Turkey and the EU: Poles apart?

Like most numbers of the Spectator, the festive, XL-sized holiday edition is marred by the presence of Mark Steyn. But don’t let that put you off, there’s some good stuff there as well. And one of the better bits is an essay by Prof. Norman Stone on Turkey (Potential EU Accession of) (reg. req.).

For the most part Stone paints a picture of the old Ottoman Empire as something much less uniformly Islamic than some think. You should already be aware, of course, that what would later (in truncated form) become Turkey was a multicultural, multiethnic, multireligious state, but if you weren’t, Stone gives you a quick background. (By the time it fell apart, the Ottoman Empire had become the ‘Sick Man of Europe’; but for centuries it was a success.) What you might not have known, though, was that the orthodox Christians of the Ottoman realms were only too happy to be part of a nominally Islamic polity. The orthodox patriarchs and the Muslim sultans saw in the latinate West a common foe. Indeed my own suspicion is that the Greeks felt a keener enmity than the Turks. The sultan, understandably, might well have seen the theological differences between orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism as obscure and uninteresting (how many of us in the post-Christian lands of the west are aware of, let alone take much interest in, the distinctions between the theravada and mahayana strains of Buddhism?) To the bishops of the orthodox world, though, the sultan served (whether he cared about this or not) as a bulwark against the centralising domination of their brother-bishop at Rome.

But what set Stone off was a recent article in Die Zeit by Prof. Hans-Ulrich Wehler. The title of Wehler’s article, which formed part of the contra side in a Zeit-sponsored debate on Turkish accession to the EU, has some unfortunate historical echoes: “Das T?rkenproblem“.

Wehler is adamant that Turkey must never, ever be allowed to join the EU. It’s a poor and backward land, he argues. Its political culture is sinister. And, oh yes, it’s Muslim. As Wehler writes:

Das Land besitzt keine liberalisierte Marktwirtschaft, missachtet eklatant die Menschenrechte, verfolgt die kurdische Minderheit, vor allem aber ist es als muslimischer Staat durch eine tiefe Kulturgrenze von Europa getrennt.
[The country has no liberal market economy. It fails spectacularly to honour human rights. It persecutes its Kurdish minority. But above all, as a Muslim state it is separated from Europe by a deep cultural chasm.]

Well, I don’t know. Some people might find it a bit rich to hear criticism out of Germany of the insufficiencies of another country’s ‘liberal market economy’, but then I suppose everything is relative. In any event, on the issues of the economy, human rights and the Kurds, Turkey has been getting better. I will happily concede to Prof. Wehler that the country has, improvements in recent years notwithstanding, not yet got to where it needs to be. But that is an argument against Turkey acceding now; and nobody proposes that it do so. What is proposed is that Turkey be considered for admission if and when it attains EU standards. These are not good arguments against Turkey acceding ever, unless one adopt an essentialist view that Turkey’s national ethos means it must necessarily go on forever stagnating economically, ignoring human rights and persecuting Kurds (and carefully close one’s eyes to any evidence that would go against that view).

I suspect, though, that it’s the fourth point that really informs Prof. Wehler’s animus. The Turks are Muslims, and we Europeans are Christians. Well, are we, though? As it happens, I am, so perhaps I am not good evidence for my own argument. But many, many Europeans are no Christians at all. (A recent YouGov poll reports that only 44% of Britons believe in God, whether of a Christian or any other variety.) Many more are but nominal Christians. The days of ‘Christendom’ are long gone (and thank God for that).

If the EU were to espouse a specifically Christian identity, there’d be good argument that a predominantly Muslim state would not fit it. But the EU does no such thing (and if it tried to do, I and many others would oppose it). What we can say is that the EU espouses certain broad cultural, political and philosophical values, many of which may have their roots in, inter alia, the Christian tradition. (Though honesty bids me observe that, over the centuries, many representatives of that tradition fought tooth and nail against the putting into practice of those values.) What Europe does stand for, I should hope, is the liberty and dignity of the individual; the inviolability of human rights; the defeat of divisive tribalisms. It can, and does, fail to uphold those ideals; but those remain nonetheless the ideals for which it should stand. And there is room in that tent for those of more than one religious tradition, and for those of no religion at all.

Does Islam strike you as militant, intolerant, misogynistic, illiberal? It strikes me that way too. (I fully recognise that there are many thoughtful Islamic scholars who argue plausibly that it is none of these things, and for all I know their Islamic theology is sounder than that of the Islamists. Not being versed in Islamic theology, I can judge only by the behaviour of a large number of practicing Muslims.) The thing is, though, one can say the very same, with at least equal justice, about Christianity. Modern military technology may enable Islamist terrorists to attain impressive kill rates, but for sheer murderous zeal it would be hard to top the armies of Christendom (whether they were attacking non-Christians or fellow-Christians who differed on some obscure point of doctrine.) A society in which Sharia is applied correctly is pretty intolerant; but it is far more tolerant of Christians than Christian socety was of Muslims (not to mention Jews). As for the treatment of women and the issue of individual liberties generally, resistance against what almost everybody today regards as right overlaps strongly with resistance by European Christian triumphalists against the emergence of a secular society.

Ah well, you say, but surely all that is in the past. Yes, and that’s my point. (And I might add that it’s not all in the past, and that the ‘past’ is in many cases pretty recent; but that’s another matter.) European society today is something that many institutional Christian leaders (whether Martin Luther, John Calvin or pretty much any pope you’d care to name) could only regard with horror: a place where religion has been largely consigned to the private sphere. Yes, yes, I know. Germany’s state schools offer religious instruction (and in most of its states, this offer is more or less compulsory.) The British monarch is notionally supreme governor of a particular Christian denomination of one of the four countries that make up her kingdom. Greece continues to use its national church as a badge of political identity. I could go on. The important thing is not that most parts of Europe have failed to achieve a strict formal separation of church and state, as the United States have done (and as I would like the nations of the EU to do). The point is that nowhere in Europe will you find the doctrines of a denomination serving as the underpinning of the state. Some politicians argue for laws restricting abortion, or against laws providing for the equal treatment of homosexuals. But you will not usually find them arguing that the law must be such-and-such because the bible says it must. (Whether in this instance the United States might serve as an illustration of the distinction between formal and substantial separation of church and state, it would be invidious to speculate.)

The secularisation of society may put religion in its place, as it were, but it does not ban it. Perhaps you believe that God forbids divorce, or that your religious ideals bid you to subject yourself to your husband’s will, bear him many children and stay at home to care for them. Well then, you should decline to divorce; you should decline to enter the labour market. And I will never mock you for doing so. Indeed, I would go some distance to ensure that you can freely exercise your choice, even if it would not be my choice. But I will not go the distance of demanding that your personal beliefs be written into law, and if that is what you demand I will oppose you.

