- "Armenian General Is Needed In Turkish Army" Sedat Laciner
- Scrappy Fighter (Taraf) in Turkey's Media Battles & Eye Of The Storm
- Fitting Diplomatic Price
- End Of The Apology Campaign, Ö E Lutem
- Turkey Inches Toward Genocide Recognition
- Turkey's 'Most Courageous Newspaper'
- President Warns Against Impact Of 1915 Apology
- Gül Says Apology Campaign Hurts Armenia Reconciliation Bid
- Armenian Anti-Racism: Turkish Parliament Is Considering Amending Penal Code
- Greeks And Armenians - Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend
- Armenian Genocide: Temel Demirer Defends Against Mehmet Ali Sahin
- Richard Hoagland Says He Never Denied Genocide
- Armenian Genocide: Sedat Laçiner Opposed Pétion Excuse
- Turkey: How To Avoid Issue Of Genocide
- Police To Be Held Accountable For Rights Violations
"An Armenian General Is Needed In The Turkish Army" Sedat Laciner
Human rights violations during the forced deportation of Armenians during World War I did not go unpunished, a senior analyst at the International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO/USAK) in Ankara has said.
In an interview with Sunday's Zaman, ISRO/USAK Chairman Professor Sedat Laçiner, commented on recent developments, with particular reference to the apology campaign launched by a group of Turkish intellectuals and said no apology was needed on the matter. He explained his viewpoint on the entire Armenian issue to Sunday's Zaman.
You described this initiative as sabotage of the gradually improving relations between Turkey and Armenia. Isn't this an exaggeration?
My statement was not exactly like that; but I should note that I did not like this campaign. First, there is a problem regarding the timing. If this were initiated last year in an attempt to force both societies to take some action, maybe we would not have this problem right now. But currently there is no need for this. At a time when there is rapprochement between the two societies, this campaign prepared the ground on which people like Canan Arıtman and radical groups will raise their voices. The Dashnaks [an Armenian ultranationalist group] on the Armenian side now say, "Well, why do you need a dialogue process now? These guys have just come to your terms; they are about to admit their fault. Just be patient for a few years; Obama also took office; you should consider this, as well." The Dashnaks were opposed to dialogue; they were isolated. You should also note that [Armenian President Serzh] Sarksyan is also a radical; but he has come to this point: "If we fail to have an agreement with the Turks, we can't ensure Armenia's survival." They inevitably have to maintain good ties with Turkey.
For economic reasons?
Both economic and political. Armenia is a landlocked country bordering Turkey. They do not have good relations with Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey or Georgia. Russia is unable to fulfill their expectations. The opening of the border gate with Turkey is important because it is like the trachea. For this reason, they have to have good relations with Turkey even if they don't want to. They did not change their views with respect to the genocide claims; the intention and goal of this campaign should be clarified. The signatories include names who hold views endorsed by the Dashnaks.
Are you implying that they have been manipulated?
Maybe. Because the issue is about to lose its status as a taboo, every step is being discussed extensively. They should have known that there would be such a strong reaction. If they apologize for the sufferings of the Armenians without mentioning the pains of the Turks, I would have difficulty believing that they are really intellectuals. Second, the state should have acted smartly on this issue. There was no need for the prime minister's counter statement. This is not a situation where the General Staff needs to make a statement. It is not a scientific board; it is not a party to the Armenian problem. It is not the supreme body that represents the state. Its statement did not contribute to the ongoing discussion. Both parties need to empathize. We are talking about over 1 million Muslims killed during the same period. Some of these people were tortured to death by Armenians.
There have been some allegations suggesting that Armenians assaulted Muslims only after the events in 1915, implying that there were no such offenses committed by Armenians before the deportations.
Such serious ignorance is possible only if you study a lot, because the Armenian events started in the second half of the 19th century. The 1915 events are the final scenes of the movie. You cannot possibly understand the whole story by taking a look at the final scene, nor can you offer an apology based on this. An edition of The New York Times from 1895 talks about 200,000 heavily armed Armenians taking action against the state. The movement had already developed aspirations for independence.
Is not it possible that the larger Armenian community still remained unarmed?
Of course; but if you consider this figure with their children and relatives added, you will conclude that there was a wholesale insurgency and that a substantial part of Armenian society was armed. While this war was fought, Muslim communities, including Turks and Kurds, suffered a lot. In some places blood feuds erupted between Kurds and Armenians.
Is there nothing positive about this campaign?
There is something in such campaigns that makes me happy. Turkey is not the most democratic country in the world, but we have started to become one because of the Armenian issue. I mean you cannot start a similar campaign in Armenia. A Turk cannot do research in historical archives in Armenia. And it isn't just Armenia; if you go to Switzerland and you are asked, "What do you think about the Armenian genocide?" and if you reply that you do not think there was such a crime in the past, you will be prosecuted and convicted in court. This is also the case in France. You can lose your job if you deny the genocide claims in the US. There is only one country in the world where the Armenian issue can be discussed and that is Turkey. This pleases me.
How has Turkey apologized?
There were serious human rights violations during the deportations committed by Turkish security forces. If you displace more than 800,000 people from their homes and take them to a distant place, they will liquidate their assets; they will take the money. Imagine that they travel on foot. Most of them are carrying valuable jewelry. The state assigned two guards per 1,000 people. These guards had primitive weapons. In the end, people faced assaults.
What was the İstanbul government doing during this period?
Even during the deportation process the government in İstanbul seriously considered criticism. It took effective action against even relatively insignificant violations. It demanded the necessary punishment for offenses committed during this period. Courts were set up to prosecute the offenders. More than 1,000 suspects -- about 500 were police officers, military officers and members of secret services -- were effectively prosecuted. Sixty-seven of them were executed. These included high-level military officers and district administrators removed from office.
What was the number of defendants executed in the Nuremberg trials?
The number of execution verdicts at the trials set up in the aftermath of the Holocaust was 12. Let us assume there was a genocide committed by Turks. A court was set up to prosecute the offenders; 67 people were executed based on the rulings issued by this court. We also know that a number of other defendants were given other sentences, including exile. In addition, the trials were further extended in 1919 because of pressure by the British. A war court was set up to deal with this matter. This court ruled for the execution of two governors and one district governor; these three people were apprehended. I give this example because these were important figures. Many others were arrested, including the gendarmerie commander of Yozgat. The former Diyarbakır governor fled. He was surrounded in Beşiktaş. He killed himself when he realized that he would get caught. During the reign of the cabinet of Damat Ferit Paşa, the district governor of Boğazlıyan was executed based on false evidence and unsubstantiated allegations.
So efforts of the Ottoman Empire did not satisfy Armenian demands…
I should note that almost every member of the cabinet that made the deportation decision, including the foreign minister and the interior minister, were assassinated in Berlin, Georgia and other places in 1921 and 1922. So who was left to execute? What has been left to apologize for? And ASALA [the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia] resorted to terror attacks for the same reason in the 1970s and 1980s. My grandfather was not involved in such actions -- I should note that his father was killed by the security forces, just like the Armenians killed during the deportations -- how could I apologize for the alleged genocide? The İstanbul government admitted its faults and took action to punish the offenses. It even took excessive measures to deal with human rights violations. We know that a private who stole the watch of an Armenian was summarily executed. What has been left behind?
But they say they do not have territorial aspirations.
Armenian authorities do not openly declare that they recognize Turkey's borders. I ask them why they avoid such recognition. They tell me if they do so, they will have made a compromise. What will you give in return in the negotiations? You do not expect anything from your neighbor in return for recognizing its borders. In return, your neighbor also recognizes your borders. If you do not recognize your neighbor's home, this is a justification and reason for war.
Will demands for material reparations and indemnities be voiced by the Armenians?
Reparations for damages will be demanded even before territorial claims. They are already studying this matter. The AXA insurance company makes payments to the descendants of Armenians who died during deportation, alleging that they were subjected to genocide. For instance, the total amount of reparations paid by Germany to Israel because of the Holocaust was about $100 billion. If you consider the rate of inflation, this becomes a huge figure, approaching $1 trillion.
Is it obvious that Turkey will not pay this amount?
Not that obvious. Why shouldn't you pay this amount? If this is a crime and you admit that you actually committed it, you have to. Do you avoid payment of the reparations when the EU or the European Court of Human Rights rules for such a payment?
How many Armenians did Turks rescue during the deportations?
A substantial part of the male deportees were militants. There were many incidents where their relatives and families did have difficult times. Men were primarily targeted during the attacks. Children and the elderly had to suffer the consequences. Local people took action to keep the orphans or the widows with them. This is an Islamic tradition. This is an Ottoman tradition. Westerners cannot understand this. In some cases, the guy just wanted a beautiful Armenian girl whose husband died. Some marriages were built based on this motive.
Isn't this assimilation, even if it is done out of humanitarian concerns?
If you ask this to Western people, this is genocide, because you are trying to assimilate the Armenian population. However, Serbs raped about 30,000 women during the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina but did not marry any of these victims. And they did not accept the children as their own. But there is something different here. These people did not see the Armenians as dirty and inferior. They made these women their wives. They had kids. They took these kids as their own and embraced these women as their wives.
But they converted them to Islam…
In that case, you accept your husband's religion as your religion. But this Islamization is something like this: There were many Armenian women who did not actually perform their religious duties, though they looked pretty religious. There were some others who did not have much information about Islam. They believed in God. The Armenian people were not atheists. These marriages took place at early ages. And they died as Muslims. There are many Armenian converts that fall into this category.
Is there any research on this subject?
Yes, there is. There are memoirs by the adopted Armenians. There are a few journalistic accounts on this matter. Scholarly research is about to proliferate, however. I do not know the exact number. The husbands did not admit their wives were Armenian. These people got old; they are dying. This era is about to be over. And then there is this issue of the adoptees; there are many orphans because their parents died. Kazım Karabekir Paşa devoted tireless efforts. In addition, old couples took in these orphans. You can hear these stories in every town. We know that a substantial number of them were Armenians. For instance, in some places people have names like Ahmet or Mehmet, but they are called "Unbeliever Ahmet" or "Unbeliever Mehmet" because they are known as Armenians. There are people who never observed daily prayers and who looked Muslim even though they never practiced Islam in their personal lives. But, of course, there are real Muslims, as well.
And there are Armenians who are disconnected with their original identity and now consider themselves to be Turks and Muslims?
