent for much longer. Putin’s recent visit to the Middle East and especially Saudi Arabia (and the King’s projected visit to Moscow) speaks volumes about the search for new alliances and balances of power, even among America’s usually compliant allies in the region.

    The problem, however, is not specific policies towards Iran or Iraq but one of hegemonic power. As the only superpower of a unipolar world order, the US can no longer pretend that we live in a multi-polar world while acting like it is ruling the world. The Cold War was a convenient global order for the US since it provided every excuse to amass unlimited power and use it as it willed. The fundamental mistake of the neo-cons and those who attribute a semi-divine mission and thus legitimacy to American power, is their failure to admit the problems of being a hegemonic power. A hegemony that defines the rules of the games and changes them as it sees fit is no one’s friend. In this sense, a possible change in the White House in 2008 will not mean much unless a change of minds and hearts takes place.

    A global politics driven by the endless fantasies of being the only hegemonic power (and remaining that way) will not bring peace and stability to anyone. A global balance of power based on justice and equality for all is the only way American power can transform itself from being a hegemon to an honest ally and partner. Unless Americans, Democrat or Republican, confront the realities of being a hegemonic power and do something substantial about it, America will create more enemies and its troubles will continue to spill over beyond Iraq and Afghanistan.
    15.02.2007




    Turkey apprehensive about US Congress Armenian resolution
    FATMA DISLI f.disli@todayszaman.com
    Turkey is working intensively to prevent the passage of the Armenian resolution in the US Congress that will recognize the events of 1915 as genocide. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül and Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt's visits to the US were mainly aimed at preventing the resolution from passing. Turkey is constantly warning the US about the deterioration of bilateral relations if the resolution is adopted. Now it is a matter of conjecture as to what Turkey should do, what the Bush administration should do and what will be the fate of Turkey-US relations if the resolution is adopted.

    Yeni Şafak's Fehmi Koru says the Armenian resolution is of no importance to the ordinary American but is very crucial for Turkey. There are very few people in Washington who can understand that Turkey-US relations will be dealt a harsh blow if the US adopts the Armenian resolution, he urges. Koru thinks a majority of Turks in the US might say, "Let's hope they pass the resolution and we will be relieved," as he complains that Turkey expends a lot of energy almost every year on the issue. "If we take a look at the concessions we make every year in order to prevent the passage of the resolution which comes onto the agenda every year, the picture might surprise us," he asserts. Koru also says that those in the US who are aware of the importance of the issue for Turkey think that the resolution will not pass in the Congress. "A common opinion says that the pressure imposed on the Bush administration over the past two weeks will bear fruit and the Bush administration will not allow the adoption of this resolution as it does not want to lose its ally," mentions Koru. He complains about a lack of a permanent solution from Turkey amid all these controversies. He says Turkey needs to come up with a new formula for the Armenian resolution issue.

    Radikal's Murat Yetkin talks about possible options the Bush administration could resort to for prevention of passage of the resolution. He recalls that the Bush administration had announced it would try to prevent voting for the resolution, which if adopted will recognize April 24 as "a commemoration day for the Armenian genocide" as promised by Pelosi. Yetkin explains that the Bush administration might resort to two ways to convince Pelosi. One of them is the Jewish lobby which knows that a possible US-Turkey disagreement would negatively affect Turkey's relations with Israel. The second is the arms lobby which fears that Turkey's reaction to the passage of the resolution might cause cancellations or postponements of profitable defense and armament contracts with Turkey. He further comments that the Bush administration also fears that Turkey may prevent the use of the İncirlik air base, which will exacerbate the already critical situation in Iraq. Yetkin notes another method the Bush administration could employ to convince Democrats. He says the administration may hold the Democrats responsible for the bad situation in Iraq ahead of the presidential elections blaming them for disturbing an important ally of the US, all for a subject of no interest to the US.

    Posta's Mehmet Ali Birand questions what the possible consequences will be if the Armenian resolution is adopted: will Turkey be made to pay indemnity or give land. He explains that passage of the resolution in the House of Representatives will not legalize this resolution but it should also be approved by the Senate. If it passes in the House of Representatives and gets stuck in the Senate, it will just the boost the morale of the Armenians and will not be binding. "We should keep in mind that it will not be the end of the world if the resolution passes and Turkey-US relations are damaged," asserts Birand. However, Birand says even if it passes in the House of Representatives, it will be a black a stain on the heads of our grandchildren.
    15.02.2007




    Three errors in the debate on nationalism
    First, because of the mindset we are in, we create grounds for the accusations directed at us, losing sight of the truth that the real source of racism is found in the West.
    The equation works like this: If the factors behind Hrant Dink's death are Turkish racism and hatred of foreigners, then why wouldn't the same factors exist behind the Armenian "genocide"? Second, the Hrant Dink murder is handled in the context of both nationalism and the deep state. It is clear that a youth filled with nationalist sentiment who commits a murder and a deep state that gets rid of someone it has determined to be a target are two completely different things. My third point is that, contrary to popular belief, not a single public opinion poll has shown an increase in nationalist or neo-nationalist tendencies in this nation.

    15.02.2007
    ABDÜLHAMİT BİLİCİ, ZAMAN



    Pentagon and the CIA on the move for the bill
    February 14, 2007
    MEHMET ALI BIRAND
    This bill will mean that Turkey is disgraced and that this is made a fact by the world’s only super power. We must prevent our grandchildren from suffering such a shame

    Our agenda next week will be dominated by the Armenian genocide bill in the U.S. Congress.

    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül has concluded his meetings. Now Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt is in Washington. The foreign minister has warned the Bush administration with a combination of persuasion and threat. Büyükanıt, on the other hand, will activate the military authorities. Furthermore, as per their demand, he will be meeting with Vice-President Dick Cheney and one of the most prominent figures of the House of Representatives, Tom Lantos.

    Turkey is playing the “security” card against the Armenian genocide bill.

    Turkey is contributing to the NATO force in Afghanistan by sending soldiers…

    It also reinforces the NATO force in Kosovo …

    Along with the United States, it plays a substantial role in the Caucasus (especially in the Armenian-Georgian-Azerbaijani triangle)…

    It acts in conjunction with the United States on Israel's security issues and the dialogue with Palestinians…

    In the Iranian dispute, it actively participates in the communication between Iran and the United States and the European Union and acts as an unofficial moderator…

    It acts as an “intermediary station” on the petroleum route to satisfy Western Europe's need…

    It gives considerable support to the United States in Iraq.

    Both Gül and Büyükanıt put this list in front of the U.S. administrators and asked:

    “…What good will it do to risk such a vital collaboration, such a profound relationship just to satisfy a couple of thousand Armenians?”

    It is really a hard choice.

    It has been engraved in the American public's conscience that Armenians have endured genocide, that even though the Ottomans are responsible, Turkey, if only as heir to the Ottomans, should at least apologize. The bill is seen both as a duty towards this conscience and as a potential benefit for votes in the political arena.

    On the other hand, there is the concern over damaging relations with Turkey.

    The Bush administration plans to prevent this bill, which it regards as against its security interests, with its security staff's presentation in the Congress. The statement “I will get the generals by my side and go to Congress” by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the request for a meeting by Vice-President Cheney to Büyükanıt are seen as considerable steps in that direction.

    Other important developments of the past week were reports full of warnings by both the CIA and the Pentagon sent to Congress. This is interpreted as meaning “the button has been pushed.”

    Büyükanıt's meetings in Washington this week are seen as essential in this respect.

    Should the bill pass, Ankara's response and how this will affect the military relations are among the most speculated questions.

    Will all this campaigning suffice to prevent the bill?

    The Jewish lobby should use its influence:
    Another segment that Ankara has been monitoring closely is the powerful Jewish lobby in Washington.

    Drawing attention to Turkey's direct and indirect support to Israel's security, Turkish authorities say “We cannot accept our Jewish friends' watching the developments from afar. They need to use their influence.” Saying, “If the Jewish lobby does not oppose the Armenian genocide bill, they should not expect the same support from us,” a high-level government official who closely observes the process in Washington indicated that Büyükanıt will repeat this message during his Washington meetings.

    This subject will be the backbone of Büyükanıt's meeting with the Jewish-American member of the House of Representatives Tom Lantos. Lantos usually supports Turkey. On the other hand, he showed great reaction against the invitation of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to Ankara and his doubts about the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have increased due to this. The questions Lantos will be asking Büyükanıt and the answers he will be getting will be watched closely.

    What will we do if the bill passes?:
    The number of questions has increased lately. The question I encounter the most is this: “What will happen if the U.S. Congress accepts the Armenian genocide bill? What will we lose? Will they convince us to pay compensation or will they force us to give land?”

    According to the bill, the U.S. government will identify the events of 1915 as “genocide.” However, even in this case Turkey will not be asked to give remuneration or give up territory. The reason for this is that all claims of land owed by or due to the Ottoman Empire were either concluded with the Lausanne Treaty or mutually dropped.

    Then why do we make such a fuss about it?

    Leave the U.S. Congress do whatever they want.

    Not so fast…

    This bill, even if it passes the House of Representatives and remains out of date or if it passes at the Senate to be made into law, will mean that Turkey is disgraced and that this is made a fact by the world's only super power. We must prevent our grandchildren from suffering such a shame. But we must also know well what awaits us at the end of the road.

    Let us not forget that the passing of the bill will not mean the end of the world and that the Turkish-U.S. relations will survive under all conditions.




    ‘Armenian genocide’ as the Zildjian Secret Alloy
    February 14, 2007
    GÖKHAN YÜCEL
    The upcoming ‘genocide bill’ will be similar to the Zildjian secret alloy: It will be made in the United Stated under an Armenian name and its resonance will be essentially felt in Turkey.

    As the saying goes: “Good wine needs no brush.” It is hard to ignore the fact that neither diplomacy nor the myth of strategic alliance has managed to prevent the “Affirmation of the U.S. Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution” from hitting an all-time high. The supporters of the long-established U.S.-Turkish amity, as well as the arms companies, are wringing their hands, while the “genocide bill” campaigners have already started to celebrate victory. Upon his return from last week's visit to Washington, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül brought back to Ankara the echoes of these cheering voices from the United States for further discussion. In Turkey Gül found a disappointed public opinion that had learnt how his request for a meeting had been rejected by Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives and the acting figurehead of the “pro-Armenian” league. This threw cold water in the face of the government's optimistic hopes of somehow escaping the “genocide” crisis.

    The new iron lady:
    Pelosi's pledge to accomplish the recognition of the “genocide” confirms the suspected image of an uncompromising iron lady. Here, one should understand her role well. Since 1987 she has been the representative from the eighth district of California, where the Armenian population is dense. She is also an active member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues. This body consists of the co-sponsors of the legislative motion that was introduced in the House of Representatives by long-time Armenian issues supporters Adam Schiff (D-CA), George Radanovich (R-CA) and Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), together with Congressmen Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI). Thus far 160 lawmakers have joined the caucus – 102 Democrats and 58 Republicans out of the 435 U.S. House members.

    Now Pelosi and her colleagues back the incorporation of historically, politically and legally binding provisions into the 10-page resolution. The euphoria in the diaspora was suddenly very apparent. On Armenian diaspora Internet forums in the United States the approval of the bill is being cited as a major step leading toward the answering of Armenian demands for financial retribution.



    Deciphering the code:
    Therefore, we must carefully decipher Section 3, declaration of policy in the proposed resolution. It reads as follows:

    The House of Representatives:

    1 – Calls upon the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide and the consequences of the failure to realize a just resolution; and

    2 – Calls upon the President in the President's annual message commemorating the Armenian Genocide issued on or about April 24, to accurately characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians as genocide and to recall the proud history of United States intervention in opposition to the Armenian Genocide.

    Given the negative mood, the officials in our capital should remain calm for the time being, though they must be ready for every emergency. Well not an easy task, is it? Gül's visit proved once more that what follows is a race against time, not a matter of affirming or denying whether the “genocide” in fact happened. The coming days appear to herald a period of effective lobbying in the pro-amity and pro-recognition circles in which the final decision, “yes or no,” is currently being shaped. It is a battle of those who widely whisper that U.S.-Turkey relations are at stake and those who do not care much about it. But the resolution stipulates, “to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity relating to the Armenian Genocide.” This indicates an evident clash with the doctrine of Turkish foreign policy.

    In the Turkish Daily News we have read two recent accounts by Eyüp Can and Burak Bekdil pointing out related arguments. They both drew attention to the urgent need for an action plan regarding the policy implications of the resolution. Can listened to his personal contacts in the American-Jewish community, which urged clearly “either do something or be ready to face the consequences.” Bekdil's insightful article showed what was likely to occur if the existing modus vivendi between the United States and Turkey concerning the “genocide bill” is damaged. He rightfully asserted that “a U.S. seal of approval” is pregnant with various imperative repercussions. Well said.

    A self-imposed embargo? Should the resolution passes, the Turkish military will have to consider the boycott of U.S. weapons, in accordance with their previous behavior after the adoption of the controversial law introducing imprisonment and monetary fines to anyone denying the “genocide” in France. In a way Turkey's anticipated policy response might be read as a self-imposed embargo. History will then repeat itself, since the consequences of the U.S. arms embargo from 1975 to 1978 are now evoked as inescapable.

    But is Turkey ready to pay this cost on the eve of critical developments in northern Iraq? Can Turkey afford to turn her back on the United States amid an effort to play a new and more dynamic political role in the Middle East? Can these projects be viable with a U.S.-free foreign and defense policy? To what extent will the membership talks with the European Union be affected? What exactly would a U.S.-less context mean for the general elections in November and hence future political stability? Likewise, what does the U.S. administration have in mind?

    The Zildjian secret alloy:
    The abovementioned dilemma that Turkey faces is caused by a resolution similar to the Zildjian secret alloy. The Zildjian family started a journey from Istanbul to the United States at the start of the 20th century. They were descendents of a 17th century Istanbul-born alchemist. His attempts to create gold by combining base metals led instead to a copper, tin and silver alloy then used to produce cymbals with unique sound qualities. The sound of the instruments was extraordinary. It is renowned as the Zildjian secret alloy.

    What is special about the Zildjian cymbals is that they bear the labels “Made in the U.S.” and “Turkish cymbals” and that they are manufactured under an Armenian name. Strikingly, the impending resolution will be decided by the components of this very same alloy: It will be made in the United Stated under an Armenian name and its resonance will be essentially felt in Turkey.

    Gökhan Yücel is a Ph.D. candidate reading politics at Oxford University and an occasional contributor to the TDN.




    What Others Say
    February 14, 2007
    The Armenian question:
    Ali BAYRAMOĞLU, Yeni Şafak

    We could see Hrant Dink's murder this way. The assassination is a painful phase of the process of Turkey confronting its history and identity.

    To the majority of Turkish people, Dink's killing has shown that the limits of thinking differently and the limits of fighting together are drawn by collective memory. Even the mere fact that some couldn't bear the metaphor of being Armenian [a reference to nationalist action shown against the slogan “We are all Armenians” used in banners unfurled at Dink's funeral] and actually lost the ability, even it was for a second, to distinguish between the literal and metaphorical meaning, proves that “Armenian” is among the pillars that form Turkish identity through reverseness.

    True, confrontations bring repressed memories up to the surface. Every confrontation starts with some sort of a situation, event or instrument.

    No matter how we claim the opposite to be true, we are also discussing the Turkish identity when we talk about the Kurdish or Armenian question. All these three nations are among the determining elements that founded the new republic.

    The first of these is a bloody and painful process of migration of millions of Muslims in the Balkans to Anatolian. The second one results from the pressure applied by the first one and by the newly emerging movement of nationalism. This is the process of purging Anatolia of non-Muslims and handing over their wealth to Muslims and Turks. This period has made its mark on today's perception of nationalism. The third one is the start of the Kurdish question – a double-sided nationalism production pump that began in the early 19th century when the modernization and reform movement in the Ottoman Empire started to threaten the power of Kurdish emirs. This process has gone on intermittently, and sometimes in the form of an alliance against the non-Muslims.

    To put it briefly, it is not the republican period that shaped the Turkish identity along with the taboos and fears of this identity of the republican period. It is this pre-republican era extending from the 1800s to the 1920s.

    The Turkish nation is now starting to realize that this 120-year period has played the determinant role in shaping the Turkish national identity. This is the most critical step in the process of maturing an identity, increasing its self-confidence and its integration with universal political values.

    At the same time, reading through the pages of a historical period of establishment of the country with today's mind is one of the most difficult ways of confrontation.

    Indeed, the tension between those who try to confront the past and those who refuse to and the confusion of those who attempt to confront the past are one of the main factors of today's rising nationalist waves.

    The longer fears and taboos remain as an inextricable part of contemporary Turkish identity, the stronger the legitimacy of authoritarian political structures. They are forcing on us to choose between either the Turkish or the Armenian or the Kurdish thesis.

    However, it is history that will emancipate us.

    The lies the National Forces tell:
    Taha AKYOL, Milliyet

    A flag and a copy of the Koran, both sacred values to our nation, are located on a desk. Then there are three rifles. There are people taking an oath. [Referring to a recent video featuring members of an organization that calls itself the National Forces Association taking an oath of allegiance using ultra nationalist expressions]. They are taking an oath of allegiance in a ceremony. The oath begins, “Born of a Turkish mother, born of a Turkish father and pure-blood, I am the Turkish son of Turks.” They pledge, “I shall willingly sacrifice my life for the motherland, the republic and the public in order to make the Turkish nation the master of the world under all circumstances.”

    A "paramilitary" portrait reminiscent of the Committee of Union and Progress [the political party that was in power twice in the last century before the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. They took power the second time in 1908 after a coup overthrowing the sultan.]

    Members of the National Forces Association say they are repeating the oath made by Atatürk during the Erzurum congress [an assembly of founders of the nation held in 1919 in the eastern city of Erzurum, the congress is a corner stone in the Turkish War of Independence].

    There is no truth whatsoever in their statements. For one thing, this “oath” they claim that Atatürk took is untrue. Many who were with Atatürk during the congress wrote detailed memoirs from the period. None mentioned such an oath.

    Secondly, even if Mustafa Kemal had taken such an oath, repeating it today would be wrong. Some wrong deed cannot be legitimate today merely because it was done by the prophet or by Atatürk yesterday.

    Individuals who don't have the psychological background to perceive this are the cause of the concept of “jihad” being turned into an ideology of terrorism in the hands of organizations similar to al-Qaeda. Who are you to act like Atatürk?

    Members of this organization are engaging in racism, and also talking about projects that would “shoot the terrorists with their own guns.” These are not only against legitimacy, but also against the unity of Turkey. Calling on people to make sure there are no impurities in their family history would put dynamite in the integrity of the country.

    This demented psychology can neither be called nationalism nor patriotism.




    Letters to the editor
    February 14, 2007
    Turkey needs a better course on Armenia:
    I am not very much in favor of Armenia's current government foreign policy regarding Turkey and I do not like the Dashnak party at all. But I am critical of Semih İdiz's recent piece, “Armenia needs a better course” (Feb. 8).

    It is true that the Turkish demand for a truth-finding commission is somehow understandable, but at the same time do not forget that Turkey's Armenian policy is one of the most poisonous in the international scene. Turkey never shows any sincere will for reconciliation and in contrast it tries to dictate and rule. In reality the Turkish leaders are in a state of denial and do not want to believe that the Ottoman Empire disintegrated long ago and they are no longer sultans. At the same time, the current Armenians are far different than those who live under the Ottoman yoke for centuries.

    For any honest reconciliation, Turkey needs to lift its embargo on Armenia, restore diplomatic relations and begin working together to find solution to the painful past. It is true that the new railroad will be problematic for the Armenian side and this railroad is definitely a real example of the Turkish attitude. The attitude is very simple, “I am the big boy on this block and you will do whatever I say.”

    When Armenia's previous president Lev on Der Petrosian made all sorts of concessions to the Turkish government, Turkish leaders asked for more concessions every time they met with him. Any self-respecting country and people cannot and would not put up with this type of treatment from any state.

    The Turkish-Armenian reconciliation must take place for the sake of both countries' political leadership and their people. Being eternal enemies will not help anyone. Turkey as a strong regional state has a responsibility to use its might and power in a positive way and provide preconditions for further dialogue between both states.

    The outstanding historical problems must find solutions based on honesty, integrity and the self-respect of both countries. This process will help to reduce Armenia's anxiety regarding its unfriendly western neighbor. Regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkish position is extremely negative and will not help to solve this problem in a constructive manner.

    In the end, as a former grand son of a Vanetsi, I want to be able to go to my hometown and rest in my grandparents' house and feel their presence around me in the place they grew up and the city that they remembered all their life long.

    Nick Asisian United States




    Relations with Argentina under scrutiny
    February 14, 2007
    ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
    Turkey has summoned its ambassador to Buenos Aires for consultations in Ankara in order to review bilateral relations with Argentina, which adopted a bill marking April 24 as “The Action Day for Tolerance and Respect between Peoples for the Memory of Armenian Genocide.”

    In a written statement released yesterday, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman said Turkish Ambassador in Buenos Aires Hayri Hayret Yalav were summoned to the ministry for political consultations to determine what measures will be taken after the adoption of the bill in question.

    Turkey deplored and rejected the adoption of the bill by the Argentinean president, saying that it was “unethical and far from being serious.” Bilman said in the statement that the Turkish side expected the Argentinean government to seek ways to clarify the situation. At the ministry, Yalav informed Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül of the situation in detail, said the statement.


    Dink family files suit in Istanbul yesterday
    Yasin Hayal's father and lawyer arrived yesterday at the Trabzon Criminal Courts to file a request for the Istanbul Prosecutor in the case of Hayal, who was arrested as an accomplice and planner in the January 19 Hrant Dink murder.

    Hayal's lawyer, Fatih Cakir, spoke yesterday to reporters, telling them that his client was not the real planner behind the Dink murder, but that instead it was fellow Trabzon youth, Erhan Tuncel. Tuncel is also currently under arrest in Istanbul, with accusations that he, like Hayal, gathered youth in Trabzon around him, encouraging them in violent acts of nationalism.

    Meanwhile, yesterday in Istanbul, the widow of Hrant Dink, Rakel Dink, accompanied by her children Arat, Sera, and Delal, appeared in court to file a suit against both those who committed the murder of her husband, and those who failed to protect her husband. Dink provided one and a half hours of testimony.

    © Copyright 2006 Hürriyet




    Let Turkey be Turkey
    SUAT KINIKLIOGLU s.kiniklioglu@todayszaman.com
    Following foreign minister Abdullah Gül’s visit in Washington was very interesting and looking back at it we find it difficult to ascertain whether it was a successful visit or not. Foreign minister Gül’s meetings at Capitol Hill and with official Washington went extremely well. First of all, Gül comes across as a very natural and genuine counterpart. He does not couch his statements in conventional foreign policy jargon but rather uses simpler but equally convincing language.

    In his speech at the German Marshall Fund, Gül underlined Turkish sensitivities vis-à-vis the Armenian resolution looming on the horizon. He did not meet with the new speaker of the House of Representatives but I thought that that was a rather positive development. If Pelosi will decide not to put the Armenian resolution on the agenda she would want to do this as a decision based on the Administration’s or the State Department’s advise, not due to a meeting with Gül.

    The visit also reminded all of us about the current difficulties on the American side to appreciate the new Turkey at hand. Our American counterparts have a difficulty in digesting the changes in Turkey’s new foreign policy. Turkey is becoming a regional powerhouse that has a strong interest in normalizing with its neighborhood. Contrary to conventional thinking this is not an AKP phenomenon only. It is a structural change that is likely to have a durable impact for decades to come. The current tensions between the U.S. and Turkey very much resemble the incompatibility of a great power - regional power rivalry.

    Gone is the so-called golden age of the Özal years. All of us need to adjust to this new situation and “let Turkey be Turkey”. The earlier Washington recognizes this situation, the easier it will be to deal with Ankara and identify common interests - and there are many.

    Gül’s foreign policy advisor Ahmet Davutoğlu also spoke at the German Marshall Fund. He laid out eloquently the intellectual basis of Turkey’s new foreign policy thinking. Particularly illuminating was his emphasis on “normalization with Turkey’s neighborhood”. He demonstrated with concrete examples how deeply Turkey is involved in the Middle East. He also stressed that Turkey was not going to shape its foreign policy along sectarian lines, a clear sign that Turkey does not want to be part of a Shia - Sunni divide, something commonly entertained in the West.

    The primary mistake in the Washington policy community is the fixation with the Hamas visit or Turkey’s developing relations with Iran and Syria. What is happening is that Turkey is normalizing and integrating back to its neighborhood. There is no reason to be concerned about this. Indeed, one could see the republican era as an anomaly in Turkish history and interpret Turkey’s current re-integration with the Middle East as a reversal of this anomaly.

    What needs to be acknowledged is that Turkey could be an extremely benevolent and constructive agent in its immediate neighborhood, including the Middle East. The earlier, the U.S. will appreciate this and treats Turkey with due respect, the earlier the two countries will be able to cooperate where their interests coincide. The new Turkey and the U.S. actually have a lot more common interests than is often recognized. We both want a united Iraq. We both want a more stable Middle East. Washington needs to distance itself from framing everything along sectarian lines in Iraq and the region and strengthen its support for a united Iraq. Secondly, much talk in Washington focuses on engaging Iran and Syria in the Middle East. The real question should be why Turkey is not engaged more.
    14.02.2007




    Armenian resolution in US Congress
    FATMA DISLI f.disli@todayszaman.com
    The debates over recognition of the Armenian "genocide" are again quite heated both in Turkey and abroad, especially following the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink last month. Now there is a resolution pending in the US Congress which if adopted will recognize the 1915 events as genocide. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül went to Washington last week seeking to prevent the passage of the resolution saying, "Turkish-US relations will be shattered if the resolution passes." This week Turkey's chief of general staff is also paying a visit to the US with the same concerns. Turkey's attempts to prevent the Armenian resolution's passage and what will happen if the US adopts this resolution are a matter of controversy.

    Milliyet's Hasan Cemal thinks if the US has not lost its mind then it should not adopt the Armenian resolution. He says if the US wants to lose a friend and ally like Turkey in the Middle East, if it wants democracy in Turkey to be harmed, if it wants to help the powers aiming to destabilize Turkey, if it does not care about Turkey's partnership in policies relating to Iran and Iraq, if it does not want the normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations, if it is against the establishment of independent discussion platforms about the Armenian issue in Turkey, then it should pass the Armenian resolution. He recalls Hrant Dink who said: "I am addressing the Diaspora Armenians. They should never ask Turkey or any other country in the world to accept the Armenian genocide. The important thing is Turkey's democratization. Only a democratic country can dare to face its history, talk about its problems and empathize." Cemal urges if the US wants to ignore Dink's message, it can pass the Armenian resolution.

    Radikal's Gündüz Aktan says the fact that Congress' decisions are not binding does not reduce the symbolic importance of this decision for Turkey. He also says that the problems between Turkey and the US regarding the Armenian genocide allegations are not the fault of the Congress but the US administration. Aktan comments on how US presidents refer to the 1915 events as genocide without using the word genocide. "It is understandable that the US Congress wants to use the word genocide with the influence of ethnic Armenian voters in a country like the US where politics are more local than any other country in the world," he stresses. Aktan blames the Bush administration for using the wrong method to prevent the passage of the Armenian resolution in the US House of Representatives by saying that Turkey is a strategic ally for the US and relations will be harmed if the resolution passes. "This is not defending Turkey," he asserts. Aktan thinks that the US administration should show the flaws in the draft resolution to Congress.

    This resolution claims, in reference to US archives, that 1.5 million out of 2 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire faced genocide. "I do not think that there is any document in the US archives showing the population of Armenians as 2 million in the Ottoman Empire. Why doesn't the US administration inform the Congress correctly about this," Aktan says. He asserts Turkey should announce now that, "We will call on the US to use the law if the US adopts this resolution. This scandal should end."
    Posta's Mehmet Ali Birand thinks that Turkey can prevent the passage of the resolution if it can take courageous steps other than warning the US about the deterioration of Turkey-US relations. He suggests that Turkey could have unconditional talks with Armenia, establish a commission including historians from both sides, open the Turkey-Armenia border for people's crossing at first, or controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) could be abolished or amended considerably. "We have ignored the genocide allegations for years. We thought they would disappear if we did not deal with them. Armenians have had their claim adopted. Only if we take courageous steps that surprise the world can we be saved from this trap," he asserts.
    14.02.2007




    Folders on the table and an asymmetrical power balance
    BULENT KENES b.kenes@todayszaman.com
    Without question, there are disadvantages to being, or advancing toward becoming, a great or global power, just as there are advantages.

    If you are an unpretentious country that has limited influence, the number and depth of the problems and the things you have to deal with will be correspondingly small. But if you have aspirations of being a great power and implement the prerequisites of those aspirations, like it or not, the number, diversity, complexity and depth of the problems you have to deal with will be correspondingly great.

    For instance, let’s take up a topic very much in vogue these days: the matter of the Armenian genocide resolution to be discussed in the US Congress, aimed at forcing Turkey’s back against the wall. Whenever an Armenian bill rises to notice, it is rightfully questioned why such a big country as the Turkish Republic fails to counterbalance the lobbying power of the Armenian diaspora.

    In fact, many fail to notice that developments in the issue of the allegations of genocide from the Armenians is just one of the numerous folders on the table of Turkey’s foreign policy concerns, whereas it is an essential engagement for Armenians and for the Armenian diaspora, and it even represents an existential concern for them. This subject, though it never ceases to be in the limelight for the Armenians, is just among the dozens of concerns facing Turkey, though it is not unimportant. And naturally, we exert the requisite amount of effort and energy and ascribe an appropriate amount of importance.

    A similar problem is encountered regarding Cyprus. However much it may seem to be a national cause, the Cyprus issue is amongst the pile of folders on the table. Whereas the Cyprus issue for the Greek Cypriots is more than a national cause, it is always in the spotlight. While Turkey has concerns other than Cyprus in the international arena, the Greek Cypriots can easily focus all their efforts on making their anti-Turkish rhetoric take root in the international community.

    As a result, the side that is weaker in all aspects may have the opportunity to be more successful in bilateral talks just by being more committed, despite this asymmetrical power balance between Turkey and other parties. These efforts would prove inefficient in the face of a state that managed to become a global power and that has all sorts of diplomatic, political and economic instruments in its hands; however, they can be overly efficient and bring on a serious headache for a state like Turkey, which is climbing the steps towards being a global power from a regional one.

    What Turkey has been experiencing regarding the Kurdish factions in northern Iraq is not at all different from its experiences with the issues of Cyprus and Armenia. While Turkey is advancing towards being a global player, its success is still limited. Some problems encountered recently are nothing but temporary issues that Turkey, which has been pursuing a proactive foreign policy to give direction to global developments recently, is facing while completing its process of power concentration and consolidation.

    Undoubtedly, as long as Turkey establishes an equilibrium between the political and the diplomatic will it exercises and the power it possesses , it will diminish the risk of losing in minor folders focused on by smaller players, provided it proceeds with its ambitions of growth in foreign policy.
    14.02.2007




    Rightist ‘vigilantes’ state peaceful intent
    “Mohammed was a Turk. It was obvious from his white complexion.” “Everyone wants a piece of us, and that is Turkey's most pressing problem.”

    “Imperialism remains a clear and present danger,” although the most important leap forward for Turkey in the last 20 years was former President Turgut Özal's decision to open up the economy to the world. These are some of the unconventional views of retired Col. Fikri Karadağ, head of the Kuvay-ı Milliye (National Forces) Association, which has been accused in the press of organizing a network of ultra-rightist vigilantes under a patriotic banner.
    But Col. Karadağ also insisted that “the right to life is sacred,” that “racism is a form of stupidity” and that everything his association does is open and above board. To make the point, the Kuvay-ı Milliye has a huge banner advertising its existence in the heart of Kadıköy, off the main road in one of Istanbul's most prosperous shopping districts.

    Inside everything is run with military precision with Col. Karadağ attended by a staff dressed in smart blue flight attendant-style uniforms. It is the hub, the colonel says, of an organization that has branches from Montevideo to London and which is fast growing inside Turkey itself.

    Hüseyin Kerim Bayraktar, who oversees the association’s numerous branches, is positively reveling in the publicity after a national newspaper reported a swearing-in ceremony in the southern port of Antalya. On that occasion Col. Karadağ was quoted as having identified13,500 individuals and organizations from which Kuvay-ı Milliye would demand “a reckoning.” Banners at the meeting said that this “reckoning for the oppressed would not wait for the hereafter.”

    According to Bayraktar, Turkey is engaged in a life-and-death struggle with both imperialism and Zionism. Members of the Kuvay-ı Milliye were themselves devout but didn’t go about with beards “like these zealot hooligans.” He himself sports a droopy moustache of the sort that once upon a time used to be associated with the ultra-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). A copy of Ortadoğu, the paper close to that party, is by his desk, but he denies having relations with any political party.

    “I have never voted in all my 45 years,” Bayraktar said. He said there is nothing Turkey can be proud of since 1938 when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk died.

    Atatürk is everywhere inside the building -- on the walls and even in the motif on the tie around Col. Karadağ’s neck. It seems Atatürk even spent time inside the premises, something they learned after the lease was signed. The name of the organization stems from the irregular forces that were organized from the grassroots when, at the end of World War I, the Ottoman central authority had broken down.

    While the Kuvay-ı Milliye Association will not openly criticize the current government, the association’s manifesto asserts it has lost its authority as well.

    “The state is being run by the D team of politicians. [”D” stand in Turkish for religious zealots and for the Jewish apostate followers of the 17th century messianic leader Sabbatai Zvi.] Politicians and the Turkish people long to be united with administrators who are like themselves of the Turkish race,” it writes. It adds that “under the umbrella of democracy and human rights, that state is seeing its authority dissipated, the nation is being divided and the soil of the fatherland sold off.”

    Col. Karadağ saves his real wrath for America and its conduct of the war in Iraq. “They think they can solve problems on the other side of the globe when they can’t even help their own people in New Orleans.” He said he knows America well, having been assigned to the NATO command in Brussels and trained with US forces in desert combat in the early 1980s.

    Though he saw the Turkish people as having been betrayed by their leaders in league with forces from abroad, his definition of what it means to be a Turk is not forged with great precision. A belief in Islam is a pre-condition, but he admitted that there were Turks 5,000 years ago and that the Prophet himself, though brought up in Arab culture, was a member of a Turkic tribe.

    At the same time, he was happy to see Hrant Dink, the slain Armenian editor, as a Turk. “He said he was a Turk, so he was one.” He unequivocally condemned the “bandits” responsible for the murder but accused Dink of bringing misfortune on his own head. “He lived here very comfortably. Then he had to go around insulting Turks.” He said that Dink was ultimately the victim of his own racism.

    Karadağ denied his association had any intentions other than to publish and discuss issues among its members. He promised to make those publications available as soon as they were produced. He described most of his members as being from poor or humble backgrounds. His deputy, Bayraktar, drives a taxi.

    About the much-commented presence of the pistol upon which, alongside the Koran, new members swear an oath of allegiance: “It was just an air gun. It symbolized not violence but “greatness and unity” -- like the sword in some heraldic ceremony. “We are not a secret organization,” he said.

    14.02.2007
    ANDREW FINKEL İSTANBUL




    General Buyukanit to meet with US Congressman Tom Lantos re Armenian bill
    The top commander of the Turkish Armed Forces, General Yasar Buyukanit, arrived two days ago in the US for an official visit, and will be going today from New York to Washington for the start of his meetings.

    It is expected that General Buyukanit will be meeting with, among others, US Congress Committed on Foreign Relations head Tom Lantos; the focus of this meeting will be the so-called "Armenian Genocide" bill. It is anticipated that Buyukanit will stress to Lantos that the possible acceptance by the US Congress of this bill could have a serious impact on relations between Turkey and the US, including logistical support which has been extended thus far by Turkey to US forces fighting in Iraq. Last week in Washington, DC, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul also engaged in meetings in which he expressed Ankara's strong opposition to the passage of the bill.

    Meanwhile, a letter written by two Congress members known to support the Armenian lobby's push for the genocide bill, Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg, wrote to Lantos that Turkey's warnings to the US on this front were "an unabashed threat."

    The controversial bill is scheduled to appear before the Foreign Relations Committee at the end of this month or in March. The new Speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, has already vocalized her strong support for the bill.

    © Copyright 2006 Hürriyet




    Whose Graves: Armenians' or Turks'?
    The assassination of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has stimulated the debates about the minority rights in Turkey as well as the
    questions about facing the history regarding the year 1915.

    The recent news about the mass grave in Nusaybin, a town in the southeast region of Turkey, deepened the discussions not only between Armenians and Turks but also between the international community whose majority asks for the recognition of the “genocide” and the Turkish people who mostly perceive the happenings as a tragedy for both nations during the First World War and refer to the incidences as the displacement of Armenians.

    The genocide researcher Prof. David Gaunt from Södertörns University argued that these graves in Nusaybin town belong to Armenians and Suryanis and took up the topic to the Swedish Parlament. Following this, Prof. Yusuf Halaçoğlu, the head of the Turkish Historical Society addressed to Mr. Gaunt and other academics who are researching in this field, in that he suggested cooperated field work on the graveyards and to open up them together. Mr. Gaunt responded to this affirmatively whereas his conditions such as absolute freedom in his work, the allowance to interview those who have a knowledge about the graves, and the entrance to other mass graves around Mardin were also accepted by the Turkish Historical Society that is also willing to cover the expenses and needs of the researchers who will start their work in March. This project is going to be the first of his kind regarding the international cooperation, says Mr. Halaçoğlu. Prof. Yusuf Halaçoğlu also commented on the assassination of the Armenian Journalist Hrant Dink and referred to it as an important loss for Turkish society. Currently, the Turkish Historical Society expects the final reply from Mr. Gaunt and his colleagues who, in Halaçoğlu’s view, should apologise if the outcomes would show that the graves belong to neither Armenians nor Suryanis but Turkish people. Halaçoğlu finally stated that they would apologise if the researches support the hypothesis of Prof. Gaunt.

    The importance of this cooperation does not only lie in its international character but also in its possible outcomes. The lack of a mass grave is one of the mostly claimed points of the Turkish side against the Armenian arguments. In this view, there must be a mass grave for Armenians in the Eastern Turkey or in former Ottoman Syria’s territories who were displaced in 1915 if one is talking about genocide. In Turkish point of view, the hypothesis that most of the Armenians were killed on their way is also not very plausible since nevertheless there would have been a mass grave for so many people.

    In the last 20 years, there had been some field work on the graveyards led by the Turkish Historical Society and some universities like Erzurum Atatürk University. However, in these projects there was no Armenian researchers who refused the appeal of the Turkish Historical Society regarding the cooperation.

    Another crucial point in the research for the possible Armenian graves is with respect to the route of the displacement. The significant amount of Armenians who were directed to Syria-a province of the Ottoman Empire at that time- should, in Turkish point of view, indicate to the possibility of mass graves in Syria if there had been the genocide against Armenian people. Yet despite its possibility there has not been any opening up works in this region which, in Turkish perspective, strengthens the position that Armenians want to reach conclusions that are based on subjectivity.

    The expected cooperation in Mardin would probably reveal important results for both of the parties. On the other hand, one should not expect a quick resolution after the research on the mass grave. As the experience until today has demonstrated, no matter what the current debates are, there is one certain point in the whole debate about what happened in 1915. That it will continue for a long time…

    Irem GUNEY (U.S.A.K.)
    12 February 2007
    irem_guney@yahoo.com
    USAK: Ankara-based Turkish think tank.




    Turkey battles genocide claims in Hollywood
    February 13, 2007
    DUYGU GÜVENÇ
    TDN
    At a time when a resolution has been proposed in the U.S. Congress for the recognition of Armenian genocide claims, Turkey has given the go-ahead on offering another type of story about Turkey: they will promote the real story of Behiç Erkin, the Turkish Ambassador to Paris who saved the lives of some 18,200 Jews and arranged their voyage to Turkey in 1940.

    The story will be told as part of a project called “The Ambassador,” which secured the Turkish government's backing in 2006. “The Ambassador” is a three-phase project that involves a book, a documentary film and a Hollywood movie, emphasizing Turkish support to Jews during the Holocaust.

    The book “Büyükelçi” (“The Ambassador”) written by Erkin's grandchild, Emir Kıvırcık, has been in bookshops since Saturday. A documentary film by Filmacass Film Production Inc. will follow. Finally, a film produced in Hollywood will be made by BMH Worldwide Entertainment.

    Kıvırcık searches archives for 9 years:
    Emir Kıvırcık told the Turkish Daily News that a movie directed by Steven Spielberg made Oscar Schindler well known all over the world for saving the life of 1,000 Jews. He saved their lives only by giving them food whereas Kıvırcık's grandfather saved the lives of 18,000 Jews. He said he has been working on the project for more than nine years and is now ready to wrap up his long-term efforts with a movie.

    BMH will open doors of Hollywood:
    BMH Worldwide Entertainment was founded by two Turks and one American who live in the United States. The company brings Hollywood and Turkish cinema and TV together. One of their projects was “Kurtlar Vadisi: Irak” (“The Valley of the Wolves: Iraq”). Using the initials of the three founders' names created the name of the company. Bjorn Rebney, who lives in Los Angeles, is a well known specialist in the United States. He is an agent for professional athletes, teams and artists. Mehmet Çelebi has worked for the world's biggest finance companies and provided his services as a financial consultant to many celebrities and Huma Alpaytac is the co-founder of Alpaytac PR and Marketing based in Chicago. BMH has established partnerships with the Paradigm Talent Agency, which gives them an opportunity to with the studios like Universal film and Walt Disney.

    Rebney, speaking with the TDN, said, "The strategic partnership between the Paradigm Talent Agency, BMH Worldwide and renowned Producer Tim O'Hair was created in 2006 to secure the world's top actors, writers and directors to produce star-driven, A-level Hollywood pictures in Turkey."

    Çelebi said over the weekend in a telephone interview, “Obviously, this is an important film for many reasons. At a time when Islam and Turkey are under attack, this is yet more proof that when Europe was indifferent and silent, it was a Muslim and a Turk who made a difference and did not remain silent to the inhumanity taking place in the heart of Europe.”

    One of the leaders in the Turkish community in Chicago, Çelebi said it is easy to hand out roles for Hollywood actors and actresses with such a partnership and he confirmed the Turkish state's support for the film project. Çelebi said the scenario would be completed within three months and shooting would start this year.

    Egemen Bağış: project mediator:
    Çelebi said, "BMH Worldwide Entertainment has been working with Member of Turkish Parliament and previous President of the Federation of Turkish-American Associations Egemen Bagış, who has spent many years in the United States and is very aware of and concerned about Turkey's image around the world. He has been a great supporter of this and other projects that will enhance Turkey's image across the globe."

    Bağış, the president of the U.S. Caucus in Turkish Parliament, had given the first clue about the project last week in Parliament. Bagış, also a member of advisory council of the Turkish Film Council in the United States, suggested, “Prominent figures of the diaspora pay Hollywood to make genocide movies. We too have wealthy people; however, we don't have a culture of investing in Hollywood. We should also be relying on such methods and commission movies explaining Turkey's side of the story.”

    Gül's meeting in the United States:
    Film projects are supported by the Promotion Fund of Turkey. Namık Tan, the previous spokesman of the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the new ambassador to Israel, is working with Israel to find survivors of the Holocaust and Jewish sponsors. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, during his visit to the United States last week, also met with Çelebi and got information about the project.


    Miss Turkey on screen:
    The producer of Filmacass, Mine Vargı, best model of Turkey in 1968, told the TDN that the Turkish government is giving financial support for the projects and helping open archives. Vargı added that Israel is also involved to establish contacts with the world's 200 Holocaust survivors, and said that they need $3 million to complete this project.

    On the other side, Çelebi is looking for sponsors for the $40 million project. Çelebi and Vargı emphasized that they are looking for sponsors from both the Turks and the Jews.

    The story of “The Ambassador” or Behiç Erkin:
    Behiç Erkin's grandfather was an Ottoman Army Commander. Despite the fact that Erkin was disabled, he was accepted to the Ottoman Army because of his grandfather's position and he became the only individual to receive "special authorization" to join the Ottoman Army Corps of Officers.

    Erkin was appointed Thessalonica Military Railroad Commisioner and met Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, in 1907. He became one of Atatürk's closest friends and confidants throughout his lifetime.

    During the Gallipoli War, Erkin was responsible for successfully transporting logistics and military personnel to the front, for which he was awarded the German Gold Cross (First Degree), the highest award given by the Germans and French Legione D'Honneur (First Degree).

    Erkin was asked by Atatürk to head the newly formed Turkish Railroad Administration during the War of Independence. It was one of the most important and vital posts for the war years as it shouldered the transportation of army and logistics to various fronts during the war.

    Atatürk gave Behiç his last name, "Erkin," which means independent, on Feb. 8, 1935 and said, “When Behiç has a firm conviction, even I can't change his mind.”

    After the War of Independence, Erkin was awarded the "Independence Medal." He became a member of the newly established Parliament and later the Public Works Ministery.

    After the death of Atatürk in 1938, İsmet İnönü came to power and İnönü sent Erkin to France as Turkish ambassador to Paris. During his tenure, which coincided with the Nazi occupation in France, he ensured that Nazi officials did not confiscate the properties of Turkish citizens of Jewish origin living in France.

    The registered number of Turkish Jews was about 10,000 but there were about 10,000 unregistered Jews, whose origin can not be identified as to whether they were Turkish or not.

    He opposed the French authorities and granted Turkish citizenship to those who called themselves Turkish under the pressure of Nazi occupiers who wanted to send the Jews to concentration camps. He used his golden German medal and personal courage and knowledge to help secure the return of Turkish Jews.

    In order to prevent the French security forces from apprehending the Jews of Turkish origin from their domiciles, he threatened the French by saying he would have Turkish flags hung up in front of every house therefore providing diplomatic immunity.

    The ambassador provided the safe return of over 18,200 Turkish-Jewish citizens living in France out of 20,000 by train. Nowhere else did members of the Jewish community survive in such large numbers under Nazi occupation.




    Turkey threatens US troops in Iraq, say pro-Armenian lawmakers
    February 13, 2007
    ÜMİT ENGİNSOY
    WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News
    Two leading pro-Armenian legislators in the U.S. Congress have accused Turkey of "threatening the security of U.S. troops in Iraq" should the House of Representatives even consider an Armenian genocide resolution.

    "It is our understanding that senior Turkish government officials have warned that, in response to Congress even considering this resolution, they will close supply pipelines for our forces serving in Iraq," said Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg in a Feb. 9 letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, a California Democrat.

    "This shameless threat to interfere in U.S. military operations is absolutely unacceptable and deeply offensive," they said, according to a statement by the Armenian National Committee of Armenia (ANCA) carried by the Armenian news service Groong.

    "We are outraged that the Turkish government would put the lives of our troops abroad at risk in the pursuit of its increasingly desperate campaign to deny the systematic slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians," said Pallone and Knollenberg.

    Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, and Knollenberg, a Michigan Republican, are co-chairman of the Armenian Caucus in the House of Representatives.

    The two lawmakers' remarks were a clear reference to statements by Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül here last week that the Armenian resolution's passage in the House would "poison" U.S.-Turkish relations in a lasting way.

    Gül met with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley, the president's national security adviser. On the Congress side he had talks with Lantos and some other Democratic House leaders.

    "We are not threatening the United States, we are just expressing our sensitivity over the possibility of the passage of those incorrect and unfair accusations," said one Turkish diplomat.

    A group of pro-Armenian lawmakers, including Pallone and Knollenberg, in late January introduced a resolution calling for formal U.S. recognition of World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

    Lantos' Foreign Affairs Committee will be the first platform to handle the Armenian measure.

    According to the ANCA statement, Palone and Knollenberg also expressed dismay at "the response of several administration officials who, caving in to the Turkish government's threats, have urged members of Congress to oppose even debate on this human rights measure."

    "Sadly, the Turkish government is able to maintain its denial ... in large part due to the State Department's efforts to silence those who speak with moral clarity about the Armenian genocide," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

    Turkish diplomatic sources said last week that the resolution's passage would hurt U.S.-Turkish cooperation on Iraq, but did not elaborate on what could happen.

    However, under current cooperation, Turkey provides a considerable part of the logistical requirements of U.S. forces in Iraq. The air base of İncirlik in southern Turkey is used for such and other reasons. Areas of military collaboration include the use of Turkish tanker aircraft by U.S. military planes. Turkey also meets a large part of the Iraqi Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq's gasoline and fuel-oil needs.

    If the House Foreign Affairs Committee approves the genocide resolution, it will go to the House floor. It will then be up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, whether to hold a vote on the measure, but all indications show that she will intend to do so. Pelosi, a supporter of the Armenian cause, declined to meet with Gül during the foreign minister's visit here last week.

    While Turkey is struggling to stop the passage of the genocide resolution in the House of Representatives, Congress' lower chamber, this time pro-Armenian senators are gearing up for introducing a new and similar measure in the upper chamber of Congress.

    Armenian sources say the Senate resolution is expected in upcoming weeks.

    Successive U.S. presidents have traditionally declined to classify the Armenian killings as genocide in an effort not to alienate Turkey, a critical ally bordering the volatile Middle East. Earlier Armenian efforts to promote genocide recognition have failed in the past six years of Bush's tenure, as the Republican leaderships in Congress avoided floor votes.

    Nevertheless, the last legislative elections in November 2006 brought the opposition Democrats back to power in both congressional chambers, raising Armenian hopes that genocide measures this time would pass.




    Armenian lobby: "Turkey is threatening the U.S"
    Armenian lobby of the U.S Congress claimed that Turkey is threatening Washington for the draft bill presented to the House of Representatives about the so-called Armenian genocide.

    Armenian members of the low wing of the Congress; the House of Representatives Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg have written a letter to the President of the Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Lantos on this issue.

    In the letter, both parliament members said: "As we understand, some top level Turkish government officers are telling Washington not to discuss the draft bill in the Congress and threatening Washington by stating Turkey would stop its logistic support for American soldiers in Iraq. Such threat, which clearly means interference in the military operation of the U.S, is absolutely unacceptable.

    The letter also said 'Turkey is already feeling despair in its campaign on denying the systematic death of 1, 5 million Armenians which cause Turkish authorities to endanger the lives of American soldiers in Iraq."

    THE MINISTER WAS AN ARMENIAN

    Minister Gul, spoke in USA about the Armenian resolution: In the years of genocide, the Ottomans had an Armenian Minister (Note of translator:Foreign Affairs Minister in 1913 Gabriel Nouradugnian)

    Foreign Minister Gul, met with the heavy cannons of the US Congress. Gul met with some 40 politicians at lunch, 15 of which were congress members and made this striking request: "Please explain to me in three sentences the accusations you have signed about the Armenian genocide: Tell me, when did it happen ? " Since this question was not answered, further asked: "Then, why did you sign this resolution?"

    Gul taught history

    Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah Gul, met at lunch with about 40 politicians, 15 of which were congress members

    who had signed the Armenian resolution. Gul gave critical messages during his luncheon speech to both Republicans and Democrats. Gul, particularly addressed to those who signed the resolution and said: " I kindly ask you now, to explain to me this Armenian resolution which you signed in three sentences. Tell me when did it happen ?" When there was silence at the tables Gul said: "There is no sound. Then, why did you sign this resolution? When you signed this resolution, wasn't it necessary to think of the interests of USA, and learn at least if a genocide happened or not ? Wouldn't be better that instead of winning the support of the persons in your voting districts, to win the interests of your country?" Gul, gave two critical messages to U.S. politicians: "Think not of the interests of your district, but the interests of your country. The USA-Turkey relations are not ordinary relations. Please notice that the relations between USA and Turkey, affects the destiny of the world."

    PLEASE LISTEN TO OUR DISTRICT AS WELL

    When US politicians said: "We hear of the genocide arguments from our surroundings, and we are impressed", Gul replied: "You say that we listened to our surroundings and have been impressed; then come along and listen to what our district has to say as well. if these things work by listening to the surroundings!... Tomorrow you may have to think and ask yourselves 'where did we error and took Turks as well against us' It may be too late then !"

