An hour-long conversation with the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan discusses the global war on terror and asserts that terrorism has been wrongly characterized as a problem with Islam, rather than an issue confined to its radical fringes. He also discusses Turkey's modernization and its push for admittance to the European Union.
HOST: Charlie Rose
GUESTS: Recep Tayyip Erdogan
A discussion with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey.
CHARLIE ROSE, HOST: Welcome to the broadcast. Tonight, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRIME MINISTER, TURKEY (through translator): Most recently, there`s been a lot of discussion about this so-called Armenian genocide issue. There`s a wrong approach here. This -- this issue is not first and foremost an issue for us, the politicians, to deal with. It must first be discussed by historians.
I wrote a letter to President Kocharian, to ask him to come together with us help establish a commission, a joint commission, that would include archaeologists, political scientists, legal experts, historians and others. And I said that we should put all our archives at each other`s disposal.
We opened our archives, and I asked him to open theirs if they have archives, and the third countries could also do the same and avail their archives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE ROSE: Turkey and the world through the eyes of prime minister, coming up.
CHARLIE ROSE: Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the prime minister of Turkey and leader of the Justice and Development Party. His party won a landslide election victory this summer. It was the first time in more than 50 years that the Turks returned an incumbent party to power with an even greater majority. Prime Minister Erdogan was then able to install his close ally, his friend and former foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, as president.
We talked yesterday at the Turkish consulate here in New York, and here is that conversation.
CHARLIE ROSE: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much for allowing us to have this conversation with you.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): Thank you very much. Yes, I`m very happy to be here.
CHARLIE ROSE: You had recent election victories. What are the implications of the parliament and the new president, who is your good friend and former foreign minister? What are the implications for Turkey of these victories?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): First of all, let me say that the elections on the 22nd of July was very important, because in the last 53 years we`re the first government who has been able to increase its vote for a second term. So there was no similar case in the last 53 years. This had happened in 1954, and since 1954, for the first time this year on July 22nd, we were able to increase our votes by 40 percent compared to the previous election. And we have more or less main maintained our majority in the parliament, and our votes went from 34 percent in the previous election to 47 percent in this election.
This, of course, is important not just for us, but for those people who believe in Turkey and who follow on development and stability in Turkey.
And our slogan for the election was, there`s no stopping, we will keep moving forward. And so we have in the first term of government gone through perhaps what you might term a period of restoration, and now we`re moving even faster. And in this second term we are now, we have a new government. We have a president. And so the elections are behind us now, and now the time has come to once again serve the people. And we will succeed in that effort.
CHARLIE ROSE: Why do you think the military has shown some concern about an erosion in secularism?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): I have to say the following on this point: One cannot speak of any such concern or danger in Turkey. It cannot be the case, because our government continues to implement secularism as it is defined in the 1982 Constitution. We are a democratic, secular, social state, and we aim to strengthen all of the institutions of this country, and this is the way we will move forward. There cannot be any concessions made in any one of these issues. And there is no one, or there cannot be anyone in our team who believes otherwise. And our work continues -- will continue with the same determination in the future.
But there may be people who may not be so happy with the AK Party government right now, and it may be their approach now. But I think over time, when they see the practice, those concerns will be overcome.
CHARLIE ROSE: As you know, even in the campaign for the presidency by President Gul, the idea of his wife wearing a scarf became an issue and a symbol. In France, the wearing of scarves is an issue and a symbol. In Turkey in the Constitution, it restricts the wearing of scarves in schools.
For those who think the loosening of that dictum means a loosening of a commitment to secularism, what do you say?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): Everybody is free to express their opinion, of course. I don`t feel the need to specifically make a specific response to that. But what I`m trying to do, and I will tell you that, head scarf is not -- cannot be a political symbol. If you look at the people who believe in my party, there are some who cover their heads. If you look at other political parties in Turkey, you will see that some of their members or the wives of some of them are covering their heads.
So if we`re talking about a political symbol here, it would have had to represent just one political party. But if you have it in all of the political parties, then it is not a political symbol in that sense of the word.
For example, in France, there`s this discussion about universities.
In France, you can enter a university with a head scarf. There`s no restriction in the Constitution about the head scarf. And furthermore, I find the discussion about it existing or not existing in another country not a comparison, because then you have to look at all the countries. Do you have it in the U.S. or in Germany? So you start having to look at all of these. In those countries, which I have cited, it is impossible to go to the university if you cover your head. In France, too, the same thing applies. In many other countries, the same thing is true.
But when you look at where this comes from, you see that a woman who covers her head says that she covers her head because of her beliefs, not for any other reason, and covers her head because of her beliefs.
So this is -- here, the issue is of freedoms. Freedom of education, freedom of religion and conscience.
I think that is the approach we have to take. I think there`s a lot of merit in looking at the issue from this perspective. This will also help eliminate discrimination in society, because in fact, up to a certain period in time, there was no such difficulty in our universities. Those difficulties arose later on.
Of course, the more bans or barriers you have in a society, the more you get radical enemies. We don`t want to have that kind of radicalism emerging in any way. We don`t want to see that happen. We want to stop it from happening.
What I would like to see is to have women who cover their heads or don`t to go and walk around together, which they do. There`s no problem with that. But some circles have certain concerns, but we`re sorry to hear that they have those concerns, in fact.
CHARLIE ROSE: For those who say this election, this great election success is somehow a challenge to Ataturk`s vision of secularism, what do you say?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): I cannot agree with those thoughts. I think that that analogy is very wrong. That analogy is disrespect to Ataturk, insult to Ataturk. Why? Because if you look at -- when we look at what secularism means and we look at different countries in the world and what happens in other countries, we see that secularism is an understanding through which an administration keeps an equal distance from all beliefs and religions. And it`s a way to safeguard all beliefs. And this in fact exists in the introduction of the 1982 Constitution. We will actually maintain that article as such in our draft. So there`s nothing to be said on that.
Now, if we look at it in a different perspective, where we see it as this separation of religion from state, there we maintain our sensitivity, as has been the case in the past.
So there`s no issue for concern. There are some who are perhaps trying to create some concern. But Turkey is a democratic, secular, social state respecting the rule of law. And we see that every stake (ph) in the democratic process strengthens those qualities of Turkey.
CHARLIE ROSE: Last two questions about this issue of Islam and secularism in Turkey. "Newsweek" magazine said that this election was less about secularists and Islamists than a seismic change in the country`s elites and Turkey`s class structure. That in fact, it was somehow a portrayal by those who are in a minority to intimidate Islamists by raising the fear of an erosion of secularism. Do you feel that the elites in Turkey have an unnatural fear of Islam and Islamists in Turkey?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): Right now, what we are working on, and when people ask questions about what people believe in in Turkey, and I mean ask the person on the street, the answer you always get is that Turkey is 99 percent Muslim. I think there`s no issue to discuss here. But if we see this election result as a class struggle or a differentiation between social classes, I can agree to this only to a certain extent, but I cannot fully agree to that.
Because in Turkey, in the understanding of AK Party, our goal is to embrace the whole country.
For example, other political parties are active in only certain parts of country, but AK Party has been able to get 80 -- get seats from 80 provinces out of 81 provinces in Turkey, which means that the party is represented all across the country. And the fact that we got 47 percent of the vote means that we have actually an even greater responsibility today.
So our aim is not to view our people from a class perspective. And I mean to say or include all people having different beliefs. We have to approach everyone. We have to embrace everyone. And that`s been our goal.
Some elitists or elite circles have certain concerns, and their concerns more have to do with the power struggle that they were aiming at. And the election on the 22nd of July was a response to that, and the people responded to that. One out of every two people in Turkey voted for the AK Party, which was a response, a description of the situation.
So what the elites have to do is sit down and ask themselves why this has happened this way. They have to think of where they made the mistake. And I think if they do that, they will find the right answers.
CHARLIE ROSE: Turning to the European Union. Is your enthusiasm, President Gul`s enthusiasm, your party`s enthusiasm, the people of Turkey`s enthusiasm for membership still strong?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): I can say it`s even stronger. The number of -- there are three actors or groups that believe true in the EU membership process. First, the president, the prime minister, myself, and the foreign minister. And as the government, we have a team that believes in EU membership, and we`ll keep working even harder.
Our country is an accession country right now. We`re negotiating for membership, and we have already opened and closed negotiations for one chapter. Three more chapters were opened for negotiation.
So I always say the following: It is not maybe so much important that they take us in or not. We, in fact, implement the Copenhagen political criteria. We call them Ankara criteria, Ankara political criteria, and we implement them, and we keep working in this direction. Because we have gone into this in order to improve the living standards of our people, in order to have a better democracy, because we saw this process as the place where civilizations can come together. And it is for that reason or for those reasons that we will continue to work in this area.
Our president continues to contact with -- have contacts with EU member states. I`ll do the same, and our foreign minister, too. No doubts about it.
