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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 06-10-18

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.201/06 18.10.06

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Gul briefed the TGNA on his contacts with Troika.
  • [02] Rasit Pertev to hold contacts in Finland.
  • [03] Statements by Talat´s spokesman. Conditional role for the EU.
  • [04] Turgay Avci on the appointment of the new UN Secretary-General.
  • [05] The self-styled High Court President to defend Turkey in the Eleni Foka case at the European Court of Human Rights.
  • [06] Traffic to and from the occupied areas in September 2006.
  • [07] More bodies of missing persons were found at occupied Galatia in the Karpass Peninsula.
  • [08] Turkish Gendarmerie raided Istanbul Protestant Church.
  • [09] Alevis were offended by religious education textbooks.
  • [10] Kretschmer stresses that it is up to Turkey to avoid a train crash.
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [11] Commentary in MILLIYET on the discussions going on in Turkey about the Kurdish problem.
  • [12] Columnist in ZAMAN criticizes the fact that minorities are excluded from public positions.

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Gul briefed the TGNA on his contacts with Troika

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (18.10.06) reports that the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Abdullah Gul, said yesterday that Turkey approaches positively Finlands proposals, but they wish for a plan by which the Turkish Cypriots will not be unjustly treated. Briefing the MPs at the Turkish Grand National Assembly on his meeting with the Troika of the EU, Mr Gul stated that they will not accept a plan which will turn the Turkish Cypriots into a minority. Gul alleged: We are behaving constructively and we will see whether or not the other side behaves in the same manner. The Turkish Cypriots are a partner of the island and the issue will be equal political conditions.

    (I.Ts.)

    [02] Rasit Pertev to hold contacts in Finland

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (18.10.06) reports that Mr Rasit Pertev, advisor of the Turkish Cypriot leader, is visiting Helsinki tomorrow upon an invitation from Finland. According to the paper, Pertev will discuss in detail the Finnish proposals and express the views of the Turkish Cypriot side. The spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot leader, Hasan Ercakica gave yesterday some information about Pertevs visit. He said that the ambassador of Finland to Nicosia visited Mr Talat the day before yesterday and informed him on some ideas. Mr Pertev will discuss in further details these ideas in Helsinki with Finnish officials and express the Turkish Cypriot views, noted Mr Ercakica.

    Furthermore, in statements to Turkish Cypriot Radio Vatan, Mr Pertev confirmed the information regarding his visit to Helsinki and said that Finland is sounding out the ground about the proposals it had submitted. Until this weekend Finland will be face to face with a more realistic picture, he noted and added that Finland submitted nothing in writing. Mr Pertev reiterated the Turkish position that the closed city of Varosha is a part of the comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem and that the discussion of this issue outside the overall solution will weaken the Turkish Cypriot side at the negotiations towards reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem. He argued that the Turkish Cypriots must acquire the freedoms and the free trade which are valid in the EU and alleged that the Republic of Cyprus has temporarily suspended more than 100 articles of the constitution. He drew attention to the fact that the EU accepted such a formation as a state where the rule of law exists. Arguing that Europe has to overcome the contradictions of Cyprus, Mr Pertev said: It has to solve the contradiction of Cyprus within itself and furthermore a solution is needed in Cyprus. The EU cannot pass over the Cyprus problem and the rights and the justice of the Turkish Cypriot people for ever.

    (I.Ts.)

    (Tr. Note: Since 1963 the Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the Repubilc of Cyprus and started an armed uprising headed the terrorist TMT organization with Turkish army officers. The ultimate aim was to destroy the Republic of Cyprus. A final effort was made by the full Turkish military machine during the July 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation).

    [03] Statements by Talat´s spokesman. Conditional role for the EU

    Illegal Bayrak television (17.10.06) broadcast that the self-styled Presidential Spokesman Hasan Ercakica has called on the European Union to strengthen its relations with the Turkish Cypriot People if it wants to play a positive role in the efforts aimed at finding a solution to the Cyprus Problem.

    Mr Ercakica said that Mr Mehmet Ali Talat was very pleased with the attention shown to him during his contacts with high level EU officials in Brussels.

    Speaking during his routine weekly press conference, Mr Ercakica reminded that Talat had met with all the leading EU officials during his contacts in Brussels, and stated that the press had shown great interest in his meetings.

