The Case Of Orhan Pamuk

While EU foreign ministers are tucked nicely away in Newport (my paternal grandmother was born there) for their ?Gymnich? summit at which trying to get Turkey accession negotiations off the ground on October 3 will be one of the top priorities, and while MEPs pass the buck to the Commission and the Council on the thorny problem of Turkey’s interpretation of a customs agreement, back in Turkey itself best selling author Orhan Pamuk has been charged by a public prosecutor for “denigrating” the nation in comments about Turkish history which appeared in a Swiss newspaper several few months ago. And what did the comments refer to: the Armenian genocide, about which, of course, Turkey is still in denial. Randy McDonald has the story:

Myself, I’m on the record as believing that the Turkish refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide is rooted in Turkish insecurities dating back to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, when it seemed quite possible that Turks might lose a viable homeland. This is understandable even if it’s still repellent; this can be worked around.”

“The prosecution of Pamuk, however, is, besides being a crime in itself, a spectacular mistake. A country that prosecutes one of its most famous writers because he agreed with the historical consensus that, yes, there was an Armenian genocide really doesn’t strike me as the sort of country capable of living up to the requirements of European Union membership. I very much doubt that a European electorate already predisposed to reject the idea of Turkish membership in the EU will be more generous than me. Tell me, please, how exactly “Turkish identity” is compromised by the recognition that a previous Turkish state committed genocide? Denial’s one possible explanation, but it’s not a sufficient explanation.”

“For the time being, all I’ll say is that Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian genocide in some form should be a prerequisite for Turkish membership in the European Union. I wish Pamuk well in his upcoming court case–hopefully that will change something in his homeland.

Let me just second Randy here: recognition of the Armenian genocide should be a prerequisite.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

12 thoughts on “The Case Of Orhan Pamuk

  1. From the dumb question department: why is it so important that Turkey recognise the Armenian genocide?

    The freedom of speech issue is another matter, though at least one EU member has a symmetric law that makes denying the massacres an offence which seems equally unreasonable.

  2. “why is it so important that Turkey recognise the Armenian genocide?”

    Well my reasoning would be that living in denial is simply not healthy, either for an individual who may have a delictive past, or for a society.

    You are right that there are two issues, and that the freedom of speech one raises other areas of discussion – although I would argue that the two things are not symmetrical (oh how I love Popper), and that denying a massacre and asserting it are not equivalent.

    However the main issue is one of a legally constituted state which denies its own history. How would we feel about a German state which as a state denied the hollocaust. We would feel very uncomfortable. Or a Russian accession if Russia refused to accept the Gulag. If people are in denial there must be some reason, and at the very least they need our help in overcoming that difficulty.

  3. “So the debate becomes the best way of helping them overcome their difficulty?”

    This Coleman would be my view.

    “Is making demands the best way?”

    Well I know it may sound like a detail, but I don’t think either Randy or I have acually used the word ‘demand’. I think we are talking about bilateral negotiations here, and the best model for these may not be employer/employee disputes. I would not want to see this discussion carried out confrontationally. I think I would use the word condition. It should be a condition for the successful conclusion of negotiations, as, incidentally should the recognition of Cyprus. The point is the negotiations should be used to facilitate change in Turkey, and this is one of the changes I would like to see facilitated. So sometimes being firm isn’t so bad, and negotiating isn’t such a harmful thing. Indeed it may give strength to those politicians in Turkey who want reform and can use the ‘intransigence’ of the EU in their support.

  4. So the debate becomes the best way of helping them overcome their difficulty? Is making demands the best way?

    Look, Turkey funds an entire bunch of pocket genicide deniers who use the exact same method and vocabulary as Holocaust deniers.

    No one cares what bizzare and morally bankrupt view it takes of the Armeinan Genocide, the fact is more and more Turkish scholars recognize this terrible event.

    But they have jailed people for even mentioning it, thereby violating there own agreement swith the EU as well as a slew of other human rights agreements.

  5. However the main issue is one of a legally constituted state which denies its own history.

    That sentence is not entirely correct, or at least, I would put an important nuance on this. An important aspect of the issue is the point that the events did not take place during the existence of the Turkish Republic — thus it is not really “its own history”. The events took place during the last years of the Ottoman Empire, under the rule of a cadre of people that were later widely discredited under the Turkish Republic.

    I am fully of the opinion that Turkey should much more openly accept free debate on all sides of the Armenian genocide issue. I believe, as the blogger insightfully points out, that Turkey is overly worried that those who support the historical view that there was an attempted genocide are “out to destroy” Turkey (as European powers were at the end of the first world war).

    By pointing out that the events occured prior to the existence of the current republic, not only under a different government, but under an entirely different nation — in fact not a nation at all but a loose Empire controlled by a hereditary monarchy — Turkey should deflect all direct incrimination regarding the issue, and thereby become more open and less sensitive to discussions of the brutality and horrors of what occured.

  6. “However the main issue is one of a legally constituted state which denies its own history.”

    Isn’t that sop for every state. Can’t name a state who doesn’t try to whitewash its history

  7. It is unfortunate that Turkey must face such slander. If one would read any Armenian-language newspaper or magazine from the WWI era (the time of the so-called “genocide”), he would see the open incitations of Armenian “intelectuals” to the Armenian peopulace for armed rebellion against the Ottoman State, and calls for collaboration with the invading European Imperialist forces.