CHARLIE ROSE: President Sarkozy, in conversations with me, he has been opposed; in his campaign, opposed. He makes points about the difference between Turkey and Europe. Are you changing his mind?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): I actually called him after his election to congratulate him at the time. And ever since that discussion, I think quite a number of things have changed. And I think this is very important from the point of view of Turkey and France. Because Turkey and France have a history dating back many centuries. There have been cultural cooperation, political, economic cooperation in our political history.
We have been influenced mostly from France in our description and definition of secularism. You see the French influence in that. And of course, today, in the current process, we have always felt France`s support with us in the EU process. And I believe that from this day forward, there are many things we can do jointly. We spoke about them between ourselves. Our foreign ministers, and our special envoys both on our side and on President Sarkozy`s side, meet to talk about our bilateral relations, as well as what we can do within the context of the EU.
We will continue to hold these discussions. So after that work moves forward, I will visit France, and I hope that then we will be able to reach a decision.
CHARLIE ROSE: Talk to me about this issue of -- in a broader way and considerations of a conflict between -- and what is necessary for Islam and the West to reach a broader understanding of how they look at issues that some people want to see as dividing issues.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): I`m usually very open and direct. Let me first of all say that we have to overcome some of our preconceptions and we have to move away from prejudice. I do not believe in a clash of civilizations in this world, and it is for that reason that I`m working -- I am in the alliance of civilizations with my colleagues. And we will continue to work in this area, and the support there continues to grow every day to the alliance of civilizations, that is.
As Turkey, we are at an ideal position to be a bridge between the West and the Islamic, Muslim countries. We are a democratic, secular, social state respecting the rule of law, and most of our citizens are Muslim.
So from that perspective, this is a way to show how a person who is Muslim can live with democracy. And we have been able to show that.
And the -- in the Islamic world, there`s a lot of acceptance of that fact.
The Christian world, or the Western world has had experiences, but Turkey`s entry to the European Union will be very important in that context, because 1.5 billion Muslims in the world are watching very closely Turkey`s accession to the European Union. They`re waiting for Turkey`s membership to the European Union, and I think that the members of the European Union are in fact getting late. Things have to move much more faster.
And if that happens, we would see many problems overcome. For example, terrorism, fighting against terrorism. We have to establish a common platform to fight against terrorism. And the biggest actor in that struggle is Turkey, because Turkey is already fighting against terrorism on all fronts. We also fight in our own country against terrorism, but we also sent our troops to Afghanistan, and we have also sent our troops to other parts of the world when invited to maintain peace and to fight against terrorism.
And so, this goes to show that Turkey is always ready to fight against terrorism. And we would expect our friends to do the same.
For example, Iraq is next door to Turkey, and we see that the separatist terrorist organization in Turkey is based in Iraq. And there`s a mechanism to prevent this terrorist organization from acting, and that mechanism has to be functioning so that we succeed in fighting against this separatist terrorist organization. These are the kinds of things we worry about and we are concerned about.
So Turkey`s sensitivities with respect to terrorism, we expect the same sensitivity from our friends, including, of course, our friends the Americans. So, we never supported the idea that somebody`s terrorist is better than others. We do not believe in terrorism of any kind. All terrorists are bad. They have to be condemned no matter what religion they come from.
And one more thing I want to say here. We consider anti-Semitism as a crime against humanity, and I`m a prime minister who boldly stated that. And in the same way we must also agree that Islamophobia is a crime against humanity. One cannot judge Islam because there`s been some terrorists who happen to believe in Islam, because terrorists come from different backgrounds. From a Christian background or a Jewish background or other backgrounds.
CHARLIE ROSE: There`s been much controversy here because of the president of Iran and what he says about the Holocaust and what he says about the right of Israel to exist. He comes from a theocracy, an Islamic state. Shouldn`t you and other leaders be prepared to denounce those views, which go against your own intellectual and moral judgment?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): I did not follow the most recent statements during my busy schedule here, but there have been previous statements, some of which we do and some of which we do not accept.
There`s one thing we have to say, and that is -- I think that every person, especially the political leaders, have freedoms of their own, as would any person, but that freedom should not in any way intervene in the freedom space of another person. That is wrong no matter who does it. If that were me, it would be wrong. If it`s the Iranian leader, it would be wrong. So it`s the same for everyone.
CHARLIE ROSE: Some would argue that you don`t have to comment on every position by every politician around the world. It would be silly for you to have to do that. But the issue of the Holocaust, which took place in Europe and is so clear to anyone, and to have someone say that it`s not offends so many people that it is a responsibility, some argue, for leaders like you, and especially comes from an Islamic background, you know, to be clear how you feel about that. It`s not just one more opinion by one more leader.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): Of course, every statement that I make is important, not just from the point of view of my country, but also in an international context. And for that reason, I mentioned establishing a message, finding a common message.
So any message that we would present as Turkey, for example, must be in line with what the U.S. does or what France or what Israel does and Iran does or the Gulf states, or Western countries or the Far Eastern countries. We must all do it jointly.
So finding or expressing a certain attitude only by ourselves will not solve the problem. I think the answer, the key comes in establishing common attitudes. And the best place to do that is, of course, the United Nations, the Security Council. But the Security Council and steps that the Security Council could take within that common understanding background will require overcoming many issues and taking care of many issues, such as justice, being just and fair.
And as long as we`re just and fair and we have a democratic understanding, I think we can reach a solution given the rules of law.
CHARLIE ROSE: Turn to Iraq. Do you fear a civil war if the United States leaves, more egregious than now, more violent than now, in which Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia might feel compelled to get involved?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): In Iraq at the moment, there is a democratic process in transition. Of course, that is not completed by any means. We see that. And we take the central government of Iraq as the relevant party to us, and we have spoken to them a number of times so far. And their minister of internal affairs was in my country yesterday. He came with a big delegation, discussing fighting --discussing issues like fighting against terrorism and security issues.
As you know, we have a tri-partite mechanism against the separatist terrorist organization -- Turkey, the United States and Iraq -- so that we would succeed in fighting against this separatist terrorist organization.
Our -- well, we`ve always said that we`re in favor of territorial integrity in Iraq. And we want to see Iraq free of sectarian violence as soon as possible, because so long as that violence continues to be the case, then it will be quite impossible to achieve political stability in the country. And so to overcome these problems, what is important is to ensure participation of the different groups, the Shia, the Kurds, the Sunni. So the (inaudible) structure or to be participatory for all these groups.
And there are many things we can do as Turkey. So we hope that others can make good use of that opportunity that Turkey can provide. And we`ve spoken about this to President Bush and Secretary Rice, and we`ve been working on this. We`ve taken some good results, too. For example, we made serious contributions to the entry of the Sunnis to the last election in Iraq.
But as you can -- as we can all see, there are issues, problems, still. And I think that we as Turkey can do, so we`re always maybe to help to see if we can find solutions, because this is a fire raging next door to our country, and we don`t want it to rage, to continue to rage, because tens of hundreds of people die every day in Iraq.
And this is very sad. Our people are very close to the Iraqis. There are relatives on both sides, family members in the southeastern part of Turkey and the people living in Iraq, so that puts us in a very different position vis-.-vis Iraq. It connects us. And therefore, there are areas where we can be of help, and we continue to work on those issues.
And I think -- I believe that if we can act without emotions, if we can be more rational and include more neighboring countries, we would be more successful.
At the end of October, on the 31st of October and the 1st of November, there will be a meeting in Istanbul. And that meeting in Istanbul will be a large meeting...
CHARLIE ROSE: Of the neighbors?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): Yes. And the United States will also participate.
CHARLIE ROSE: Yes. Yes.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): This will be the second meeting after the meeting in Sharm el-Sheik. And the thinking now is to establish a secretariat for this conference. And from the moment that secretariat is established, there will be other steps that will be contemplated.
So if that can be achieved, I think that this process will be moving forward very seriously. And Istanbul, as Turkey, we`re very pleased to host this conference, and I hope that this will lead to a turning point towards better days.
CHARLIE ROSE: OK, help me understand how it can lead to a turning point, because political reconciliation is the issue. Sunni, Kurds, Shia. How can you help make that political reconciliation, of which there`s very little progress, happen?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): What needs to be done in a new election is to ensure that people can see their representatives in the parliament, because that will make them more confident. And it will also provide for a healthy information of government, and that`s why I think how things move forward.
There are terrorist groups, but there are also the insurgents in Iraq. I think one has to make a distinction between the insurgents and the terrorist groups. Overcoming sectarian issues and assessing the ethnic issues carefully are very important. And I think it`s probably necessary to establish some sort of a timing and announce that timeline about the withdrawal of coalition forces. There`s benefits...
CHARLIE ROSE: It`s important to establish a timeline for the withdrawal of American forces?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): Yes. Not just for the American troops, but for all the troops coalitions.
CHARLIE ROSE: All the troops.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): And of course, what is important here is not to have Iraq which is at conflict with its neighbors. Iraq must have overcome its conflicts with its neighbors, so that it can strengthen itself. And here, it must also be confirmed that the underground and above ground resources of Iraq belong to all of the Iraqi people.