    These contacts provided an important opportunity to voice the Turkish Cypriot Sides views he added.

    Explaining that the Talats contacts in Brussels had helped reveal the Greek Cypriot Administrations manipulation of its EU membership against the Turkish Cypriot People and Turkey, Mr Ercakica said this had emerged in several ways during the Mr Talats meetings.

    Pointing to the fact that it was the EUs obligation to remove the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriot People, Mr Ercakica said that no one Mr Talat had met with had objected to this obligation.

    Mr Ercakica said that the European Union had to improve its relations with the Turkish Cypriot People if it was to play a positive and effective role to help find a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus Problem.

    Explaining that the Finnish proposals were also among the issues discussed by Mr Talat during his Brussels contacts, the presidential spokesman said that the issue had been raised during discussions in an attempt to prevent the Greek Cypriot Side from obstructing Turkeys accession negotiations.

    Moreover, on the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (18.10.06) reports that the spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot leader, Hasan Ercakica argued yesterday that the statements made by the Greek Cypriot officials during the Nikiforos military manoeuvre showed once more the importance of the existence of the Turkish occupation army on the island. He alleged that the existence of the occupation army in Cyprus prevents a new war on the island. He claimed that the real wish behind the demand for the withdrawal of the Turkish Army from the island before a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem is reached is the Greek Cypriot effort of imposing a solution in the direction of the Greek Cypriot demands by the force of the arms. He expressed the opinion that the positive role of the EU in the solution of the Cyprus problem depends on its developing its relations with the Turkish Cypriots and on finding ways to overcome the obstacles put by the Greek Cypriots.

    (I.Ts.)

    [04] Turgay Avci on the appointment of the new UN Secretary-General

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (18.10.06) reports that the self-styled deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, Turgay Avci expressed satisfaction for the appointment of South Koreas Foreign Minister, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, to the post of the UN Secretary General. He expressed the belief that Mr Ban Ki-Moon will continue the efforts of his predecessor towards a bi-zonal, bi-communal solution on the basis of the absolute equality of the two people and contribute to reaching a comprehensive solution on the island. He said that the Turkish Cypriot side will closely cooperate with the new UN Secretary-General and will continue to do its duty for reaching a solution overcoming the delaying tactics of the Greek Cypriot side.

    (I.Ts.)

    [05] The self-styled High Court President to defend Turkey in the Eleni Foka case at the European Court of Human Rights

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (17.10.06) reported the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) High Court President Metin A. Hakki was appointed "ad hoc" judge for 38 lawsuits that were filed by Greek Cypriots against Turkey in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

    Hakki will start to work as "ad hoc" judge in the case of (Eleni) Foka, (a Greek Cypriot teacher in the north of the island) on November 9th.

    On the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (18.10.06) reports that Mr Metin Hakki, judge at the High Court, has been appointed as representative of Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights. Under the title ECHR trump card, the paper writes that Mr Hakki will deal with 38 lawsuits filed by Greek Cypriots against Turkey. Mr Hakki stated that he has not yet been informed about the content of the 38 lawsuits, but he has received the official letter by the ECHR regarding his appointment. I find this duty very pleasing both for me and the Turkish Cypriot justice. The first case with which Mr Hakki will deal is the Foka case. The hearing will take place on 9 November. Mr Hakki said that he will be in Strasbourg on 9 November and that he thinks that this first case is related to violation of human rights.

    (Tr. Note: Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is Ankara´s subordinate regime in occupied Cyprus the Turkish Republic has set up and maintains with 40,000 Turkish troops).

    (I.Ts.)

    [06] Traffic to and from the occupied areas in September 2006

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (18.10.06) reports that according to information given by the Civil Aviation Department 85,506 passengers were transported in September 2006 to the occupied areas with 654 airplanes and 72,819 persons were carried to Turkey and Britain with 650 airplanes. According to the paper, 4,766 airplanes landed and 4,752 airplanes departed from the illegal Tymbou airport in the period 1 January 2006 30 September 2006. In the same period 577,831 passengers came in the occupied areas and 581,387 departed. Furthermore, the paper reports that in September 2006 2,903 passengers, 1208 vehicles and 97,681 tons of cargo were brought to occupied Famagusta port with 130 ships. In the same period 130 ships carried away 1957 passengers, 1114 vehicles and 5,922 tons of cargo. Seven ships came to Gastria Fuel Oil Installations, 13 ships to the Gastria Gypsum Plaster and Cement Installations, 133 ships to the Tourism Port of Kyrenia, 11 ships to Gemyat Delta Marina and 5 to Teknecik Power Plant.

