Turkey Watch

Watching the Turkish nail being put into Europian coffin.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The EU can't do without Turkey: Babacan


Turkey is a strong and stable country that is indispensable to the EU, the minister said.

KAYSERI - Turkey will contribute to the long term security and economic stability of the European Union when it becomes a full member of the bloc, Turkish Economy Minister Ali Babacan said Thursday.

Addressing the 21st meeting of Turkey-EU Joint Consultative Committee, being held in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri, Babacan, who is also Turkey’s chief negotiator in Ankara’s accession process, said that the EU should not disregard Turkey for not having trouble in security area.

“Turkey is indispensable for the EU’s security in long-term, thanks to its contribution to democratisation process and since it is a strong and stable country,” he said.

El Kadi forbidden from entering Turkey

From Hürriyet

It has been announced by Turkish police that Saudi Arabian businessman Yasin El Kadi, of whom Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Baºbakan said last week "He has nothing to do with terrorism, he is a philanthropist. I trust him as much as I do myself" is forbidden from entering into Turkey.

El Kadi has been characterized by both the UN and the EU as a "global terrorist." Spokesman for the Turkish police headquarters, Ismail Caliskan, said that El Kadi, who is currently being searched for by the Interpol, is also wanted in Turkey, and is forbidden from crossing into the country from abroad. PM Erdogan had spoken briefly about El Kadi during an interview broadcast on NTV, saying he knew the Saudi businessman from his time as Istanbul Mayor.

Turkey accuses author of 'insult'

From news.scotsman.com

A TURKISH academic who works at an American university has been charged in her home country with "insulting Turkishness" and could face a prison sentence.

Professor Elif Shafak, a Turkish citizen working at Arizona University, said she will stand trial because of the words uttered by fictional Armenian characters in her novel The Bastard of Istanbul, which she wrote while she was living in Tucson. In the book, an Armenian character refers to "Turkish butchers".

The Turkish government and some international historians reject the claim that a mass evacuation and related deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenians living in Turkey from 1915 to 1923 was genocide. Turkey also says the death toll is inflated.

However, most Armenian and western scholars say the massacres were genocide. Turkey says only that many Armenians died of starvation, disease and exposure on forced marches to Syria in retaliation against the Christian minority for reportedly collaborating with Russia during the First World War.

Prof Shafak, 35, is on a one-year leave from her teaching post at Arizona University's department of Near Eastern studies. She said her book was released in Turkey on 8 March and has sold more than 50,000 copies already.

Prof Shafak added: "[The book] questions two big taboos: the Armenian question and incest. So it was not easy to digest for some people and it caused a lot of stir."

The charges against her were filed under the controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code. The European Union has frequently warned Turkey that its efforts to join the EU could be hampered by Article 301, which sets out penalties for insulting the Turkish Republic, its officials or "Turkishness", and has been used to bring charges against dozens of journalists, publishers and scholars.

Turkey purges sexist dictionary proverbs

From The Australian

The Turkish Language Institute has ordered the removal from its dictionaries of proverbs that incite wife-beating and project women as the "devil version of men".

The guardian of the Turkish language says widely used phrases depicting women as second-class citizens must not be passed on to new generations.

"Our mothers, our wives, our daughters, our sisters are all the most valuable individuals in our society," said Sukru Haluk Akalin, head of the institute, explaining the ruling.

"How can we deny the efforts they invested in us?"

Despite the country having had several female judges and successful businesswomen as well as a female prime minister, the candidate country for the European Union remains a deeply macho society.

The EU often urges Turkey to improve the treatment of women. But judicial reforms have done little to achieve equality between the sexes.

Many of the sayings hark back centuries to when Turks were nomadic tribes roaming Central Asia on horseback.

"A good horse needs just a little food and a good woman needs just a pair of pants (ie, is not demanding)" is one.

Some, such as "Do not leave a woman's back wanting for beatings or a woman's belly wanting for babies," are still used, albeit often in jest.

The extent of domestic violence and multiple pregnancies shows that the spirit of the phrase remains commonplace.

