Another Slice of Turkey

Actually, it’s more like a slab. But from the New York Times. It’s tasty and full of all sorts of facts and anecdotes that are probably very good for you.

The E.U.’s rationale for welcoming Turkey into its councils and its economic sphere used to be a matter of “strategic rent,” compensation for its position at a crossroads of continents and military blocs. Today, says Soli Ozel, a political scientist at Bilgi University, what Europe sees in Turkey is “an example that a modern, secular democratic state and capitalist society is compatible with a Muslim population.” Europe has come to value Turkey not just for where it is but for what it is.

And of course the occasional provocative opinion.

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Europe and the world and tagged , by Doug Merrill. Bookmark the permalink.

About Doug Merrill

Freelance journalist based in Tbilisi, following stints in Atlanta, Budapest, Munich, Warsaw and Washington. Worked for a German think tank, discovered it was incompatible with repaying US student loans. Spent two years in financial markets. Bicycled from Vilnius to Tallinn. Climbed highest mountains in two Alpine countries (the easy ones, though). American center-left, with strong yellow dog tendencies. Arrived in the Caucasus two weeks before its latest war.

20 thoughts on “Another Slice of Turkey

  1. Overall, I liked this article, but there were some issues not discussed.

    This writeup was noticeable for framing the Kurdish issue in Turkey as solely a problem of terrorism. No discussion of civil rights, uprooted villages, forceable population transfers, language rights, etc.

    There was also no mention of other minority rights, particularly other linguistic groups and non-Sunni Muslim religious groups. There are still discriminatory provisions in Turkish law toward non-Muslims, for example.

    I’d prefer it if these kind of articles mentioned all the issues, including for example torture in Turkish prisons. All these issues need to be resolved.

  2. Yes, interesting, but the complete lack of any discussion on Turkey’s 30-year-long brutal occupation of nothern Cyprus did perturb me, as did the Caldwell’s rather bizarre take on Kurdistan as mentioned above by Mr. Bim.

    What else was strange was how Turkey’s Armenian Holocaust denial was breezed over (in the space of one sentence!) with all of Turkey’s other standing crimes. I wonder if a (hypothetical) German negationist stance towards the Shoah would merit so little mention in the Grey Lady.

    Lastly, the argument put forth by Prof. Ozel that the West could employ Turkey as a “example” for other Muslim states to emulate is absolute nonsense. Muslims worldwide by and large detest Turkey’s abridgement of the religious freedoms of its citizens and see little if any good in Kemalism. Worse, they also predominately see Turkey as a cat’s paw in the Muslim world for the West and Israel.

    If Muslimdom is to reform its governing structures along Western lines, it will have to be due to an indigenous desire to do so rather than the result of Western prodding. Certainly, outside pressure can produce superficial improvements at the hands of political elites but in order for reforms to truly establish themselves in society the bulk of the populace must be onboard. The broadsides out of Ankara to the effect that EU accession is the only real motivation Turkey has to Westernize do not bode well at all in this regard.

  3. “What’s brutal about it?”

    Are you serious? I don’t know about you Mr. Muir, but I think most people here on Planet Earth would consider ethnically cleansing 250000 people out of their homes (on the basis of their RACE no less) to be an act of wanton and grotesque brutality. Do I also need to mention the conversion of Orthodox churches into donkey stables and booze storage huts?

    I still would like an explanation from a Turcophile (there are several such individuals on this site) as to why the occupation of Cyprus differs from South African apartheid in any morally significant way. Well, except maybe apartheid wasn’t as bad as Kemalism in retrospect – at least PW Botha didn’t expel all the blacks into Botswana and Zimbabwe.

  4. the argument thaht bringing turkey in europe will show that a muslim country can be compatible is foolish.

    where are the facts to support this idea ? is it really the role of the organisation EU to try to prove that ?

    but in contrary the costs are facts and easly forecastable, billions of euros and end of the political union ambition as we know actually.

    perhaps can we just try with bosnia and not go futher with this totally foreign country of 70 millions of souls (soon 80).

    I am ashamed by the weakness of our politicians, unable to say NO in our interest to this costly idea and willing to accept the Turkish’blackmail.