    Gul addressed to Sten Hoyer, Head of the US Congress Defense Committee as follows: " You too signed this resolution. Did you know that in the years it is claimed that genocide took place, the Ottoman Foreign Minister and London Ambassador were Armenians ? If there was a genocide, why these people were not also killed? And they were occupying those positions. If you call this genocide, what would you call those in Germany? You have to find another name for that".

    In another speech Gul made in a meeting arranged by German Marshall Funds and SETA (Political, Economical and Social Research) said that , this year the strength of the government will be renewed with the elections, and that the reform process will continue.




    US Armenians angry over Turkey’s warnings
    Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg expressed outrage at recent warnings from the Turkish government that it would consider actions which would threaten the security of US troops in Iraq should Congress consider passing the Armenian genocide resolution, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

    In a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, representatives Pallone and Knollenberg noted: "It is our understanding that senior Turkish government officials have warned that in response to Congress even considering this resolution, they will close supply pipelines for our forces serving in Iraq. This shameless threat to interfere in US military operations is absolutely unacceptable and deeply offensive."

    The representatives went on to express dismay at the response of several administration officials who, sensitive to the Turkish government's threats, have urged members of Congress to oppose debate on this human rights measure.
    "We are outraged that the Turkish government would put the lives of our troops abroad at risk in the pursuit of its increasingly desperate campaign to deny the systematic slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians," wrote the representatives. According to ANCA, a similar resolution will be introduced in the Senate in the coming weeks.
    Turkey rejects the genocide label and argues that 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife in 1915, a time when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with Russian troops invading the crumbling Ottoman Empire during World War I.

    The letter to Chairman Lantos comes on the heels of a three-day visit of Washington by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, who had announced that his government's opposition to the Armenian genocide resolution was a top priority in discussions with senior US officials.

    The Armenian genocide resolution was introduced on Jan. 30 by Rep. Adam Schiff, along with representatives George Radanovich, Pallone, Knollenberg, Brad Sherman and Thaddeus McCotter, and currently has 170 cosponsors.
    The resolution would urge the president to describe the Armenian genocide as "genocide." While US President George W. Bush commemorates the massacres each year in a speech, his administration has so far stopped short of backing the genocide bills.

    Regional and local ANCA chapters have been working with activists across the US in support of securing a speedy committee and full House approval of the measure.

    13.02.2007




    The bigger picture
    NICOLE POPE n.pope@todayszaman.com
    We live in strange times. Globalization is creating an artificial sense of sameness in big cities around the world.

    We all watch the same television series; we drink coffee in the branches of the same café chains and we buy the same electronic devices. On the surface, at least, the world has never been more homogeneous. But underneath this unified veneer countercurrents of localism nationalism and radicalism are boiling, fuelled by rapid social change and fears about the future.

    This growing malaise takes different forms. Europe finding it increasingly hard to accommodate millions of migrants from different parts of the world is becoming more inward-looking. Multiculturalism in under attack. In the US foreign policy is guided by a sense of global threat. “Why do they hate us?”

    Another manifestation of ethno-centrism and localism is the growing nationalism in Turkey. Partly founded on century-old events such as the Treaty of Sevres of 1920, it sees Turkey as the target of a wide range of new threats that include globalization, IMF demands, EU criteria and US policy in the region. The current debate on national identity and the definition of “Turkishness” strikes me as particularly odd in a country that is heir to a multicultural empire, but it is the result of the narrow world view that emerges from this besieged mentality. Most of my Turkish friends have a rich and fascinating family background, with grandparents and ancestors coming from the four corners of the Ottoman Empire. Who can therefore claim to be 100 percent Turkish?

    How does one prevent localism everywhere from giving rise to outright racism? It requires an ability to examine and analyze global events from a broader point of view, but the world suffers from a confusing information overload. It is one of the paradoxes of the (dis)information age that we are under a constant bombardment of trivia and opinions, but there seems to be a scarcity of solid fact-based analyses that would help us better understand what is happening around us. A wide variety of views are, of course, available on the Internet, but we tend to make a beeline for the sites that reflect world views that are closest to ours.

    There was a time when foreign media correspondents were expected to explain the world to their readers: Their analysis of foreign events would provide a different perspective seeped in knowledge of the country where they served. But foreign correspondents are an endangered species these days.

    Jill Carroll, the Christian Science Monitor correspondent who was held hostage for 80 days in Iraq last year, recently produced an interesting report for the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University. She found that between 2000 and 2006 the number of foreign correspondents working for US newspapers had dropped from 282 to 249. Given how important foreign policy is for the current US administration, this is not just surprising; it is alarming. It means opportunities for an informed debate are getting more limited. To expand their profit margins newspapers close their foreign bureaus and opt to focus on local issues.

    The shift toward a more ethno-centric and local approach is not restricted to the US. Cost-cutting is affecting the quality of reporting everywhere. Instead of providing a window on the world, the media sometimes contribute to a sense of growing insularity. In Turkey, too, global affairs are too often interpreted through a local lens that distorts them and fuels unwarranted fears. In our information age it seems to be increasingly difficult to get the bigger picture.
    13.02.2007




    Mass grave outside of Mardin to be opened by international delegation
    Assertions made in an article in the Turkish magazine "Nokta" last year that mass Armenian graves could be found in the town of Nusaybin outside of the city of Mardin were taken up by Swedish professor David Gaunt, who then brought these assertions to the attention of the Swedish Parliament.


    Gaunt's accusations have elicited a response from the head of the Turkish History Foundation (TTK), Professor Yusuf Halacoglu, who has invited all interested parties to come to Turkey and participate together in an opening up the gravesite in question. Professor Halacoglu, who subsequently received an affirmative answer from Professor Gaunt, said the following regarding the situation:

    "Professor Gaunt has said that he would be pleased to cooperate in the opening up of the gravesite in the Mardin area town of Nusaybin. However, he has some preconditions: During digging, he wants complete freedom in the region. In addition, he is requesting the opportunity to speak with anyone in the area who claims to know something about these mass graves....We have naturally accepted all of these demands. In fact, we have said that we are prepared to meet any needs that his delegation may have while in Turkey. We suggested that March would be a good time, as the weather would be perfect. Now we are waiting for the confirmation that they will in fact come."

    Professor Halacoglu noted that if the mass grave in question does in fact turn out to hold the bodies of Armenians and/or Suryanis, he will be prepared to apologize in a public press conference, but if not, he is expecting that Professor Gaunt will apologize.




    'Turkey making threats over 'genocide' resolution'
    The New Anatolian / Washington
    13 February 2007
    The co-chairs of Congress' Armenian Caucus yesterday claimed that the Turkish government is threatening the U.S. over a resolution on the so-called Armenian genocide, which may come to a floor vote.

    In a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Tom Lantos, Representatives Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg state, "It is our understanding that senior Turkish government officials have warned that, in response to Congress even considering this resolution, they will close supply pipelines for our forces serving in Iraq.

    "This shameless threat to interfere in U.S. military operations is absolutely unacceptable and deeply offensive."

    Claiming that the Turkish government is able to maintain its denial against all evidence and the tide of international opinion, Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) head Aram Hamparian said, "It is a testament to the hypocrisy of the administration's position that, on the one hand, its senior officials remained almost entirely silent on Article 301 prior to [Armenian-origin Turkish journalist] Hrant Dink's murder, while on the other hand loudly and repeatedly attacking even the consideration by the U.S. Congress of the Armenian genocide resolution."

    The letter to Lantos comes on the heels of a three-day Washington, visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who stressed that his government's opposition to the so-called Armenian genocide resolution was a top priority in discussions with senior U.S. officials.

    Ankara strongly opposes claims
    Democratic and Republican lawmakers introduced a resolution last month urging the U.S. government to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide.

    The measure, which claims that 1.5 million Armenians were killed almost a century ago in what it describes as genocide, is likely to draw protests from Turkey. The Bush administration has warned that even congressional debate on the genocide question could damage relations with a vital Muslim ally and member of NATO.

    Turkey strongly opposes the claims that its predecessor state, the Ottoman government, caused the Armenian deaths in a planned genocide. The Turkish government has said the toll is wildly inflated and that Armenians were killed or displaced in civil unrest during the empire's collapse and the World War I conditions. Ankara's proposal to Yerevan to set up a joint commission of historians to study events of 1915 is still awaiting a positive response from the Armenian side.

    After French lawmakers voted last October to make it a crime to deny that the claims were a genocide, Turkey said it would suspend military relations with France. Turkey provides vital support to U.S. military operations. Incirlik Air Force Base, a major base in southern Turkey, has been used by the U.S. to launch operations into Iraq and Afghanistan and was a center for U.S. fighters that enforced the "no-fly zones" which kept the Iraqi air force bottled up after the 1991 Gulf War.

    The Turkish foreign minister, in last week's visit to the U.S., warned Congress that passing a resolution on the so-called Armenian genocide would harm relations with his country.

    "The passage of even a nonbinding resolution in either chamber would seriously harm our bilateral relations," he said.

    The genocide and confrontation
    The obstacle of the word "genocide" is preventing us from confronting ourselves. I personally do not endorse the opinion that in history there was any Armenian genocide.

    However, it doesn't suppress inhuman treatment and the reality of genocide itself. If we follow the conjuncture, it would say the Armenians made a pact with the Russians and stabbed us in the back. The Armenian committee members plundered, burned, destroyed and killed in Turkish and Kurdish villages. This is the absolute truth. However, it also can't change the truth that the Union and Progress-minded way of understanding aimed to make all Armenians pay the price for some Armenians' sins.

    13.02.2007
    MEHMET METİNER, BUGÜN




    State-like
    Subconsciously everyone knows that we can not serve the country by acting like a state body.

    At times when our country was in danger, or perhaps when such images were created, some patriots saved us from falling over the edge. The state could not protect itself, so the responsibility befell on some of our self-sacrificing citizens. Those who worked for the government and not like the government were able to succeed, attain prestige and reach high-level positions where as those who worked like the government were treated like cowards.

    To be a victim of punishment, imprisonment, and exclusion has become a trend of politics and promotion. This is a sign that the country is not improving but reaching its ultimate failure. Everyone is fighting for the sake of the country, but is unaware that it is tearing down the pillars that hold this country up. I had a strong belief that our government was at the formation stage, which would be completed by those who acted like the government. I was occupied with input more than the output, and this I do not regret.

    12.02.2007
    MAHİR KAYNAK, STAR




    [MONDAY TALK] ‘The authoritarian state is the problem, not 301’
    A law professor says the Turkish Penal Code is like a minefield for intellectuals who think, write and speak their minds.

    Abolishing the infamous Article 301 will not solve any problems unless a change of mentality in the judiciary occurs, said former head of the Istanbul Bar Association Yücel Sayman, himself battling a prosecutor who has charged him with founding a clandestine organization and spying. Law Professor Yücel Sayman refers to the Turkish Penal Code as a "minefield" full of traps for people who think, write and speak their minds. According to the former head of the İstanbul Bar Association Sayman, the root of the problem lies with the authoritarian form of the state, the curtailment of liberties with the laws enacted in the September 12, 1980 coup period, and pitting the republic against democracy in Turkey.

    After being elected to head the bar association twice in the mid 1990s, Professor Sayman gained prominence when a nationalist prosecutor accused him of being a part of a German plan to prevent Turkey from exploiting its natural resources in 2002. Representing Bergama villagers who protested gold mining in their region at the time, Sayman was acquitted. He filed a counter-lawsuit asking compensation of $21,000 from the prosecutor for accusing him without evidence.

    The Turkish Penal Code (TCK) was modified in accordance with European Union adjustment laws, right? And Article 301 came with it.
    A new TCK was prepared then. Article 159 was replaced with Article 301, which foresees punishment for insulting Turkishness. Article 301 is dated June 1, 2005.

    Since these laws were prepared in the framework of EU adjustment laws, we should have been expecting a better situation. On the contrary, many problems have arisen and ultimately EU-Turkey relations have been negatively affected. Isn't this a paradox?
    Yes, this is a paradox. I get scared whenever steps are taken in the way of reform. It has always been the case, except for a few cases, that liberties are curtailed by new reforms. When the TCK is being modified, certain circles expect a revolution. However, apart from a few changes, new modifications generally come out to be more freedom-restrictive. The new articles in the TCK were debated in European Union circles. Certain EU officials visited Turkey to observe the implementation of the new TCK. They didn't object to the code itself. They waited for its implementation. The reason why they didn't object to it is that there are reactionary developments in EU countries as well. They are increasingly enacting antidemocratic laws. Although it might seem like a paradox, EU countries are about to model Turkey to modify their laws. Britain, France and Germany are currently modifying their penal codes.

    Are there codes similar to Article 301 of the TCK in EU countries?
    There are worse codes in EU countries. In Britain, it was proposed to raise detention periods to 45 days in the framework of the anti-terror act. Although it was rejected, the courage to propose it was noteworthy. Nonetheless, the detention period is quite long and electronic bracelets are allowed. In France, the denial of the Armenian genocide is penalized. EU countries are no better than Turkey from the viewpoint of their penal codes. That's why they didn't object to Article 301 but said let's wait for its implementation.

    Does the problem stem from the implementation of Article 301 in Turkey?
    Implementation of laws changes according to political conjecture in Turkey. Unfortunately, this is the case with the Turkish judiciary. There is an intentional change of mentality in the judiciary over the last 15-20 years. Most prosecutors and a significant number of judges assume the mission of protecting certain values, such as the state, the republic and secularism. This is a detrimental view of the judiciary that should not exist in a lawful state. The protection of state is in the purview of security forces and not judicial bodies. It is the result of such a viewpoint that most of the lawsuits filed by prosecutors result in convictions.

    What viewpoint should the judiciary adopt? Should it assume the mission of protecting individuals instead of the state?
    The judiciary is not expected to protect anybody. Its duty is to execute laws in concrete cases. At this point, it can use its creativity and judge in favor of liberties. It doesn't have a duty of protecting the state or individuals. The attitude of the judiciary in the implementation of laws is important. The judiciary will either interpret laws within the framework of democratic principles that will broaden the scope of liberties or in a way that will curtail or even abolish them.

    That mentality of prosecutors that you mentioned, to protect the state, secularism and even the republic, where did it originate from?
    The process originated in the period that followed the September 12, 1980 coup. Owing to laws enacted in this period, the curtailment of liberties was viewed as normal. These laws put pressure on daily life in Turkey but people have become accustomed to it. These laws were implemented more strictly after the PKK and Kurdish problems established themselves on the agenda through violence and the civil war that followed. It is also the way the new generation of judges have been trained. Judges and prosecutors assumed the duty of guarding the state. They lost their objectivity at this point.

    The judiciary should feel free to act independently and put aside fear in order to rule in favor of liberties, don't you think?
    That's right. We have never said or claimed that the judiciary is independent in Turkey. Judges entertain freedom of decision to some extent. Unless facing threats against their lives, judges are not ordered to rule in certain directions, except for several cases that are claimed to have taken place. Nonetheless, most judges feel obliged to rule in certain direction. This viewpoint originated in the defunct state security courts (DGM), which were a disaster from the perspective of liberties. Courts cannot be established to protect the state.

    Debates over Article 301 were incited by discussions on specific issues, particularly the Armenian issue. Why do they go around a single issue?
    Because the Armenian problem was on the political agenda of Turkey. In many countries, Armenian genocide drafts were presented to national parliaments and Turkey also started to debate this issue. People debated whether the events in 1915 were genocide, massacre or forced emigration. Debates were treated as attempts to insult Turkishness. This is the reflection of political conjecture on the laws.

    When people express their opinion on such an issue, why has debate been associated with crime?
    Throughout the history of the Turkish Republic, except for one or two periods, thought has always occupied a place in the penal code from the perspective of philosophy of law. Creativity of mind, namely thought, has always been treated as a potential means of crime. Therefore, the penal code contains articles regarding thought crime. Confiscation of books and closure of theatres are frequent practices in the history of the republic. Research conducted in early 1990s listed 626 laws and amendments restricting freedom of thought.

    What constitutes a thought crime?
    There are certain values that states are supposed to protect like Turkishness. The state tries to protect these vales. It claims the protection of these values against insult and humiliation. Certain values are under legal protection of the state. When you criticize or debate these values, you are tried for breaking applicable laws. A penal code, which was prepared with the mindset of a sacred state, prevails in every aspect of life to impede criticism of the state. Insulting a person can be considered as a breach of personal rights. However, this act cannot be put in the purview of a penal code. Otherwise, it will be a vengeful attitude. Penalizing the insult of persons with imprisonment cannot solve the problem, but the aggrieved party can demand a public apology or compensation if the perpetrator fails to apologize. A mentality that penalizes the insult of persons with imprisonment will go further and protect Turkishness and other sacred values against thought, debate and you. One cannot understand how endorsing the Armenian genocide or massacre can insult or humiliate Turkishness.
    Now there is a debate about what should the exact term be in Article 301: Turkishness or Turkish nation?
    Turkishness refers to race. Turkish citizenship includes Anatolian Armenians too, but Article 301 is not applied when they are insulted. Insulting Central Asian Turks, who are not citizens of Turkey could even be considered as an insult against Turkishness.

    Will replacing the term Turkishness with Turkish nation settle the problem?
    Such debates are meaningful in terms of philosophy of law. Proposals can be made about what terms to use. The best solution would be to remove thought from the purview of the penal code and to see that terms cannot be protected by trying people who express their thoughts. Any other modification would impede creativity of thought. The way to achieve this is to abolish Article 301 and all other similar ones.

    Are there any other traps for liberties in the TCK?
    Yes, many. Article 305 is another trap. The TCK is like a mine field for people who think, write and speak their minds. The Armenian problem cannot be resolved by abolishing Article 301. It can be removed from the purview of the crime of insulting Turkishness and put under the title of another threat, which are plentiful in the TCK.
    The government asked NGOs for proposals regarding Article 301. What do you think about this move?
    It is a significant development that the government exchanges opinions with NGOs and works on a draft considering their proposals. It is a rare occurrence in Turkey. Armenians were killed and gangs are being formed amidst debates over the issue. The government should abolish the article in question. Racism, not nationalism, is rising in Turkey. Society includes every person living in the country. However, the word Turkishness is limited to a single people. This is racism, not nationalism. The notion of Turkishness fosters racism. The government should act at this point to prevent such an inclination. You cannot consider racism as a sort of nationalism. It is a detrimental movement.

    Neither the government nor the opposition seems to be acting to abolish Article 301 or other similar ones.
    There is no party that wants to abrogate the article. Certain leftist parties seem ambitious to act, but they don't have clear-cut proposals.

    Why is there resistance to change?
    The problem stems from pitting the republic against democracy in Turkey. The Turkish constitution defines the republic as a form of government. In fact, it regulates the formation and function of government. If you adopt it as a form of government, you have to establish its principles, since structurally it doesn't mean anything. A republic can be fascist, socialist, popular, democratic or Islamic. In the constitution, the republic is defined as secular, democratic and adheres to the law. Democracy is treated as a principle, but not as a form of government. Democracy is a form of government and secularism is an inevitable principle of democracy. The republic and democracy contrast in the political arena. Political parties and political scientists endorse democracy as a principle. They say it can be sacrificed to protect other principles or the republic. Democracy and freedom are debated in this framework. Inalienable principles of democracy are treated as threats to the republic in Turkey and the exercise of liberty is not tolerated at this point. If a government proposes an amendment to a law, it is accused of acting against the republic. Since we accept the republic as the form of government instead of democracy, we view principles of democracy as threatening. The republic and democracy can neither merge nor separate. What should be done is to exercise effort to bring them closer to each other. However, right wing and antidemocratic circles consider it threatening to the republic.

    Is there way to break this vicious circle?
    Of course. This deadlock will be broken when people realize that the freedom of others is their freedom.
    Do you think there is progress in this direction?
    Whenever a party vows to broaden liberties, it obtains a majority of votes. The Democratic Leftist Party, and Democrat Party in the past, and Justice and Development Party most recently prove this hypothesis. However, these parties used words of democracy to win elections. They thought democracy was limited to this. To obtain the votes of leftist people, late Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit vowed to abolish oppressive laws, but enacted antidemocratic laws in the 1970s.

    Will the upcoming elections have an influence?
    Political parties can initiate popular movements by endorsing liberties. However, there are numerous obstacles. The formation of a political party requires financial power. The ten percent election threshold is another obstacle, not to mention political, legal, constitutional and implementation obstacles. Certainly they are not insurmountable.

    What are your suggestions?
    Turkey has a despotic and authoritarian form of government. Nothing better can be expected from despotic and authoritarian states. In fact, Turkey is about to lose a crucial chance. It can replace the authoritarian state regime with a democratic structure and become a democratic model at a time when Europe is heading toward the right and wars are on rise. However, there is no political will to achieve this in Turkey. Even if such a will appears, it is suppressed.

    12.02.2007
    YONCA POYRAZ DOĞAN




    Human scenes from Trabzon
    I strongly believe that cities have souls or characters. What makes their characters unique is not just their landscape, the lives that are lived inside them or their history, but also how they react to the blows life deals them.

    Trabzon has a beautiful landscape: On one side is the dark blue Black Sea, and the other side steep, green mountains. These blues and greens are unique. I don't think I would be mistaken if I said Trabzon's blue or Trabzon's green. If you know how to listen, Trabzon's sea and many small rivers are trying to talk.
    Its people are very unique as well. They are reactionary, impatient, persistent and crazy in their own way, but not at all hostile. Yes, it is very difficult to describe them. But it is obvious the city of Trabzon is suffering nowadays. It is an offended city. Yet it is very proud of itself, too.

    I know, it sounds complicated. I was only in Trabzon for two days, and of course, that's not long enough to define a city. To be honest, my impression of Trabzon from the very first moment I set foot there could not be realized with knowledge or science but only with the eyes of the heart. So it becomes less complicated, very simple actually. Let me try.

    As you know, last year a priest was killed by a 16-year-old boy in Trabzon. Then, Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was killed by another boy from Trabzon, this time aged 17. There were some other violent events in the city in past years. For details, you can refer to Today's Zaman's Tuesday edition.
    My intention is to talk about Trabzon from a different point of view.

    I have to admit when I was flying to Trabzon via İstanbul, I was a little nervous. What would I see? What would the reactions of people be?

    All my life, I have been to cities where conflicts or tense atmospheres dominated. From the moment you enter such a city, it is impossible not to breathe in this tense climate. However, this was not remotely the case with Trabzon.

    In the cities under close scrutiny by national and international media, people usually get very reactionary. They become either hostile or silent and sometimes vexed. This is not the case with Trabzon. Yes, the city is little bit angry to be mentioned as the city of killers, but that's all. Interestingly, it does not have a defensive reflex; however, if it finds someone to listen and understand it, then, it starts to talk in its traditional way: fast, without giving any break and in its own brand of Turkish.

    The spoken Turkish there is charming. When the locals start to talk, they're careful to speak Istanbul Turkish (formal), most of the time. But, when they get excited, they revert to their own Turkish. The ups and downs and stresses disappear and it gets very fast. It sounds like a kemençe, a local musical instrument. The kemençe is similar to a violin and has three strings, but it is played on your knees, not on your shoulder. I think well-known Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson compared it to the clack of a door. I must disagree with him. But as I told you before, if someone tries to analyze Trabzon intellectually, he cannot. I don't mean to say understand, but feel it.

    As they speak they add "da" to the end of their sentences. It does not have a meaning. At first it was very difficult for me to understand this Trabzon-style Turkish, but within few hours I got used to it. Even after my return from Trabzon, I'm tempted to add "da" to my sentences.

    Before I start to try to explain the soul of Trabzon, I want emphasize what it does not have. It does not have nationalistic symbols everywhere. More nationalistic symbols can be seen in an ordinary neighborhood in Istanbul or Ankara. For example, there are no slogans in the windows of cars.

    There are no youngsters in the streets shouting and pushing each other, either. It is possible to find them almost everywhere in the big cities. But what I understand from the stories I've been told, when it comes to fighting, the Trabzon people do not lose time by pushing each other but rather get right to the point.

    During the flight there, I glanced at my notes about the history of Trabzon. Once upon a time, several foreign consulates, American and French schools, the first printing house of the Ottoman Empire, theater houses, writers, artists and even the first foreign-language newspaper were there.

    There are many explanations about what happened to Trabzon. Its economy deteriorated and its families were broken, especially after the city was sort of occupied by women working in prostitution from the former Soviet Republics. There are many theories related to conspiracies, energy corridors, the increasing importance of the Black Sea, foreign involvement and so on. Let me add one: The city forgot its past. This occurred to me suddenly when I was listening to the Black Sea in front of a restaurant. The restaurant itself was formerly a huge Trabzon house. It was made of stone and wood, and the rooms were very large, but the interior decor was simple. On one side of the room, there was a cupboard, from corner to corner, and two long sofas, again from corner to corner. There I noticed that I did not see these kinds of houses in the city center much. The municipal building looks original, but the others are relatively new. I cannot stop myself from thinking that when the roots disappear, whatever it is -- cities, human beings or organizations -- they become more fragile. But the fish at the restaurant was both excellent and cheap. Trabzon people know how to cook them.

    When I was going to the Santa Maria Church for the commemoration of Father Santaro, I spoke a little with the taxi driver. "What will happen to Trabzon's situation?" The driver, did not say anything at first. Then he replied, "Many Turkish diplomats have been killed? And what happened? So what?"

    I felt that it was time to stop talking. But a few seconds later, the driver continued: "You should understand us. We, as people from Trabzon, cannot standby, we always say what we are thinking, but that doesn't make us killers. Yes, we love guns, and yes, when we get angry, no one can stop us. But to commit a political murder is something else. Look, the killers were too young, they were children. The ones who died were souls, too."

    Actually, he used the term "can" in Turkish, which doesn't really have an English equivalent. It can be translated as "beloved soul" or "dear."

    While waiting for the ceremony, I needed to use the restroom. I walked a few steps and entered into a small corner shop. There was an old man there; I told him what I was looking for.

    Instead of answering me, he made a phone call. He said one sentence into the telephone: "Come here!"
    Just a few seconds later, a young girl entered the shop. The old man whispered something to her, to which she smiled at me and said, "Come with me." She took me to the nearest building where she whispered something to the lady there. The lady took me to the bathroom. At that moment, I realized that the old man didn't speak to me as a sign of respect actually; he was thinking that to talk about my bathroom needs would be inappropriate.
    Was it a coincidence that everybody that I met in Trabzon surprised me in one way or another?

    For example, I met with Gültekin Yücesan, a retired teacher and head of Trabzon's Human Rights Association. He is in some way proud of having more than 150 personal and 600 group court cases against him. He is very open critic of state and government policies and is a self-styled defender of democratization and human rights. I asked him if he doesn't fear for his life.

    "Not really. I trust the hearts of the people of Trabzon very much. But of course, if there were provocations…"
    I realized what he meant as I walk down the street with him. People are stopping him, asking him how he is. I had the impression that he is one of most well-known personalities in Trabzon, or even one of the most respected.
    When we were having tea with him in the central park, Yücesan was talking about the demonstrations he helped stage. It is very difficult to understand, wasn't this same city in which a few people were almost lynched because they tried to hold a meeting to protest F-type prisons?

    The answer came from a passer-by, who joins us when he sees Yücesan.

    He talked nonstop, and when asked about nationalism, he started to talk about his military service in Southeastern Anatolia and their clashes with the PKK. Anyway, most of the youngsters that I met there served as commandos, fighting against the PKK.

    "Trying to keep the unity of the motherland is something else. But to be a Kurd is something else as well."
    He laughed and added; "As you know, they call the ones who see the sea Laz and the ones who do not are called Kurd."

    He told me a story, "Recently, I went to İstanbul. Some youngsters asked me for money. I gave them some, but they said, 'All of it.' I got angry, I punched them and took their money instead. I was staying in the house of a relative where they have a poor woman neighbor. Her husband had run away." He stops talking briefly to curse the husband. "So I gave her all the money, of course…"

    He continued: "We believe here if there is no gun in a house, there is no praying in this house either, da. These young idiots has been used by malicious people, da. It is easy to find the soft spot of the Trabzon people, da. And if they don't know anything about life, da, they get used by others, da! I wish not outsiders, but intellectuals like Gültekin were in power to direct us, da."

    While I was in the city, I wanted to visit the Sumela Monastery. It is little bit outside of the city on the former Silk Road. As we were approaching, there was suddenly snow on the road. It was breathtaking, those very dark green pine trees piercing white clouds. The wind and the river running from the mountains next to the narrow road were one of the most wonderful choruses I've ever heard. I think my lungs had never met this kind of intense oxygen before.

    With a few kilometers left before the monastery, it became impossible to proceed. I told my friends that we should turn back. They were upset. They got silent and were acting as if it was a matter of life or death to reach the monastery. Then I realized what they mean when they say, "We are thick-headed people."

    "Let's walk," they said. I told them, "Not a chance." They were about to leave me there. It was so difficult to convince them to stop and have lunch. Well, we had fish again, but this time it was fresh water fish. It, too, was delicious. There are not many types of appetizers in Trabzon, but they have stuffed pazı and kuymak, which is made from a special cheese, corn flour and eggs. To eat it is an adventure as it gets longer and longer because of the cheese. But it is very delicious.

    I wondered about the women coming from the former soviet republics. Whoever I talked with saw them as a sort of beginning to the problem. They are not visible during the day, but it is possible to find them in Çomlekçi neighborhood in music halls from the early afternoon on. Well, I prepared stories about them on different occasions, and I know by experience it is very hard to talk with them. But, surprise again: The first lady I approach talks very openly. "Yes, they think that we are the source of the evil here. But you know, they will not harm us. They're not like that. The only harm can come from our lovers!"

    Ibrahim, a local, explains, "To kill someone for the sake of personal matters, for example, for honor, is something else. It is very Trabzonish. I will never retreat even one step back if I think I am right. I prefer to die. But to commit a political murder, that's not from here at all."

    By the way, I noticed that when people from Trabzon are talking about killing, they usually use two different words. If it is a personal matter, they don't call it a murder. They either say stabbing or shooting. But if it is something else, it is properly called a murder.

    He gives a very odd explanation. "Look, the parents of the priest's killer were in the church. Let me explain something, if I kill anyone, my parents would never visit the person's family that I killed. They would think that I was right. So from here it is obvious that, the real killers were not in Trabzon, but somewhere else." Again, the same old story: Trabzon is innocent, and the outsiders are the guilty ones.

    I discussed it with another person from Trabzon and said: "Well, if it is really from outside, then it might become normal with an effort. It is still possible to save the soul of Trabzon."

    He replied: "If I take this cup and throw it from the window, what happens? We can repair the glass, we can have another cup. We can act like it didn't happen. But everybody will remember it. So, it does not matter what we do, everybody will remember Trabzon for these murders."

    13.02.2007
    AYŞE KARABAT TRABZON




    Escape seems tough this time
    February 13, 2007
    MEHMET ALI BIRAND
    We have overlooked the genocide allegations for years. We have acted as though it would just disappear if we paid it no heed. The Armenians, however, imposed their views as the years went by. At the moment we can only escape this trap by taking steps that will surprise the world, by making courageous advancements.

    Armenians have been waiting for such an event for years.

    Their aim has been the acceptance of genocide allegations in the U.S. Congress. They estimated that, although the bill is not of a binding nature, should they have the acceptance by the Parliament of the world's only superpower of the genocide, the rest would come by itself and that even the currently abstaining parliaments of other countries would also follow the lead of the U.S. Congress. The second stage after the acceptance at Parliament is to pressure governments and force Turkey to accept genocide.

    I do not believe this plan will work. At the very least I believe it is impossible for all of them to launch themselves on Turkey and force it to accept genocide.

    Let's leave this issue alone for a while and return to the main problem at hand.

    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül has concluded his visit to Washington. He is happy with the outcome of his meetings. He made the necessary warnings. As always he explained how relations will endure the blow if the bill passes. He could not go beyond this. That is to say he did not provide the U.S. government with justification to block the bill. Unfortunately the elections in Turkey prevented courageous steps from being taken.

    So what will happen now?
    The administration of President George W. Bush will be opposing the bill fiercely. However, it is expected beforehand that it will not be very effective.

    Supporters of the bill probably anticipate passing the bill at the House of Representatives at the end of March, without waiting for April 24. The reason is simple: Congress takes a break in the first two weeks of April. Thereafter only a week remains before April 24. The Armenian lobby plans to plunge into action at the end of March.

    All these assumptions hold true for only now. The situation may change in the future, different conditions may arise. However, according to the current data the possibility of the bill passing at the House of Representatives is around 80 percent.

    Those monitoring the U.S. politics closely agree that the possibility of the passing of this bill would be greater in 2008, the elections year, and that Armenians may try this option. On the other hand, it seems Armenians believe they have a pretty good chance this year too.

    To sum it up, it seems hard for the Bush administration to block the bill against such pressure, postponing the initiative to 2008.

    Then can Turkey neutralize the Armenian plans besides threatening the Bush administration and the Congress and showing how the relationships will be damaged?

    Which steps will help the Bush administration to prevent the bill from being passed?

    I believe the key remains in Turkey's hands.

    Turkey can postpone the bill for a long time if it can take courageous steps.

    Turkey can prevent the bill if it wants:
    The only weapon that Turkey uses to prevent the bill in both the U.S. administration and the administrations of other countries is “If this bill passes, then our relations will be damaged. The Turkish public will show a great reaction.” These may not be threats but merely the facts. However, they are understood as threats by the other party.

    On the other hand, there is a way to change the course of events regarding the genocide argument and, to an extent, receive the support of Armenia.

    However, this requires courage.

    It requires self-esteem.

    Here are some of the suggested initiatives:

    – Turkey can enter into talks with Armenia without prerequisites.

    Once the talks have been initiated, every issue can be opened and debated. A process that will take years will commence. It can be explained to our Azerbaijani friends that such an approach will also be to their benefit.

    – The border gate between Turkey and Armenia can be initially opened only to people.

    The gate remains closed to commercial transactions at first. That way, a gesture will be made to Armenians without bothering the Azerbaijanis any further.

    – The attempt to form a council of international historians can be repeated.

    Armenians oppose such a council. They claim, “The genocide has been accepted by the international arena. Why should we risk it now by joining such a committee?” However, if Turkey comes up with an extensive package and extends a hand of friendship to Armenia with a satisfactory campaign, it may break the opposition of the Armenian community against Turkey.

    – Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) can either be abolished completely or major amendments made to annul the current rationale; it could be rewritten more realistically.

    Since Article 301 is seen as one the factors in the Hrant Dink murder, an important message will be conveyed in both the domestic and international arena.

    We have overlooked the genocide allegations for years. We have acted as though it would just disappear if we paid it no heed. The Armenians, however, imposed their views as the years went by. At the current point we can only escape this trap by taking steps that will surprise the world, by making courageous advancements.

    Clearly the prestige we will lose in the international arena in the future will be much graver than a couple of thousands of votes in the elections.

    This is “loving your country.”




    Turkish Press Yesterday
    February 13, 2007
    Turkish and Swedish teams to excavate mass grave:
    Yesterday's Hürriyet led with an invitation from a Turkish historical institution to a Swedish expert, who claimed that a mass grave in the southeastern city of Mardin belonged to victims of an alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans in 1915, to dig up a mass grave in that city.

    Professor David Gaunt from a Swedish university accepted the Turkish Historical Institution's (TTK) invitation and demanded full freedom for the excavation, the daily reported.

    “We accepted all the conditions [put forth by Gaunt]. What's more we will be meeting his team's requirements for the excavation,” noted TTK head Yusuf Hallaçoğlu. Emphasizing that this invitation is for all the scientists interested in the issue and particularly those of Armenian origin, Hallaçoğlu noted that this excavation would be a first in the world, Hürriyet reported.

    The mass grave was found last year when Gaunt carried the issue to Swedish parliament, alleging that the graves belonged to Armenian and Syrian genocide victims killed during a forced migration during World War I.




    Just a warning to US from a friend
    YUSUF KANLI
    February 13, 2007
    Entire web of Turkish-US ties will be affected from an Armenian bill, including cooperation in Iraq

    During his talks in the United States Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül met with many senior U.S. administration executives as well as leading congressional personalities and “said” if the bill recognizing what had happened in the first quarter of the last century in eastern Anatolia as genocide was adopted, it would “poison” Turkish-U.S. relations and there would be “long-term repercussions” from an effort by the U.S. Congress to write history.

    We used “said” in quotes because there is an ongoing thunderstorm in the United States. The Armenian lobby is trying to exploit what the foreign minister said and build antagonism between Ankara and Washington. According to House of Representatives members Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg, the Turkish Foreign Minister and Turkish officials have “threatened” the United States by saying that if the Armenian genocide bill is adopted, Turkey will stop cooperating with the United States in providing logistical support to U.S. forces in Iraq and thus “threatened” the security of U.S. servicemen.

    According to the two representatives such a situation would amount to Turkey “intervening” in U.S. military operations in Iraq and such a “threat” from Turkey was “totally unacceptable.” Furthermore, they charged that the U.S. administration “bowed” to this “threat” from Turkey and have asked members of the House of Representatives not to even debate such a bill.

    Well, Gül and other Turkish officials and many commentators in the Turkish media who care about Turkish-U.S. relations, have made many remarks and written many articles against the Armenian bill and about the consequences it would lead to in Turkish-U.S. ties. So did many respected newspapers of the United States and other countries.

    Congress is independent, but...:
    Everyone accepts that the U.S. Congress is independent of the U.S. executive and that the executive branch cannot control the agenda of the U.S. legislature. Congress decides freely what to legislate and what not to. If the U.S. executive sees national interest in the legislation or non-legislation of an issue, it just writes advisory notes to congressional leaders and legislators; if the legislation requires presidential approval, the president may approve it or may not. That's all.

    More or less, that's how the Turkish Parliament is expected to function also, though often it just rubberstamps what the government has already decided. But, there are cases, like the March 1, 2003 case when Parliament rejected a government request for authorization to allow the United States to use Turkish territory to open a second front through Turkey in the Iraq War. Since that date Turkey has been living through the consequences of that development, though the government was indeed in agreement with the United States and the vote was more a defeat for the Turkish government than for the United States concerning its war plans.

    There will be consequences:
    Tomorrow, even if the Armenian bill is adopted by only one house of the U.S. Congress and left in limbo, there will be serious consequences to Turkish-U.S. relations from such a development. If it is adopted by both houses, the damage will be even greater. This must be obvious to everyone. Saying something obvious cannot be tantamount to issuing veiled or open threat to the United States, can it? Indeed, talking to our friend, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Istanbul deputy Egemen Bağış, the other day, I noticed early signs of a “reciprocal” mentality brewing in the Turkish legislature. "The Armenian resolution is a serious and formidable threat to Turkish-U.S. relations. If the relations take a hit, it will not be because of Turkey. Turkish people will perceive it as a hostile U.S. act. The Turkish public may not and can not differentiate the constitutional fine print of the U.S. governmental system,” said Bağış, who is also the chairman of the Turkish-U.S. friendship group in Parliament.

    Turkey is a friendly country to the United States. No one in Turkey is after hurting U.S. interests. Yes, most Turks were against the Iraq invasion. Yes, most Turks were critical of the behavior of U.S. troops in Iraq? Yes, most Turks would like to see an end to the U.S. presence in Iraq. But, we at the same time are very much aware that the United States cannot fail in Iraq and cannot leave Iraq without finishing the job because such a development would endanger Turkish national security. For its own interests Turkey is obliged to cooperate with the United States for U.S. success in Iraq.

    But let's not fool each other. The entire web of Turkish-U.S. ties will be affected by an Armenian bill, including cooperation in Iraq. Saying this cannot be considered as issuing a “threat,” this is a warning from a concerned friend who indeed expects friends in the United States to heed it honestly.


    Bananas

    “If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly.”

    I refer, of course, to the possibility of an Armenian resolution being passed by the American Congress.

    I write this article while bleary-eyed with déjà vu. Not long after I started working at a Turkish newspaper, I recall the great brouhaha as Senator Robert Dole tried to move a resolution through the US Senate to declare April 24, 1990 “a national day of remembrance of the 75th anniversary of the Armenian genocide of 1915.” I also recall having to gently disillusion a colleague that organizing a boycott of Dole bananas would little affect the fortunes of the senator’s family who were humble people from Kansas.

    The Dole-sponsored resolution was defeated by a filibuster on the Senate floor. Had it succeeded, would history have turned out differently? Well, for a start, we wouldn’t have to have had quite so many debates over the future of Turkish-American relations in the intervening years, and a lot of well-paid Washington lobbyists, working on Turkey’s behalf, might not have been able to pay off their second homes so quickly. Would Turgut Özal have been unable to pursue his “active foreign policy,” which included close logistic support for the first American invasion of Iraq? Perhaps.

    But the invasion would have gone ahead in any case, and if 2003 is anything to judge by, Saddam Hussein would still have left Kuwait. But then if Turkish-American relations were strained during the 1990s, might the 2000-2001 economic crises have happened that much earlier (and at a lower cost) and might Turkey have been forced to undertake structural economic reforms that much sooner? Perhaps.

    Speculating on historical “might-have-beens” is to engage in endless tongue-twisters. The more pressing question is: What might happen this time? Mehmet Ali Birand writes that Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül made a great impact during his recent trip to Washington and got to see Dick Cheney. The Financial Times writes that it was a complete disaster -- and that he didn’t get to see the new speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi. The answer is: No one really knows.

    The conventional wisdom is that the resolution has a better chance of passing than ever before, with the added push of the wave of sympathy and outrage that has flowed from the tragic death of Hrant Dink. Again, the wisdom is that if the motion reaches the floor of the House, it will pass -- but that it might just be strangled in committee.

    I am the last person to ask what the future will bring. My record in predicting American politics is particularly poor. Up until the very week in 2003 when America invaded Iraq, I was still prophesying such a thing couldn’t possibly ever happen. “No one nation with so sophisticated an intelligence and foreign service at its disposal could be so daft,” I confidently told anyone who would stop to listen.

    So if I don’t know what will happen, what do I think should happen?
    There is little doubt that a resolution recognizing an “Armenian genocide” would at this moment throw oil upon the nationalist fires in Turkey. While they might not burn out of control, who can be sure of controlling the blaze? One could argue that the AK Party might deflect the blame for what in Turkey will be seen as a foreign policy disaster onto the ultranationalist right. I fear the opposite will happen and that a resolution will make a dialogue based on compassion more difficult. Sahin Alpay, a sensible commentator, writes that the resolution will only work to the advantage of those who want to see Turkey isolated.

    My proposal, therefore, is simple. Instead of passing a resolution recognizing genocide, why don’t the wise American legislators pass a resolution declaring April 24 a day to honor the life of Hrant Dink and to reflect upon the cause for which he died: that Armenian and Turk might embrace each other with an understanding of each other’s history. I think if we start by mourning one man’s death properly, in time we will find a way to mourn the rest.

    I don’t suppose this will happen any more than I expect Turkey’s own National Assembly to come up with a similarly modest gesture of magnanimity. The only thing I know for certain is, come what may, we will not foreswear bananas.

    ANDREW FINKEL a.finkel@todayszaman.com
    13.02.2007



     This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix



    A journey through history of nationalism: Hasan Celal GÜZEL, Radikal
    February 12, 2007
    I feel like we have been dragged back to the cold war days of 40 years ago by an invisible hand. Nationalism, in reality, is a most suitable feeling for human nature. Everybody needs an identity and a sense of “belonging.” In general, our people don't have a problem of identity. The man on the street here generally defines himself as “Turkish and Muslim.” However, some of our intellectuals have taken up questioning identities deeming this to be some sort of skill. A “racist” form of nationalism never existed in the history of Turkey. The first period of the Republican era could be an exception. However, these should be taken as part of efforts to build a nation-state on the territory of a great Empire. Atatürk's aphorism, “Happy is he who says I'm a Turk,” is concrete proof that Turkish nationalism is not based on racial definitions. Nationalism in Turkey has never been understood as a strict doctrine. Our perception of nationalism has nothing to do with National Socialism, Nazism or fascism.

    Although I grew up reading the books of [Turkish nationalist ideologist] Nihal Atsız, my nationalism and love for my country never developed into feelings of hostility or antipathy towards members of another nation. In my early years as a young person, I was mostly influenced by Islam. In high-school, I was greatly influenced by humanism, which was introduced as an international thesis. I still dream of that ideal, but I never forget about the realities of national interests. In my years as a student of political science in Ankara, I met socialism. It was a strong current, with loud internationalist tones. Those who were under the spell of this current in the 1960s were denying all their national and spiritual values and chasing internationalist ideologies centered on the Soviet and China axis. Those against socialism found it hard to defend their ideas under the umbrella of libertarian views of liberal thought, and thus sought to find new ideologies for themselves. The liberal “Free Thought Club,” where I was the chairman, was weak in that struggle. Our club's secretary-general Murat Karayalçın and our second chair Esat Güçhan suggested we became more nationalistic. We started publishing the “National Thought” magazine. We also set up an “Ideal” club in our department. In those days, the Nationalist Youth Party (MHP) was increasing its influence among the youth. Our valuable professor Fikret Eren wrote a book called “Nationalist Socialist Order,” which sought to contribute a program to nationalism. However, the term “nationalist socialist” dropped out of use because of its association with the expression “national socialism.” As some of our intellectuals attempt to besmirch nationalism, seeing it through the eyes of Europe, I thought of a 40-year history. When you look at the past of these intellectuals, you'll see that they didn't like the concepts of motherland, nation, flag and religion in the years of the cold war. They still haven't been able to get rid of the influence of their past and their inferiority complex felt in comparison with the West.

    We are also against a “cruel state” that is oppressive, anti-democratic and detached from the people. However, our understanding of democracy never transformed into being against the nation and the state.

    Ogün Samast production center:Gülay GÖKTÜRK
    I am using the title Yeni Şafak columnist Hakan Albayrak used in his recent column. Referring to the National Forces Association, founded by a group of people “born from Turkish parents, pure-blood and strictly Turkish,” he rightly says the association has created an “Ogün Samast [the ultra nationalist teen who shot Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink] Production Center.”We have heard of the existence of such associations in various towns of Anatolia before that spine-chilling oath ceremony [of the National Forces Association where retired army members take an oath of allegiance using ultra nationalist and even racist expressions]. We have heard that people across the country were forming such “civilian militia” groups. However, I was closer to dismissing these as an urban legend.

    At least, the accounts had to be overstatements, I thought. Now that I have seen the members of an association set up by a retired army member making a pledge of allegiance on their rifles and now that I have heard their statements threatening to form civilian anti-crime groups, I am terrified. What kind of a country do we live in where we make reform after reform to bring our laws, administrative structure and economy closer to the civilized world while at the same time some armed radicals are forming civilian militia groups bringing the spirit of the Union and Progress [the committee which ruled the Ottoman Empire after a coup against the Sultan in 1908] tradition from 87 years ago back to life?What kind of a government is this that the National Forces Association, founded in November 2005, could actually openly state in its charter that it will strive to enforce the “Treason Law,” and “make everyone and every institution who betrayed the country since Nov. 11, 1938 [the day after Atatürk's death] pay for their deeds,” without any investigation being launched into its activities?What kind of a security organization is this to dismiss tip-offs from a former national intelligence officer that “an association under the name of National Forces is recruiting to organize sensational attacks?”The deep-state [a network of dark connections said to be nested within the state apparatus that is often believed to be the behind-the-scene force in some violent public incidents and killings] aside, where is the regular state? Have they forgotten that their foremost duty is to protect the life of their citizens? When a civilian group of militants go around with lists of “betrayers” in their hands, what is the “Last Turkish State” doing? It is in these times the state is needed the most. If they can't even handle this, all the taxes we pay are a shame upon the state.

    Alliance on the left is left to some other time:Sabah, Mahmut Övür
    There are dozens of small political parties, both left and right. They have all started out with great expectations, but failed to find what they were looking for. Some are trying to integrate into some other formation, while some others are waiting for a knock on their door in desperation. To put it shortly, there is nothing new in the world of the small parties. What's more important, politics is no longer an easy job in the global world. You either have to be part of a bigger party or get many small parties together in an alliance before the general elections, which is no easy task either. Now all left parties in Turkey want to try as they always do before general elections. We know that the Republican People's Party (CHP) leader has turned his back on the idea, which leaves the Democratic Left Party (DSP), the Social Democratic People's Party (SHP), the Dec. 10 movement and the Celal Doğan and Mustafa Sarıgül movement. These groups are obviously nearing the “end” of a possible alliance. Last week, an important meeting hinting at this “end” took place. DSP Chairman Zeki Sezer and members of the Dec. 10 movement got together. The meeting revealed that the DSP opposed an alliance with the SHP because of its past alliance with the pro-Kurdish DEHAP. They also appeared to be hesitant about Mustafa Sarıgül. After long talks they decided to take certain steps. They will get together on Feb. 12 and draw a roadmap for “cooperation on the left.” What will happen next is unclear. The recent meeting showed that the problems standing in the way are not decreasing but increasing, which in turn shows that an alliance on the left is left to some other time.




    Turkey divided over identity nationalism
    February 12, 2007
    Doğu ERGİL
    We have succeeded in creating a divided nation that sees itself from the eye of the fly as a mosaic of irreconcilable ghettos of identity groups. This is no nationhood. It is political tribalism stewed in a racist gravy

    The first demand we heard from our elders with official titles such as teachers, administrators, commanders, etc. was to be ready to give our lives for our country. Hardly anyone told us to invent or to discover something, to write a novel, to be an artist, explorer or scientist of international stature. These qualities were for another kind that we felt alien to. Our childhood memories are full of authors arrested, books burnt and hundreds of intellectuals imprisoned for reasons we did not fully understand and were afraid to ask.

    Despite these obstacles, some of us found our way to these alien territories, but mainly of our volition and after a bewildered journey, rather like Alice in Wonderland. In our professions or occupations – which do not require dying but working for our country – now we are reluctantly given body guards and police protection after our repeated appeals. We could have expected public sympathy and ovation for our achievements beyond just dying, but so far we have been awarded little, officially none. One wonders why?

    Intellectual elite as ‘the enemy':
    The simplest answer lies in the work we do other than dying. We produce knowledge and try to understand the human condition in the global reality. Knowledge is an instrument of change, so it is transformative. Hence it is dangerous for any ruling/power group or any regime that is out of tune with the realities of the world and jealous of its unaccountability and opaqueness of its deeds. It is no wonder that social scientists, authors and artists that inquire into and bring out the human potential and their need for freedom to do it are seen as subversive. Their demands are denied in every authoritarian country. For they ask questions, question traditions and ongoing policies that would undermine the very foundation of the legitimacy of power holders. Their efforts end up in new answers to old and new situations that are unacceptable to the power elite.

    At the end the intellectual elite is declared as the “enemy” of the regime by the power holders. But then why is the society so callous to the persecution of its intellectuals of their country and remain aloof of their plight or worse, even endorse it? The answer is simple but unfortunate: the critical mass of the society is insufficiently equipped to take part in the modern world, which it sees as threat to its traditional existence. These masses seek protection and providence under the wing of the state, which they become obedient subjects of. The conflict between the traditional parochialists and modern internationalists is transformed by the authoritarian state into a juxtaposition of the “enemies of the nation and the state” versus the “patriots,” labeled as “nationalists.” It is no wonder that the courts that were empowered to deal with crimes of “treason” were called “State Security Courts” rather than National Security Courts. This author also witnessed what state security means when he was prosecuted by these courts more than once.


    Enemy after our own image:
    Those who were so preoccupied with the unity of the nation and the integrity of the country never realized that they were in fact dividing the country mentally and psychologically. The division crated in the minds of the people was based on the concept or creation of an “internal enemy.” Indeed we have created our enemy after own image. We became our own enemies. Sunnis are pitted against the Alevis; secularists are pitted against the religious; Muslims against the non-Muslims; Turks against the non-Turks; Kemalists against the non-Kemalists. Every group accused the other as a “traitor” in their own (mutual) country.

    The developments after Hrant Dink's murder are both pathetic and harbor significant lessons to learn for the damage we have inflicted to ourselves. What we have discovered is how deeply divided our country is, that we have divided our countrymen along irreconcilable identities. Those in their later teens walking the streets of Trabzon are saying “well done” after Dink's murder, just as they did following the murder of Catholic priest Andrea Santoro, in the same city. “Some are wandering the streets in pride rather than feeling shame after each crime,” wrote columnist Yakup Karbuz, in the Trabzon daily Taka of Jan. 31, 2007.

