Tag Archives: Turkey and rampant nationalism

TURKEY is trying to dictate to Armenia

Turkey Is Trying to Dictate to Armenia


By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent – THE SEOUL TIMES


Turkish military

The passages of time never heal completely when such crimes have been committed and the aggressor refuses to either admit to such barbaric crimes or makes lame excuses all the time. Despite this, Armenia entered talks with Turkey in the hope of solving long held problems and in the need to stabilize the region.

However, leaders in Turkey are still trying to dictate and they are putting pre-conditions down on a conflict which is outside their remit. This applies to the ongoing crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh and the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Yet this issue involves Armenia and Azerbaijan and it is not up to Turkey to decide the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Yes, Turkey, just like the Russian Federation and Iran, and other regional nations and nations who are also concerned about this issue, does have a right to be concerned about regional problems but it must be “an honest broker” and not dictatorial. After all, would Turkey be happy if Armenia stated that Turkey must handover land to the Kurds or return land to the Armenians, Assyrians, and other ethnic groups who were “cleansed” in the early 20th century?

It also must be remembered that Turkish military forces are still based throughout northern Cyprus and this is the problem with Turkey. For it appears that the leaders of Turkey suffer from historical amnesia. Also, nationalism is still a potent force within the major institutions of Turkey.

If we look at the founding father of modern day Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, then it is clear that he himself supported the destruction of Christianity via the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Christian genocide of 1915. Therefore, it is clear that Turkish nationalism and secularism is tainted by its anti-Christian nature and also its anti-Kurdish nature. After all, the nation state of Turkey was about Turkish nationalism and secularism did not protect the religious or ethnic minorities of this diverse nation.

Some people in Turkey play “the religious card” and ply the mantra of Muslim brotherhood. However, this is also hollow because tens of thousands of mainly Muslim Kurds have been killed over the last few decades and many Kurdish villages were also destroyed. Also, the Alevi are a Muslim minority group in Turkey and they also face discrimination and massacres have taken place against them from time to time, for example in 1993 you had the Sivas massacre when radical Sunni Islamists killed many innocent people.

Turning back to recent times the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Eduard Nalbandian, was very frank about the ongoing problem with Turkey. He stated that “Had there been preconditions, we would not have started this process and reached agreements in the first place.” Nalbandian continued by stating that “If one of the parties is creating artificial obstacles, dragging out things, that means it is assuming responsibility for the failure of this process,” and this can be seen to be a tacit warning to Turkey about the ongoing problems involving Armenia and Turkey.

However, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan, stated in October 2009 that “Turkey cannot take a positive step towards Armenia unless Armenia withdraws from Azerbaijani land […] if that issue is solved our people and our parliament will have a more positive attitude towards this protocol and this process.”

Erdogan also stated that “We will bring the protocol to parliament but parliament has to see the conditions between Azerbaijan and Armenia to decide whether this protocol can be implemented.”

Yet according to Alexander Iskandaryan, director of the Caucasus Media Institute in Yerevan, he makes it clear that “The Turkish side needs to play to its domestic audience. Erdogan and other political figures have made such statements often enough […] It’s a fact that neither the word Karabakh nor Azerbaijan appears in the documents that were signed.”

Nalbandian also commented in January 2010 that “If Turkey takes a step back, then this will be not only a violation of the agreements with Armenia but will demonstrate that it is not respecting the international community’s opinion, with all resulting consequences and the loss of credibility in the first instance.” He continued by stating that “Armenia, on the other hand, will — let’s not say win — not lose anything that we had before this process.”

Therefore, outside nations need to put more pressure on Turkey in order for “a new chapter” to begin between Armenia and Turkey. The Nagorno-Karabakh issue is indeed serious, however, this dispute is between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. Also, the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis must be resolved by all the parties involved and by both regional and global institutions which have a vested interest in solving this complex problem.

However, the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis is a separate issue and Turkey can’t claim otherwise because this issue was outside the signed agreement between Armenia and Turkey.

The genocide of Armenians and other Christians in 1915 is an historical fact and the same applies to massacres which took place before and after this date. Turkey can never erase this history, however, this nation can start “a fresh chapter” which is based on sincerity and genuine friendship with Armenia.

Therefore, do the leaders of Turkey desire friendship and honesty or is nationalism too embedded within the mindset of the political elites of this nation?