Yes, there are. There is no need to speculate about their lives, however. There are thousands of such people. We have a whole different group: This group was deliberately kept out of the deportation schedule in the East and Southeast. About 350,000 Armenians returned after the deportation. Among those who were concerned for their lives, some announced they had converted to Islam. The village where they lived was all Muslim, but they did not quite observe the religious rituals. They did not have mosques. In some cases they built mosques to prove their Islamic identity. But their worship was not like the regular kind performed by Sunnis. Most of them asserted that they were Alevi Muslim. Some of them totally changed their registration records in an attempt to hide their Armenian identity. I mean, when they moved to İzmir or İstanbul, they first took their record to Rize and then Afyon. There are people who changed their registration records seven or eight times. Normally when Turkish people change their cities or residences, they keep their registration logs. And amongst such people, some Armenians moved up to high-level official positions.
Unfortunately, the republican regime did not have a good record on this matter…
Yes, you are right. Actually, there were Armenian deputies in Parliament in the 1950s. Of course, there is also now a population problem. If you nominate an Armenian candidate, where will he get elected? But the state needs to do this: For instance, there should be an Armenian general. That's what Western societies do. They pick a black person, a woman or a member of a disadvantaged group. For instance, there are many Turkish police officers in Germany. They also appoint one of them as a supervisor. This will serve as a message to the community. … There should be an Armenian general in Turkey.
But you are talking about having a general in the army. Isn't there a thorough procedure during admission into military schools in which the past and identity of the candidates are investigated?
Yes, you are right. There is a background search, and I am fine with that. You should pick somebody just because he is Armenian. You make him a general because he is an Armenian; not because of his talents. The same should be done with respect to women; there should be a female general. We need such symbolic messages.
04 January 2009, Nuriye Akman Zaman
A Scrappy Fighter in Turkey's Media Battles
Suzy Hansen's excellent article about Taraf, a new Turkish daily newspaper that is shaking up the establishment, is highly recommended -- both as a way of learning about the paper and about the current troubled state of the Turkish press.
Although Taraf has at times been guilty of committing some of the same journalistic sins as its competitors -- the use of sophomoric, provocative headlines; running with leaked information, regardless of its source -- the fiercely independent paper has also been doing groundbreaking work, particularly in its willingness to challenge Turkey's powerful military. As Suzy's article makes clear, this has come at a significant cost for Taraf, which has seen its advertising revenue dry up because advertisers are afraid to be associated with it.
Turkey currently finds itself facing deep political and social divisions, and those divisions are being reflected in the mass media, where pro-government newspapers and television stations are facing off against pro-secularist media outlets, each being accused of slanting the news in a way that seems to benefit their position. Lost in all of this, critics and some journalists say, is the truth provided by a truly independent media. Taraf, though not perfect, is the closest Turkey has right now to an independent mainstream media voice. In a very short time, the paper has been able to establish itself as an authoritative media voice. The question now, it appears, is whether it will be able to survive.
(Photo: A vendor selling newspapers in Istanbul's Kadikoy neighborhood. Photo by Yigal Schleifer)
Posted by Yigal Schleifer
Eye Of The Storm January 02. 2009
Yasemin Congar, deputy editor-in-chief of Taraf. "You hear it in journalism circles – so many people admire and envy Taraf,” one columnist said. “They will say, 'Let's face it: if our informants brought us the same information from inside the military, we wouldn't have published it.'" Kerem Uzel for The National
The upstart newspaper Taraf has thrust itself into the centre of Turkish politics with a series of courageous challenges to the military and the government. Circulation is up – but the advertisers are gone. Suzy Hansen reports from Istanbul on the perils of publishing in the age of Ergenekon.
The Turkish holding company Alarko, a major conglomerate of energy, construction and tourism firms, resides in a pink former psychiatric hospital up in the hills off Istanbul’s stunning shore road, on the European side of the city, across from a seaside dance club called Reina. In December, I went to Alarko to meet with its chairman, a Turkish-Jewish businessman named Ishak Alaton. Alaton founded Alarko in 1954 with another Turkish Jew, Uzeyir Garih, and the two ran the firm together until Garih was stabbed to death in 2001 by a young soldier while visiting a cemetery in Istanbul. At the time the murder was seen as the random act of a violent psychopath, absent religious or political motivation. But the week that I went to see Alaton, prosecutors reopened the case, suggesting that the murder was linked to a mysterious ultranationalist gang called Ergenekon, whose intrigues have captivated and horrified Turks for the last year.
The cab driver who took me to Alarko was a Kurdish man born in the southeastern city of Mardin. In the privacy of the car, he delivered a long rant about the injustices the Kurds had suffered at the hands of the state, which in Turkey essentially means the military. The massive Ergenekon indictment contained allegations that the group had been connected to a secret intelligence unit of the military police called JITEM, which some say has carried out extrajudicial killings in Kurdish areas. He talked about Taraf, a one-year-old, left-liberal newspaper, which had distinguished itself by relentlessly covering the Ergenekon gang. The goofy but handsome driver, a John Turturro kind of guy, threw his hands around, laughing a lot. He had an excellent sense of comedic timing, and punctuated his sentences with dramatic pauses and heavy syllables, as if he admired the oeuvre of Chris Rock. “Taraf is good, but I mean, Ergenekon isn’t news to me,” he said. “All Kurds know about Ergenekon.” (Pause.) “We’ve all known about Ergenekon since we were children.” (Pause.) “Kurdish babies know about Ergenekon. Everyone’s JITEM. Everyone.”
But what Kurdish babies take for granted, many Turks only half-believe, and foreigners are inclined to dismiss entirely. This year, Taraf, as if spinning a serial novella on Turkish violence, may have single-handedly forced every Turk to reckon with the mounting evidence.
Ergenekon is, as the Turks beautifully call it, the derin devlet – the “deep state” – a shadowy force apparently connected to the army, plying the strings of Turkish power. The idea of a deep state has been around since the 1970s, but this year the Ergenekon mafia has been formally accused of committing crimes in the name of neo-nationalism, secularism, and anti-Kurdish sentiment. The allegations include everything from the assassination of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink to plotting a coup against the ruling Islamic conservative AK Party. The Turkish media have been understandably preoccupied with the endless stream of sensational revelations emerging from the trial, but Taraf, an upstart daily founded by a book publisher and a team of liberal journalists, has done more than any other paper to place Ergenekon front and centre.
In Turkey, one’s newspaper is a bit like one’s football team, and many old, established Turkish companies probably wouldn’t have Taraf delivered to their offices. In some circles, that would simply look leftist, anti-establishment, bad. When I met with Alaton, however, he had a copy on his desk. The paper had been painfully digging into his partner’s murder case, but no matter. “I support Taraf’s existence,” Alaton said, “because I think it’s a very good contribution to democracy.” Alaton is known for his progressive views – he founded TESEV, one of Turkey’s most important liberal think tanks – and at age 81, he has been witness to his country’s many undemocratic episodes; his memory is long. When I asked why Turkish corporations had recently refused to advertise in Taraf, I was not entirely surprised when he replied, “They are afraid.”
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Taraf’s struggle for survival in some ways mirrors Turkey’s awkward lurch toward full democracy. During its first year, the paper's unprecedented challenges to the military, and then the government, have scared off advertisers, even as Taraf’s readership has grown and rival columnists have embraced the paper as the “hope” of Turkish journalism.
In the often unreliable world of Turkish newspapers, Taraf distinguished itself by asking ugly questions: about the military’s performance against the militant separatists of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and about the army’s dominant role in Turkish politics; about the prime minister’s commitment to human rights; and of course, about Ergenekon. The prelude to true democratic reform, the paper seemed to insist, was a truly open and free platform for spirited debate.
“Taraf has probably enormously contributed to Turkey’s relative democratisation over the past year,” said Halil Berktay, a Turkish public intellectual and professor of history at Sabanci University who contributes a column to Taraf twice a week. “It has been like a flash of lightning.”
Taraf owes its boldness to a luxury that is increasingly rare – and not just in Turkey: an independent owner who does not interfere with the work of his editors. Taraf’s founder Basar Arslan, a 40-year-old bookstore owner and publisher, wasn’t particularly active in politics before launching Taraf, and he still shies away from the public eye. (He did not respond to questions for this story.) But according to his editors, he had always wanted to own a newspaper – and he called up a few of his friends to recruit them to produce a small daily that represented their liberal views, what he envisioned as “a very prestigious, independent paper,” according to Yasemin Congar, an editor, who added: “Now he loves it.”
But at first they thought he was crazy. Three heavyweights signed on anyway: the bestselling novelist and columnist Ahmet Altan, and two veteran journalists, Congar and Alev Er.
In Turkey, a large segment of the mainstream media is controlled by one man, Aydin Dogan, who owns the popular papers Hurriyet, Milliyet, and Radikal, as well as TV stations and various other business concerns. Hurriyet and Milliyet are more nationalist; Radikal more liberal. “We have seen an increasing cartelisation of the press and much more organic links between the press and political factions,” said Berktay. “It’s the Turkish version of the Berlusconi phenomenon. In fact, if Dogan came to power it would be a very precise parallel.”
Zaman, another heavy-hitting popular paper backed by followers of the Islamic leader Fethullah Gulen, is an exquisitely designed broadsheet catering to religious conservatives, and is largely supportive of AKP. (They boast one of the highest circulations, according to one source, at around 650,000; Hurriyet sells about 550,000 copies, Milliyet 200,000 and Radikal only 40,000). A fifth major paper, Sabah, was recently sold to a holding firm, Calik, seen as close to AKP. Cumhuriyet, a small, text-heavy, serious paper, serves the old-guard secular elite. And there are many, many others – too many to characterise – but few of them bucked the status quo with the same intellectual gravitas as Taraf.
Language tips off a paper’s readership: Zaman, more religious, will employ Arabic words; Cumhuriyet, a nationalist paper, will use as much Turkish as the language allows. You could divide how people vote roughly according to the newspapers they read – AKP die-hards might read Zaman, secularists prefer Hurriyet and Cumhuriyet. Leftists favour Radikal, which boasts some of the country’s best liberal columnists, though some have decamped – along with their readers – to Taraf.
Taraf eschews the paeans to the Turkish state typical of the other papers and hews to an antinationalist line. Yasemin Congar pointed out that even on national holidays, when all the other papers drape their front pages with red flags and photos of Turkey’s founder-hero Ataturk, Taraf abstains from patriotic displays. “It’s slightly irreverent in tone,” said Jenny White, a professor of anthropology at Boston University who has written many books on Turkey and lives on-and-off in Istanbul. “In a framework where counter-discourse can get you hauled into court or worse, humour and wit may be the only ‘safe’ forms.” “I’m amazed it hasn’t been shut down,” she added.