We may legitimately insist that an historically Muslim state wishing to be part of the EU uphold the ideal of a secular, liberal pluralism. (After all, this is no more than we insist of historically Christian states wishing to be part of the EU.) But to assert that an historically Muslim state is, ipso facto, unfit for EU membership is to do one of two things. Either one is insisting that society be theocratised, the theology in question being Christian. Or else one is using ‘Christian’ as a sort of ethnic label. The former is bad. The latter is worse, as much from a religious as a secular perspective.

Prof. Stone observes that there is an irony in Wehler’s position that the Turks are essentially non-integratable. Stone refers to a scholarly study on Polish immigration to Germany’s Ruhr valley. Something over a century ago, Poles began coming in huge numbers from Prussia’s Polish and Masurian territories to work in the Ruhr’s coal mines. (According to a Berliner Zeitung article, the Prussian census recorded 16 Poles in the Rhineland and Westphalia provinces in 1861; just before the first World War, there were 460,000.) And they did not integrate well, at least not at first. Things are different today, of course. Germany has untold citizens bearing Slavic surnames; they view themselves, correctly, as Germans. (Who could be more authentically German than the television detective Schimanski?)

Now you might say, come now, Poles are pretty easily assimilable into German society. After all, bar the language difference (and certain unpleasant events in the fourth and fifth decades of the previous century), Germans and Poles share broadly similar cultures. But that’s not the way people (especially, people in Germany) saw things at the time. Poles, they said, could simply never fit in to German society. They were too different. And their essential difference inhered not least in their religion, for the Poles were Roman Catholics almost to a man whilst Germany was a protestant-dominated land. (In fact, Germany is pretty nearly evenly divided between the two Christian camps. There were more protestants than catholics when the Poles began to arrive; but there were still a lot of catholic Germans even then. However, the denominational divide was then (and to a diluted extent still is) regional, the result of the cuius regio policy that ended Germany’s religious wars. It is questionable whether Bavaria and the Rhineland would be catholic today had a unified German state under Prussian domination emerged two centuries earlier than it did; and cuius regio notwithstanding, when the unified German state finally did arrive it launched an — ultimately unsuccessful — anti-catholic Kulturkampf.) Max Weber, as Stone notes, argued that one couldn’t expect catholics to develop a liberal market economy. They’re just too different. One expects Weber would be chagrined today to see catholic Bavaria (a backward, miserably poor place in his day) as Germany’s economic powerhouse.

The author of this study claimed that German society had failed to integrate its Poles. (Other European countries, e.g., Belgium and France, made a much better fist of it.) With the passing of generations, integration became inevitable. But it could have been achieved earlier, with less heartache, had Germany set about the project better. The irony is that the study’s author is one Hans-Ulrich Wehler. You won’t find the study online, but if you’re curious, it’s called “Die Polen im Ruhrgebiet bis 1918”, published in 1961 the Vierteljahrschrift f?r Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, vol. 48, pp. 203-35, and later collected in Moderne deutsche Sozialgeschichte, edited by Wehlers.

Whatever about the difficulties of integrating large numbers of culturally, linguistically and religiously starkly ‘different’ foreigners, the story of Polish migration to the Ruhr valley had a happy ending (not least if you’re a supporter of Schalke 04 with an interest in the club’s history). It is my hope that, one day, our descendants will look back with satisfaction on the successful integration of the Turks into the European Union. If they can do so, it will mean that Turkey travelled up the road to economic strength and liberal democracy. And it will also mean that the EU refused to travel down the path to ethnoreligious tribalism. That would be an EU the Turks would do well to keep out of. It’s an EU that we who are already on the inside would do well to prevent becoming a reality.

In the mean time, and though I hate to be tiresome on this point, Wehlers really ought to keep in mind that, if admitted, Turkey will not be the first EU member state that once despised the liberal market economy, failed spectacularly to honour human rights, persecuted its minorities and was separated from other European nations (at least, those it hadn’t conquered) by a deep cultural chasm. Indeed, Turkey would be far from the worst example of such countries, at least one of which was found fit for membership not very long after the persecutions etc. were stopped (and, unlike in Turkey’s case, stopped by outsiders).

60 thoughts on “Turkey and the EU: Poles apart?

  1. Sorry for the ‘asd’ comment.

    Great post.

    I agree with everything you’ve said, but I do want to point out that while Islam may treat women abysmally, Turkish women, at least in the cities, get along quite well, and are heavily represented in professional and governmental spheres.

    My wife is Turkish, and while Turkish politics are behind those of my home country (the U.S.), it is moving in the right direction and rapidly. Sadly, I can’t say the same for the U.S.

  2. Excellent post!

    Just two points I would like to add:

    1.
    Turkey is – or so I understand it – rather strict on separation of religion and state.
    Of course, individuals are influenced by religious principles, but the state as such is not (or so is the theory).
    That’s much more than can be said of many western European countries which often still have _official_ connection between church and state (even though in practice the society is quite uninfluenced by religion).

    2.
    You are right: The cultural and/or religious arguments against Turkish entry are not very strong.
    But that still leaves the economic argument intact:
    Is it really feasible to integrate an economy which is _much_ poorer than for instance the current new members from Eastern Europe and which would by 2010 have the largest population of all EU nations?

  3. Florian,

    Yes, I’ve heard to whole likened to the US taking Mexico as its 51st state. An enormous undertaking, to be sure. I would remind you that Turkey will likely not be as poor in fifteen years as it is now, especially if it continues its economic reforms apace.

  4. While we’re on German intellectuals opposing Turkey joining the EU, check out Peter Scholl-Latour’s comments in Junge Freiheit (www.jungefreiheit.de). Whether one agrees with him or not, he is far more knowledgeable than most about Turkey and its history.

  5. Curtis and Florian,

    I know that Turkish society is officially secular, and that women (at least those from educated urban backgrounds) often do well. Indeed, I know some such women. To be fair to Wehler, though, he is likely most familiar with those Turks who live in Germany. Many of these are poorer people from eastern Anatolia, often not very well educated and often more devout than the general run of Turks. (Mind you, though, I know some ignorant misogynist pious louts from western Turkey as well.) That’s all very much a generalisation, of course. There are highly urbane and edified Turks in Germany too, and for all one hears these days (esp. from the Union) about second- and third-generation German-born Turks not knowing German well etc., there are also sons and daughters of immigrants who have gone on to get university degrees, start businesses (and no, not all of these are d?ner stands), etc. But Wehler is probably not using Istanbul professionals as his standard measure. Pity, as Turkey isn’t entirely run by greengrocers from rural Cappadocia.