The issue of Kirkuk in the north must also be resolved. It must have a special status. The city must have a special status. If that city is given to only one specific group, it becomes like a time bomb ready to explode. So those are the kinds of things we have to take care of.
And with respect to the democratic process, census must be carefully done or be -- voting registries must be prepared so that people feel confident. And for that to happen, the central government must be very careful, very sensitive. And the coalition forces, too, and their sensitivity to all these issues are -- is very important. So these are the kinds of things that will help have a more smoother transition to a new era.
CHARLIE ROSE: What circumstances would demand that Turkey in its own interest intervene militarily?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): Now, we do not have an aim, a goal of intervening in any way in Iraqi territory. However, if there`s an intervention to our territory, if the terrorist organization is basing itself in the neighboring country and is posing a threat to our security and order, then, of course, we would do whatever is necessary within the framework of a legitimate right to defend our people, our nation. And nobody can question that, because everybody will know that this is a rightful situation case of self-defense. Otherwise, this is not a territorial -- in other words, this is not a territorial issue.
CHARLIE ROSE: But you are against an independent Kurdistan.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): Let me tell you this: In Iraq, we cannot speak of what is going to happen as far as an administrative structure there. We are not in a position to assist it, but we have one goal, and that is the central government in Iraq.
CHARLIE ROSE: A strong central government?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): For that to happen, Turkey will do what she can to help. Any structure that will endanger the future of Iraq will no doubt be a cause for concern for the region as a whole and it would endanger the territorial integrity of Iraq.
We speak or talk of al Qaeda. The name of the terrorist organization is not maybe as important as what it does, because if it`s terror, it`s terror, and we have to fight against it. That`s where the issue lies. If that terrorist activity is based in northern Iraq right now, we have to take whatever measures we can and we must take. And that is the struggle we`re in. Countries that have suffered from terrorism will know what this means and what it feels like, how it feels like, and they understand what rightful struggle this is.
So, to us, a divided Iraq would be a reason of instability for the future of Iraq.
CHARLIE ROSE: So you are against some kind of loose federalism, with shared oil revenues, you would be against that? Because you want a strong central government, not a loose federal?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): Of course, administratively speaking, every country will have its own system. In the U.S. it`s different, in Germany it`s different. So to me, that is not the main issue. So we should not be losing sight of the important facts. That`s -- and the fact is territorial integrity of Iraq.
That`s the question we need to answer. And if we find a good answer, an ideal answer, we`ll solve the problem.
CHARLIE ROSE: Just one last question about Iraq. What timetable do you think ought to be in place for the removal, evacuation of American troops? By the end of 2008?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): It`s not our job to give a timeline. It`s the one -- people who are responsible, the actors in this, who must decide it. But I think it would be wrong to have an immediate withdrawal of all the troops. It has to be stage by stage, step by step, over a certain period of time. And one must look at the conditions on the ground at the time as well, because having a withdrawal all at once would create or could create more crises or difficulties.
But if that timeline were to be announced, that is going to help, I think, because it will provide a greater sense of responsibility for them.
CHARLIE ROSE: How would you assess U.S.-Turkish relations today? Have they been damaged by the Iraqi war?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): There has been talk of that, but from our point of view, no, there was no damage to the relationship. Politically, socially, culturally, militarily, we have relations with the United States in many fields, and at the time there were some difficulties, at the time of the war, but the problems did not arise from our side. Because we do not view Turkish-American relations in a simplistic manner, because for us, we believe that the relation is a very strong one.
For example, we have no problems in our political relationship right now. I would like to see more economic relations, though, because I think it`s very simplistic at this moment, it`s very small. Our volume of trade is about $11 billion U.S. dollars at the moment, which is a very small number for a country the size of United States and a country like Turkey. That commercial relationship ought to have been expressed in much greater numbers. And we are working very hard on that.
We hope to see American investors in Turkey, because Turkey has now a very good -- a confident market, and we would like to see more American investors coming and investing in Turkey. The investors who already exist in Turkey say that they are very happy with the investment they`ve made when I speak to them. And in this next term, I think there will be more reason to invest, especially -- we have expectations on more foreign direct investments.
On the political side, we have our cooperation at NATO, which is still ongoing. We have the same kind of military cooperation. So there`s no problem on that front either.
>>From this point forward, we hope that this will keep moving and growing. As for contributing to global peace and prosperity, there, of course, we`re always ready to do whatever we can to help.
CHARLIE ROSE: Tell me what you think of Orhan Pamuk, Nobel laureate.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): You just said that he won the Nobel Prize for literature. Of course, here is citizen, a Turkish citizen, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, we would be very proud of this and we are very proud of it, and very happy indeed that he has been given this award for literature, that he is a Nobel laureate. It`s a sense of pride for us. I congratulated him, and I hope that he continue to be successful. I think he will be.
CHARLIE ROSE: And will not be restrained in what he might say publicly on Turkish issues?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): As you know, the judiciary is independent to make its own decisions. It`s not our job. It`s their job. And it`s the same everywhere in the world.
I may not agree with everything Orhan Pamuk says. He may not agree with everything I say. That`s understandable, and that`s something everybody should accept. But his success in his area, in his field is world-renowned. He has been awarded the Nobel Prize. So with respect to the judicial process itself, we cannot in any way intervene with the decisions of the court, but as far as I know, there are no more issues.
CHARLIE ROSE: There are no more. He said that to me, yes.
Turkey has a very flourishing economy. It`s growing at 9 or 10 percent, yes? Seventeenth largest economy in the world.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): In the last 22 quarters, we have had 7.3 percent growth.
CHARLIE ROSE: 7.3. That`s still good. Tell me both economically and politically, because of your recent political success, enhancing your opportunity, any misconceptions about Turkey and any role that you want Turkey to play in the world?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): One point I would like to underline: A very important area in the world. So this is a region of strategic importance. And in this region, it is not enough for us only to grasp the importance of the role that we can play. Our friends, too, must well understand the role that Turkey can play. And we must, of course, continue to develop ourselves to be able to fulfill that role. And that`s what we have been doing and we continue to do.
And therefore, the economy was very important for us, and there have been very good developments in the economic area, but it`s also important to maintain that development, that level of development, because we have to our north the Caucuses, and Iran and Central Asia to our east, the Caspian as well. To the west, Europe. And in the south, you have all the way to the Gulf.
So this is the geography that Turkey is in. And you see different civilizations in that geography.
On the one hand, you have Europe. On the other hand, you have Asia.
So this all makes up the Turkish geography.
Turkey is a very important bridge between different cultures and civilizations. And as a democratic, secular country whose population is predominantly Muslim, it has shown to the world that those things can exist together. And that is, in my opinion, very important and it has its reflections through the region, and it constitutes therefore an example.
So when we came to government, we had per capita income which was $2,500 U.S. dollars. In five years, it went up to $6,000. The inflation rate was at around 30 percent. It is now down to single-digit figures, at 6.9 percent. Interest rates were 63, 64 percent. Now down to 17. So these are all very important developments.
Our GDP went up to $400 billion U.S. from $181 billion five years ago. And we have even greater targets for the future. And this creates a lot of confidence in the region, too, what Turkey is doing.
We are also making friends, not enemies, and this is what we try to do in other parts of the world as well.
CHARLIE ROSE: Thank you for this time. It`s very good to see you again and I look forward to...
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): One more thing I want to say, if you`ll let me. We don`t always have this opportunity to appear on television, so I would like to take this opportunity to say the following.
Most recently, there`s been a lot of discussion about this so-called Armenian genocide issue. There`s a wrong approach here. This issue is not first and foremost an issue for us, the politicians, to deal with. It must first be discussed by historians.
I wrote a letter to President Kocharian to ask him to come, and together with us, help establish a commission, a joint commission, that would include archeologists, political sciences, legal experts, historians and others. And I said that we should put all our archives at each other`s disposal.
We opened our archives, and I asked him to open theirs if they have archives, and the third countries can also do the same thing, and avail their archives. So this joint commission could then work in these archives, and we could then see or look at the reports.
And once we get those reports, then we can reach a decision. Because if there is, there has been a crime, we are ready to settle our accounts with our history.
But we know that that is not the case, so it would be wrong to misrepresent this situation, and we should not give the opportunity to those who want to somehow make use of this situation.
I have Armenian citizens in my country. And everyone knows how freely they live in Turkey. And I just want to say that it would be wrong to generalize certain individual issues and cases. The generalization should not be made victim of individual cases.
Ever since I came -- we came to government, we have now direct flights between two countries. On the eastern part of Turkey, there`s an island called Akdamar on the Van lake. On that island, there`s a church, an Armenian church. And we restored that church by using our money, government treasury money, and it has been open, the church is open. So there`s no problems with their lives in Turkey.