    This division became most apparent in the soccer game between Elazığspor and Malatyaspor only last weekend. These are provincial teams. The slogans of the fans transcended those of an athletic competition into a very dangerous pseudo-ethnic denigration. Fans of the Elazığ team chanted “Armenians” to the fans of the Malatya team – Dink was originally from Malatya. Those from Malatya called the Elazığ fans “PKK” in reference to the terrorist group the Kurdistan Workers' Party.

    What nationhood, what nationalism are we talking about? We have succeeded in creating a divided nation that see itself from the eye of the fly as a mosaic of irreconcilable ghettos of identity groups. This is no nationhood. It is political tribalism stewed in a racist gravy.

    Now we have to come to our senses and pull our act together before it is too late. Nationalism of the official kind was an ethnic construct. It excluded every group that was not Turkish in ethnic origin other than those ready to abandon their origin or chose not to make a fuss about it. If the nation state had succeeded to provide democracy, welfare, pride in being a member of a modern developed country offering the opportunities of the global system, many more people would be satisfied with relying on their national – rather than cultural or ethnic – identity. But unfortunately, the national state has failed to deliver these promises to its citizens. Instead it oppressed them whenever they aired their dissent, expressed in ethnic or cultural rhetoric. This pitted the Turk against the non-Turkish citizen of the republic as much as the Turk that is the obedient (favored) subject of the state against the critical and inquisitive (disfavored) citizen, making the latter the prey of the former.

    In short the most common official jargon of “national unity and solidarity” is undermined by the very political ideology of the state that is based on exclusive nationalism, ethnicism and a refusal to acknowledge the plural character of its people. Now we have the divided nation that the founders of the republic dreaded most.




    CFR report generating momentum for a new era in US-Turkey relations
    February 12, 2007
    ELİF ÖZMENEK
    NEW YORK - Turkish Daily News
    The Council on Foreign Relations' (CFR), one of the most influential think tanks cautioned that “time is growing short” to take steps toward improving U.S.-Turkey relations. In its recently released report titled, “Generating Momentum for a New Era in U.S.-Turkey Relations,” the authors claim that during the next two years, "both countries will face a series of tough foreign policy questions concerning Iraq, Iran, the Middle East and Cyprus just as politicians in both capitals are entering election cycles.”

    CFR experts believe that the Turks have reason to be concerned. “The reality of the situation in Iraq strongly suggests that the Kurds are poised to gain at least significant autonomy in Iraq and control of the oil-rich region surrounding the city of Kirkuk.” Further, it would be illogical for U.S. forces, the report stated, to take any action that might destabilize the only region of Iraq that has been relatively quiet.

    The report recommended a two-track diplomatic approach that will simultaneously help to manage current policy differences and lay the groundwork for future cooperation on a broader agenda between Ankara and Washington.

    The first track should entail the pursuit of several short-term and time-sensitive initiatives to address current issues that present obstacles to progress in relations. Within this first track, the report says, the Kurdish issue should be a priority. The initial agenda for the process should have three steps, stated the report:

    1 – Clarifying the positions of all parties on the future status of northern Iraq;

    2 – Identifying areas of common interest and potential confidence-building measures (such as Turkish investment in infrastructure development, free trade, oil pipelines, and adequate border controls);

    3 – Possible avenues for dealing with the PKK in northern Iraq (such as pressure from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, PUK, and the Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party, KDP, to restrain the PKK, a Turkish amnesty for PKK fighters, rules governing extradition, and potential combined military action.)

    The Cyprus issue should be another priority within this first track, claimed CFR experts. “Given German Chancellor Angela Merkel's more forthcoming position toward Turkish membership in the European Union, there is an opportunity for Washington to work closely with Berlin on Turkey's accession process.”

    While the U.S. government keeps promoting Turkey's EU accession, the Cyprus issue has to be resolved. “Renewed leadership to end the island's divided status is also required, and the U.S. government is well positioned to provide it.” The United States should appoint a new special Cyprus coordinator, urge EU leaders “to use their collective clout to require more constructive behavior from the Cypriot government,” and take concrete political, diplomatic, and economic steps to break Turkish Cypriots from their international isolation, the report suggests.

    The second track includes longer-term efforts to create mechanisms for cooperation:

    The United States should establish a high-level U.S.-Turkish Cooperation Commission that would include a “strategic security dialogue,” the “expansion of economic and commercial ties,” and the “development of cultural exchanges, with emphasis on the expansion of educational opportunities.”

    Some say that following Gül's visit, the U.S. administration will definitely be against the introduction of the Armenian genocide bill in Congress. Measures against the PKK will be increased. Turkish sensitivities over Kirkuk are both understood and shared. However, the main question remains: Will any of these concerns translate into action? At the end of the day, as the CFR experts said, time is running out to build new momentum in the U.S.-Turkey relationship.




    Interview with Demirel: Deep state is the military
    February 12, 2007
    Yusuf KANLI & Göksel BOZKURT
    ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
    'The state cannot engage in murder. The state should not be implicated in crime. If anyone does that skies will collapse on him. The state cannot be blamed for the fault of individuals or institutions.' 'Lifting 301 may lead to confrontation and illegal paramilitary forces stepping in. Article 301 may be amended in a manner that won’t offend the people.' 'I am scared of racist, skull measuring nationalism.'

    Implications of gang activity in the state, murder and illegal deeds are nothing but efforts to harm the image of the state, and what is called the “deep state” amounts to nothing more than the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) taking over the administration of the country three times since 1960 on grounds that the state was brought to the brink of collapse, the "dean" of Turkish politics has said.

    In an interview with the Turkish Daily News about the “deep state,” nationalism and the contentious Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) – the issues that have dominated Turkey's agenda since the Jan. 19 murder of Hrant Dink, the editor in chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper AGOS – former President Süleyman Demirel said the state cannot commit murder or engage in illegal activity. The veteran politician said nationalism was not something to be feared, though a nationalist understanding tainted with racism or based on skull measuring was something that scared him as well. He refuted claims that there were gangs operating within the state and that these gangs constituted the “deep state,” saying that the state cannot be allowed to engage in illegal activities. However, he said there was a sensitivity regarding the security of the state. If there was a deep state, it was the TSK, he said. Acting with that sensitivity and with the pretext provided by the Internal Service Law – the law that sets the guidelines for the duties and functions of the TSK – the TSK has intervened in state administration three times. He said apart from the TSK there was no power within the state that could undertake anything on behalf of the state.

    ‘Erdoğan is wrong!' Opposing demands to lift the contentious Article 301 that regulates penalties for insulting Turkishness, Demirel said, “Lifting 301 may lead to confrontation. Illegal paramilitary forces may step in. However, 301 may be amended in a manner that won't offend the people.” Demirel said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was wrong in his remarks on the “deep state” and gangs within the state. “I was extremely saddened by such remarks. He has been leading a government for the past five years. If he is convinced that there are gangs active within the state, he is expected to get rid of them. Now he says that ‘others did not get rid of them, how could I?' as if others ever said there were gangs within the state. We said there were no such gangs and naturally did not go after something which did not exist.”

    Deep state is TSK The former president said the state cannot exist outside the frame of law, cannot engage in murder and cannot be involved in illegal activities. “I have served 12 years as prime minister and seven years as the president of the republic. In these periods I have never received a claim that the state was involved in such things,” he said. Nevertheless, he said there was sensitivity in this country against an existential threat to the state. Excluding the military there is no other force in the state that has the power to touch the state. Otherwise, there can be any such element in the state with the ability to stage actions on behalf of the state.”

    ‘Skies will collapse on them': Demirel said the wrong discussion was continuing in the country and people were engaged in “stoning ghosts.” He said the government and the security network of the country were obliged to track the criminals and bring them to justice rather than dispersing the guilt and engaging in petty polemics. “It is a gross injustice to implicate the state in a murder. The state cannot kill anyone. There is no interest in murdering Dink for the state. Whoever implicates the state in such a heinous act must know that skies will collapse on him. No one should look for a calf under an ox.” The veteran politician said those who claim there were gangs within the state were obliged to expose them. “But if the government says the state has committed a crime, I revolt against that claim.”

    ‘I am scared of racist nationalism' Demirel said there was nothing to fear from nationalism. He said nationalism required one to work for the interests and well-being of the nation. “Nationalism tainted with racism or skull measurers, however, scares me,” Demirel said. He said ethnic nationalism and nationalism based on racist themes were very dangerous and added the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was based on ethnic nationalism and has been after establishing an independent Kurdish state on Turkish territory. He said if the PKK could not be finished off, it was inconceivable to prevent some other groups that oppose that gang from organizing themselves. “This is Turkish ethnic nationalism. I am scared of ethnic Turkish nationalism. However, Turkish nationalism, as described by Ataturk, is the backbone of the Turkish Republic because it is not based on a race but is an inclusive understanding encompassing all elements who are loyal to this state and which treats all elements forming this nation on an equal basis and considers them equal citizens. Such nationalism exists in all states. Denying nationalism will be a big mistake. The British, the Germans or anyone else are not less nationalistic than the Turks. Nationalism must serve peace, development, the well-being of the nation and public order. But, if you opt for ethnic nationalism, that means confrontation.”

    301 can be amended:
    Demirel said he always feared polarization in society and unfortunately the contentious Article 301 of the TCK was becoming a source of friction in Turkish society. He was against annulment of Article 301, which regulates penalties against insulting Turkishness. However, he said the contentious article could be amended in a way that would not offend the Turkish public. “No one can insult the Turkish state or institutions of the Turkish state. No one can explain to the Turkish public a lifting of Article 301 because the people will say ‘How can you say let them curse at our state?' If you lift that article, we may have serious frictions in society. Paramilitary elements may step in to do what the judiciary is not allowed to do because the article is lifted. Such a situation would be opening an era in Turkey outside the rule of law. However, the article can be amended in a manner that would not offend the feelings of our people.” We must always stand for the defense of the state. The state cannot be blamed for the mistakes of some institutions or some personalities. The state anyhow is an abstract description. It is a sum of all the powers in the country. We should not harm it.”

    Turkey is floundering between etatism and liberalism
    Turkey has been floundering between an etatist, or state-dominated, economy and a free market economy and badly needs to undergo state reform, Demirel said. Making an analysis of the latest global and domestic developments in an exclusive interview with the Turkish Daily News, Demirel listed the most prominent global threats as the environment and global warming, energy, economic disparity between peoples and regions, terrorism, narcotics, migration and poverty. The former president said apart from the sole superpower of the United States, China, Russia, the European Union, India and Brazil were also emerging as the new global players.

    Live volcanoes around Turkey:
    Besides its own problems and the changing international climate, Demirel said, Turkey was surrounded by many “active volcanoes.”

    “One of these is the Israel-Palestine problem. Another one is Iraq. Even if we may not yet call it an active volcano, Iran is yet another. The Afghanistan volcano is also very important. There are eruptions of lava and gas from both southern and northern Caucasus. The Georgia-Russia relations, the Chechnya issue, the Nagorno-Karabakh problem are all included among those volcanoes,” said Demirel. Demirel advised that in devising its policies, Turkey's administrators must consider both global challenges as well as the so-called active volcanoes of the region.


    Global fever:
    The globe is complaining about the harm done to it by mankind, Demirel stated, adding that global warming and environmental challenges must be taken very seriously by everyone. “The globe has a high fever and its temperature is rising. Mankind must be at peace with the globe and should take every measure for its protection. This is extremely important. The globe's problem is the increase in its population and the gradual exhaustion of resources.”

    He underlined that the world's daily oil consumption was currently around 80 million barrels, and that the existing 145 billion ton global oil reserve will dry out in 45 years' time, while gas reserves will be exhausted in 60 years and coal reserves in 100 years if current consumption trends continue. He said that with the increased energy consumption of China – a natural consequence of its industrialization – these reserves could all be gone at a much earlier date. Thus, Demirel said, the international community has been seeking alternate energy resources, adding that this bleak energy situation was one of the most important issues of the world at the beginning of 2007.


    ‘Turkey needs to abandon its etatist mentality… Reform is a must':
    Turkey must wake up to the realities of the present day and realize the opportunities and challenges with which it is faced, Demirel stressed: In both democracy, human rights and particularly in terms of market economy, Turkey unfortunately still lags behind other nations. “Turkey needs to undertake further democratization and human rights reforms,” he said, complaining that Turkey had seen little success despite all its efforts in moving toward a market economy.

    “Turkey could not give up that etatist mentality. I believe that is the most important handicap hampering Turkey's development. Turkey could not yet understand the new role of the state. The new role of the state requires that it withdraw from the economy and engage in areas that could not be shouldered by others. The most prominent areas where the state must engage itself are defense, public order and security.” Demirel added that a state that cannot successfully undertake such responsibilities cannot do anything else.

    People don't trust politicians:
    For several reasons, Demirel said, the bridge between the people and politics and politicians had been disrupted. He said that people's complaints regarding the functioning of the state was mostly attributed to the disruption of the bridge between the state and the people.

    U.S. Pressing For Turkish-Armenian Rapprochement
    ArmeniaLiberty
    Washington
    11.2.2007
    By Emil Danielyan
    The United States is pressing Turkey to use a rare opportunity to normalize relations with Armenia that arose after the shock assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, a senior U.S. official indicated on Wednesday.

    “The issue of trying to use the tragedy of Hrant Dink’s murder to improve relations with Armenia is a major focus of our relationship with Turkey right now,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza told RFE/RL.

    Bryza said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who met her Turkish counterpart in Washington on Tuesday, is personally “encouraging” a Turkish-Armenian “reconciliation process” that would address the mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. He said the issue will also be high on the agenda of his visit to Turkey that begins on Thursday.

    Official Yerevan appears to be pessimistic about the success of those efforts, however. In an article published by “The Los Angeles Times” on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian complained that Ankara is refusing drop its preconditions for establishing diplomatic relations with Yerevan and opening the Turkish-Armenian border.

    “Ankara has let a rare moment pass,” Oskanian wrote. “Three weeks after the assassination of acclaimed Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, it appears the Turkish authorities have grasped neither the message of Hrant's life nor the significance of his death.”

    “We all hoped that the gravity of this slaying and the breadth of the reaction would have compelled Turkey's leaders to seize the moment and make a radical shift in the policies that sustain today's dead-end situation,” continued Oskanian. “However, after those initial hints at conciliation, the message out of Ankara has already changed.

    “Last week, according to the Turkish media, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said there can be no rapprochement with Armenians because Armenians still insist on talking about the genocide.”

    Dink’s January 19 shooting, widely attributed to his outspoken views on the Armenian tragedy, was universally condemned in and outside Turkey. Tens of thousands of Turks took to the streets of Istanbul for the funeral procession for the slain editor of the bilingual “Agos” weekly, one of the biggest public events in the country’s recent history. The massive outpouring of grief and anger led many Turkish commentators to urge a softening of the long-standing Turkish policy towards Armenia.

    However, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul made it clear late last month that his government will not reconsider that policy unless Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora stop campaigning for international recognition of the Armenian genocide. A high-ranking Turkish Foreign Ministry official reportedly reaffirmed this line at a meeting with Oskanian’s deputy Arman Kirakosian, who flew Istanbul to attend Dink’s funeral.

    Still, Bryza insisted that the opportunity to improve Turkish-Armenian ties in the wake of Dink’s murder “most definitely is not lost.” “We want a real discussion so no one can deny what happened [in Ottoman Turkey,] while at the same time improving bilateral relations between Armenia and Turkey,” he said in a phone interview. “All of that should happen without preconditions by anybody.”

    Ankara specifically wants Yerevan to accept Erdogan’s calls for the creation of a Turkish-Armenian commission of historians that would look into the tragic events of 1915-1918. Armenian leaders regard the idea as a Turkish ploy designed to scuttle the increasingly successful genocide recognition campaign.

    Oskanian asserted in his article that genocide recognition is “no longer a historical issue in Turkey, it's a political one.” “The [Turkish] prime minister is right,” he said. “Armenians do insist on talking about the genocide. It's a history-changing event that ought not, indeed cannot, be forgotten. However, we also advocate a rapprochement. And one is not a precondition for the other.”

    “If Turkey can't seize the moment, it should not be surprised when others do,” he added, referring to a U.S. congressional resolution that recognizes the slaughter of more than one million Ottoman Armenians as genocide.

    The draft resolution, co-sponsored by more than 140 legislators, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week. It calls on President George W. Bush to “accurately characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians as genocide.” Bush has declined to use the politically sensitive term in his annual messages to the influential Armenian-American community.

    Bryza stressed that this should not be construed as a policy of genocide denial. “We do not deny the mass killings and forced exile of up to 1.5 million Armenians,” he said. “There is no denial of that. All we say is that how we refer to those horrible events should be determined not by a political decision, but by very thoughtful people who have a candid and maybe painful exploration of their shared past.”

    “We can’t block it,” Bryza said, referring to the genocide resolution. “All we can do is to have a discussion with the congressional leadership and explain our position. We are going to do everything we can to make our case.”




     This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix
    Surfacing Bazaars and Byzantine Backstreets in Trabzon, Turkey
    By DARIA VAISMAN
    February 11, 2007
    THE port city of Trabzon doesn’t inspire obvious postcards. Perched on the Black Sea on Turkey’s less-developed north coast, it has long been associated with cargo ships, flashy Russian merchants and even flashier prostitutes.

    More recently, it has also been associated with nationalist violence. After the arrests of 11 people from the area on charges of plotting to murder an Armenian-Turkish editor in Istanbul last month, the authorities are investigating links the suspects in that killing may have to a series of nationalist-motivated crimes in the region, including the 2004 bombing of a McDonald’s restaurant in Trabzon and the murder of a Catholic priest there a year ago.

    But another side of Trabzon is also beginning to emerge. Thanks in part to a spillover from Istanbul, Bodrum and other tourist-throng destinations, this former Byzantine capital is becoming known for its untrammeled bazaars, spectacular cultural treasures and other picture-perfect attractions.

    The city already gets a fair share of cruise ships, especially luxury liners that hop around the Black Sea. Passengers, however, often limit their shore leave to the city’s must-see attractions, including the Sumela Monastery, a stone aerie built nearly 1,000 feet into the side of a mountain, and the Hagia Sophia, a majestic 13th-century church filled with New Testament frescoes, Islamic reliefs and centuries of sailors’ graffiti. It’s now a museum (90-462-223-3043; open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; admission is 2 new liras, or $1.38 at 1.45 new liras to $1.

    But they miss out on Trabzon’s real draw. With its antique center, bustling cobblestone streets and ancient wooden houses leaking fragrant smoke, Trabzon is a miniature Istanbul — without the crowds.

    During the day, rickety bazaars sell everything from silver-blue anchovies to underwear to handsome copper pitchers (about 30 new liras). Shops along Kunduracilar Street specialize in hasir bilezik, handmade wire-thin silver and gold bracelets that cost thousands of dollars. At night, when students from Karadeniz Technical University come out to play, Trabzon embraces every cliché of a Turkey torn between East and West. Mothers in headscarves rush children past the SineKahve cafe, where goateed intellectuals read glossy magazines. And at the Stress Café, 20-somethings flirt over cappuccino-flavored hookahs (5 new liras) and dance to a loud rock version of Turkish folk music.

    And then there is the Pontic culture, a local population fossilized from Byzantine days who speak a form of ancient Greek. They’re known for the kemence, a fiddle-like instrument that makes a whiny bee sound. Buy one for 75 to 350 new liras at the Izmir Saz Evi shop. Or you might be able to hear it live during a wedding at the Konak Dugun Salonu, a hall where on a recent Saturday the crowd shuffled energetically in a horon, a circle dance that resembles a knife fight.

    The lake town of Uzungol, just south of Trabzon, is also popular. Tucked in a valley between pine-covered mountains, this once-obscure town is now dotted with small restaurants and family-run hotels. Typical is the Inan Kardesler Bungalows; rooms are 70 new liras), which has wooden chalets, a garden and a restaurant that serves fresh trout from the lake.

    It’s what the Austrian Alps would have looked like “if the siege of Vienna had gone to plan,” said Gabriel Rayfield, a British consultant who was visiting Trabzon on business. “The Sound of Music,” he added, “with minarets.”

    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company




    What if Congress adopts the ‘genocide’ resolution?
    SAHIN ALPAY s.alpay@todayszaman.com
    A resolution instructing the US President to declare as “genocide” the Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey was recently introduced once more to the House of Representatives, as has been the case every other year.
    Like the previous ones, the Bush administration has made it clear that it is opposed to the adoption of the resolution. The present Turkish government, also like the previous ones, is exerting great effortS to stop the adoption of the resolution.

    This time; however, the adoption of the resolution seems more likely than ever. This is because the Democratic Party, which has traditionally been more sympathetic toward the resolution, is in control of the Congress, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reportedly highly supports the resolution. The horrendous murder of Turkish Armenian journalist and editor-in-chief of Agos weekly Hrant Dink is also said to have increased the number of representatives likely to vote in favor.

    The adoption of the resolution by the US Congress will not, however, mean the recognition of the “Armenian genocide” by the US government, since the resolution is of a nonbinding character. The following will happen: The US Congress will join the list of parliaments that have since 1965 adopted resolutions, reports or declarations of recognition of the “Armenian genocide.” The countries whose parliaments have adopted “genocide” resolutions (in chronological order) so far are the following: Uruguay (1965), Greek Cyprus (1982), Argentina (1993), Russia (1995), Greece (1996), Lebanon (1997), Belgium (1998), Vatican (2000), Italy (2000), France (2001), Switzerland (2003), Canada (2004), Slovakia (2004), Holland (2004), Poland (2005), Germany (2005), Venezuela (2005) and Lithuania (2005). (The Swedish parliament adopted a report to that effect in year 2000, but reverted later on.)
    Now we can pose a number of questions. Have the resolutions adopted by the parliaments of countries listed above led to the deterioration of bilateral relations between Turkey and the governments of countries involved? It does not seem possible to give an affirmative answer to this question.

    Turkey does not, anyway, recognize the Greek Cypriot government. It is certain that Turkish - Greek relations have much improved since 1999. Relations between Turkey and Russia have during recent years improved on an unexpected scale. The level of support for EU membership among the Turkish public has certainly decreased during the last two years, but this surely cannot be explained by the effect of “genocide” resolutions adopted by parliaments of a number of EU member states.

    How, then, would the adoption of the resolution by Congress affect bilateral relations between Turkey and the US? It would not be prophetic to say the very negative attitudes among the Turkish public toward the US, chiefly because of the Iraq policies pursued by the Bush administration, are likely to get even stronger, and that this is likely to be more to the detriment of the US than Turkey.

    Would the adoption of the resolution by Congress prove that Ottoman Turkey had pursued a genocidal policy toward its Armenian citizens in the period between 1915 - 1923? No, it would not. Some people will continue to insist that the tragedy which led, according to objective sources, to the deaths of at least 650 thousand Ottoman Armenians was the result of a decision by the Ottoman government to exterminate the Armenians. Others; however, will continue to argue that the decision for forced deportation of Armenians was not aimed at their extermination, but that the deaths were the result of famine, disease, and massacres by tribal elements and security forces acting on their own.

    Will the adoption of the resolution by Congress help inform the Turkish public at large on the great tragedy that befell the Ottoman Armenians in the 1915 - 16 period? No, it can hardly be expected that it will help improve research and broaden the debate on the history of the final period of the Ottoman Empire. If indeed the Turkish public opinion is more informed today than yesterday about what befell the Ottoman Armenians, the contribution of “genocide” resolutions to this can be said to be close to null.

    Would the adoption of the resolution by Congress help the consolidation and strengthening of liberal and pluralist democracy in Turkey as supposedly desired by the West? No, it would not. This, on the contrary, would serve the interests of those reactionary forces in Turkey who would like to pull the country out of the civilized world.
    Would the adoption of the resolution by Congress help normalize bilateral relations between Turkey and Armenia, and lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of borders between the two countries? Surely not, because the position of those in Turkey who are in favor of such normalization will not be strengthened.
    12.02.2007




    Rule by fear
    IHSAN DAGI i.dagi@todayszaman.com
    We have been going through a period that reminds us bad old days, the days fear reigned. But a short while ago we were proudly declaring how we achieved meeting Copenhagen political criteria by introducing many legal and political reforms which even outsiders called them a ‘silent revolution’. Nowadays it is the “deep state”, xenophobic nationalism, the murderer of Dink posing with a Turkish flag in his hands, a list naming 13,500 individuals as “traitors” by a retired colonel that we are talking about.

    What has happened? How we have arrived here?

    The answer is very clear to me; because we have refused to name, face and destroy the worm within. This is the culture of security, or more accurately, of insecurity. It has been eating up our confidence re-built recently, our determination to go along with the requirements of a full fledged democratization, and Turkey’s interaction with the world. This culture of insecurity overwhelms any other concern, and paralyzes our capabilities to do deal with real issues.

    We remember how governments in the last six years have encountered resistance at political reforms they were introducing. These resistances were justified by fears, fears about national independence, territorial integrity, and secular and the Kemalist nature of the state, all constituting a particular culture of security/insecurity. In the light of the Semdinli cover up, the resistance over the 301 of TPC, and finally the murder of Hrant Dink, the question to today, is to what extent this culture of insecurity will allow consolidation of political reforms in Turkey. Many are losing their optimism.

    The culture of insecurity is not just institutional, influencing security circles but also prevail among the people. People of the left and the right, with nationalist, Islamist or socialist creed, also incline to share this culture of insecurity. Many feel that Turkey is surrounded by enemy nations, it does not have any friend in the world, separatists and anti-secularist elements are supported by foreigners who also engage in missionary activities and buy extensive properties in Turkey as part of their ‘grand plan’.

    To tell the truth “securitists” have discursive means to reach out the masses in which recent Turkish history is used to buy off the support of various social segments. Sometimes it is disintegration of the Ottoman Empire at the hands of European Powers, sometimes the national war of independence, Cyprus, the Armenian question, and sometimes historical enmity towards the Arabs, the Persians, the Greeks or the Westerners. By references to historical events raising animosities a socially internalized notion of (in)security culture is being constructed.
    Daily political issues, foreign policy matters or even simple signs of globalization like the inflow of foreign capital and purchases of property by foreigner are immediately turned into a matter of life and death, a matter for survival, a process of encirclement of Turkish nation. The institutional banners of this (in)security culture communicate well with the masses with an alarmist discourse. Issues like Cyprus, Armenian genocide claims, the Kurdish demands, bullying of the EU or the USA are all proper items for reaching out to people by the securitists .They are able to infiltrate into the national psyche. As a result the institutional/bureaucratic notion of a total security/insecurity is spread into the minds and hearts of the people.

    And the people have almost always fallen into this trap of securitization of politics without realizing that this culture of insecurity deprive them of the right to rule the country though democratic process. They do not realize that securitization, which is to lead to rule by fear, establishes the hegemony of the bureaucratic centre over the periphery/people. In other words out of these provoked fear and insecurity that opposition of the periphery/the people is broken down, eliminated and disarmed by the bureaucratic centre. The centre overwhelms the periphery with this language of fear and insecurity, and then emerges as the saviour, a saviour with a right to rule. When the nation is at war it is the warlords who will rule not the people.

    While struggling for a rule by law to reign in this country we are to end up with a new wave of rule by fear, which will display itself with political authoritarianism and intolerant nationalism.

    We have been witnessing a revival of the culture of security/insecurity that constitutes a major obstacle to the prospect for full realization of democracy and human rights in this country. The AK Party government is equipped with political and institutional means to fight against this. Failure in doing so means abandoning the claim to govern this country.
    12.02.2007




    The name of the Rose (Gül), the flavor of the relations
    ALI H. ASLAN a.aslan@todayszaman.com
    Last Monday Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül spoke with US Vice President Dick Cheney during their meeting at the White House about how Turkey has turned into an energy corridor and a hub. An expert on energy issues, Cheney asked Gül to make his presentation over the map. (Who knows, perhaps he wanted to test his guest.)
    Gül proceeded using the map. His success on discussing technical issues like energy, without reliance on notes, impressed the Americans. They were pleased to have not only a competent but also common sense, constructive and cordial counterpart to talk to.

    As dictated by nature of diplomacy, one cannot assert all parts of the discussion in Turkish-American relations are pleasant. There might not be agreements on all topics. The content, level and sustainability of the discussion are what should really matter. Such a dialogue builds mutual trust and solidifies it. It also prevents occasional and minor disagreements from overshadowing broad-based strategic alliances. Dialogue with U.S. is gradually becoming to look like this.

    The US is seeking dialogue and business partners in Turkey, a geo-strategically and value-strategically important country located at a vast and critical region where the US has keen interest. And it generally finds what it looks for in the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) administration (at least relatively).

    I did not hear anything to the contrary from any U.S. official or sources close to the Bush administration that I talked to recently. In private conversations, they do not hide their sympathy and respect for the Turkish government. And they express similar sentiments in public to make sure both enemies and friends know it.

    Minister Gül's visit to Washington took place in such a positive environment. Perhaps the Turkish side put pressure on the Americans to prevent the adoption of the Armenian genocide resolution and to ensure that the PKK in northern Iraq would be wiped out. Likewise, maybe the Americans urged Turkey not to launch a unilateral military operation in northern Iraq. But I have no doubts the exchange of the messages between the two parties was made in a friendly manner.

    Skeptics may believe that Gül's remarks, that Turkey's cooperation with the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, might be hurt if the Armenian genocide resolution is adopted, will be perceived as a threat by the US. However, those who are very well aware of the efforts exerted by the Erdoğan-led government -- particularly by Minister Gül - to improve bilateral relations with the US will know for sure that the minister would not have such an intention and that the Americans would not take it that way. Those who are most concerned with the possibility of deterioration of the relationship because of the adoption of the genocide resolution are the ones who are trying to fix those relations. And Minister Gül and Secretary of State Rice are at the top of the list.

    A provocative move such as the adoption of the Armenian genocide resolution will increase public pressure on the government to review its relations with the US ahead of two critical upcoming elections in a climate where Turkish image of American foreign policy is at it lows and diehard protective nationalism is on the rise. Considering this possibility, Gül made a prediction that is shared by the Washington administration as well. As a result of this mutual understanding, both administrations agreed to intensify mutual consultations and consolidate their political influences to prevent the adoption of the Armenian genocide resolution.

    The American administration asked the Turkish side to make a move towards opening up with Armenia so that it would gain leverage with the US Congress to prevent the legislative body's passing the resolution recognizing the "Armenian genocide." What is certain by now is that lobbying traffic from both sides will be busy in the near future. Turkey will also most likely make a contract with a new lobbying firm. Now there are increased number of people in Washington who believe that external and internal efforts to convince the Democratic majority who will have the last word in the Congress will be fruitful. A prominent American expert told me: "If you had asked me three months ago, I would say this resolution would be definitely adopted. But now I am not so sure." Another well connected friend of mine said this issue would be resolved with 90 percent possibility before April 24. Let us just hope the best…

    One of the issues that needs hopefulness the most is the different approaches adopted vis-à-vis the Kirkuk and PKK in Northern Iraq. I still do not see the urgency the Turks feel from the Americans. American efforts are more focused on convincing Turkey to negotiate with regional Kurdish leaders, and on avoiding impulsive and unilateral military moves. Ankara is, on the other hand, still complaining.

    Leaving those disagreements aside, the views of the parties about the broad-based consultative agenda outlined in the shared strategic vision document for the most part overlap. Last week, Assistant Secretary for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs Daniel Sullivan was in Turkey. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Bob Joseph and Director of Policy Planning for the State Department Dr. Stephen Krasner will pay separate visits to Turkey in the next few weeks.

    We hope the chemistry between President Bush and Prime Minister Erdoğan, the cordial dialogue between Minister Gül and Secretary Rice and the personal and professional contacts of Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt in Washington where he will be visiting this week would all strengthen the immunity system of Turkish-American relations.
    12.02.2007




    Same criteria - but double standards?
    CEM OZDEMIR c.ozdemir@todayszaman.com
    The European Union cannot only ask countries outside its borders to implement democracy, constitutional legality and compliance with human rights standards, but it must actively defend its own fundamental values within the union itself. This is the only way to guarantee credibility and to overcome the crisis after the rejected constitution. From a historical perspective the process of European integration began primarily for economic reasons. To be sure, the shared commitment for a peaceful European future after World War II played a leading role as well. Still, it was only in the following decades that Europe discovered a growing political integration. The strengthening of rights and the widening of responsibilities of the European Parliament enabled the essential process of deepening democratic structures.

    The start of negotiations with countries from Central and Eastern Europe, who are now member states themselves, demonstrated that the EU is not just an economic but also a political project. Democracy, constitutional legality and human rights increasingly built the focus of the shared vision of a union based on our fundamental rights. One outcome of this self-defining process was the Copenhagen criteria in 1993, which made the protection of minorities an as equally important criterion as economical freedom in the process for becoming a member of the EU.
    There is an increasing gap between the claim of those important basic rights directed at future EU candidates and the actual measures taken to guarantee the same rights within its own borders. The union seems to measure these with different means. This is often summed up in the term "double standards." There is no doubt that member states should be as committed to the acquis communitaire and the common vested rights as the future member states. Reality looks far different. To resolve the obvious grievance we have to first of all acknowledge that the EU's fundamental rights are supervised and evaluated very differently.

    New member states Romania and Bulgaria were rightly criticized for their treatment of minorities, such as gypsies. Turkey is, with good reason, criticized for its imperfect political system and limitations on the freedom of the press and opinion. But how could former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi change laws in order to avoid his own legal prosecution without causing almost no official reaction from the EU? Why could he influence the media to such an extent that "Freedom House" evaluated the media as only "partly free"?

    This week the European Parliament will vote upon the final report of the temporary committee on alleged CIA activities in Europe. The report underscores this lack of eagerness to act critically within EU borders. The handling of CIA flights and the imprisonment of suspects without trial as well as the possible existence of secret prisons where torture is practiced are only a few examples. The willingness of European governments to cooperate with the EP's temporary committee was obviously insufficient. Numerous facts hint that several European governments were indeed informed of rendition within their national borders. Therefore, not only the US but European states appear to be guilty of human rights violations in the international fight against terrorism.
    Although the treaty of the European Union provides the opportunity to call the member states to account and to sanction human rights abuses, it is somehow an unspoken rule that criticism of member states is not foreseen. To name only one example of this unacceptable attitude: In the Republic of Cyprus, critical artists still come under pressure for practicing freedom of expression -- see the case of the film "Akamas" -- without consequences from Brussels.

    This unspoken rule is now also understood by the new member states. During their candidacies they had to bear criticism and a harsh tone regarding their domestic policies. Now, having a different status, they are much less dependent on the opinion of the "elder" member states. Considering that human rights are not achieved once and for all but have to be continuously reassessed to be ensured, the existing situation leaves much to be desired.
    Especially in the discussion about the future of a new constitution, the chance to strengthen the credibility of the EU lies within a union based upon common fundamental values that are vigorously upheld within its own borders, so that these standards can be expected of candidate states and promoted in the world beyond.
    12.02.2007




    Accreditation seen as hidden form of censorship in Turkey
    The Hrant Dink murder will be remembered not only for its shocking impact but also for the imprint it left on the press. Apart from debates on polluted information and manipulative reporting, the largely abhorred murder caused a chronic problem of the Turkish media to resurface: accreditation.

    The accreditation of TGRT TV, which broadcast camera footage of the suspect Ogün Samast -- who was taped with the Turkish flag in hand -- and claimed that the footage was taken at a gendarmerie station, was revoked by the Turkish General Staff. Unless the TV station is re-granted accreditation, its reporters will not be allowed in military facilities.

    Accreditation is, in fact, a fairly recent phenomenon that has only spread after diversification in the media. With the influence of the opening up during Prime Minister Turgut Özal's governance, the number of media organizations operating in various areas has dramatically increased. Private TV stations, which began broadcasting in the 1990s, became the turning point for the transformation from the single-channel era to the diverse broadcasting world. The diversification created the need for accreditation. Today, a number of state institutions, including the General Staff, resort to accreditation and restrict the access of the disliked media organizations into the institution concerned.

    While accreditation is announced publicly for some occasions, sometimes only certain reporters and organizations are invited to official events, where the undesired are left out through non-invitation. Perhaps for this reason, the invitation of Vakit daily columnist Hasan Karakaya by the prime minister on his flights attracted a great deal of attention because Vakit has so far been excluded from these kinds of trips due to its bitter opposition to previous governments and severe criticism of the leading figures of public institutions.

    Prime Minister Erdoğan's latest Lebanon trip was interesting in the sense that it demonstrated the military's accreditation practice was a concern to be addressed in politicians' programs. Two journalists on Erdoğan's trip, Mustafa Ünal from Zaman daily and Mehmet Ocaktan from Yeni Şafak daily, were not General Staff accredited. It was argued even before the trip that this situation would cause serious problems. Eventually, a formula that would not cause a crisis and damage the accreditation list was created, and only the Anatolia news agency was admitted on the trip as the press representative.

    This preserved the accreditation practice, yet it also prevented General Staff-accredited journalists from stepping into the military unit in Lebanon. The Anatolia news agency formula is actually a fairly common practice in Turkey. Institutions free of ideological concerns and eager to escape from press inquiries got rid of media pressure by relying upon the state's official news agency. Only Anatolia and the official Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) were admitted to the wedding ceremonies of the prime minister's son and of famous soccer player Hakan Şükür.The fundamental problem with accreditation practices in Turkey is vagueness. The institutions relying upon this practice are often reluctant to publicize their rationale behind their specific preferences. Member of the Press Council Supreme Board and communication specialist Professor Haluk Şahin stressed that accreditation should be based on objective criteria. But what can this objective criteria be? For instance, only allowing newspapers that exceed a certain level of circulation, the visual press or only domestic or international press representatives would be few newspapers. Professor Şahin contends that nobody would object to such a clearly defined accreditation practice. "But discrimination based on ideological concerns or other similar reasons may have negative repercussions. You do not know what to do in order to be entitled to accreditation. The institutions that comply with the preset rules should be given accreditation. Today, each eminent institution should also restructure itself as a communications organization. This is the only way to manage the communication processes in the information age. We are no longer a closed society."

    The Press Council made an attempt in May 2003 to ensure the adoption of objective accreditation criteria. Chairman Oktay Ekşi invited the General Staff to announce their accreditation criteria. In a statement made after the meeting held by the General Staff to address the representatives of the accredited papers, the council underlined that the meeting was right but the invitee list was short. Recalling that the eagerness of the General Staff to inform the public via the media was a good indication for the operation of democratic system, the council also stressed that the best thing to ensure fair and objective dissemination of information was the invitation of the press representatives on a non-discriminatory basis.

    The council noted that some leading media bodies, including Kanal 7, Samanyolu TV, Zaman daily, Yeni Şafak daily, Vakit daily and Dünden Bügüne Tercüman daily were left out in the General Staff's accreditation list. Asserting that this situation caused doubts to arise about the objectivity of the accreditation criteria of the General Staff, the council called on the General Staff to announce its criteria. In an unsurprising reply, the General Staff said there was no change in its accreditation criteria.

    Four years have passed since this response. The accreditation list still remains the same, except with one exception: TGRT television station is now included among the non-accredited media organizations.
    Galatasaray University faculty member and media critic Ragıp Duran describes the treatment of TGRT by the General Staff as institutional censorship rather than an accreditation practice. Duran holds that every public or private institution should be able to rely upon the accreditation practice to better publicize its media events. But he also underlines that the cancellation of credentials should be invoked only in the presence of serious, persistent and deliberate mistake of the correspondent. In such cases, the institution and the media organization should take joint action and probably assign a new correspondent who won't make the same mistake.

    However, in a recent incident, the entire media organization was subjected to punishment because of a mistake committed by one correspondent. Duran describes the attitude of the General Staff, which cut its ties with TGRT rather than requesting a different correspondent, as censorship.

    Accreditation at a funeral?
    The most interesting example of the accreditation practice in Turkey was the funeral ceremony held for Güven Erkaya, a commander involved in the Feb. 28, 1997 coup, known as the post-modern coup. For the first time, religion became a factor in accreditation. The restriction imposed on the fairly conservative dailies was justified on the grounds that those papers had published harsh criticism after the death of the commander. Another interesting example was found at Istanbul University under the rectorship of Kemal Alemdaroğlu. Even though the "religious press" was affected by the practice the most, almost all press was left out of the accreditation process. The only way to get into the campus was to schedule an appointment with a faculty member and pretend to be a visitor. With the election of Professor Mesut Parlak as rector, Turkey's oldest university abandoned this practice.

    Another interesting dimension of the accreditation practice reveals itself in the positions of the columnists who change newspaper affiliation. Switching from an accredited paper to a non-accredited one is risky for a columnist.
    Columnist Cengiz Çandar who was non-accredited when working for Yeni Şafak daily, is now accredited as a columnist of Referans daily. However, he is not interested in the accreditation practice in general. As a victim of the notorious Feb. 28 process, Çandar opts to question the practice: "If there are press organizations that the General Staff maintains cannot be admitted into official events, then why are they allowed to be in operation, anyway? If these non-accredited institutions are not allowed to follow even the briefings released for public use, then should they not be banned from the broadcasting world?"

    Accreditation starts at the top
    The accreditation process starts at the top of the state in Turkey. Turkey was in the near past accustomed to the discrimination of the president, who made statements to the journalists he felt close to. The stance of President Sezer is different, but it is also compatible with the basic logic of accreditation. The attendance of the president, who had never attended any event held by press organizations, at the inauguration ceremony of Kanal Türk, drew attention as well as criticism. Many press representatives viewed the president's attitude as discriminatory. The presidency has been the focal point of public debate during Sezer's term. For the last seven years, citizens with different worldviews, including those wearing a headscarf, were denied admission to the presidential building on grounds that their situation was contrary to accreditation rules. Even some Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputies were not invited to receptions because of their veiled spouses.

    Today, the combined circulation of papers not accredited by the General Staff is 1,040,000, which constitutes one-fifth of Turkey's total national circulation. Considering that this would also mean that the readers of the non-accredited papers are also non-accredited, with the buyers and their families about 4-5 million readers are viewed unfavorable. And if the 12 million veiled citizens who are virtually denied admission by the president are included in this figure, then almost half of the country falls into this category.

    12.02.2007
    ZAFER ÖZCAN İSTANBUL




    Turkey to promote self in North America
    The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism has reportedly taken action towards promoting Turkey through advertising in the print and broadcast media in North America throughout 2007.

    "Turkey's historic and cultural values will be promoted through popular TV programs, newspapers and magazines throughout the US and Canada as well as in the South American countries of Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela," a Turkish Culture and Tourism Office representative in New York said.
    Turkey will be promoted for a total of five hours in the form of a 40-second advertisement on CNN, the first of which will be aired during Anderson Cooper's program on Monday Feb. 12.

    Turkey's advertisements will also appear on popular US TV stations such as ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX in March, in a total of 20 TV series and programs that have high ratings.

    Turkey's advertisements will appear in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and 30 magazines.

    Terrorism has affected tourists from both Europe and the US. The number of American tourists fell considerably following the 9/11 attacks on the US; however, this number began to rise again in 2004. According to December figures, the number of US tourists has exceeded that prior to 9/11. The number of American tourists who visited Turkey in 2006 increased by 22 percent over 2005 to 532,000, according to the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office. Today's Zaman with wire dispatches.

    12.02.2007




    Büyükanit in US amid looming crisis over Armenian resolution
    As it has become more likely that the Democrat party-controlled US Congress will pass a resolution in April, which would declare the killings of Armenians during 1st World War as genocide, speculations have intensified that Turkish-US relations will receive a blow.

    The Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt left for the US yesterday amid such increased concerns following Turkish Foreign Abdullah Gül's recently ended visit to Washington.

    Gül's visit was described by some US analysts as a failure, since he was unable to achieve any success in convincing the Democrats that an Armenian resolution would both hurt the ties between the two countries and the US interests. The refusal of Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to meet with Gül has been a strong signal that passage of the Resolution is highly likely.

    Turkey denies the allegations made by the Armenian diaspora that some 1.5 million Armenians died from slaughter and exile in a systematic genocide in 1915.

    Republican President George W. Bush is known to be against the bill which has already been submitted to the foreign relations committee of the House of Representatives. But Bush's lack of control over the Democrat-controlled Congress weakens expectations that Armenian resolution will not pass.

    It remains to be seen how General Büyükanıt could persuade the US side to cancel the Armenian resolution, but like Gül he will also touch upon other thorny issues between the two countries: such as the PKK's possible resurgence of its operations as snow melts in the region, the possible negative effects of the possible US-led coalition withdrawal from Iraq as well as the arms trade that both countries have speeded up, following the signing of major agreements such as the Turkish participation with the US Joint Strike fighter (JSF) program, before the Armenian Resolution could be approved by the Congress, which has a strong say in arms deals with the third countries.
    Büyükanıt, who will be visiting the US as the official guest of the US Chief of Staff General Peter Pace, will also meet with political figures such as Vice President Dick Cheney, Head of the National Security Council Steve Hadley and the Democrat Congressman Tom Lantos, who are reportedly keen on finding out Ankara's response to the US-Israeli strategic partnership.

    PKK operations in Europe and Turkish cross-border operation
    As confirmed by both Gül and Ross Wilson, US Ambassador to Turkey, the latest operations launched in France and in Belgium against the PKK terrorists operating in those countries, culminating with the capture of 14 PKK members, became possible due to Washington's long term efforts it made with the European countries, to stop PKK's financial income that also helps the PKK terrorists in Northern Iraq to launch offensives mainly in Turkey's southeast regions.

    The US efforts to persuade the European countries to halt PKK activities in Europe is part of a strategy to display to Ankara that Washington has been doing its best against the PKK, and that Ankara should not take any unilateral action by invading Northern Iraq to bomb the PKK camps.
    But it is expected that a limited Turkish military operation into Northern Iraq - most possibly in late March - to render PKK ineffective, in coordination with the US, will be amongst the topics discussed between Büyükanıt and US officials.

    A possible cross-border operation coordinated with the US is high on both the Turkish military and civilian agenda - even as it is understood by both that such an operation would not end the PKK problem as long as the root political, cultural and social problems of Turkey's approximately 12 million Kurds were not resolved.
    But the government, which has entered into an election period of both Presidential and national elections, along withthe military has heightened the Turkish public expectations of such a cross border operation.
    Iraq's disintegration concerns the Turkish military ...

    Several Turkish journalists left for the US to cover Büyükanıt's visit to the US, and the Turkish military promised them that Büyükanıt would brief them about his contacts with the US officials.

    Media interest in his US visit also underlines, among other things, the growing Turkish military weight being felt in the US as the direct military to military contacts have intensified following a serious set back in relations between Turkey and the USA when the Turkish Parliament rejected on March 1, 2003 allowing the US forces based in Turkey to open a second front for the US invasion of Iraq.

    Büyükanıt is also expected to raise during his talks with the US officials, the Turkish military's concern over the possible disintegration of Iraq, in particular if US led coalition forces decide to withdraw. According to Büyükanıt, a US-led coalition withdrawal from Iraq would further destabilize the whole Middle East region.

    12.02.2007
    LALE SARIİBRAHİMOĞLU ANKARA




    The lack of limits
    A photo depicting the man who directed the murder standing side by side with police officers has certainly attracted wide attention.

    Here, a murderer is more important than the winner of the Nobel Prize. The reason for this is because organs responsible of setting values in our society are attaching more importance to it. First and foremost, the media. If the president of a country does not congratulate his fellow citizen who won the Nobel Prize, then those like Yasin Hayal and Ogün Samast will go around shooting people. After the murder, columnists who wrote "Did the diaspora do it?" "Did the Tashnaks do it?" and humanists that said "let's take responsibility for these youngsters" will make this irrational and frightening value erosion a part of our daily life.

    12.02.2007
    MURAT BELGE, RADİKAL




    Democratic fascism
    In theory, there are democratic elections, judiciary system, and security forces. But they are all focused on the same target, which is to destroy the enemy inside.
    The enemy inside can change from time to time. Sometimes communism is the enemy, sometimes, reactionary-ism, and sometimes separatism. But the notion of enemy always exists. When democratic fascism is insufficient, open fascism can intervene and armed strength can take control over the state. But, usually this is suppressed with article 141,163 and 301. Oh the oblivious youth, please do not pay heed to the rising nationalist voice. There is an act right in front of our eyes. We are witnessing the rise of people that are using the youth to kill. In other words, we are witnessing the decoding of the recent past.

    12.02.2007
    ERGUN BABAHAN, SABAH




    Bush to write letters against 'genocide resolution'
    The New Anatolian with agencies / Ankara
    12 February 2007
    Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul stated over the weekend that U.S. President George W. Bush will write to members of Democratic-controlled Congress to urge them to oppose the so called Armenian genocide resolution.

    The congressional resolution, which was introduced for consideration last month, is opposed by Bush administration, but has been supported by the Democratic leadership.

    A resolution that would recognize the World War I era killings of Armenians as genocide would poison ties between strategic allies Turkey and the United States, Turkey's Foreign Minister Gul warned late Saturday.

    "Local politics must not be allowed to poison strategic ties," Gul said on his return from a weeklong visit to the United States, where he met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other officials.

    Gul said if passed; the resolution would cause permanent damage to relations and it will cause a deadlock in our relations. Gul asked the U.S. administration to take action."

    "It won't have a fleeting effect, its results will be deep and lasting," Gul said. He did not further elaborate.

    He added that "I called on the U.S. administration to take urgent action. Secretary of State Rice will carry out an important work in the coming days. She will visit the Congress."

    The FM recalled that Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit and some Turkish deputies will go to U.S. to lobby against the resolution.

    Noting that Iraq was also discussed during the talks with the U.S. officials, Gul stated that this issue is not only important for U.S but also for Turkey.

    "I shared my views about Iraq with the Washington administration and the think-tanks. I had the opportunity to tell them what should be done to preserve Iraq's territory and prevent its partition," he stated.

    Gul noted that he also warned U.S. authorities that no mistakes should be done regarding Kirkuk's future in order to preserve Iraq's unity and integrity.

    Over the explosive terror issue, he stated that Turkey will never accept a double standard in fight against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), adding that Turkish people are losing their patience.

    Recalling his meeting with new United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the foreign minister said that they discussed the Cyprus issue, Lebanon and the Middle East peace process.

    In related news, Gen. Buyukanit went to Washington to hold key talks with U.S. officials yesterday.

    Buyukanit, who is the official guest of U.S. Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will also meet with Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday.

    During his talks at the Pentagon, the top Turkish general will meet with Gen. Pace, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and former U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Eric Edelman and Gen. Peter Schoomaker, chief of staff of the U.S. Army. Buyukanit is scheduled to speak at a think-tank organization on Friday. He will hold a press conference at the end of his talks the same day.




    Turkish-French consortium wins Samsun Light Metro consultancy tender
    EkoTürk News Agency / Samsun
    12 February 2007
    Samsun Metropolitan Municipality has concluded an international tender for consultancy and supervision services of construction of 15-km long first stage of the Light Metro system of the city.

    Samsun Municipality Rail Systems Department Manager Akın Üner told EkoTürk correspondent that Turkish-French consortium of YÜKSEL PROJE AŞ and LOUIS BERGER SAS has won the tender at a price of EUR 2,335,050, beating the other contender Metropolitan Milanese of Italy’s bid price of EUR 3,082,000.

    Akın Üner said the winners have been invited to sign the work contract on February 13, and preparations for the tender dossiers of the construction tender will be started immediately, afterwards. The tender is planned to be launched in the second half of the year.

    In last May, the municipality had secured a 20-year EUR 65 million credit with a 5-year grace period from the European Investment Bank for the construction works of 15-km long first phase of the project which would cost an estimated total of EUR 130 million.

    The municipality had provided another $30 million foreign loan from the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) for its Light Rail System Project's first phase works.

    A credit agreement is expected to be signed between the sides in upcoming days.

    At present, the secured credits total EUR 89 million. The municipality will get another EUR 25 million credit from unspecified sources. The remaining EUR 15 million in the project financing is planned to be met by own funds of the municipality.