    And yes, I know that Turkey’s offical secularism is quite aggressive. (Too much so in some ways for my taste, much as is France’s. Neither country seems to have twigged that the important thing about secularism is placing limits on the state, not on its citizens.) But, just as Wehler seems to assume that every Turk is like the d?ner man in Kreuzberg, so too does he ignore the Turkish state’s secularism and go all hissy-nervous because Turks Are Muslims.

    Finally, the economic argument againt Turkish accession is a good one; so too are the arguments about human rights, Kurds etc. That is, they’re good arguments (as I said) against accession now. What gets up my nose are the arguments against accession ever.

    At the moment, Turkey’s still too poor to join, even by the standards of many of the acceders in the most recent expansion. (Sorry, Turks, but that’s the way it is. I think Turkey should eventually join not — or, not only — because that would benefit Turkey, but because it would benefit the EU as well.) But as Curtis notes, what is today is not necessarily what will be in ten or 15 years. If Turkey plays its cards right, it could easily do a South Korea. (Some might say it’s already started.) And with a decade of growth behind it, that big, youngish population might start to look mighty attractive to the EU.

    BTW, Curtis: ‘asd’?

  6. But it’s too bad that’s it’s all totally false.

    While Mark Steyn is as often as not a pompous blowhard it’s difficult to imagine him having the temerity to pin such a puff piece for the dictatorial, repressive Turkish state. Not that I endorse Steyn’s rosy view on Turkey either, of course.

    As for this alleged Orthodox-Turkik “brotherhood” I find it disconcerting that you seem to be willing to dismiss the brutal occupation of Orthodox lands (including “devshirme” which can be considered the forerunner of modern systematic slavery) Or for that matter the massacres of Chios, Crete, Missolonghi, Constantinople, to say nothing of the 1915 Armenian-Assyrian Holocaust which completed Turkey’s extermination of the indigenous inhabitants of Anatolia. I doubt you will find many historians not on the Ankara dole who would share your belief that the Christian experience in the Ottoman state was anything but horrific.

    I would also counsel you to be more skeptical of your sources in the future; this Norman Stone (at Bilkent Universtiy) is a hired hand of the fascist Ankara regime, paid to deny the Armenian Holocaust and justify the Rape of Cyprus. Here’s some of his “thought” on the matter; notice how closely it hews with the views of the Turkish fascists of either Kemalist or Islamist stripe.

    http://tinyurl.com/5pshm

  7. @ Freyir:

    I am certainly no expert an Ottoman history.
    But I believe there was a certain amount of religious tolerance in the Ottoman empire which often exceeded that in western Europe – and the Ottomans profited from that tolerance in the same way the more tolerant European states profited via the more oppressive ones.
    Example: A hungarian Christian was the Sultan’s chief guncaster during the siege of Constantinople.

    But of course, this generalization won’t hold water for every instance in such a vast empire – the Armenian massacre certainly is an important counter-example.

  8. Freyir,

    it is not my intention to whitewash the Turkish regime. What part of ‘not ready for accession at this time’ did you have trouble understanding?

    As for the many undoubted atrocities committed by Ottoman forces: I do not excuse them. I would, however, invite you to consider that the Ottomans had no monopoly on atrocity. Looking at western Christendom, we see the ‘conversion’ of the Saxons, the Albigensian crusade, the Crusades proper, and (post-Reformation) individual events such as the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre as well as more extended grands guignols like the 30 Years’ War, to say nothing of the recurring popular entertainments revolving round the massacre of the local Jewish population. And that’s merely naming things that pop into my head without actively searching my memory. I should hope we’ve made a bit of progress since those days (or at any rate, since 1945). You really ought to consider that the Turks might possibly be capable of similar progress.

    As I suggested in the closing paragraph of my post, there is at least one nation whose depradations make those of the Ottomans seem humanitarian interventions by comparison. That nation was found fit for membership in the European Communities a half decade (not a century or so) after the depradations were stopped. Must have seemed scandalous to some at the time, but do you know what, it seems to have worked out rather well. If the Germans of the mid-20th century could be turned into enthusiastic democrats, doing the same for the Turks ought to be a doddle.

    And, however inconvenient it may be for your rather emotional view of history, the orthodox churches in the Ottoman realm really did see the sultan as preferable to absorption by the Latin West. Perhaps in this they were unwise. I cannot say; I can say only that they did feel this way.

    Stone’s Turkophilia is clear. (And this really shouldn’t need clarification, but in case it does: I disagree with him on both the Armenian and Cyprus issues.) But that does not spoil his correct assessment of what is ironic in Wehler: the German historian is applying to Turks precisely the same categories of thought that he criticises his countrymen of generations past for applying to the Poles.

    Look, there are two ways one can think about the question of possible Turkish accession to the EU. One can see it as I do: something to be given serious consideration if and when Turkey brings its economy and politics up to EU standard. It would be starry-eyed to imagine that the Turks have already done so. But it would be blind or bigoted, or both, to fail to see that they have made significant progress. Alternatively, one can decide (as Wehler appears to have done) that, the Turks being historically Muslim, they can by definition never be considered for membership. That is bigoted, tout court.

    As for Steyn, I’d never call him a pompous blowhard. He is a very gifted writer, and often very, very funny. His problem is not that he is pompous or a blowhard, but that he is a vile-minded dickhead.

    Interesting name you have, BTW. Very, em, nordic.

  9. Mrs. Tilton: the orthodox churches in the Ottoman realm really did see the sultan as preferable to absorption by the Latin West
    Let’s be careful not to generalize: a large part of the orthodox clergy, preferred the “Turkish turban to the popish tiara”. Not all. As the centuries passed, this eventually became a minority view – certainly among the population, who (as travellers to the region attest) were hoping for a christian (preferably Russian of course) liberation.

    Curtis: being the unreformed radical that I am, I’m not at all sure that “Turkey will likely not be as poor in fifteen years as it is now, especially if it continues its economic reforms apace.” It probably will be poorer if indeed it continues with the economic “reforms” imposed on it.

    Me, I have mixed feelings about Turkey’s possible accession and that has nothing to do with its “European-ness”.

  10. As for the many undoubted atrocities committed by Ottoman forces: I do not excuse them. I would, however, invite you to consider that the Ottomans had no monopoly on atrocity. Looking at western Christendom, we see the ?conversion? of the Saxons, the Albigensian crusade, the Crusades proper, and (post-Reformation) individual events such as the St Bartholomew?s Day massacre as well as more extended grands guignols like the 30 Years? War, to say nothing of the recurring popular entertainments revolving round the massacre of the local Jewish population. And that?s merely naming things that pop into my head without actively searching my memory. I should hope we?ve made a bit of progress since those days (or at any rate, since 1945). You really ought to consider that the Turks might possibly be capable of similar progress.