CHARLIE ROSE: I`m glad you brought that up. And obviously, that was what -- it`s an important issue raised by the Armenians, and whether there was a genocide in the early 20th century. It`s a -- you seem to be saying that you are prepared to see a thorough investigation of this issue and look at all the facts, and then to characterize it for what it was. And if, in fact, it was a genocide, you are prepared to recognize it, but you firmly believe it wasn`t.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): That is absolutely right.
And we`re saying that nevertheless, it should be researched. It should be looked at. And we did already open our archives for that research.
More than one million documents are available now, and if Yerevan did the same, why not. If there are third countries, if they have any documentation, they should make them available. Why not? Let`s move forward with this. Why should we be afraid? Why should anyone be afraid? Why are they afraid? Where are the documents? Because it`s --you cannot have this accusation without facts. The lobbies and the discussions, those cannot be sufficient to judge a country like Turkey.
CHARLIE ROSE: I hear you saying, or at least feeling that Turkey has to resolve this issue.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): Yes, this is what I`m trying to do.
CHARLIE ROSE: Again, thank you very much. Pleasure. I hope we can talk again in Turkey. I know of no one who goes to Turkey who doesn`t come back saying...
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): Well, we hope to see you in Turkey.
CHARLIE ROSE: Thank you. Thank you very much.
A conversation with the prime minister of Turkey. Thank you for joining us. See you next time.
Comment by Zareh Sahakian on Saturday, Sep 29 at 11:53 PM
This is the second time that you let the Prime Minister of Turkey "off the hook", you just smile at him and let him speak without your usual insightful questions. How can you, Charlie Rose, let him speak down to you concerning the Armenian Genocide which you know it is a fact. The Prime Minister of Turkey tells you that the Turkish archives are open, but then he tells you that he knows that there is nothing in the "million" archives that ptoves the genocide. Why didn't you ask him if he has read those archives? Taner Akcam, the Turkish historian has done extensive research and even the remnants of the full archival evidences, despite being purged for a century now, demonstrate the Turkish guilt of committing genocide against the Armenians. What would it take for the seemingly self-respecting and intelligent journalist and talk show host to have the courage to confront the Prime Minister of Turkey? I hope on your next trip to Turkey, as you are invited by Mr. Erdogan, you will find the courage to redeem yourself about this ongoing injustice.
Comment by Phantom on Saturday, Sep 29 at 10:55 PM
I watch your show frequently. I had no idea what a hypocrit you are until I watched this segment with Erdogan. You rightfully pinned Ahmedinejad against the wall for his views on the Holocaust. But with Erdogan, you didn't make a sound. You let him DENY A GENOCIDE right to your face and you didn't ask a single question. Why is that Charlie? Are Armenian lives not worth the trouble? Is a Jewish life more important than a Christian one? Why did you grill Ahmedinejad for his Genocide Denial, but you freely gave Erdogan a forum to DENY GENOCIDE? This whole thing stinks!
Comment by Narini Badalian on Saturday, Sep 29 at 10:52 PM
Mr. Rose, I am quite confused why you did not respond to PM Erdogan's utter denial of the existence of the Armenian Genocide. Your stance has made it obvious how necessary it is for our government to empower our public TV hosts, by officially acknowledging the factuality of the Armenian Genocide through HR 106. For the record, on June 13, 2005 the International Association of Genocide Scholars rejected PM Erdgan's call for a "joint-commission," stating that: " We represent the major body of scholars who study genocide in North America and Europe... We note that there may be differing interpretations of genocideâ??how and why the Armenian Genocide happened, but to deny its factual and moral reality as genocide is not to engage in scholarship but in propaganda and efforts to absolve the perpetrator, blame the victims, and erase the ethical meaning of this history. " http://www.genocidewatch.org/TurkishPMIAGSOpenLetterreArmenia6-13-05.htm Ironically, again in 2005, when Turkish historians, scholars and intellectuals planned to hold a conference in Turkey regarding the "Armenian Question" (note- the word genocide was not even used)- the government accused them of being traitors and it was canceled, at least the first time around. http://chronicle.com/subscribe/login?url=/weekly/v52/i07/07a04801.htm Perhaps you can host a show and ask scholars if they would even be willing to go to Turkey and "debate" anything related to Armenians. According to article 301 of the Turkish penal code, insulting "Turkishness" is illegal. Have we not learned anything from the death of ethnic-Armenian, Turkish citizen, journalist Hrant Dink- did this not make us cherish our freedom of speech, even more, in this country at least? We have a right to speak up- Mr. Rose, as a respected host, and from a person who truly admires the quality of your show, you had an obligation to speak up.
Comment by kaya on Saturday, Sep 29 at 10:31 PM
Killing Turks outside of Turkey has been some Armenians' favorite method of revenge for the consequencies of their failed attempts to carve a homeland for themselves in the Turkish heartland in the 1910s. Following this tradition, there are now hoping that the Turkish PM would be grilled in Clarlie Rose's program, which is comical at best. Actually, they are demanding it, which is sad rather than being funny! Well, just in case you didn't get it, the PM had news for you, those days of pushing Turks around by hiding behind the European colonial powers are over. His argument regarding letting the genocide claims to be researched by experts and having every country to open their records is so powerful that no one knows how to handle it. I am personally very interested in the Russian military accounts of the events.
Comment by Al Rivers on Saturday, Sep 29 at 10:15 PM
Dear Mr. Rose, Thanks for bringing this interview to the attention of American public. As Americans, we need to learn from the experience of Turkey in handling the problems of the Middle East and Iraq. Turkey has shown us that war is not the best solution for any human problem and conflict. Turkey is moving forward as the only secular, democratic and free economy based Islamic country that must be embraced by the Western world. West and US must stop their double standards when dealing the Islamic world.
Comment by Ataturk on Saturday, Sep 29 at 04:21 PM
Dear Mr. Rose, I am writing this comment as a young Turkish woman who lives in the US. I wish you asked to Erdogan why he and he supporters doesn't allow any "western" clothing, sports or ideas in Turkey. I wish you asked him how his grandson becomes a US citizen while he curses US administration when he is in Turkey. I wish you asked him why as a person who represents 80 million Turkish people, he can't speak English. I wish you asked him how he felt when he cursed Ataturk 15 years ago and than apologized from Turkish people before he elected. I wish you asked him how come terrorism rised up during the elections in Turkey. I wish you asked him why people are not free to practice their religion in Turkey while he is talking about "freedom of religion" I wish i wrote this letter to you before your interview. I want you to understand that i am very educated person. I came to the US because I am sick and tired about people like Erdogan. Turkey is such a beautiful and unique country and I love my country. Unfortunately I am ashamed of Turkey's president. Kindly Regards,
Comment by UluTurk on Saturday, Sep 29 at 04:06 PM
Hey, as i see these armenians not gonna stop, keep working on their lies..There is no genocide everybody knows it..So armenians have to work and establish a good econmy and good future for themselves exept wasting their time..
Comment by alex on Saturday, Sep 29 at 03:40 PM
Dear Mr. Rose, Please avail yourself of the extensive records documenting the Genocide against the Armenians. The simplest way would be for you to go to the New York Times website and search the archives for their own shocking and thorough reportage between 1914-1919. In addition check out A Shameful Act by the Turkish historian Taner Akcam, who has been forced into exile for his work. His courage makes Orhan Pamuk's look mild (though commendable still.) This would be a good start to a fuller understanding of what will surely be an issue on Capitol Hill until it is resolved. If you had time, you could visit the northern deserts of Syria, where mass graves of the Armenian Genocide still lie. You could meet the sheikhs of the dozen or so Muslim Arab tribes who saved Armenian children from the slaughter. The Genocide is not in doubt, except in the propoganda of Turkish politicians, and the imagination of most Turks, who have been denied the truth through the total absence of the fact regarding the fate of the Armenians in their history books. Lying is easy for them to do when the folks who are listening are not informed about history. Thank you.
Comment by Armen Gregorian on Saturday, Sep 29 at 02:14 PM
I have watched 90% of your programs in the last 5 years and I find it to be the most informative program on TV.You have a fair and balanced view on all issues. I am not a fanatic Armenian but cannot figure out for the life of me how you can be indifferent to the Armenian Genocide. It is a 100% acknowledge fact of history. I'm baffled. I would very much appreciate a response.
Comment by Aline B. on Saturday, Sep 29 at 01:43 PM
Charlie, the Turkish PM was allowed by you to exercise his linguistic contortions as he spent the last few seconds of the interview broaching his slanted comments on the Armenian issue. How did you allowed that to occur in those few little moments, you obviously had no intention of bringing it up yourself. The issue deserves an hour long dialogue with individuals that are fair and respected. But you never once brought any questions up. I find that very surprising from a journalist whom I watch regularly who often asks the interviewee questions that make them very uncomfortable. Why Charlie? Why did you put your credibility and reputation at stake and for whom? I hope you can redeem yourself with a follow up interview with real historians that tell the truth and pure scholars who have no agenda but the truth. That truth will set this issue free as it has in France and Greece and any country in the world that recognizes crimes against humanity, starting with the first genocide of the 20th century perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks in 1915. Look at the origin of the word "genocide." The Turkish PMâ??s pseudo humble comments about restoring churches and Agh-Tamar are insulting at best. What about Van, why are there Turkish militia posted there and no one is allowed to enter that land? So many questions Turkey needs to stop hiding from. Granddaughter of a survivor of the Genocide!