  5. I still would like an explanation from a Turcophile (there are several such individuals on this site) as to why the occupation of Cyprus differs from South African apartheid in any morally significant way

    I am by no means a turcophile, but still, there is a very significant difference. The Turkish administration of North Cyprus treated the Greek minority very badly and trampeled its rights. But it did so on basis of ethnicity, not race. They were treated like unwanted foreigners in their own land. But they were not treated as a lesser breed of humans, like the black people of South Africa.

  6. “What’s brutal about it?”

    Are you serious? I don’t know about you Mr. Muir, but I think most people here on Planet Earth would consider ethnically cleansing 250000 people out of their homes (on the basis of their RACE no less) to be an act of wanton and grotesque brutality.

    Yeah, but you said “the brutal 30 year occupation”, not “the brutal invasion 30 years ago” or “the brutal ethnic cleansing”.

    — Which it wasn’t particularly, by the standards of the region. Compared to, say, the Serbs in Bosnia, the Croats in Krajina, or anyone in Kosovo, the Turks were positively gentle.

    But anyway… having kicked out the Greeks, the Turks settled down to a tolerably peaceful existence in the North. Poor, corrupt, and authoritarian, but peaceful. And not particularly brutal.

    Note that the Turks on the Greek Cypriot side seem to have disappeared. Odd, that.

    Doug M.

  7. The Turkish administration of North Cyprus treated the Greek minority very badly and trampeled its rights. But it did so on basis of ethnicity, not race.

    But what’s the difference in the Cypriot case? The Greeks were a different ethnicity and a different race (and a different religion) and therefore it would make sense to claim that their mistreatment was the result of either of those. It’s not particularly relevant to even ascertain why Turkey did what it did, the crime is in its actions rather than its motivations.

    They were treated like unwanted foreigners in their own land. But they were not treated as a lesser breed of humans, like the black people of South Africa.

    No, what Turkey did was worse. The South Africans gave its blacks the option of: 1) staying behind and living like an animal, or 2) they could leave. The Turks simply forced everyone into taking option 2. Even those Greeks that were willing to live in north were eventually expelled by the end of 1975.

    Yeah, but you said “the brutal 30 year occupation”, not “the brutal invasion 30 years ago” or “the brutal ethnic cleansing”.

    The “occupation”, the “invasion”, and the “ethnic cleansing” are a logical gestalt that I refer to, for simplicity’s sake, as the “occupation.” Let’s not get bogged down in terminology.

    Which it wasn’t particularly, by the standards of the region. Compared to, say, the Serbs in Bosnia, the Croats in Krajina, or anyone in Kosovo, the Turks were positively gentle.

    Yes, because there were less people to kill in Cyprus than in any Bosnia or Krajina. And less Kosovars died than did Cypriots, for whatever it is worth.

    Of course I could also make the point that the Great and the Good in Europe saw fit to save the Bosniaks and Kosovars from their oppressors yet no Western country ever did anything for Cyprus, other than sell Turkey as many weapons as it wanted. Thanks guys.

    But anyway… having kicked out the Greeks, the Turks settled down to a tolerably peaceful existence in the North. Poor, corrupt, and authoritarian, but peaceful. And not particularly brutal.

    I must say that I have never seen fascist ideals argued as eloquently as this. Can you imagine how peaceful the American south would have been had the whites kicked out all of the blacks? Or the tranquility of a Catholic-free Ulster? Or how wonderful a place Israel would be, with all those mean old nasty Palestinians gone from the West Bank? Leave it to a Brit to find the lighter aspects of genocide.

    Sorry, but most of the world abandoned mass ethnic cleansing as a solution to racial problems a long time ago. Would you endorse Israel doing the same to the Arabs?

    Note that the Turks on the Greek Cypriot side seem to have disappeared. Odd, that.

    You know damn well it was the Turk’s fault as well. The Cypriot government expelled none of its citizens.

    nota bene: I can’t help but to think that Cyprus would be just so much better off today had they launched an intifada against the Turks as the Palestinians did to the Jews. Militant resistance was their only option in a world salivating over Turkey’s energy corridors and geostrategic positions.

  8. The “occupation”, the “invasion”, and the “ethnic cleansing” are a logical gestalt that I refer to, for simplicity’s sake, as the “occupation.” Let’s not get bogged down in terminology.