Instead, Taraf has continued to grow. “Taraf managed to reach a circulation which went over 90,000 at one point, but also managed to get a permanent readership of between 50-60,000,” Congar said. “At the beginning what looked realistic to me was 35,000 at most. We now have a readership which is not only leftists and urban youth, or only conservatives or liberals, or only the Kurds or Turks, but all of these people. There is a good segment of religious conservatives in our readership which was a surprise because we’re not religious or conservative.”
Taraf has also succeeded in attracting marquee names to its pages; writers like the esteemed intellectual Murat Belge; the Economist’s Turkey correspondent, Amberin Zaman; the prominent Armenian writer Etyen Mahcupyan; the founders of the clever activist group Young Civilians, Turgay and Yildiray Ogur; the columnist Gokhan Ozgun; and many others. Some of these writers are beloved figures in Turkey, and none are radicals, but they do represent a cross-section of the liberal establishment, the sort of people who might have lent their names to the recent high-profile petition-apology to Armenians for crimes during World War I.
“[Taraf] is oppositional simply on the grounds of democracy,” said Berktay. “And that has been completely missing from Turkish society for the last 200 years. They are real democrats. I don’t know what else to call them.”
And indeed, people seem to have a hard time classifying Taraf – the word “leftist” in Turkey has been subjected to a number of contradictory interpretations. To Berktay, who is often described as the first Turkish historian to recognise the Armenian genocide, there is a common thread that unites those who support the EU as a way of assuring support for human rights, who support the rights of the Kurds, the right to wear headscarves, and the right to criticise the army for its political interventions. “The neo-nationalists in this country have created their own gravediggers,” Berktay said. And Taraf, he continued, represents “a new morality.”
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Turks often must take sharply-drawn sides on complicated issues – you’re either for the military or the government, for secularism or Islam, for headscarves or miniskirts, for Kurds or the Turks. In 2008, picking a team became at once more important and more confusing, and Taraf’s evolution as the voice of the left – as supporters, and then critics, of AKP – was a study in this volatility. “Taraf is doing something very precious,” said Soli Ozel, a professor at Bilgi University and columnist at the newspaper Sabah. “By and large, they have been able to set the agenda in the country.”
That agenda has twisted and turned dramatically since AKP, boasting a sparkly economic record and facing no respectable opposition, again soared to power in the July 2007 election. A religious man, Abdullah Gul, became president, and the staunchly secular military confronted reality: the pious guys had the money, and they were here to stay. Left-liberal intellectuals, largely lacking a political party, and charmed by AKP’s European Union-looking promises and the opportunity for a real counterweight against the military establishment, threw their small, but high-minded support behind AKP. Here was an interesting alignment: liberals, religious conservatives, economy-first voters, and some Kurds, versus nationalists, secularists, Alevis (a beleaguered liberal Muslim sect that feels rightfully threatened by AKP’s fervent Sunni Islam), and young, liberal-minded Turks who couldn’t quite abide what they saw as Turkey’s version of the American Christian Right.
AKP immediately pushed hard to allow women to wear headscarves on university campuses, a sticking point among the military elite and secularists determined to preserve Ataturk’s legacy of laicism. Had AKP proved that all they really cared about was headscarves? Sometimes it seems all anyone cares about in Turkey is headscarves. But, it turned out that Turkish politics were not, in fact, all about headscarves, because soon enough came Ergenekon.
Ergenekon may be an unfamiliar word, and if foreign journalists haven’t taken pains to write about it, that’s because it’s too hard to explain. Some Turks feel AKP’s god-fearing minions have manufactured the Ergenekon myth to take down the secular establishment. For Americans like myself – with our cheerful tendency to dismiss everything hard and ugly as a “conspiracy theory” – Ergenekon mostly inspires incredulity. Could one loosely connected group of 86 people, hailing from various sectors of polite society, really be responsible for decades of assassinations, coup plots, and bombings?
Over the past year, Turks watched as ex-generals (real generals!), journalists (including old famous ones), and lawyers were hauled off to jail and charged with a vast right-wing conspiracy to wreak havoc on the nation. The 2500 page indictment read like A Recent History of Turkish Violence, and it seemed like every bad deed of the past 20 years was laid at the feet of Ergenekon. The journalist Andrew Finkel wrote an astute column called, “Ergenekon ate my homework,” and that’s exactly how it felt. Worse, a terrifying list of new assassination targets turned up in the rubble of the whirlwind investigation: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Orhan Pamuk, the journalist Fehmi Koru. Ergenekon’s goal, the conventional wisdom went, was to foment so much chaos that the army would be forced to step in, stage a coup, and overthrow the AK Party.
Ultimately, the ongoing Ergenekon investigation was seen as a triumph over thuggery, neo-nationalism, and strident secularism. But it polarised secularists who thought the religious government was up to dirty tricks, and puzzled many others who felt the prosecution was out of control.
For a time Taraf seemed to break a new Ergenekon story every other day, and this too raised the eyebrows of sceptics. “I don’t see a journalistic achievement,” said one experienced Turkish journalist. “They just gobbled up what the police intelligence was leaking them regarding Ergenekon. In terms of challenging the state – sure, maybe [that is an achievement],” the journalist continued. “But they have gone overboard, and basically came across as a paper that is just out there to attack the military. In their reckless columns day in day out talking about how corrupt the military is, I didn’t find responsible journalism.”
Some months later, the judiciary, traditionally in line with the military, launched a closure case against the AKP, threatening to ban Erdogan and others from politics for “anti-secular activities.” Turkish liberals, and most of the world, rallied around AKP in the name of democracy. AKP won, and the Turkish army appeared to be in retreat.
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The infamous front page: "His General's Prime Minister." Kerem Uzel for The National
Taraf had positioned itself as a harsh critic of the military well before the Ergenekon story. In the fall of 2007, Taraf questioned the army’s handling of a PKK attack on a military outpost called Daglica. The PKK captured eight Turkish soldiers, eventually released them, and the army, embarrassed, branded the soldiers as traitors who collaborated with the PKK. Daglica whipped the nation up into a fury of nationalistic and anti-Kurdish sentiment; photos of men waving guns and flags popped up in the papers. Attacks on PKK bases in Northern Iraq soon followed. Taraf would later publish leaked documents from inside the military suggesting that the army knew in advance of the Daglica attack.
“We really pursued that story, and when they decided that those eight soldiers were to be made scapegoats, we said ‘no way,’” Congar said. “They were arrested and blamed for acting like agents for PKK. We didn’t buy it. Other newspapers did not go after it at all,” she went on. “We ask questions: What happened? Why wasn’t the commander at the post that night? There are all kinds of things that indicated to us that there was a lack of security – we knew, we felt, that the commanders were responsible. I’m not saying necessarily it was a conspiracy altogether, but they did not take the necessary precautions to protect the soldiers.”
According to Congar, doubting the preparedness or skill of the Turkish military was a line the press would not typically cross. “You hear it in journalism circles – so many people admire and envy Taraf,” Berktay said. “They will say, ‘Let’s face it: If our informants brought us the same information from inside the military, we wouldn’t have published it.”
Cengiz Candar, a popular columnist for Radikal, recently wrote that Taraf had made Radikal a better newspaper; Yavuz Baydar in Today’s Zaman and Hasan Cemal in Milliyet have echoed that enthusiasm.
But Taraf has not confined its criticism to the military. After Erdogan, falling behind on reforms required for EU membership, began to take a harder line on Kurdish issues, disenchantment with the AKP spread to the pages of Taraf. This fall, another PKK raid on a base called Aktutun caused the deaths of 17 Turkish soldiers, and Taraf, aided by more leaked documents, again pursued the military’s strange failure to protect itself.
When the chief of staff of the army told them to watch it, Erdogan sided with him, and Taraf’s front page carried the devastating headline “His General’s Prime Minister.” It sounds harsh in English, but in Turkish it is a very clever manipulation of the possessive, and all the more damning. Erdogan was enraged. The long-building disappointment with the Liberals’ Favorite Religious Prime Minister had reached an early peak.
But the AK Party’s political dominance makes the media’s thoughtful antagonism of the government all the more crucial. “In the Aktutun incident he did not do what he was supposed to do as the prime minister, which was to question the military rather than questioning us,” Congar said. “And then on the Kurdish issue he started speaking like a Turkish nationalist, not a reformer, and started saying things that didn’t embrace the Kurds. He has slowed down in the reforms again. But when you talk to his people they say, ‘OK, there are things in the making and, yes, we are behind our promises,’” she said. “So we’re sceptical, but it’s not like we don’t believe in him anymore. It’s just our job to push him or to push anyone.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Who would go this far in attacking not only the army, but the government too? Taraf’s critics have proposed a series of theories about the paper’s funding, suggesting that it is secretly backed by exiled Islamic leader Fethullah Gulen, a controversial figure at odds with the Turkish army, by the AKP government itself, or even by everybody’s favourite scapegoat, the CIA. (I think George Soros is in there somewhere too.) Gulen, the philosophical leader of a large Islamic brotherhood, tends to pop up in Turkish gossip as an Oz-like character whose followers are thought to surreptitiously control the country. “Ah, Gulen is like Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects,” Soli Ozel said. “Everywhere at all times.” But here in Turkey, home of something called the “deep state,” suspicion rules the day.
It is hard – for a great many reasons – for Turks to believe that an independent newspaper can exist in Turkey, and this scepticism speaks volumes about Turkey’s hard-to-explain but insidiously suffocating atmosphere.
In some ways, Turkey can feel as free as any other developed nation, but deeply-held fears readily strangle dissent. Memories of military coups and the steady creep of a violent neo-nationalism make ordinary Turks scared to do or say the wrong thing, and paranoid about ulterior motives.
This climate of fear goes beyond Turkey’s notorious anti-speech laws, though those have a lot to do with it. The infamous Article 301, which prohibits “insulting the Turkish nation,” swept Orhan Pamuk to a much-publicised trial and inflamed the European Union’s theatrical exasperation with their wayward Muslim brothers. Before I moved to Turkey, many Americans asked me whether, for example, I’d be able to say the forbidden words “Armenian genocide” out loud. Perhaps they imagined goons would snatch me right off the pavement.
This is certainly not the case, though restricting free speech seems like a curiously obvious authoritarian flaw in a country supposedly desperate to prove its democratic bona fides to the West; taking a Nobel laureate to trial certainly makes Turkey an easy target. But the currents of Turkish nationalism run deep, and at the heart of this Kemalism is a concern for the fragility of the nation, which demands the jealous protection of the state at all times.