Comment by Seta Nersessian on Saturday, Sep 29 at 09:59 AM
This interview with Erdogan was unusually disappointing. I can understand why one may not want to challenge a head of state, especially one so "important" to us as Turkey, but I think it only right to host a panel of historians on the subject...maybe starting with Taner Akcam. He is banned from ever going back to Turkey, but he did recently author a book on Turkey's organized and systematic killing of the Armenians called A Shameful Act. As far as human rights being protected in Turkey for all it's constituent citizens, why not look into Article 301 of the Penal Code that denies a basic freedom of speech. You don't have to go to deep to do an incisive report on Turkey and its history, but you will never get Erdogan back on your show.
Comment by kaya on Saturday, Sep 29 at 09:48 AM
Dear Charlie: Another issue I really hoped you'd ask PM's views about is the Nagorno-Karabakh invasion in 1992. After all, the Turkey-Armenia border is closed because of the Armenian invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh, not the genocide claims or anything else. According to the New York Times (July 24, 2000), approximately one million Azerbaijani refugees who fled Nagorno-Karabakh after outbreak of fighting in 1992 between Armenians and Azerbaijanis remain scattered throughout 40 or more camps in Azerbaijan ...
Comment by kaya on Saturday, Sep 29 at 09:48 AM
Dear Charlie: Another issue I really hoped you'd ask PM's views about is the Nagorno-Karabakh invasion in 1992. After all, the Turkey-Armenia border is closed because of the Armenian invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh, not the genocide claims or anything else. According to the New York Times (July 24, 2000), approximately one million Azerbaijani refugees who fled Nagorno-Karabakh after outbreak of fighting in 1992 between Armenians and Azerbaijanis remain scattered throughout 40 or more camps in Azerbaijan ...
Comment by kaya on Saturday, Sep 29 at 09:25 AM
Dear Charlie: When bringing up the issue of the Armenian claims of genocide, I am somewhat disappointed that you didn't open up the issue of Armenian terror acts against the Turkish diplomats. Killing diplomats should really tell about the nature of who we are dealing with. In the time period from 1973 to 1994, 110 acts of terror were carried out by Armenian terrorists in 38 cities of 21 countries. 39 of these were armed attacks, 70 of them bomb attacks and one was an occupation. 42 Turkish diplomats and 4 foreign nationals were assassinated in these attacks, while 15 Turks and 66 foreign nationals were wounded.
Comment by Eric on Saturday, Sep 29 at 04:11 AM
Dear Mr.Rose Congratulation on a great conversation with Mr.Erdogan. I just read the comments here mostly from Armenian, Greek decants and once more i am puzzled with the way this people think. Turkey is a great ally of us America and is one of the countries that help us in Afghanistan and Iraq the most i guess, for this commentators that doesn't mean anything even though they are"i assume" mostly Americans they were born and raised in this country but they dont give a shit about this countries America's interest. unfortunately i dont consider this people as true Americans they are just visitors. it is so sad to see this. i guess, my advice is since you dont care about America why not go home and help your fellow citizens with whatever. Turks always stood by America and helped us in Korea,Somali, Bosnia, first Gulf war, Afghanistan, Iraq.. what did Greeks or Armenians do for us when we need it help... NOTHING..... I dont necessarily feel like i should care about your problems About this Armenian claims. one has to wonder why Armenians are still not responding the Mr PM offer to form a comity to solve the problem. unless you got something you dont want people to find out that should be welcomed by Armenians here and their homeland. apparently it has been 2 years since this offer was made and yet no respond. why not go for it. he is offering a solution. let it be research and reveal as to what really happened. Cyprus issue These two groups i think, they work hand in hand whenever there is something about Turkey you always see these people making nasty comments. i dont know much about this Cyprus issue i have to admit but i know Turkey along with Britain and Greece are the guarantor countries on the Island of Cyprus. when Greeks started killing innocent Turks to merge the island with the homeland. Turks naturally went over there to protect their countrymen. I am not sure what Greeks expected Turks to do just sit there and watch while their people massacred..... And it was and still Turks legal right to be there as a guarantor country to protect her citizens. to me this is a classical example of "biting more than you can chew" overall, your country should come first.. be patriotic to your country America first.
Comment by Bob on Saturday, Sep 29 at 02:47 AM
Does Turkey have any homosexuals?
Comment by Mark Willows on Saturday, Sep 29 at 01:42 AM
My point is it is not right to reduce the context of every Turkey related debate to Armenians and Greeks of pre WW-1 era. After all, USA is not the best candidate to question the other countries about wars, massacres and genocides. After all we are in the process of Afghanistan, Iraq wars which are totally UNFOUNDED and UNJUSTIFIED. My points are well directed to folks who remember their own personal history when they hear about Turkey. They should realize Erdogan is the best leader they can get. The next guy will be much tougher and they cannot even get anything out of him. Instead, they could monitor and help their native Armenian citizens in the current homeland who try to get on their life with all their neighbors including Azeris. Insisting on stigmas doesn't help the standard of living in Armenia in general. But with hate they become blind to the realities of their homeland.
Comment by Dante Van on Saturday, Sep 29 at 12:41 AM
Mark Willows- People bringing up inaccuracies/denials in general world history do so in order to prevent atrocities in the future. Although descendants of Turkish massacres and genocide may feel it hitting closer to home due to whole branches in family trees being severed, historical accuracy is a universal issue. Charlie has lost his fastball when he just sat there like a bumbling old man and let Erdogan call the shots in denying the Armenian Genocide. Or rather, maybe Charlie Rose was complicit due to his own religious/ethnic background serving a cause closer to home. Again, he had the stones to rightfully go after Ahmadinajad, but then aided an abetted a country who spends millions in denying a dark and murderous history. Charlie Rose blew it, and lost my respect along the way.
Comment by Van on Saturday, Sep 29 at 12:33 AM
Greetings Mr. Rose, I watched your program with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey on 9/27/2007. I wanted to provide couple of third party references to the Prime Minister regarding the events surrounding the Armenians around 1915. I thought it is the least I can do to support his search for the facts. "Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?" A quote from 1939 attributed to Adolf Hitler I realize that this particular quote might be difficult to confirm with the original source. Therefore, I like to pass along the following link to the free online encyclopedia, which is where I start most of my research projects. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide While you are at it, kindly pass along the following link to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holocaust Best regards, Van
Comment by Mark Willows on Friday, Sep 28 at 11:34 PM
As Americans of Greek and Armenian descent, you should all be get over the history. You are now Americans first and have to be open to go into understanding without any prejudice. The wars had been fought and no need to open any more wounds. If you still live in the history, you should consider getting over it.
Comment by Chrisanthy LaBua on Friday, Sep 28 at 10:45 PM
I watch your shows regularly and with great interest. But yesterday, your inteview with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan left me completely upset and disappointed. You failed to ask him about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus as though it never happened, while it is still going on since 1974. You let him go on to promote and project his govenment's position on the Armenian Genocide without challenging him. You missed the opportunity to ask the tough questions, like you did with Ahmadinejad two days earlier. I wonder why you had to be so agreeable. I had to laugh when he talked about rebuilding Armenian churches, while the Turks have totally destroyed all Greek churches, do not recognize the rights of the Patriarchate in Constantinople, and keep the Chalki Seminary closed. While I appreciate the geopolitical focus of the interview as a whole, since you had a lot of important issues to cover, I really believe that the Cyprus issue was just as important in this context.
Comment by kaya on Friday, Sep 28 at 10:02 PM
Dear Charlie: Your interview with PM Erdogan was one of the most interesting/impressive talks in your program. Erdogan has a lot of contructive ideas and clearly he has positive influence in a region where the US policy is in deep trouble, however, what is really the most significant here is that it is clear that he is a rational person. His views and suggestions on the Armenian genocide claims are really refreshing - I support his approach regarding that ALL parties involved (France and Russia, particularly) are to make their records public. What more can one ask? Some comments here are trying to make a parallel between the Jewish genocide in the Nazi Germany (and Europe) and the Armenian uprising (and its consequencies) in the Ottoman Empire. Simply, such parallel does not make any sense. The Ottoman Armenians tried to take advantage of the failing empire to push the Turks out to make themselves a country by means of terror (mass killings, systematic rape, collobrating with invating Russian army, etc - all documented). History is very clear about the Armenian terror in the Ottoman empire and its European supporters -that is why it is essential that the third parties (especially, France and Russia, the supporters of this concept)are to make their records public. On the other hand, the Jews in Nazi Germany had not killed a single (pure blood?) German for the Jewish cause of an independant state. Moreover, no one gave any help/support to the Jews against the Germans, of which everyone (especially, the European nations)are clearly guilty. Let us not try to lessen to the Jews to make some political gains here. Let us not forget the Ottoman Empire was the only country that took Jews from Spain in circa 1450s when they have nowhere to go.