    (I.Ts.)

    [07] More bodies of missing persons were found at occupied Galatia in the Karpass Peninsula

    Illegal Bayrak television (17.10.06) broadcast the following:

    The Committee on Missing Persons is continuing its exhumation digs around the area of the village of Mehmetcik (occupied Galatia) in the Karpass peninsula.

    The team carrying out the digs announced they discovered several remains in the area and that digging will continue in the following few days, if weather conditions permit.

    In a statement to the BRT, a Turkish Cypriot member of the committee Ahmet Erdengiz said that some remains were discovered in the area but added that they had no information as to who the remains might belong to.

    Mr Erdengiz also said that exhumation efforts had been hampered yesterday because of heavy rainfall in the area and added that work will continue in the coming days, if weather permits.

    [08] Turkish Gendarmerie raided Istanbul Protestant Church

    Istanbul HURRIYET newspaper (16.10.06) publishes the following report by Toygun Atilla under the title: Gendarmerie raid on Missionary Office:

    Two individuals in Silivri have been the subject of complaints by the parents of primary-school pupils on grounds that they had engaged in missionary activities aimed at the pupils. Turan T. and Hakan T., stated to be members of the Taksim Protestant Church and to call themselves "bearers of good news" [Turkish mujdeci], have been taken into custody at the behest of the public prosecutor's office.

    Intelligence teams of the Istanbul Provincial Gendarmerie Command, conducting the investigation, have seized computers in the business that these individuals utilized as a publishing house and meeting place at Gumussuyu, Taksim, and also conducted an extensive search of the premises.

    Subtitle: Records on five thousand people

    It was ascertained in an examination of the computers that the suspects had prepared detailed reports on approximately 5 thousand people in the Marmara region alone, ranging from their social activities to their sexual preferences, and from their ethnic background to the levels of their beliefs. It has become understood that individuals who were being targeted for conversion to Christianity were registered even to their addresses and telephone numbers. Some of the notations marked next to the names of individuals with whom there had been contact were as follows: "retired teacher, democrat"; "from Tokat, Alevi, open-minded"; "met at Avcilar Firuzkoy, believer".

    Turan T. and Hakan T., after being brought before the prosecutor on charges of violating articles 135 of the TCK [Turkish Criminal Code] (recording personal data in violation of the law) and article 216 (deprecating the religious values espoused by a portion of the population), were then freed pending trial.

    Subtitle: Want to learn about our beliefs

    Some individuals were described in the reports as follows:

    N.G: 20 years old, studies at Sakarya University. Comes to church to worship. Wears headscarf and covers body due to heavy family pressure. Wants to join our faith and learn about it.

    E.S: About 30 years old, loves and believes very much in the Lord Jesus. Has come to Istanbul once or twice. If trained well, could be a very good servant. Wants there to be gatherings at Sakarya, and says "let us start them up."

    [09] Alevis were offended by religious education textbooks

    Istanbul MILLIYET newspaper (13.10.06) publishes the following report by Umran Avci under the title: "Alevis also upset by 'religion' textbooks":

    The information on the Alevis in the textbooks for 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade Religious Culture and Morality Awareness lessons-books which the Ministry of Education placed on the curriculum this year - has not only displeased the Alevi community but upset them as well. The Cem Foundation Alevi Islam Religious Services Chairman's Office prepared a report on the errors it found after studying the textbooks, errors in "factual accuracy," "claims to being supra-sectarian" and talk of "the Alevi faith," and sent it to the Ministry of Education.

    Cem Foundation Chairman Prof Izzettin Dogan stated that the books did not live up to their expectation, saying: "It was not to be expected that a political government that sees the Alevis as their greatest rival would include satisfactory information on the Alevis. All the practices to date plus the latest books that they have published unfortunately show we are right. When Alevi parents send their child to school they expect the same kind and scope of information about Alevism to be given as the information given to the children of our Sunni brothers. Actually, we were not surprised by what we saw."