It’s important to note that not only Article 301 puts Turks on trial. A laundry list of ridiculous laws can be dispensed willy-nilly to shut someone up, and most of the victims are not figures of international renown whose trials attract the world’s attention.
This is why, when Taraf first appeared in the fall of 2007, one friend of mine, a young Kurdish academic, had no doubt as to its fate: “I don’t see how a paper like this will last,” he’d said. “They’re going to shut it down.” After all, in April 2007, the magazine Nokta was closed for publishing the diaries of a military officer who revealed coup plots within the army.
Taraf has not been shut down, and in November the paper celebrated its first birthday. On Istanbul’s Asian side, in a neighbourhood called Kadikoy, nestled beside the Bosphorus and surrounded by the surreal lights of this undulating city, the staff gathered on the roof of their building. There was a bonfire, American R&B music, lots of smoking, a little dancing, beer on ice in large bins, and a cake the size of a table. Spirits were high, despite the apparent departure of the paper’s corporate advertisers and what looked to be a period of looming financial crisis.
Taraf never had a great deal of advertising anyway, but these days their ads usually appear on a single page and say things like, “It’s good that you exist, Taraf”; “I support Taraf”; or “Without a democratic press, there can’t be democracy.” Taraf had drummed up support for the paper by selling ads for 500 and 1000 lira (Dh2400) to largely anonymous individuals.
“Among the businessmen and women we know – those who are very supportive of the newspaper and call us up and praise us,” Congar said, “when it comes to open support with advertising, they’re very reluctant.”
But neither the declining financial fortunes nor the threat of anti-speech trials seemed to faze the staff; everyone I spoke to at the paper insisted self-censorship was simply unheard of. “We just act like a bunch of crazies,” Congar said, and didn’t seem terribly afraid of the consequences. “There was the open threat of a raid [of the office] and I think it was stopped somehow by the government,” she continued. “We receive e-mail threats, personal death threats – I do, and Ahmet does, and probably some of the columnists do, because we are more out there. Some of them we pursue through the prosecutor’s office. Most of them we don’t.”
“I used to take the ferry [to Kadikoy] all the time, and Ahmet told me not to do that,” she added. “Not because they’re going to kill me, but someone could say something. And Ahmet carries a gun. But he always carried a gun. Alev carries a gun. These guys like guns, it’s not like they have to carry guns. But it also shows me that they feel more secure having a gun. They don’t want a bodyguard after them all the time. And this is all partly because of what happened to Hrant Dink.”
Altan is likely the most famous figure on Taraf’s staff. His novels and nonfiction have sold millions of copies. He comes from a well-known leftist family, and during his career as a columnist – marked by an appealing mixture of wit and gravity – he has suffered through numerous anti-speech cases. One arose over a column called “Atakurd,” in which he imagined a country called “Kurdey,” where Turks were the minority. When I interviewed him last winter, he said, “I don’t have any auto-control. We taught all the editors that we publish everything, if it’s news and if it’s true. There are no boundaries, we don’t stop anyone from publishing anything.” Altan and Congar each face seven different court cases for their writing.
Congar, for her part, seemed confident that even a provocative newspaper could operate freely in Turkey – particularly now that the country’s EU aspirations have made the government sensitive to world opinion. “I think the government knows that closing or raiding a newspaper offices will make them look very bad in Europe,” she said. (It should be noted that this concern did not prevent the country’s decision to ban YouTube earlier this year.)
Perhaps, Congar suggested, the all-seeing powers of the state itself ensure Taraf’s ability to do as it pleases: “We know that the Turkish intelligence, military and civilian, are keeping a very close eye on us – reading our e-mail, listening on our phones, and bugging our rooms, even this conversation,” Congar said, looking around the room. “But then they know the truth. We don’t have secrets. If they take me and, I don’t know, torture me,” she laughed, “there’s nothing I can tell.”
Suzy Hansen is a freelance writer living in Istanbul and a fellow with the Institute of Current World Affairs.
A left-liberal newspaper? Is this a joke? A left-liberal newspaper with nothing but good things to say about IMF and World Bank?
The deputy editor (Yasemin Congar) is married to an American Diplomat. Amber Zaman, another columnist at Taraf, who is also married to an American Diplomat, wwrites for The Economist (so much for a leftist). I am pretty sure the most readers are aware of Chicago Boys and their 'liberal' movement in Chile. I do not suggest that Taraf is backed by Chigago Boys but it is hard to swallow to call it 'liberal' let alone 'leftist'.
NY OPED, new york
Fitting Diplomatic Price
State of Israel has Jewish obligation to recognize Armenian genocide, refugees' plight
The Knesset has recently regained its honor by retracting its old stance and deciding that the recognition of the Armenian genocide must be discussed by parliament. About a year ago, the Knesset plenum rejected a proposal to discuss the same forgotten genocide, which took place during World War I and during which nearly a third of the Armenian people were murdered by the Turks.
Knesset to discuss Armenian genocide / Amnon Meranda
Knesset accepts Oron's initiative, will discuss mass murder of 1.5 million Armenians during early 20th century. Oron: 'Certain ethical dilemmas cannot be avoided.' Jerusalem officials warn of Turkish reaction
Many of those who opposed the proposal then, first and foremost Foreign Ministry representatives, argued that diplomatic pragmatism dictates that Jews should not get in the way of such a sensitive issue dividing Turks and Armenians, which took place almost a hundred years ago and which could strain Israel's relations with Turkey and jeopardize Israel's interests.
The Foreign Ministry continues to advocate this stance today, again claiming that foreign relations with Turkey might suffer from such a debate.
There is no doubt that Israel's foreign relations should be steered sensibly and cautiously, in order to strengthen and promote Israel's interests. Naturally, diplomatic relations require of a state to sometimes withdraw or concede principles that could do it more harm than good.
But the question is - what is the limit? Can the State of Israel give up the moral foundation of its existence which cries out against any act of genocide? Should the State of Israel, for the sake of its vital connections or its relations with an ally – be part of a denial of the genocide?
Israel can't shirk moral responsibility
The Jewish nation has produced the national-Zionist movement, which has no match in terms of moral leadership in recent centuries. How can we, of all nations, forget the catastrophes that have befallen, and that still befall, other nations?
The State of Israel is an eternal memorial for "Thou shalt not forget." The terrible holocaust that has been inflicted on us has etched onto our identity - alongside the national tragedy - the sympathy, sensitivity and cry against the disasters of other people, even when this involves national embarrassment or a certain diplomatic price.
With regards to the Armenian holocaust – the discussion in the Knesset on the question of recognizing it as genocide conveys sympathy and solidarity with the ethnic tragedy, more than an accusation. The Knesset does not wish to condemn modern Turkey, but to act as Jews who are subjected to the judgment of history. We cannot, in the name of political or diplomatic wisdom, suppress such fundamental human values, which touch on the roots of our tragic existence.
This principle stood at the core of one of Menachem Begin's first decision as prime minister in 1977, to absorb hundreds of Vietnamese refugees who fled the bloodshed in their country, and provide them with a home. Begin, at the time, preferred the humane course over whatever diplomatic consequences this decision has inevitably produced.
Today we are faced with the same difficult dilemma regarding the Sudanese refugees on our southern border, when what is at stake is perhaps not political or diplomatic considerations, but certainly grave social and security ones. On the Sudanese issue as well, I believe that the State of Israel has a Jewish, moral and human obligation to be part of a regional or international task force that will provide these refugees with shelter until they can return to their homeland.
If we shirk the duty of bearing this Jewish, ethical and educational message, we will not be able to demand of the world to recognize our own holocaust. Those who deny the tragedy of one of the world's nations will eventually face a denial of their own tragedy by the world. genocide
The End Of The Apology Campaign, Ömer Engin Lutem 02 January 2009, Eraren
The ‘‘Apology to the Armenians Campaign’’ initiated about two weeks ago by a group of intellectuals has started to slip off the agenda following some extensive discussions.
What are the consequences brought about by the said campaign? It should be noted before all that the number of individuals who have apologized to the Armenians by accessing the website www.ozurdiliyoruz.com has settled at about 26.000. When you take into account the 100.000 people that attended the funeral of Hrant Dink, this number is considerably low and it shows that some did not deem it appropriate to apologize despite sharing the Armenian viewpoints. In fact, some have clearly stated this. On the other hand, it is understood that some of those who have joined the apology campaign did not actually support the Armenian views but acted with the belief that apologizing may possibly contribute to resolving the Armenian problem.
Although it has been claimed that the main objective of the campaign was to initiate an open debate on the Armenian issue in Turkey, it must be noted that this issue has increasingly been debated in Turkey starting from the early 2000s. Yet these debates deliver no results and everybody keeps on insisting on his/her own views. This time nevertheless, the apology campaign has caused more reactions than a normal debate initiative would.
The primary one among these reactions is the question why individuals of our day must apologize for an event that had taken place a century ago and to which they bear no relation whatsoever. The organizers of the campaign could not have come up with a convincing answer to this question.
Secondly, disregarding the archive documented fact that half a million people had been massacred by Armenian bands between 1919-1921 has led to considerable reaction. In this connection it could not have been understood why a one sided apology was required and the campaign organizers have not been able to provide an adequate explanation in this regard either.
The possibility that a word like apology, which recalls positive connotations in mind, was chosen with a view to facilitate accession to the ‘‘recognition of genocide’’ stage at a later date bearing in mind that nearly the whole Turkish public opinion refuses genocide allegations, has also increased reactions.
Yet the biggest reaction of the public to this campaign has revealed itself in the number of individuals who have signed up to websites that reject the apology campaign or to those that demand apology from the Armenians. As of 30th December, the number of people who adopted a stance against the campaign by signing up to these sites has exceeded 665.000. This number is 25 times the one for those who have apologized.
Contrary to predictions, this campaign has not attracted remarkable attention neither in the Armenia press nor that of the Diaspora. This may be due to the perception that apology is not a sufficient gesture in a setting where the objective is ensuring recognition of the ‘‘genocide’’.
The interest shown by the press of other countries has also been limited. Those few that made reference to this issue however mainly praised the initiative while making hardly any mention to all the negative reactions it has evoked in Turkey.
Finally, we should point out that the probability to make a negative impact of this campaign which did not enjoy noticeable popularity, on the Turkish-Armenian relations has been highly diminished contrary to the concerns once existed.
 Mesela Ayşe Hür.
 Directorate General for Turkish State Archives; Documents on the Massacres committed by the Armenians (1919-1921) vol II, page 1952.
 ozurdiliyoruz.com 26086
Ermenilerden "Özür" Falan Dİlemİyorum!