    The first phase works of the project include the light rail line between the city center and the Ondokuzmayıs University Campus complete with 15 passenger stations.

    The second phase of the project will include 28-km long city center-Kutlukent route at an estimated cost of $345 million.

    The engineering services of the project covering architectural, static, electrical, and mechanical designs and feasibility studies had been untertaken by YÜKSEL PROJE company.


    “A1 Plus”: Armenian Expert: “Armenia Lost Chance to Become Transit Country”
    10.02.2007

    February 7 in Tbilisi agreement on construction of railway Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku was signed.
    With this purpose President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayip Erdogan came to Georgian capital to meet President of Georgia Michael Saakashvili. Independent economist Eduard Agajanov commented situation for agency “A1Plus”.
    - It is very bad. Actually we are away from all regional projects. It is very dangerous as if we want to integrate in world economy then one of its condition is regional integration, very important for all states.
    - US Congress prohibited its government to render financial assistance to project Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku. Nevertheless project is being realized. How do you explain USA’s non- interference?
    - USA couldn’t make impediments as it concerns independent states. Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan are independent states. They decided to increase level of mutual integration and it would be ridiculous to think that USA might have hampered.
    - How will new railway affect Armenian economy?
    - Negatively. Exploitation of railway Kars-Gumri would have been serious stimulus for development of Armenian economy, as Armenia would have become transit country for all even for Russia. Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku will be operating, Kars-Gumri will have no interests for Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia. Actually we lost chance to become transit country which will entail serious consequences.
    - Do you think it is next blockade for Armenia?
    - It is not blockade it is just next throwing out of Armenia from regional programs. And it is very dangerous. It is pity that it is result of Azerbaijan’s policy. Let us remind recent statement of Ilham Aliyev that throwing out of Armenia from all regional programs is result of expedient actions of Azerbaijan.
    - What Armenia should do?
    - First of all Armenia should pursue active not passive policy. We pursued policy of situation, just responding to these challenges instead of pursuing policy of aggressive diplomacy, instead of participation, making proposals…We did nothing, and achieved nothing…

    Knarik Isoyan
    www.Alplus.am




    Deadly Nationalism
    The Struggle of Orhan Pamuk and Turkey's Intellectuals
    Annette Grossbongardt in Istanbul
    SPIEGEL ONLINE - February 10, 2007,
    The culture war in Turkey against critical authors and journalists is intensifying, as murderous nationalists agitate against dissidents. Many liberals are under threat, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, who has now left the country.

    Orhan Pamuk flew to the Cairo International Book Fair on the day of the funeral of his friend Hrant Dink. There is "great interest in all aspects of Turkish literature and culture" in the Arab world, the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature said, but it sounded as if he were attempting to justify his trip abroad, now that the situation in Turkey has become precarious for him and other liberal writers and journalists.

    By that point, Pamuk's moves were apparently prompted by fears for his own life. He did not attend the morning funeral procession two weeks ago for Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist who was murdered by ultra-nationalists. More than just a funeral procession, the event turned into a protest march of demonstrators who chanted "We are all Armenians," making a strong impression on Europeans. But despite his absence from the procession, Pamuk did not hesitate to publicly criticize the Turkish government, judiciary and society, which he held partly responsible for Dink's death. "The murder of my courageous, golden-hearted friend has soured my life," Pamuk confessed, "I am furious at everyone and everything, and I feel boundless shame."

    As if to reinforce his words, Turkey was in an uproar last Friday over images of several police officers who were photographed in a chummy pose with the young murder suspect. The officers were suspended from duty, but not before the newspaper Sabah condemned the incident, writing that a nationalist murderer was being treated like a hero.

    By then Pamuk, who has become the most prominent advocate of a modern, liberal, cosmopolitan Turkey, had already left Istanbul for the United States, where he plans to stay, for the time being, and give lectures at several universities. He cancelled a reading tour in Germany last week and ceremonies at the Free University of Berlin and the Catholic University of Brussels. Both institutions had planned to award Pamuk honorary doctorates, but the author simply declined to attend without so much as offering an explanation. The Carl Hanser Publishing Company, which has published his books in German, including "The White Fortress," "Snow" and, most recently, "Istanbul," received nothing but a blunt fax to explain Pamuk's absence. The answering machine at his house in Istanbul was switched off, and whenever journalists did manage to reach him, he would hang up the phone.

    "More will die"
    "Tell Orhan Pamuk to wise up!" one of the principal suspects in the Dink murder, right-wing extremist Yasin Hayal, a man with a criminal record, said publicly. The threat must have made a strong impression on the author.

    Last week the self-proclaimed "Turkish Revenge Brigade" (TIT) posted a video on YouTube depicting Dink's corpse next to photos of Pamuk. The lyrics of a song that accompanied the images read: "We cannot be friends with them." The video ended with a shot of a Turkish flag and the head of a wolf -- the symbol of Turkish ultra-nationalists, and the threat: "More will die."

    Pamuk, Turkey's most famous writer and a man who ought to be the pride of this country as it seeks European Union membership, has been pursued by hate-mongering nationalists for some time, and he is not the only one. About a dozen Turkish writers, journalists and academics are currently the targets of hate-spewing, fanatical right-wing extremists.

    Pamuk's hasty departure shines a spotlight on the clash of cultures and the climate of agitation, intimidation and fear dissidents in Turkey currently face, especially those who dare to tackle national taboos -- of which there are many, including the 1915 genocide of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which the Turkish government continues to dispute, Christian minorities, the Kurds and the PKK (Kurdish Workers' Party) and, of course, Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish state.

    According to statistics compiled by the Turkish Human Rights Foundation, close to 100 intellectuals have already been hauled before courts for voicing their critical opinions. Most have been charged with the crime of "insulting Turkishness," or disparaging national institutions. Reactionary prosecutors use a notorious Turkish law known as Article 301 to persecute critical thinkers.

    Elif Shafak, 35, a popular and courageous female author, had done nothing more threatening than write a novel ("The Bastard of Istanbul") that tells the interweaving stories of a Turkish and an Armenian family in the United States and Istanbul. Her novel prompted a group of nationalist lawyers to take Shafak to court in 2006, merely because one of her characters says: "I am the grandchild of genocide survivors who lost all their lives to the hands of Turkish butchers in 1915."

    Shafak was acquitted, but she confesses that she felt "quite shaken" by the "ordeal" of the trial. As happens in all of these trials, angry nationalist activists gathered outside the court house. The same brand of activists threw eggs at Pamuk, who was also accused of "insulting Turkishness," and berated Perihan Magden, a journalist who had written an article defending conscientious objectors, as a "whore of the PKK." Shafak was well into a pregnancy when her trial began. She had been receiving threatening letters for some time, but only after the Dink murder did the government finally acknowledge the danger she and other journalists faced. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has now assigned government bodyguards to writers and intellectuals considered in danger.

    Ideologically obsessed citizens often act as informers, such as the attorney from Izmir who filed a complaint against Muazzez Ilmiye Çig, a 92-year-old female archeologist. The case against Çig revolved around the religious headscarf, one of the central symbols of conflict in Muslim but highly secular Turkey. Çig, an expert in the history of the Sumerians, had written that headscarves were originally worn by Sumerian priestesses to initiate young men into sex. Çig was accused of "inciting hatred" but was acquitted.

    The portrait of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish nation, hangs in every Turkish government office, every business and every classroom. He has been dead 70 years, and yet criticizing him as a historic figure remains taboo. When Atilla Yayla, an Istanbul political scientist, dared to describe the first few years of Atatürk's government as a "step backwards, not a period of progress" and criticized the official cult of hero worship surrounding Atatürk, he was promptly suspended from his job.

    When journalist Ipek Çalislar wrote about an episode in which Atatürk dressed in women's clothing to escape an assassination attempt, she was accused of having tarnished Atatürk's reputation. "Atatürk was an incredibly brave man and would never have done such a thing," wrote an angry reader who filed a complaint against the author with the public prosecutor's office. If Çalislar had been found guilty, she could have faced up to four and a half years in prison.

    Even translators of undesirable books are not safe against persecution, nor are publishers like Fatih Tas, who published a study by an American professor on "the human costs of the US arms trade." Turkey, a US ally, is criticized in the report.

    "A wave of nationalism"
    For the European Union the trials, which seek to muzzle the freedom of speech, are a barometer for Turkey's suitability for EU membership. Each new trial creates fresh doubts as to whether the country is in fact succeeding in transforming itself into an open, pluralistic society.

    The roots of the problem are deeply embedded in a highly traditional, conservative society, large segments of which have suddenly chosen to obstruct the country's efforts to become integrated into the West. "The Turkey of today harbors a smaller modern society and a vast pre-modern society that live side by side, but not in the same era," says sociologist Dogu Ergil.

    Nationalists who prefer to drive their country into isolation rather than deliver it to "imperialistic enemies" in the West currently dominate the pre-modern segment of Turkish society.

    The country has been seized by "a wave of nationalism of unprecedented scope," complains political scientist Baskin Oran, who was also once put on trial, in his case for writing a critical report about the situation of Turkish minorities. The Erdogan administration, which campaigned on a reform platform but is now eager to gain reelection, does little to stem the country's reactionary mood.

    The other camp, the modern segment of Turkish society, is embodied by the 100,000 people who took to the streets to mourn murdered journalist Dink, but also by the country's economic elite, who know that Turkey can only have a future as part of the West. But the nationalists have met the show of solidarity with the country's Armenian minority with renewed attempts to wrest public opinion away from the demonstrators, and they are now holding up banners that read: "We are all Turks, our names are Mehmet, Hasan and Hüseyin, not Hrant Dink." A bitter fight has erupted over the future direction of Turkey, waged on one side in parts with murderous fervor. Which side will emerge victorious is still undecided.

    Constant threats
    The day Ismet Berkan, editor-in-chief of the liberal newspaper Radical, had to be accompanied by bodyguards to leave his office was the day he began thinking about leaving the country. "But that's exactly what they want," he says, "and that's why we must stay and raise our voices against those who want to cut Turkey off from the rest of the world."

    This requires courage, especially for someone who receives up to 50 threatening anonymous letters a day, letters that read: "We will get rid of you, we will kill you." A year ago, Berkan and four other journalists were put on trial for having criticized a court decision banning a conference on the Armenian question.

    Baskin Oran also refuses to be driven out. The 62-year-old political science professor perseveres in his small row house in Ankara, clinging to the conviction that Turkey "is getting better every day, even if we are passing through hell on the road to paradise." He solicits understanding for his country, which he says is rushing through a development process in a matter of decades that lasted for centuries in Europe. Oran regularly receives e-mails, telephone calls and faxes in which fanatics disparage him as a "bastard" and "traitor," messages peppered with threats like "we will fuck your mother" and "we will kill you." In a report he wrote on Turkish minorities, Oran proposed the use of the term "citizens of Turkey" instead of the ethnically defining word "Turks."

    Prosecutors accused Oran of "inciting hatred" and, with his ideas, of promoting "chaos" and jeopardizing the "fundamental elements of the Turkish Republic." Oran defended himself with a 40-page "counter-accusation," which he said he owed to his students, "whom I have been teaching, for the past 37 years, to take a stand against anti-democratic positions." His efforts were successful -- for the time being. But he nevertheless requires police protection every time he leaves his home.

    "I live in a country that celebrates and honors its generals, police officers and statesman, even while they are still alive, but persecutes its writers with court trials and prison sentences," Pamuk said last year, when he was still embroiled in his own trial.

    A difficult relationship with intellectuals
    The hostile mood in Turkey reflects the country's difficult relationship with its intellectuals and its deep distrust of its pro-Western authors who criticize the system from within.

    "We are always seen as potential runaways, if not potential traitors," says writer Shafak. "Criticizing the country is considered practically the equivalent of hating it." In a recent television interview, she was asked: "Did you ever say that you were not feeling at home in Turkey?"

    When Pamuk was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in October, a first for Turkey, his otherwise staunchly nationalist fellow Turks were restrained in their praise for the author. To this day many are convinced that the only reason Pamuk received the prize was that he openly criticized the Armenian genocide.

    Pamuk has toned down his rhetoric since then. "Especially now that I am a Nobel Prize winner," he says, "I am no longer interested in talking about minor political matters as much," he admits. Nevertheless, he adds, he sometimes becomes so furious that he is unable to hold his tongue. It seems that there are currently plenty of reasons for Pamuk to begin talking again.

    Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

    © SPIEGEL ONLINE 2007
    All Rights Reserved




    ‘We cannot suppress public demand’
    Speaking to the Washington Post, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül warned that if the US House of Representatives adopts draft legislation making it a crime to deny the Armenian Genocide, Turkey would enter a state of shock and the government would have little in the way of answers to public calls that Turkey cease collaborating with the US.


    Gül also stated the importance of delaying the referendum regarding Kirkuk. Describing Kirkuk as ‘Little Iraq’, Gül argued that the city should be given special status that would keep it outside the borders of a Kurdish Iraq should the country be split in three. The Minister went on to say, “If Kirkuk [is included] in this region, this will be a great error. Those wanting to withdraw from a difficult situation should not get caught up in another difficult situation. The division of Iraq would be a terrible mistake.”

    © Copyright 2006 Hürriyet





    Deep media ‘versus’ deep state
    IHSAN YILMAZ
    There have been acrimonious debates about the definition of “deep state” in the Turkish public sphere. As always, the media has been part of the scenario, working very hard to find the Holy Grail, as it were, of Turkish socio-politics.

    Even though there has not been any consensus on a definition, everybody seems to agree on one thing: The “deep state” may or may not exist but there are some kind of “true believer” bureaucrats [in the sense of Eric Hoffer’s book of the same name] within the state machinery who sometimes engage in illegal and democratically uncontrolled acts to protect the state from what that they arbitrarily define as threats. Some call this “raison d’etat,” starting from Ottoman times, and others see this as an out of fashion Turkish Gladio.

    In the final analysis, everyone concurs that deep state does not function within the rule of law. And our media are ostensibly furious with that. I say ostensibly as I do not think that the major concern of the some of the media elite is the rule of law. Action speaks louder than words. It seems that the rule of law is only important when they are judged. Yet when they judge, the rule of law could be omitted or law could be applied in the style of “Judge Dredd,” a British comic book character who is a law enforcement officer in a future city where judges combine the powers of police, judge, jury and government. Dredd and his fellow judges are empowered to arrest, sentence and even execute criminals, on the spot.

    Almost everyone in the media condemns the assassination of Dink, but character assassination is widespread in the Turkish media. Spin doctors are at work who want us to be bogged down in irrelevant and fictitious details, and our media “Gladios” character-assassinate individuals with their sword to smokescreen, consciously or not and see this business as usual. Nothing can show this fact more conspicuously than the Fethullah Gülen case. It is unbelievable how discussions of the Dink assassination could ever be linked to Mr. Gülen. Without bothering trying to prove what they write, these media-Samasts simply mention unproved, repeatedly denied claims about Gülen, although even the most dedicated anti-Gülen crusaders will accept that Gülen has nothing to gain from a chaotic and unstable Turkey.

    In the post-February 28 undemocratic Turkey, where prosecutors are free to call politicians vampires and bloodsuckers, an overenthusiastic prosecutor claimed almost everything possible against Gülen, but all he could submit to the court to prove his claims were the fabricated press stories that were never substantiated with evidence. The state’s security and intelligence agencies did not have anything to support the prosecutor’s unfounded claims. It is simply amazing to see today that the media “Gladios” could simply repeat similar accusations. Knowing that they will never be able to prove what they say, they do not mention Gülen’s name but only imply it. These are the very same people who ostensibly opened a fight against the deep state, saying that Judge Dredd style execution is illegal!

    These media elite should know that people still read them but just for fun, many no longer take them seriously. Remember, what all major media outlets said in their anti-Erdogan pre-election campaigns and what happened. When one looks at Turkey, many things make one hopeful, except the media elite. Yet it is inevitable that with the EU process and democratization of Turkey, these media “Gladios” will hopefully vanish.
    11.02.2007




    Deep state: Whose hand is in whose pocket
    “May 2007. Turkish troops invade northern Iraq to prevent a genocide imposed upon the Turkmens there. The American soldiers attack the Turkish troops and a fierce fighting follows. Washington launches Operation Metal Storm against its former NATO ally.

    US warplanes relentlessly pound Istanbul and Ankara, killing thousands of people. Turkey, never anticipating such an attack, is left defenceless and the Turkish army helpless. Though in the end Turkey is saved from the American invasion thanks to the Russians and the European Union, at a faithful moment the Deep State moves in, and destroys Washington with an A-Bomb.”

    The plot of Metal Storm, a best-seller futuristic book published in 2005 in Turkey, is by and large this: “Turkey is attacked, the state is in an existential danger and the deep state comes and saves Turkey.” Written by two young futurist writers, Metal Storm reveals not only the dimensions of anti-Bushism kept in the Turkish subconscious, but also a readiness to accept an illegal and anti-democratic entity settled within the institutions of the state, if this entity "kills and dies" for the state only.

    The deep state is not a Turkish invention, and certainly the deep state about which Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan complained last week is not the heroic deep state of Metal Storm. What is it then? Is it a "state within the state" as some claim, operating in the dark, using extra-judicial means such as death squads? Is it an influential and informal anti-democratic coalition within the Turkish political system, composed of high-level elements within the Turkish military, security and intelligence services, the judicial branch, and key leaders of organized crime movements, as Gareth Jones of Reuters claimed after the notorious bombing in Şemdinli in November 2005? Or is it the military itself that comes into the picture when the civil administration fails to prevent or realize the existential threats to the state? Maybe there are more than one deep states! The deeper, and the deepest!

    Defining the indefinable
    The name deep state itself refers to its impenetrability; being indefinable is an intrinsic part of its definition. This explains the "other-ification" strategy adapted by commentators while speaking about the deep state. Whatever you say about it, it is not that; it is something else. This may sound sanctifying, but the best done until now is defining the deep state in terms of what it is not. It is almost the "Him!" from the Powerpuff Girls.

    "The deep state is not the state or the organs of the state themselves. We could refer to the deep state as the formation of gangs within institutions," said Prime Minister Erdoğan, last week on his way to Ethiopia.
    Cüneyt Ülsever, columnist and author of a controversial book called Haci, later filmed with the same name as a TV series revealing the activities of the deep state says that the name itself also suggests positive meanings. "We shouldn't load a positive meaning into this. The term "gang" also falls short of the concept. Frankly speaking, I don't know what kind of an attribute we should use. All I know is this: Gang is very small compared to what we are speaking about," says Ülsever.

    President of the Anavatan Party (ANAP) Erkan Mumcu is also critical of the term "Derin Devlet" (deep state). He believes that this term disturbs the sacred nature of the state. "If the prime minister talked about some gangs who are in the state apparatus and are using the power of the state, I would understand that," said Mumcu. "This is in some way or another defining the state as a criminal organization. Our nation speaks of the state as 'Devlet Baba -- the Patrimonial State.' The people feel the warmness of a father in the term 'state.'"
    He also doesn't believe that these gangs within the state apparatus are "deep": "There is no deep state; there is only shallow politics, shallow government. Because of the shallowness of the government, these gangs are perceived as deep," he said.

    Columnist and writer Mümtaz'er Türköne thinks the sanctity attributed to the state is the reason behind the existence of the deep state. "The word 'state' has so many loaded meanings in Turkish that even Hegel wouldn't think of. In the Turkish state tradition there is no balancing power against the state. So all the political struggle takes place within the state apparatus. For centuries, the state has been the source of wealth, fame, honor and power. Once the state is such an important power source, the desire to control it becomes an inevitable," Türköne said.

    Saying the unpronounceable
    Theoretically a definition may have several dimensions. A notion can be defined by means of its attributes, its components or its purposes. The deep state does not accept any attributes other than "deep." So what are the components of this deep state? Who are these guys? Are they walking in the streets like us? Or are they stationed in a remote shrine, observing society and waiting for their turn to come? Nobody dares to pronounce the exact words. And those who do so do it with a supportive accent. Commenting on the Şemdinli bombings in 2005, the ninth Turkish president Süleyman Demirel told a national TV channel that there were two states in Turkey. "There is the state and there is the deep state… When a small difficulty occurs, the civilian steps back and the deep state becomes the generator of decision," said Demirel. The former president, who had seen the military coup d'etat of 1980, saw an overlap between the state and the deep state: "The deep state is the state itself. It is the military. The military that established the state always fears the collapse of the state. The people sometimes misuse the rights provided. When it is given the right to stage a rally, it may go and break windows and confront the police. The need for the deep state is a result of the deficiency in the governance of the country. The deep state is not active now. The deep state, according to evaluations, is not active as long as the state is not brought to the verge of collapse. They are not a separate state, but when they intervene in the administration of the state, they become the deep state," said Demirel.

    Mehmet Ağar, current leader of the True Path Party (DYP) and once a police chief infamous for alleged notorious inquiry tactics, had a similar supportive comment. Speaking on a TV show, Ağar used a rather sarcastic allegory and said that there were times when the state was pushed to the edge, and when this happened some people came out and solved the problem. "And the state gives these people a deep kiss," Ağar said. Though Ağar later said this was a joke, a recent interview with a retired intelligence agent Nuri Gündeş revealed that the "deep kiss" is not a simple metaphor. Speaking about the illegal connections of the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT), a former agent who was involved in a fierce fight against the Armenian terrorist organization ASALA sent kisses to a convicted fugitive involved in these fights.

    The MIT is not the only state institution that is said to be involved with the deep state. Mümtaz'er Türköne does not mention the name of the army, but said that the gangs within the state are composed of cadres of the state apparatus that carries arms and operates under the armor of secrecy.

    According to Bulent Ecevit, the late prime minister of Turkey, who seems to be the first person to have ever talked about an extra-state organization within the state, the "counter guerrilla" force, or the "special forces" was a military establishment outside the chain of command of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). Kenan Evren, the president after the 1980 coup, first learned of the existence of a "special force" from Ecevit, and as the top commander of the country wanted to get rid of that establishment, but could not succeed.

    The Turkish deep state is believed to be made up of elements from the military, security and judicial establishments wedded to a fiercely nationalist, statist ideology. Some claimed that the deep state was powerful enough to block or even oust a government that did not share their vision. Yusuf Namlı claimed in his article in the Turkish Daily News that "the 'deep state' has no structural form, and is not any of the above mentioned, but is at the same time composed of all of them and becomes active when various segments of power and elements of the state apparatus start independently developing a sense of fear that the Turkish state is faced with an existential threat. Depending on the nature of the threat, the leading element of the 'deep state' for that particular moment might be any of the composing elements, but in any eventuality has the full support of the military."
    There have been claims that the Turkish deep state was able even to penetrate the US administration, engaging in spying, money laundering, and drug trafficking and even forging international alliances; the Turkish-Israeli alliance being a case. These allegations brought up names like Dennis Hastert, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and Marc Grossman, all friends of the US neo-conservative alliance.

    Columnist Cüneyt Ülsever is supportive of the idea that the deep state has foreign connections. He abhors the parallel drawn between Gladio and the Turkish deep state, claiming that Gladio is a US supported mechanism to fight the spread of communism. To Ülsever, the parallel to Gladio in Turkey is the contra-guerrilla disclosed first in 1974 by Ecevit.

    Mümtaz'er Türköne does not agree with Ülsever: "The secret armies of NATO, the Gladios were all deciphered and abolished in the NATO countries, save Turkey," Türköne said. He seems to be referring to the Special War Department established in 1952 while claiming that the Turkish Gladio paved the way for the 1980 coup d'etat.
    What is disturbing about the Special War Department is that its existence has been confirmed by the Turkish General Staff in 1990, with the extra information that it has been used against "the separatist villains in the Southeast." The worst is yet to come; a field manual dated 1964 defines the activities of the underground entities of the special forces as "Killing, bombing, armed robbery, torture, paralyzing, terrorizing and provocation through abduction, arson, sabotage, propaganda, spreading false news, bullying and blackmailing."

    Doing the unthinkable
    Just as its attributes and composition is vague, the purpose and activities of the deep state are beneath the fog of doubt. Metin Kaplan, a knowledgeable writer on the deep state and a former nationalist activist, claims that nowadays the deep state is working with the CIA to change the public's opinion in Turkey to harvest support for an operation on Iran. According to Kaplan, every 'deep state' in the world has two main tasks: to protect the existence of the state and to assure that if the current state is destroyed a new one will be established from its ashes. Kaplan believes that Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa (The Special Organization) was the deep state during the Ottoman times. But in modern Turkey the deep state is being penetrated by the Americans and others so that it has lost its national dimension.

    Several organizations have been related to the deep state in Turkey. A usual suspect is the Turkish Revenge Brigade. This illegal nationalist organization frequented the headlines in the pre-1980 period. It had submerged after 1980, had its name heard once in the second half of the '90s in relation to the murder of a high-ranking army officer. The real comeback of the Turkish Revenge Brigade happened in 2006, when it was linked to numerous attacks in the Southeast and threatening letters were sent to certain Kurdish intellectuals.
    The deep state is believed not only to be behind nationalist groups, but also behind the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks, (TAK) which continued on with terrorist activities despite the ceasefire declared by the PKK. Those relating the TAK to the deep state claim that the TAK's bombing campaign was an attempt by the deep state to force the government to grant emergency powers to security authorities, thus entrenching power with these dark forces.

    11.02.2007
    KERİM BALCI Ankara




    ‘Genocide’ film sponsored by Euroimages irks Turkey
    A film by Italian brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, “The Masseria of the Allodole,” (Masseria delle Allodole), which supports the alleged Armenian genocide, debuted at the Berlin Film Festival.

    The movie, based on the book by Antonia Arslan -- an Italian writer of Armenian origin -- was financially supported by Euroimages, which gives 600 million pounds to films annually and of which Turkey is a member. Turkey disputed the decision to financially support the film in the 32-member organization but was unable to reverse the decision.

    “The Masseria of the Allodole” is a product of Italy, Bulgaria, France and Spain. During the film’s production, Turkey complained that RAI television was the sponsor and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan informed his Italian counterpart, Silvio Berlusconi, about the issue. However, Euroimages still supported the film. Turkey voted against it but couldn’t affect the decision for giving the film financial support, which amounted to 6.1 percent of Eurimage’s 600 million pound budget.

    Ankara laid out its point of view when it sent its complaint: “The film is the outcome of racism. It could cause serious tension and prevent the recovery of the Turkish-Armenian relationship and it could harm Armenia as much as it does Turkey.”

    11.02.2007
    Süleyman Kurt Ankara




    There has to be a way
    YAVUZ BAYDAR
    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül’s visit to Washington, D.C., did not help create a miracle for better relations between Turkey and the US. Given the tough political climate in Turkey and apparent difficulties in steering the course of events in Iraq for the Americans, it is not the perfect time for the parts to speak the same language. Both sides lack clarity and vision for the future in the region, though Americans should still know better. The issues concerning the Turks have swollen over time. And the lack of long-term planning, which would contain all possible scenarios and simulations over the issues such as Iraq -- particularly northern Iraq -- Iran, Armenia and the issue of the draft resolution on the Armenian “genocide,” have replaced Cyprus somewhat as “the matters that suck huge amounts of energy” in Ankara.

    What causes worries is the apparent weakening of the wisdom -- despite hardships and follies -- that these two countries still need each other badly and (re)build the best possible cooperation because the future does not look good in the Middle East. There is no other Turkey for the US and there is no other strong ally like the US for Turkey. The equation is simple because the world is more openly violent and threatening and, well, simple.
    No matter how well or “cool” Mr. Gül could have been received in his visit, more focus is now needed to break the ice and persuade each other. There are lessons to be drawn.

    For the Turks, a paradigm shift is needed regarding Iraqi Kurdistan. I am afraid, the clock ticking, the great northern neighbor of what is now Iraq might be drawn into deeper trouble, caused by inner dynamics, dragging the country into an abyss that it does not deserve.

    Ankara should stop regarding the Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq as a potential enemies of Turkey and instead lead a wider cooperation with them. Iraq is now cracking under years of violent insurgency, giving way to explosive sectarian strife that may continue years and years, and it is obvious Iraqi Kurds have no other channel than Turkey that would help them prosper and keep secular Turks buffered from fanatic religious warfare.

    Sunni and Shia segments in Iraq have their possible backers in the region in terms of power games. Kurds, therefore, need Turkey badly (because they are “traitors” and “US collaborators” in the eyes of radical Sunnis and Shiites), and Turkey must understand this irrefutable argument and optimize it to its self interests.
    Not easy, you say. But not impossible. Surely it is tough for Ankara, having had relations filled with distrust and suspicion with the region’s Kurds, to turn the ship. You have public opinion pumped with hatred over the Kurds and rightly doubtful about the future because of the campaigns of violence by the PKK that worked in the hands of hardliners in Ankara which did benefit from no-change.

    Therefore, you need a new, extended and intensified dialogue between the two capitals. The current reluctance does not help. The Pentagon, for instance, should be more active in sharing the analysis it has done over northern Iraq and explain more clearly, with assurances, how the future -- no matter what can be -- can be secured in the interests of two nations. The White House should intensify its work with the government here, and the Kurds must be protected this time to avoid a repetition of previous human tragedies. Turkey must be in the game with oil and other economic benefits because you need a strong regional rival against Iran -- and Sunni fundamentalism -- in the region.

    These are fair assumptions because the security of the entire region is at stake. Therefore, aspects of Armenia and Cyprus, both of vital interest to Turkey, may be seen in the same context.

    As the US should work more actively to exert pressure over the adventurous and ethno-selfish Cypriot government to go easy on oil drills and small-minded tricks within the EU (again on the basis of regional security) as much as it must -- as I pointed out earlier -- have a wide open and sincere dialogue with Ankara over Iraq. Turkey must open its border with Armenia: not fully, but initially, perhaps, with limited times per day, as a confidence-building measure. As with northern Iraq -- as Dan Fried stated -- it is unbecoming of a great power like Turkey to let itself to be mistreated by a very small neighbor that also needs Turkey since it also wants to share same democratic values as us.
    11.02.2007




    Bryza: Freer speech best answer to ‘genocide’ lobby abroad
    A top US State Department official with responsibility for Turkey said the administration was committed to dissuading Congress from passing a resolution recognizing an alleged genocide of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire in 1915, but said that it was difficult to make this case while Turkey still kept in its penal code laws which restricted freedom of speech.

    "Deep introspection” was the best way to honor victims of the episode and to prevent a recurrence of future," according to Matthew Bryza, deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. In an interview with Today's Zaman in İstanbul, he said that a resolution of Congress would simply lead to a retrenchment inside Turkey and a hardening of attitudes that would make internal discussion more difficult.

    He called for widespread debate on the issue among philosophers, archival historians and ordinary people and cited the popular wave of sympathy for the murdered Armenian editor Hrant Dink as evidence that many in Turkey wished to achieve a reconciliation with their past. A resolution of Congress would "kill that process," he said. At the same time he suggested that it was impossible to convince the outside world that Turkey could engage in a "candid and heartfelt discussion" while people who spoke their minds were being prosecuted. "Article 301 has to go away," he said. This is the clause of the Turkish penal code making it an offense to "insult Turkishness" under which Dink was successfully prosecuted. Bryza was in İstanbul attending a US-Turkey economic partnership commission as a member of a trade and energy delegation which has been touring the wider region. Thursday's meeting was the first convening of the commission in over three years. It occurred at a time when the Turkish foreign minister is in the US and appears part of a mutual charm offensive to restore relations badly strained by events in Iraq.

    Those events, in particular the March 1, 2003 vote of the Turkish Parliament's which denied a US invasion force the right to transit through Turkey, still colored Washington's view of Turkey, Bryza confessed. This was despite, he said, the current logistic support that Turkey now provides. İncirlik Air Base is the major transport hub for the US forces and many ordinary Iraqis rely on the Turkish border crossing at Habur for food, fuel and even water.
    Ankara by, contrast, is concerned that the current insurrection in Iraq will result in the break-up of that state and the creation of an independent Kurdish north that will stimulate insurrection inside Turkey itself. Bryza repeated the US commitment to Iraq's territorial integrity and addressed concerns that that the meltdown of central authority in Baghdad was allowing the anti-Turkish Kurdish separatists free reign.

    He said the US acknowledged that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was "the most significant threat to Turkish national security" but that even the Turkish army -- "the most capable in Europe" and which had troops operating in northern Iraq -- understood that force alone could not fix the problem.

    Even so, Bryza sought to correct the record that the US was in any way urging Turkey to be patient. He said that Joseph Ralston, the retired US general and special envoy for countering the PKK, understood the urgency of the problem and was “bringing together the pieces” and that concrete results could be expected soon.
    Differences between Ankara and Washington over Iran were “more philosophical” than substantive, according to Bryza. Neither party wanted to see a Tehran in possession of nuclear weapons. He agreed that Turkey was still hoping to lure Iran into dialogue about its international responsibilities; whereas the US believed sanctions were unavoidable. Force was not the solution, however. “I have never had a conversation about preparing for a military operation in Iran,” he said.

    10.02.2007
    ANDREW FINKEL İSTANBUL



     This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix
    Mt. Musa Armenians express concern over Stallone movie
    The only Armenian village in Turkey, Vakıflı in Hatay province, has expressed concerns over the destruction the peace and tolerance that dominate their lives because of a proposed movie on the so-called Armenian genocide.

    American actor Sylvestor Stallone recently announced plans to make a movie based on the book "The Forty Days of Musa Dag" written by Austrian Franz Werfel in 1933. He wants to film the movie at Mt. Musa, which rises next to Vakıflı. "We will only approve the plan if the movie underlines the environment of peace and tolerance in which we live. But if it undermines that, we are against this movie," Vakıflı local administrator Berç Kartun said as he expressed conditional approval.
    Kartun added that they have lived at Musa Dagh in peace and tolerance for centuries. "The theme of the movie belongs here -- right where we live. Mt. Musa is next to us. It is all right for us if someone wants to make a movie here about the book 'The Forty Days of Musa Dag.' There are also beautiful things in that book. If those things will be used without starting a controversy, the movie will be welcome. The movie should tell about the tolerance here. Then it will be beneficial for introduction of Turkey, our village and Hatay. People should come and see the mountain and our life here. Nobody has the right to ruin our peace," he said.

    'The Forty Days of Musa Dagh'
    The book is about the forced emigration of Anatolian Armenians in 1915, with a group of them taking shelter on Mt. Musa, south of İskenderun. They clashed with Ottoman soldiers in Hatay and were taken to Egyptian refugee camps by French ships.

    10.02.2007
    MEHMET DENER HATAY




    ‘Nationalism race’
    MÜMTAZ’ER TÜRKÖNE
    “They shall digest Turkishness!” says Republican People’s Party (CHP) Leader Deniz Baykal, speaking about the controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.

    The said article defines the crime of “insulting Turkishness,” whose commission entails an imprisonment of up to three years. With the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, the long-debated article became the focal point of political discussions. Political identities and attitudes were divided along the support/opposition line to the article. Most importantly, some discussions referred to the provocative climate created by the article as the primary reason for Dink’s murder. He was prosecuted under the article on the grounds that he insulted Turkishness.

    The crime of “insulting Turkishness” as outlined in Article 301 may have different meanings because of speculation as to what “Turkishness” connotes. The majority of Turkish citizens are of ethnic Turkish origin. The Constitution transforms this ethnic identity to an expression of citizenship bonds. By providing that “Everyone bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship is a Turk,” Article 66 of Turkish Constitution transforms the term “Turk” from an ethnic reference to a legal description. For this reason, skeptics argue that the “Turkishness” invoked in Article 301 reconstructs the ethnic references and thus contradicts with the Constitution.
    Last November, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on civil society organizations to work on possible amendments to Article 301. While initial attempts failed, after Dink’s murder, the amendment process was revitalized. Last week, another meeting attended by civil society organizations was held to address the issue, but once again, the attempt was unsuccessful. Just recently, the organizations announced they reached an agreement on an amended text. The statement provides that because of the vagueness of the present text, different meanings could be inferred; hence “Turkishness” should be replaced by “Turkish nation.” The newly invented formula will apparently not work out. Because the notion “Turkishness” is preserved intact, the accompanying term “Turkish nation” will unlikely eliminate the different interpretations and change the definition of the existing crime. Those who put forward this proposal, while using the notion “Turkishness” in the ethnical sense, think they use “Turkish nation” as the match of modern “nation.” But the problem is not in the description of the “Turkishness” notion but in the description of “Turkish nation” so as to embrace all Turkish citizens. As such, those who interpret this article may demand the interpretation of the “Turkish nation” in parallel with the ethnic content of “Turkishness.”

    Because they did not agree with the proposal, the leftist Turkish Physicians Association and labor union DİSK left the meeting. In its present form, the amendment proposal lags even behind the already controversial existing article text.

    The entire discussion process shows that supporting the full preservation of the article in its present form is cited as the benign manifestation of an extreme nationalist and even chauvinist stance. Baykal’s remark, “They shall digest Turkishness,” represents this extreme nationalist view. CHP asserts Article 301 should be kept as it is. The only leftist party of Turkish political landscape aligns itself with the extreme nationalist circles. Let us recall CHP is a member of Socialist International.

    Citing Matt Bryza from the US State Department, Yasemin Çongar noted that nationalism was viewed by the US administration as the only common concept of Turkish politics. Bryza asserted the rise of nationalism was not at an alarming level. He is not so wrong. Nationalism has already created the discussion ground on which the upcoming elections would be based. The primary actors of the political landscape question the nationalist stance of their opponents. Prime Minister and AK Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while openly accusing the MHP, the party that managed to transform the nationalist ideology into a political movement, of racism, asserts that his party adopts a positive nationalist approach. In order not to lag behind in the race, the only leftist party CHP, as already noted, adopts an ethno-centric nationalist paradigm as a political discourse.

    Apparently, the secularism-reactionary movement debate that has long dominated the realm of political discussions is being replaced by the conflicting views on nationalism. The message President Ahmet Necdet Sezer gave last week on the occasion of 70th anniversary of the inclusion of secularism principle in the constitution harbored some elements that certainly need further discussion. Quite unusually, the president barred the judiciary from making comments on secularism. The lack of attention to this message, which did not trigger new debates, demonstrates how busy the political environment is with the nationalism discussions.

    How does the domination of competition by all political actors along nationalist lines affect Turkey’s future?
    The answer to this question should be sought in the sociological base that feeds nationalism. Society -- particularly the younger generations -- are experiencing a state of common anomie in connection with the crash of the tradition under modernity’s impacts. Unemployment, poverty and the huge income disparities as reflected through the TV screens lead the youth to hatred and anger. They seek a scapegoat to blame for all mistakes. Nationalism serves as a channel to embrace this anger. Every challenge in foreign or domestic policy is transformed into a concrete enemy. The already growing anti-Americanism is further fostered by nationalism. The developments in northern Iraq since the US occupation and the likely division of Iraq in three separate states rise serious concerns. The Kirkuk issue has become the most important foreign policy issue of the Turkish state. The EU is accused of double standards and hypocrisy vis-à-vis Turkey. The Cyprus issue has become the most favorite discussion of nationalist politics.

    The nationalist race among political parties will inevitably deepen the already existing nationalist concerns. A race that will take place between the different tones of nationalism will most probably create a much more serious breakdown than secularism debates did in the near past. The race that took place along the secularism debate was easy to control because of its state-oriented character. When the generals became reluctant to express their concerns over secularism, the tension was eased in its natural course. Conversely, nationalism has the potential to politicize the social issues and create distinct sides by partitioning the entire society into opposing poles. It is already evident that nationalism embodies strong feelings. A political discourse seized by sentiments and emotions will only promote hatred and enmity.

    To resolve a political equation with multiple unknown variables, we must be able to provide a satisfactory answer to this question: Will the tension that politics creates be reflected in the society in its entirety? Or will the competition that fosters nationalism remain a political fantasy detached from the public?It seems that society’s anticipation of political stability is strong enough to suppress the herein reviewed nationalist race.

    10.02.2007




    Negative and positive versions of nationalism
    Qualities like patriotism, nationalism, the exaltation of nation attachments and national service used to receive a positive reception, definitely not a negative one.

    Nationalism as a movement began to receive negative reception when it became utilized for political reasons in a way that opted to turn a blind eye to differences and excluded the right of the "other" to exist. At this point, nationalism began to be associated with chauvinism. Today, nationalism is being referred to as a quality of being a nouveau riche: as male domination, chauvinism and intolerance. In this sense, it becomes naturally a matter of question to deal with it when a) social unison and coherence are threatened with a particular type of cultural structuring that comes from negative nationalism; and b) the tendency toward discrimination grows as a result. The only thing to do is render feelings of nationalism acceptable. Refusal to acknowledge differences among people and turning a blind eye to them would remain a social problem.

    10.02.2007
    YASİN DOĞAN, YENİ ŞAFAK




    Turkish foreign minister’s US visit
    BERIL DEDEOGLU b.dedeoglu@todayszaman.com
    Official visits of foreign ministers help either to solidify friendships or to face tensions, and occasionally both at the same time. The meeting between Abdullah Gül and Condoleeza Rice is a good example of visits with multiple goals.

    We’ve already mentioned the differing priorities of Turkey and the US concerning Iraq. Small steps can lead to the unification of priorities and to an agreement on policies and application methods in the near future. But some fundamental difficulties remain. First of all, Gül’s visit clearly showed that the US has no time to wait for Turkish priorities to coincide with American ones because it is in a difficult position in several regions of the globe and particularly in Iraq. The US administration is also bogged down in domestic policy issues, including not only Democrats but some Republicans as well. Hence, the US cannot wait for the adaptation of Turkey’s priorities and is seeking to force its hand in some regards.

    The talks between the two officials headlined the issues of Lebanon, Iraq, northern Iraq, Kirkuk, the PKK, Kosovo, the Exclusive Economic Zone issue in Cyprus and the resolution on the recognition of the Armenian “genocide.” This is not simply a list of Turkey’s problems with states or peoples in the surrounding regions. They also determine the relations of Turkey with the two “Wests,” namely the US and the EU, and the Middle East. In short, these are fundamental issues about Turkey’s domestic and foreign policy. It’s not reasonable in terms of theory or practice to suggest that they will be resolved consecutively. That’s why one shouldn’t analyze them separately in a supposed linage. The main reason for the establishment of such a list is to take hostage all other issues in order to obtain the resolution of a privileged one.

    The US has admitted it cannot convince Turkey to share the US’ priorities concerning Iraq in a short period of time, that’s why it’s trying to apply pressure via Turkish priorities. The resolution on the Armenian “genocide” was not a completely calculated maneuver, but the Bush administration is doing its best to profit from it. The majority of Congressmen favor this bill and the Bush administration are promising Turkey it will do everything to block it. In other words, the Democrats who proposed the resolution are not holding the sword of Damocles in their hands, but the Bush administration is. Under these circumstances, connections are established between the PKK and the Armenian issue, Cyprus and Lebanon, Kosovo and military bases.

    This process is not only making Turkey choose between its problems. If Turkey accepts an engagement in the whole of Iraq and not only in its northern provinces in order to obstruct the Armenian genocide resolution, this would mean a significant change in orientation in Turkey’s future. It may also lead to the establishment of a Lebanon-Cyprus crisis line to assure the resolution of several issues concerning the Middle East between the EU and the US, in favor of the latter. Such a crisis line could also be used later against Turkey as a bargaining chip at the center of Turkey-EU relations. That’s why talks held by Gül and Rice should help organize bilateral relations without forcing Turkey to change its track.
    10.02.2007




    Diplomat or acrobat?
    ABDULHAMIT BILICI a.bilici@todayszaman.com
    I usually assumed that, compared to many other mid-sized countries, Turkish political leaders must have it the worst in dealing with never ending and multi-faceted foreign policy issues on numerous fronts ranging from Cyprus to Armenian allegation, from Kirkuk to EU membership. Last week, not only did I receive a confirmation of my assumption, I also found out that the victims of Turkish foreign policy are not only our political leaders. Turkey’s hyper-dynamic internal and external environment are also big challenges facing diplomats who are serving in Ankara.

    I learned this fact while we, as five columnists from different newspapers, were chatting with the American Ambassador Ross Wilson in İstanbul. There were very serious issues on the agenda: the PKK, a cross-border operation, the so called Armenian resolution in the US Congress, Kirkuk, Iran, Palestine, etc. One of the questions posed to him was the number one issue for Turkish foreign policy (the PKK, Cyprus, EU membership, the Armenian question or the Kurdish issue) and the nature of his reports on Turkey to Washington?
    Surely, it was a confidential matter and as expected, he said it is better not to describe his diplomatic reports to journalists but he did not hesitate to reply to the questions in a different way.

    He shared a very interesting experience from his Senate confirmation hearing before being sent to Turkey as an ambassador; he was expected to answer questions about his career and perspective on Turkey. Wilson was not the only candidate ambassador partaking in the hearing; there were 3 other candidates who were assigned to other countries. Here is how he related the rest of his story:

    “We were four candidate ambassadors to four countries. The Senators’ first request from all of us was ‘describe your priorities in regard to the country you will be sent as an ambassador to’.The other three ambassadors would go to Cyprus, Finland and Iceland. My friend ,who would go to Cyprus, said that his number one priority will be to settle the Cyprus problem.

    The candidate who would go to Iceland said that his priority would be to deal with the closure of an F-16 squadron which had existed there for decades and he would work on an agreement to close it down.
    The candidate for Finland had very hard time in describing the biggest issue she would deal with. She did, however, refer to the role of Finland -- term president of the EU in improving relations between United States and the EU at the time.

    I was the last one to answer the same question. At that time, my first priority in regard to Turkey was: “to juggle a bunch of different balls while moving forward without making any of them fall. That is how I see Turkish foreign policy which has a whole bunch of issues, all equally important. This country and its leadership unfortunately find themselves in a very awful predicament.”

    During our conversation, it became clear that Ambassador Wilson was very much aware of the delicate situation in Turkish-American relations today. As we all know, there are very high expectations that are very difficult for him to deliver. On one hand, he is under pressure to prevent Democrat controlled Congress’ attempt to recognize Armenian allegations as genocide, a move which has a tremendous potential to destroy all relations between two countries. He is also well aware of the challenges that such a move would have on American interests in Turkey. For that, he asks Turkish official’s and civil society’s aid in convincing the American Congress. On the other hand, he is under pressure to satisfy the Turkish public in regard to PKK terror emanating from Northern Iraq.I am not sure if any diplomat would like to be in his shoes today. But it may be because of this difficult task that American ambassadors, who have Ankara experience under their belt, are usually granted higher upward mobility in Washington.
    10.02.2007




    How green was my valley!
    M. NEDIM HAZAR n.hazar@todayszaman.com
    The title belongs to a novel that talks about how a group of miners hold onto life with all their betrayal, loyalty and contrivance. It is a novel that tells the story of the oppressed.
    However, what made the name famous was that it was made into a film in 1941 by John Ford. The film won five Oscars, but it was the series adaptation of the novel made by Ronald Wilson in 1975 as six one-hour episodes that got it off the ground.

    You might remember that I penned many articles about the television and film versions of the “Kurtlar Vadisi” (Valley of the Wolves) series. I received much reaction and even messages containing explicit language. But it was also very cheering for me to find out that there were many people who agreed. Recently, we watched Polat Alemdar and his friends in a movie that was apparently carried to a far higher level from what was like a cartoon to me.
    “Kurtlar Vadisi” ended its broadcasting life at its zenith among debates over the Çakır legend (one of the two main characters of the series), the character of Polat Alemdar, which was played so terribly that it could be a nominee for the worst actor of the year, its music and the role of mafia and whether it was real or fictional.
    It is a fact that “Kurtlar Vadisi” was the most watched and talked-about TV series in Turkish television history. In this regard, I think we need to applaud the show’s entire crew: the screenplay writer, the director, actors, actresses and the public relations department.

    However, this is Turkey.
    Once something catches on…

    I wonder if you’d all remember this -- there was a singer, or rather a star in an advertisement who became famous after the words she used in a chewing gum commercial caught on and were adopted by young people. She turned the words from the commercial into a song and shot a music video. She exploited the fame of two words and benefited from its “meat, milk, wool, marrow, nerve and all other parts…” as we say in Turkish.

    No one take offense, but I think the re-launching of “Kurtlar Vadisi” is a similar exploitation because it is using up a series that became famous some way or other to its last drop. I guess the producers and screenplay writers wanted to earn more since they saw that the impact of the series on the nation turned out much deeper than what they had initially thought. Well, we don’t covet their earnings. However, I’m certain that our brother Necati Şaşmaz could not play any other character than Polat Alemdar.

    One more thing: I sincerely believe that the producers and screenplay writers love this country just as much as anyone and they are against the mafia and illegalities, and I also believe that thousands of “child Polats” in the street modeling themselves on the character played by Şaşmaz grieve them dearly.

    Who knows? Maybe they re-launched the series this season for the sole purpose of rectifying the bad image they inadvertently created. I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but they will prepare the downfall of the Polat legend with their own hands. I might well be wrong. Maybe we will never be able to solve the mystery of Polat Alemdar and his friends’ success, just as we have been unable to understand the Televole culture (the paparazzi side of the Turkish football world), and why movies of Kemal Sunal -- a famous late Turkish comedian -- attract more spectators even though each of them has been broadcast and watched thousands of times. I can guess the producers and screenplay writers, whose sanity I don’t doubt, considered all these risks. However, I would like to note after obligatorily watching the first episode with as much difficulty as if swallowing a nail, “Kurtlar Vadisi Terör” (Valley of the Wolves - Terror) has a terrible screenplay and is a directorial disaster. What’s more, they have increased the number of overblown cartoonish characters. It must entail a great risk to present certain things known to Turkish people with shoddy acting in a soap opera. I beg your pardon, if they were really looking for an interesting subject to base “Kurtlar Vadisi” on, I wonder why they did not name it “Kurtlar Vadisi - YÖK” ( Higher Education Council)! Although it has been discovered that there is corruption in 42 Turkish universities, the president of the YÖK is saying,

    “No one can investigate us!” In fact, the corruption in Kocaeli University could alone feed a whole season! Furthermore, now that we have no university that ranks among the 500 most successful universities in the world, maybe we could get somewhere with a soap opera. Please, don’t get angry with me -- did we not try to retaliate for the “hooding incident” in which a unit of Turkish soldiers and their commander were hooded by the Americans with a movie?
    10.02.2007




    Thanks to Nuri Gündeş
    February 10, 2007
    MEHMET ALI BIRAND
    We have been listening to the National Intelligence Organization's (MİT) former director of the Istanbul area, Nuri Gündeş, for days now. He is a courteous gentleman whom I have known for a while. He is approaching 90. After his retirement in 1986 he remained silent for a very long time. He is currently working on a book. It is maybe because of this that suddenly he started appearing on TV. During his appearances, he talked about what the “deep state” has been in the past and how the state bureaucracy affected situations.

    It is understood from Gündeş's accounts that the actions and statements of the years between 1960 and 2000 were correct.

    So, when the state institutions could not deal with a situation, it employed men from the mafia, hired hit men from outside and lured them to fire guns “in the name of the country.”

    Gündeş explained very well the logic that dominated MİT in the past. He demonstrated the miserable state this institution was in by “kissing mafia boss Alaattin Çakıcı on both cheeks” and sending his regards to him. Gündeş's words made me sad for MİT. I was one of those that believed this institution to be more proper not only today but also in the past. Apparently it is no different from other security organizations.

    There is no need for discussion anymore.

    The state's security units employ people from outside and instigate them, or simply look the other way when it serves their purposes.

    Here are the memoirs of some retired officers, their explanations on TV, the accounts of former police or law officers, the statements by Gündeş.

    On top of all these add the treatment of Ogün Samast, the police and the gendarmerie, and you will see what is trying to be done.

    It was something else that actually stopped ASALA:

    I would like to add a last point here:
    It was not the right wing militant and mafia boss Çatlı or mafia boss Çakıcı that finished off the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA). They are bragging in vain. It was the raid of Paris's Orly Airport in 1983 that finished the ASALA off. Feeling ill at ease by the raid, the French and U.S. Armenians who used to support ASALA monetarily stopped the aid and the issue was closed. I know this through French authorities that were involved. The ones that were instrumental in the stopping of the aid were MİT and the Foreign Ministry. Otherwise, ASALA did not yield because it was afraid of the Turkish bullies. They were stopped because they had gone too far with their murders.