    Subtitle: "Alevis being demeaned"

    Chairman of Alevi Islam Religious Services Ali Riza Ugurlu said: "On page 60 of the 11th grade textbook it says that the Shiites were influenced by Zoroastrianism and Judaism. To say that the Shiite faith was influenced by Judaism is demeaning to it. If you act in the belief of demeaning everything, all you do is offend your own citizens. This upsets us, the Shiites, and all other bodies who believe in the Prophet's bloodline."

    Ugurlu pointed out another detail they had included in the report: "On the very same page that Muavid, who introduced discrimination, the sultanate, tyranny and dynasties to Islam, is rewarded with the title "Saint." Whatever Abu Jahil is to Muhammad, whatever the Prophet's enemies were, we see Muavid as being the same for Imam Ali."

    Subtitle: Lawsuit filed

    The Cem Foundation had filed a lawsuit saying that the Religious Culture and Morality Awareness textbooks on the new curriculum mentioned nothing about Alevism. Three days after this case, the Ministry of Education announced that the 2006-2007 academic year textbooks would contain information about Alevism.

    Subtitle: Alevi worship ignored

    Some of the points and chapters objected to in the report prepared by the Alevis are:

    1. Under the title "What Worship Entails" in the 9th grade textbook it mentions forms of worship such as namaz [Islamic prayer], fasting, Hajj and paying a religious tax. However, no mention is made at all of Alevi forms of worship. The Cem House worship and the Muharram [first month in Muslim calendar] fasting are ignored.

    2. In the chapter on "The Turks and Islam" no mention at all is made of the massacres carried out in the Turkic countries by the Emevvid Islamic armies commanded by Kuteybe Bin Muslim during the time when the Turks were converting to Islam. The influence of the leaders of the Prophet's bloodline in the conversion of the Turks to Islam is not mentioned at all.

    3. In the 10th grade chapter called "Faith in Allah" the concept of faith in the Saints/Imams, a corner stone in the Shiite and Alevi faiths, is denied.

    4 All faiths that are not Islam or in the Koran are treated as false or superstition.

    5 While saying "All places of worship (mosques, Islamic temples, churches, synagogues) are to be respected equally" the fact that Cem houses are also places of worship is denied.

    [10] Kretschmer stresses that it is up to Turkey to avoid a train crash

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (17.10.06) reported the following from Istanbul:

    "The Turkish army has seen that fight against terrorism cannot be achieved only by gun force, and the problem cannot be solved without taking into consideration cultural, political and economic dimensions," said Hansjoerg Kretschmer, the head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Turkey.

    Taking the floor in a meeting on "women on the road to the EU" organized by the Women Entrepreneurs' Association (KAGIDER) in Istanbul, Kretschmer recalled that EU acquis cannot be bargained or negotiated, and it is valid for all the 25 member states.

    Kretschmer said that the Turkish government is determined to continue with reforms, and expressed belief that Turkey will fulfill all the required criteria.

    According to Kretschmer, Turkey has to make satisfactory progress on some chapter headings including human rights and freedom of expression. Therefore, he said, Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) has to be amended.

    Arguing that the mentioned article is restricting freedom of expression, Kretschmer noted that many lawsuits have been filed under this article and this should not be seen in a democratic country.

    Kretschmer stated that religious freedoms, particularly rights of non-Muslim minority, is another important issue, pointing out that women's problems should also be resolved.

    Underlining the importance of military-civilian relations on the road to the EU, Kretschmer listed another chapter as the independence of judicial system.

    Kretschmer emphasized that Turkey can integrate to the EU successfully if it makes progress on the above-mentioned issues.

    On the other hand, Kretschmer said: "The resolution (criminalizing denial of the so-called Armenian genocide allegations) has not gone into force yet. It has been adopted by the French parliament, but it also has to be ratified by the Senate and the President. I don't think it will be ratified by the senate and the president. You are comparing the Article 301 with this resolution, but they are two different things. What the French parliament has done should not justify 301.

    I think that there will be some progress in this matter before the (European Council) summit in December."

    Drawing attention that countries that want to become an EU member have to change, Kretschmer said that this is a challenging process and every member country faces it.

    "This depends on Turkey, not the EU. Turkey has to fulfill some criteria and requirements. And after it does so, the negative views (about it) will change because Europe is the union of democratic values, rather than a geography," he said when commenting on whether the EU will really admit Turkey.