    Yes, lets. You’re being deliberately sloppy.

    Yes, because there were less people to kill in Cyprus than in any Bosnia or Krajina.

    No. Proportionate to the number of Greek civilians, far fewer died.

    And less Kosovars died than did Cypriots, for whatever it is worth.

    Serb + Albanian casualties since 1999 are in the low five figures. That’s far more than died in the Cyprus conflict.

    I must say that I have never seen fascist ideals argued as eloquently as this. Can you imagine how peaceful the American south would have been had the whites kicked out all of the blacks?

    Now you’re being sloppy again, this time by raising a straw man.

    I’m not praising or supporting either the invasion or the occupation. I am saying that the occupation has not been particularly brutal. That doesn’t make it just or good.

    [snip straw men]

    Leave it to a Brit to find the lighter aspects of genocide.

    I’m not British.

    [Turks on the Greek side]

    You know damn well it was the Turk’s fault as well. The Cypriot government expelled none of its citizens.

    Ah, no. It just made it very clear that it wouldn’t defend the 55,000 Turks on the Greek side from any patriotic citizens who were justifiably outraged by the Turkish invasion.

    Since large-scale massacres of Turkish civilians had already taken place — Murat Aga, Sandalaris/Sandallar, Atlilar, Alaminos, etc. etc. — the Turks, unsurprisingly, took the hint.

    I can’t help but to think that Cyprus would be just so much better off today had they launched an intifada against the Turks as the Palestinians did to the Jews.

    Um. That worked /so/ well for the Kurds.

    Man, the 101st Fighting Keyboarders have nothing on the Greeks.

    Doug M.

  9. But what’s the difference in the Cypriot case?

    South Africa treated all blacks, whenceever they come like that. North Cyprus told a specific group of people to get lost or else.

    yet no Western country ever did anything for Cyprus, other than sell Turkey as many weapons as it wanted

    One has to have priorities and defeating the Soviet Union and Turkish stability were and are more important.

    Sorry, but most of the world abandoned mass ethnic cleansing as a solution to racial problems a long time ago.

    So? That you don’t like the means doesn’t mean that you can ignore the results as they are.
    In fact there is no denying that much of the old Mitteleuropa is stable as a result of ethnic cleansing today.

  10. “The Greeks were a different ethnicity and a different race [than the Turks]”

    Different ethnicity, yes, but race? Persons of Greek and Turkish background indeed are legally classified as of different races in the United States, with Greeks being white/Caucasian and Turks being Asian/Pacific Islander, but I didn’t think anyone in Europe would think that way.

  11. What’s brutal about it?

    Doug M.

    Oh nothing Doug, nothing at all, no americans were harmed or anything so everything is just A OK

  12. Serb + Albanian casualties since 1999 are in the low five figures.

    Albanian causality figures were inflated by NATO propanganda to justify the little imperial adventure in ex-Yugoslav space. Even the British and the American media now openly admit this.

    Now you’re being sloppy again, this time by raising a straw man.

    No, I’m elevating the premise of your arguement into a principle, then applying it to other similiar cases to show that your premise is utter nonsense.

    Um. That worked /so/ well for the Kurds.

    That’s because the PKK’s strategy was badly broken. First of all, having a Maoist ideological mindset they excluded other Kurdish groups from participating with them rather than forming a “national front” to free Kurdistan first. Secondly, they needed to take the war to the areas where European tourists liked to frequent and where the Turkish elite lived. Basically, turn Turkey into Israel II, with a suicide bombing every week or so. Look at how the Jews were bloody brought to their knees by the Arabs. That’s a model of success.

    South Africa treated all blacks, whenceever they come like that. North Cyprus told a specific group of people to get lost or else.

    That makes no sense. Turkey expelled everyone who was not racially Turanian (including Armenians and Lebanese Maronites – not just Greeks), South Africa mistreated all non-whites (including South Asians). This is perfectly equivalent.

    In fact there is no denying that much of the old Mitteleuropa is stable as a result of ethnic cleansing today.

    Yeah, and also thank God for all of that capital freed up by Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

    Different ethnicity, yes, but race?