    Athens now views Western Thrace differently:
    Going back a while in history one remembers how Greek governments used to view the Turks in Western Thrace. They were not even called “Turks” but were called a “Muslim minority.” They were treated as Turkish spies and were not allowed to buy real estate or exercise their basic rights. Each declaration by Ankara was seen as interference in their domestic affairs. According to the conspiracy theories, Turkey was using the Turks of Western Thrace to divide Greece and attach this portion to Turkey.

    Years have gone by and a lot has changed. Greece became a full member of the European Union. With this membership it both prospered and its self-confidence increased. As a result of this, the residents of Western Thrace, once seen as a “dangerous minority” are now treated as “Greek nationals.” There are still some issues, but the Turks of Western Thrace started seeing themselves as Greek nationals also. They seek their rights just as EU citizens.

    We are able to witness the change in climate when we see the images of Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis's visit to Western Thrace at the beginning of the week. The minister was met with applause by the Turks.

    While explaining Athens policies for the future, Bakoyannis said investments in Western Thrace will increase and citizens with Turkish backgrounds will be able to benefit from these investments. She emphasized that the country's self-confidence has increased.

    Yes, there are shortfalls. Nevertheless, it is clear that Greece is ahead of Turkey in terms of its approach to minorities. This should not upset us. The contentment of Turks in Western Thrace means our contentment. The age of hindering each other and being hostile is over. There may be conflicts about various issues but we need to get used to living together, to tolerating each other.

    In both countries, there are groups of people that feed on feelings of hostility toward someone. As they raise their voices in the face of tension, they fuel disagreements. However, the way things are going, it seems that even the voices of fanatics will be subdued.




    What Others Say
    February 10, 2007
    Negative and positive nationalism:
    Yasin DOĞAN, Yeni Şafak
    Nationalism in recent times has been turned into a popular concept and has been occupying a central place in public debate. The rise of nationalist sentiment has been a major topic of discussion, particularly after the murder of Hrant Dink. Nationalism's being perceived as a problem, a source of trouble and even a threat and danger is naturally causing reactions on the nationalist front.

    Then there are those who avoid blaming it all on nationalism and offending nationalists by making a distinction between what they call “positive nationalism” and “negative nationalism.”

    In the literature of political science, nationalism is a new concept which emerged after the French Revolution. Its main purpose is to “construct a nation” on the bases of a common language, history and culture. In this sense, nationalism is a “political” concept and it aims to construct a nation that will be the backbone of the state.

    According to Eric Hobsbawm it is not nations that have created nationalism but the opposite. In other words, one speaks of a politically manufactured concept when speaking of nationalism.

    Those who attach a negative meaning to nationalism in the process of nation-building frequently refer to the “melting pot” concept, an environment in which different ideas and ethnicities are assimilated. This view emphasizes that the process is a one of standardization, homogenization and creating uniformity.

    There are also those who stress the concept of “cultural nationalism.” Emphasizing the cultural and traditional characteristics of a nation and protecting those who are alike was a natural process which took place even before the French Revolution. Nationalism, praising the nation one belonged to, serving one's country and similar concepts were emphasized, particularly in the past, in a positive form.

    This feeling of nationalism was over time turned into a political project, attaching a new meaning to it, associated with excluding diverseness and debasing the “other.” At this point nationalism came to be associated with chauvinism; a state of generating feelings of hatred towards differences by doing away with rationalism and reason.

    As Said Nursi (1878, an Islamic thinker from Turkey of Kurdish origin, and the author of the Risale-i Nur Collection) once observed, “racism is a mixture of the rage caused by ignorance, perversion, heedlessness and cruelty.” According to Said Nursi positive nationalism is acceptable, as being proud of one's nation and working to serve its interests are virtuous.

    Today's negative nationalism works to dissolve social unity and integrity and its perception of discrimination that causes concern for differences – that is most certainly a problem.

    A second problem associated with nationalism is the existence of political parties organized on ethnic principles. A good example for this could the tension created by the Turkish and Kurdish nationalisms of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Democratic People's Party (DTP) respectively.

    The only way out of this is to turn the face of nationalist sentiment towards the good and the right. As long as the understanding that neglects differences and treats those with them like enemies persists, nationalism will continue to remain a social ill.

    Why does nationalism surprise us?
    Mustafa ERDOĞAN, Star
    Judging what most people have been saying and writing in the past weeks, the intelligentsia of the country seems to be surprised by the fact that nationalism is widespread in Turkey. However, if we look at our political and intellectual history of the last century, we shouldn't expect anything else but nationalism to be the dominant feeling in the country.

    Nationalism was taken up as a political ideology for the first time in Turkey by the Unionists [the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), which ruled the Ottoman Empire from late 19th century on until World War I]. In the republican era this was arranged in a more systematized form. Prime Minister İsmet İnönü in 1925 said the following words: “Our duty is to turn everyone in this country to Turks at all costs. We will cut off all elements opposing Turks and Turkism. The foremost quality we will look for in people to serve the motherland is being Turkish and a Turkist.” M. Esat Bozkurt [one of the first Justice Ministers of the Republican Era] was even more straightforward than İnönü. He once said, “Both our friends and foes should understand that the Turk is the master of this country. True, those who are not of Turkish origin do have a right in the Turkish land: the right to be a servant and a slave.”

    In a recent book on history textbooks of the early republican era, İsmet Parlak wrote, “The principles of nationalism, secularism and etatism were the prime topics covered in textbooks, but the emphasis on Turkism in particular and nationalism in general, especially during the İnönü era, demonstrates that the ideological discourse of the early republican period was founded on a nationalist fundamental. Textbooks of the single-party period were pushing the borders of reason to the point of suggesting that the Turkish nation was where all other civilizations originated. These books told the children, that their ‘race represented the noblest and highest human'.”

    This is why there is nothing startling about the fact that nationalism is not an ideology taken up only by a few parties in our day. All political parties in Turkey, and the state itself, are nationalists from the start. I would also like to refresh your memory on the fact that the Republic of Turkey is the only state in the modern world that describes itself as a “nationalist” state in its constitution. What's more, even universalistic ideologies in Turkey have been infected with nationalism. There are even those of us who try to associate socialism or liberalism with nationalism and Kemalism.

    The “success” of nationalism in Turkey is most certainly not the making of official educational institutions only. Administrators and journalists of the mass communication industry, who went through the same educational process, have made a significant contribution. Dismiss that they appear to be critical of nationalist “heroes” today. Newspapers and TV channels made an extensive contribution to the pathological state of Turkish nationalism today.


    Why the Jewish lobby?
    Güneri CIVAOĞLU, Milliyet
    The Jewish lobby has been pushing to block a possible adoption of an Armenian genocide bill in the U.S. congress. A prominent figure in the Jewish lobby recently told me about the reason behind this support. According to the Jewish lobby, and Israel, recognition of the “Armenian genocide,” would thin out the general stance against Holocaust. If the Armenian genocide is recognized, this could be followed by the massacres of Algeria, India and many others.

    In reality all of these were results of civil war or rebellions, unlike the Holocaust. The European Jews didn't have territorial demands, rebel or start a civil war. The only reason they were massacred was that they were “Jewish.”

    The main purpose was to eradicate the Jewish people.

    The incident at the heart of Armenian allegations, on the other hand, was caused by a forced deportation resulting from a rebellion and cooperation with soldiers of Turkey's enemies, although it is true that it unfortunately also involved people who were completely innocent.

    However, the Ottomans never had a target like destroying the Armenian race.

    True, things that nobody would ever approve of took place. Immense grievances did occur, but that was no genocide.

    This is why the Jewish lobby and the Israeli state are working to block the Armenian bill.

    Most certainly, the Ottoman Empire embracing the Jews 500 years ago is another factor. However, the main reason for the Jewish lobby defending Turkey is to ensure that the Holocaust remains the “undiluted single example”

    Can they manage it?
    They don't seem to be as pessimistic as the media here is. There are 7 million Jews in the United States, while Armenians number around 2 million. Both groups are rich and have strong figures in the ranks of media and politics. However, in addition to their quantitative supremacy, most of the Jewish U.S. citizens vote for the Democrats. If the “Holocaust is diluted” by an Armenian bill then this will happen with the votes of Jewish voters. The Jewish lobby has explained to the Democrats that this could have severe repercussions.

    At the end of the day it is not impossible for the law to be blocked with a slight change in the votes of the Democrats.




    Hrant Dink's dream
    February 10, 2007
    Elif ŞAFAK
    Imagine a moment in time when there is no chauvinism, xenophobia or racism. We thousands of Istanbullular saw it happen. So did Hrant.

    Imagine an exquisite dinner scene in Istanbul. A long, long table; at least 30 people. It is kind of breezy outside, the infamous lodos is blowing incessantly, as if to remind you that life in this city is far from quiet and orderly. Inside the room, the variety of the food served reflects the multicultural roots of today's Turkish cuisine: Albanian meatballs, Greek seafood, Kurdish spices, Armenian pastries, Turkish pilaf. People drink and eat and laugh and from time to time, they toast friends long departed.

    Then somebody starts to sing a song. Other guests join in and before you know it a string of songs follow, most of them sad but none disheartening. The songs switch almost effortlessly from Armenian to Kurdish, from Turkish to Greek. Where one stops another one picks up. Imagine, in short, a cosmopolitan setting where everyone is welcome no matter what their ethnicity, race or religion. Imagine a country where we are all equal, friendly and free.

    It wasn't a dream. I saw it happen and not once or twice. I saw it happen so many times. That is how I know it can and shall be real. I saw it happen thanks to Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist who was, on Friday Jan. 19, 2007, gunned down in Istanbul by a Turkish ultra-nationalist.

    Hrant was a dreamer and, as relentlessly as he was misunderstood, mistreated, and downtrodden because of this dominant aspect of his personality, by the end he knew very well that dreams are contagious. He gave us hope and faith, but most of all, he passed on his dreams to us. He made us believe that we, the citizens of modern Turkey, as the grandchildren of the multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual Ottoman Empire, could and should live together without assimilating differences or erasing the memory of the past.

    He wanted to shatter the silence in Turkey on the 1915 deportation and massacres of Armenians, believing that remembrance was a responsibility. According to him, only if and when Turks and Armenians mourned this tragedy together would we be able to start a new and better future. In a country stamped with collective amnesia, Hrant struggled for memory.

    As an Armenian Istanbullu he had been subject to all sorts of discrimination ever since he was a kid. And yet he was free of anger and resentment. After a lifetime's experience he could have drawn the conclusion that this country was no place for a minority and gone abroad, where he would most probably be safer and much more comfortable. But he did just the opposite. He had uttermost faith in his fellow citizens and believed that through dialogue and empathy even the most ossified chauvinisms would melt away.

    Hrant wholeheartedly supported Turkey's membership of the European Union and was worried that if the ties between Turkey and EU snapped, the ongoing democratization process would slow down and Turkey would become a more insular country – a process from which neither Turkey nor the western world could benefit.

    The sweeping generalizations in the West regarding Turkey and Turks frustrated him. He was equally critical of the Armenian genocide bill approved in October 2006 by the French Parliament, an equivalent of which is now being discussed in the United States. “If they pass the law in France, I will go there, and though I believe the opposite, I will openly say that there was no genocide.” As a true supporter of freedom of expression, Hrant believed that it should be up to people – Turks and Armenians together – to develop the means to reconcile and not for politicians to dictate knowledge of history.

    More than 100,000 people marched on Jan. 23, the day of his funeral. Many in the crowd sang Armenian songs, and carried banners proclaiming: “Hepimiz Hrant Dink'iz, Hepimiz Ermeniyiz” (We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenians). People of all sorts of ideological, religious and ethnic backgrounds were there, united in a common spirit and faith in democracy. At the end of the day Muslims and Christians buried him together.

    Imagine a moment in time when there is no chauvinism, xenophobia or racism. A moment when we are all united in a common spirit. It wasn't a dream. We thousands of Istanbullular saw it happen. So did Hrant. And most probably he wasn't the least bit surprised, knowing too well that dreams are contagious. This piece by Elif Safak was originally published in “Open Democracy.”




    The Corridor
    February 10, 2007
    GÖKSEL BOZKURT
    Ankara - TDN
    A ‘Hollywood' way to resolve the Armenian question:
    The Armenian genocide bill, recently brought up in the U.S. Congress, will headline their agenda in the coming days. Turkey is doing its best to explain its thesis concerning the 1915 killings of Armenians towards the end of the Ottoman Era. Turkish diplomats have been lobbying in the United States to block a potential adoption of a bill, which would mean official recognition of the 1915 killings as “genocide.”

    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül has stated that adoption of the bill would “poison” Turkish-U.S. relations and deputies in Parliament are set to fly to the United States in groups to convince them that passing bill is not a good idea. Many others have been suggesting various proposals to chastise the United States, however, the most radical of these and perhaps possibly the one that would be most effective in explaining the Turkish thesis on the killings to the world came from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Istanbul deputy Egemen Bağış, who lived in the United States for many years. This past week, Bağış suggested that Turkish deputies have Hollywood producers make a movie supporting the Turkish side. The proposal came at a time when Sylvester Stallone announced plans to shoot a movie on Armenian grievances.

    “Prominent figures of the diaspora pay Hollywood people to make genocide movies. We too have wealthy people; however, we don't have a culture of investing in Hollywood. We should also be relying on such methods and commission movies explaining Turkey and its thesis on the genocide.”

    Well, the heart of the American entertainment industry is open to such proposals. The only thing left to do now is to find a businessman to pay for it and find the actors and actresses who would act in the movie.

    Baykal's way of getting ready for elections:
    Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal this week had a visitor, far from the public eye. Ali Bardakoğlu, head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, presented Baykal copies of the Encyclopedia of Islam, a huge work of 31 volumes published by the Religious Affairs Directorate and two copies of the Koran. During a one-hour visit, the two talked about the history of the Ottoman Empire and Islam. The CHP leader, faced with a tough period as the general elections are scheduled for November this year, is an enthusiastic reader known for his love of books. He had reportedly already begun to study the encyclopedia in detail, shortly after his guest left. It would not, therefore, come as a surprise to hear him quoting from the work on Islam during his election campaign.

    Arınç claims the ‘article champion' title:
    Turkish deputies frequently complain about under-representation in the media. Any deputy you run into in Parliament would tell you, “You never run any stories on us.”

    However, mathematical facts seem to prove them wrong. According to stats released by Parliament's Communication department, the number of news stories covering the activities of Parliament and deputies increased by 99 percent last year compared with the previous year.

    In 2006, 81,000 news articles were printed in 47 national newspapers and 34 periodicals. Nine thousand of these were on Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç. In other words, he was the champion of newspaper articles with 6,656 news stories, 2,170 columns and 22 drawings with Arınç as their subject.

    Arınç was followed by AKP Balıkesir Deputy Turhan Çömez with 1,538 stories and columns published about him last year.

    CHP group deputy Chairmen Haluk Koç and Kemal Anadol along with CHP Istanbul deputy Onur Öymen follow Çömez, who in turn, is followed by AKP group deputy Chairman Salih Kapusuz.

    We'll see how everyone will do in the news coverage competition this year.




    Rakı is here to stay
    February 10, 2007
    NIKI GAMM
    ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
    If countries can be said to have a national drink just as they have flags and anthems, then rakı is Turkey’s alcoholic beverage of choice The 17th century Ottoman travel writer Evliya Çelebi mentioned rakı when in 1630 he wrote of arrack makers among the artisans of Istanbul. At the time arrack was made from all kinds of plants and he stressed that even drinking a single drop was sinful

    Is there anywhere in the world where alcoholic beverages of one sort or another don't exist? I don't mean simply where “white men” brought their liquor with them or learned how to make a substitute. Drinkable alcohol has been with us from prehistoric times; from the time we have written records and datable oral traditions we can certainly be sure we were drinking alcohol. Virtually anything edible can be turned into an alcoholic beverage, but it is debatable whether or the taste is valued.

    Beer seems to have been the first alcoholic beverage, proof of which was found in China. Pottery jars with traces of a fermented liquid made of rice, honey and fruit date back 9,000 years to the Neolithic Period. Records from Egypt, Mesopotamia and other areas of the Middle East show that beer was a favorite and that about the same time – or possibly somewhat later – wine appeared.

    While the Old Testament of the Bible allows for some wine consumption on the part of the Jews and the New Testament does not directly prohibit the drinking of alcoholic beverages (What is not expressly forbidden in Christianity is usually considered to be allowed.), the Koran specifically prohibits it. One can't say that all Muslims around the world obey this prohibition. Saudi Arabia completely bans alcohol, but Turkey for example has a long tradition of drinking, starting with the Turkish tribes of Central Asia that were accustomed to drinking fermented mare's milk (kumiss).

    No one knows when rakı was first brewed, although as a spirit, it hasn't been around as long as beer or wine. Rakı (arrack in Arabic) is a distilled alcoholic beverage with an aniseed flavor. It is made from various fruits, such as grapes, figs, plums and in some regions even grain. If countries can be said to have a national drink just as they have flags and anthems, then rakı is Turkey's alcoholic beverage of choice, although beer and wine are also drunk as are, if one can afford them, other types of spirits.

    Turkey's long affair with rakı:
    The 17th century Ottoman travel writer Evliya Çelebi mentioned rakı when in 1630 he wrote of arrack makers among the artisans of Istanbul. At the time arrack was made from all kinds of plants and he stressed that even drinking a single drop was sinful. He also noted that 300 people were employed in 100 workshops. It seems that the places to drink were Samatya, Kumkapı, Balıkpazarı, Unkapanı, Fener, Balat and both shores of the Bosporus – all areas were foreigners or members of the Jewish, Greek and Armenian minorities lived, usually in greater numbers than Muslims. Today Kumkapı, Balıkpazarı and the Bosporus are still considered “in” places for a rakı night.

    We also know that on occasion sultans issued decrees forbidding the drinking of coffee and alcoholic beverages, to no avail. Coffee? Because the coffeehouses that had sprung up were frequented by men who had nothing better to do and became breeding grounds for discontent directed at the imperial government.

    Old favorites:
    Rakı was first produced from the residue of grapes left over from wine making. When the Greeks – who were the main producers of wine from grapes in Turkey – left the country following World War I, seedless grapes and sometimes dried figs or even mulberries were used to make rakı. Çelebi lists all sorts of different kinds of rakı, starting with rakı wine and going on to banana rakı, mustard rakı, linden rakı, cinnamon rakı, clove rakı, pomegranate rakı, hay rakı and of course aniseed rakı. One wonders just how these rakıs tasted and whether or not the private companies in Turkey that have taken over rakı production from the state monopoly and are experimenting with new types will try out some “old favorites.”

    For many years there were two kinds of rakı on the market made and distributed by Tekel, the government monopoly. One was for the domestic market and one for export. For those living in Istanbul, any time you said you were going up to Tekirdağ, you would find yourself being asked to bring back some rakı; the Tekel export factory was located there. People agreed that it not only was purer water used but that also more aniseed was added to the product.

    There is an argument that surfaces every once in a while about drinking rakı with fish. It calls to mind the line of Orhan Veli, “Would that I were a fish in a rakı bottle!” But most importantly every Turk will tell you that you have to eat food of some sort while drinking rakı or you risk really damaging your liver. Traditionally melon and white cheese are considered the rakı-drinking accompaniments, and perhaps sometimes nuts. You will often hear the person drinking his first sip of the day utter the words, “Oh be, dünya varmış.” (Oh, so there's a world after all.)

    Presumably you are drinking with friends – Turks don't favor drinking alone. There are a number of words they use when drinking toasts, the most common being “Şerefe” (to honor).

    A Turkish tradition is to continue with hors d'oeuvres, or meze. The waiters will first bring a huge tray of cold meze from which you choose what you would like to continue with from all sorts of pickled fish or vegetables to cold meats, dolma and salad. The next course will be a hot meze tray, with all sorts of börek, liver, battered squid or other goodies on offer. Then it's on to dinner, for which you will have already chosen a fish from the day's catch.

    But if you are in a kebab or meat restaurant, fish is definitely off the menu. Don't give the matter a thought because rakı goes great with meat too. Friends will be more than happy to help you find a great place – or if you're a tourist staying at a hotel, the concierge will be more than obliging to make a suggestion or two.

    Alternatives to rakı:
    Beer never used to be very popular in Turkey, perhaps because of its poor quality, although it was indeed imbibed. But once Efes Pilsen and Tuborg began production the brands became more widely consumed and the old type in their dark, distinctive bottles soon disappeared.

    Wine, on the other hand, has only recently become popular even though it is cheaper than rakı and less “lethal.” Thirty-five years ago or so it was only the vineyard at Kavaklıdere in Ankara that produced wine, however, after experiments in Cappadocia and elsewhere, more and more good quality wines have arrived on the market.

    Drinking wine has also been encouraged by attempts to import it from other countries, so practically every food festival featuring the popular national dishes of other countries included wine. For example the French have included Istanbul as one of the cities around the world where the first harvest of Beaujolais wine is celebrated. Air France sponsored the event last year, organized by the Turkish-French Chamber of Commerce, and brought over the wine from France.

    Can you imagine rakı ever being replaced, despite attempts to dislodge it from its number one position, particularly now that there are a variety of new brands on the market? Even the Republican People's Party (CHP) aren't attempting to eliminate rakı even though they have taken two brand names to court to change the names which have been associated with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

    No one, as far as we know, has yet come up with combining rakı with anything other than water and/or ice. So rakı in all its purity is here to stay.




    Opposition calls for police chief’s dismissal
    February 10, 2007
    ISTANBUL – TDN
    Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal asked on Friday how the investigation into the Jan. 19 murder of journalist Hrant Dink could proceed with the police chief of Istanbul remaining in his post, while the pressured police chief said the tip-offs of the murder plan had failed to reach him.

    Speaking at a conference in Munich, Baykal said the Trabzon police chief and the Istanbul police intelligence chief were both suspended, but Istanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah was still on duty. “The police department needs to undergo a serious investigation.”

    He said the police department had begun to accuse the gendarmerie of failing to do its duty just to escape accusations itself.

    Turkish-Armenian Dink, 52, had angered many Turkish nationalists with repeated assertions that the killings of Armenians around the time of World War I were genocide.

    An informant alerted the Trabzon police about the murder plot, but reports revealed that the information flow between Trabzon and Istanbul police intelligence bureaus did not uncover the plot. Cerrah has come under fire for failing to ensure Dink's safety despite the tip-offs and the threats the journalist was receiving.

    ‘I was not informed':
    Cerrah dismissed claims that he took no action, Radikal daily reported on Friday, arguing that the tip-offs from Trabzon remained in the Istanbul intelligence bureau and had not reached him.

    Speaking to Parliament Human Rights Commission members earlier this week, Cerrah said the bureau should have informed him.

    Far-right party helped the suspect:
    Yasin Hayal, the individual accused of helping the 17-year-old shooter and the convicted bomber of a McDonald's restaurant in Trabzon, received YTL 1,000 from the far-right Great Unity Party (BBP) while serving his time for the 2004 bombing, Radikal daily reported.

    According to Radikal, Hayal told the police he planned the bombing with Erhan Tuncel, who also provided him with the explosives. “When in prison, BBP executive Halis Egemen and BBP provincial chief Yaşar Cihan gave me YTL 1,000 and some food.”

    BBP leader Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu dismissed the claims and said they would deal with such reports in court. Cihan on Friday said he had given money to Hayal three years ago because, “I help families in need. I don't know Hayal personally.”

    Hayal is accusing Tuncel, who has been a police informant with information on the Dink murder plot, of masterminding the attack on McDonald's and Dink's murder.

    Hayal said he decided to talk about the matter after learning from newspapers that Tuncel was an informant.




    Turkish Press Yesterday
    February 10, 2007
    Television news makes people sick:
    The Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) conducted a survey researching the affect of television news on viewers and the results are striking, reported yesterday's Zaman.

    According to the survey, 75 percent of viewers in Turkey believe news broadcasts have a negative affect on mental health, said the daily, adding that 77 percent of respondents think that the news contains fake and false reports while 70 percent of them say that negative news stories are covered on purpose. Advertisements, which interrupt regular news bulletins, are the most annoying parts of watching the news, the report noted.

    Zaman also highlighted that 55 percent of the respondents noted that they have witnessed how their children are affected by the news.

    Bad news for Turkey's lobby:
    The United States implies that the genocide bill might be passed, led Vatan daily yesterday, claiming that the U.S. Congress is closer than ever to adopting a resolution which recognizes an alleged genocide against the Armenians in 1915 by the Ottoman administration.

    While Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül visited the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday to seek support against an Armenian genocide resolution awaiting consideration there, the State Department warned that Congress was an independent branch of government, implying that the administration's efforts to prevent the measure's passage in the House might fail, reported the paper.

    The daily also noted a warning from the United States saying: "We faced the dark side of our history concerning the native Indians and slavery. Turkey should do the same," quoting Dan Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, as they are trying to stop the bill but the majority is with the opposition.

    Article 301:
    Civil society and business organizations on Thursday proposed a new version of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, often criticized by liberals here and the European Union for limiting the freedom of expression, read Cumhuriyet on its front page yesterday. It also said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had called on civil society organizations to put forward sound suggestions for possible changes to the article. Efforts that were underway since November to reach consensus on a new version of Article 301 failed until this week.

    A group of civil society organizations including the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) and the influential Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD) held a press conference on Thursday at the TOBB Plaza in Istanbul to announce an alternative to the article that was commonly agreed upon by all organizations in the group, Cumhuriyet reported.

    Economic Development Foundation (İKV) President Davut Ökütçü speaking at the conference said the organizations' main purpose was to end discussions concerning the troublesome article and ambiguity with regards to definitions in the article. “A legal provision should not be this ambiguous,” said Ökütçü.

    TBB and DİSK dropped out of discussions and Ökütçü recalled that the Turkish Doctors' Union (TBB) and the Confederation of Labor Unions (DİSK) were part of the 10 civil society organizations working on a new version to propose to the government. He said the TBB had pulled out of the group because it refused to back up its assertion that the article should be removed from the penal code altogether. In a statement he released in the afternoon, DİSK President Süleyman Çelebi dismissed the proposed amendments as “a cosmetic change.” The owners of the recommended version don't reflect a majority of the Turkish civil society, he added. Çelebi slammed the proposed version for including the inarticulate word “Turkishness.” “The word ‘Turkishness' has created the largest confusion on 301. You can't correct this article with superficial changes,” he said. The statement also included a version proposed by DİSK, which replaced the word “Turkishness” with the expression “the Turkish nation.” In addition, the word belittling was changed to “offending" noted the daily.

    Refugee Seyit becomes Christian:
    Sabah yesterday led with the story of an asylum-seeking Kurdish Turkish family who moved to Germany 10 years ago from the Eastern Anatolian city of Elazığ.

    When the family, who claims to be descendents of the Prophet Mohammed, first applied for asylum they gave their reason as "The Kurds are oppressed," but were denied asylum. Later, the family converted to Christianity from Islam by joining the Evangelical Brethren Church and began missionary activities among the Turkish population of Germany.

    The family reapplied for asylum saying, “Christians cannot worship freely in Turkey,” but received the reply "they can" from the authorities.

    The family's lawyer appealed the decision saying, "It is thought of as an insult to the Prophet in the conservative town of Elazığ when a family, who descends from holy blood, converts to another religion.”




    Week in review
    February 10, 2007
    The hot topic in Turkey of the past week was “nationalism.” The ideology of the murderer of Hrant Dink, the Armenian-Turkish journalist, and the same worldview that his supporters portray, put “nationalism” under heavy criticism. The government joined the liberal intellectuals with its denunciation of “racism,” which some regard as a better term to explain the ethnic nationalism of Turkey's ultra-right groups.

    Investigation launched into ‘souvenir' photos:
    Turkish gendarmerie and police officers came under fire after posing amiably for a video camera with slain ethnic Armenian Hrant Dink's suspected murderer, who holds a Turkish flag in images taken inside the Samsun police station immediately after his capture two weeks ago.

    Meanwhile the Gendarmerie Command said Friday that the video's release was an effort to damage the reputation of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).

    The footage, released by private news channel TGRT television late on Thursday, showed Gendarmerie and police officials posing with Ogün Samast at the Samsun Police Department where the suspect was caught on his return from Istanbul. The Gendarmerie Command released a statement on Friday, announcing that they had launched an investigation into the matter. It said the release of the footage to the media was deliberate and that the Gendarmerie personnel seen in the footage were those who had been given the duty of surrendering the suspect to the police. “This is all part of efforts to harm the standing of the Turkish Armed Forces,” said the statement.

    The Samsun Prosecutor's Office has also launched an investigation in to the matter. Prosecutor Ahmet Gökçınar said they had asked for the footage from TGRT, adding that the security officials seen in the footage would be investigated for praising a criminal, abuse of duty and violating the sanctity of a criminal investigation. Police Spokesman İsmail Çalışkan, speaking at his weekly press briefing on Friday, said the incident was very unprofessional, adding that it was wrong for various institutions to play the blame game. “The culprits will be punished.”

    In the footage Samast, 17, who has confessed to the murder, is seen flanked by members of the security forces, some in uniform. Behind them is a calendar featuring another Turkish flag and the words of the country's founder, Atatürk: “The motherland's soil is sacred. It cannot be left to its destiny.”

    Gov't fights illegal groups within the state, PM says:
    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that his government has been continuing its fight against illegitimate organizations within the legal structure, comments that came at a time of increasingly heated exchange between his party and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), sparked by the assassination of the editor in chief of the Armenian newspaper Agos, Hrant Dink.

    Speaking to deputies of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) yesterday, Erdoğan said his government had not only fought felony and law-breaking during its four years in power but has also continued a struggle against groups which he referred to as “wishing to create murky rooms and privileged fields for themselves within the legal system.”

    In Tuesday's meeting the prime minister stated that there could be no “talk of defending individuals who trample the law by claiming they are saving the country.” His words refer to increased suspicion that a network of renegade agents within the state and driven by hard-line nationalism is involved in the Dink murder, a possibility acknowledged by the prime minister himself as well as many other analysts.

    Erdoğan, MHP clash over ‘nationalism':
    Last week MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli accused Prime Minister Erdoğan of attempting to set up schemes to “besmirch Turkish nationalism” and also of trying to imply that the state is the “source of all evil,” referring to a recent statement in which Erdoğan openly speculated about the possible involvement of a “deep state” in the Dink murder. Bahçeli also accused the prime minister of devising plots to “offend national values” and acting as a “provocateur with his words and deeds.”

    “The prime minister has become the inciter of the assassination which had Turkey at the heart of its target. The prime minister leads the hatred and hostility caravan, which set out with this purpose (destroying Turkey's national integrity),” Bahçeli said.

    The prime minister's quick response to Bahçeli's words was no more cordial than the MHP leader's statement. “These are no nationalists; they are racist, they are discriminatory and skull measurers,” he said over the weekend.

    This in turn led to a statement from MHP Deputy Chairman Mehmet Şandır in response to the prime minister's comments. “The prime minister, who takes every opportunity to put all the blame on nationalism, is in reality expressing his hostile emotions and opinions held towards the Turkish nation,” Şandır said in a written statement released Sunday.

    Şandır expressed his opinion that the AKP government had spent its five years in power complaining and “accusing others” about almost everything. The statement said Prime Minister Erdoğan's recent statements on “nationalism” were “clearly targeting the MHP.” Şandır's statement also implied that the prime minister was part of an “international conspiracy” to fan hatred and hostility in Turkey.

    Istanbul police intelligence chief suspended:
    Istanbul Police Intelligence Chief Ahmet İlhan Güler on Tuesday became the seventh police officer to be suspended as part of the investigation into the Jan. 19 murder of journalist Hrant Dink.

    Güler was accused of disregarding a tip-off 11 months before the murder from police informant Erhan Tuncel, who is also under arrest, sent to him by Trabzon Police Intelligence. Güler, reports said, accused the Trabzon Police of not updating him on the status of the informant. NTV reported that Güler told inspectors that he believed the threat was over when no further information was forthcoming.

    Tuncel, in February of 2006, told the police that Yasin Hayal was planning to murder Dink. Hayal is accused of planning the murder and supplying murder suspect Samast with funds and a weapon. The Trabzon Police failed to inform Istanbul about three further tip-offs from Tuncel. The former Trabzon Police Intelligence Chief Engin Dinç will also be questioned as part of the investigation.

    US Senate set to condemn Dink murder:
    A top Democratic senator on Thursday introduced a resolution calling on the U.S. Senate to condemn Dink's murder and to urge Turkey to abolish a controversial penal code article restricting freedom of expression, a U.S. Armenian group said.

    The measure sponsored by Joe Biden of Delaware, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also calls on Turkey to establish full diplomatic, political and economic ties with Armenia.

    Biden earlier this week announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidential elections in 2008. But in a long list of Democratic contenders, including Senator Hillary Clinton of New York and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, Biden is considered a long shot. However, analysts said his resolution on Turkey was certain to be approved by the Foreign Relations Committee, paving the way to a likely endorsement on the Senate floor.

    Sezer: Definition of secularism clear:
    President Ahmet Necdet Sezer said on Monday it was unconstitutional to try to redefine secularism when the Constitutional Court decisions and the Constitution itself had clearly defined the concept.

    In a statement released on the 70th anniversary of the introduction of secularism into the constitution, Sezer said secularism was the basis of modernism, and was the insurance for all freedoms.

    The government and the strictly secular president have clashed before on the issue. Some ministers and especially Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç voiced their opposition to the strict interpretation of secularism, suggesting a redefinition of the concept.

    Arınç, who also released a statement on the anniversary, said secularism presented citizens with freedom of religion.

    Prime Minister Erdoğan said it was everyone's duty to ensure the concept of secularism was transformed into something that united the nation, calling for it to be kept out of daily political squabbles.

    Deputy PM: Problem is 301 interpretation:
    Deputy Prime Minister Abdüllatif Şener said late on Monday that the problem about Article 301 of the penal code was the way judges and prosecutors interpreted it, not with the law itself, which exists in various forms in almost all European Union countries.

    Speaking after a Cabinet meeting, Şener said the problems would be solved by a more modern interpretation of the law. “However, we still are open to alternative ways to solving the problem,” he said, implying the government was open to possible changes in the article. He said the government was yet to receive an amendment proposal from the nongovernmental organizations. “As you know, Article 301 in various forms is present in many EU countries. However there, no trials take place on these articles. Here, people are tried and penalized. We need to find an answer for that.”

    Penal code contains more problems, says NGO:
    The Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) said on Wednesday that the Turkish Penal Code contained at least 14 articles that limit freedom of expression. In a written statement the TİHV said it would be a mistake to say Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which criminalizes insulting state institutions, Turkishness and Atatürk, was the only article limiting freedom of expression.

    Individually correcting these articles would not be enough to remove limits to expression, said the TİHV, adding that every time one article was corrected, another problematic one arose.

    POSTER OF THE WEEK: This photo dated Jan. 21 2007 taken in Samsun, shows Ogün Samast, who has confessed to the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, in front a Turkish flag and a quote from Atatürk: “The motherland's soil is sacred. It cannot be left to its destiny.” The Turkish security forces faced fresh embarrassment after it emerged that some of its members had posed for “souvenir pictures” with Samast at the same scene.

    Couchepin addresses Armenian murders

    Swiss Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin has ended his five-day trip to Turkey by meeting Archbishop Mesrob II, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople.

    The pair discussed the recent murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, as well as the controversial "Armenian question" – whether Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Turks almost 100 years ago.

    Earlier in the week, Couchepin, who holds the culture portfolio, met Atilla Koç, the Turkish minister for culture and tourism, in Ankara and agreed to pursue a bilateral accord aimed at returning cultural goods.

    On Tuesday Couchepin met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with whom he discussed the Armenian killings.

    He then spent two days in the southeastern part of the country, populated mostly by Kurds, where he visited projects supported by Switzerland.


    Tense time
    Couchepin's visit to Turkey came at a tense time. On January 19 Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian editor who wrote articles referring to a "genocide" of Armenians, was murdered in Istanbul. Eight ultra-nationalist suspects, including the alleged teenage shooter, are under arrest.

    Armenians say Ottoman Turks slaughtered up to 1.8 million Armenians in a planned genocide between 1915 and 1919. Turkey vehemently denies that the mass killings were genocide, saying the death toll is inflated and Armenians were killed in civil unrest as the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

    Dink's murder prompted international condemnation as well as debate within Turkey about free speech and whether state institutions were tolerant of militant nationalists.

    The killing also served as a catalyst for questions about whether Turkey should pursue Western-style values such as free expression – as embodied in its bid to join the European Union – or cling to nationalist pride that views outside influence with suspicion.

    More than 100,000 people marched at Dink's funeral, many of them chanting for Turkey to abolish a law which makes it a crime to insult the country or the Turkish national character.

    Mesrob II told Couchepin the 90,000 Armenians in Turkey were a "peaceful minority" and Dink's murder had triggered a sense of unease.

    He said he would like to see the Turkish authorities make a "moral gesture" – admitting regret, for example, would diffuse the tension, he told Couchepin.


    Nuanced approach
    Couchepin had previously said an important step would be the creation of an international commission that would "examine the issues and look for the causes of the events of that time – including the massacre". The Swiss government does not officially speak of genocide.

    On his visit, Couchepin broached issues of freedom of expression and human rights and said a "nuanced" approach in this area was necessary for progress to be made.

    "The negotiating partners should not be provoked," he said.

    Before his return to Switzerland on Saturday, Couchepin planned to meet four Turkish authors on Friday night.

    Among the authors is Ipek Calislar, who went on trial and was acquitted in December of charges that she insulted Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, by claiming in a biography of Ataturk's estranged wife that the leader fled an assassination attempt dressed as a woman.

    swissinfo with agencies



     This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix
    Armenian play at Trabzon Theater
    The slaying of Agos' weekly newspaper Editor in Chief Hrant Dink has brought the issue of violence in the city of Trabzon into the limelight again.

    There is another side to Trabzon, though. The Trabzon Art Theater has been staging a play by Hagop Boranyan titled "Bağdasar Kardeş" (Brother Bağdasar) for the past two months. Director Boranyan, who spoke to Dink a short while ago, said: 'He was not an enemy of Turks; he had promised to help us stage the play in İstanbul'
    Although spoken about throughout the nation for a different reason, Trabzon has been responding to violence and discrimination through art. Hagop Boranyan -- who is of Armenian origin and whose ancestors lived in İstanbul during the days of the Ottoman Empire -- has been staging his play "Bağdasar Kardeş" in Trabzon for two months with no problems. The play's translator, Diran Lokmagözyan, is a writer for Agos -- the newspaper for which Hrant Dink was the editor in chief -- while the stage manager is Hrant Hakobyan, who was a personal friend of Dink's. The play, a co-production between Armenians and Turks with a cast of 10 people, was staged in Armenia during Ottoman rule.

    Necati Zengin, stage producer at the Trabzon Art Theater, said: "Trabzon is a city that has an interest in theater. It is important to both see and display this side of Trabzon." Zengin said he had some hesitations going into the project but added that they "received no negative reactions during rehearsals and the staging of the play. Our attendees are from every segment of society."

    Zengin discovered the play during a visit to Yerevan during in October. Hrant Hakobyan, who lent his full support to Zengin, helped with preparations to have the play performed in Trabzon. "Bagdasar Kardeş" is is the end result of a 40-day process of preparation.

    The play, which tells the story of the relationship between a middle-aged man, his young wife and a third person, is being staged in Turkish for the first time at the Hüseyin Kazak Cultural Center. Zengin says the play "may initially seem like a play about a love triangle, but it is actually a parody of the meaningless relationships that we see in the tabloids every day -- ones that are labeled 'love' -- it's a mockery of such relationships."
    The play features İbrahim Gürsoy, Süleyman Sırtkaya, Songül Kamber, Tarık Kemerci and Filiz Aydın in the lead roles and will be on tour in Armenia in May of this year. Stage manager Zengin has indicated that there will be no changes in their program because by recent events. The play will be staged at Trabzon Huseyin Kazaz Culture Center on Feb. 16 at 7.p.m. and in March. For more information, call 0 462 321 47 03.

    [FOOTNOTE]

    ‘Dink wanted to stage the play in İstanbul'
    Zengin visited Dink at the Agos office in İstanbul on his way back from Tehran. He spoke about that day, saying" "I saw Hrant Dink for about three hours. During our meeting the play 'Bagdasar Kardeş' came up. He mentioned this play in two or three of his articles for Agos. He added that he wanted the play to be performed in İstanbul and said he would do anything he could to help with the arrangements. We lost him shortly thereafter. It feels like the death of a sibling for me; he was absolutely not an enemy of Turkey."

    07.02.2007
    İBRAHİM ŞAHİN TRABZON




    Dark spots in Turkish history
    KERIM BALCI k.balci@todayszaman.com
    Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs in the US State Department Ambassador Daniel Fried gave a video lecture at the US ambassador’s residence in Ankara. Ambassador Fried was supposed to evaluate Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül’s recent visit to Washington. Because of the high expectations nurtured in the Turkish media, the visit was doomed to be labeled as a failure. The receptors of the media were fixed on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, and even Gül’s last minute resort to take the credit of European operations against the PKK didn’t help. No matter what has been achieved in this visit, and has been prepared for Chief of General Staff Yaşar Büyükanıt’s visit, the fact that Gül didn’t meet US Speaker of the House Nancy Pellosi -- champion of the resolution -- has turned the visit into a total failure. By canceling the visit of a parliamentary group to lobby in the US Congress, the Turkish Foreign Ministry contributed to the sentiment of a lost case. Ambassador Fried, while not openly admitting to it, seemed to be giving the same message in not so many words.

    Americans regard diplomacy as the art of being nice while giving the message. When it comes to speaking with Turks, they have realized that being nice means reaching to the Turkish subconscious that is dieing to hear honoring compliments; just give us some compliments about our culture and cuisine or a possible genealogical link between the Native Americans and the Turks. You could mention how you are amazed to see the development of Turkey, what a great commander Atatürk was or how eloquent our Foreign Minister is and his will suffice for us to be stripped off our national interests.

    What nice words we are hearing from the American diplomats nowadays! Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary for political affairs had such a complimentary tone that one is forced to think that ‘this man is going to ask for something’. Daniel Fried revealed what they are going to ask for: Be prepared for an Armenian Genocide Resolution to pass from the Congress. Fried implied that although our relations are more important than any particular issue that may pop up during these relations we should be prepared to examine the shameful moments in our history, not because they say so but because it is good for our democracy.

    This is not to say that Turkey has been betrayed by the American Administration. On the contrary, the administration made it very clear to the world that they oppose this resolution. But the facts on the ground speak for themselves. The administration has a majority neither in the Congress, nor in the Senate. And the Democratic majority in both houses, supports this resolution not only because they believe the Armenian stories, but because they know that this will make George W. Bush’s life a bit more miserable. It is true that the US President has the veto power and that the US foreign policy is formulated entirely by the administration. But once the resolution passes, the harm will already be done. It won’t hurt the Turks any less than it hurts the Turkish-American relations.

    Had Daniel Fried not seen this future scenario, would he ask the Turks to face the “dark spots” in their history? I don’t think so. It is now for the Turks to see the same scene and formulate a position that will not harm the strategic Turkish-American relations without weakening the Turkish position vis-à-vis the genocide claims.
    10.02.2007

    Bryza: Right To Self-Determination And Territorial Integrity Possible To Be Combined
    PanARMENIAN.Net
    08.02.2007
    "I'd like Armenia also to participate in regional projects. But I understand that now our friends, who realize Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project, are not ready to include Armenia. But it is a political fact," stated OSCE MG American Co-Chair Matthew Bryza. "Nevertheless, we support both Azerbaijan, and Turkey and Georgia. As to Armenia, we'd like to find a solution to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict in order not to let such projects bypass all sides," he stressed.

    Responding the question if it is possible to simultaneously satisfy claims to support peoples' right to self-determination and territorial integrity, Matthew Bryza said, "It's possible. This is our task as diplomats. We should find a compromise between the right of self-determination and territorial integrity.

    No universal principle exists. Every conflict differs from others. I think it is quite possible, if we create conditions to make possible such a compromise.

    Though it is difficult. Currently some technical issues remain, which the sides disagree on. But I think till and after the elections in Armenia it will be possible to find a common language. I do not know if political will exists in Armenia and Azerbaijan to do that. But I think Presidents Aliev and Kocharian want it, but when time of political elections approach it's difficult for them to do that.




    Currently Armenian Genocide Issue Too Politicized
    PanARMENIAN.Net
    08.02.2007
    "Hrant Dink's death became a loss not only for the Armenian nation, but also for Turkey itself and the whole world. It influenced even on Americans," said to a press conference in Yerevan AAA (Armenian Assembly of America) Regional Director for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh Arpi Vartanian. She reminded that two resolutions have been introduced in the U.S. Congress, which condemn Dink's assassination: one by senator Biden the other by congressman Crowley.

    "American nation could be unaware of the Armenian Genocide, but Hrant Dink's assassination learnt everyone. I strongly believe his death was not in vain," stressed the AAA Regional Director.

    Alongside, she underlined currently the Armenian Genocide issue is too politicized. "Turkey uses this opportunity in order to exert pressure on the Unites States making it refuse to adopt the 106th resolution.

    During the meeting between Turkish foreign minister and U.S. State Secretary this question was under discussion. Really, the adoption of this resolution can influence on American-Turkish relations and I do not think that the current White House administration will do it. But we cannot exclude the possibility to adopt the resolution by democratic majority," Vartanian underscored.




    Some Changes Noticed In American Jewish Lobby Stance On Armenian Genocide Issue
    08 February 2007,
    Panarmenian.Net
    Every year a delegation of Turkish officials departs for the United States to prevent the term “Armenian Genocide” in president’s April 24 speech. AAA (Armenian Assembly of America) Regional Director for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh Arpi Vartanian said to a press conference in Yerevan that during its meetings the Turkish delegation uses the large influence of Jewish Lobby, which strongly supports Turkey. “Almost there are no relations between Armenian and Jewish lobbies, they meet rarely for the sake of certain common issues. But recently here too we notice some changes. Some influential Jewish lobbyists started to speak about the Armenian Genocide, they bring as evidences the words of U.S. Ambassador to Ottoman Turkey Henry Morgenthau during World War 1, archival documents. Moreover, Turkey has already approximately calculated that the 106th resolution can be adopted and has doubled its efforts in this direction,” Vartanian stressed.




    Propaganda Wars: Paradoxical Publication Policy Of Time Magazine
    M. Serdar PALABIYIK
    08 February 2007
    ERAREN
    After having understood that terrorist activities has been reacted by international community and has remained ineffective, Armenians resorted to propaganda activities since mid-1980s. Within this framework, they not only brought the Armenian allegations to the agenda of the world public opinion through visual and printed press, cinema films, documentaries, painting and photograph exhibitions etc., but also aimed to fabricate that these allegations have been true. It should be admitted that this strategy change has been successful, because particularly since the second half of 1980s, Armenian allegations have been recognized by some parliaments as a result of these propaganda activities.

    After the efficiency of this changing strategy has been understood, there emerged some similar attempts in Turkey, the most significant of which was the incorporation of a DVD to TIME magazine two years ago, including a documentary that uprooted the genocide allegations. As it is well known, TIME is a journal which reaches to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world.

    As to remind this development, TIME published a four-paged coloured touristic advertisement on Turkey in June 2005 entitled “Crossroad of Culture: Turkey” to which a DVD was added. This DVD had four parts, three of which was about the natural beauties and historical possessions of Turkey while the fourth one was a large summary of a documentary on Armenian Question entitled “Yellow Bride”. The DVD was distributed with the European issue of the journal and reached almost over 600.000 people directly or indirectly. Sinan Aygün, the head of Ankara Chamber of Commerce, who had given this advertisement, announced that its cost was almost one million dollar.

    The reaction of Armenians to this significant event was quite harsh. Perhaps for the first time Turks applied the same strategy adopted by Armenians for years and made the historical realities reached to hundereds of thousands of Europeans. Of course, this meant that the fiction of ‘Armenian genocide’, which has long been reflected by Armenians as ‘truth’, was considerably shaken even deconstructed. Therefore, this harsh reaction was a result of the feeling that Armenian efforts has been frustrated to a great extent.

    After the distribution of the journal, a Tashnak oriented French organization, Comité de Défense de la Cause Arménienne, issued a declaration condemning the denial policy of Turkey, accusing TIME magazine of supporting Turkish cause and defining this initiative as an attempt to create a confusion on the historical reality (!). The head of the Committee, Harut Mardirosyan argued that TIME magazine lost its honour and sold its credibility.

    As a result of this reaction TIME had to retreat. After four months of this incidence the journal issued a letter sent by an organization, “Mémoire 2000”, which acted on behalf of some organizations working against racism, anti-Semitism and Armenian genocide allegations’ denial. In this long letter, the accuracy of Armenian genocide allegations was once more repeated and TIME magazine was strongly criticized. The Editorial Note attached to the letter also declared the magazine was regretted on the distribution of the DVD, that the DVD was a one-sided interpretation of history and that it did not fit the magazine’s standards of objectivity and honesty. What is more, it was written that the methods of redution of the magazine was changed accordingly and the Armenian community was apologized.

    However, it is difficult to say that even this apologize satisfied the Armenian diaspora since it was able to force TIME magazine to distribute a DVD defending the Armenian genocide allegations to the last issue of the magazine. The DVD, which included a 52 minutes documentary that had been directed by French director Laurance Jordan and aired by German-French TV channel ARTE, and an attached note on the Armenian ‘genocide’ was distributed free of charge, as the Turkish pres stipulated. In other words, TIME magazine, which had previously demanded one million dollar to publish Turkish thesis, did the same free of charge for the Armenians.

    This latest initiative of the Armenian diaspora can exactly be considered as a response to the Turkish attempt that had been realized two years ago. Utilization of the same magazine (i.e., TIME magazine) and the same method (i.e., DVD) indicates that the Armenian initiative has been done to disturb the Turkish strategy. TIME’s decision to distribute the DVD free of charge and to declare that it had recognized the genocide allegations as a reality, asserts that there has been a significant pressure on the magazine for two years. In all, this incidence is also significant for demonstrating that the magazine, under pressure, could easily falsify what it had verified previously. To conclude, Armenian diaspora understands that Turkish attempt to herald the realities to the world public opinion becomes successful and that it can not tolerate even the existence of a platform, in which alternative ideas are freely discussed.




    AAA: George Bush Not To Nominate Ambassador To Armenia Bypassing Senate?S Confirmation
    08 February 2007
    Panarmenian.Net
    President George Bush will hardly use his power and will not nominate Richard Hoagland as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, bypassing Senate’s confirmation, said to a press conference in Yerevan AAA (Armenian Assembly of America) Regional Director for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh Arpi Vartanian. “Ambassador’s absence in Yerevan badly reflects on Armenian-American relations, moreover the Armenian government has already agreed to Richard Hoagland’s nomination. Here AAA’s viewpoint differs from ANCA’s (Armenian National Committee of America) stance. It’s all the same for us who the ambassador will be, since in any case he will express the policy of U.S. government and the Bush administration. Our goal is not to change ambassador’s candidacy but the general direction of American foreign policy,” underscored Vartanian.


    'To show death in order to persuade one to settle for malaria'
    February 9, 2007
    Cüneyt Ülsever
    Former President and Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel is perhaps Turkey's greatest expert when it comes to explaining very complex issues with concise and simple words.

    The saying “to show death in order to persuade one to settle for malaria” (meaning persuading someone to settle for the bad by threatening something worse) belongs to him also. It describes very well the situation that Turkey frequently finds itself in. One wonders how many times Demirel himself has settled for malaria. Ghettos in Turkey have existed since the 1970s and have always been used to serve evil. The youngsters living in the ghettos became or were made leftists, ultra-nationalists, Islamists, Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) supporters, Revolutionary People's Liberation Party (DHKP) supporters, etc. They are often raised for petty crimes. They have become ethnic-nationalists lately. They focus on the PKK, the Kurds and the Kirkuk issue. They hold grudges toward the European Union and the United States. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is not to blame - lately both the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Republican People's Party (CHP) have been feeding this state due to their concern about losing votes. The Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's holiday posters, his words against the EU and the United States should not be forgotten.