    The Ottoman counter measures to such Armenian violence involved deporting Armenians known to have participated in the rebellions. This was not ‘genocide’, as the actions were not motivated by ethnicity/religion, but by security, which was endangered because of Armenian violence. The Ottoman government’s orders of deportation criminalized any killing/massacre of Armenians. Furthermore, Armenians in Istanbul and western Anatolia were spared from deportations, as they were opposed to the rebellions. Also, about a dozen Armenian villages in the east were spared, as they were against Armenian terrorism as well. Unfortunate murders of some Armenians (200,000) were perpetrated by Turkish, Caucassian, Kurdish villagers taking revenge for family members killed by Armenian terrorism. The Ottoman government had nothing to do with such acts and penalized many involved.
    European governments (Britain France Russia) encouraged the Armenian rebellions in order to satisfy their imperialist mission of gaining stratigically important Ottoman territories in the Middle East.

    Clearly, there was no “genocide”. The agitation resulted from European/Armenian violence. All Armenian nationalists proudly and openly admitted this during the time.

    Today, rather than slandering Turkey through lies, European governments should admit their role in the formenting of Armenian violence and its consequences, which caused the suffering of both the Armenian and Turkish peoples, and forever placed a high wall between these two once friendly nations. Then, the Armenian leadereship should apologize to Turkey, and European leaders should apologize to both Turkey and Armenians.

  8. Why does Europe neglect the 1993 Armenian invasion and occupation of Turkic Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region? Today close to 30% of Azerbaijan is under foreign (Armenian) occupation.

    Over 30,000 Azerbaijanis, all unarmed civilians, were slaughtered by invading Armenian forces between 1993-1994. This is well documented by BBC, Reuters, and Agence France and the UN.

    Yet the EU and so-called “human-rights defenders” (who do not hesitate to support the so-called “armenian genocide”) remain silent. Can they not speak because they are guilty of their lies and imperialism, or do they not care because the Azerbaijani victims are Muslim and Turkish? Perhaps both.

    Despite repeated UN labels of Armenia being an aggressor, UN resolutions equivocally stating Nagorno-Karabakh is a historical, unseparable, and integral part of Azerbijan, and calls for Armenia to withdraw unconditionally and immediately all of its occupying forces from Azerbaijan, the world watches passively.

    Instead of debating proven lies of the so-called “armenian genocide” from 90 years ago, the EU should take a active stand of contemporary issues such as Armenia’s aggression and the killings of Azerbaijanis, which happened only 13 years ago! Only then can the EU claim to be an “enlightened humanistic” force.

  9. The EU has become very unfair concerning Turkey’s EU accession bid. The preconditions of the EU are beyond any sense of reason, and are in stark contrast with realities in Turkey.

    Since the EU wishes to play tough, Turkey should too. From now on Turkey’s policies should be the following:

    -The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus should integrate with Turkey.

    -All islets/islands in the Aegean Sea not mentioned in international treaties as belonging to Greece should revert to Turkey, the heir of the former Ottoman owner.

    -Turkish-populated West Thrace (in Greece) should eventually unite with Turkey.

    -Turkoman regions of northern Iraq (Mosul-Kirkuk) should reunite with Turkey.

    -Turkish-populated Bayirbucak (in Syria) should join Turkey.

    -Karabakh and all other occupied territories of Azerbaijan should be liberated.

    -Historic Azerbaijani Zangezur and Goyce regions (in Armenia) should reunite with Azerbaijan.

    -South Azerbaijan (occupied by Iran) should proclaim independence, then, unite with Azerbaijan.

    -The new Turkey and new Azerbaijan could integrate through a confederation.

    -East Turkestan (occupied by China) should regain independence.

    -Tatarstan, Bashkortistan, Yakutia and all other Turkic regions occupied by Russia should proclaim independence.

    -All Turkic regions of Bulgaria and Ukraine should achieve independence.

    -Turkic Gaugazian Autonomous Republic in Moldoava should proclaim independence.

    -The new revitalized Turkic world and the already existing Turkic republics (Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan) can establish a economic-political union to rival the EU and any other opponent.

  10. The EU has become very unfair concerning Turkey’s EU accession bid. The preconditions of the EU are beyond any sense of reason, and are in stark contrast with realities in Turkey.

    Since the EU wishes to play tough, Turkey should too. From now on Turkey’s policies should be the following:

    -The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus should integrate with Turkey.

    -All islets/islands in the Aegean Sea not mentioned in international treaties as belonging to Greece should revert to Turkey, the heir of the former Ottoman owner.

    -Turkish-populated West Thrace (in Greece) should eventually unite with Turkey.

    -Turkoman regions of northern Iraq (Mosul-Kirkuk) should reunite with Turkey.

    -Turkish-populated Bayirbucak (in Syria) should join Turkey.

    -Karabakh and all other occupied territories of Azerbaijan should be liberated.

    -Historic Azerbaijani Zangezur and Goyce regions (in Armenia) should reunite with Azerbaijan.

    -South Azerbaijan (occupied by Iran) should proclaim independence, then, unite with Azerbaijan.

    -The new Turkey and new Azerbaijan could integrate through a confederation.

    -East Turkestan (occupied by China) should regain independence.

    -Tatarstan, Bashkortistan, Yakutia and all other Turkic regions occupied by Russia should proclaim independence.

    -All Turkic regions of Bulgaria and Ukraine should achieve independence.

    -Turkic Gaugazian Autonomous Republic in Moldoava should proclaim independence.

    -The new revitalized Turkic world and the already existing Turkic republics (Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan) can establish a economic-political union to rival the EU and any other opponent.

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