    Sure, but part of this progress is facing up to the crimes of the past. This has happened in the West, but the process has barely begun in Turkey. In fact the Turkish government recently made calling the events of 1915 ‘genocide’ a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison.

    If Holocaust Revisionism were an official plank of the German state (and not just the preserve of cranks) and the German state seemed to have no interest in changing this status quo what would the correct reaction of liberal-minded observers be?

  11. Claims of Orthodox-Turkish brother don’t ring true with me, either. If you’d like to read an account (although fictional) of this brotherhood from someone who was both a great writer and had first-hand exposure you might consider Nikos Kazantzakis’s Freedom and Death (O Kapetan Mihalis). I don’t see that this point has much to do with EU membership for Turkey now but I believe that we owe it to the dead who suffered under the Ottoman to at least tell the truth about them.

  12. Pearsall:

    the correct response of liberal minded-observers would be to deplore the fact. As I deplored the law you refer to in a previous afoe post on this topic. This (and the Cyprus issue) are two major hurdles that Turkey is going to have to leap if it wishes to join the club.

    Dave:

    I agree that the truth about the Ottoman Empire should be told. However, I think that truth lies somewhere between the extremes of Freyir on the one hand and of Serdar Argic on the other.

    And the mention of seminal netkook Argic reminds me: commenters should feel free to oppose the views I have expressed above as strongly as they like. But if this comments thread degenerates into a mere mutual slanging match between anti-Armenian Turkish partisans and anti-Turkish Armenian partisans about the events of 1915, vowels will go mercilessly missing. There are no doubt usenet groups for that sort of thing. This thread, by contrast, is about whether today’s Turkey (or rather, a possible Turkey of ten to 15 years hence) should be part of the EU, not about the crimes of the soon-to-disappear Ottoman Empire.

  13. Mrs. T,

    ‘asd’ was an accident, sorry…

    My wife has told me about the character of Turkish immigration to Germany. This issue was dealy with I thought rather well in the film “Against the Wall” (I don’t remember the German title). She also tells me that her home town of Istanbul has been dealing with an immigration wave from the country’s less-educated, less-sophisticated east, although there seem to be recent signs of slackening.

    Mixed with all this EU/Turkey cultural divide, is the even more pervasive urban/rural cultural divide, don’t you think?

  14. Herr Erhart:

    “She also tells me that her home town of Istanbul has been dealing with an immigration wave from the country’s less-educated, less-sophisticated east”

    The product of near-genocidal policies against the indigenous Kurds which internally displaced some two million refugees, all while your government and my government stood around and watched as if nothing was going on. But I’m sure it’s a pity that the high sophisticates of Constantinople are forced to associate with these people, what an utter shame.

    “and the Ottomans profited from that tolerance in the same way the more tolerant European states profited via the more oppressive ones.
    Example: A hungarian Christian was the Sultan’s chief guncaster during the siege of Constantinople.”

    Every imperial regime is able to find a certain subsection of the population that is more than happy to serve as a comprador class to the empire. The new states of the EU (relative Brussels) or much of Latin America (relative Washington), for instance.

    The much repeated claim of Ottoman “tolerance” has also struck me strange in the past. They were a empire on foreign soil, not a ethnically constructed nation state as was the case in Europe so by their very nature they had to be “tolerant” in order to maximize the flow of slaves and gold into Constantinople. South Africa could also be said to be tolerant of the native traditions of its indigenous citizens, so I think we can all agree that “tolerance qua tolerance” is not dispositive proof of acceptable treatment. Is not Israel “tolerant” of Islam in the West Bank?

    Mrs. Tilton:

    Whether or not Turkey has the capacity to change is not really the issue here. What’s perhaps more relevant is to ask what should be done about it today without making broad assumptions about its future that we have no idea whether or not will ever come to fruition. It is a state that engages in active denial of the 1915 Holocaust, illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing in Cyprus, racial oppression and therefore should be treated more as a pariah state than as a “model” state. Very few Muslims outside Turkey look up to the Kemalist state as any sort of model, even moderate ones despise its repressive laicism and its racialist focus. I’d say that the US and EU systems of governance are far more attractive models for most moderate Muslims even if their foreign policies are not.

    nota bene: I have the feeling that if Berlin adopted a negationist stance toward the Jewish/Gypsy genocide or if Washington began imprisonment for Spanish speakers the response would not be nearly so muted in the West. Look at the disparity of response given to Serbia for its actions in Kosovo versus Turkey for its actions in Kurdistan; Turkish warplanes were bombing Belgrade at the exact same time that the largest anti-Kurd campaign since 1996 was being launched. The Turks are fond of asserting that there’s a double standard placed upon them; ironically I’ve always felt that they are correct, although in reverse polarity.

  15. Freyir,

    “The product of near-genocidal policies against the indigenous Kurds which internally displaced some two million refugees, all while your government and my government stood around and watched as if nothing was going on. But I’m sure it’s a pity that the high sophisticates of Constantinople are forced to associate with these people, what an utter shame.”

    In your mind, this is causing the lack of education and sophistication? or the immigration? or both?

    Do you know anything about this immigration? the effect on the economy, the gecekondos?

    What would you have recommended my government or your government do? Invade Turkey?

    I’ll ignore the remark about “high sophisticates,” as I doubt it was intended to inform or inquire.

  16. No, the ultra-repressive policies, including setting whole forests on fire where suspected PKK liberation warriors were thought to be hiding, are causing the migration wave into Ameda (so-called Diyarbakir) and Constantinople. Ameda for instance grew fourfold during the War for Kurdish Liberation – signs that something was going horribly wrong. This was the origin of the “gecekondus” (gejekondush).

    As far as what Canada and the US (and of course Europe as well) could have done, I suppose not selling Turkey weapons would have been a good start, and maybe sanctions on all non-humanitarian goods for the invasion of Cyprus would have been a possibility as well. Basically, treat the country as if it were South Africa (with apologies to apartheid South Africa, which was never as bad as Kemalism).

    As far as my last remark, all I will say that your remarks about the Kurds were ugly as well. There poverty is not their own making but that of the Turks who to this day insist on the fascist policy of “ne multu Turk diyene.” Don’t blame the Northern Kurds for their sorry state – blame Kemalism.

    “Turkish politics are behind those of my home country (the U.S.), it is moving in the right direction and rapidly. Sadly, I can’t say the same for the U.S.”

    While I’m not comfortable with many aspects of North American politics, in particular the treatment of first peoples which is never discussed seriously, I have to give Martin and Bush credit for not banning discussion of the Native Holocaust or African slavery.

    I can’t say the same for Basbakan effendi whose revised penal code makes it explicitly illegal for the first time and punishable by 10 years in prison (!) to publicly say the words “ermeni soykirim” (Armenian Genocide). Yep, Turkey’s changing all right.