    Kretschmer added that he does not think that there will be a train crash in this process.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [11] Commentary in MILLIYET on the discussions going on in Turkey about the Kurdish problem

    Istanbul MILLIYET newspaper (14.10.06) publishes the following commentary by Fikret Bila under the title: "Baykal criticizes Agar indirectly":

    ``A discussion has been continuing over DYP [True Path Party] leader Mehmet Agar's remark that "they [PKK militants] should engage in politics down here on the plains instead of going around armed in the mountains." I asked CHP [Republican People's Party] leader Deniz Baykal what he thought about Agar's approach. Baykal did not want to enter into an argument with opposition leaders. He pointed out that the CHP's stance on the PKK is clear and chose to make his own assessment. However, by virtue of the messages they got across, his assessments included some indirect criticism against DYP leader Mehmet Agar and ANAP [Motherland Party] leader Erkan Mumcu.

    Subtitle: A new scenario

    According to the CHP leader, "a new international scenario" is being played out. Baykal believes that the scenario can be seen when certain recent developments are placed side by side. He made the following observations:

    1. It is necessary to see how things date back to when the MIT [National Intelligence Organization] Undersecretary went to northern Iraq and met with [Kurdish leader Mas'ud] Barzani.

    2. Afterward, Prime Minister Erdogan came up with new messages during his visits to Ankara and Diyarbakir last summer. They called it "the Kurdish issue and a democratic solution."

    3. The United States disregarded Turkey's expectations and appointed a special envoy. In this way, the process of the internationalization and legitimization of the PKK issue was started.

    4. Maps showing Turkey divided up were put into circulation.

    5. [Iraqi President Jalal] Talabani stepped in. He said that the PKK would declare a ceasefire. An announcement to that effect was made and the concept of ceasefire was placed on the agenda inappropriately.

    6. After that, Talabani called for a general amnesty. Demands for an amnesty and Kurdish language education were voiced at home, too. An amnesty would legitimize the PKK. As for Kurdish language education, that would be the beginning of demands for a separate nation, a federation, and more.

    7. In the face of these developments, it is wrong to approach the matter by saying "Let the children come down from the mountains and do politics." This is not what this problem is about.

    Subtitle: Negotiating table

    Baykal said that these developments and the meetings that started with the United States' appointment of a special coordinator indicate that a "negotiating table" in connection with the PKK has been set up. He said that this is indicated by the meetings that US representative [Joseph] Ralston is conducting in Iraq and Turkey on his own.

    Subtitle: Support by the opposition

    Baykal claimed that Prime Minister Erdogan is at the center of this scenario. He emphasized that in order to put this scenario into practice in what he considers to be an attempt to internationalize and legitimize the PKK, those supporting it at home and abroad are trying to obtain the backing of the Opposition. He made a point of emphasizing that the CHP will not support the implementation of this scenario. Baykal did not pronounce Agar's name but it is understood from the analysis he made that he interprets the DYP leader's latest messages and attitude as meaning that Agar supports the scenario and the Prime Minister.

    Subtitle: Baykal criticizes Mumcu indirectly

    When we asked the CHP leader what he thought about [Mumcu's] remark that there are no reactionary threats and that those saying there are (the President and the Chief of Staff) are misleading the public, he said the following without naming Mumcu while making references to the Prime Minister's remark that military service is not a time of holiday: "The TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] is carrying out a major mission. It is waging a great fight and putting its heart and soul into it. It is necessary to understand this struggle well. I regret statements aimed at discrediting the TSK." ´´

    [12] Columnist in ZAMAN criticizes the fact that minorities are excluded from public positions

    Istanbul ZAMAN newspaper (16.10.06) publishes the following commentary by Ali H. Aslan under the title: "If our ambassador to France were Armenian":

    The first Turkish novel, "Akabi Hikayesi" [Story of Akabi], was written by an Armenian, Vartan Pasha, and published in Armenian script in the mid-19th century. It is an irony of fate that there is an Armenian element also in the first Nobel Prize awarded to Turkish literature.

    Our successful novelist Orhan Pamuk, who became the object of some national anger by departing from official historical accounts in relating what happened to the Armenians of Anatolia during World War I, has been given this prestigious prize.