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TURKEY and the secular card, myth or reality?

Turkey and The Secular Card, Myth or Reality?

By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent   –  THE SEOUL TIMES

Turkey and the Secular card, myth or reality?

Turkey is often praised for being secular and a future role model for other mainly Islamic societies because of its rich history of secularism. America and the United Kingdom, and other nations, often claim that Turkey is a beacon of hope and that it is evidence that democracy and secularism can exist within a mainly Muslim nation state. However, during this so-called “golden age” of secularism it is clear that religious and ethnic minorities have suffered greatly in modern day Turkey. So how true is it that Turkey is secular?

If we look at the founding father of modern day Turkey, Ataturk, then it is clear that he himself supported the destruction of Christianity via the Armenian and Assyrian Christian genocide of 1915. Therefore, it is clear that Turkish nationalism and secularism is tainted by its anti-Christian nature and also its anti-Kurdish nature. After all, the nation state of Turkey was about Turkish nationalism and secularism did not protect the religious or ethnic minorities of this diverse nation.

In spite of this, the myth of modernity and secularism based on the founding father prevails and Western nations are very optimistic about Turkey. Yes, Ataturk faced many difficulties and from a Turkish point of view he was very astute because he preserved a Turkish state when it was threatened by others. Yet in order to do this he crushed others and therefore the “bedrock” from the start was frail because it was based on Turkish nationalism.

Ataturk did implement many reforms in order to modernize Turkey and he did lay the foundation stone for a secular based state. In this sense he crushed Islamist hopes of a Sharia Islamic state and he gave more rights to females which did not exist in the old Ottoman Empire. But his legacy of modernity and secularism is tainted by the overt nationalism of old Turkey and this nationalism is still strong in modern day Turkey.

So if secularism means having the right to crush Christian minorities, moderate Muslim minorities like the Alevi, and ethnic minorities like the Assyrians, Syriacs, Armenians, and, most notably, the Kurds in modern day Turkey; then it is not the secularism which I support. So surely modernization and secularism is tainted by this overtly nationalist state and of course the Sunni orthodox mindset means that religious inequality is the norm?

In the 1990s the Alevi Muslims witnessed an upsurge in attacks against them. For example, David Zieden, who wrote an article called The Alevi of Anatolia, states that “Renewed inter-communal violence is sadly on the rise. In July 1993, at an Alevi cultural festival in Sivas, a Sunni fundamentalist mob set fire to a hotel where many Alevi participants had taken refuge, killing 35 of them. State security services did not interfere and prosecution against leaders of the riot was not energetically pursued. (41) In 1994, Istanbul municipal leaders from the Refah Islamic political party tried to raze an Alevi tekke (monastery) and close the Ezgi cafe where young Alevis frequently gathered.”

Meanwhile, if we focus on recent times then it is clear that persecution is still continuing. After all, in 2007 three Christians had their throats slit. Two of the victims had converted from Islam to Christianity, therefore, Necati Aydia, 36, and Ugur Yuksel, 32, were killed by Islamic fanatics on the grounds of merely leaving Islam. While the other murdered Christian, Tilmann Geske, 46, was a German citizen. One of the killers stated in the Hurriyet newspaper, that “We didn’t do this for ourselves. We did it for our religion. May this be a lesson to the enemies of religion.”

Before concluding it is important to state that you have many positive elements within Turkish society who desire change and who support a genuine democratic Turkey, which is inclusive. Also, if we view this nation from its past history and from a Turkish point of view, then clearly this nation faced many obstacles. For Ataturk, the infancy of Turkey was about survival and many Turks also suffered greatly. Given this, it is apparent that you have many positive elements within modern day Turkey and this nation does desire to join the European Union. Also, for America, Turkey is a vital strategic ally and a valued member of NATO.

Despite this, if we look at the rights of Alevi Muslims and Christians in modern day Turkey, and the persecution of Kurds; it is clear that orthodox Sunni Islam and nationalism is still being used by conservative elites. These elites still desire to crush both religious minorities and ethnic minorities. So are minorities equal in modern day Turkey? I think their treatment is the answer to this question and in recent times we have heard about several Christian murders. Also, for the more numerous Alevi Muslims and Kurds, then it is also clear that they face huge discrimination. Therefore, I believe that secular Turkey is a myth because in reality this nation state is focused on nationalism and clamping down on all minority faiths.



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