  17. “As far as my last remark, all I will say that your remarks about the Kurds were ugly as well. There poverty is not their own making but that of the Turks who to this day insist on the fascist policy of “ne multu Turk diyene.” Don’t blame the Northern Kurds for their sorry state – blame Kemalism.”

    My comment was not about Kurds, that should have been clear from the fact that I didn’t use the word “Kurd”. It was about rural Turkey, where unfortunate things like honor killings still take place. It’s just more backward there. You can blame Kemalism, or whatever you like, but it doesn’t make it less true.

    “While I’m not comfortable with many aspects of North American politics, in particular the treatment of first peoples which is never discussed seriously, I have to give Martin and Bush credit for not banning discussion of the Native Holocaust or African slavery.”

    I was referring to the direction each country is moving in, not the current state of politics of either.

    “I can’t say the same for Basbakan effendi whose revised penal code makes it explicitly illegal for the first time and punishable by 10 years in prison (!) to publicly say the words “ermeni soykirim” (Armenian Genocide). Yep, Turkey’s changing all right.”

    Stupid law, no question. Evidence that Turkey’s not changing? By itself, no.

  18. Whether or not Turkey has the capacity to change is not really the issue here. What’s perhaps more relevant is to ask what should be done about it today without making broad assumptions about its future that we have no idea whether or not will ever come to fruition. It is a state that engages in active denial of the 1915 Holocaust, illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing in Cyprus, racial oppression and therefore should be treated more as a pariah state than as a “model” state.

    With respect, Freyir, whether Turkey has the capacity to change is precisely the issue. And to claim a priori that it has not is bigotry.

    There is much I dislike about the Kemalist tradition in Turkey. Similarly, there is much I dislike about the nationalist tradition in Germany, the clericalist tradition in France, the falangist tradition in Spain, etc etc etc. There is no nation without skeletons in its closet.

    At first blush, I’d say you’re skating pretty close to a disemvowelling. As I said above, I want this to be a debate about whether today’s Turkey can, in a decade or so, assuming satisfactory progress on a number of fronts, become part of the EU. I don’t want that debate to be conducted through the lens of 1915. But then it’s clear that you have a personal and emotional connection to this issue — perhaps you are Armenian, or a Kurd, or a Greek Cypriot. I’m not without sensitivity to historical consciousness, so I don’t want to wield the sword with undue haste. But do try to keep this dialogue on a rational level; you don’t do your argument any good by asserting the essential eternal evil of the Turks, or by arguing that contemporary Turkey should be treated as a pariah state ? la Burma or apartheid South Africa.

    And think about this. The past is full of horror. If you insist on living in the past, then horror is all you will ever know. I’m not ignorant of historical horror. My country is Ireland. It suffered much, in the past, under British rule. For some Irish people, the most important words in that last sentence are ‘suffered much’. But those people aren’t very attractive or helpful. For most of us, the important words are ‘in the past’. I could fill your ear all day long about how terrible were the siege of Drogheda, the famine, the black and tans, etc. And an Englishman could, with the same justification, tell you similar tales about Warrington, Canary Wharf, Birmingham. And what would either of us achieve? Well, we’d satisfyingly stoke the internal flames of historical resentment, of course. But if you think that much of an achievement, perhaps you’d be happier if we were still in 1915.

    So what is it, exactly, that you do hope to achieve? Is it to tell us that there is much about the Ottoman Empire and its successor state that is unattractive? Well; try to tell us something we don’t know. But the future is not about the past. I hope Turkey will become the sort of place that can become part of the EU. And I’d hope that part of the process of its doing so means it becomes the sort of place you can be at peace with, whatever happened in the past. But it’s your choice. You can go on forever thinking that the shadow of 1915 must necessarily run on to eternity. There are Irishmen who think that way about England. But as I said, they are neither attractive nor helpful.

    PS: BTW, ‘PKK liberation warriors?’ Sorry, but you’re not going to score many points with me with that sort of talk. There are few people on this earth I despise more than the IRA, and I suppose if I were a Kurd, I’d feel the same about Ocalan and his gang.

  19. a mere mutual slanging match between anti-Armenian Turkish partisans and anti-Turkish Armenian partisans about the events of 1915

    A country that makes the public recognition of a historically verified genocide a criminal offense, apparently with massive popular support, has serious issues which need to be overcome. If, as many denialist partisans argue, recognizing the Armenian genocide is inherently anti-Turkish, the logical consequence of this position is that the genocide of Armenians has been assimilated as a positive element in the construction of the Turkish nation. Which Is Bad.

    A West Germany that treated the Holocaust similarly wouldn’t have been seen as a reliable partner. It’s questionable whether German reunification would have happened at all, given such a tenor to German nationalism. Why should a Turkey that has such a hysterical and frankly disturbing element underlying its modern nationalism be let into the European Union?

    (And no, let me say for the record that I don’t think that this is irresolvable; the French argument has some justice, but I think the genocide issue is being misused to keep Turkey out, as much of a real and legitimate issue as it is.)

  20. Randy,

    I have nothing to counter your argument, nor would I wish to if I had. As I have said before, if the Turks wish to be part of the EU, facing up to the Armenian genocide is one of the things they must do.

    I note merely that Germany, a mere handful of years after a genocide of even greater magnitude, was brought into the EU’s predecessor, and that it worked out rather well. Germany today is a very unlikely candidate for future genocides; Germans today are anything but unconscious of their nation’s past deeds or their historical responsibilities.

  21. The question is whether Turkey is prepared to change enough to merit membership in the EU in 10 or 15 years.

    What evidence is there that the essential policies of the Turkish state toward its ethnic minorities and human rights are changing? There is some movement, but I think everyone agrees it isn’t close to far enough.

    Is there any prospect of some sort of “denazification” for torturers and murderers in the security forces or pulling out of Northern Cyprus? The Turkish government refuses to pull its troops out of Cyprus under any proposed settlement, and periodically threatens to annex their para-state there.

    Is there any prospect for recognition of the Armenian genocide? In fact, attitudes seem to be hardening there.

    These are the questions one must ask. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I don’t care what happened in the Ottoman empire, since it was destroyed by the present state of Turkey and Western powers in rivers of blood. What I care about is what the Turkish state is doing and has done, and a lot of that is disquieting.

    Also Mrs. Tilton, why do you despise the IRA so much? I can’t think of any national liberation movement with clean hands – including for example the American revolutionaries, the French maquis, the Algerian rebels, or the Palestinian or Israeli resistance movements. The IRA is pretty small potatoes in the death department compared to many others, actually. Seems like something of a British fixation to me.