    Considering how the world elite take a close interest in the Nobel Prize, the decision to award it to a Turk would be expected to generate positive publicity for Turkey. Unfortunately, however, the fact that the award has been given to a novelist whose name has come to be associated with the Armenian issue partly because of anachronistic legislation in our country contrary to freedom of speech such as Article 301 [of the Turkish Penal Code] is set to create new problems for Turkish diplomacy.

    There are many who link the Nobel Committee's decision to political reasons. We also resent the French parliament's efforts to ban the expression of arguments against the so-called Armenian genocide in complete disregard of freedom of speech. However, it is obvious that we are unable to cope with vindictive Armenians who are inflicting defeats on Turkey one after another with the increasing support of the global intelligentsia. We face the specter of the "Armenian genocide" wherever we go in the international arena. The attacks in the US Congress have so far been warded off yet actually the virus has long since invaded that quarter as well. It emerges from incubation at times when the immune system in Turkish-US relations is weakened. If things go on like this, it will eventually achieve its aim.

    As a grandson of the Ottomans, who treated minorities in a much more civilized manner compared with their contemporaries, it makes my blood boil to see the controversial aspects of our history being scrutinized in the West. On the other hand, I believe that our own mistakes have played a major role in causing matters to come to this point and I regret this situation.

    One wishes we had been able to adopt reasonable measures to prevent some of our non-Muslim citizens from being exploited by imperialists. One wishes we had been able to protect our multi-cultural, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic structure better in switching to the nation-state model. One wishes we had kept alive the links to Turkey particularly of the Armenian and Greek Ottoman diaspora, which emerged abroad after the disintegration of the empire, and that we had not alienated them so much. One wishes we had not closed the door on the possibility of forgiving in time even those who were deluded by imperialists' promise of land into oppressing their Muslim brothers and of letting them return to their motherland. In this way, many problems that drain Turkey's energy and block its path could probably have been prevented before they emerged.

    The Ottomans appointed our Armenian citizens as ambassadors to Belgium, Italy, and Britain. When I come to think of it, I wonder whether the French parliament would have found it that easy to insult us if our current ambassador in Paris were Armenian. In the nineteenth century, the Ottoman State appointed some 29 Armenian citizens as generals, 22 as ministers, 33 as MPs, seven as ambassadors, 11 as consul-generals and consuls, and 41 as high-level bureaucrats. Who would give any credence to the Armenian allegations of genocide if we as modern Turkey had done only a fraction of what the Ottomans did?

    Far from it. Let alone Armenians and Greeks, whose criminal records we have not erased for a hundred years, even Jews, who in general maintained their favorable image under Ottoman rule during the Republican era, are hard-pressed to come to bureaucratic positions in Turkey as Jews. An unseemly campaign was conducted against Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit claiming that he is a Jew. I do not know whether this allegation is true. Supposing it is, why should the religious preferences and ethnic background of our statesmen be a problem as long as they are loyal to this country, this flag, and this nation?

    Actually, it would greatly promote the domestic peace and international position of our country for non-Muslim and non-Turkish elements to be able to express themselves freely and readily express their true cultural identity in every field of life including the bureaucracy. Those who openly say "I am Jewish," "I am Armenian," "I am Greek," "I am an Alevi," "I am Kurdish," "I am a devout Sunni," can come up against serious obstacles during their bureaucratic career. And most of them hide themselves in an instinct of self preservation and trip up those whom they see as threats. It is actually such disagreements that lie at the root of the domestic political rows that represent our country as unstable to the world. We should make sure that the Republic of Turkey stops being a sort of "republic of dissimulation" where the different elements of the nation refrain from revealing their true identities. Our legal system should encourage those who want to express themselves honestly rather than deterring and punishing them.

    Our ethnic and religious differences could stop being our soft underbelly and be turned into an advantage. We are sending troops to Lebanon for example. Why should those soldiers not be led by a commander who can readily say that he is of Arab origin and can speak Arabic? Note how the United States is trying to make use of its ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity in its global policies. Both its ambassador to Iraq (Zalmay Khalilzad) and its principal commander (General John Abizaid) are of Arab origin.

    Could we not achieve social and regional peace more easily if Turkey, which possesses all the cultural colors of its region, respected its human heritage, protected it, and made use of it? Could we not achieve the goal of modern civilization and EU membership faster in this way? Would we not become a more modern and powerful country? Would our opponents not be deprived of their greatest trump card?

    /SK


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