    And who has this rising nationalist movement hurt?

    The Turkish public.

    One needs to be more “bullish” to hit the bully with his own gun but it is not necessary to be coarser. It is enough to be smarter. Imperialist states, contrary to what naïve anti-imperialists envision, cannot easily direct “what will happen” in other countries. There are thousands of variables in each country.

    Imperialist states can more easily, by comparison, affect “what will not happen” in other countries. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül is making some very important contacts in the United States but, according to the newspapers, cannot get appointments from some individuals. “…The most important of these is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi… Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Joseph Biden will not meet with Gül either. And finally House Majority Leader Harry Reed has declined Gül's demand for a meeting…” said columnist Fatih Altaylı in Sabah on Feb. 07. It is understood that while Gül is accepted by the state officials, he is not equally accepted by political officials.

    One wonders what will not be asked of Gül during his visits to the United States.

    Is it not in the United States' interest for Turkey not to establish close relations with Iran, and not to get involved with northern Iraq?

    Can the reciprocation for this be defusing of the Armenian genocide bill in the congress and not getting involved with the presidential elections?

    Is anyone in the AKP calculating what the effect of acceptance of the Armenian genocide bill will do just as Turkey is electing its new president in April, while the anti-Turkmen government in Kirkuk becomes stronger at the same time? Despite the suggestions in the international report and even warnings of chaos, the state officials in the United States are saying “holding a referendum in Kirkuk this year is required by the constitution.”

    The same state officials are also saying they “do not hold the majority in Congress” when the Armenian genocide bill comes up for discussion.

    The AKP government wishes to become a bigger player by occupying the presidential chair and the Armenian genocide bill and referendum in Kirkuk at the same time…

    “To show death in order to persuade one to settle for malaria.”

    We will experience who is more inexorable.




    Büyükanıt can influence the Armenian genocide bill
    February 9, 2007
    MEHMET ALI BIRAND
    It may sound bizarre to some, but the most important meeting on this subject will take place next week between US Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Lantos and the Turkish Chief of General Staff

    In Washington Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül received the desired answers from the Bush administration. However, the situation in Congress is grave.This time around the administration does not have much control over the bill that asks for the acceptance of the Armenian genocide. During the previous bill, the Clinton administration stepped in and prevented it from being accepted. The Clinton administration was powerful and the Democrats were again dominant in Congress.In contrast the Bush administration is weak. The Republicans do not hold the majority.

    Moreover, it is estimated that, in wanting to punish the Bush administration over the Iraq policies, Congress will vote to accept the Armenian bill.While the odds in Washington look to be against Turkey, Ankara cannot influence Congress as it cannot take concrete steps to prevent the bill. There will be a chance to postpone the bill if Turkey meets with Armenia, for example to open the border gate, or gives hope that the gate will be opened, even in a limited manner. However, even this does not happen.To sum it up, the noises in Washington about the Armenian bill are foul.The only hope is that Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Tom Lantos will make a decision to postpone the bill. If Lantos wishes to he can postpone the bill in the commission. He might do this, not because he does not believe in the genocide, but because of his concern over losing Turkey and over the risk that Turkish-Israeli relationships may be damaged. It may sound bizarre to some, but the most important meeting on this subject will take place next week between Lantos and Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt. It was Lantos who called for this meeting and this is what he will ask: “Will the bill affect the relationship between Israel and Turkey?”This is the reason why the Lantos-Büyükanıt meeting also has such importance for the Bush administration.

    How can we call these NGOs?No offense, but the Article 301 revisions suggested by the nongovernmental organizations are horrible…What is an NGO?We call organizations outside official authority that reflect the thoughts and wishes of the civilian society “nongovernmental organizations.” All NGOs support democracy. They defend fundamental human rights. Regardless of whether they are leftists or rightists, all NGOs are against restraints.

    It seems that things work the other way around in Turkey.Due to the electoral period the government preferred to hide behind NGOs regarding the revision of Article 301. In truth, it was the administration's duty to change this article. However, it must have been because the government was concerned about losing the nationalist votes that it asked the NGOs to come up with a suggestion. Having said, “Give us a suggestion and make our job easier,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has now been waiting for months.Finally we have a draft.It is a very puzzling draft. Let alone being better than the older version of the article, it is almost the exact repetition of the long-ago abolished Article 159 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Moreover, the rationale for penalization in Article 301 remains untouched. It is not hard to estimate how a judge will evaluate the article, which reasons that even those who say “we should withdraw our troops from Cyprus” are belittling Turkishness. I am unable to understand the NGOs.They might have been able to come up with better ideas if they had listened to academics in Middle Eastern Technical University (ODTÜ) or Bosporus University. The current Article 301:

    1 – An individual who openly belittles Turkishness, the Turkish Republic, or the Parliament is punished with imprisonment from anywhere between six months to three years.

    2 – An individual that openly belittles the Turkish government, the state's judicial bodies, the military, or the police force is punished with imprisonment for six months to two years.

    3 – If the belittlement of Turkishness takes place in a foreign country by a Turkish citizen, then the punishment is increased by one third.

    4 – Declaration of thought for the purpose of criticism does not constitute a crime.Article 301 as suggested by the NGOs:

    1 – An individual that insults or ridicules Turkishness, the Turkish Republic, the parliament, the Turkish government, the military, or the police force is punished with imprisonment from six months up to two years.

    2 – Declaration of thought for critical reasons does not constitute a crime.




    Yerevan: Caucasus railway cannot damage Armenia
    February 9, 2007
    FULYA ÖZERKAN
    ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

    'Such steps in such a fragile region can only worsen the political atmosphere and in turn reflect negatively on reconciliation efforts,' acting spokesperson of Armenian Foreign Ministry says

    Cut off from diplomatic ties with Ankara, Yerevan yesterday criticized a Caucasus railway project linking Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, saying that such steps in the region can only “worsen the political atmosphere” but made sure that the new route would not damage Armenia.

    “Economically, such a new railroad cannot damage Armenia. Politically, this is not a farsighted project and it is not supported by the United States or the EU,” Vladimir Karapetian, acting spokesperson of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, told the Turkish Daily News, in a written response when asked about Yerevan's reaction toward the new route for trade between the three nations.

    “Such steps in such a fragile region can only worsen the political atmosphere and in turn reflect negatively on reconciliation efforts,” he said.

    The leaders of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan signed on Wednesday the framework agreement of the strategic railway line that will eventually link Europe to China via the south Caucasus and Central Asia, forming a modern-day Silk Road. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev signed the deal in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi.

    However, the railway project excludes Armenia that opposes the Kars-Javakheti (Ahılkelek)-Tbilisi-Baku railway bypassing its territory. Armenian groups in the United States argue against the project, saying no new railway is needed in the Caucasus because there is already a railway passing through Armenia that could be used to build a trans-Caucasus railroad.

    “We don't believe there was reason or need to spend such huge amounts of money to build a new railroad where one already exists, ready to be used. We have always advocated reopening the existing Kars-Gyumri-Tbilisi rail line, and have even offered that it be utilized by Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, without Armenian engagement. This has been done with no pre-conditions and no expectations of financial benefit,” Karapetian said. But despite opposition from Armenia and the Armenian diaspora, Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan moved ahead with plans to build the strategic railway, one of several projects to link resource-rich Azerbaijan and Central Asia with Turkey and European markets while bypassing Russia.

    “Not only the Armenians but also the EU and the United States are opposing the railway project and see it as a policy aimed at isolating Armenia in the region,” Kaan Soyak, co-chairman of the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council (TABDC), told the Turkish Daily News. The Caucasus railway project has secured neither U.S. nor EU financial support.

    “If there will be peace in the Caucasus this will be possible in cooperation with all the countries in the region,” he said.

    Although recognizing the Republic of Armenia since its establishment in 1991, Turkey closed its border and severed diplomatic ties with Armenia in the last decade after Armenian troops invaded Nagorno-Karabakh, an Azeri territory. Armenia's support for Armenian diaspora-led efforts to win international recognition for the alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire has further strained relations between the two countries.

    Gas deal?: In Tbilisi, Erdoğan, accompanied by Energy Minister Hilmi Güler, also discussed the sharing of natural gas from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field. Turkey is now working on allocating a part of its gas share from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz to Georgia, Erdoğan said after talks with the Georgian and Azerbaijani leaders, news reports said.

    “We are doing our best to allocate 800 million cubic meters of gas to Georgia from the Turkish share by this July. This is our promise,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying at a joint news conference in Tbilisi with the Georgian and Azerbaijani leaders. But Saakashvili said Georgia will start getting Turkey's share of gas as soon as Shah Deniz has become operational.




    US implies genocide measure may pass, says Congress is independent
    February 9, 2007
    ÜMİT ENGİNSOY
    WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News
    While Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül visited the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday to seek support against an Armenian genocide resolution awaiting consideration there, the State Department warned that Congress was an independent branch of government, implying that the administration's efforts to prevent the measure's passage at the House might fail.

    Throughout this week, Gül has been telling top administration officials and some key Democratic lawmakers that congressional recognition of the Armenian genocide would "poison U.S.-Turkish relations" in a lasting way.

    President George W. Bush's administration opposes the House measure, but the State Department indicated that this might not be enough. Asked to comment on Gül's remarks that the resolution's passage would greatly harm the U.S.-Turkish relationship, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "That's his assessment, we take him at his word." But McCormack also said: "We understand the sensitivities in Turkey. We also understand the sensitivities in other communities in the United States and other places around the world." He was referring to the Armenians' enthusiasm for the resolution's approval. The spokesman said Gül and the Turkish government were aware of the U.S. system of government. "They [Gül and the Turkish government] understand that the Turkish government is an independent branch," McCormack said. "We are, however, in close contact with members of Congress on the issue, and we have conveyed to them the sensitivities expressed to us by the Turkish government concerning this particular resolution," he said.

    McCormack's remarks were a reminder that Bush's administration cannot dictate its will in Congress. The House of Representatives is Congress' lower chamber.Amid growing hostilities between Bush's Republican administration and the Democratic Party at the helm of both chambers of Congress, analysts agree that the House's Democratic leadership may not listen to the administration's advice against the genocide measure's passage.

    Pro-Armenian lawmakers last week introduced a resolution in the House, calling on the administration and Congress to formally classify World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has the power to determine which resolutions should go to a House floor vote, has pledged to back genocide recognition efforts, and a clear majority of representatives is believed to be backing the latest genocide measure. Pelosi declined to meet Gül during the foreign minister's Washington visit this week. However, Gül had talks with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the Democrats' number two official at the House and another backer of the resolution, and John Murtha, a close aide to Pelosi and an influential lawmaker. Murtha is said to be closer to the Turkish position.

    Gül also met with Tom Lantos, the Democratic chairman of the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee and some other committee members. Nine out of the committee's 48 members turned out for the gathering. This panel will be the first platform where the genocide measure will be discussed and voted on, probably in March. If the resolution is approved there, it will go to the House floor. Successive Turkish governments have warned that any genocide recognition by the administration or Congress will lead to a review of the entire U.S.-Turkish relationship.

    Wrapping up his Washington visit on Thursday, Gül is scheduled to meet with Ban Ki-Moon today, the United Nations' new secretary-general, mainly to discuss the Cyprus problem.




    Multiculturalism in Turkey: Just shoot a gun!
    February 9, 2007
    BURAK BEKDIL
    “No one can be safe in a country where even the chief of the security forces is not safe.”

    (Hüsamettin Cindoruk, veteran politician, commenting in the mid 1990s on news that the lady interior minister had ordered policemen to break the locked door to the office of the chief of the security forces because she wanted to search it. It was around midnight, and her search for documents to verify anti-government activity proved futile.)

    Sadly, Cindoruk's prophesy has been proven correct too many times since then, and, as he guessed, without discriminating between important or unimportant men, between types of ideology or between types of fanaticism. A bullet shot in the name of a wedding ceremony, a football victory; the same bullet shot to defend many just causes: independent Kurdistan, Greater Turkey, Turkishness, Muslimness, “honor,” and even “peace.”

    The police chief of Diyarbakır, the head of a human rights group, the toddler, the 20-year-old soldier, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) suspect and his children, the young man who just walks on İstiklal, the Kurdish girl who had been raped, the curious journalist, the inquisitive academic, the senior judge who had ruled against the headscarf and the Armenian journalist…

    Ogün Samast and Alparslan Arslan have and don't have things in common. Samast was an unemployed teenager; Arslan was an adult lawyer. They were both devout Muslims – one killed the judge because of a verdict that looked like an overdose of secularism and the other killed Hrant Dink after joining the crowd at the nearby Friday prayer. Samast and Arslan felt attached to a 21st century reincarnation of a doctrine mixing various doses of ethnic (Turkish) and religious (Muslim) fascism. Samast was more “ethnic” in his extremism and motives, and Arslan was more “religious.” In fact, they are the same thing.

    Samast belongs to less than half of the Turkish population (if opinion polls are correct) who identify themselves as “Turkish” before every other categorization; and Arslan belongs to the more than half who identify themselves as “Muslim” first and foremost. Samast is as religious as Arslan is nationalist and vice versa. The truth is Samast and Arslan reflect different tones of the same color.

    Samast's father, a municipality worker, was brave enough to tip off the police that the assassin of the Turkish Armenian journalist was his son. Arslan's father, a Ministry of Education inspector, threatened that “anyone who does not respect this society's (ethnic/religious) values would be punished.”

    The police failed to protect the judge. They failed to protect the journalist, too. Like they often fail to protect the others including the chief of the police force more than a decade ago, or the police chief of Diyarbakir, or Özdemir Sabancı, or other better-known names in addition to an ocean of less-known ones.

    Samast, in fact, is the alter ego of Arslan. He is the young PKK man who detonates the bomb that kills soldiers or soldiers' children; he is the young soldier who kills the innocent villager; he is the Kurdish radical Islamist who bombs synagogues, banks and consulates in Istanbul; he is the same man who stabs the rival football team's fans; he is the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) assassin. Samast is thousands of football fans who chant “We are all Ogun!”

    He is the leftist militant who, during a “peace” demonstration, angrily beats flowers and plants with his “revolutionary” stick; the “liberal” who threatens a group of ladies who wanted to join Dink's funeral with a Turkish flag; the “nationalist” who attacks a photo exhibition featuring the unpleasant incidents of Sept. 6-7; the tribal father who commissions his non-adult sons for the murder of his own daughter “for matters of tradition and honor;” he is the revolutionary militant who murders a businessman just because the man is a businessman.

    Samast is the alter ego of millions of young men living in these lands who are programmed to resort to violence for whatever cause they deem just and sacred: Turkishness, Kurdishness, Islam, secularism, nationalism, fascism, communism – in fact, any “ism” as well as non-“isms” like football, tradition, honor, a traffic brawl, money, opposite sex and many more.

    Tolerance? What tolerance? Turkey's “most reformist, most liberal, most EU-friendly ever” prime minister also keeps the title of being the prime minister with the record number of charges against critical writers, journalists, cartoonists and others. Only recently, the prime minister sued an opposition politician for “insulting him” because the defendant had called him “arrogant.”

    No one can be expected to be tolerant to the “other” in a country where even the prime minister cannot tolerate the “other.”




    One mystery amid the polarized soul-searching now under way in Turkey is: What is the matter with Trabzon?
    Trabzon's growing culture of violence
    February 9, 2007
    CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA
    ISTANBUL - The Associated Press
    First the youths fantasized about killing. Then they carried out the crimes, emboldened by their violent imaginations.

    Adem Solak, a therapist who has worked with young men imprisoned for murder in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, says the sequence is a recurring theme among those he has interviewed. Now a pair of widely publicized killings in the past year has focused attention on Trabzon's culture of violence and what some have called Turkey's “lost youth.”

    “They say: ‘Once I've killed him in my head, it's not difficult to kill him again',” said Solak, who also wrote a book about Trabzon after a teenage gunman killed a Roman Catholic priest in his church in the city a year ago.

    Eight suspects from Trabzon, including the alleged teenage triggerman, are under arrest for the Jan. 19 killing of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in Istanbul. The slaying prompted international condemnation as well as debate within Turkey about free speech, and whether state institutions were tolerant of militant nationalists.

    Dink's murder served as a catalyst for questions about whether Turkey should pursue Western-style values such as free expression, as embodied in its bid to join the European Union, or cling to nationalist pride that views outside influence with suspicion. Some prefer an uneasy, meandering combination of both. The coexistence of Islam and secular thought, and their occasional clash, frame the discourse.

    One mystery amid the polarized soul-searching now under way in Turkey is: What is the matter with Trabzon? Most Turks know the city for its successful soccer team, the only team outside Istanbul to win the national title. Now they know it as an incubator of violent youths, many who are susceptible to the doctrine of extreme nationalists.

    Like many mid-size Turkish cities, Trabzon has the ingredients for social discontent. Unemployment is high, education is poor, and facilities are few.

    Solak suggested the spate of extremist crimes may even be linked to the regional character. “The Black Sea person's cultural characteristics are different. He is more open to heroism, to bullying, to being a daredevil. Children are introduced to guns when they are young."

    When there is no industry, when the economy is poor, the young feel they have nothing to lose and they tend toward fanaticism, Solak said.

    Trabzon, once a trading colony of the Greeks, lies in Turkey's Black Sea region at the frontier between Asia and Europe and has witnessed the ebb and flow of invading forces and encroaching civilizations over the centuries. More recently it has largely missed the pell-mell economic development that has transformed western and southwestern Turkey.

    Small workshops have produced hand-made guns in Trabzon and surrounding towns for decades, and soldiers from the Black Sea coast are often praised for their bravery in fighting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The region, known for its forested mountains and isolated villages, was a major source of migrants to Europe, mainly Germany, in the early 1960s.

    Extreme nationalists find a ready pool of recruits in the social vacuum of places like Trabzon. Yasin Hayal, a militant who served time in jail for an attack on a McDonald's restaurant in Trabzon in 2004, allegedly provided a gun and money to Ogün Samast, the alleged killer of Dink.

    A teenager in Trabzon was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison in the 2006 killing of the Reverend Andrea Santoro, an Italian priest. That murder was believed to be motivated by Muslim outrage over publication of Prophet Mohammed caricatures in European newspapers.

    All but a tiny minority of Turks are Muslims, and hard-line nationalists view Christianity as an encroaching power, echoing historical animosities in the region that date back to the Crusades. Some condemned Pope Benedict XVI – who angered Muslims over comments about Islam – when he visited Turkey in November on a trip that was otherwise viewed as a reasonably successful effort, at least temporarily and in symbolic terms, to unite faiths.

    But Trabzon seems to embody Turkey's tensions in their rawest form: nearly two years ago, a mob in Trabzon beat up four left-wing students, apparently after a rumor spread that they were supporters of Kurdish terrorists.

    “The perceived image of this city has suddenly turned into an ultra-nationalist, violent and lawless one,” columnist Kerim Balcı wrote in a recent issue of Zaman, a major newspaper.

    “This pejorative image spread so quickly that many from Trabzon feel the need to say ‘I am from Trabzon, but...'. This is the same apologetic feeling I observed in Muslims of the West after 9/11. Deep inside every Muslim was an imposed sense of guiltiness,” he wrote.

    Balcı, who is from the Trabzon area, said it was unfair to brand the city with negative stereotypes. Certainly, the aggressive nationalism that contributed to Dink's death is entrenched in other cities and even treated with a degree of tolerance by some police and other state agents.

    The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – who hails from Rize, Trabzon's neighbor – has pledged a vigorous prosecution of the suspects. But the authorities' image suffered when video and photographs emerged of security officials posing in with Dink's alleged killer to a backdrop of the Turkish flag.

    Doğu Ergil, a Turkish analyst, said extreme nationalists had trained “lost youths” into believing that “the meaning of their lives is protecting the nation from these ‘subversive' elements by eliminating them.”

    Turkish frustration over the EU membership requirements, Ergil said, has only fueled suspicions that outside forces are trying to impose their will on Turkey, a nation of 70 million whose glory days as the center of the Ottoman Empire lapsed long ago.

    “The general feeling is that Europe is really imposing its will on Turkey and trying to shove its rules and regulations down our throats,” he said.




    EP report says Dink’s approach more effective than Armenian diaspora
    The European Parliament reiterated its determination to keep up the pressure on Turkey regarding freedom of expression and the Armenian question in a report on slain Turkish journalist of Armenian origin Hrant Dink.
    The five-page document, prepared by Joost Lagendijk, co-chairman of the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission, and obtained by Today’s Zaman, reports on the funeral and debates in the wake of the Jan. 19 assassination that led to one of the largest demonstrations in İstanbul’s history.

    The report was presented to President of the Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering at the beginning of February. Lagendijk, who attended the funeral and represented the EP, argues that though the killer was caught shortly after the crime, many questions surrounding the murder remain unanswered.

    The report praises Dink’s attitude toward the events of 1915 and underlines the fact that he tried to avoid the word “genocide.” The report also says that his approach was more effective than the Armenian diaspora’s way of dealing with history. “Hrant firmly believed that the past can only be addressed and understood where there are prospects of future relations. Armenia’s painful history exercised his mind no less than the Armenian diaspora. But he took a different, and perhaps more effective, approach to the debate on the Armenian genocide of 1915 than is customary in Turkey. In his speeches and writings, he tried to avoid the term ‘genocide.’ He informed his readers and listeners, describing the events of 1915, but left the definition to them and invited them to find the appropriate term.”

    The funeral was a historic event for Istanbul, the report argues, and adds that the sheer dimension of the masses who gathered to pay their respects and protest the murder was utterly unexpected.

    “The funeral of Hrant Dink turned into one of the largest-ever mass demonstrations in the city of Istanbul. Although it was expected that thousands would come to pay their last respects to Hrant Dink, not even the greatest of optimists could have foreseen the vast sea of more than a hundred thousand people,” stated the report.

    Dink was a very well-known figure in the EP, in particular among the Green group. He had attended several conferences organized by the EP. The report strongly calls for continued support to the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, the paper Dink worked at as editor-in-chief, and believes its closing down would be a great loss for Turkey. The report concludes by highlighting the fact that Dink’s murder has put two important issues in the spotlight: freedom of expression and the Armenian question. The report wants to “ensure that these two issues are high on our agenda in the coming months and years.”

    The European Parliament officially recognized the Armenian genocide in 1987 and claims Turkey should recognize it for possible EU membership.

    09.02.2007
    SELÇUK GÜLTAŞLI BRUSSELS
    Why are we so surprised by nationalism, anyway?
    It should not be a surprise that nationalism in today's Turkey is not the ideology of one or two parties. First and foremost the government itself, followed by other parties, have always been nationalists.
    I would like to remind everyone that the Republic of Turkey is the only civil country that defines itself as being "nationalist" in its constitution. Furthermore, even universal ideologies have become infected with nationalism in Turkey. As a matter of fact, socialism and liberalism; nationalism and Kemalism have been intertwined with one another. The success of nationalism in this country was not attained solely by the work of national educational institutions. Many administrators, writers and thinkers have created a discourse for "weapons of mass communication" and have gone through the aforementioned educational institutions, putting quite a bit of effort into this nationalism process as well. Ignore the fact that many of them appear to be embarrassed by and criticize the behavior of "nationalist-heroes."

    09.02.2007
    MUSTAFA ERDOĞAN, STAR




    We should reject imposition
    HUSEYIN GULERCE h.gulerce@todayszaman.com
    The developments that have followed Armenian journalist Hrant Dink’s murder are quite confusing. It is not clear who did it, who directed it and who is telling the truth. New details are revealed every day. However, we still haven’t learned the truth. People who tried to confuse the public achieved their goals very swiftly. This picture is enough to claim that this murder will remain unresolved like its predecessors.

    It is obvious that this murder is being used as a means to polarize people, as was the case with other murders. Unlike other murders, which were exploited to start secular-religious debates, this time a debate of nationalist-non-nationalist is being fuelled. The debate is so prevalent that spectators fly banners during football matches in support of the accused murderer, who killed a man because of his opinions. Law enforcement officers and gendarmerie took pictures with a murder suspect in front of the Turkish flag.

    It is known that the police and gendarmerie were warned about the murder in advance. The murder was committed publicly. The more media pressures upon certain circles, the more people face prosecution. It seems that more people will be affected by the inquiry. However, we still will not have a chance to learn the truth - again.
    We have no say overseas. There is a shadowy mechanism which functions against the public will, and it will get stronger as long as we polarize and clash in the country.

    Issues imposed upon Turkey are:
    *Forces (Armenian, nationalist, Kurdish, left/right, etc) that should clash should not reconcile, but exterminate one another.
    *Sunni- Alevi brotherhood should not be allowed.
    *Turks and Kurds cannot coexist; so, they should separate.
    *Secularists should oppress the pious.
    *Nationalists should not give way to globalists.

    The circles which impose these on Turkey interpret rule of the Justice and Development Party as a victory of Islamism and as demonstrating the weakness of secular forces.

    The way to dismiss this imposition is to reject it. To this end, a social agreement is required and the condition to such an agreement is to achieve social reconciliation and internal peace.

    The Abant meetings have proved that intellectuals can achieve such reconciliation. Sincere dialogues have taken place between followers of different religions in Turkey. People from all walks of life gathered at well-attended fast-breaking dinners and materialized long-hope ambitions. A new road has been broken, and we should stick with this road. The safest shelter against all traps awaiting us is dialogue and tolerance.

    This road is not a fantasy, but required by new world conditions and new phases humankind has entered. It is required to read the world well. The strict and rude policies of the Cold War period are over. We are living in a world moving toward universal human values. It is against mind, logic and conscience to accuse people who are aware of this fact of ill intensions, treason, and enmity of nationalism. Religion is a part of this nation. A person can be irreligious, but a nation cannot. Islam is the majority faith of Turkish people. People who say “I prefer Turks not to be Muslims” should not be considered as members of Turkish nation. Those who are estranged from national values and who can’t understand viewing diversity as a strength, can only produce grudge and hatred. There is no more dangerous mindset than that which treats its dissidents as dangerous.

    We should reject the polarization and conflict imposed on us. The solution is to stand on our own values and meet universal human values. The solution is to rely on nation. Those who rely on other forces and squares can make little headway.
    09.02.2007




    France and freedom
    ALI BULAC a.bulac@todayszaman.com
    The recent ban on headscarves in secondary education in France was important in terms of signaling a backward step for freedoms in the country known as “the country of freedoms.” Few people acknowledge that freedoms in the West are now being replaced by “security” concerns and the measures suggested by those concerns. In fact the West, from France to the US, from Germany to Holland and other countries, has entered a gradual process of bidding farewell to freedoms.

    There are crimes which are included within the scope of bans but are not classified under the category “limiting freedoms.” At the top of the list is inciting racism. Stirring up war, making remarks that incite enmity and hatred and provoke wars between religions and sects, and launching insults and blasphemous words that are not based on knowledge or historical facts are not at all freedom of thought or freedom of expression. There is no question on that. However, the last one I mentioned is considered a crime when directed at western countries and Christianity. For instance Britain doesn’t consider it a crime for any religion but Christianity to be insulted.
    Anti-Semitism, enmity against Jews and the justification of the Jewish genocide are against the law in France and other European countries. This is not unusual. Maybe what should be taken out of the criminal context is criticizing the laws Israel violates as a nation state, and of course criticizing Zionism, Israel’s ideology and identity as a modern nation state. Morally, anti-Semitism is a crime and it is natural for it to be considered a crime under the law; but criticizing ideology or the legal violations a state commits should not be considered a crime.

    Let’s say this is a ban peculiar to Jews and of course it relates back to the genocide of Jews. France’s decision to make it a crime to even express thoughts against it demonstrates that bans are not limited to only one case. To establish whether an event is “genocide” is possible by encouraging everyone to express their thoughts and share what they know, be it in favor or in opposition. Neither courts nor parliaments are the endorsing authority of factual information on history and past. Scientists, intellectuals, civil platforms and the media should all be able to freely expose all documents, information, proofs and thoughts they have, and be able to benefit from freedom of expression in order that truth may come to light and a sound opinion may take shape. France and other parliaments are declaring “the only and official view” on certain things like autocratic and totalitarian states by laying down bans in this direction.

    It is apparent that France will not settle for the bans it has so far imposed on expressing thoughts against the Jewish and Armenian genocides. Another development that recently shocked France signals that the bans will continue. “The Atlas of Creation” (L’atlas de la Creation in French), prepared by Adnan Oktar and his students and sent to various officials, politicians and academics, sparked unbelievable debates in the country. The French education minister made a statement in person and gave instructions that students be protected from the book. According to the minister the book is “unfavorable for the French.” Can you imagine? A book that rejects the Darwinist idea on the origin of humans and that defends the truth of creation is “unfavorable for the French.” Newspapers such as Le Figaro, L’Express, Le Monde, and La Croix gave wide coverage and used expressions full of horror and panic like “earthquake,” “assault” and “bombardment” about the book. Let’s not be surprised if the book is soon included on the list of banned publications.
    09.02.2007




    Mutafyan: I've been threatened since Dink killing
    The New Anatolian / Ankara
    09 February 2007
    Turkish-Armenian community head Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan yesterday expressed growing concerns after last month's killing of Armenian origin Turkish journalist Hrant Dink.

    Mutafyan revealed that he has been receiving threats, which, according to the police, are from the same sources who threatened Dink, adding that the state appointed guards for him after last year's murder of Catholic Priest Andrea Santoro in the northern province of Trabzon.

    Mesrob underlined that the killing of Dink seems to continue to occupy a significant place in both domestic and world politics.

    "It would certainly be a very optimistic view to deny the security concerns of the Armenian community in Turkey, but until the Dink assassination, no Armenian had been subjected to a serious attack for years," Mesrob said.

    On his concerns following the latest developments, he said that Turkish Armenians fear being seen as potential domestic enemies in the European Union process, which has swelled extremist nationalist feelings.

    He also added that he is opposed to attempts to cut dialogue between the Turkish and Armenian people.

    Regarding the developments following Dink's murder, he said that the members of the public, both Turkish or Armenian, expect to see the perpetrators of the killing and those who incited the murder behind bars.

    "We are deeply concerned about the confrontation between different sectors of society after the killing," said the patriarch.

    "The slogans at the funeral saying 'We're all Hrant, we're all Armenians,' should not be linked to the Armenian community," he said, but added that he views criticism of the slogans as unhelpful, given that these were a manifestation of sentiments after the killing, not attempts to spark a clash regarding ethnic identities.

    He declined to comment on the investigation process, but reiterated his wish to learn who or which circles incited the murder. Mesrob also called on state authorities to take necessary measures to put an end to unwanted social developments greatly upsetting the community.

    Dink's autopsy completed

    In related news, the murdered journalist's autopsy report had been completed and sent to the Sisli Public Prosecutor's Office.

    The reports said that Dink was shot twice in the head at short range by one person.

    It was also reported yesterday that Yasin Hayal, the alleged second man behind the Dink murder who provided the murder weapon and money to gunman Ogun Samast, claimed he learned that Erhan Tuncel, the third man alleged to have engineered the attack, was a police informant, from the press.

    Hayal, commenting on reports of Tuncel being an informant, during his testimony given at an F-type prison in the western city of Tekirdag, said, "If I knew that, I would have killed him."

    Ex-convict Hayal on Wednesday claimed that Tuncel gave him the bomb for a McDonald's attack in Trabzon in 2004.

    The prison administration also said that Hayal regularly follows newspaper reports and that he has reclaimed a Koran seized by police when he was detained.

    Another suspect, Tuncay Uzundal, also a housemate of Tuncel, was quoted as saying in his testimony that he has doubts as to whether Tuncel incited the murder.




    Baykal hints at deeper plot in Dink murder
    The New Anatolian / Ankara
    09 February 2007
    Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal yesterday said that if accusations unleashed by suspects in the last month's murder of journalist Hrant Dink turn out to be true, this would highly likely drive Turkey into chaos.

    The second man said to be behind the killing, Yasin Hayal, was quoted as saying in his testimony that Erhan Tuncel, arrested on charges of soliciting the murder before his being a former police informant came to light, engineered the attack.

    Baykal told reporters, on his way to Munich where he is expected to attend an international security conference, that if Tuncel was the man behind the murder, it means the police had used a man who actually planned the murder.

    Baykal called it a heavy blow to the police that it cannot dismiss easily. "Then it is hard to think that it is an individual plot," Baykal said, adding that this possibility raises questions as to whether certain people used Tuncel as a pawn.

    "Tuncel's silence makes one think he is under the protection of certain people," he added.




    Dink assassination, and disinformation campaign for what?
    Onder Aytac & Emre Uslu
    aytac.uslu@gmail.com
    09 February 2007
    Finally, the Turkish media recognized the disinformation efforts of some media outlets. We only could say to them: Welcome, and what took you so long? As regular readers of this column may remember, we brought this issue to our readers' attention as early as last July. We refer you to our column of July 19 -- at www.thenewanatolian.com/opinion-11207.html -- and continue with our analysis of why the disinformation and manipulation campaign against the police still continues.

    First, since the late '90s, the Turkish National Police (TNP) has changed its traditional "state-centered view," and initiated a more "community-oriented" approach to policing. As a result, the police adopted European standards in fighting against crime. Through these initiatives, the police has distanced itself from other security institutions. By adopting more democratic rules, not only did the police get closer to EU standards, but it also became the driving force for Turkey's compliance with EU requirements on security-related issues. The police, as an organization, is almost unanimously in favor of the EU process, whereas other security institutions, with the exception of the National Intelligence Service (MIT), have major issues with the EU-induced reforms. They are having difficulties internalizing the EU standards, and want to see the police in their camp as well. This is the major conflict between the security agencies going on below the surface.

    Second, the police, through its education initiatives, has increased its intellectual capacity to adapt to contemporary security policies and implement them successfully. This change was behind the successful operations of the TNP which have received growing international recognition. For this very reason, the TNP's international connections have become more complex than ever. Therefore, the TNP, in the eyes of the politicians, has carved out a place for itself as one of the main security institutions that can be trusted. This is particularly so as far as the democratization of the country goes. The police is viewed as an institution that holds the balance of power in domestic politics.

    Under these circumstances, other security institutions, which traditionally used to hold the most important positions in the Turkish state apparatus, have realized that they have to share power with the TNP. In addition, with the EU membership process, it appears that the TNP will be the rising star among other security institutions. For many of the security personnel, who hold key positions within these security institutions, abandoning their long-held position to the TNP is simply not acceptable. Hence, it is very normal for these circles to leak manipulative information to harm the TNP's credibility.

    We are not suggesting here that the TNP hasn't made any mistakes during the latest scandal in the wake of the Hrant Dink assassination. What we are suggesting here is that the circles who nurse anti-TNP feelings have found a "golden opportunity" to undermine the TNP. Unfortunately, the police administrators were slow to realize the altered conditions, and they still act with their traditional hesitant, passive attitudes. Instead of defending their organization, they still try to be nice to those media members who oath to stab the TNP whenever they have an opportunity.

    These are the underlying causes of the disinformation campaign which aims to undermine the TNP's tireless efforts. Below are a few examples of why some circles are disturbed by the TNP's activities and are intent on undermining it.

    On Nov. 9, 2005, a bookstore was bombed. The perpetrators were caught by the people of Semdinli, a small town in the Hakkari province. Despite the attempts of some to cover up the incident, the perpetrators were revealed: They were active-duty soldiers. When parliamentarians asked his opinions, the former head of the TNP's intelligence unit, Sabri Uzun, stated, "If there's a thief in the house, you can't prevent a burglary." Later, he was fired. Right before Uzun was fired, the editor of a notorious newspaper launched a negative campaign against Uzun and the TNP's intelligence unit.

    Last February, the police arrested members of a gang, called the Sauna gang, after a large-scale operation, The police arrested gang members, including military special forces personnel who shared top secret government documents with gang members. Investigators also found that the special forces personnel trained gang members on how to design bombs. The media largely refrained from reporting on the operation when military men were arrested in the operations.

    On May 17, a lawyer stormed the Council of State, killing a judge, and wounding five others. The perpetrator was arrested on the scene. Immediately after the attack, the media labeled the attack the work of the Islamic groups, which turned out to be incorrect. Later, the perpetrator's interesting connections were revealed. For instance, a picture of the attacker with a retired general, Veli Kucuk, who earned his fame with his alleged mafia connections and deep state activities such as establishing illegal intelligence units of the gendarmerie (JITEM), was published in the media.

    On June 1, the police raided a house in Etimesgut, Ankara which was used by some military personnel from special units of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) who were later arrested. Allegedly, those personnel were planning to assassinate the prime minister and his top aide Cuneyt Zapsu. Turkish dailies published some sketches seized by the police, which show the prime minister's house. According to media stories, these sketches were an indicator of a plot against the prime minister and Zapsu. Despite the police's achievements, the media tried to undermine the operation. One newspaper even went so far as to say that this entire operation was a plot organized by the police to denigrate the TSK's credibility. When we wrote how the editor of Sabah manipulates basic facts, instead of answering our questions, the editor tried to undermine our claims by arguing about irrelevant issues.

    When it comes to Jan. 19 Hrant Dink assassination, the "big brother," the planner of the assassination, turned out to have been an informant for the police until last September. Because of his alleged connection with the local military intelligence, however, the police fired him and he started to work as an informant for military intelligence. So far officials have not denied this report.

    It is up to you to find connections between these incidents and why the media, especially an embedded newspaper editor, continues its "disinformation" campaign after these incidents. In addition, one wonders where these newly popped up small mafia units' connections run.




    Gul presses against 'genocide' resolution
    The New Anatolian / Washington
    09 February 2007
    In Washington on Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul continued working against the Armenian genocide resolution set to be debated in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Foreign Minister Gul met several members of the U.S. Congress in order to discuss recent developments in Turkish-American relations.

    He essentially underlined the threat posed by the resolution on the so-called Armenian genocide towards relations between the two countries.

    After meeting with John Murtha, chairman of the Defense Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, Gul had talks with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, both Democrats.

    After participating in the luncheon given in his honor at Congress by members of the U.S.-Turkey Congress Working Group, Gul met with Robert Wexler, co-chairman of the Turkish-American Friendship Group and Democratic Party congressman from Florida.

    Gul also spoke with Democrat Tom Lantos, a Jewish congressman from California and chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Congressman Roy Blunt of Missouri, from the minority Republican Party.

    Ankara: FM got positive impression

    Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Levent Bilman said on Wednesday that Gul left the U.S. Congress with positive impressions.

    Expressing Ankara's uneasiness on the so-called Armenian genocide resolution, he stated that Gul had answered questions posed by congressmen on the Armenian allegations and clarified the issue.

    The Turkish foreign minister also late Tuesday warned the U.S. Congress that passing the resolution on the so-called Armenian genocide would harm relations with his country.

    "Passage of even a nonbinding resolution in either chamber would seriously harm our bilateral relations," he stated.

    Gul described the possible resolution as an irritant to otherwise close cooperation with the United States on vital issues including bringing political stability to Iraq, preventing nuclear proliferation and connecting Asian energy supplies with European markets. Even as the Bush administration says it will work with members of Congress to head off the genocide resolution, Gul warned that the U.S. government should not get involved in the sensitive dispute.

    "I believe that Turkish-American relations should not be taken hostage by this issue," he said. "I see this as a real threat to our relationship."

    The administration also sees the issue as a threat to relations with Turkey, a key strategic ally. The administration has opposed previous attempts by members of Congress to pass resolutions

    However, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, avoided meeting with Abdullah Gul, even when the two leaders were in the same hotel.

    Pelosi, who supports the so-called genocide resolution, rejected a request from the Turkish Foreign Ministry for a meeting with Gul. Pelosi's office said her schedule during Gul's visit to the U.S. would be too busy to fit him in.




    In defense of polish plumbers
    JAN KRZYSZTOF BIELECKI
    Supporters of Europe’s social model claim that what distinguishes it is the importance placed on “social cohesion.”

    And, of course, it is as difficult to be against cohesion as it is to be against friendship. But the real question is which policies work best.

    Existing policies to achieve social cohesion are based on the belief that, if uncorrected, the free play of market forces will lead to wide disparities in income and thus intensify social conflict. But studies tend to show that the majority of income transfers by government occur within the middle class, while only a relatively small proportion are from rich to poor. In fact, some transfers flow the other way. For example, many pension systems transfer money from the poor to the middle class, simply because richer people usually live longer.
    What most European countries get for their social expenditure is a lot of state provision of services, and not much reduction in social inequality. So lower levels of social expenditure could involve only a relatively small increase in inequality and social conflict. Moreover, if Europeans target social expenditure better, they might achieve a greater reduction in inequality with a lower level of social transfers.

    Indeed, some policies aimed at achieving cohesion may well reduce it. Restriction on firing employees, for example, may protect people who have jobs, but often at the expense of the unemployed, thus increasing social exclusion. Even where high levels of social transfers actually do reduce inequality (and therefore presumably increase cohesion), they may undermine inter-communal relations if ethnic minorities are perceived as being strong net beneficiaries.

    The European Union resulted from the tragic lessons of the first half of the twentieth century, when giving free rein to national egoism led to continental catastrophe, and increasing globalization means that economic, internal, foreign, and defense policies are unlikely to be successful when pursued exclusively at national level. Yet we continue to believe that social cohesion can be limited to that of the nation. European cohesion funds account for only a fraction of a percent of European GDP, whereas about 10% of national income is typically spent on social transfers.

    A massive increase in European Commission spending power to achieve greater pan-European social cohesion would be politically unacceptable to the richer members, who would have to pay for it. But neither can we accept a situation in which vast resources are spent on national cohesion, while European cohesion lags so woefully behind.
    Fortunately, inequalities can often be reduced considerably without spending much money. Nothing that the EU or its individual members can do would have as great an impact on reducing income inequality in Europe than eliminating national protectionist barriers to migration, movement of capital, and provision of services. Doing so would reduce inequalities not only between EU member states, but also within the poorer ones. The poorest of the poor would gain the most, while the rich member states would lose little, despite their popular fear of open borders.

    For example, during the referendum campaign in France for the European constitution, the “Polish plumber” became a symbol of the threat that European integration was supposed to pose to French workers’ standards of living. But the impact of free migration (when allowed) on French plumbers’ incomes is in fact minimal, not least because of the smallness of the new member states compared to the whole of Western Europe. Workers’ incomes in Britain and Ireland have not fallen measurably, despite both countries’ openness to immigration from the enlarged EU.

    Free migration in the EU means that Polish plumbers will not only catch up with French plumbers, but also with Polish bankers. Middle-class people in Poland are being hit by the increased cost of the services of skilled workers, such as plumbers, and also of the less skilled, such as decorators, and the highly skilled but low paid, such as doctors.

    Why, then, was the European Commission’s proposed services directive, which would ensure freedom to supply services across the Union to all EU companies, vilified as the “Frankenstein directive”? Why was it fatally diluted by the European Parliament? Why have demands by the EU’s new member states for freer access to Western Europe’s labor and services markets, and for the right to compete with “old Europe” for investment, been stigmatized as social dumping? Why are policies that would do the most to reduce inequality in Europe being presented as anti-social?
    What motivates the opponents of free service provision and labor movement in Europe is not a desire to ensure social cohesion, but a wish to maintain the status quo. To be sure, change creates discomfort, and may even cause tension and conflict. But the conservative attitudes underlying opposition to change are anything but “social,” for they would deny the poorest of Europe’s poor a chance to improve their lot.

    Indeed, such attitudes are potentially disastrous. If they came to be accepted as the guiding principles of European policy, Europe’s economy would become petrified, with stagnant growth making it impossible to afford even modest levels of social transfers.

    - Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, a former Prime Minister of Poland and Minister for European Integration, is currently a Member of the Board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

    ©Project Syndicate/Europe’s World, 2007
    07.02.2007


    ‘Turkey should start a new initiative to fight the genocide bill in Congress’ James H. Holmes -ATC
    American Turkish Council President James H. Holmes says although much has been done behind closed doors, they need Turkey to give them a new initiative about the tragic events of 1915 to better defeat the Armenian genocide resolution in Congress. .

    Retired Ambassador James H. Holmes, the president and CEO of the American Turkish Council (ATC), visited I.stanbul and Ankara this week to meet with members of the ATC prior to the ATC annual conference in March. Holmes' visit coincided with the introduction of an Armenian genocide resolution in the US House of Representatives, an issue that has the potential to deteriorate the delicate balance American-Turkish relations. Today's Zaman met with Holmes and talked about the action plan of the ATC against this resolution and what the ATC is expecting from the Turkish government to strengthen its lobbying hand on Capitol Hill.

    Do you see the potential to harm US-Turkey relations in this resolution?

    The Armenian genocide resolution is the cause of great distress for us, for the commercial interests of our members as well as for the national security and foreign policy interests of both countries. We, as the ATC, are fully committed to the preservation and promotion of these relations. We see an enormous potential for cooperation and growth in commercial relations between Turkey and the US. There is increasing commerce between Turkey and the European Union, but we don't want Turkey with its 72 million population to become the property of the EU. The strong future of Turkey is one in which the US should participate as well.
    Beyond that, we can see that this resolution points to an overwhelmingly negative reaction from the Turkish government, military, media and public. And with the passage of such a resolution, we will no doubt see more reaction. Remember when the French parliament passed a similar resolution? There is no reason to think that Turkish public's reaction to the US would be different. It might even be more dramatic. In any close relationship when one of the parties feel betrayed the reaction might be more paralyzing.
    For the US to risk our relations with Turkey on the basis of a meaningless resolution is just not right. Our interest is seeing this resolution defeated, derailed, delayed. I don't care what the formula is. We want it to fail. We want Congress to realize the consequences from the Turkish side.

    Do you have an action plan to fight this resolution? Do you have any suggestions for the Turkish government?

    The ATC has put together an action plan that we are already executing as far as our members are concerned. This constitutes the education of our members so that they may inform their representatives in Congress that it is in the interests of Turkey and the US to defeat this resolution. We are going to be very active on Capitol Hill. We are not a grassroots organization, but we can't organize a letter writing campaign. We just don't have enough members for that. But we do have some influential members, some very large employers who are members of the ATC and who are very concerned that this will lead to several lost commercial opportunities.
    We do have a request from the Turkish government. It has been almost two years since the Turkish government announced its call to set up a historical commission appointed by both Yerevan and Ankara. I know that lots of things have been going on quietly since then, such as off the record meetings and negotiations between Ankara and Yerevan. But if we are going to be successful on Capitol Hill, we need to have something more to work with, something more recent than April 2005.
    As tragic as the assassination of Hrant Dink was, I think it illustrated that there is an opportunity here. There is an opportunity for some aggressive action on the part of both Yerevan and Ankara to make sure that current dynamics change. And if the government of Turkey could do something and do it publicly, like a version of what they did two years ago, that would give us a stronger argument. When we say to the congressmen “Don't pass this resolution, support this instead …” We can say “This is what you should support!” But the Turkish government has to give us that something, something more recent that we can work on. The call for the historical commission was good. But still speaking about the same thing gives the impression that nothing has happened since 2005. And I know that this to be wrong. But Turkey hasn't publicly said anything more.

    Is there already anti-Americanism in Turkey? Is the ATC working on a project to fight this trend also?

    First of all, I don't believe there is rampant anti-Americanism in Turkey. I think there is a profound and durable “love” and strength in the relationship between Turkey and the US. There are very strong anti-administration, anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war sentiments in Turkey. And I know that they have been presented in a variety of ways. But in my meetings with Turks I don't find anti-Americanism, I find anti-administration sentiments. There is a very strong reservoir of goodwill that can be built on and that needs to be protected.
    I am concerned that this resolution could add to the litany of accusations against the US. “Wrong in Iraq; wrong on Turkey's relationship with its neighbors; wrong on the PKK.” If somehow we can come up with an activity which will mean something, which will be consequential on the PKK, my conviction is that the attitude toward the US will change in 48 hours.

    As the ATC do you have contact with military personnel here in Turkey?

    We regularly have contact with the military. Our members work with the military. I will be meeting with Chief of the General Staff Gen. Yas,ar Büyükan?t two weeks from now. He is going to be speaking at an ATC event. Several times a week, either I or my staff are in touch with the Turkish General Staff.

    Our readers would like to know why military activities dominate Turkish-American relations.

    I don't believe that to be the case either. You have to remember where the Turkish-American relations come from. They come from the Cold War, the Truman Doctrine and Turkey's role as a frontline deterrent during the Cold War. Certainly there is a very strong US-Turkish buyer-supplier military relationship throughout over the years. But increasingly a more normal relationship pattern is evolving. We are one of Turkey's largest investment partners today and I think we will see a historically military dependent relationship increasingly turning into a far broader relationship. But still, military relations will continue to be an important part of the picture.
    Up to 60 percent of our military personnel coming to Iraq or Afghanistan pass through our bases in Turkey and Turkish ports. The Turkish Parliament has to extend the existence of these bases in Turkey every year. This is a high risk for the US. This meaningless resolution would not serve anything but to anger the Turks. Why do we have to let American politics be lead by election campaigns? The answer is we don't have to.

    The US Congress was critical of the Baku-Tibilisi-Kars railway as well. Why all this willingness to support Armenian policies?

    The American Congress' decision with respect to the railway has been extremely biased. This goes back to the 1990s when Armenian troops moved into Azerbaijan. Now they are holding about 20 percent of Azerbaijani soil and 600,000 people are still refugees. Then, the US Congress pressed by the Armenian diaspora focused upon Turkey's decision to close the borders and the railway. I know that this was done as a consequence of what Armenia did in Azerbaijan. Turkey could not stay idle in the face of more and more battlefield successes by Armenia. They took the step to close the borders and railway to Armenia. Congress did not say to Armenia “What are you doing in terms of creating refugees,” rather they came to Turkey and to Azerbaijan and said if you don't open the railway, we are going to cut of all assistance to Azerbaijan, including the humanitarian assistance. And they did. They had the wrong end of the stick then and they still have the wrong end of the stick now.
    This is because US history with regard to the Armenian tragedies of 1915-1923 was written by the Armenian diaspora. And for decades and decades there has been a constant drumming of their interpretation of history unchallenged by anybody in the US or Turkey. It is accepted as gospel. It is very hard to penetrate the American media, into the American political environment. We believe this is a bad history, bad public policy, bad for business. But to get that message across is going to take a long struggle.

    2/2/07


    ‘Knowledge is a potent instrument for change’. Interview with Dogu Ergil

    Citation :

    Ergil, Dogu (2006) '‘Knowledge is a potent instrument for change’. Interview with Dog(u Ergil', European Journal of Turkish Studies, Thematic Issue N°5 , Power, ideology, knowledge - deconstructing Kurdish Studies, URL : http://www.ejts.org/document762.html

    ‘Knowledge is a potent instrument for change’. Interview with Dog(u Ergil
    Full text

    Interview conducted by Marie Le Ray, Ankara, June 15, 2006.

    EJTS: Could you start by introducing yourself, and tell more specifically about your academic career within and outside Turkey. How did you come to get interested in the Kurdish question?

    [2] DE: Well, I’m a professor of political sociology, chairman of the Department of Political Behaviour, at the Faculty of Political Science, Ankara University. My education is partly Turkish, partly American. I have earned my BA degree in Turkey; MA and PhD degree is in the US. After being assigned to an academic post at the Faculty of Political Science, I worked on political inclinations, ethnic relations, political parties and political violence. And in this context, I accomplished the first research on political violence in Turkey, which was consummated in a book called ‘Social and Cultural Roots of Political Violence in Turkey’ in 1980, based on interviews in the prison system, on right-wing and left-wing militants. And then, in late 1990s, when the Kurdish issue started exacting lots of blood in Turkey, and the whole Turkish establishment seemed to grasp the magnitude of the problem and the nature of the problem, I thought I should take part in understanding and letting people understand what is going on. I thought this was a civic duty but also an academic obligation. So I designed a research proposal which I presented to different levels of the government, which did not endorse my initiative because they looked at the problem from only the security point of view rather than seeing and labelling it as a ‘social conflict’, that could be solved by other means than sheer violence or police and military tactics. Unable to convince any government official or any politician, to the level of Prime Minister, feeling very frustrated, one day I met the president of the Turkish Union of Chambers of Industry and Commerce, the biggest business community in the country. His name was Mr Yal?m Erez; He came from that part of the country and was, as a businessman, interested in the promotion of business in a place where business had almost come to a grinding halt. He invited me to his office in Ankara and told me that he understood the problem and it was everyone’s national duty to put an end to it. Later, he asked the secretary of the Union to write to the University, making use of a clause in the law to invite advisers from the academia to work for the Union, although they keep their full-time position in the University. So I was charged with the management, or at least the realization of a social research with the title of ‘Special Advisor to the President’. This is how I found the chance of conducting the seminal research entitled ‘The Eastern Question’ in the east of Turkey (TOBB 1995). The area was declared as a ‘maximum security zone’ and it was very hard to do anything at the time being. However, we could realize the research for four reasons. First of all, the Union had branches all over the country, even in smaller towns. So they helped me and the interviewing team I put together and trained in every step of the research…

    [3] EJTS: We will come back to that but I was wondering much more about the academic perspective, the way you came to it and the sources you used to think about the Kurdish question. What were your readings at that time, in the 1990s?