"Honour killings" of women accused of sullying the family name still occur in Turkey.

Women's groups in the more traditional east and southeast of the country say that tougher sentences against men convicted of such killings have been followed by an increase in suspicious female suicides.

There is speculation that families have found other ways to dispose of their shamed womenfolk. The claims are being investigated by the UN.

The mass-circulation Hurriyet newspaper last year began a campaign against domestic violence, winning support from other media outlets and the Government.

The dictionary reform appears to be one of the fruits of the efforts, along with a campaign by the Directorate of Religious Affairs to rewrite certain phrases that it says are wrongly attributed to the Prophet Mohammed.

EU Commission Urges Turkey to Rewrite Penal Code

From Zaman

The European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said that he would urge Turkey to rewrite certain articles of its new Penal Code that restricts freedom of expression.

The latest EU urge came a day after the High Court of Appeals upheld the suspension of a verdict against ethnic Armenian editor Hrant Dink.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn claimed that the ruling in the case of Hrant Dink showed that Turkey's reformed penal code still restricted freedom of expression.

"I am disappointed by this judgment, which limits the exercise of freedom of expression in Turkey," Rehn said in a statement, warning that the ruling could be set as a binding precedent for other pending human rights cases.

Sisli Court had given Dink a 6-month suspended sentence on charges of insulting the Turkish identity.

In his column for the Turkish Armenian daily Agos dated February 13, 2004, Dink had likened Turkish nationalism to carcinogenic tumors and poisoned blood in its responsibility for the so-called Armenian genocide.

Today's Appeals Court statement said that there was no doubt that Dink's statement ridiculed and insulted the Turkish identity.

Ethnic Armenian Turkish national Dink writes for Agos daily which is mainly addressed to the Armenian community in Turkey.

Following strong EU pressure, a Turkish court had dropped a case against Orhan Pamuk earlier this year.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Turkey Under Growing Pressure To Ease Freedom Of Speech

From armenialiberty.com

Turkey on Thursday faced growing demands to ease restrictions on freedom of speech after a court confirmed a six-month suspended jail sentence for an ethnic Armenian editor convicted of "insulting Turkishness".

The European Union, which Turkey hopes to join, said after the ruling this week that Ankara should rewrite its penal code. Human rights groups and Turkish commentators urged the government to abolish the code's controversial Article 301, which carries a jail sentence of up to three years.

The High Court of Appeals ruling in the case of Hrant Dink, editor-in-chief of the Turkish and Armenian weekly Agos, would send a chill through the domestic media, said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. "It calls into question the country's commitment to press freedom and legal reforms which are a pre condition for its goal of joining the European Union," Simon said.

Turkey started EU entry talks last October but negotiations are expected to last more than a decade. In recent months it has faced growing criticism from Brussels over the pace of reform. EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said on Wednesday the latest ruling showed the reformed penal code still restricted freedom of expression and would set a binding precedent for other pending human rights cases. He said the Commission would review the situation in the light of the EU's political criteria in its upcoming progress report on Turkey in late October or early November.

Sensitive to those concerns, the government has said it may call parliament back from its summer recess two weeks early in mid-September to push through the latest package of reforms. Rights groups and Turkish commentators said it should use this opportunity to abolish Article 301. "A revision of Article 301 must urgently be incorporated into this package," said Radikal newspaper editor Ismet Berkan. The government has not yet commented on the court's ruling and officials were not immediately available.

Jonathan Sugden from New York-based Human Rights Watch told Reuters it was difficult for the government to abolish such laws given its uneasy relationship with the state bureaucracy. The onus was thus on judges who could acquit in such cases on the grounds that a conviction would contravene Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which has been incorporated in Turkish law. "It is staggering that seven years into a reform program and several programs dedicated to training judges in applying the convention, a substantial section of the judiciary ... still hasn't grasped the fundamentals," he said.

Internationally acclaimed Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk is among a host of other writers who have been prosecuted under the same laws, although his case was dropped. Dink was sentenced for Armenian-related comments.