  22. Hektor,

    I despise the IRA because it is the enemy not only of Britain but of Ireland. (The IRA in its arrogance views itself as the legitimate government of Ireland; they will not even call my country by its name.) It murders not only Britons but Irishmen. (It has killed countless Irish people who wish to retain their British identity, and many Irish people who do not. It is responsible for the deaths of almost all members of the Garda S?och?na, the Irish police, murdered on duty since independence.) You are right, most national liberation movements have blood on their hands. But no other national liberation movement wipes that blood on my country’s flag.

    And it is not a ‘national liberation movement’, and hasn’t been since Ireland achieved its independence.

  23. For the open minds still with us at this point, I’d also like to recommend Stephen Kinzer’s Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds and, provisionally, Andrew Mango’s The Turks Today. (Provisionally because I’m only on the first chapter; it’s off to a good start, looks well organized and informative, but you never know.) Kinzer was a New York Times correspondent there in the late 1990s. The book is clear, concise, vivid and full of surprises, even for someone basically conversant in the history.

  24. Freyir has a couple of good points, and a couple of nonsense ones.

    One good point: recent treatment of the Kurds, including gross human rights abuses. Yes, this has gotten much better in recent years. On the other hand, people who committed appalling crimes are going to not only escape, but rise to power and honor in both military and civilian society. This should be unacceptable.

    I’m hoping that the EU will see fit to draw a line here. The best place to do it is probably in Croatia, where not only are war criminals still running around free, but the majority of the population still believes (and is being encouraged to believe, by the school system and state-influenced media) that Croatia was an innocent victim and the Hague indictees are heroes. This would not only be IMO correct and decent, but it would set a valuable precedent for future candidates, especially Bosnia, Serbia, and Turkey.

    Unfortunately, right now it looks like Brussels is going to make a symbol of one accused war criminal — Gotovina — and cave on the rest.

    One stupid point: Cyprus. Turks were removed from the south just as thoroughly as Greeks from the North, and the exchange was complete by 1976, so it’s pretty ridiculous to say that Turkey “engages… in ethnic cleansing” there. Meanwhile, both the Turkish government and a clear majority of Turkish Cypriots endorsed the Annan Plan. That called for, among other things, partial repatriation, massive reimbursement for those not repatriated, Turkish withdrawal from about a quarter of the territory currently occupied, and a reduction of Turkish troop strength by over 90% — down to a token force of 650 troops (facing 950 Greek troops) by the time Turkey joins the EU, and with all sides formally committed to the long-term goal of completely removing all foreign troops.

    Cyprus is an excellent example of a place where Turkey has come a long, long way. There’s still a ways to go (IMO Turkey should recognize Greek Cyprus), but the Turks have clearly shown willing to make concessions and compromise.

    Doug M.

  25. Excellent post. Yet, without having read the Stone-article, the two historical episodes seem rather different. Whether or not Turks currently living in Western Europe will integrate fully only becomes an issue in our context when it’s seen together with a large reservoir of potential additional immigrants from a Turkey that will also be an influential member of the club, and whose citizens will enjoy freedom of movement in the EU (although we know that likely they won’t do so fully for a long time after accession). So it’s Turkey + Turks in Western Europe, that’s different from the stature of Poland back then plus Poles in Germany I’d think. And in the Turkish case, it’s unlikely that the nationalist traditions at home will just evaporate in favour of those European values and ideals. Just like in the current member states, some of their influence will remain in place for a very long time. So even in the positive scenarios, some of those aspects you don’t like about today’s Turkey will become part of the future identity of the EU – assimilation in the other direction. That is the pill one has to be ready to swallow. Even more heterogeneity for certain. Still a careful Yes also from my side.

  26. “Turks were removed from the south just as thoroughly as Greeks from the North, and the exchange was complete by 1976, so it’s pretty ridiculous to say that Turkey “engages… in ethnic cleansing” there.”

    Well, in large part however, the circumstances of the “removal” were rather different. There wouldn’t have been any “population exchange” had Turkey not invaded and occupied the North of the island. G/Cs were a majority in both the North and the South.

    “[the Annan plan] called for, among other things, partial repatriation,”

    key word here: partial

    “massive reimbursement for those not repatriated,”

    …to be paid in most part by the Greek Cypriots themselves. There was no call for any reparations from Turkey at all.

    “Turkish withdrawal from about a quarter of the territory currently occupied, and a reduction of Turkish troop strength by over 90% — down to a token force of 650 troops (facing 950 Greek troops) by the time Turkey joins the EU,”

    Well, *when* and *if* Turkey joins the EU, with no other guarantee of the troops removal other than the prospect of Turkish EU accession. If that went wrong you’d be stuck with the Turkish army all over the island and a rather uncertain future. There is absolutely no reason to have any foreign troops in Cyprus. If security is an issue, I’m sure that police officers from other EU countries could be called for – or even a larger UN presence.

    Mrs. Tilton: Simple disdain for the PKK leaves unsaid, and in a way legitimizes, the vastly more brutal and murderous actions of the Turkish army in the area, when in fact, as Doug pointed out, the perpetrators of these crimes will be *rewarded* for their efforts by a prospective EU member. Ocalan is in jail now – where are the generals that spread death and destruction in Turkish Kurdistan?

    Anyway, the question is how the Turkish military establishment is going to react to the threat of losing power. I’m afraid that it won’t go down peacefully. If it does, however, then the arguments against Turkey’s EU membership on human rights grounds would be significantly weakened.

  27. Talos,

    my disdain for PKK in no way ignores, let alone legitimises, the depredations of the Turkish state against the Kurds under colour of law.

    There are a lot of things the British military did in NI that I dislike (though it would be hyperbole to claim that the British were anywhere near as bad as the Turks have been). There’s no excuse for some of the things they’ve done. Nevertheless, that they did so in no way excuses the actions of the IRA (or of their loyalist opposite numbers, who in addition to killing catholics were not above attacking the forces of the state themselves).

    I will admit that I take a very dim view of guerilla organisations. Some I can digest better than others – Umkhonto we Sizwe strikes me as an example of a more or less defensible movement. But the IRA don’t make the cut, and nor do PKK, or whatever they are calling themselves these days. (If, with Ocalan in prison, PKK evolves into a democratic political movement, then my judgement might need revisiting.)

    As for Turkish military leaders responsible for criminal (or what by any decent legal definition ought to be criminal) actions against Kurds going unpunished: that’s worrisome. It shouldn’t be that way. But I am not optimistic that these men will be called to account, even in a future and better Turkey. Things usually don’t work out that way. (Henry Kissinger is a free man and will probably die peacefully in his bed.) I’d be thrilled to see some appropriate trials in a couple of years’ time, but I am not holding my breath. I do note, however, that Turkish law now takes a much harder line against state torture than it used to. And if that law is rigourously enforced going forward, we may have to content ourselves with that. Not entirely satisfactory, but it won’t have been the first unsavoury compromise made in the interest of achieving civil peace.