    [4] DE: Well, in the 1990s, ethnic relations had become a major issue in the world. And in fact, in my doctoral studies, ethnic relations concerning the Blacks and the Indians in the US, it was a major issue. So I was a part of that academic process during my MA and doctoral studies. So I had an affinity to the subject matter. Soon after I returned to Turkey, conflict resolution had become a major issue, which did not exist at the time when I was studying for my graduate degrees. So I took interest in conflict resolution and came to the conclusion that the Kurdish problem could be defined as a ‘social conflict’ rather than mere terrorism. The term ‘social conflict’ encompassed problems of integration and inclusion into the mainstream citizenry of the country. This meant that late nationalism, or incomplete nation building, had proved to be insufficient in the Turkish case to incorporate ‘others’ who define themselves differently than the official definition of citizenship and the nation, which means Turkish. Turkishness seemed to be not so inclusive as we thought it was for at least some of the Kurds. So starting from that point of view, I thought I should first address to this question because all other related issues like traditionalism of the East, economic backwardness, lack of individuality and so forth, which are matters of development, modernity and so forth, all come together to make up the tumultuous problem of ‘exclusion’. I felt we were faced with incomplete or insufficient nation-building and an exclusivist understanding of nationhood. The inner workings of this imbroglio was never understood by the Turkish establishment and hence could not be solved. So my starting point was this.

    [5] EJTS: What about practical sources? At that time, it was quite difficult to study anything related with the Kurdish issue. There were few sources to rely on in those days, and most of them were coming from non-academic writers. Did you make any use of these sources? What do you think about the lack of academic sources at that time?

    [6] DE : None of those were sufficient, in the sense that those that were written by the Kurds, was to affirm that eastern provinces populated by the Kurds were an ‘internal colony’, that the Turkish state was a colonizer and so forth. And the Turkish texts were a complete denial of what was going on. They all bore political statements blaming the Kurds for betraying the nation and to the state alike. So they were very insufficient, very partial, and very partisan.

    [7] EJTS : Could you use of any of them?

    [8] DE: Not really. However, I did two things : I went to the archives, especially the military archives, and studied the official reports written by inspector generals, governors, provincial governors, and regional governors overlooking problematic provinces that are parochially referred to as ‘super governors’. You know in old times, just like today, they had established a central governorate attaching different provincial governors to it and, inspector generals that were sent for fact finding after each rebellion in the East. I studied their reports in detail, which goes back to the beginning of the Republic or even further, seeing that in every five or at most ten years, reports with almost the same wordings were written, pointing out the root causes of the rebellions and saying that these – presented as a list – precautions have to be taken, otherwise the phenomenon would repeat itself, as it did. But nothing serious was done along the ways that were advised by the authors of the reports. They were all candid reports because they were presented to the central authority, not the public. So they were reliable in order to see the real causes of the rebellion. But I also relied on statistical data that revealed how poor the region is, how traditional the region is, and so forth. But these did not suffice.

    [9] Oh, yeah, there is a background to all of this. I wrote my associate professorship dissertation on political alienation. This was a pronounced phenomenon in the seventies and the eighties when dozens of villages refrained to vote en bloc at the national elections. When you look at the election statistics of these decades, you see that there are clusters of villages that refuse to vote; not one person, not even one person, voted. Put on the map, these villages were particularly in the East. Those villagers protested the elections, because they believe that election results – regardless of who is elected- bring nothing to them. The second cohort of villages that protested the national elections were mountain villages of the Black Sea region that overlook Central Anatolia. This group of villages were rather isolated. Their inhabitants were so alienated from politics and sickened by the politicians that they didn’t even let the politicians enter their villages during campaigns, the only times they appeared at the villagers’ doorsteps. This was back in the late 1980s. I completed writing my dissertation in 1989. 1988-1989 is when I came to realize the Kurdish reality.

    [10] These were remote villages where only Kurdish was spoken. This meant I had a language problem. Yes, I knew of the Kurds, who were street peddlers, porters in the market place or drafted soldiers in the army. I had met them as private individuals, but I had not encountered them in their cultural settings speaking a different language as a community, and have a different perception of reality, social reality. I was ashamed of my late discovery of a fact of my country. After all we were a multicultural society that we have never acknowledged. How could I not be ashamed, I was at the stage of earning my associate professorship and I was practically ignorant of the most important problem of my country and the eastern reality that it was born in. This late discovery prompted me of course and the issue remained with me since then.

    [11] Ten years later, I appealed to the branch of the Secretariat of the National Security Council which was called the ‘Social Relations Unit’ (headed by Ret. Gen. Hilmi Sengun) and I said I’d like to go to the East, at least for observation, to see what is going on. This was a time when the PKK had grown into a formidable paramilitary force and had destabilized the entire Turkish east. They didn’t answer me for months. I visited them after three months. They said : ‘Why don’t you write a report’? I said, ‘How can I write a report without knowing the problem at first hand?’ They said, ‘Well, write something, we’d like to see how you assess the problem’. They wanted to see, whether I was trustworthy or not. So I sat down, at my typewriter at that time, there were no computers.

    [12] EJTS: When was that?

    [13] DE: Early 1989. In 1989 bloodshed was at its height. I sat down and wrote six pages. This was the product of a sociologist with some common sense, based on no special knowledge. I took the assignment to them and waited for another three months and called the General in charge. ‘Come, let’s talk’ he said. So I went there and asked : ‘Is there any research on the subject’? He called someone, a major came in, saluted the General and presented a dossier. I was very excited hoping that something fruitful was done in the meantime. Alas. it was my own paper; all underlined in red ink. There had been no other study whatsoever! It was incredible, the problem had started in 1984 and we were in year 1989. There was still no scientific work around. No guideline to understand and to deal with the question! And I said: ‘Look, allow me to go, make observations and share my assessment with you. This is our country and it is in shambles. There is an internal war – of course I didn’t use the word ‘internal war’ then – fought against an enemy we do not know much about. Let me find out who they are, what do they think…’ Indeed we had been whipping them, we’ve been putting them behind bars but we knew little about them because we never listened to them. The General (and the Council’s Secretariat said OK. Of course, I didn’t have to ask for their permission. By then I was a full professor and becoming a public figure with my articles, books and TV appearances. However, something could happen to me in this turbulent and unstable region wrought with violence. Furthermore, the provinces I wanted to visit was a military zone under a maximum security measures. If an obscure soldier or policeman had arrested me and put me under custody, most likely I would be interrogated in a harsh manner to understand why I was roaming in the region. Not even my mother would recognize me after those few weeks. Aware of the reality, they said: ‘Let’s give you police escort, let’s give you helicopter lift when necessary’. I said no, ‘I want to go and speak with Kurds at every level of the society and I want to do it freely. You just watch me for security reasons but please do not interfere otherwise I will loose my credibility as an independent researcher’. They indeed remained invisible. That helped me a lot.

    [14] I was also advised to take along someone with me. So I called on a friend, who was in the process of making a shift between one newspaper to another. At that time Koray Düzgören transferred from Milliyet to Günes,. Günes,.Koray got some money from his newspaper for conducting in-depth interviews. Now our mutual mission had both a scientific and a journalistic angle. Before flying to Diyarbak?r from Ankara, we had obtained a rich list of names that we would contact. We rented a car from Diyarbak?r and went to 7/8 provinces like Batman, Bitlis, S,?rnak, Siirt, Diyarbak?r, and so forth, and to some smaller towns like Cizre and Nusaybin. This was a two-week trip.

    [15] While in Diyarbak?r, we asked the permission of the authorities to visit the Diyarbak?r prison – where all the infamous tortures and so forth were taking place – to listen to PKK militia and members of other Kurdish organizations. Some of these Kurdish organizations were against the PKK, but authorities made no distinction and utilized the democratic potential of some of them. Rather than allowing diversity on the Kurdish political scene out of which more peaceful alternatives to the PKK could have emerged, the government had cracked on them all leaving the scene to the most radical organization. Manifestation of anything associated with ‘Kurdishness’ was treason.

    [16] My contacts and observations in general gave me a comprehensive perspective on the issue because I had spoken to intellectuals, local leaders, common people in the coffee shops, people working in the fields, most probably PKK affiliates under different guises without knowing who they were.

    [17] I came back with a ton of impressions. I was full and excited. I visited the Council’s Secretariat told them that rather than giving them a written statement I wanted to give a recorded oral account of my findings to a group. There would be questions and answers that would later be put on paper from the audio-visual tape of the presentation. They recorded everything I said. Later I asked for the written form of the interview. They said it was secret material now and they could not give me a copy of the secret state document. Isn’t it beautiful! Once it became official, it was no more mine. Believe it or not I do not have that document. It is a pity because I could have compared that data with my work that followed.

    [18] EJTS: What about the people you interviewed at that time? Did you get any feedback? Were they annoyed by the military?

    [19] DE: No, they were not annoyed. Because I promised not to reveal their names and I kept my promise all along. I had met so many people, with some of whom I still continue my contacts and benefit from their assessments. It gave me a broad understanding of the problem. And also the conviction that the government or the security apparatus doesn’t understand the complexity of the matter, as it still does not. Against this backdrop, in 1994, I presented a comprehensive research proposal to the president of the Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The structure in the proposal was so that I would go to three provinces (Diyarbak?r, Batman and Mardin) in the midst of the conflict zone and conduct interviews with a ten person team. Then we would move on three provinces out of the conflict zone (Adana, Mersin and Antalya) that had received a heavy doze of migration from the conflict zone to find out whether expected results of integration had taken place or were people more radicalised politically?

    [20] In the chosen provinces we planned to ask the people of their self-perception, self-identity, expectations from life, expectations from the state, their view of the PKK, their relationship with the PKK, which were all problematic issues of course. The predominant majority of the interviewees spoke as if they were aloof of the problem and used expressions like, ‘there are people who say or act the way…’ They didn’t say ‘we are directly involved’ but, you know, it was so obvious from what they said that many families were involved by way of their youthful members who were affiliated with the PKK in one ay or the other.

    [21] EJTS: How did you select the three provinces in the Southeast?

    [22] DE: They were the hottest places where armed conflict raged. Some people who were opposed to such a research said these three provinces were not representative of the whole Kurdish region. This is partly true but it was pretty representative of the conflict area but I wanted to get to the root causes of the conflict not to obtain statistical data on the Kurdish society. Another question I had to answer was, because it was so dangerous to travel in the east and people trusted no one how could I get reliable data. The success of the research was based on four factors. First of all, Mr Yal?m Erez was the man who was instrumental in making Ms. Tansu Çiller the prime Minister, by way of having her appointed to the presidency of the DYP (Dog(ru Yol Partisi – Party of the right path), after Mr. Suleyman Demirel had moved up to the Presidency1. Most of the delegates of the DYP (Dog(ru Yol Partisi), who elected the leader of the party, were member of the Turkish Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Türkiye Odalar ve Borsalar Birlig(i - TOBB) because they were local businessmen. So it was very easy for the president of TOBB to guide theirs members. Mr Erez was a charismatic man. Of course, a prime Minister close to the organization would facilitate the interests of the business community and make life easy for them. So when we called on the governors of the provinces where we would be carrying out the research, it made a huge difference. First we sent a letter from the presidency of TOBB, signed by Mr Erez, informing them of our intention and asked their assistance. Later we phoned the governor in person. They easily got the impression that this was an initiative of the Prime Minister’s office and the government was behind it.

    [23] Needless to say, the first thing we did when we travelled to the site of the research, was to visit the governor’s office and ask each of them to invite the chief of regional police and Intelligence and ask them not to interfere. Our rhetoric was common with the official parlance : that we are doing this for the sake of the country, for the unity of the nation. Which in fact was true, in principle. I mean we were not doing it for official ends but we wanted to keep the country intact by understanding why a part of its population was up in arms and rebelling.

    [24] EJTS: Was the government’s support something very effective?

    [25] DE: Of course, our interviews were conducted in city centres. The countryside was controlled by the military which had its own mind and hierarchy. But in town centres, it was the police and the Intelligence that were in charge. So we had no problem with the local authorities that were part of the civilian government. Secondly, I was not labelled as a ‘traitor’ then. In fact, I was often appearing on the television, that was the pass-time of millions with limited number of channels at that time. I was almost the darling of the system with fresh insight and analysis uncommon among stereotype official views. This won me great respect and trust among the common people, especially in the east. The Kurdish issue was a taboo subject, it was not mentioned in the media in any fashion, except treason and terrorism, when I adopted a different terminology, which led to my acceptance by the locals as a bipartisan actor. Otherwise local people would not answer the interview questions. If they did to protect themselves, the answers would be meaningless. But when they saw me there at the head of the research team, someone they trusted and reached them in their homes echoing their troubles and expectations, they opened up. There I discovered the power of the media really.

    [26] The word went around rapidly labelling the research as an initiative of TOBB, a homegrown institution and I was the chief researcher. This sufficed to get sincere answers and healthy results. Two events reinforced the public sentiments. In both Diyarbak?r and in Mersin, two policemen, who happened to return to duty on the day of research there without being informed of our activity, arrested two of our interviewers on the grounds of ‘suspicious activity’. People and leaders of local NGOs that helped us observed the way I responded to the police authorities, saying things like, ‘How dare you to stop this national mission’ or, ‘I will report this transgression and you will bear the consequences’ etc. Having witnessed such an unprecedented reaction made in public, the word immediately got around that made our penetration into the local community much easier.

    [27] EJTS: Why did you choose to make your research as a survey, as a quantitative study? How did you choose the terms and the questions? How did you think about it, how did you select them?

    [28] DE: Well, you see, if you speculate on a subject, no matter how wise you are, how knowledgeable you are, it’s a matter of speculation. And other people speculating would claim equal legitimacy to their own reasoning. Speculation, no matter how sophisticated it is, does not provide proof of what you say in real life. But if you compile data out of the field (human reality) you scrutinize, then you can obtain quantifiable results to substantiate your assertions. No one can deny your findings if they do not conduct similar and comparable research. This happened too. After our research results were published, the government was quite upset. They were not used to confront reality. In consequence, the government immediately retorted back with another field survey to refute the TOBB research. And funny enough, it was made in the name of a right-wing labour union, because ours was sponsored by the Union of businessmen.

    [29] Needless to say their findings came out quite different from our findings because they asked questions emphasizing national unity and obedience to the State. However when it came to objective criteria, like use of white merchandise in the house, you know refrigerators etc., or the size of the household, the language used in the house, papers read and hours spent following radio-TV programs, figures were almost identical. So, most probably they would get similar answers if they had asked the same questions we had asked. Nevertheless, the significance of that research was, first of all, it made a taboo subject debatable. It took it out of the hands, or the prongs, of the establishment and carried it into public life, public space. So people started debating. This was indeed a historical task that I’m very proud of. Secondly, it changed, or it challenged if not changed, the official mentality that all Kurds are separatist: that, they all support the PKK and they want to establish a different state.

    [30] Our research brought two very important issues under the light of truth: First of all, 90% of the Kurds did not want a separate state of their own. They supported the PKK because this organization represented the Kurdish identity, which was denied until then. In my view the journey of the PKK was like the movement of a train. People got on and off at different stations while the PKK goes to the last station that is independent Kurdistan. But other people jumped on board or bailed out for targets such as better living conditions, a more modern life style, more income, better education, justice, acknowledgement and respect and most of all emancipation from the oppression of a conservative traditional society that they were trapped in. So, support of the PKK as separatism should be viewed differently than expressing dissent to prevailing confining conditions and expectation of respect for their cultural identity and better living conditions. This was a revolutionary revelation that went unheeded by the authorities.

    [31] EJTS: How did the Turkish political side and the Kurdish political side receive your findings?

    [32] DE: First of all, the warriors, not politicians, dominated both the Kurdish and the Turkish political sides. The way warriors manifest themselves is warfare. They shoot, they don’t talk.

    [33] EJTS: Didn’t you get any support from local politicians or parties?

    [34] DE: The PKK had dominated the Kurdish political scene, either by way of partial political representation, or by way cowing those who did not endorse its violent tactics and separatist agenda. No Kurdish group could say or do anything against the PKK, even today; yes, even today. On the Turkish side, you could do nothing except comply with the way the security bureaucracy had said and done. In the face of this reality, the findings of our research were very important. The Kurds were quite willing to accept being obedient citizens of the Republic of Turkey on the grounds that their Kurdishness was to be acknowledged and respected. Secondly the predominant majority did not want ‘out’. In fact they wanted ‘to come in’ to a multi-cultural society where citizenship was not defined on ethnic or religious grounds. They made it obvious that they opted for an inclusive definition of citizenship. These were revolutionary findings. Any wise government would be very happy about these results. But then, you had to make two major changes. First of all, if you say that these people are not separatists, then you can not send your people to a war within your own country to fight against a part of your citizens. You cannot legitimise that. Secondly, by accepting Kurds as citizens (the way they define themselves), then the whole concept of citizenship, as ingrained in the Constitution (defined as Turkish), and the political ethos which national identity was built on would change. This would be a political earthquake that would shatter an uniformist understanding of nationhood and the whole legal system that legitimised it.

    [35] The government – or the establishment, which is more than the government- could not afford this. I do not know whether they understood it or refused it without grasping the repercussions of the findings that could be a guideline for solving the fratricidal conflict. And in the last research I have conducted in the eastern provinces in 2005 (Ergil 2006), I found yet another very important factor that would definitely please the establishment : the people of eastern provinces (mostly inhabited by Kurds) evinced no significant difference in internalising democratic values than their fellow citizens living in the more affluent and developed western provinces. This meant, the Kurds living in more traditional, less affluent and modern social formations were capable of supporting democracy just as any other citizen group in the country. This was good news for a candidate country to the European Union. You and I would just get up and start dancing with these data at hand. But no! Not one politician or political party called me to ask for the full research, just as they didn’t for the former. And you know, even the opposition, for example Mesut Y?lmaz, as the head of ANAP (Anavatan Partisi/ Motherland Party) at that time, labelled the research as a CIA plot, without even turning the first page. So this is indicative of the inability of the Turkish politicians to understand the reality of their own country, set aside global realities. They do not need knowledge for knowledge is a potent instrument to/for change. They do not want to change the system that provide them status, privilege and unaccountability. In fact they see new knowledge as subversive as they did in both accounts of my research realized 10 years apart from each other. Both the government and political parties refused to heed and to utilize the research findings. In the first instance (1995) five people called me in appreciation and support; three of them were business leaders. This is very important. The business leaders wanted peace and tranquillity in the country. Stability meant capital accumulation, releasing of funds going to warfare, expansion of markets and investment in the future by both domestic and foreign entrepreneurs.

    [36] EJTS: I was about to ask about today’s AKP (Adalet ve Kalk?nma Partisi/Party of Justice and Development) government, because AKP as a party, and its ancestors, they have their own sayings about how to solve the Kurdish issue. How did they welcome the last report? Did you have any feedback?

    [37] DE: One of the basic particularities or qualities of the AKP is that it is not a staunch nationalist party as the others are. It’s a more, how would I say, communalist party. It believes in the merits of communal life : the brotherhood, the solidarity of the believers, disregarding their ethnic roots and so forth. However, when it comes to policy implementations, policy options, it could not really differ from the established political culture, as well as the monolithic understanding of the society. The monolithic vision of the society is fused with the state; in that the society is perceived as a part of the state. This perception, that is the foundation of Turkish political culture is also ingrained in their minds. The only diversity that they would accept is the diversity of the Muslim community from the political community; political community defined here as a secular one. If it wasn’t a secular polity, I have little doubt that they would also opt for the unity of the political sphere and the cultural sphere as well. So they do not differ in their understanding of the society as a monolithic entity. But they rather to reduce it to a community of believers rather than as a nation with diverse components born out of political consensus.

    [38] EJTS: Did you submit your last results to the government?

    [39] DE: They didn’t ask me to. It was published but they didn’t contact me for further information or the totality of the research results. In fact no one did. No official authority or any political party seemed to be interested. It’s incredible! There seems to be a political blindness in this country that evinces itself with an assortment of anxieties against imminent change and the loss of what we already have. Such a reflex is so conservative and stultifying that to be an agent of change in this country is equal to treason. Yet people expect improvement and advancement. But because they do not facilitate the improvements and or changes they want al efforts end up status quo maintenance. This is relative regression while the world goes ahead.

    [40] Most politicians’ vision is limited with the boundaries of this country, and we call those people ‘statesmen’. Those who have a vision of aggrandizing the interests and influence of their group is what we call ‘politicians’. And the time-span of their policies is the day, well may be the year. So we are infested with the problems of short-minded and short-term politicians and policies. That is the main problem of Turkey; politic is retroactive. Such actors with such qualities cannot solve problems and manage change. They run behind problems. They see problems coming but do not act in time. Things happen because they are not prevented, then we try to minimalize the damage. That is a pity but this is the general trend and the main problem of Turkish politics : it is reactive not proactive.

    [41] EJTS: Could you contrast the 1994/95 fieldwork and survey’s results with the last one’s?

    [42] DE: First of all, the initial research that was published in 1995 was conducted at the height of the internal warfare in Turkey. It was the autumn and winter of 1994 and early summer of 1995. Those were dire days and the country was immersed in bloodshed and an aura of uncertainty. In the last instance (late 2004 and the first half of 2005) there was no such thing. PKK attacks resumed later. We travelled to seven south-eastern towns with no security concerns and were not net with suspicion by the local authorities and public. Furthermore, the research that we had designed was part of a youth democracy-training project. Indeed we wanted to raise democracy youth-leaders in this traditional and less developed part of Turkey that would act as community leaders later. The field survey we have realized was to serve two ends : 1) to see if the people in eastern Turkey were ready to support the democratisation process that Turkey had to undergo in order to be an EU member. 2) To allow our trainees to see whether their parents, their city-dwellers and their country had the values that we taught and socialized them into. In fact, this was a learning process for both our youthful trainees and us.

    [43] EJTS: Who was sponsoring this democracy-training program?

    [44] DE: A group of idealistic academicians and philanthropic volunteers from the business community. It was a, how would I say, a group of responsible citizens. It was not an institutionalised support. Although the initiative was totally a civic endeavour, research done was academic. That is why we wrote at the top of the interview sheets that we were from the Ankara University, because chief researchers (I and prof.Murat S,eker ) were two professors from Ankara Universityative was totally a civic endeavour, research done was academic. That is why we wrote at the top of the interview sheets that we were from the Ankara University, because chief researchers (I and Prof. Murat S,eker) were two professors from Ankara University (Faculty of Political Science) and our assistants and so forth. And after reactions in the press, university administration wrote me a letter saying that ‘Don’t use the university’s name in your research’. And I said, I have no other title than being a university professor and it’s the duty of the university to conduct research according to its legal statute. What was more shameful was that the university administration had stamped the letter as ‘secret’ so that I could not publicise it. But I’m sharing this so called ‘state secret’ with you as challenge to the authoritarian control they want to impose on free thought and research.

    [45] EJTS: Were the trainees involved in the survey?

    [46] DE: Yes. We needed local aid that the community knew and trusted. Furthermore interviewing their citizens were a part of the training we were carrying on among the towns’ youth. Another major problem was to get the permission of the local authorities because the area is still sensitive in terms of security. To make sure that no problems would crop up when we were in the area, we wrote to the governors of seven provinces we planned to visit. By this time, my name was pretty much distanced from the ‘traitorship’ attached to it after the release of the first research in 1995. Events had vindicated me, plus I continued with analysis that shed light on later developments that did not look like treason but rather scientific assessment. In short, I became an acceptable man again in a matter of ten years. Of course, lots of television discussion shows, interviews and articles I had published helped a lot. Everyone understood that, first of all, I was not a Kurd and secondly, I did not support the PKK (Partiyên Karkerên Kurdistanê / Kurdistan Worker Party), both easy ways of brandishing people and their work.

    [47] So, when we wrote to the governors, in our letter we said that we were coming to their province for a very benign, very useful activity. We said we were paying for our expenses, secondly we request two things from them : 1) to instruct the provincial directors of education to choose best of 40 senior year students from different high schools, observing gender equality (20 boys, 20 girls). And if there were higher educational institutes in town, to choose 14 or 15 first-year students. We also requested from the governors to arrange a leave of absence for the participants during the three days of our democracy training. We made sure that they got our message right : we want to raise them as democracy leaders and peer trainers. In order not to disrupt the education of the youth we organized our activities covering Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 2) To find us a venue for the training to be conducted. It could be a conference hall or it could be an auditorium in one of the high schools or anywhere in town. And these were all arranged before we went.

    [48] Our contacts were not limited to provincial governors. We had contacted Minister of Education and Minister of Interior in person. I knew them personally, and spoke to them in person. After these contacts they called their local branches saying that there is a good project coming their way that need their assistance. That is why everything went very smoothly. However, the ultra-nationalists and religious obscurantist caught up with our work towards the end of it. Through their triggermen in the press, they wrote very nasty things against our intentions and the ‘imperialist forces’ we were serving!! Then we witnessed the spineless nature of politics. Those cabinet ministers with whom I spoke in person denied their involvement. After all we might be serving subversive and foreign dark forces that want to partition our country!! Up until the end of the project wherever we went, we were met by the director of education, later were invited to dinner by the governor and always a junior assistant governor helped us in the organization. Local authorities often provided vehicles to take the kids out for field research after the each day’s training. In late afternoon, they went out to interview local citizens chosen as part of the sample group. The second research leader, Prof. Murat S,eker, trained our youth group in techniques of interviewing people.

    [49] It was exhilarating to see interview sheets piling up. We thought we were sitting on a pile of gold. This was fresh data that would set us on an intellectual journey. What a joy! But then all this data was particular to only one geographical region. We had to compare it with the West, to see whether it presented significance or not. Otherwise all this data would not have any scientific value. So again, out of our pocket, we paid the expenses of a professional group, which Murat employed, for other field research earlier. This was a team on whose services he dad drawn on often, because Murat very frequently conducted public opinion surveys for political parties and local governments. That is why we did not have to pay more than necessary expenses to the group to apply the same research instrument in two ‘western’ provinces selected as control group. After much deliberation we agreed on two places, one in Thrace and one in the Aegean region that would be represented of ‘western Turkey’.

    [50] EJTS: What about the 1994-1995 survey? Were you conducting the survey all by yourself?

    [51] DE: No, no, I had a team of 10 interviewers. These were people trained for the job for a month and they were all university graduates.

    [52] EJTS: Were they coming from the region?

    [53] DE: No, they were from Ankara. However, we were accompanied and supported by local people like TOBB members, as I have explained before. They were the indigenous and respected people of the local community. This had an enormous impact on the credibility of the research we have conducted. This is all the more true when you sample the people and knock on the doors that constitute the sample group. People get agitated when they learn that not their neighbors but they are interviewed. Our local partners did all the convincing under our guidance to assuage their anxieties. Mind you, those were dire days and everyone suspected the other and the authorities were very harsh on the people if they detected any deviance from loyalty to the government.

    [54] EJTS: Did you go first to the relatives of the TOBB members?

    [55] DE: No, we went to whoever was in the sample group. Our target was the head of the family or the wife. That’s generally how social research is conducted, you know, the head of the family is the primary target.

    [56] EJTS: What about the language of the survey?

    [57] DE: Turkish but if it was necessary, it was Kurdish. So the person who accompanied one of our ten interviewers did the translation to or from Kurdish as well.

    [58] EJTS: What about cooperation between foundations and universities? The first survey was conducted under the sponsorship of TOBB...

    [59] DE: Yes, TOBB sponsored the first research but no university was involved. The (Ankara) university only allowed me to be advisor to the president of TOBB. The university remained aloof in the first instance and reprimanded me for conducting the second research. In synopsis, the university did nothing in support.

    [60] EJTS: Did that type of cooperation multiply after your research? Did universities use this?

    [61] DE: Not that I know of. Individual academics used the research results but that was all. For example, Kemal Kiris,çi wrote a book with Gareth Winrow. Their work was not a Bog(aziçi University thing although they worked there, it was their personal enterprise. In Turkey, academies seem to be independent but in fact they are not. The ‘big brother’ always breaths over theirs necks. You have to get official permission to conduct research and get little funding if any. For example I got no financial aid from the university throughout my academic life. On the other hand if people know that you are conducting research for official ends in sensitive issues like security, people will answer your questions to look cooperative but will mislead you. You will get foul results. That is why I always sought after local support and cooperation and got it. In eastern Turkey you must also get the blessing of the authorities to conduct research otherwise they can abort any such effort. This is a fine line to tread : get their consent but don’t get them involved so that the local people would believe in your independence.

    [62] EJTS: Concerning funding, did international organizations play a role?

    [63] DE: They could have and we could get at least partial funding. However, anything done in the east of Turkey, mostly populated by Kurds is closely scrutinized. Any clue of international involvement would be considered equal to selling out the country. It’s dangerous. If it’s known, you could be prosecuted and brandished at he same time.

    [64] EJTS: What about in your case. As a fellow of the International Endowment for Democracy for example, could you face with problems?

    [65] DE: Of course. You know, anti-American sentiments are in their high ebb lately in this country. Anything you do that is related with the outside world –not necessarily with the USA- is labelled as a CIA initiative. Even issues quite unrelated with security matters are put into the same basket. Take the health issue for example; if you campaign for a healthy family, the rumour will be that the ‘imperialists’ want to make us sterile and weaken our nation! Efforts to collect bone marrow to treat lucemia is interpreted as an initiative to decipher the Turks genetic code and to dilute it! Everything is reduced to ideology, politically coded as ‘near and present danger’. This is pathological but that is the way it is. We have to deal with these fabricated fears born out of ignorance of global affairs and the anxiety of being overwhelmed by forces that we can not cope with.

    [66] EJTS: Were your questions in any way influenced by this fellowship?

    [67] DE: No, how could they be? I had conducted the surveys before I was awarded the afore mentioned fellowship (Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship for International Scholars). Furthermore, the focus of the two surveys, that were ten years apart from each other, was different. The first wanted to unearth how the Kurds defined themselves (manifested their identity); defined their relationship with the state, with the PKK; what kind of a regime they wanted; what their expectations were as citizens of Turkey, etc. The focus of the second survey was whether the Kurds – now that they are Kurds, not ‘mountain Turks’ - were equipped with the necessary democratic values to sustain a full fledged democracy in which they would take part. The other side of the coin was to see whether they opted for a religious or a secular authoritarian regime rather than democracy. Their choices would be instrumental in the long and ardous way Turkey had to tread towards EU membership. So the focuses of two research projects were quite different. However, the social universe of both surveys was the same: Kurds.

    [68] EJTS: Did you communicate interviewees the results of the survey?

    [69] DE: The results were publicised in an explosive manner. The minute the research was published in August 1995 it changed the public discourse in Turkey. So everyone had access to it through the media that discussed and dissected it for a whole month.

    [70] EJTS: But did you come back to the people you interviewed? Did you get any feedback?

    [71] DE: No. They were not interested. They were interested in letting the central government and the rest of the people know about what they think and what their problems were, that is all. It was the first time in their whole life someone has asked their opinion rather than telling them. They were asked for the first time who they were. They were grateful. I remember going back to Diyarbakir later in the year to receive the ‘Author of the Year Award’ given by the Association of Journalist of South-eastern Anatolia. A cortege of 300 hundred cars came to meet me at the Diyarbakir Airport and followed me into the city centre. It was a scene to be seen. Another touching story is my visit to the Chamber of the Turkish Union of Doctors of Diyarbak?r during my research to find about elite perceptions of the ‘Kurdish problem’. The executive board insisted to give me a briefing on the medical problems of the city and the region. I said, ‘Sorry gentlemen. I’m not the person to listen to this and do something about the problems you will lay out. I’m just a humble university professor and political scientist’. But they said, ‘It doesn’t matter. You are the first one who were willing to listen us’. Mind you, these were the doctors; they were the elite of Diyarbak?r. This phenomenon is ingrained in my mind and soul: it was obvious that these people wanted to be heeded, to be treated as equal citizens. This lesson stayed with me since then.

    [72] EJTS: After the publication of the report in 1995, you created TOSAV (Toplum Sorunalar? Aras,t?rma Vakf?). Could you tell us more about this foundation ?

    [73] DE: After this research was published, I came to the realization that we cannot solve this problem because it involved more than one side. There was an ignorance factor in defining the problem because only one side had defined it. Indeed, we had punished the Kurds for their unruly behaviour but had never listened to them. This one-way relationship was like a parent beating his or her children but not listening to why they cry. What we needed was a common definition of the problem: a common definition reached by both the Turks and the Kurds. Another necessity was to work out a list of negotiated solutions : what was possible and what ought to be done. Both of these points were very important but it needed an organizational set-up and financing to bring a selected experimental group from both sides to deliberate. However, I neither had the expertise in managing negotiations and facilitating conflict resolution sessions. Nor did I have access to the resources that could be used to bring together those representative Kurdish and Turkish vanguard groups. So I appealed to international organizations like the Search for Common Ground (SFCG) in the USA, and the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO).

    [74] The findings of the 1995 research were published both in Turkey and elsewhere. While many circles looked at it as a CIA plot, it was received as the first serious field work on the Kurdish problem that involved millions of people and the stability of both Europe and the Middle East. So it was really received very positively. Research results made me the centre of attraction as well. So when I called on international institutions to find a negotiated settlement to the problem, they took me seriously. The two institutions that I contacted sent their experts to discuss with me the modus operandi of how we should approach the problem.

    [75] Not only they brought their expertise, they also appealed to different international funders to put together a sizeable sum of money, which I do not know the amount of. Then we chose 7 Turks, 7 Kurds from different walks of life and professions. Among the Turks was a recently retired General for example - you know, you can do a lot of things outside the army, but not against the army in this country- so we had to know the limitations of the military mentality. We had a high ranking retired government official to get the feeling of the civilian bureaucracy. We had merchants on both sides, women on both sides, even ultra nationalists that hated each other’s guts at first sight. They couldn’t look eye to eye. But at the end of the year, after meeting in several places – Belgium, France, Switzerland and Turkey, we saw that the Kurdish nationalist and the Turkish nationalist were walking arm in arm at the Château near Brussels, we said there is light at the end of the tunnel. These were all confidential meetings for our peace of mind but not secret. We were determined not to give information to outside the group before we achieved something significant. Deliberations were full of tension at first. It broke off several times because of disagreement on terminology and unrealistic demands. But the facilitator was a very famous man from Harvard, Prof. Bill Ury, who is the author of ‘Getting to say yes’ and other conflict resolution masterpieces. Under William Ury’s able guidance, courageous and responsible men and women negotiated, deliberated, argued and reconciled. After tense sessions that went on for a year, they agreed on 70% of the things that they had discussed. Pleased with the results, the group said, ‘OK, what we have produced is a baby in the oxygen tent, let’s see if this baby can live on by itself. Let’s put on paper all these principles that we agreed on and call it the ‘Document of Mutual Understanding’, and carry it to the public to start a popular discourse. Our intention was to build consensus around it and to further enriching it through public debate. However, for this we needed an organizational instrument. That is how we came to the conclusion of founding TOSAV or the Foundation for the Research of Societal Problems. However, prior to doing this we have discussed whether the organization should be an association or a foundation. A foundation was found to be more legally secure and a little more independent from police scrutiny.

    [76] After founding TOSAV, we embarked on a challenging task of organizing regional meetings for almost three years. We proposed a multiple-year project to the EU that was accepted. So TOSAV started its civic adventure with an internationally backed initiative. To each meeting place, a major town in different regions of Turkey, we found local partners (opinion and community leaders) to whom we had sent the document and the things we agreed on for scrutiny. Thus they studied the material before the meeting and avoided repetition. New points were introduced, discussed and added to the original text after deliberations ended up in consensus.

    [77] This was not the only activity TOSAV carried on. It started realizing projects which were sponsored by other donors, like initiating a radio program with a large outreach called ‘Democracy Radio’. In this program a weekly issue was taken up, first discussed by invited experts, then opened to public debate through telephone call-ins. This project persevered for seven years. Lots of other civic projects were realized, especially directed to civil society capacity building and democracy training. The bulk of these were internationally funded. We were also publishing a bi-monthly journal called the ‘TOSAV Letter’ in both Turkish, Kurdish and English, and we were distributing it as part of the project.

    [78] The EU sponsored project ended in May 1999 with a last meeting held in Istanbul, to which we had invited the leaders of the non-Muslim communities as well. Our intention was to build a national consensus on an inclusive citizenship and the principles of a pluralist democracy, not a democracy built on merely Turkish-Kurdish reconciliation. At the end of all the regional meetings, we have published all the points that were agreed on in three languages. Unfortunately the authorities confiscated the Kurdish version. What happened was that we got the Turkish and the English out of the printing shop before the publisher himself informed the police. We immediately distributed the English and the Turkish versions of this historic document. Funny enough about a month ago or a month and a half ago, I received a letter from the prosecutor’s office, saying that you can get the document from the impounding or the confiscation office. This was in 1999, now we are in 2006. Seven years has passed to legalize Kurdish. It is no more a legal problem publishing in Kurdish. This is indication of our accomplishment. But at time of the confiscation, we were again summoned to the State Security Court, process that ended in the suspension of TOSAV. A part of us left TOSAV to its legal fate and immediately organized TOSAM or the Centre for the Research of Societal Problems (Toplumsal Sorular? Aras,t?rma Merkezi). TOSAM was founded as an association. [79] EJTS: Is TOSAM going on now?

    [80] DE: Look, you need creativity, you need vision as a NGO. When I went to the States to enjoy my fellowship award in September 2005, I told to my younger colleagues ‘to study the currents in the world, see what is in fashion, what is being sponsored by international organizations’ and so forth. I advised them to write and present projects and promised to help them in their endeavour. I believed that they would do so and get the necessary funds to carry on the projects they had put together. This did not happen. They have concluded what I left behind and depleted the funds on which the organization was running. Anyone familiar with project oriented civic organizations that each project starts in September and ends in June. For several years my younger colleagues at TOSAM had made a habit of lining up in front of my door to get a salary for July and August. For the sake of solidarity, I felt compelled to pay their salaries and all the other expenses of TOSAM out of my own pocket. The team started resembling government employees, expecting to get paid no matter what. So I told my comrades that I could not afford their sustenance and the organization’s expenses if they did not put their creativity to work and find funding. It was to no avail. So we had to close, we went bankrupt! Civic initiative needs commitment and creativity. We learned his lesson the hard way.

    [81] EJTS: Could we say that the creations of TOSAV and TOSAM reflect the difficulties to work on ‘sensitive’ issues within Turkish academic field?

    [82] DE: Yes, but we shifted our emphasis in TOSAM. TOSAV was the creation of a wish to get a mutual definition of the burning ‘Kurdish problem’, by both Turks and Kurds, and secondly searching for possible negotiated solutions. TOSAM shifted its emphasis into promoting democracy, democratic culture, and strengthening civil society. I am proud to say that we have realized many successful projects in that respect. While we made a taboo subject publicly debatable through TOSAV, we tried to promote culture of democracy, reconciliation, tolerance and so forth, and to build up the effectiveness of the civil society through TOSAM. One of the main projects that TOSAM participated in was a trans-Caucasian project bringing together Azeri, Armenian and Turkish NGOs in order to build trust, peace and stability in the Caucasus by way of cooperation among civil society organizations.

    [83] EJTS: How do you look at the works of Turkish scholars on the Kurdish issue? If there was no research on the subject before yours in 1995, did your report have an impact on the Turkish academic field? More generally, how do you look at the works of these Turkish academics in the 1990’s? Do you see any change, any evolution within academic circles?

    [84] DE: Yes, more people felt that they could analyse the subject. But fieldwork is quite different. Fieldwork is almost non-existent. There are fieldworks but it’s more cultural and anthropological than sociological and political. Fieldwork is limited to issues of women, fertility and so forth. But an overall political analysis in general is very scarce and it’s not based on field research. It’s more a learned analysis of things.

    [85] EJTS: What about Kemal Kiris,çi and Gareth Winrow’s work, published in 1997 What about Kemal Kiris,çi and Goreth Winrow’s work (1997), published in 1997?

    [86] DE: It is good work but their approach was from a legal point of view; I mean from the point of view of international law.

    [87] EJTS: What about the work of Ismail Bes,ikçi?

    [88] DE : He is the one who started all this. Unfortunately, Bes,ikçi was lost on the way. He was so severely abused and persecuted by the authorities that he lost his impartiality and became a party to the conflict. Few people could endure t He is the one who started all this. Unfortunately, Bes,ikçi was lost on the way. He was so severely abused and persecuted by the authorities that he lost his impartiality and became a party to the conflict. Few people could endure the harassment and decades long prison sentences. I do not blame him but we lost a courageous scientist along the way. So the academic world didn’t take his work as impartial and scientific. However let us give the credit that it was him who drew our attention to the Kurdish issue; not as the Kurdish problem on the onset but then as the ‘Eastern question’. But he was made to suffer so much that he lost his scientific position and became a defender of the Kurdish case. But I observed that he has recently distanced himself from his militant position into a more moderate one. This may be because he saw that the Kurds themselves, unfortunately, remained disunited and did not create the conditions of a peaceful solution but chose incessant fighting as a political position. So he may be equally disappointed with Kurdish militancy just as the Turkish establishment.

    [89] EJTS: So according to you, who are the academic figures who did create a breakthrough in the question? Mesut Yeg(en worked about the way different frames shape the saying of the Kurdish issue by the state. It affects the academic saying as well. So who are the academic actors working out of these frames and able to transform them?

    [90] DE: The problem with this is that, such research, although very valuable does not make its way to public knowledge and discourse. It remains an academic endeavour. There is nothing wrong with this of course. But one wishes that it reaches to wider media and shapes creative policies. I know Mesut Yeg(en in person and his work. He has analysed this deviation of Kurdish identity into ‘otherness’, by way of association with negative symbols like linking Kurdishness with Armenian ancestry. For example, Abdullah Öcalan has often been called the

    ‘Armenian sperm’. Unfortunately, what determines what is important or not is not in academic criteria in this country. It’s the press who carries the officially ‘suitable’ or appropriate view or values to public attention. If it doesn’t, no one really knows about it, except a handful of academics people. That’s the trouble in Turkey; the best of academic work either remains obscure or debased, without revealing its contents and consumed for political ends.

    [91] EJTS: So you are not so much hopeful about the evolution of political research within the academic circles?

    [92] DE: No. There is no bridge between the academia and politics in Turkey.

    [93] EJTS: Is academia itself changing?

    [94] DE: How can I say no. Like everything else, the academia is also changing but not to the better. This is an institutional statement. On the other hand there are very important private contributions. However, they are individual cases. That is why research has shifted to the NGO sector. Think tanks like TESEV is doing what the universities should be doing. That is a pity but universities have on the whole become extended lyceums.

    [95] Ironically, faculty deans receive an official document with a secret stamp on it, asking for research results pertaining to the ‘eastern question’. What a farce! If you do independent things, they won’t allow you. They don’t support you economically and what they want is information from you. What they want is to legitimise ongoing policies, legitimising ongoing policies meaning prolongation of military methods. So they don’t want anything novel from you, only endorsement of what the establishment is doing, and doing wrong.

    [96] EJTS: There is this interesting research program in Bog(azici, working on the transformation of conflict in Southeast. And I think the university endorses this, I don’t know exactly to which extent but…

    [97] DE: Very good. All that I can say is lots of success. Congratulations for those who have started and are running the program.

    [98] EJTS: Let’s come to the last survey. Why this new survey and why in 2005/06?

    [99] DE: Well this was important because Turkey had embarked on this long and arduous journey of EU membership. Turkey will change so much in such a short time that –of course provided that it stays the course and does not loose its resolve- we have to make sure that we have the necessary values to undergo such a drastic transformation. The Southeast is still a problematic region of Turkey. It is more traditional, less developed, poorer and less stable than the rest of the country. I wanted to find out whether the East would be able to go along with this fundamental challenge to change and to democratise or retard or even abort the process. It would also be nice to see the continuity between the 1995 and the 2005 reports, after a 10 year interval. Finding out what has changed in the East would be very enlightening. And, to my joy, I would say that the East is capable of supporting the expected democratic transformation of Turkey, provided that the potential it holds is utilized by the establishment.

    [100] EJTS: Could you detail some more the criteria along which you selected the provinces in the Southeast and in the West?

    [101] DE: We selected the towns we did because they are representative centres of the Kurdish community and culture in their respective region. Furthermore, they had been problem areas once upon a time while they are much more stable now. To find out what has changed was very important. I must admit some of our choices are somewhat subjective. For example, choosing Siirt over Mus, is a case in point. What I can say is that our chosen sites have been problem areas, heavy clashes had taken place there while there is tranquillity now. Why?must admit some of our choices are somewhat subjective. For example, choosing Siirt over Mus, is a case in point. What I can say is that our chosen sites have been problem areas, heavy clashes had taken place there while there is tranquillity now. Why? That question had to be answered. Secondly, accessibility was an important criterion. If you have limited time to travel there must be an airport either in that town or in the next place so that you can travel by car to the next place without too much difficulty.

    [102] EJTS: What about the western provinces?

    [103] DE: This was more deliberate in terms of our choice. Thrace had a different population texture, let’s say, because mostly migrants from the Balkans mainly populated it. In the Aegean region, Ayd?n possesses all the qualities of the region both economically and demographically. It is in the middle of the Agean region. And why Salihli was chosen in the province of Ayd?n is because the size of its population resembles the towns in eastern Anatolia, except Diyarbak?r.

    [104] EJTS: In 1994-1995 the selection of western provinces was based on the presence of Kurdish migrants there…

    [105] DE: Yes, Adana, Mersin and Antalya all had received heavy dozes of Kurdish migration. And they were close to the region of origin of the migrants.

    [106] EJTS: So this time the principle is completely different, isn’t it?

    [107] DE: Yes.

    [108] EJTS: You announced two axes organizing more generally the survey : traditionalism and religiousness on the one hand, the openness to democracy on the other. Was the religious variable present in the 1994-5 survey?

    [109] DE: Well, I asked questions about religion then too. I wanted to know how important religion was for the Kurds. And religion proved to be of little importance to them then. Kurdishness was much more important in defining their identity. In the 2005 research, religion seems to play a more important role in their self-perception. But the majority still does not want a regime based on religious principles.

    [110] EJTS: How did you come to these two main axes and articulate them?

    [111] DE: In fact my concern was to see whether traditionalism would inhibit democratic inclinations or not but it didn’t. Traditionalism is a fact of life there. They are trapped in a traditional society.

    [112] If a woman her free will, let us say sexually, they will kill her. Their family elders kill even forcefully defiled girls. But then when you ask whether they would vote for a woman, they say they would. It is pretty obvious that tradition is the prison that they are living in, that they are born into. But then, in principle, or down in their hearts they seem to accept equality with woman. But they cannot allow equality with woman in their present life. Have you been reading the papers recently? There is a girl who just got married. But before that, her elder sister’s husband raped her. She got pregnant. The family had her abortion and had her virginity repaired. Later, they got her married. Her husband returned her back to her family saying that she’s not a virgin. And the family acted in such a hypocritical way that they had their son, the girl’s brother, kill her because their honour was tarnished. They knew that it was her sister’s husband; they had her an abortion and so forth. But group/community pressure was overwhelm they bowed to tradition and killed their own daughter/sister. This is hypocrisy but also clash of values of a modern and non-modern world. They wanted to avoid the problem in a very expedient way by adopting modern ways (virginity operation, not disowning a dishonoured girl and trying to provide a respectable social status to her through marriage) but it didn’t work out. So they did what the tradition expected of them : cleansed their family honour with blood and killed the poor girl. This unfortunate event is a good proof of how these people are trapped in a traditional culture that victimizes its members. For when asked they say they have no objection for a woman to be a judge or Member of Parliament. They would even vote for a woman for Presidency. It’s incredible. So values and practices seem to be two different things. The contradiction we found out is indicative of the wish to break out of this prison of traditions. This is wonderful.

    [113] EJTS: A well-known difficulty of conducting such survey is linked to the imposition of the researcher’s perspective and categories on the interviewees, who in turn affect the interview situation, to some extent pre-empt the expectations of the interviewer and answer consequently. While answering questions about democracy, dictatorship and women rights for example, where do you think interviewees were drawing their categories from?

    [114] DE: We were providing the categories, not the interviewers. We had pre-prepared interview sheets that were economical in terms of the number of questions, bearing variables that were inter-connected.

    [115] EJTS: Isn’t it kind of imposition?

    [116] DE: Why? Every research instrument (interview sheet) has a certain logic because it has the aim of unearthing particular attitudes and values. Ours was no different. Secondly, members of our sample groups had the option not to answer. Furthermore, interviewees could ask reciprocal questions to the researchers and could get satisfying answers pertaining to the interview queries. In that sense, the interviewees felt quite free in attributing their own meaning to the questions.

    [117] EJTS: Then, how can you compare answers of people having different things in mind?

    [118] DE: No research result reveals standard answers. This is against the aim of field research. Answers could be very different from each other and they should be. Only then we can find out about the variance of opinion and inclination. Variance also shows that there was no feeling of imposition by the interviewees.

    [119] EJTS: Could your interviewees, looking at the survey’s categories, have been answering in conformity with what they suppose to be ‘western-minded’, ‘modern’ positions?

    [120] DE: No. When you asked them whether ‘this world’ (life) or the ‘other world’ (heavens) is important, the answers were very close to each other. The other world is also important for them, other world meaning after-life. So here you could see their sincerity in choosing a traditional value. They are not trying to be modern because we were questioning whether modern or not. We never gave them this impression. They didn’t know what they were questioned for anyway. So they were not directed into saying something other than they felt or thought; not at all.

    [121] EJTS: Were they answering considering the national scale, the regional scale (the ‘Southeast’) or something very local, linked to their everyday experience?

    [122] DE: We said that we were from the Ankara University and conducting a survey on democracy. We also said names were not involved and they could refuse to answer any or all the questions. So this was a voluntary undertaking. Many people thanked the visiting interviewers for asking these important questions and expressed their pleasure for choosing them to participate. Those who rejected altogether were very few. They were in their homes and felt comfortable in general. They had the impression that this was a local endeavour, at best regional. Interviewers were home boys and girls. Most people have never been asked such questions; they felt important and being a part of something bigger than themselves. They are very happy to be taken seriously, that their opinion was sought after. That is why they did not hesitate answering even the most sensitive questions like, ‘Would you endorse suicide bombing?’ None of them said, ‘We don’t want to answer this’. They felt at ease with the questions and the whole research effort that called on them.

    [123] EJTS: You said that the survey showed a great variety of answers. Would you use this in order to highlight the differences that exist between the provinces and within the provinces themselves, between different categories of people?

    [124] DE: Yes, but that variety did not point to a contradiction between opinions.. There were clear inclinations, and the variances did not obfuscate those clear and common inclinations. So we could say that the East could be economically backward, more traditional, more pious or more religious, age wise younger and so forth. But in terms of political values and political inclinations, they did not differ much from the West. This is very important you know. I was amazed myself. I did not expect that. The findings made me very hopeful for the future of Turkey.

    [125] EJTS: Did the survey show some specific articulations between the local political scene and local political attitudes, and the national ones?

    [126] DE: We didn’t ask any question related to that.

    [127] EJTS: But you asked questions about the participation to local and national elections and the trust they have in public institutions.