I don’t apologize to Armenians or what 282208
Ermenilerden Özür Dilemiyoruz!
We don’t apologize to Armenians! 36582
Özür Dİleyenlere Karşi Tarİhİn Işiğinda Türkçe Duruş
Turkish stance against the apologizers under the light of the history 1365
Ben Özür Dİlemİyorum
I do not apologize 36752
Sözde Ermeni Soykırımı Için Özür Dileyen Sözde Aydınları Protesto Edİyoruz!
We protest the so called intellctuals who apologize for the so called Armenian genocide 5566
Ermeniler'den Özür Dilemiyorum, Özür Bekliyorum!
I do not apologize to Armenians, I expect an apology 22005
Turkey Inches Toward Genocide Recognition by Abdulmesih BarAbrahem
Midyat, Turkey (AINA) --- The head of the pro-Kurdish DTP (Demokratik Toplum Partisi -- Democratic Society Party) in Turkey, Ahmet Türk, toured the south-east region early this week and visited the Assyrian Cultural Association in Midyat. He was accompanied by other DTP members of the Turkish parliament from Mardin, Diyarbakir and Sanliurfa, Emine Ayna, Aysel Tigluk, and Ibrahim Binici. At the Assyrian Club he met with the vice-chairman Yuhanna Aktas and other Assyrians.
According to various Turkish news sources (AINA 12-30-2008), Türk apologized to the Assyrians in context of the events of 1915: "Sensing the pain of the events in our hearts, we feel that we need to apologize. In Turkey, apology is becoming quite a fashion recently. However, ours is something very different," he said.
Recently, a group of 200 Turkish intellectuals launched an Internet campaign to apologize for Ottoman war crimes committed at the hand of Turks against Armenians during World War I (AINA 12-12-2008). The language used does not refer to the term genocide, as favored by the victims, though it is certainly helping to erode the biggest taboo in Turkey, as the campaign initiator Baskin Oran puts it. The language speaks of "the great catastrophe" but Assyrians as victims -- 750,000 (75%) were killed in the genocide -- are not mentioned. Meanwhile at least 25,000 Turks have signed the petition, prompting calls of treason by Turkish nationalists and media. The Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Erdogan himself has called the petition a "mistake" (AINA 12-18-2008).
Mr. Türk continued his statements at the Assyrian association in Midyat with the following remarks: "We are ready to apologize for wrong doing. This is not to reduce the importance of the events. The events should be not brought up to the agenda by a simple apology. We are the people of this region and soil. Our struggle is aimed to allow people to live in brotherhood."
Closing his remarks, Mr. Türk said: "Without forgetting that Kurds have been abused in the past to act against others, it is important that we study the history and derive lessons. Probably we, as Kurds, have our stake in the killing of this (cultural) richness. Today, when we see Armenian and Assyrian brothers, and look at them, we feel shame."
Subsequently, the DTP delegation led by Türk visited the Assyrian monastery of St. Gabriel and met with Bishop Samuel Aktas. The monastery has recently came under attack by neighboring Kurdish village leaders, who are close to Erdogan's ruling party (AKP), aiming at grabbing monastery's land via fabricated lawsuits (AINA 12-24-2008).
Clouded and Undifferentiated View
Mr. Türk's apology is definitely welcomed as a gesture of friendship by Assyrians. In fact, it is not the first time that a Kurdish leader has apologized for Kurdish crimes committed against Assyrians during World War I. Putting Mr. Türk's statement in context of the Apology Campaign of by Turkish intellectuals, it is a courageous step by a party leader of the Turkish parliament.
In his statements, Ahmet Türk does not use the term genocide, and, like many Kurdish nationalists, compares the "suffering" of the Kurds in Turkey to the suffering of the Armenians and Assyrians in the past and especially to that of World War I, saying, that "Kurds today live the same pain." This confirms still an undifferentiated historical view with regards to the great losses that Assyrians had during World War I; apparently his suggested studies of history and the lessons to be learned from that need to go further.
In an interview with BBC and CNN in November of 2008, Mr. Türk used the word genocide for what is happening to the Kurds in Turkey, later on emphasizing that he did not use the word to support any Armenian claims. Triggered by protests of Collective VAN, a French-based Armenian initiative (Vigilance against the Holocaust Denial), a press controversy began in Turkey following the use of the term that is still taboo in Turkey.
According to Collective VAN, Ahmet Turk is best positioned to know what a genocide is, since he is the grand-son of one of the heads of Hamidiye regiments (Hüseyin Kanco of Mardin), established by the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Hamid II in 1894; they were responsible for perpetrating massacres against Armenians and Assyrians in the eastern provinces. These para-military regiments consisted of Kurdish chiefs who actively participated in the massacres against Christians in 1894/96 and again later in 1915 during the genocide unleashed by the Young Turkish government against the Christian population.
Despite being very well informed about the reality of the genocide, Collective VAN accuses Türk of manipulating the issue. In 2007 Ahmet Turk complained to Turkish television because DTP was not invited to the commemorations of Victory Day on 30/08/2007. He vehemently criticized the decision, stressing that the Turks had obtained the victory thanks to the Kurds -- because it is "understood that the Kurds had helped clean the Armenian people," according to Collective VAN -- and the Kurds were excluded from the festivities.
Abdulmesih BarAbrahem was born in Midyat, Tur Abdin in the Turkish part of Mesopotamia and emigrated with his parents to Germany in the mid-1960s, wherehe completed his education and received his M.Sc. from the University of Erlangen/Nürnberg in the field of Computer Science. Early 1970s, he organized the first Assyrian conference in West Germany, which marked the beginning of organized public Assyrian activities in Europe. He has published numerous articles on Assyrian topics. He is currently President of the Trusty-Fund of the Yoken Bar Yoken Foundation.
Turkey's 'Most Courageous Newspaper' Roy Greenslade, Guardian/UK Friday 2 January 2009
Taraf, a small-circulation liberal daily launched in November 2007, is currently regarded as "Turkey's most courageous newspaper". It may sell only 60,000 copies a day - but it has won a reputation for breaking stories that no other paper dares to touch.
Most notably, it has been pursuing a sinister story about the links between a shadowy ultra-nationalist gang known as Ergenekon and a branch of the Turkish military. Ergenekon is suspected of carrying out extra-judicial killings in Kurdish areas. The paper has also dared to affirm the Armenian genocide.
The paper is the subject of a lengthy article by Suzy Hansen in today's issue of The National, the UAE-based daily. She reports:
"Taraf owes its boldness to a luxury that is increasingly rare ` and not just in Turkey: an independent owner who does not interfere with the work of his editors. Taraf's founder Basar Arslan, a 40-year-old bookstore owner and publisher, wasn't particularly active in politics before launching Taraf, and he still shies away from the public eye...
"He called up a few of his friends to recruit them to produce a small daily that represented their liberal views, what he envisioned as 'a very prestigious, independent paper, according to Yasemin Congar, [deputy] editor, who added: 'Now he loves it.'"
He must do because it is reputed to cost him £342,000 a month to publish Taraf, and Turkish corporations have recently announced that they will not advertise in the paper, supposedly out of fear. Now the paper's few ads usually appear on a single page.
Taraf's many critics, including those at the highest levels of government and the military, have suggested that the paper is secretly funded by Islamic groups. But there is no sign of Islamist sympathies in its pages. However, there is persistent criticism of the military and of its dealings with the Kurdish population.
Jenny White, an academic who has written extensively on Turkey and lives on-and-off in Istanbul, says: "I'm amazed it hasn't been shut down."
But neither Taraf's declining financial fortunes nor the threat of anti-speech trials seems to worry the staff. Congar said: "We receive e-mail threats, personal death threats ` I do, and Ahmet does, and probably some of the columnists do."
President Warns Against Impact Of 1915 Apology
ANKARA-The apology campaign for the events of 1915 would adversely affect the diplomatic efforts between Turkey and Armenia, says President Abdullah Gül, and the latest debates about the campaign do not help relations with Yerevan
President warns against impact of 1915 apology President Abdullah Gül, one of the main actors who initiated the normalization process of Turkish and Armenian relations through football diplomacy, said the apology campaign for 1915 events would adversely affect the diplomatic efforts between the two countries.
"When we examine the latest debates in terms of their results, I do not think they make a positive contribution," Gül said in a televised interview on ATV on Thursday.
"Ideas that we like or not, support, or even fight against, can be discussed if they do not target violence. However, the polarization sometimes can reach serious dimensions due to the sensibility of the subjects," Gül said.
Lively debates in Turkey
Referring to his previous statements on the campaign, he said his views had been distorted. "There is a free and democratic atmosphere in Turkey, there is a live debate. I am content with this," he said following the campaign.
Aside from his statements about the campaign, Gül’s rector appointments also caused controversy in the country, calling his presidential neutrality into question.
"I believe a new era should be initiated in universities. A new era does not mean an era of silenced universities that do not take an interest in the country’s issues or politics. However, I want our universities not to become a platform for daily politics, but make attempts to increase Turkey’s power," Gül said, adding that he could abdicate his assignment power within this framework.
"However, a constitutional amendment is required. I hope Turkey can undertake a more extended study on the constitutional amendments, which includes everybody, in 2009. What is important here is the method," Gül said.
Stating that the government and the opposition have many points in common in their draft constitutions, he said there was consensus on the main issues. "Issues should be discussed in an appropriate, peaceful and participatory way, without turning them into polemics and confusing them with daily politics."
In relation to the Constitutional Court’s decision that the two articles of the Constitution on the headscarf could be amended only through a court decision, Gül said everything could be achieved. "All the draft constitutions agree on main issues, like democratization, the rule of law and freedoms. Thus, I am optimistic," he said.
The articles, which foresee equality before the law and equal rights in education, were amended by Parliament in an attempt to lift the headscarf ban in universities. However, the Constitutional Court canceled the amendments, starting a new debate over its jurisdiction.
Reflecting on the year 2008 for Turkey that fell on hard times due to the closure case against the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, terror attacks and the financial crisis, Gül said Turkey had overcome these difficulties and gained ground. "Turkey tries to solve these problems through its maturity. I see the debates as part of the maturation process. Turkey has even started to debate some issues that are discussed in the richest countries and seem marginal. These are, indeed, good things," Gül said.
Gül also denied the allegations that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and he were on strained terms. © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet
Gül Says Apology Campaign Hurts Armenia Reconciliation Bid
President Abdullah Gül (L) said Turkey and Armenia have found a historic opportunity to talk about issues in good faith, in an interview with Yavuz Baydar (C) and Fuat Uğur.