    I’m sorry but this is just so obvious that I shouldn’t have to argue this. Show me a Greek with epicanthic folds, then we’ll debate.

    And no Europeans that I’ve ever met consider Turks to be part of their race, anyway.

  13. Albanian causality figures were inflated by NATO propanganda to justify the little imperial adventure in ex-Yugoslav space.

    Serb + Albanian casualties are *still* in the low five figures. The best current estimate is around 12,000 Albanians and about 1,500 Serbs. The Albanian figure represents about 1/3 Albanians killed directly by the Serbs — rounded up and shot, for the most part — and about 2/3 indirect casualties during the forced evacuations of March and April 1999.

    Don’t take my word for it. Go over to Human Rights Watch. They’ve been tracking this for a while now.

    No, I’m elevating the premise of your arguement into a principle, then applying it to other similiar cases to show that your premise is utter nonsense.

    Now you’re just babbling.

    Palestine has suffered a brutal 30-year occupation. Western Sahara has suffered a brutal 30-year occupation.

    Cyprus had an invasion followed by mutual ethnic cleansing followed by 30 years of peace.

    It’s simply not the same thing.

    [Kurds]

    they needed to take the war to the areas where European tourists liked to frequent and where the Turkish elite lived. Basically, turn Turkey into Israel II, with a suicide bombing every week or so. Look at how the Jews were bloody brought to their knees by the Arabs. That’s a model of success.

    You know, I’ve often thought that what really bugs Greek nationalists about Cyprus isn’t the occupation. No, it’s the fact that Sampson and the rest of the big-talking nationalists — so eager to slaughter helpless villagers in order to bring on the glory of enosis — folded like origami when the Turkish Army showed up. The Turks gobbled up a third of Cyprus in three days, and the only reason they stopped was because they decided they’d taken enough.

    This was, let’s face it, pretty humiliating. And nothing rankles your Balkan nationalist like humiliation.

    Your proposed “intifada” strategy for Cyprus is — there’s no way to say this nicely –stupid. 90% of the Greek population simply fled in the first weeks after the Turkish invasion. They weren’t armed, and they were terrified of living under Turkish occupation. None of them were interested in standing and fighting.

    As for the rest, the Turks would simply do what they did anyway: gather them all up and bus them over the Green Line. In our history, this was done peacefully, subject to a 1975 agreement with the Greek government.

    In your version, it would be done violently, and the Turks would kill a lot of the Greeks first. How this is an improvement eludes me.

    Note that both Greek and Cypriot authorities tacitly accepted the population exchange (while loudly and publicly denouncing it). Since the alternative was to leave minorities on both sides of the Green Line — minorities that would be under deep suspicion, probably oppressed and quite possibly in real danger — this was entirely reasonable.

    Unlike the 1923 Lausanne exchange of population (where Turkey sent most of its Greek minority to Greece, and vice versa), the 1975 one was never formally accepted by the Greek government. But it ended up being much the same thing.

    Doug M.

  14. This is perfectly equivalent.

    At the danger of repeating myself. North Cyprus applied a policy to residents of a particular area at a particular time. South Africa applied a policy to everybody within its jurisdiction, visitors and natives. Furthermore the theory behind that policy claimed to apply to all mankind.

  15. No Cypriot government has ever “tacitly” accepted any division of the island. You’re living in a fantasy world if you think otherwise. Honestly, tell me how any state on Earth would gladly accept the illegal occupation of half of its terrority and the displacement of 30% of its citizens? God…

    And in any case you badly misread what I meant by my intifada strategy. It was intended to be implemented from 1975-today within the Turkish Republic, not during the invasion itself and not in Cyprus. And, you know in your Anglo-Saxon Turcophile heart that it would have worked (just as the Palestinian intifada is working), hence your snippy tone.

  16. No Cypriot government has ever “tacitly” accepted any division of the island.

    None went to war. The borders weren’t blocked when the expulsion took place.

  17. No Cypriot government has ever “tacitly” accepted any division of the island.

    Go back and look at what actually happened in 1975. Not ’74 — ’75. When the remaining ~15,000 or so Greeks went west, while the 55,000 or so Turks came east.