Armenians say 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a genocide by the Ottoman Turks in 1915, but Turkey rejects this and says both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks suffered mass killings in partisan conflict.

London-based Amnesty International called for an immediate repeal of the law, which it says muzzles peaceful dissenting opinion, and said it could be part of the next reform package.

Christian Democrats Delay Progress Report on Turkey

From Zaman

The European Parliament (EP) Foreign Affairs Commission has postponed debates over a draft progress report on Turkey until September.

Dutch parliamentarian Camiel Eurlings, a member of the Christian Democrat Party, said they did not have enough time to combine the proposed amendments.

“The report should not be hastily debated. When the issue is Turkey, it needs to be discussed in greater detail.”

The Commission will discuss the report during a session in the first week of September in Strasbourg before it is sent to the general assembly.

The Christian Democrats have purportedly postponed the report in order to negatively affect the contents of the report, while others believe the report was delayed in order to ensure inclusion of the recent positive developments in Turkey.

Speaking at the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Commission, representatives from political groups stressed that recently, positive developments on the Cyprus issue should be included in the report.

There were also certain reforms regarding women and animal rights, compulsory religious education and the mater of Alevis.

The same representatives recalled that the EU Commission’s Progress Report on Turkey will also be debated in the fall, and highlighted the importance of releasing both reports at the same time.

However, some EP sources suggested that the Christian Democrats deliberately postponed the report in order to negatively influence Report and to create a Cyprus crisis between Turkey and the EU.

The same sources reported that harsh exchanges have broken out between political groups over the Armenian issue, which, is frequently raised by the Christian Democrats, who remain hesitant about Turkey’s entry into the EU.

The Christian Democrat group has been commissioning reports on Turkey for years.

EU parliamentarians and political groups will not be able to make motions for amendments to be included in the report.

However, developments will be included in Turkey's report through compromise motions upon Eurlings’ approval.

The draft report calls on Turkey to accelerate the implementation of reforms in line with the reform process, focusing mainly on freedom of speech, religious and minority rights, civilian-military relations, women's rights, trade unions, cultural rights and the autonomy of the judiciary.

The report welcomes the 9th reform package prepared by the government of the ruling Justice and Development Party, and asks Turkey to remove any item from the Counterterrorism Act that restricts basic rights and freedoms.

The report stated that government officials, military and security personnel shouldn’t receive preferential treatment in the courts; condemned the Kurdistan Workers’ Party terrorist network and conveyed concerns over former Van Public Prosecutor Ferhat Sarikaya’s dismissal.

Furthermore, the report asked Turkey to lower the 10 percent electoral threshold, recognize the Alevis as a religious minority and to open Turkish ports to Greek Cypriot traffic.

UK Ready to Support Turkey's EU Bid

From Yerkir

YEREVAN (YERKIR) - Margaret Beckett said on Tuesday that there are many European Union member states ready to do their best for Turkey to successfully proceed with its EU membership talks.

Delivering a speech at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., Beckett evaluated debates about a possible "train crash," as put by European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, during Turkey's negotiations with the Union over the Cyprus stalemate.

Underlining there can be a variety of problems for all candidate states during negotiations with the 25-nation bloc, Beckett said, "However there's no doubt that there's a tremendous goodwill among member states for talks with Turkey to lead to an agreement."

"I hope there isn't a train crash during Turkey's negotiations with the EU over the Cyprus issue, or any other issue," said Beckett, assuring Ankara of the EU's goodwill for talks with Turkey and underlined that this isn't only Britain's position, reported The New Anatolian.

EU Turkey talks face new threat

From TheParliament.com

The European parliament sees the desecration of Greek Orthodox churches in Northern Cyprus as another ‘hurdle’ to Turkish EU entry.

On Wednesday MEPs adopted a written declaration condemning the pillaging of Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries in Turkish controlled northern Cyprus.

“This is just seen as another obstacle on the way to EU entry,” a parliamentary official told theparliament.com.

“The message from MEPs to Turkey is that they must stop doing this.”