An initiative by a group of Turkish intellectuals to apologize for the killings of Armenians in Anatolia in the years of World War I is likely to have a negative effect on Turkey's efforts for reconciliation with Armenia, President Abdullah Gül has said.
He has also said Turkey and Armenia have found a historic opportunity to talk about issues in good faith and that the dialogue process between the two countries is continuing.
A group of intellectuals launched the online campaign last month to apologize to Armenians for "the insensitivity showed to and denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915." The brief text, which has been signed online by more than 26,000 people, triggered a heated debate in Turkey and drew angry criticism from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Gül, on the other hand, hailed the Internet initiative as a proof of freedom of expression in Turkey, but he later asserted that this did not mean he backed the campaign.
"To be honest, it will affect the process negatively," Gül said in an interview with Today's Zaman and the ATV television station this week. "Looking at the consequences and the latest debates, I don't think that it has made a positive contribution."
Critics have said Turkey does not owe any apology over the World War I events because Armenians also attacked Turks in collaboration with the Russian army, which was then invading the Ottoman Empire, in hopes of creating an Armenian state in eastern Anatolia. Others said the timing of the signature campaign was inappropriate and may undermine the public support for diplomatic efforts to start dialogue between Turkey and Armenia. Gül spearheaded the rapprochement with a historic visit to Yerevan in September to watch a World Cup qualifying match between national soccer teams of the two countries.
When the apology campaign got under way, nationalist critics targeted Gül, saying he was responsible for the initiative because he paved the way for such a step by pursuing reconciliation with Armenia. An opposition deputy, Canan Arıtman of the Republican People's Party (CHP) went so far as to claim that Gül's mother had ethnic Armenian roots and that this was the reason for his lack of condemnation of the campaign. Gül responded by asserting that his family was Muslim and Turkish and suing Arıtman for her claims.
Gül insisted on freedom of speech, saying individuals do not need to get permission from the state to undertake such initiatives, but warned that the polarization that the campaign has triggered brought negative consequences. "Sometimes such steps come at such a time that they instantly cause polarization on a huge scale because of the sensitivity of the matter in question. And thus they affect the [diplomatic] process."
Turkish and Armenian diplomats have been holding secret talks on a potential normalization of relations since Gül's historic visit to Yerevan in September. Gül declined to comment on the diplomatic contacts, saying only that efforts were under way. "Sometimes the efforts are made publicly, but sometimes they are carried out in secrecy," he said.
Turkey, which has had no formal relations with Armenia since 1993 due to Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territory and Armenian efforts to get Western states to officially recognize the killings of Armenians at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire as genocide, wants Yerevan to be part of a proposed Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform, a regional organization to push for peaceful resolution of conflicts that would also include Turkey, Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Gül dismissed claims that Azerbaijan was unhappy about the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation initiative and said Baku was also satisfied because steps in the direction of resolving disputes in the Caucasus, including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, were in the interest of all.
Good times ahead for Turkey-US ties
Gül also said he expected expanded cooperation with the United States following President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration on Jan. 20. "The biggest difference between Obama and the previous administration is that he is ready to avoid unilateralism in world affairs and cooperate with other countries. And, as far as issues where the US would seek multilateral action are concerned, Turkey would be one of the most important partners of the US," he said.
One issue on which Turkey appears eager to provide advice is Afghanistan. "We believe that military measures and big defense budgets alone do not solve problems. Problems get bigger if you do not win people's hearts," said Gül.
The president also predicted expanded cooperation with Iraq following US withdrawal from the country. The Iraqi government lends strong support to Turkey's efforts to combat the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which launches attacks on Turkish targets from its bases in northern Iraq. In the second half of 2008 Ankara launched public contacts with the Iraqi Kurdish administration in northern Iraq to discuss ways to eliminate the PKK.
Gül did not comment on planned measures to eliminate the PKK, but said terrorism could not be tolerated.
He added that Obama's team includes people that know Turkey well and that the president-elect seems to have been well informed about Turkey and its importance for the US. He also said his election as president showed how the US system was capable of renovating itself even at a time when such changes seemed so unlikely. "Two years ago I heard that he was a charming politician, but no one seemed to think that he could ever be elected as president. The fact that he was actually elected increases one's admiration for the US system. Think how the system can reinvigorate itself. … This is where the importance of democracy is so apparent."
Tough start for Obama
But Gül also admitted that hard times were awaiting Obama amidst an Israeli offensive in Gaza that has so far killed hundreds of Palestinians. "One of the worst things is that you have a new administration that pledges to work through dialogue with everyone and you present a Middle East like that to such an administration as a starter gift. This is a very bad thing," the president noted. He also called for an end to divisions amongst Palestinians: "The division there is about to divide the entire Arab world. No one should hope for such a division."
Criticism of EU
Asked how Turkey's EU accession process, which has stalled over EU criticism of a slowdown in reforms and disputes over Cyprus, Gül said he hoped the new year would be very productive in terms of reforms and progress in the direction of membership, but also directed criticism at the EU and said not all the fault was on Turkey's shoulders, as is commonly believed. "In fact, Turkey is doing a lot of things, but the EU does not open the way for its progress toward membership," he said, blaming European leaders for lacking strategic vision. "The EU is in a state of contradiction. It is not aware of its own powers; it sacrifices so many important issues for petty political gains," Gül stressed.
Last autumn the EU warned that the Turkish government must refocus on reforms immediately after the local elections in Turkey, slated for end of March. The 27-nation bloc is also due to review Turkey's membership bid by the end of 2009 if Ankara continues to refuse to open its ports and airports to traffic from EU member Greek Cyprus. Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders have been holding direct talks on reunification of the island, but they have recently admitted that progress so far has been limited.
Gül said Turkey had proven its readiness for a just solution on the divided island when it encouraged the Turkish Cypriots to back a UN plan to reunite the island in 2004 and emphasized that Ankara would continue to support Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in the ongoing reunification talks.
The president also responded to questions over media speculation that he and Prime Minister Erdoğan, a personal friend for decades, have been parting ways recently over a number of disagreements. "Our friendship is everlasting. We have been continuing with this friendship in a professional and civilized manner. We have a professional, modern attitude toward each other," he explained. "If some people want to see backbiting and fights between the president and prime minister of this country, this is out of the question and it will remain so."
Gül admitted that rifts between the government and the secularist state establishment, a closure case against the ruling party and the ongoing economic crisis have harmed Turkey as a whole, but noted that Turkey also got became mature at the end of such debates and that, with its expanding democracy and growing economy, Turkey will be a much stronger country in the future.
02 January 2009, Yavuz Baydar / Fuat Uğur Ankara/Zaman
Armenian Anti-Racism: The Turkish Parliament Is Considering Amending The Turkish Penal Code 3 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
Article 122 of the new Penal Code, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds "of language, race, color, gender, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion, faith, and so on." Will soon be extended ethnic origins and perpetrators of such acts carries a sentence of up to one year in prison.
The decision to vote on this amendment to Article 122 of Turkish Penal Code (TCK) is inervenu in the wake of the discussion following the statements of the member of the Republican People's Party Canan Aritman on the alleged Armenian roots of the mother of Turkish President Abdullah Gül.
During the month of December the CHP Izmir MP Canan Aritman harshly criticized Abdullah Gül because of his comments on the petition of apology launched by Turkish intellectuals to the Armenians after the genocide of 1915. Canan Aritman said qu'abdullah Gül supported the campaign because of his ethnic origins. "We see that the president supports this campaign. Abdullah Gül be the president of the Turkish nation as a whole, not just those who share his ethnicity. Look at the ethnic origin of the mother of the president and you will see, "she said.
Canan Aritman has attracted the ire of many politicians and journalists who have harshly criticized as racist. But the leadership of the CHP has not sanctioned.
According to the amendment proposed, the one who insults and the other distinguished as "the offspring of Armenia (Armenian or semen)," seed of a Greek, "" child of Greek, "the dirty Gypsy" "homosexual", "cowardly Jew," Kurdish terrorist "etc., may be one year in prison for incitement to commit racial hatred. The ban will apply to the writings as well.
According to the Turkish press the struggle of Turkey against the discriminatory attitudes towards different groups in society began several years ago. The Institute for Turkish Language (TDK) has helped remove discriminatory statements against the Alevis, Greeks, Kurds, Armenians and Russians in school books.
Turkish lawmakers argue that if Turkey had developed a mechanism to combat racial hate crime more effectively, the country would not witness a series of attacks against minorities such as the murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007 .
Greeks And Armenians - The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend p.59-65 The Terror Dossier And Greece, International Affairs Agency (INAF) - Istanbul - 1993, ISBN 975-7769-05 Copyright Cem Basar
The Greek nation does not like the Armenians at all; it even hates them. It is also known how the Greek people, watching the flamboyant Armenian ceremonies against Turkey organized by the support of the Greek politicians in Athens, has blasphemed Armenians. In a KYP report published in Stohos daily about the Armenians, it was stated that the Armenians is a community which has always been dangerous for Hellenism.
Despite that hostile attitude of the Greek people, all the governments coming to power in Greece since 1974 have embraced not only the terrorist organization ASALA, but also all the Armenian associations and organizations, in order to make use of them in their propaganda, with the philosophy of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. They have even established some fabricated Armenian associations.
Greece continues to be one of the centers of Armenian terrorism targeting Turkey for more than 15 years. The Greek ministers, politicians, and generals participate in the ceremonies against Turkey organized by some Armenians frequently. In those celebrations, Armenian and Greek flags wave side by side, accompanied with the music of the Athens city band. The Greek press, on the other side, publishes columns of articles for not it believed in, or symphatized to the Armenian issue, but for only to make its hostile feelings towards Turkey known. Armenian advertisements and slogans written to the walls in the streets of Athens are frequently seen.
The erection of a monument in Athens symbolizing the so-called massacre of Armenians by Turks on April 15, 1979, the naming of a square near the Piraeus port as the Armenian National Resistance Warriors in February 1986, and the change of the name of the Voltaire Square in the Singrou Boulevard in Athens as the Armenian Square with a ceremony in which the Governor ond Mayor of Athens were also present on September 14, 1986, were not the reverberations of the Greek admiration of the Armenians, but the simple products of a policy only staged in order to annoy Turkey.
Many top level Greeks and Southern Cypriots participated in the meeting organized by the Political Science Department of the University of Athens, the subject of which was the International Solidarity with the Armenian people, on April 20, 1986. In that meeting, the declarations of the ASALA, and the celebration messages of the Japanese Red Army, known with its bloody terrorist actions, and some Palestinian terrorist organizations were read and applauded.