    Again: the Greek government in Athens signed a “convention” with Turkey regulating the exchange of populations. While this was not a formal population exchange like the 1923 Lausanne agreement (it only talked about the movement of “refugees”, and didn’t say whether the resettlement was permanent) it had exactly the same effect.

    The Cypriot government was aware of this at all times, and didn’t protest. Why would it? The majority of Greeks from the east had already fled. There wasn’t much point in trying to keep a remnant population there. And, of course, by accepting those last Greeks, they got rid of their own 55,000 Turks… silver lining on the cloud.

    Intifada in Turkey: you’re going to send Greeks to Istanbul and Izmir to blow themselves up? Remarkably, that’s even dumber than your first idea.

    Are these hero-patriots Greeks from Greece, or Cypriots? I’m curious, now.

    Doug M.

  18. Wow. Thanks for reciting the British Foreign Office line on Cyprus (not even the US State Depatment is nearly that pro-Turkish). But if you read the relevant UN resolutions you will see that the rest of the world, including the US and EU governments, disagrees with you. The resolutions all hold that the Cyprus problem is a problem of an illegal Turkish invasion.

    Intifada in Turkey: you’re going to send Greeks to Constantinople and Symrna to blow themselves up? Remarkably, that’s even dumber than your first idea.

    Explain why it’s “dumb.” I can’t help but notice the fact that when the Palestinians began the intifada in 1987 all of the self-righteous people in the West throught their hands in the air, telling the Arabs that they would never win if they followed a strategy of “terror.”

    Now look. Pretty much everyone in the West whose not a rapture zealot or a Jew now sympathizes with the Palestinian cause. Israel is having to make some painful concessions that it never would have considered making in 1986. Killing 10-20 wealthy Turks (or European tourists) a month for years on end would have eventually worked in convincing the Turkish people that Cyprus wasn’t such a smart geostrategic move, and the MGK would have been forced to back down.

    “Are these hero-patriots Greeks from Greece, or Cypriots? I’m curious, now.”

    Sir if you must ask, my surname is quite British, nor for that matter am I a Greek citizen, nor am I a Cypriot. But that’s not relevant, now is it? If you want confirmation run my incoming IP through ARIN – it will say “Houston, Texas” in the city field.

    By the way, I’m a Canadian national living in America, for whatever that may be worth. (nothing)

    -Greg Carlisle

  19. Sephiroth is awesome.

    I must say that I have never seen fascist ideals argued as eloquently as this.

    I can’t help but to think that Cyprus would be just so much better off today had they launched an intifada against the Turks as the Palestinians did to the Jews.

    … the PKK’s strategy was badly broken. First of all, having a Maoist ideological mindset they excluded other Kurdish groups from participating with them rather than forming a “national front” to free Kurdistan first. Secondly, they needed to take the war to the areas where European tourists liked to frequent and where the Turkish elite lived.

    Yes, instead of fascism lets go for…homocidal terrorism. Nice. Merging with other groups would include those leaders who rejected violence and competed with the PKK for support, and who the PKK has a habit of murdering. This would put your second point in conflict with the first. And besides some kurdish group already took your advice (see: Cesme and Kusadasi), but I suppose its too little too late. Sephiroth is right by saying terrorism could work, but thats not really the point. The point is that its, uh, terrorism. The joyous targeting of innocent civilians etc.. But I must add that terrorism doesn’t work so well if you already have a country (see: Turkey threatening to invade Syria if they continued to have Ocalan as a guest of honor, Libya etc). And since it is afterall Cyprus that is recognized by most of the world and not the northern barbarian territory as you see it, it probably would have some considerable negative impact on Cyprus and Greece when those terrorists do have a “country of origin” to which one could focus its ire.

    I do wonder what would have happened had the Greek Junta (whose motto I’m sure was “Care Bears Unite”) remained in Cyprus, promoting nationalism and christianity against communism–two properties which coincidentally the Turkish Cypriots don’t share. The problem in principle with the Occupation is almost certainly occupation and not invasion. The second Turkish invasion that took half the islnd, not the first that didn’t. Ironically, in technical terms, it would have been better had we invaded the entire island when the second invasion was launched–thus making it impossible for the international community to sit on their ass, and making the need for a all-encompassing solution all the more urgent.

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