In Wednesday’s resolution MEPs call on the European commission to raise their concerns during Ankara’s EU entry talks.

“This resolution asks for the issue to be raised during Turkish EU negotiations on education and culture,” Cypriot MEP Ioannis Kasoulides told this website.

“The commission should get assurances that Turkey will protect the culture of Northern Cyprus and restore those churches that have been destroyed.”

More than 133 churches, chapels and monasteries that are located in the northern part of Cyprus controlled by the Turkish army since 1974 have been desecrated.

78 churches have been converted into mosques, 28 are used as military depots and hospitals and 13 are used as stockyards.

More than 15,000 icons have been illegally removed and their location remains unknown.

“Turkey should be called upon to cooperate with Interpol to trace these stolen items,” Kasoulides added.

403 MEPs have signed the written declaration.

Turkey's Anti-Americanism

From Accuracy In Media

"Here we have the Director of the American College beaten and robbed, American sailors in uniform fired upon, and an American-non commissioned officer robbed and maltreated by Turkish troops who were sufficiently under control to obey the command of a Turkish officer when they were going too far."
Excerpt from "The Great Betrayal" A Survey of the Near East Problem" by Edward Hale Bierstadt,

The incident described above remains forgotten because it occurred following the entry of Turkish troops in the City of Smyrna in September 1922 when the soldiers of Mustafa Kemal Pasha began slaughtering the Greek and Armenian Christian populations. The story is told by Edward Hale Bierstadt, an American who was the executive of the United States Emergency Committee which provided aid and assistance to Greek and Armenian Christian refugees who were being displaced by the Turkish Kemalists. The anti-American outbursts which took place during this tragic period comes to mind because of what is transpiring in present day Turkey.

Anti-Americanism and Islamic fundamentalism are faring quite well in Turkey today. On February 14, 2006, the New York Times published an article entitled, "If you want a film to fly, make Americans the heavies". The article described the success of a film shown in Turkish movie theatres entitled, "Valley of the Wolves- Iraq". This film depicts American soldiers (as well as a Jewish American doctor) as carrying out atrocities and massacres against Turkish and Iraqi Muslims. The article by Sebnem Arsu notes "Anti-American novels, including one that portrays a war between the United States and Turkey, have been selling briskly, and Hitler's "Mein Kampf" was a best seller last year."

Since 1994, the myth of a secular and western Turkey has been undermined by the Islamic upheaval in Turkey. In March of that year, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (now Turkish Prime Minister) was elected Mayor of Constantinople (Istanbul). Erdogan's Islamic mentor Necmettin Erbekan became Prime Minister as head of a coalition government in 1996. By 1997, the Generals (known as Kemalists because of their devotion to the nationalist theories of Mustafa Kemal) temporarily disrupted the Islamist rise to power. The Turkish Military has traditionally established a cult of personality around Kemal in the manner that the Soviets had established cults around Lenin and Stalin, and sought to restore Kemal to his status as a venerated ruler.

Despite praises from his western admirers, Kemal was a brutal dictator who completed the genocide of Greek, Armenian, and Assyrian Christian populations and ultimately established a ruthless dictatorship which abolished the Islamic Caliphate and secularized Turkey. The secularization of Turkey, however, was never any stronger or more secure than that in Nasser's Egypt, Asaad's Syria, or Saddam's Iraq. The Islamists in fact were underground and when opportunistic politicians such as Prime Minister Adnan Menderes needed them to participate with Turkish nationalists in the infamous anti-Greek pogroms of 1955, they were readily available.

In November 2002, one year after the 9/11 attacks, the Justice and Development Party finished first with an outright majority in Turkey's national elections. This should have been perceived by American officials and media as a blatant insult, coming as it did following the 9/11 attacks and the exposure of the fanatical excesses of the Taliban. A genuinely secular society does not elect Islamists following 9/11, and when the Taliban, Iran, and Saudi Arabia serve as models for an Islamic State.