  28. Does anyone believe that what happened in 1915 and 1976 are indicators of essential Turkish evilness? Let’s get our cards on the table. I for one believe that both issues are far more complicated than is generally recognized by those who discuss them so passionately. Take 1915, I don’t believe that it was a genocide. I also believe that the bizarre, twitchy, defensiveness on the part of the Turks have convinced many that it was. It was a god-awful thing that happened (and for some, I recognize, god-awfullness is the only requirement to call something a genocide), and there were many bad actors, not all of them Turks. The Turks, for reasons I cannot fathom, only harm themselves with all this fanatical insistence. But those that mistake that insistence for neccesary and total guilt, are not thinking honestly about it. The law banning the phrase “Armenian Genocide” is terrible, but so is the law in France making it illegal to say it wasn’t a genocide. It’s just a word, but it is used nowadays like a weapon. Let’s get past it.

    Mrs. Tilton, sorry if this post violates any rules, and please feel free to use your editor’s discretion. But it seems that bringing up these issues only makes sense if people believe that they prove that Turks are irredeemably bad. If that’s what they think, I would like them to say so.

  29. Well, Curtis, anybody can express any opinion they like here, as long as they do so reasonably and without abusing other commenters.

    But I don’t share your opinion. It may be that the killings of large numbers of Armenians was not a genocide of the same character as the nazi Holocaust. I don’t know, for example, whether it was the intention of the Turks to literally eliminate the entire Armenian people from the face of the earth, or merely to get rid of a lot of them one way or another.

    But something needn’t equal the Holocaust in scale or motive to be genocide. I’d regard the French murders and expulsion of Huguenots (for example) as a genocide, and that was on a rather smaller scale than what happened to the Armenians.

    But I don’t think that pointing to these events only makes sense if one wishes to paint the Turks as eternally, immutably evil. (I’d hope it’s clear that this is not my intention.) There are elements in the past of every nation that the nation must repudiate if it wishes to move on. And before they can be repudiated, they must be acknowledged. I don’t doubt that the events of 1915 may be more complicated than simply ‘The Turks tried to kill all the Armenians, and succeeded with a lot of them’. Complex or simple, though, it was a terrible deed. And I don’t yet see a broad consensus in Turkey that it must be squarely faced up to. I do note the beginnings of thought in this direction, but as yet mostly among some Turkish historians and other scholars. That’s a good beginning, and I hope it will grow into something significant. But it’s still just a beginning.

  30. Mrs, T.

    I agree, but what if an honest Turkish appraisal of the situation is that it was an overzealous and irresponsible reaction to a revolt? Will the EU allow an honest disagreement? Or will it insist on adherence to orthodoxy. This is a concern of mine. What if the Turks ask the EU to consider what effect the Armenian Revolt had on the Turks and other muslims living in Eastern turkey as having some relevance to the atrocities of 1915? Will an open, honest discussion be permitted? Or will only interpretation be allowed, as the French seem to have already decided.

    Turkey should not be allowed to join until any and all laws restricting freedom of expression on the Armenian issue are repealed. But should they have to officially call it a genocide? I don’t think so.

  31. “I can’t say the same for Basbakan effendi whose revised penal code makes it explicitly illegal for the first time and punishable by 10 years in prison (!) to publicly say the words “ermeni soykirim” (Armenian Genocide). Yep, Turkey’s changing all right.”

    Can you please cite Turkish criminal law here? I read the newly released penal code and unless I’m blind there was no mention of the Armenian genocide or a 10 year sentence. The most worrisome thing I saw was a 2-3 year sentence for insulting various state or government institutions (that’s bad enough, and no criticism-insult distinction is made apparent). If what Freyir said was true then Halil Berktay would be in jail (for claiming the Secret Service circa 1915 committed genocide), but instead he is a professor at Sabanci University.

    I also enjoyed his “Ameda (so-called Diyarbakir)”. It would be amusing to anyone familiar with the Armenian name “Diran Bakar”. Does calling something by its present name immediately imply that you are condoning whatever took place in the region? Those Americans had it easy it seems, whatever they invaded was apparently unpronouncable.

  32. I should think that if it fits within the generally-accepted definition of genocide, they should call it a genocide. What they call it, though, is less important than how they face the history of what happened.

    Britain bore a heavy responsibility for the Irish famine in the 1840s. (Some people argue this was genocide. I disagree. It was a natural catastrophe whose effects were unnecessarily and hideously magnified by rigidly doctrinaire, criminally negligent and sometimes outright malicious mismanagement by the government of the day.) British political culture today, it seems to me, is pretty well conscious of what went on and why. That’s what matters. I am not much concerned whether the British want to view it as a genocide or a massive cock-up or what have you.

    Freedom of expression is another matter altogether. Any individual Turk ought to be free to argue (in Ankara) that 1915 was a genocide, or (in Paris) that it was not.

  33. Mrs. T.,

    Then we are in (near) total agreement:)

    BTW, you are right of course, that mentioning Turkish intransigence on these issues as a stumbling block to membership is not only appropriate, but necessary. I only meant that the Turks should not be excluded because these things happened, but rather because they refuse to allow the unfettered examination of these events.

  34. Mrs. Tilton:

    I note merely that Germany, a mere handful of years after a genocide of even greater magnitude, was brought into the EU?s predecessor, and that it worked out rather well.

    Yes. It’s important to note that West Germany, far from denying the existence of the Holocaust and sundry war crimes whenever it was convenient for German nationalism, accepted their existence from the start. The two situations aren’t comparable.

    Curtis Erhart:

    It would be nice if my various encounters with Turkish commentators on the Internet regarding the Armenian genocide didn’t begin with them condemning me as an anti-Turkish bigot (for which, see here http://www.tallarmeniantale.com/Randy-McDonald.htm). Some moderation would go a long way. Hysterical propaganda is decidedly offsetting.

  35. Randy,

    I am very familiar with Turkish jumpiness on this issue. Once at a symposium attended mostly by Turks, my wife asked a question along the lines of “Shouldn’t the Armenians been given protection by the government?” And some Turkish official from the consulate asked her if she had been “brainwashed.” Absurd.

    But I will also say this, the Turks, I believe will come to a reasonable place on this issue much quicker if opponents merely insist on open and honest discussion and not that they show a certain amount of contrition, or use the word “genocide.”

  36. I would argue that the British have not gotten over the potato famine, as seen in the recent brouhaha about it being taught in New York State public schools. It’s also important to note that very few people in Northern Ireland went to jail for clear security abuses, and that in general the British government and people are not interested in bringing these people to justice.