    [128] DE: Yes. But we surmised that in the East, there is more trust to elected officials. But this trust couldn’t be directed to the central government because in other answers, they made it clear that they don’t trust the government much. But they trust the elected officials; it must be the local ones, i.e. the mayors. But we did not ask any particular question to find out the difference of importance attributed to local elections and national elections.

    [129] EJTS: What is your next research project?

    [130] DE: Nothing immediate. I have done my share with pleasure in this matter. No one asked me to do what I did so far. It was all my own choice driven by civic responsibility and sense of academic duty. Of course I will not abandon the subject altogether. I will follow developments, make and share my assessments. But to conduct a research of this scale on the field is very hard. It requires funds, organization and support from local people and the central authority alike. I don’t think that I’d be able to do anything like this in the absence of this happy combination. But I will be definitely visiting the area, making observations and will write about my findings. But to conduct a research project like this requires putting so many things together and I could do it twice in ten years. Being brandished rather than hailed for your efforts is another setback for researchers. Few people who owe nothing to anyone can take on the challenge and the burden it brings along. Yet, I will go on for seeking solutions to the ‘Kurdish problem’. After all, this is our major headache and, without eradicating it, we cannot use our head to solve other problems. For example now there is a group called the Bar?s, Grubu, the Peace group. They have met in different towns seeking reconciliation and peaceful means to solve the problem. I attended their two conferences in Ankara and shared my views. They have good intensions but they do not have a clear agenda yet. In the two meetings I took part I said, ‘first of all you have to be clear about what you want to accomplish. Secondly you have to dissociate yourself from the PKK’. At times some of the participants are acting as if they are the spokesmen of this organization. I’m also talking with Leyla Zana and Orhan Dog(an, occasionally and sending messages to their entourage concerning non violent ways of conflict resolution and confidence building. In short, a research of this magnitude is very hard to do. I do not know whether I’ll be able to do such a thing in the near future but my interest in the problem, which is a Turkish problem, Turkey’s problem, will of course go on.

    [131] EJTS: You told about the Bar?s, Grubu, Leyla Zana and so forth; are they more receptive to the research results?

    [132] DE: I proposed DEP once upon a time to do the research that I did for TOBB. They went and asked the Big Brother. And the Big Brother said ‘no’. Today they are more interested but do not know how to utilize the findings except waiting for the ‘Big Brother’ to tell them what to do.
    References

    Türkiye’de Terör ve S,iddet Ergil, Dog(u (1980), Türkiye’de Terör ve S,iddet, Ankara, Turhan Kitabevi.

    Ergil, Dog(u (2006), ‘Results of a survey conducted in 2005 on democracy in Turkey’, published in this issue, European Journal of Turkish Studies, Thematic Issue N°5, Power, ideology, knowledge – deconstructing Kurdish Studies, URL : http://www.ejts.org/document769.html.

    Kiris,ci, Kemal; Winrow, Gareth (1997) The Kurdish Question and Turkey. An Example of a Trans-state Ethnic Conflict, London, Portland, Frank Cass.

    Türkiye Odalar ve Borsalar Birlig(i (1995) Dog(u Sorunu Tes,hisler ve Tesbitler, Özel Aras,t?rma Raporu, Stratejik Aras,t?rmalar Dizisi, TOBB Genel Yay?n, Istanbul.

    Yeg(en, Mesut (1999) Devlet Söyleminde Kürt Sorunu, Istanbul, I.letis,im.
    Notes
    1 Yal?m Erez became Minister of Industry and Trade in the coalition government formed between the DYP (True Path Party) and the AP (Motherland Party) after the December 1995 general elections.

    http://mbarchives.blogspot.com/2007/02/knowledge-is-potent-instrument-for.html

    2/5/07



    Cutting the Gordions Knot - Are the questions since 1915 going to be answered?

    The assassination of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has stimulated the debates about the minority rights in Turkey as well as the questions about facing the history regarding the year 1915.

    The recent news about the mass grave in Nusaybin, a town in the southeast region of Turkey, deepened the discussions not only between Armenians and Turks but also between the international community whose majority asks for the recognition of the “genocide” and the Turkish people who mostly perceive the happenings as a tragedy for both nations during the First World War and refer to the incidences as the displacement of Armenians.

    The genocide researcher Prof. David Gaunt from Södertörns University argued that these graves in Nusaybin town belong to Armenians and Suryanis and took up the topic to the Swedish Parlament. Following this, Prof. Yusuf Halaçog(lu, the head of the Turkish Historical Society addressed to Mr. Gaunt and other academics who are researching in this field, in that he suggested cooperated field work on the graveyards and to open up them together. Mr. Gaunt responded to this affirmatively whereas his conditions such as absolute freedom in his work, the allowance to interview those who have a knowledge about the graves, and the entrance to other mass graves around Mardin were also accepted by the Turkish Historical Society that is also willing to cover the expenses and needs of the researchers who will start their work in March. This project is going to be the first of his kind regarding the international cooperation, says Mr. Halaçog(lu. Prof. Yusuf Halaçog(lu also commented on the assassination of the Armenian Journalist Hrant Dink and referred to it as an important loss for Turkish society. Currently, the Turkish Historical Society expects the final reply from Mr. Gaunt and his colleagues who, in Halaçog(lu’s view, should apologise if the outcomes would show that the graves belong to neither Armenians nor Suryanis but Turkish people. Halaçog(lu finally stated that they would apologise if the researches support the hypothesis of Prof. Gaunt.

    The importance of this cooperation does not only lie in its international character but also in its possible outcomes. The lack of a mass grave is one of the mostly claimed points of the Turkish side against the Armenian arguments. In this view, there must be a mass grave for Armenians in the Eastern Turkey or in former Ottoman Syria’s territories who were displaced in 1915 if one is talking about genocide. In Turkish point of view, the hypothesis that most of the Armenians were killed on their way is also not very plausible since nevertheless there would have been a mass grave for so many people.

    In the last 20 years, there had been some field work on the graveyards led by the Turkish Historical Society and some universities like Erzurum Atatürk University. However, in these projects there was no Armenian researchers who refused the appeal of the Turkish Historical Society regarding the cooperation.

    Another crucial point in the research for the possible Armenian graves is with respect to the route of the displacement. The significant amount of Armenians who were directed to Syria-a province of the Ottoman Empire at that time- should, in Turkish point of view, indicate to the possibility of mass graves in Syria if there had been the genocide against Armenian people. Yet despite its possibility there has not been any opening up works in this region which, in Turkish perspective, strengthens the position that Armenians want to reach conclusions that are based on subjectivity.

    The expected cooperation in Mardin would probably reveal important results for both of the parties. On the other hand, one should not expect a quick resolution after the research on the mass grave. As the experience until today has demonstrated, no matter what the current debates are, there is one certain point in the whole debate about what happened in 1915. That it will continue for a long time…

    Irem GUNEY
    12 February 2007
    irem_guney@yahoo.com
    Journal of Turkish Weekly(JTW)

    2/12/07


    Closing The Barn Door After The Horses Are Out: Gul And The Armenian Claims

    If only we could have asked Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who said yesterday in Washington, DC "Preventing the passage of the Armenian genocide bill is the duty of the Turkish people, the government, civil society organizations, and intellectuals," where he had been up until now. For years now we have been saying, in this column, that books should be printed, international conferences should be held, films should be made, foreign student groups should be formed, and that we should abandon our defense strategy and move to full war mentality on this matter. Is there even one example which shows that Abdullah Gul, who has headed up our foreign policy now for four years, has listened to any of this?

    It is only now that it has become clear that the US Congress will pass a bill recognizing that "The Turks did commit genocide" that Gul decides to visit Washington and fire some salvos into the Congress.

    Pushing aside anything which has been written in this column or others on the matter, what about examples such as when Professor Justin McCarthy spoke before the Turkish Parliament, urging "Why don't you pass out the books that have been published on this question, the ones which are sitting in the depos of the ministries, so at least people can learn the basic theses of this matter." That too never happened.

    Maybe you have read about this in the newspapers. Recently, TIME magazine's European edition announced a decision not to amend the phrase "Turkish genocide" with any cautioning words. In fact, it even offered a free 52 minute DVD along with the up to 550 thousand magazines it sold across Europe, the DVD being a focus on the "genocide carried out by the Turks." In addition, it also announced that it was publishing a full page ad from Armenian sources free of charge. All of this, it turns out, in response to the fact that the Ankara Chamber of Commerce gave a paid-for ad and a DVD aiming at "promoting tourism to Turkey" which some then claimed aimed to "deny the genocide and trick people with lies."

    As you can see, some of the things we do just wind up making the situation messier. Because up until now, no one has stepped forward to coordinate this business for Turkey, neither the government, nor the Foreign Ministry in particular.

    Never mind the DVD business though. I wonder whether Abdullah Gul has even heard of the British Turkish Federation's move to have January 27 be made into a "Remembering our Slain Diplomats Day"? Both Mehmet Baydar and Bahadir Demir were two Turkish diplomats slain by the militant Armenian group ASALA.

    Oktay Eksi
    12 February 2007
    Hürriyet

    2/12/07


    Self-critique is a must for Armenians, too
    I read Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian's Feb. 7 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, entitled "Turkey misses its chance with Armenia," with great interest. It is indeed another magnificent example of distortion and of what I have actually been complaining about in my analyses of the subject in question.

    What Oskanian is obviously interested in is not sincere dialogue. Rather, he wants to exploit every single event in the "other" to prove himself right, particularly in the eyes of irrelevant third parties, without looking, as we put it in Turkish, at how things are in his own backyard.

    Let's clarify what I mean within the framework of Oskanian's own arguments.

    "Ankara has let a rare moment pass," wrote Oskanian. It appears "the Turkish authorities have grasped neither the message of Hrant's life nor the significance of his death." Subsequent to Dink's assassination last month, people in Armenia believed, "the outpouring of public grief would create a crack in the Turkish wall of denial and rejection." Actually, Dink knew "that if the authorities would just allow people to reflect and reason aloud, share questions and search for answers, everything would fall into place." Eventually, "through public and private discourse, Turks would arrive at genocide recognition themselves." The Turkish authorities, in turn, "continue to defend Article 301, the notorious 'insulting Turkishness' statute used to prosecute even novelists who depict characters questioning Ankara's official line on the genocide." In such an atmosphere, the Turks "can neither know their past nor forge their future."

    What the Turkish authorities have supposedly also failed to do is initiate a radical shift in the policies that sustain today's dead-end situation between both countries. People in Armenia, Oskanian wrote, assumed that Dink's assassination would finally enable both sides to arrive at an El Dorado-like rapprochement, "one which is not a precondition for the other." Moreover, "the hermetically closed border," a phenomenon which reinforces animosities between the two peoples, would eventually be opened. The Turkish authorities, however, still stubbornly insist "on maintaining the last closed border in Europe as a tool to exert pressure on Armenia, to make its foreign policy more pliant, to punish Armenians for defending their rights and not renouncing their past."

    Actually, the first part of Oskanian's arguments is little different from what is assumed in the West as well. It is based on an extremely naive and misleading portrait of an authoritarian state in Turkey, a kind of Orwellian big brother, preventing the Turkish people from doing what they are normally expected to do. And it is precisely for this reason that Oskanian maintained, "If Turkey can't seize the moment, it should not be surprised when others do."

    Let's assume that this line of thinking is indeed correct. But what about Armenia? At a time when the Turkish people are widely believed to be suffering from a state of suppression, how is the situation there, in the "backyard" of our Armenian friends? Can the Armenian people know their past and forge their future?

    The first enigma of grave importance we have to elaborate on in this respect is the extent of democracy in Armenia.

    In the spring of last year, Professor Richard G. Hovannisian, a renowned American academic of Armenian descent and a zealous supporter of the Armenian genocide claims, is reported to have argued that Armenia is a less democratic state than Turkey. "We would have loved to see freedom of speech and thought in Armenia, instead of repression, secret police persecution and lies spread by the state media," he then added. I'm not sure whether this attracted any public attention at the time. But I guess it hasn't, because just recently I read another declaration, this time however on the Internet, by Armenian intellectuals who have been subjected to political persecution in post-Soviet Armenia.

    "Armenia is one of those post-Soviet independent republics where tyranny keeps hardening, tending to transform into dictatorship," reads this declaration. "Over the past few years the Armenian mass media has been actively covering issues related to foreign writers who speak against existing taboos in their countries, especially Turkey. Unfortunately, with negligent but respectful exceptions, the intellectuals who try to overcome taboos in the Armenian reality are neglected altogether. Such hypocrisy is acquiescence to the persecution of writers and a case of complicity with the junta." More importantly, the Armenian intellectuals warn that they are "concerned with the attitude of certain political organizations towards those who practice free speech and generate new ideas in the Armenian reality."

    Given this backdrop, there is nothing left but to ask Mr. Oskanian whether these accusations sound familiar to him. Whether they resemble those that he vividly exploits to accuse Turkey and the Turkish authorities… Whether the beloved Armenian people today are able to know their past and forge their future… Whether, under the current circumstances, our Armenian friends are indeed able to reconcile themselves with their past, or if have they been forced into a state of denial and blindly convincing themselves they are only victims without any guilt… Whether relations with Turkey are healthily discussed among the Armenian public…

    Yes, the settlement of the Armenian-Turkish dispute is indeed imperative. However, any resolution should be based on ethics but not politics with cunning motives. There is an urgent need for empathy, but the parliamentary resolutions our Armenian friends like Oskanian are keen on will merely justify respective standpoints, further closing doors to dialogue. And distorting the facts will eventually backfire on those responsible for their fabrication.

    And finally, a few words on Oskanian's second area of argument, revolving around the border issue: Oskanian claims that the border is used by Turkey as an effective tool to exert pressure on Armenia. A brilliant example of distortion! The exact reason Turkey keeps the border closed is the occupation of Azeri territories by Armenia. I am frequently asked why Turkey insists on supporting Azerbaijan and why Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh are mortgaging Turkey's policy options. Wouldn't it be more realistic to open the borders with Armenia, at a time when Turkey is aspiring to become a member of the European Union? I encounter such questions very frequently, but find them rather naive. It's like asking the U.S. why it supports Israel. Each time when this question is posed to me by somebody from the West, I respond that precisely for the same reason that the West supports Armenia against Turkey, Turkey supports and will support Azerbaijan against Armenia.

    Has anyone from those Western circles which consistently exert pressure on Turkey to open its borders with Armenia, on the other hand, ever seen the miserable living conditions of the gackins, the Azeri refugees from Armenian-occupied lands, for the last 15 years? If this is indeed a pure matter of ethics, especially for those in the European Parliament or the U.S. Congress, why don't you show the same sensitivity? Why don't you help the Armenian public foster conditions in which taboos such as the "occupation" or "Greater Armenia" can be discussed freely? Why don't you help the Armenian intellectuals as well?

    Reconciliation doesn't and shouldn't mean alienation! For me, at least, it will never be …

    Cem Oguz
    ccem@bilkent.edu.tr
    13 February 2007
    TNA

    2/13/07


    Sukru Elekdag: Turkey should stop flights to Yerevan, ban indirect trade & deport Armenians from country

    “I was Turkish ambassador to the US and therefore, I'm well-informed of the situation. The strongest lobby in Washington is the US government,” . . Sukru Elekdag, former head of Foreign Ministry Executive Office, Deputy of CHP (Republic and People Party), and former Turkish Ambassador to the US told the APA’s Turkey bureau exclusively. He said that Bush administration is able to impede the resolution on recognition of alleged Armenian genocide.

    “If President Bush writes to the chairman of the House of Representatives that “Turkey is our strategic ally.

    America’s national interest makes it necessary to cooperate with our ally. If the House of Representatives approves the resolution on the “genocide”, it will harm our relations with Turkey. It will damage America’s image. In this case, Turkey will not cooperate with us, and Ankara will severely react to this resolution. Turkish people approach the problem very sensitively. Therefore we should not approve the resolution taking into account the US’s national interests,” I think Democrat Party congressmen will take it into consideration. Bush should only express his position strongly and stress Turkey’s importance. Otherwise nothing will come out of it,” he said.

    Mr. Elekdag said that Turkey is not pessimistic about democrats’ gaining majority in the Congress.

    “Turkish parliamentarians should visit the US and establish relations with Democrat Party MPs. We have much to tell democrat congressmen. They also stood against Bush’s starting war in Iraq. The US cannot find a way out of the impasse caused by this war. Our parliament was also against this war, and we, members of Turkish National Grand Assembly, were more courageous than the US democrats and expressed stricter reaction against war plans in Iraq. We will remind it to them in the US,” he said.

    Mr. Elekdag said not all democrat congressmen are against Turkey.

    “Most of them support us. We will meet with them and explain how the resolution on the alleged Armenian genocide will harm the relations with Turkey,” he said.

    The former diplomat noted that the Turkish government and Foreign Ministry have a mistake on one point.
    “They used to say Armenian Diaspora in the US is strong and it supports all bills. But this is not so. After Armenia became independent, Yerevan governs the country’s foreign policy, and Armenian ambassador to the US directs everything. Therefore we should review our policy on Armenia. We have changed our policy towards Armenia at the request of the US and European Union. After Armenians occupied Azerbaijan’s lands, Turkey imposed an embargo on Armenia. This event terribly oppressed Armenia, and Turkey mitigated embargo because of the US and EU pressures. What is the result? Armenia tries to damage Turkey’s image by all means but notwithstanding this, six Armenian planes land in Istanbul airport every week. Armenians, who come to Istanbul, earn their living by “case trade”- they need it very much. Turkey’s products are transported to Armenia via Georgia and Iran. Nearly 70, 000 Armenians live illegally in Turkey. Turkey should exert pressures on Armenia; firstly, it should stop these flights, ban indirect trade and deport 70,000 Armenians from the country. Armenia should bear in mind that they will get response policy in any case of its attempt,” Shukru Elekdag said.

    He also said it is not possible to succeed in the struggle against the false Armenian genocide claims by cooperating with the US government only.

    “It is necessary to meet with the parliamentarians and senators individually in the congress. I met with 145 parliamentarians within three months in 1984. I was called a “man casting anchor in the Congress”. Greek lobby tried to adopt “Persona non grata” decision against me. This document was signed by 90 parliamentarians, but they could not achieve to banish me from US. I trust in our counterparts in US, but we have missed our train a little bit. When I was ambassador, 69 scientists signed adopted a declaration denouncing the false genocide claims. Then Armenians threatened those people warning them against any declaration. As far as you know, Armenians committed terrors and murdered our diplomats. And now they commit academic terror. Armenians murder those who refuse to write what they demand concerning this issue” he underlined.

    Shukru Elekdag highly appreciated the visit of the chief of Turkish Armed Forces General Staff to the US.

    “I was the ambassador of Turkey to the US for ten years. But it is first time that I come across such a situation. The chief committee for foreign relations of House of Representatives Tom Lantos said that he wants to meet with Yashar Boyukanit when Turkish official was visiting the US. American politicians never meet with military men and commander-in-chiefs of foreign countries. But Tom Lantos wanted to meet. I am sure that Yashar Boyukanit will demonstrate himself as an experienced diplomat and explain the problems in a right way,” he concluded.

    APA
    13 Feb 2007

    2/13/07



    If I were the foreign minister . . .
    I do not know what Mr Gül told his interlocutors at the US Congress recently while in Washington. But if I were him, all of this and much more is what I would have said

    The following commentary appeared in my column in daily Milliyet a few days ago. I am translating it here due to popular demand. Many of my Turkish readers, some influential people among them, said this would be a good idea. So here goes:

    I put myself in the place of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül the other day and wondered what I would have said in the U.S. Congress when pro-Armenian congressmen put Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan's article in the Los Angeles Times – in which he bemoans how Turkey lost an opportunity for dialogue with Armenia after Hrant Dink's murder – in front of me.

    I decided that what I would have said is probably something like the following.

    “Gentlemen, you are referring to lost opportunities. Just look at the real world and see what is happening there. While you are taxing me here over things that happened a century ago, a very important agreement is being signed at this very moment in Tbilisi for a railway project that will join Europe and the Far East. Armenia, however, is not part of this project. You tried to prevent this project by adopting certain bills against it in this House. So what happened?

    “In the same way Caspian oil reaches the world today through Turkey, the route by which it is does so also bypasses Armenia. You tried hard to prevent that project too, but failed. To understand how bad these developments are for Armenia, you should follow the Armenian media rather than the Los Angeles Times.

    “In the meantime, while the Armenians of America, from who you clearly expect to reap political benefits, are living comfortably here in the United States, anything up to 70,000 Armenians from Armenia find themselves having to work in Turkey – where they meet no trouble – in order to scrape a minimum standard of living.

    “In the meantime do not forget that recent opinion polls conducted by Armenian institutions show that genocide recognition is the last thing on the minds of average Armenians in Armenia. In other words, Armenia today is living under great economic difficulties and suffering the adverse effects of being cut off and isolated from the world.

    “It is clear that as long as its government continues to rely fruitlessly on you and refuses to come to a common understanding with Turkey on how to proceed in developing bilateral ties, this adverse situation will continue.

    “On the other hand, the tens of thousands who attended the funeral of the murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink should have shown you that there are scores of people in Turkey who are prepared to look on the events of 1915 from a position of empathy.

    “Besides, are not those names you never drop from your lips – names such as Elif S,afak, Orhan Pamuk, Halik Berktay, Taner Akçam, Murat Belge and Hasan Cemal to mention just a few – themselves Turkish after all?

    “What advantage do you hope to reap, therefore, from playing into the hands of ultra-nationalist diaspora Dashnaks, which in turn agitates the worst ultra-nationalist elements in Turkey and makes matters worse than they already are?

    “Besides, does the ‘American way of life' that you are all so proud of not require as a minimum standard of decency that one listen to all the sides in a dispute? This being the case, what could be more reasonable that Turkey's request that a commission of historians, from Turkey and Armenia as well as other countries, look into the events of 1915 in order to come to a common understanding?

    “If you insist, on the other hand, that ‘history has spoken on this topic,' and not all historians would agree with you, then are we to throw the views of important historians such as Bernard Lewis – who are also admired in this country where they have received many awards – into the garbage can?

    “On the other hand do you not see that Armenia's refusal to accept a commission of historians, wanting instead a political commission, hint at a specific agenda beyond the moral one of genocide recognition?

    “Given all that I have said here, are you sure you have properly assessed the consequences of the step you are about to take – concerning the Armenian resolution in Congress – which is bound not only to strain Turkish-U.S. relations, but also Turkish-Armenian relations further.”

    I am not the foreign minister and do not know what Mr. Gül told his interlocutors at the U.S. Congress recently while in Washington. But if I were him, all of this and much more is what I would have said.

    SEMIH I.DI.Z
    February 15, 2007

    2/15/07



    Armenian diaspora invited to church opening
    urkey has invited members of the Armenian diaspora and Armenian religious leaders to the opening of a restored ancient Armenian church in April.

    The Akhtamar Church on an island off the southern shore of lake Van in eastern Anatolia is expected to be opened on April 15 after completion of an ongoing renovation. Turkey has already spent YTL 3 million (nearly $2 million) to restore the church.

    "We repair the houses of worship of not only monotheistic but also polytheistic religions," said the minister. "We consider them our inherited legacy. … We consider them as our wealth."
    Koç's Tourism Ministry has already invited important figures from the Armenian diaspora and leading Armenian religious leaders and it plans to extend invitations to the culture minister of Armenia and countries that host significant Armenian population at home, such as Lebanon, Ukraine, Russia and the United States. "We will host 200 distinguished guests," he told. The guests will be taken to Van on airplanes chartered from Turkish Airlines. The 10th-century church fell into near ruin during the events of the World War I years, which Armenians say amounted to genocide of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire. Turkey categorically denies these claims.
    Though Koç says the renovation is out of respect for Turkey's cultural inheritance, opening of the renewed Akhtamar Church may come as a further incentive to ease acrimony between Turks and Armenians after a funeral for slain journalist Hrant Dink in I.stanbul, which drew 100,000 people raising banners that read "we are all Armenians."

    What was the cost to restore Akhtamar Church?

    We spent YTL 3 million on restoration. The old mosques in Anatolia are restored by the Foundations General Directorate, while churches and synagogues are restored by our ministry. Our restoration projects are not limited to temples of the three monotheistic religions. Places considered sacred by polytheistic religions have also been restored. With respect to restoration, Turkey has turned into a worksite.

    How many churches and synagogues were restored?

    Between 2005 and 2006 we restored 10 churches. These restoration projects include Giresun's Virgin Mary Monastery, Kars' Ani S,ehir, Karaman's Çameli Church, Ürgüp's Mustafa Pas,a Aya Nikola Monastery, Trabzon's Sümela Monastery, Trabzon's Hagia Sophia Museum, Akhtamar Church in Van, the ancient church in Akdag(madeni, the Armenian church in Amasya's Merzifon district and Kars' Tigran Honest Church.

    Will there be other projects related to Armenian structures?

    We will launch the restoration of the Ani ruins in Kars. Ani has some interesting characteristics. There are eight mosques and eight churches. Their dates of construction are parallel. Muslims and Christians have lived in the same neighborhood in peace for years.

    For the first time, you have invited representatives of the Armenian diaspora. Who else are you planning to invite?

    We have invited the culture ministers of EU countries. We will also invite the culture ministers from Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, Georgia, the US and Canada, which have significant Armenian populations. We have invited important figures from the Armenian diaspora, Armenian religious leaders and representatives from cultural organizations. We will host 200 distinguished guests.

    Some argue that the restoration on Akhtamar and Ani is a counter move against the Armenian genocide claims. What would you say?

    No, it has nothing to do with the genocide claims. We repair the houses of worship of not only monotheistic but also polytheistic religions. We consider them as our inherited legacy. These lands have seen hundreds of nations and governments. We attend to all of their legacies. There are more than 600 compositions in this cultural blend. These composers include Armenians, Jews and Greeks. We consider them our wealth.

    Has Turkey turned into a cheap tourism paradise due to package tours and high participation by Russian tourists?

    These statements are without merit. The phrase "cheap tourism" makes no sense. Will those Russian tourists pay more if they go to Egypt? As long as the sea-sand-sun mindset is dominant in the Mediterranean, you have no choice but to arrange package tours.

    In connection with the Varyag, you were expecting 1 million tourists from China. Have your expectations been fulfilled?

    This is empty talk. No government can make promises about sending tourists. Tourists go wherever they want. You cannot force them to visit a particular country, can you? For Chinese tourists, we have the "Eight days for 8888 yuan" campaign. Last year, China sent 32 million tourists to various countries. We are planning to attract only 300,000 of them. We have no ambitions to attract 1 million tourists.

    The number of American tourists declined after March 1, 2003, when the Turkish Parliament rejected a government motion to militarily cooperate with the United States on Iraq. What are the figures for this year?

    After Sept. 11, for the first time, 500,000 American tourists visited Turkey. American tourists tend to spend more money. I hope there will be an increase in this figure.

    Do you think that the pope's visit to Turkey will boast faith-based tourism?

    The pope's visit to Turkey was an important event. It will have indirect effects on tourism. It would be too far-fetched to argue that Christians will show more interest in this country due to the pope's visit. Faith-based tourism is not a widely accepted concept. Only Muslims' pilgrimage to Mecca can be considered as such. Yet the number of tourists going there is about 5 or 7 million. Nevertheless, we are still trying to attract 23 million tourists to Turkey.

    The ministry is preparing an inventory of our cultural assets, but we saw that museums were robbed.

    We have prepared an inventory of our cultural assets. If you do not prepare an inventory, you will never know whether or not you have been robbed. To find out if any historical piece has been stolen or not, we must resort to the inventories or we must conduct inspections. The last inspection at the Afrodisias museum was conducted in 1955. Museums were once under the jurisdiction of the Education Ministry, and the education minister would appoint teachers to tend to the museums. We do not even know if the objects registered by them from museums are real or not. Now we have a chance to discriminate between false and real objects as well as to identify what has been stolen.

    Thanks to the movie "The Mummy," Egypt attracted a lot of attention. Why has Turkey failed to produce such a film, even though it has a richer historical heritage?

    When asked, everybody will say they want to visit the Pyramids. Although everybody longs to go to Egypt, they will not go there for a second time since nobody wants to visit Egypt twice. On the other hand, there are tourists from Russia, the US and Europe who have visited Turkey for five or six times. Tourists visiting Turkey are intent on coming again. Annually, 5 or 6 million tourists visit Egypt. Turkey, on the other hand, was host to 20 million tourists last year.

    17.02.2007
    ERCAN YAVUZ, ALI. ASLAN KILIÇ ANKARA
    Zaman

    2/18/07


    Pianist Rüya Taner: An artist without a country
    Rüya Taner is a member of Association des Artistes Pour La Paix – ADAP (Association of Artists for Peace), founded by prominent Turkish pianist Hüseyin Sermest in France in collaboration with Armenian artists Marc Buker and Ara Ç?nar. .The association brings together artists from many of the world's countries in conflict and organizes concerts. Rüya Taner’s partnering country is Greek Cyprus

    Pianist Rüya Taner, art consultant to the Turkish Cyprus President Mehmet Ali Talat, was one of the beneficiaries of the special Turkish law on “wonder kids,” which gave the opportunity to talented children to be educated abroad. Taner was 10 when she left her home in Turkish Cyprus to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in England. Saying that “Turkey is my reason for existence,” Taner added, “If Turkey did not exist, I could not either.”

    Saying she has encountered issues due to the lack of acknowledgement of Turkish Cyprus in the international arena, Taner complained, “Ever since I was a kid, people have acted as if I do not belong to a geography.”

    Receiving invitations from numerous festivals and competitions, Taner explains she was excluded from many festivals and competitions at the last minute as she was considered “stateless.” Encountering the limits of the Greek lobby during rehearsals and concerts, Taner explains she was frequently asked to enter contests and festivals representing “Cyprus” but that she has declined this, saying she had a country of her own.

    Taner is a member of Association des Artistes Pour La Paix (ADAP, Association of Artists for Peace), founded by prominent Turkish pianist Hüseyin Sermest in France in collaboration with Armenian artists Marc Buker and Ara Ç?nar. The association brings together artists from many of the world's countries in conflict and organizes concerts. Taner's partnering country is the Greek Cyprus.

    The Turkish Daily News and Referans spoke to Taner about the island she calls home in the east Mediterranean, the considerable problems it creates in the political arena, its reflections on art, its identity and opinions on Turkey.

    Taner is the daughter of Y?lmaz Taner, the art consultant of Turkish Cyprus's first president, Rauf Raif Denktas,. She was a pupil of distinguished Turkish pianists and piano tutors Mithat Fenmen and Tulga Cengiz at the Ankara State Conservatory between 1982 and 1983. She studied under Professor Joan Havill in England's Guildhall School of Music and Drama, for which she earned a scholarship. Taner completed her master's degree in 1994 and received the Premier Prix, a prize given to only the very best students.

    Taner mentioned the difficulties of living on an island. She added that the political dilemmas only added to those difficulties and affect artists negatively, just as it does the all Turkish Cypriots. Saying that there is only a state orchestra in Turkish Cyprus, Taner asked: “What sort of a work can be executed as a soloist in a five-member orchestra?” She explained that this is why she tries to make her motherland known in the world by traveling with her music.

    Trials and tribulations:
    Taner explained that whereas she has won awards in England, she encountered many problems when her Turkish Cypriot citizenship enters the picture.

    Ever since childhood, Taner's biggest desire was to participate in the BBC Young Pianists Contest. However, she could not realize this desire because of her citizenship. Stating that she was pulled out of other competitions at the last minute, Taner said, “I am not Greek. It is my natural right to represent my own country… During those years, no one knew where the island Cyprus was, let alone about Turkish Cyprus. However, when the issue became political, everything changed…”

    When invited to Azerbaijan during the term of Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Y?lmaz, she was faced with objection by the Greek Embassy, the ambassador tried to prevent her from taking the stage, arguing “You cannot have an artist from an unrecognized country perform in front of President Haydar Aliyev.”

    Taner recalled how she was dragged from the stage by a 40-50-strong Greek crowd while rehearsing before a concert in France at which she would be representing UNESCO, saying ruefully, “This was a wearisome situation for an artist.”

    Explaining that when Greek Cyprus became a member of the European Union, the number of problems experienced by the Turkish Cyprus increased, Taner is optimistic that the general approach taken toward Turkish Cyprus has become more moderate in the recent years. Taner carries two passports – one from the Turkish Republic and one from Turkish Cyprus. She recalls how hurt she was when a U.K. passport official pushed aside her Turkish Cyprus passport, saying it was invalid anywhere in the world except for Turkey.

    Awards and accolades:
    Despite her troubles path towards professional success, Taner still received many awards. Besides the Mozart Award and Liszt Interpretation Award, Taner won a Steinway piano in a contest in north London, receiving the title “Steinway Artist.”

    Taner is the art consultant for the International Bellapais Music Festival in Turkish Cyprus, where her father Y?lmaz Taner is the head of committee. Artists around the globe attend the festival each year. This year's festival features the well-known French pianist Pascal Roge.

    February 17, 2007
    VERCI.HAN ZI.FLI.OG(LU
    ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News


    2/18/07


    What to do about the ‘genocide’resolutions

    The adoption of the “Armenian genocide” resolution by the Congress and its joining the long list of parliaments that have taken similar decisions will surely not prove the truth of the allegations.

    And responsibility for the tragedy that befell the Armenians in 1915 surely does not rest with the Turkish people but with the CUP (Committee for Union and Progress) dictators [the triumvirate of Talaat, Enver, and Djemal] who took the decision to force the deportation of the Armenians with the approval of their German allies. It is certain, however, that the growing number of parliamentary resolutions, films and documentaries about the “Armenian genocide” have damaged Turkey’s image in the world and are fanning feelings of animosity towards Turks. What to do to avert the spread of the genocide resolutions is therefore the topic of a broadening debate in Turkey.

    The late President Turgut Özal was the first to raise the question: “What if we recognize the genocide?” back in 1991. Such recognition, however, is out of question. Even those great majority of those Turks who have a sufficient amount of knowledge about what happened to the Ottoman Armenians -- believe that the Turkish government should, in one way or another, express its sorrow over the tragedy, suggesting the erection of a monument in the memory of Turks and Armenians who lost their lives during the First World War -- do not agree with the allegation that the Ottoman government’s decision for forced deportation was taken with the intention of genocide.

    The initiative put forward by the ruling Justice and Development Party government in April 2005 was to propose, to the government of Armenia, the forming of a Joint Historians Commission to investigate the historical truth about what happened in Ottoman Turkey in 1915. The government of Armenia responded negatively, saying that there was no need for any investigation since the historical truth had already been established, and that it was impossible for two countries which do not even have diplomatic relations to form a joint commission. Despite that, the Armenian government has been repeatedly calling for the normalization of relations between the two countries without any preconditions.

    Two retired diplomats, S,ükrü Elekdag(, a Parliament member from the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, and Gündüz Aktan have suggested that Turkey should seek international adjudication or arbitration to settle the issue once and for all (see Gündüz Aktan, Radikal, 18.11.06 and 13.02.07). Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül has also indicated that the government was considering the idea. It has been warned, however, that this would mean Turkish government’s consent to the application of the UN Genocide Convention of 1948 to events prior to its conclusion, risking the possibility of a negative decision with undesirable consequences for Turkey (See: I.lter Türkmen, former minister of foreign affairs, Hürriyet, 20.11.06). Others argue against the above suggestion saying that republican Turkey cannot and should not assume responsibility for the decisions of the Ottoman state. It seems, therefore, unlikely that the Turkish government would seek international adjudication or arbitration on the issue.

    The initiative that has been supported by at least part of public opinion and civil society since the 1990s, which I also subscribe to, is the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ankara and Yerevan and the opening of the borders between the two countries which have been closed since 1993. This is expected to put an end to the domination of the relationship between Turkey and Armenia by the Armenian diaspora, and open the way for the Turkish - Armenian reconciliation.

    The person who has called for such an initiative most forcefully is Kaan Soyak, co-chairman of the nongovernmental Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council. Soyak argues that “if Turkey approaches Armenia with the intention of normalizing relations, Armenian authorities are ready to agree to Ankara’s suggestion for the forming of a joint historians commission, to recognize the current border between Turkey and Armenia, and to withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh following the guaranteeing of the security of Armenians of the region in the context of the Minsk process with the participation of Turkey…” Soyak, moreover, claims that “Yerevan is prepared to even stop supporting genocide resolutions in various parliaments if Turkey takes such an initiative.” (See: Yasemin Çongar, Milliyet, 08.01.07)

    It may be assumed that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government which is pursuing a policy of “zero problems with our neighbors” is not cold towards normalization of relations with Armenia. It is possible that the Turkish government is waiting for steps to be taken towards the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and the start of withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azeri territories. Let us hope that coming months are prone to such developments.
    19.02.2007

    SAHIN ALPAY s.alpay@todayszaman.com

    2/19/07


    Turks want closer ties with Armenia & Kocharian offers joint committee

    Study shows Turks want closer ties with Armenia
    ANKARA - TDN
    February 20, 2007
    A recent poll conducted among Turkish citizens in 27 provinces shows that while there are many social divisions in the country, with many voicing their objection to the slogans at the funeral of journalist Dink, around support closer ties with Yereven and the opening of the border with Armenia

    Turkey's political and social divisions and established stances are not an impediment to fostering better relations with neighbors, no matter how poisoned they are, a new survey has found.

    The Metropoll Strategic and Social Research Center's February poll on Turkish politics once again showed the evident divisions in the political scene, but also noted the significant social contradictions that may help to better understand recent developments. The poll was conducted among 2,403 people in 27 provinces between Feb. 1 and 11.

    Journalist Hrant Dink, who was a member of the Armenian minority and the editor-in-chief of Armenian weekly AGOS, was murdered on Jan. 19 by Ogün Samast, 17, for writing remarks in one of his columns perceived by some nationalist groups as insulting. Dink received a suspended six-month jail term for violating Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).

    Huge crowds turned up at Dink's funeral carrying placards that said, “We are all Armenians” and “We are all Hrant Dink.” There have been many criticisms of the slogans from far-right groups, but the poll reflects that their stance reflects the general attitude of the Turkish public.

    The study showed that both slogans were considered objectionable by ordinary Turks, with 86 percent objecting to “We are all Armenians” and 67 percent opposing “We are all Hrant Dink.” Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) leader Ufuk Uras, when asked to comment on the findings, said that while they may seem contradictory, he saw them as encouraging. He said the objection to the slogans was

    more the product of the nationwide anti-propaganda against the show of sympathy during the funeral, rather than the true opinions of the public.

    Questioned on Dink's murder, 68.9 percent believed it was definitely committed by a criminal organization.

    However, when it came to relations with Armenia, 47.5 percent of Turks wanted improved political and economic relations with the country, with only 16.6 wanting total severance of relations. The same holds true on the issue of the opening of the border to Armenia, with 47.8 percent supporting the idea.

    The tense relations between Turkey and Armenia may not reflect the actual attitude of the country, but instead represents the stance taken by the strong Armenian diaspora overseas, Turkish Daily News columnist Semih I.diz suggested in his column last Thursday.

    I.diz noted that while the hard-line nationalist mentality continues to prevail in Yerevan, mostly due to the promptings of the Armenian diaspora, if Turkey made positive gestures to the country to improve the daily lives of Armenians, their perception would truly change. “Surely there are sound minds in Yerevan that … desire a different kind of understanding if relations with Turkey are to open up in ways that really make a difference for Armenia.”

    Bilgi University Cultural Studies Post-Graduate Program Director Bülent Somay said the opening of the border with Armenia was also something some far-right nationalists from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) wanted. “While the figures may seem encouraging, they are not” he said.

    Turks are happy:
    The study showed that despite the political tension and economic hardship, Turks are generally a happy people, with 58 percent describing themselves as either happy or very happy.

    Those who said they definitely were not happy represented only 18.3 percent of those polled.

    Who should become president?:
    The poll showed that 50.3 percent had no idea who should become Turkey's next president, just two months before the presidential election process is set to begin, however, on the presidential aspirations of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog(an, more than half, 57.3 percent, said they did not want him to become the next president and only 15.8 percent supported Erdog(an's presidency.

    Gül seen as number two:
    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, seen by many as the one who would take over as prime minister if Erdog(an runs for president, was seen as the most likely candidate for prime minister. Among respondents 55.8 percent said Gül would become the prime minister if Erdog(an became the president, but interestingly 24.3 percent saw him as a possible presidential candidate, almost 10 percent more support than that shown for Erdog(an's candidacy.

    Politics changes little in five years:
    The poll also asked who would they vote for if the national elections, scheduled to take place later this year, were held today. In the Nov. 3, 2002 elections, only Erdog(an's Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Republican People's Party (CHP) received enough votes to pass the 10 percent election threshold to win seats in Parliament.

    According to the Metropoll study, in the five years since the last elections, almost nothing has changed, with AKP and CHP receiving slightly fewer votes than they received before but no other political party passing the barrier for Parliament representation.

    The study said AKP would receive 30.3 percent and CHP would receive 14.2 percent of the national votes, with 9.1 undecided and 10.1 deciding not to vote if the elections were held today.

    Metropoll was established in 2004, with the founder, Professor Özer Sencar, being a former Tokat Gaziosmanpas,a University dean and deputy rector. Metropoll is an independent company that carried out polls for municipalities, political parties, banks and universities in the past.



    Report: Armenian president offers to set up joint committee
    February 20, 2007
    PARIS - Associated Press
    Armenian President Robert Kocharian renewed his offer to establish diplomatic ties with Turkey and proposed setting up a joint government commission to discuss sensitive issues, a French newspaper said on Monday.

    Kocharian, interviewed by Le Figaro newspaper during a visit to France, was asked why his country had refused Turkey's offer to form a joint research committee to discuss the World War I-era killings of Armenians, which Armenia considers genocide.

    "Normalization of bilateral relations is up to governments, not historians," Kocharian was quoted as saying.

    "That's why we are ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without conditions and to create an intergovernmental commission and to discuss all questions, even the most sensitive," he said.

    Armenia accuses Turkey of genocide in the killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians during World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire as part of a campaign to force them out of eastern Turkey. Turkey denies this.

    Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations and the border between the two countries has been shut since 1993 because of Armenia's unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan - a close Turkish ally - over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory inside Azerbaijan.

    2/20/07


    Diaspora insurance payments
    The former head of the Turkish-American Foundation Assembly (ATAA), Ercument Kilic, has warned that Turkey could face heavy recompensation payments to Armenia in coming years.

    Asserting that Armenia's aim in backing bills calling for the official recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide was to receive monetary recompensation, Kilic noted that certain American insurance firms had already begun to pay out recompensation to Armenians claiming loss as a result of genocide, and that these payments would continue. Kilic maintains that the large insurance firms paying out Armenian claims even now will later turn to Turkey for recompensation for their financial losses. Kilic also indicated that applications from Armenians to web sites such as www.armenianinsurancesettlement.com were already flowing in, and that the inevitable result would be pressure by banking and insurance lobbies on Turkey to back these claims.

    Hurriyet

    2/20/07


    Washington Times: Congress Has More Important Priorities Than Revisiting Armenian "Genocide"
    Washington Times: Pelosi's Pandering Against Turkey

    Not content with undermining the war effort in Iraq, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has apparently set her sights on Turkey, a NATO ally and one of the few Muslim-majority nations in the world that is a democracy. Mrs. Pelosi has scheduled a vote in April on a resolution (H. Res. 106) that accuses Turkey's Ottoman Empire of perpetrating "genocide" resulting in the death or displacement of nearly 2 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. With the United States currently fighting a war for its very survival against radical Islamists, Congress should have much more important priorities than revisiting events that occurred more than 80 years ago -- particularly when doing so has the potential to do serious damage to U.S. relations with Turkey, whose cooperation will be critical to U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq.

    But H. Res. 106 has far more to do with the power of ethnic lobbies in Washington than with larger U.S. foreign policy interests. The reality is that Armenian and Greek lobbying organizations hostile to Turkey command far more power in Washington than do pro-Turkish groups. And in their effort to settle old scores dating back to World War I, they have the potential to damage our current ability to maintain Turkey's cooperation in stabilizing Iraq, where upwards of 140,000 American troops are stationed, and to do grave damage to our relationship with an ally of long standing, a country that has long been a bulwark against regional rogue states like Syria. For many years, Turkey was the only Muslim nation in the Middle East to have trade and diplomatic relations with Israel.

    But today Turkey has plenty of reasons to worry about current trends in Iraq. Were the United States to "redeploy" its forces out of Iraq or to dramatically scale back its military presence inside the country, it would result in a power vacuum that would be filled by al Qaeda in Iraq and like-minded Sunni jihadists on one side, and by the rogue regime in Iran and its Shi'ite allies on the other. If U.S. forces pull out or have their operational effectiveness crippled by harsh restrictions that Rep. John Murtha is pushing for with Mrs. Pelosi's consent, the country would be plunged into all-out civil war. One likely result would be the creation of millions of additional refugees; it is not difficult to imagine that at a minimum hundreds of thousands of these refugees would stream towards the Turkish border and that Ankara would come under intense international pressure to admit them as a sign of its goodwill.

    One of the most underreported stories of the Iraq war has been the extraordinary restraint shown by Turkey in dealing with a volatile situation in northern Iraq -- particularly the advent of a quasi-independent Kurdish state there. Ankara's relations with the Kurds have been characterized by tension and violence. (Approximately 30,000 people have died in Turkey since the early 1980s as a result of a terror campaign launched by the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK). But even as it was coming under fire from Kurdish terrorists, Turkey beginning in 1991 assisted the United States in providing support for the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq which was protected from Saddam Hussein's military by the U.S.-instituted no-fly zone. Since the current Iraq war began in 2003, the PKK has had a resurgence in southeastern Turkey. The Ankara government complains that the dominant Iraqi Kurdish groups, the PUK and the KDP, have done little to stop the PKK from using Iraq as a base.

    And in the coming months, the situation in northern Iraq is likely to become much more threatening to Turkish interests. Sunni and Shi'ite Arabs, Turkmen and Iraqi Christians are all upset about Kurdish plans to incorporate the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which officially lies just outside the Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq, into a de facto Kurdish state. They accuse the Kurds of seeking to drive them out of Kirkuk in advance of a scheduled December referendum on the city's future to ensure that voters who will support the Kurdish groups' position. As Kurdish authorities come under fire for removing non-Kurds from Kirkuk in advance of the referendum, Shi'ite expellees are joining the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army militia, while Sunni Arabs are joining al Qaeda affiliates, who are blamed for a rash of suicide bombings in Kirkuk since last summer.

    At such a dangerous time, the United States needs to be working more closely with both our Kurdish friends in Iraq and our Turkish allies. But Mrs. Pelosi seems more interested in playing ethnic politics in order to score some cheap political points and win additional votes.

    Washington Times Editorial
    20 Feb 2007




    U. S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a vote in April on the Armenian Genocide resolution. The Washington Times reports, with the United States currently fighting a war for its very survival against radical Islamists, Congress should have much more important priorities than revisiting events that occurred more than 80 years ago-particularly when doing so has the potential to do serious damage to U.S. relations with Turkey, whose cooperation will be critical to U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq. “The reality is that Armenian and Greek lobbying organizations hostile to Turkey command far more power in Washington than do pro-Turkish groups. And in their effort to settle old scores dating back to World War I, they have the potential to damage our current ability to maintain Turkey's cooperation in stabilizing Iraq. At such a dangerous time, the United States needs to be working more closely with both our Kurdish friends in Iraq and our Turkish allies. But Mrs. Pelosi seems more interested in playing ethnic politics in order to score some cheap political points and win additional votes,” The Washington Times reports.

    20 February 2007
    Panarmenian

    2/20/07


    Armenia Fears Population Crisis

    Government sees drop in population as a threat to national security.
    By Naira Melkumian in Yerevan (CRS No. 379 16-Feb-07)
    In a bid to curb a steep demographic decline, the Armenian government has produced a strategy to boost the population - but many have criticised the move as cosmetic.

    “You can observe a negative trend in the reduction in the number of people of reproductive age, which, alongside the overall ageing of the nation, may lead us into serious problems in the labour market and for our plans to secure steady economic growth,” the deputy minister of labour and social affairs, Artsvik Minasian, one of the architects of the new strategy, told IWPR.

    The past ten years have seen the country’s official population dwindle by 500,000 people. According to government statistics, Armenia currently has around 3.2 million inhabitants.

    However, most experts say these figures are exaggerated. The US government’s CIA Factbook lists the population as being 2,976,372 in 2006, while some say it is even lower than that.

    The United Nations Population Fund predicts that if current trends continue, the population will shrink to 2.33 million by 2050, while that of Azerbaijan - with which Armenia remains in a state of frozen conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorny Karabakh - will exceed 11 million.

    “With the Karabakh conflict still unresolved and the real prospect of renewed fighting with Azerbaijan, the demographic crisis could become a serious threat to security,” said Aram Sarkisian, member of parliament and leader of the opposition Democratic Party.

    The main reasons for the decline are a haemorrhage of people through emigration, plummeting birth rates, an ageing nation, high mortality and increased incidence of disease among people of reproductive age. All of which are linked.

    Ruben Yeganian, a researcher at Yerevan State University, estimated emigration numbers at 800,000 since independence, or close to a quarter of the population.

    “The lower birth rates are partly due to the emigration-caused imbalance of the ratio of sexes at reproductive age,” said Suzanna Barseghian, demography expert at the Armenian Centre for National and Strategic Research.

    One result of this is that in the 20-24 age group, there are more women than men, meaning that many women who would otherwise bear children, do not.

    Work done by researchers at Yerevan State University says that a low birth rate, far more than increased mortality, is the main factor inhibiting a natural growth in the population. Armenian parents tend to have only one or two children.

    On average, 36,000 babies are now born in Armenia every year - less than half of the number of several years ago. In order to encourage fertility, the government has decided to provide a one-off allowance of 200,000 drams (around 500 dollars) to mothers giving birth to a third child. Only socially vulnerable families will qualify for the grant. The labour ministry says some 3,000 families will receive the money.

    Deputy Minister Artsvik Minasian told IWPR that the government planned to increase the maternity allowance for all women giving birth in future, but for the time being state resources were limited.

    Armenian mothers currently receive a one-off allowance of 35,000 drams (100 dollars), while needy families get 70,000 (200 dollars) per child.

    As part of the new demographic strategy, the government also says it aims to provide free medical examinations for women, especially those in rural areas, to launch employment programmes as an incentive to bring male migrants back to the country and even to introduce a course of lectures on demography in universities.

    Minasian says he believes the new demographic strategy will help improve the situation in Armenia by 2009.

    However, the plan already has many critics, amongst them Stepan Safarian, a senior expert at the Armenian Centre for National and Strategic Research, who called the proposals “cosmetic”.

    “What are these 200,000 drams gong to give?” he asked. “It’s just one-off help and it won’t change the difficult social conditions, in which a majority of the population lives.”

    Aram Sarkisian said the “the government’s steps looked like more like a pre-election stunt than a serious concept”.

    “We need fundamental changes, we need a special state fund to support young families,” he said. “But I don’t think that our government of ultra-liberals is capable of making this kind of move, which need to be made by Social Democrats.”

    Yerevan resident Anna Harutyunian, 30, said she was not encouraged by the new government plans. “Look, Russia provides mothers with a benefit for a second child, here we are offered help only for a third child and even this is not for all families, but only for the most needy,” she said. “I have one child and will think twice before I decide to give birth to another. You’ve got to put them on their feet, give them am education.”

    Naira Melkumian is a freelance journalist based in Yerevan.

    http://www.iwpr.net/?p=crs&s=f&o=333310&apc_state=henh

    2/20/07


    DYP protests Google Search Results for ‘Armenian Genocide'

    The True Path Party (DYP) has launched a campaign against Internet search giant Google regarding Armenian "genocide" claims.

    The campaign, mounted by the youth branch of the DYP, draws attention the first 100 pages returned by Google when "Armenian genocide" is typed in the search box. All results are Web sites that claim the veracity of the "genocide."

    According to the members of the youth branch, all the Web sites were made by Armenians. Google lists Web sites according to the number of people who go to the sites.

    The way to put Web sites explaining the Turkish version of the events to higher places on the search results is to click them once every day, the youth branch stressed: "The easiest way to do this is to make those Web sites our homepage."

    21.02.2007
    Today's Zaman I.stanbul

    2/21/07

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