The film, "Valley of the Wolves- Iraq," came three years after Turkey refused to allow use of American bases in Turkey for the war on Iraq. This demonstrates that the outpouring of support for Islamists like Erdogan and blatant anti-Americanism have not diminished. There has long been an ominous trail firmly demonstrating that Turkey was not what its American and British supporters claimed it was.

The anti-Greek pogroms of September 1955 alluded to above included the participation of Islamic extremists and secular ultranationalists who were supported by the Turkish government of Premier Adnan Menderes. This is a blatant example of Turkish state sponsorship of terrorism. On a terrible September night, mobs of extremists unhindered by authority proceeded to attack Greek property and to assault the members of the Greek minority who were living in the former Capital of Byzantium. Orthodox Churches were profaned and religious Icons, Bibles, and Crucifixes were burned while chalices used for holy communion were used by thugs for urinating. Greek Orthodox Bishops were forcibly circumcised on the street.

In one night, 100,000 or so Greeks were left homeless with nothing but the clothes on their backs while their homes were completely demolished and their holy places desecrated. The significance of these outrages was minimized by the State Department of John Foster Dulles and the NATO alliance, which refused to take action against Turkey. The American reaction to these outrageous pogroms reflect the misguided support for Turkey over the period of many decades. In additon, Turkey invaded Cyprus during the summer of 1974 under the guise of upholding the accords which established the independence of Cyprus in 1959 and occupied thirty seven percent of Cyprus.

Over 200,000 Greek Cypriots were ethnically cleansed as many young girls were raped by Turkish soldiers. To date, over 1,600 Greek Cypriots remain missing. The Turkish invasions of Cyprus have been presiding over the Islamicization of the island. Greek Orthodox Monasteries dating to the Byzantine era are either being converted into Mosques or destroyed. In April 2004, there was a referendum held in the free and occupied parts of Cyprus. The citizens of the free parts of Cyprus voted against the United Nations plan that would have in effect sealed the Turkish occupation and denies native Cypriots such basic rights as freedom of movement.

The American news media failed to distinguish between the Republic of Cyprus which is the legal authority over the whole of Cyprus but which controls only sixty three percent of the island Republic, and the occupied parts of Cyprus which remain under the control of the Turkish military. Greek Cypriots voting in free Cyprus were blamed while "Turkish Cypriots" were praised for allegedly accepting the U.N. Plan. The reality is that the referendum in the Republic of Cyprus was conducted in a free atmosphere while the referendum in the occupied territories took place under the auspices of 30,000 Turkish soldiers and with the participation of 100,000 Turkish settlers from Anatolia who have no Cypriot origins. The Plan of U.N. Secretary General Annan for Cyprus was intended to legitimize the Turkish occupation, but the Greek majority of Cyprus apparently irritated Annan and his supporters by practicing democracy.

The ultimate result of decades of American and Western appeasement of Turkey is the film "Valley of the Wolves- Iraq". At the present time, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I, who holds a primacy of honor among Eastern Orthodox Churches and who continues to reside in Constantinople like his 269 predecessors which include Saint Andrew the Apostle, is the victim of demonstrations of hate. Members of the infamous "Grey Wolves" routinely demonstrate outside the Ecumenical Patriarchate and burn his holiness in effigy, while the Greek Orthodox School of Theology known as Halki, is not permitted to open by the Turkish authorities.

The history of Turkey is long and bloody, and most of it was been perpetrated by the dictator Kemal. This history has been mostly unreported in the West. Considering the new Turkish Islamism and the success of a propagandistic film espousing hatred against America, it might be time to come to terms with the Turkish reality. The Turks have never been there for America, German allies during World War One, and neutral during the Nazi conquest of Europe.

The United States should not count on the Kemalists displacing the Islamists. The Islamic movement in Turkey is too strong, and ultimately the Kemalists who ruled for eighty years opened the door for the Islamists by suppressing democratic opposition. It is in the interests of the United States to contain and isolate the hostile Turkey that is emerging. Washington should push for the expulsion of all Turkish troops and Muslim settlers from Cyprus. The United States should also give maximum support to democratic Greece whose border with Turkey is the border between the West and militant Islam.