After the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon in 1975, and especially after the southern Lebanon operation of Israel in June 1982, some groups the majority of which were fanatical and activist Armenians, have settled in the Southern Cyprus and Greece. Greece welcomed the Lebanese Armenians, and did not create any problem to them for their settlement in that country.
Nobody would argue that every Armenian is antagonist to Turkey. Sober Armenians, who were not cultivating hostility towards Turkey, had gone not to Greece, but to France and America.
The fact that the real objective of the Armenians emigrating to Greece from Lebanon was manipulating that country as a base against Turkey was in time brought to light.
The Armenian activities aiming at dismembering Turkey in Greece developed within the body of the Armenian PeopleAEs Movement, which had legalized the ASALA. The representatives of international terrorist organizations participated in the programmed meetings organized under the auspices of the Greek National Intelligence Organization (KYP), in those meetings, the message of the ASALA were read. The flourishing written propaganda activities in Greece endeavoring to justify those terrorist activities, are also noteworthy.
There are many publications in various languages of the Armenian PeopleAEs Movement, which operates in the building in Meletiou Vasiliou Street No.26 in the Neos Cosmos district of Athens. Among those are Van (a province in Turkey), Moush (Mus, another province of Turkey) in English, Garin in Turkish, Avril in Persian, Hayfedai in Greek and Lutte Populaire in Armenian, all of which are periodicals.
The Greek National Intelligence in the beginning of 1980s tried to gather the ASALA and the separatist Kurds, via the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in order to make them unite their fights against Turkey.
The Kurds had rejected cooperation with the Armenians in a meeting held toward the end of 1979 in Beirut. This time the Communist Party of Greece, invited both sides to Athens, by creating a pretext for that invitation. Secret negotiations were held. In the end, the Kurds supporting Barzani did not accept cooperation with ASALA.
The Protagoras, a facade organization used by the KYP, gathered the Kurds and the Armenians in Athens in May 1980. Kendal Nizam (Nevan), participating in that meeting as the representative of Kurds supporting Barzani, had met with me, since I was the Athens correspondent of Hurriyet, a Turkish newspaper, in the Athens airport half an hour before he went to Paris, despite all the prevention efforts of Greeks. Kendal Nizam (Nevan), a professor in the Paris University, had said in his answer to my questions that:
We the Kurdistan Democratic Party, do not think any cooperation with the Armenians. Nothing can be achieved by assassinating diplomats and killing people. We cannot let them make us their partners in their murders. We received the information that some people, under the name Kurd, have established connection with the Armenians. They are not Kurds, but the pawns of some dark powers. Greece, too, attempted to manipulate us, but we rejected it .
After that, Greeks tried this time via Syria. The PKK, under the patronage of Syria, was ready for such a cooperation for a long time. The first steps of cooperation between the ASALA and the PKK were thus taken in 1979-1980.
Greece, in order to orient the Armenian terrorism targeting Turkey along its interests, not only violated all the international agreements related to terrorism but disregarded the basic ethical rules by protecting terrorists.
We see one of the examples of the tolerant approach of the governments coming to power in Greece after 1975 to the Armenian terrorism in the considerable reduction which was made in the punishment of the ASALA terrorist Vadeh Khodaverdjian.
Khodaverdjian, who had bombed the Athens bureau of the Kuwait Airlines in 1982, was sentenced to 14 years and one month. However the Supreme Court of Appeal in Athens reduced his punishment to 3 years and 4 months on September 29, 1987, and he was released.
The Greek Public Prosecutor, instead of interrogating the Armenian terrorist, who endangered the security of the citizens of Greece, presented Vadeh Khodaverdjian to the court as a warrior struggling for his ideals and overtly defended the terrorist.
One of the results of the Greek governments protection of terrorism targeting Turks was the assassination of Galip Ozmen, the Attache of the Turkish Embassy in Athens, and his daughter by the Armenian terrorists in 1980. The Turkish Foreign Ministry had learned that a Turkish diplomat in Athens would be assassinated, and asked the Greek Foreign Ministry to keep the Turkish diplomats under protection. However, the Greek Foreign Ministry did not take it seriously or did not want to take it seriously. Two months later Galip Ozmen and his daughter were killed.
In my interview with the Director of the Greek General Diractorate of Press and Information two months after the incident, he had said to me that, We have received the information that assassination would be committed, but I do not understand why the warning was not taken seriously...
In a declaration prepared by the ASALA, which was being distributed in Athens a month before the assassination, it was being said that:
We will continue our actions against the Turkish diplomats in every country until Turkey accepts its crime in the Armenian genocide and declares this to the world.
That declaration appeared in the Greek press with the headlines The Armenians will shoot the Turks in Athens.
The KYP had given the information on the assassinated Turkish diplomats to the Armenian terrorist organization ASALA. On the other hand in Ankara, the Greek agents under the cover of diplomat, and the agents of some countries cooperating with the Greeks, were transferring the information they collected related to the Turkish diplomats to the ASALA. Those persons were known by the Turkish Intelligence units and their activities were watched over very closely. However, their diplomatic immunity and the fact that the murders were committed in another country prevented any measure.
The most important feature of the Panorama Review published in Italy is the news related to terrorism. Those news were never denied, in contrast, in most cases, they were affirmed.
The headline of the news Panorama on March 24, 1980, was as follows: These bombings smell Greek connection.. The bombing in the news was related to the explosions in the Turkish Embassy, and the Turkish Airlines bureau in Rome in which 2 persons died and 15 people were injured.
According to Panorama, three months before the bloody attack to the Turkish mission in Rome, in mid-December 1979, the leaders of the military and propaganda wings of the ASALA, and George Habbash (Yorgos Havvas), who was a Greek Orthodox Lebanese, and his Marxist-Leninist Palestinian terrorist organization which was under the control of the Syrian intelligence, and most importantly, the agents of the KYP, had secretly met in a hotel in the Bavarian mountains in Munich.
However, the German Anti-terror Secret Service (BKA), which recorded the speeches in that meeting, brought what was talked in that meeting to light. The German Intelligence Organization had notified that meeting one and a half month before the outbreak of actions to the Italian Intelligence Organization, but since the place and date of the anticipated actions were not definitely known, the necessary precautions could not be taken beforehand.
The article of Panorama, headed The bombings smell Greek connection... concludes in this way:
The terrorist actions targeting Turks had been planned three months before by a leader of the ASALA in Munich. It is an important provocation to Ankara that George Habbash and the representatives of the KYP participated in that meeting with close affinity with the Armenians.
During the first week of April 1975, 26 deputies of the New Democratic Party of Karamanlis brought a draft resolution to the Parliament. In that resolution, it was claimed that The struggle of the Armenians to recover the territories usurped by Turks should be assisted and supported. Thus the Greek politicians exposed their relations with the Armenian terrorists, whom they manipulated against Turks.
After the Green Light of Constantine Karamanlis to this end, The Greek politicians, diplomats, journalists, and the KYP gave a new impetus to their attacks against Turkey under the Armenian cover.
Danis Tunaligil, the Turkish Ambassador in Vienna, was assassinated in the Embassy building on September 23, 1975, five months after the Armenians in Athens had cried out war slogans against Turkey in May 1975 with the agitation of the Greek government.
The Austrian police and the INTERPOL issued a detention bulletin for three people possessing Greek passports. Witnesses had informed the police that they had seen those Greeks around the Turkish Embassy. Meanwhile, the INTERPOL notified the situation to the Greeks, and demanded their immediate capture, and dispatch of their photographs to the Austrian Police.
The Greek government did not like those developments. It did keep a blind eye to the demand of the INTERPOL, sending the passports of the accused Greeks to the Austrian, Hungarian, Czechoslavakian and Yugoslavian Embassies in Athens, and claiming that these three Greeks did not have any connection with the murder in Vienna. However, photocopying the passports was not allowed.
The date of the assassination was 23 September 1975. That day approximately 10 thousand Greeks entered and left Czechoslovakia via Vienna with cars and buses to watch Greek football team s match there. In summary, there were thousands of Greeks in Vienna at the day of the assassination of the Turkish Ambassador. The entry and exit visas in their passports were regular, what was irregular was the photographs in some of them.
Athens not only did not send the information and photographs to Vienna, but the Greek Foreign Ministry with a diplomatic note requested the cancellation of the decision of detention of three Greek citizens, and its declaration in Austrian radio and television. The note even demanded the Austrian government should apologize from the Greek government.
Meanwhile, the foreign journalists in Athens had started to look for the three accused Greeks. Despite all the efforts, the only information obtained was that those accused Greeks were being hidden by General Kalamakis, the Director of the Greek National Security Organization (EA).
When some journalists showed a sensitivity to the issue, Panaiotis Lambrias, the Press Secretary of Karamanlis, telephoned one by one those journalists and threatened them not to investigate the issue, otherwise they would be deported.
The news below, taken from The Armenian Reporter, a weekly published by the Armenians in New York, is an important source for understanding the Greek-Armenian relations targeting Turkey. According to the news, The International Solidarity Meeting in Athens was realized under the leadership of the Armenian People`s Movement. The largest part of the meeting was devoted to the readin of the messages supporting the Armenian territorial claims on Turkey and the Armenian struggle.
The support of PASOK was announced by Mihalis Haralambidis, who was a member of the Central Committee of PASOK and also the Greek member of the Permanent People`s Court. Ara Sarkisian stated the objectives of the Armenian People`s Movement. george Habbash and Bassam Abu Salim (PFLP) attracted the attention with their speeches. Abu Salim emphasized the full support of its organization to the Armenian cause, and stated that the Palestinian camps were always open to all Armenians desiring to attend to armed training. Abu Salim, in one of his answers, made it clear that his organization had trained the Armenian ASALA terrorists and continue to do so.
Abu Salim: The bulk of the youth joining the Armenian People`s Movement is of Greek origin. There are also people coming from the Middle Eastern countries.
Thus the news regarding the training of the Armenian, Greek and Southern Cypriot terrorists in the camps of the PFLP, led by Greek Orthodox Arab Yorgos Havvas, in Syria, was confirmed with the statement of Abu Salim.
The manipulation of Armenians by Greeks against Turkey is evaluated in an interesting article published in Ellinikon Avrion in this way:
According To One Of The Axioms Of Political Sociology, The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend . Turks Are Our Enemy, Armenians Are The Enemy Of Turks. Since We Have A Common Side With The Armenians, It Is Our Duty To Help The Enemy Of Our Enemy. www.turkishforum.com
Armenian Genocide: Temel Demirer Defends Itself Against Accusations Of Mehmet Ali Sahin 2 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
The Turkish writer Temel Demirer, pursued by the Turkish public prosecutor on the basis of Article 301 of the Penal Code stated that Mehmet Ali Sahin, Turkish Minister of Justice distorted his remarks.