Comment by Alain on Friday, Sep 28 at 09:09 PM
It is amazing how many interviewers and politicians get into very creative and selective MoRaLiTy when it comes to rightfully take a just stand on the Armenian Genocide. How would we feel if the same was done about the Holocaust or 9/11? During your interview, the Prime Minister could not admit( and you did not point it out) that Armenia was a neighbor whose border Turkey has closed. The church restauration as you know was turned into a Turkish museum, and still no comment from you. A country like France has had the courage both politically and in the media to look Turkey in the face and tell it to face the facts substantiated by about 20 countries, the European Human Rights Commissian, the International Associations of Holocaust and Genocide Scholars, the International Center for Transitional Hustice, to name but a few. Even when historian Ara Sarafian challenged the Head of the Turkish Historical Society to produce deportation documentation, when it came to deliver, there was only deceit and playacting. Charlie, it's time you allowed Armenian writers,Historians, Religious people,and impartial speakers talk about what happened to Historic Armenia, finally allow for this bottled Truth to come out, the first Genocide of the 20th Century. Let's not do it for us but for the children.
Comment by araz on Friday, Sep 28 at 08:55 PM
As a regular viewer of your show, I was so disappointed by the fact that you didn't even bother to mention the thousand of historical facts, thousand of publications about the armenian genocide. You should have another interview with a prominent armenian historian who can give you facts after facts about the events of 1915.
Comment by Dante Van on Friday, Sep 28 at 07:06 PM
Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, Wow, what a total ass-kisser you have become. You totally blew it when Erdogan threw in the cheap shot regarding the Armenian Genocide, and you totally enabled him to deny it. Of course, when the Iranian President was on, you grilled him relentlessly on the Jewish Holocaust. What a total double standard you set. I am not sure what your ethnic/religious background is, or what your political views are, but, it seemed like you "orchestrated" the denial of the Armenian Genocide segment. What a total copout.
Comment by Nevzat Yilmaz on Friday, Sep 28 at 04:43 PM
Turkey fought its War of Independence from 1919-1922 against the allied forces of France, Great Britain, Greece and Armenia. At the time, Armenia was not fighting the Turks to avenge for an alleged genocide. It was fighting to lay claim to their ancient ancestral lands that was in turn some other culture's ancient ancestral land throughout the long course of human history. Ottoman Turks were as expansionist as any empire and they fought as hard and as cruelly as any empire to reach their goals. What was unique to them was to let the minorities they conquered practice their religion and preserve their culture for the most part. Or else we would not be talking of Armenians, Greeeks, Christians, Assyrians, Jews or any other minority existing in Anatolia or in the vast reaches of what was once Ottoman Territory for over 600 years. If the Ottomans had in mind wiping out a people during their crushingly powerful reign, they would have done so while they were in position of superior authority and not wait until 1915 while they were fighting in WWI against all odds with the armies of Britain, France, Italy, Greece, Arabs and the Russians. Armenian gangscommited attrocities aginst Muslim villagers in eastern and south-eastern Anatolia and sided outwardly with the Russians in fighting the Turks. Turks took severe measures to combat the onslaught and decided to displace the Armenians in the questioned parts and deport them to lands where they would no longer pause a threat. The deportation marches turned into a tragedy and many Armenian lives were lost. I'd hate to say it but such as war. All nations who claim to be civilized have dark spots on their historical conscience. We have to come to terms with these terrible incidents and reconcile for better relationships among nations, among cultures and among peoples of differing faiths. As Prime Minister Erdogan stated on the show, Turkish archives are accessible to anybody and other nations ought to follow suit on this issue. Turkish lobby and the small Turkish-American community is dwarfed by the sizes of Greek and Armenian lobbies and the incomparable size of Greek and Armenian communities. Their voices have been much louder than the Turkish voices. They do everything within their means to stifle even a tiny pro-Turkish squeek and not allow any equitable platform for the Turks to defend their views. A similar scenario is encountered in Western Europe; especially in France. Turks are a proud people. They have every right to speak what they know to be true and defend their views. Turks will not be intimated and pushed aside by political clout and propaganda.
Comment by Sevag Parsehian on Friday, Sep 28 at 04:32 PM
Dear Charlie, as a regular viewer of your show, I am so disappointed at the fact that you didnt bother mentioning the reasons why the Armenian president or the Armenian people refuse to dispute among historians that the Armenian genocide happened. Its like the Jews agreeing with the leader of Iran to review archives to see if the Holocaust happened. That would never happen becuase its a proven fact that the Holacaust happened just as its a proven fact, by historians and many nations throughout the world, that a genocide took place against the Armenains by the Turks. Its a spit in the face to all Armenians, especially to the ones that perished by the hands of the Turks. I hope that next time around you become a bit more agressive with these deniers and not try to make friends. It is your job to make sure the truth comes out and sad to say, you failed this time around.
Comment by Mert on Friday, Sep 28 at 03:19 PM
Charlie, I am a frequent watcher of your show and this rare appearance by a Turkish politician was refreshing to hear. On the issue of Cyprus, one has to look at the events leading up to the Turkish invasion and what pressures the minority Turkish population was under before reaching "occupation" conclusions. Also, prior to the greek-cypriots' membership into the EU recently, there was a referandum by the two populations to merge the island once again - the greek side voted to keep separate whereas the turkish side voted in favor - and Turkey was supportive of a merger. There is a very small christian population in Turkey compared to the rest of the population - nowhere near the % in Syria - and there is no restrictions in anyway - explicit or implicit - to non-muslims in Turkey. When jews were being persecuted throughout Europe for centuries, the Turks provided a safe-haven. How did the greeks (or armenians or romanians or bulgarians) maintain their language/religion/culture under the Ottoman rule for 300 years plus if the Turks were so barbaric and genocidal?!? Also, as far as flights between Istanbul and Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, there are two per week - available to find with a simple google search. Turks outside of Turkey feel uncomfortable when they meet convinced Armenians because of their dogmatic and hostile approach - not to be confused with shame. Individual experiences abound by the hundreds I am sure - on both sides - and I found the prime minister's offer to settle this with a commission to be fair. If this is such a open-and-shut case, why not take it up?
Comment by isgouhi on Friday, Sep 28 at 02:50 PM
Hello Charlie, the fact that mr. erdogan requested to add the bit about our(ARMENIAN GENOCIDE), shows how guilty they still feel about it. what more facts and files he needs than the fact that my own grandmother had to leave her three year old daughter behind during their atrocities against armenians, because she could no longer carry her. until the day she died, she would hear the cry and shout of her daughter ringing in her ears asking for her mom not to leave her behind. just telling this story makes me cry and sends the chills down my back. the other fact is about both my parents and their families who lived in EASTERN ARMENIA that still is occupied by the turks, had to leave everything behind(house, money, belongings and all) and be deported to different countries of the middle east. mr. erdogan made reference saying turkish government has already opened airways between eastern armenia and them does not mean it is open between turkey and western armenia and shall never be until the government admits to they killed 1.5 million armenians in 1915. I am not even talking about the ones that have not been accounted for. one more example, turks who live outside turkey, feel ashamed and uncomfortable when they meet me and learn that i am Armenian. How will he explain that. Dear Charlie, I suggest you interview our politicians to hear our side of the story and let others judge and make their educated opinions. the wound is still to fresh and it shall never heal. Charlie hope you read all our comments and heed to my suggestion.
Comment by Socrates on Friday, Sep 28 at 01:43 PM
Dear Charlie, I am amazed how you ignored the 40,000 Turkish troop occupation of Cyprus. You never asked a question about this occupation that happened on July 20, 1974. Since 1974, over 300 churches were looted, destroyed, or converted to mosques. 180,000 Greek Cypriots were forcibly displaced from their homes. These properties were stolen by Turkey and to this day they are not allowed to go back to live in the occupied Turkish zone. They imported over 80,000 Turkish mainland settlers to live in homes belonging to Greek Cypriots. Turkey refuses to normalize relations with Cyprus. Turkey refuses to reunite the island. I wonder why ignored this issue? Are you a journalist or trying to promote Turkish interests? The Turkish military occupation of Cyprus is the main reason why their accession to the EU remains extremely low. What about Turkish treatment of Christians and the Ecumenical Patriarchate? Syria treats Christians better then in Turkey.
Comment by christopher on Friday, Sep 28 at 12:55 PM
Your double standard vis-a-vis the holocaust and the Armenian Genocide is appalling. 20 members of my family were killed during the Armenian Genocide along with 1.5 Million other Armenians and 1.5 milion Greek and Assyrian Christians. Hrant Dink was just assassinated for being Armenian in Turky in 2007, for Christ's sakes...Turkey is a filthy country of racists and demagogues and the fact that our media aids and abets them by letting them skirt the issue of Gencoide is teribel any way you look at it.
Comment by Vahit Sametoglu on Friday, Sep 28 at 12:08 PM
The so-called â??Armenian Genocideâ?? is not genocide in any way, they are unfortunate consequences of mutual disagreements and warfare. The Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, but this incident took place in 1915; therefore, Turkey is not and cannot be held accountable. Turks and Armenians lived together peacefully for about eight centuries in the same geographical area (six centuries under the Ottoman rule). They enjoyed freedom of religion and sustained their culture, language, traditions and faith. So, what happened 1915 so that the Ottoman Empire decided to massacre Armenians all of a sudden? Why did they wait for six centuries to kill Armenians? These are some of the questions that those genocide claimants cannot and will not answer. In early twentieth century, the political, economic and social aspects of the Ottoman Empire declined substantially and eventually caused its dissolution in 1922. During this period, Russiaâ??s goal was to reach Anatolia and the Mediterranean Sea. To this end, they provoked and instigated the Armenians against the Ottoman government and promised them to have their own sovereign state. Since the Ottoman army was in dispute and warfare against many powerful armies from the West (the British, the French, Italians, Greeks and Arabs from the south), it was not in a position to deal with the Armenians. The Armenians started to rise up and demanded to have their own territory. The Ottoman Empire, in a way, was stabbed from the back, since Armenians seemed to have no significant problems with the government and they were loyal citizens and there were plenty of high ranking officers and merchants of Armenian background in the Ottoman society. Many illegal Armenian gangs attacked Turkish-majority villages in the present-day eastern Turkey and killed many innocent people. In order to deal with the Armenians, the Ottoman Empire decided to force them to migrate to another region where they would pose less threat. During this mandatory migration, many Armenians died owing to various reasons including diseases, harsh winter conditions, lack of food and even some excessive force exerted by the Ottoman forces. (I do not blame Armenians for demanding their own independent state. Because, â??nationalismâ?? was a very popular ideal in that period. It is sociologically natural to anticipate such a demand from a minority group.) There were many clashes between the Armenian rebels and the Ottoman Army, where large numbers of soldiers and civilians died from both parties. The Ottoman archives estimate that there were a few hundreds of thousands of victims from each side. The Diaspora Armenians, first, claimed that 300,000 Armenians were killed. Ever since then, whoever brought up this issue has added new figures to this amount from their wild imagination. Today, some even claim that it was 2.5 million Armenians. The census done before this incident shows that there were 700,000 Armenians only. Even if this count is somewhat askew, there are still many inconsistencies and fallacies. All in all, there were several hundreds of thousands of victims on both sides each, and all of these took place in state of active and mutual war. Unfortunately, many people were killed. I am sorry for those who were victims of this unfortunate course of events, whether they were Armenians or Turks. However, this, under no circumstances, can be classified as genocide. The definition of genocide includes deliberate, premeditated, active, pre-emptive, indiscriminate and systematic mass-murder of a certain group of people due to their beliefs, nationality, ethnicity or race. This incident does not qualify for this at all. It became a puppet in the hands of some shrewd and sinister politicians. Turkey is and has been ready to open up all the historical archives, put them at expertsâ?? disposal and debate these matters with qualified historians, political scientists, and legal experts in an open forum. Turkey invited the Armenian government on numerous occasions to constitute a joint-commission to review these documents and handle these very sensitive issues and reach a mutually acceptable conclusion, but was fiercely rejected. Turkey also encouraged other nations who have documents in regards to this incident to come forward and join this commission and work together. Turkey wants to resolve this issue once and for all in light of authentic historical documents and unbiased scientific discussions and come clean. Today, there is still a vibrant Armenians community in Turkey enjoying a standard of life envied by many average people. Recently, we see a rise in ultranationalism exhibited by a small number of Turks against some minority groups. However, this does not pose a threat to law-abiding minorities of Turkey. Mainstream Turkish people and many intellectuals abhorred these hate-filled remarks and actions vehemently. The safety of all minority groups is protected by the Constitution. They are just as equal before laws. Unfortunately, we cannot fully eliminate such extreme political perverts. Just like, there are still KKK members in the USA, neo-Nazis in Europe. Turkey is on the right path as to become more democratic, pluralist, liberal and free. I would like to thank Mr. Erdogan for expressing these concerns and Mr. Rose for having a balanced and intellectually rich conversation.
Comment by Mary Robertson on Friday, Sep 28 at 10:26 AM
Charlie, I love your show and happened to watch the interview with PM Erdogan. He is very impressive and interesting; however, he did skirt around the holocaust question you posed and the Armenian issue has always been historically documented--France, Greece, USA,missionaries from Europe, Ambassador Morganthau, even Turkish scholars and Hitler, etc. acknowledged the genocide that took place. The greatest testament belongs to the generations of Armenians who learned the fate of their grandparents/parents. How does one have documented proof when an entire culture was nearly decimated from their ancient homeland. The Turkish government of 1915 has done well to eradicate the peoples of her land who happen to be Christian. I'm certain the Armenians will respond to the PM and I give him credit for trying to resolve this issue.
Comment by Eric on Friday, Sep 28 at 06:30 AM
I have to say that it was an interesting interview. Mr.Erdogan had some constructive ideas about the Iraq and it was also interesting to hear how much help Turkey provides in Iraq which we never get to hear over here. also it was very refreshing to hear his proposal again on the Armenian claims which makes perfect sense if Armenians are so certain and confident about their claim why not respond to Mr. Erdogan's proposal and have the issue settle once and for all. That alone tells me that there is something fishy about the Armenian claims. i didn't even know that he proposed this two years ago and he didn't get any respond from Armenia or the Armenians here in USA till this day. Here in this country we believe all suspects are Innocent till proven guilty. I think, Turkey deserve her day in the court lets not find her guilty before she can make her case. Good Job Mr. Rose Congratulation Best Regards. Eric M.
Comment by Jim on Friday, Sep 28 at 06:00 AM
Your interview with the Turkish Prime Minister was very informative and provided a good insight into the new ruling party, AKP. The Prime Minister was intelligent and poised when answering questions and explaining his views on Turkey's position on various topics. I have been reading about this "genocide issue" and I am happy the Prime Minister touched on the topic. After much research I have come to the conclusion that the Turkish proposal to have a commission on the issue is both realistic and logical. The Armenian lobby is very powerful in the US and especially in Caifornia. The Armenian denial of many valid historical facts is a trajedy for the Armenian people and Armenia itself. Its time that Turkish people wake up and start presenting their side of the story and inform the public and ignorant American politicians on the many valid historical points on this so called "genocide". I was amazed the Prime Minister said that over 1 million historical documents from the alleged "genocide period" have been opened up for research. READ, RESEARCH AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE!!
Comment by Armen on Friday, Sep 28 at 02:34 AM
Dear Charlie, as a regular viewer of your show I am outraged that you would allow Erdogan's denial of the Armenian Genocide go unchallenged. As a descendant of genocide survivors I see absolutely no difference between Ahmadinejadâ??s statements and those of Erdoganâ??s. You rightfully asked Erdogan to speak out against Ahmadinejadâ??s desire to see more â??researchâ?? on the holocaust, yet you allowed him to repeat the same denial with the same exact request. There is no dispute among historians on this topic that has been long settled. The handful of historians who deny the genocide are either on Turkish payroll, or thoroughly committed to sacrificing historical truths as long as it benefits the state of Israel.