Temel Demirer is accused of "denigrating the Turkish Republic" and "incitement to hatred and enmity" for saying that Hrant Dink was not only killed because he was an Armenian, but also for recognized the genocide of 1915.
These words of Temel Demirer would, according to the Turkish minister that an invitation to commit a crime against the state by calling it so deadly.
Previously, the minister had commented on Temel Demirer: "We must not pay attention to what that person but when a trial is launched it as a victim. This person said that Turkey was a state killer. He said the first Turkish state murdered Armenians and Kurds murder. Sorry, but I can not let anyone call my status murderer. This is not freedom of expression. This falls within the scope of that Article 301 criminalizes an insult to the state. "
Lawyers for Temel Demirer had accused the minister to put their clients' lives in danger by designating it as a target of hatred and interfering in the trial process. Temel Demirer risk two years in prison.
Affirming that the last statement of the Minister does not reflect reality, Temel Demirer claims he has not discussed his thoughts but facts in their historical context and that the state is disturbed by this.
"Everyone knows how I talk and write about the facts, how to write about the facts may be harmful and provocative? "
Temel Demirer says that the attitude of the Minister is contradictory since the same minister has made it a target, saying he called the state of the murderer and just when he was making excuses for the murder of Engin Ceber occurred when he was detained by police.
So far 462 complaints have been sent to the Ministry of Justice and Mehmet Ali Sahin has responded to 58 of them. Some have no decision yet and about 260 of them were rejected.
Temel Demirer is also prosecuted for his statement at the 7th Festival of Culture and Nature Munzur in Tunceli province and is accused of "making propaganda for a terrorist organization. "The next hearing will be held on 12 February 2009.
"Mr. Prime Minister And" Limit Exceeded "..." by Cengiz Çandar 2 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
I said earlier that the Democrats and liberals in Turkey should not expect much from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the end of March 2009, or in other words, before we n'apprenions the results of municipal elections.
Mr. Prime Minister concentrated only in March elections and gave the start of election campaigns ago. Erdogan has read the decision of the Constitutional Court not to close his party from the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, as "the beginning" of the election campaign. (...)
Since then, every action he takes and every word that comes out of his mouth, without giving in rage or anger, are planned and conducted according to the election campaign.
Erdogan, with intentions on the center of politics, is not concerned by the left. It tries to secure the right to hold the vote against the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP. And therefore it is highly necessary to beat the MHP in "his remarks nationalists" as he always did in the previous election campaigns.
Erdogan's remarks against "the campaign as an excuse" are understandable from a "nationalist". But his method of expression and his words are not worth the trouble to be mentioned. How can we respond to someone, even if a Prime Minister who said "I think they have committed such a crime to make excuses now" to people whose intellectual figures countries and successful professionals participating in a campaign that number will soon reach 10,000. [now more than 25,000]
The danger is to review the monster out of the Aladdin Lamp by "nationalist rhetoric" of Erdogan. The danger "nationalism" could engulf Erdogan himself one day.
Another problem with his attitude is his statement, "This will do nothing except to completely change the measures taken so far" about the campaign after it has specified the measures taken to Armenia.
Such understanding indicates that we see foreign policy as a tool for blackmail, rather than something that can be built on "national interests". Ten thousand people in Turkey have expressed their sensitivity to the incidents took place in our history 93 years ago and then Prime Minister Erdogan was angry and change of policy vis-à-vis Armenia.
Mr. Prime Minister mix apples with oranges and all things.
In fact the best response to Erdogan came from a Turkish citizen-Arménio, one of our counterparts, Markar Esaian. He wrote the following remarks against Erdogan:
"This declaration is emotional but it has a problem: On the one hand you say that the incidents of 1915 are not the business of politicians, but historians and suggest to Armenia the formation of a joint commission of history shed light on the facts and on the other hand, you write the story based on your personal conviction and say "We have no such problem. The question may be the subject of controversy for you. Then you need advice to keep your conversations with friends to stay consistent. Besides, who asked you to apologize? "
Really, who wanted this? An opinion that identity of the Prime Minister wrote, "if you are intellectuals, I am not." Very well but you said you're an intellectual?
The number of signatures has reached 14,000 Thursday, with the signatures of people abroad and people from different professions of any age group, workers, unemployed, farmers, technicians. They did so because their "conscience" told them to do so.
What say you? Would you, if they have a conscience, then I do not? "
Maybe it's the right thing to do ...
Article published in the daily Hurriyet on 20 December 2008 Translation NAM
Richard Hoagland Says He Never Denied The Armenian Genocide 2 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
After seeing his application rejected for the post of U.S. Ambassador Richard Hoagland was appointed in Kazakhstan.
The website Gazeta.kzl 'interviewed through issues sas users. One of them focused on the genocide of Armenians
L Mr. Ambassador, following recent events where you have not been named as U.S. ambassador to Armenia because of the denial of the Armenian genocide of the early 20th century have you changed your opinion on this issue?
Thank you very much for this question because it allows me to speak directly. I never, ever "denied the Armenian genocide." This view has been falsely attributed by some political extremists who wanted to make a political coup. I did, like any diplomat loyal to his own government should do was to'appuyer the policy of my government. Our opinion is that we should not "legislate history." Rather leave and Yerevan and Ankara fully open their archives, seriously consider all the documented history of the period and reach a common position each other based on data of objective history.
Armenian Genocide: Sedat Laçiner Opposed The Pétion Excuse 2 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
In an interview with the Turkish Zaman jouranl, Sedat Lacina, the head of the International Organization for Strategic Research based in Ankara (ISRO / USAK) commented on the recent petition of apology to the Armenians. "I do not understand why we need to apologize to the Armenians," said Sedat Laçiner noting that those who were responsible for the killings of Armenians had already been punished by the administration of Istanbul that time. He said that 67 individuals were sentenced to death for murder and that Turkey has already made an apology in this way. Sedat Lacina, who said that the petition of apology was problematic in many aspects, explained that "the great disaster" in the text of the apology was a euphemism for "genocide" in Armenian.
Turkey: How To Avoid The Issue Of Genocide 2 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
Barack Obama has promised in the past to recognize the Armenian genocide. A perspective that these days, pushing Ankara to resume its relations with Yerevan, to the chagrin of the Armenian diaspora.
During the visit to Washington by Prime Minister Erdogan [November 15], specialists of Turkey had only one question in mind: Would Barack Obama or not keep the promise to recognize the Armenian genocide had made when he was senator? Recognizing further that the Vice President elect, Joseph Biden, has always supported the bill in favor of such recognition - announced but never adopted - one understands better the concern that exists in both Washington and Ankara. This scenario largely explains the ongoing efforts by Ankara to normalize relations with Armenia. First, this normalization is a prerequisite to satisfy the ambitions of regional leadership of Turkey. Second, the resumption of diplomatic relations with Yerevan over the next few months, according to Ankara, to rule out the prospect of a crisis with the United States about the issue of genocide.
For Washington, Turkey has strategic importance
The visit to Yerevan, the President of Turkey, Abdullah Gül, last September, was an important step towards the restoration of bilateral relations between the two countries. About the very positive remarks made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Eduard Nalbandyan, during his visit to Istanbul on November 24, also left thinking that an agreement is close between the two countries. But, to look more closely, we see that the Armenian diplomat did not say anything really new. It was indeed merely reaffirm his Government's position on the resumption of relations "without preconditions" and "the need to reopen on the spot the frontier between the two countries." Especially the Turkish side which seemed to show more flexibility on this issue. Thus, regarding the proposal to create a common history [on the genocide], Ankara, which wanted the work it remains confined to two delegations of Turkey and Armenia, has finally accepted the proposal to extend the Armenian context this committee.
According to Western sources, it would be rather Armenia today who refuses to normalize its relations with Turkey. There are several reasons for this. First, the more we approach a diplomatic solution between the two countries, more pressure from hawks in the Armenian diaspora on the Government to Yerevan becomes strong. The latter argue that the election of Obama is a historic opportunity for the recognition of the genocide. In these circumstances, it would be foolish to sacrifice for this cause only ease some concerns of an economic and for the opening of a border. Moreover, according to some sources, the lobby proarménien United States intends, as of 1 January, redouble their efforts to ask members of Congress close to its positions to place the bill for recognition of genocide in the heart of 'news.
U.S. officials continue to believe that Washington should, as in the past, to avoid offending Turkey - because of its strategic importance. This approach is not unanimous. The fear that Turkey closed its base of Incirlik [used for U.S. air operations in Iraq] if the bill was adopted more frightened many people. Many believe that Turkey would never take such a risk. The same statement added that Erdogan during his visit to the Brookings Institution in Washington are really doubt that Turkey remains a reliable ally. Indeed, that day in response to a question he was asked about Iran's nuclear program, the Turkish prime minister criticized nuclear powers to deny others the right to also acquire the bomb. This response has caused some discomfort. It is undeniable that the pressure of Armenian nationalists are increasing. And it's not the recent statements made in Brussels by the defense minister of Turkey, Vecdi Gönül, who will calm their ardor. On 10 November, it justified the ethnic cleansing of minorities in Turkey, stating that: if we had not chased the Armenians and the Greeks, we could not build today's Turkey. In these conditions, even if the U.S. bill is not valid, the day commemorating the Armenian genocide on 24 April, is likely to be tense. We will see whether Turkey, Armenia and the Government Obama can overcome these problems with intelligence. Amberin Zaman Taraf
Police To Be Held Accountable For Rights Violations
The Human Rights Violation Claims Investigation Bureau, subordinate to the General Directorate of Security, is to evaluate claims filed by citizens alleging human rights violations at the hands of police department officers and personnel.
A notice posted on the General Directorate of Security Web site (www.egm.gov.tr) states that a Nov. 17, 2008 decision of the Ministry of the Interior established the bureau to process, investigate and prosecute complaints and tip-offs from the public about police brutality and human rights violations.
Those with complaints can visit the bureau's Web site and fill out a form to file their complaint. Those who include their personal and contact information on the application will have official complaints filed on their behalf. If, upon investigation, the bureau finds a complaint to be of merit, it will then start the requisite administrative and judicial procedures.
The announcement on the directorate's Web site also notes that complaints concerning human rights violations should not just be filed with the police bureau but also with the Prime Ministry's Human Rights Directorate by emailing complaints to email@example.com.
31 December 2008,Today's Zaman