Comment by Vahagn Avedian
Mostly it is the lack of knowledge that makes poor explanations such as this one made by the PM Erdogan about the Armenian Genocide to go unchallenged. Had Mr. Rose done his home work better on the subject there would not be any chance for such ridiculous statement as "Where are the documents? Because it`s --you cannot have this accusation without facts." The amount of proof and documents, beside those “exist-but-you-can-not-access” in the Ottoman Archives, are abundant. The Austrian, German, Russian, French, British and American archives contain enough material to fill several volumes of work, which they most certainly have done. Today, the Armenian Genocide is the second well-studied genocide case after the Holocaust. Just because the Turkish state has chosen to ignore international research (and continue to do so) does not mean that they don’t exist. For further reading I recommend (among many others) the following:
- Chalk, Frank and Jonassohn, Kurt, The History and Sociology of Genocide, Analyses and Case Studies, London, 1990
- Charny, Israel W., Encyclopedia of Genocide, Vol. 1, Oxford, 2000
- Charny, Israel W., Toward a Generic Definition of Genocide, in Andreopoulos, G. (ed.), The Conceptual and Historical Dimensions of Genocide, Philadelphia, 1994
- Dadrian, Vahakn N., The Comparative Aspects of the Armenian and Jewish Cases of Genocide: A Sociohistorical Perspective, in Rosenbaum, Alan S. (ed.), Is the Holocaust Unique?, Colorado, 1996
- Destexhe, Alain, Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century, London, 1995
- Fein, Helen, Genocide Watch, New York, 1992
- Huttenbach, Henry, From the Editor: Towards a Conceptual Definition of Genocide, Journal of Genocide Research, 4, No. 2, 2002
- Jones, Adam, Genocide, A Comprehensive Introduction, New York, 2006
- Katz, Steven T., The Uniqueness of the Holocaust; The Historical Dimension, in Rosenbaum, Alan S. (ed.), Is the Holocaust Unique?, Colorado, 1996
- Mace, James E., Facts and Values: A Personal Intellectual Exploration, in Totten, Samuel and Jacobs, Steven Leonard (ed.), Pioneers of Genocide Studies, New Jersey, 2002
- Magnusson, Kjell, Holocaust and Genocide Studies: Survey of Previous Research, Research Agenda, The Uppsala Programme for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 8-54. Uppsala, 1999
- Melson, Robert F., Revolution and Genocide, On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust, Chicago, 1992
- Novick, Peter, The Holocaust in the American Life, New York, 1999
- Shaw, Martin, War and genocide : organized killing in modern society, Cambridge, 2003
- Shermer, Michael and Grobman, Alex, Denying history: Who says the Holocaust never happened and why do they say it?, Berkeley, 2000
- Stannard, David E., Uniqueness as Denial: The Politics of Genocide Scholarship, in Rosenbaum, Alan S. (ed.), Is the Holocaust Unique?, Colorado, 1996
- Staub, Ervin, The Psychology of Bystanders, Perpetrators, and Heroic Helpers, in Erber, Ralph and Newman, Leonard S., Understanding Genocide, The Social Psychology of the Holocaust, Oxford, 2002
- Steinman, Lionel B., Paths to genocide: Antisemitism in Western history, New York, 2000
- Tatz, Colin, With Intent to Destroy, London, 2003
- Taylor, Alan John Percivale, The struggle for mastery in Europe 1848-1918, Oxford, 1971
- Valentino, Benjamin A., Final Solutions, Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century, New York, 2004
- Várdy, Steven Béla and Tooley, T. Hunt, Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe, New York, 2003
- Adalian, Rouben Paul, Remembering and Understanding the Armenian Genocide, Yerevan, 1995
- Akçam, Taner, A Shameful Act, The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, New York, 2006
- Alvarez, Alex, Governments, Citizens, and Genocide, A Comparative and Interdisciplinary Approach, Indiana, 2001
- Astourian, Stephan H., Genocidal Process : Reflections on the Armeno-Turkish Polarization, in Hovannisian, Richard G. (ed.), The Armenian Genocide, History, Politics, Ethics, London, 1992
- Auron, Yair, The Banality of Indifference, Zionism and the Armenian Genocide, New Jersey, 2002
- Bauer, Yehuda, Rethinking the Holocaust, Virginia, 2001
- Bevan, Robert, The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War, Chicago, 2006; http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/1861892055.html
- Dadrian, Vahakn N., The Key Elements in the Turkish Denial of the Armenian Genocide: A Case Study of Distortion and Falsification, Toronto, 1999
- Dadrian, Vahakn N., The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus, Berghahn, 2004
- Foss, Clive, The Turkish View of Armenian History: A Vanishing Nation, in Hovannisian, Richard G. (ed.), The Armenian Genocide, History, Politics, Ethics, London, 1992
- Gaunt, David, Massacres, Resistance, Protectors: Muslim-Christian Relations in Eastern Anatolia During World War I, New Jersey, 2006
- Gerner, Kristian och Karlsson, Klas-Göran, Folkmordens historia, Perspektiv på det moderna samhällets skuggsida, Stockholm, 2005
- Graber, G. S., Caravans to Oblivion, The Armenian Genocide, 1915, New York, 1996
- Hovannisian, Richard G., Armenia on the Road to Independence, Los Angeles, 1967
- Hovannisian, Richard G., The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, Vol. II, Basingstoke, 1997
- Miller, Donald E. and Miller Touryan, Lorna, Women and Children of the Armenian Genocide, in Hovannisian, Richard G. (ed.), The Armenian Genocide, History, Politics, Ethics, London, 1992
- Moranian, Suzanne Elizabeth, Bearing Witness : The Missionary Archives as Evidence of the Armenian Genocide, in Hovannisian, Richard G. (ed.), The Armenian Genocide, History, Politics, Ethics, London, 1992
- Pasdermadjian, Hrant, Histoire de l'Arménie depuis les origines jusqu'au traité de Lausanne, Paris, 1949
- Schabas, William A., Genocide in International Law, Cambridge, 2000
- Weitz, Eric D., A Century of Genocide, Utopia of Race and Nation, Princeton, 2003
- Zayas, Alfred de, The Twentieth Century’s First Genocide: International Law, Impunity, the Right to Reparations, and the Ethnic Cleansing Against the Armenians, 1915-16, in Várdy, Steven Béla and Tooley, T. Hunt (ed.), Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe, New York, 2003
As far as it goes for the “Akdamar” island, first of all, it’s “Akhtamar” and not that distorted name which the Turkish government has name the island as they have with all other Armenian churches, monasteries, towns, cities, rivers and mountains, in the last act of erasing any trace of Armenian presence in the region. Secondly, that particular church is one out of several thousands which where destroyed by the Turkish government in order to erase Armenian presence in the country. In 1914 the Armenian Archbishop in Constantinople presented a list over Armenian sacred sites under his supervision. The list contained 2549 religious sites of which 200 were monasteries while 1600 were churches. An inspection in 1974 revealed that only 916 Armenian churches could be identified, of which half were as good as totally destroyed and among the rest only ruins remained of 252 objects.
These are facts. And there are plenty more if PM Erdogan whishes to be enlightened on the subject.
With best regards,
Chief Editor of Armenica.org
01 October, 2007 18:26
Letter To The Editor
Dear Murat, Oct.2, 2007
Regarding the comments of Vahakn Avedian, looking at the bibliography he presents, he is definitely a blind bigot, reading only what he wants and likes to read and is afraid of learning which may erase his previous conclusions.
If Mr. Avedian had read only many postings you have provided, plus videos, plus a rich assortment of the newspapers headlines under http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2007/09/1961-new-series-innocent-armenians.html , he should have admitted that :
* Most Armenians were either belligerents de facto or they had to support the revolutionists
* The braveries for treason of Armenian Dashnak and Hinchak fractions are written everywhere. The data have been accumulated here on this site, show that it was always the Armenians who fired the first shot and caused trouble to attract international intervention, and that Turks retaliated. However, the record for the kind of tortures and methods of killings certainly rests with ‘humpabets’. I really hate as a human, to reflect such savageries, exceeding beasts, knowing that they have been reciprocal and that no one was an angel.
* The bibliography Mr. Avedian presents, reflects his sources of information, which are all defected. Were the American, British newspapers LYING when writing of Armenian revolts and victories? Are the documents in British, US, French archives fake like Andonian documents? It becomes a reality of life that persons who are scared of truth, would believe only in “what they want or prefer to believe”. I feel sorry for Mr. Avedian for having made no reference to Armenian dignitaries and historians, such as Kachaznuni, A.A. Lalaian, Arthur Derunian, Akaby Nassibian and Armenian bigots such as Joseph Grabill. All sources he has given is nothing more than soap foam.
* Speaking of facts in the last paragraph of his commentary, Mr. Avedian seems to forget that in 1850, 70% of the population of Yerevan and Caucasia, were Muslims! Can he show, but just one Muslim family living or Mosque standing? It was the Dashnak policy to cleanse all areas from non-Armenians. Does he push that Turkey sends back some 70.000 illegal visitors?
* Armenian sources (plus other several international) write that in 1918 there were about 1 million Armenians living and that only during their 2 years of Republic until 1920, (after the Ottoman Empire had surrendered and parts were under Greek, French-Armenian, British occupation) more than 200.000 starved to death in Armenia only! The Armenian Dashnak and Hunchak fractions have repeatedly and publically confirmed their fidelity to Csarit Russia, + Britain & France, later to Soviets (who saved the rest from starvation) and finally to the Nazist Germany! Armenians today write books that “Jews committed Armenian Genocide” again using soap references. The fact is that thousands of Jews (like Kurds and Turks) were totally cleansed in the area.(There remains only 300 Jews in Yerevan, as a “threat to Armenia”!)
Dear Murat, reading through some of the commentaries which you have posted where Armenians always act together with the same aggressive tone, I do not think that I fit in the same category of thinking or argument. If anyone would be afraid to read anything opposite to Biblical or Divinity teachings, such as Evolution or Atheism, let us not disturb them! Let them believe that the World was created in seven days, that it started with Noah or Abraham and is not older than 6.000 years! Let it be their freedom of opinion, which does not prove that their opinion is correct. The references given by Mr. Avedian are of writers who heavily imagined or distorted facts and closed their eyes to other evidences and logical interpretations. Until I am proven to be wrong by concrete evidences, they are all wrong… and this is my freedom of opinion about them.
All The Best
Name & Address Witheld