    Being against the IRA is one thing, but they didn’t recognize the partition of Ireland. The situation is somewhat analogous to the partition of Vietnam, which Ho Chi Minh also did not recognize, with the added element of continued absorption of Northern Ireland into the British state. The closest analog I can think of is of France partitioning Algeria and keeping a small coastal strip in France. Whether one agrees with that kind of resolution or not, it isn’t crazy for some people to resist it, especially when the new para-state does not uphold human rights or democratic norms.

    The PKK does have blood on its hands, but it isn’t clear to me that we should favor blood-drenched governments that do not respect human rights over blood-drenched liberation movements that do not respect human rights, especially when the government is the greater killer, and the liberation movement is culturally distinct from the oppressive government.

    If the Turkish government’s actions are acceptable, than China’s actions in Tibet are even more acceptable, and Israel’s actions in the occupied territories are even more acceptable, because they haven’t killed or displaced nearly as many people.

    I support Turkish accession if it takes certain appropriate steps, but I don’t believe in fudging those steps.

    1) An independent single Cyprus with no foreign troops, except as peacekeepers drawn from countries not directly involved in the crisis (Greece, Turkey, UK, US)

    2) A full and complete accounting of the Armenian genocide by the Turkish government (not necessarily involving reparations but definitely full and complete recognition of the current Armenian state and an opening of the border crossings).

    3) Full provision for public financing of education in minority languages and an end to discrimination against minority religions.

    4) Complete civilian control over the military and an end to torture.

    These things aren’t that complicated, really. Since the EU doesn’t need the Turks, and the Turks need the EU, I don’t see why this isn’t achievable.

  37. Randy:

    I’m immeasurably jealous! Oh, to have a page like that – that’s a badge of honor. Lucky you!

    Curtis:

    “But I will also say this, the Turks, I believe will come to a reasonable place on this issue much quicker if opponents merely insist on open and honest discussion and not that they show a certain amount of contrition, or use the word “genocide.”

    Would Palestinians be happy with an Israel that didn’t even want to admit that an occupation existed? By the way the Armenians tried your solution years ago with something called the “TARC” – put gently it didn’t work very well. The Turks’ (even “moderate” ones) attitudes were hardened even more by losing every step of the way.

    “Does anyone believe that what happened in 1915 and 1976 are indicators of essential Turkish evilness?”

    Well no, but then again no one’s making that argument. All of my points were directed against MODERN Turkey – Cyprus occupation/ethnic cleasing, genocide denial, oppression of indigenous groups such as Kurds and Laz, and lack of compensation for past wrongs. All of these acts are being carried out by Ankara right now, as I write.

    talos:

    You forgot to mention that all illegal Turkish settlers in North Cyprus would be allowed to remain in place, a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding military occupations. If law means nothing when the big boys get to have their say, then why even bother to have it? Just replace the whole body of statutes governing relations among the various nation-states with a simple “Whomever is more strategically important to EU/US policy makers shall prevail in any given dispute.”

    That’s basically the Annan Plan right there. It was a joke, everyone knew it was joke, but ignored it because they’re drooling over Turkey and its positioning on the global chessboard. Things like human rights and justice be damned…

  38. The way I understand the Turkish reaction to the TARC was that the Turks don’t deny that Armenians were killed, only that fewer of them were killed than is claimed by the Armenians. This, and they wanted some recognition that Turks and other muslims were killed by Armenian during the revolt that preceeded the “genocide.”

    This seems like an argument worth engaging. Honest people can study the documentary evidence and come to some kind of understanding of what happened, it seems to me. But it also seems to me that there are precious few Turks or Armenians willing to do this. I’m fairly certain that Freyir is uninterested in engaging anyone who doesn’t agree with great certainty with his interpretation. In fact, it seems there is no one who knows anything about it that doesn’t have a dog in the fight.

  39. Well, in large part however, the circumstances of the “removal” were rather different. There wouldn’t have been any “population exchange” had Turkey not invaded and occupied the North of the island.

    Well, yes there would have. It just would have been a cleansing of the Turks by the G/Cs, under Samson and the other radical nationalists.

    partial repatriation,”

    key word here: partial

    Well, yes. Since full repatriation simply isn’t going to happen. Unless you think the T/Cs are going to accept minority status in the North?

    “massive reimbursement for those not repatriated,”

    …to be paid in most part by the Greek Cypriots themselves.

    The Plan quite deliberately fudged this issue, and for good reason. Long story. I can unpack that if enough people are interested.

    (Turkish troop withdrawal)

    Well, *when* and *if* Turkey joins the EU, with no other guarantee of the troops removal other than the prospect of Turkish EU accession.

    No, not so. The Plan envisioned a steady reduction whether Turkey joined the EU or not. It would just be much bigger and faster if Turkey got in.

    Current troop strength is officialy about 32,000. (Though it’s almost certainly more.) The Plan would have reduced that to 6,000 — or, as noted, to a token 650 when/if Turkey joined the EU.

    And, hey — the first troop departures would be happening right now, with a reduction to 25,000 required by January 2005, to be verified by international observers. But since the G/Cs voted against the Plan, those Turkish soldiers are staying right where they are.

    Remind me again how that vote was all about security concerns.

    If that went wrong you’d be stuck with the Turkish army all over the island.

    As opposed to, um, now. Okay.

    There is absolutely no reason to have any foreign troops in Cyprus.

    This is debatable. Given the history, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have some outside troops around for a while. This is especially true if we’re talking about small “tripwire” forces.

    Once the two groups have shown a willingness to live next door to each other in peace, then yah, I’d agree.

    I note once more that the Annan plan would have Greek troops outnumbering Turkish.

    — I say again, I don’t think the Annan Plan was perfect. I do think it was a reasonable good-faith effort, and also that it showed real willingness to compromise on the Turkish side.

    BTW, over on your blog I recently opined that, once Turkey was past the December 17 hurdle, we should expect another Turkish push to resolve the Cyprus issue, with a new batch of concessions. Well, yesterday PM Erdogan called for “active measures aimed at solving the Cyprus issue.” Apparently he added that Turkey can’t protect its interests in Cyprus if Turkey “insists on impossible solutions continues to be passive and acts with a defensive psychology”. Parse that as you will, but it sounds like Phase I to me.

    Anyway, the question is how the Turkish military establishment is going to react to the threat of losing power. I’m afraid that it won’t go down peacefully.

    You were expressing the same concern the last time we had this discussion, though. And that was eight months ago. In the meantime, a civilian has been appointed (for the first time) to run the military commission that oversee’s Turkey’s so-called “deep state”.

    I’m not asking you to say this is enough — it isn’t — but maybe you could acknowledge that there’s been some progress?

    Doug M.

  40. An independent single Cyprus with no foreign troops, except as peacekeepers drawn from countries not directly involved in the crisis (Greece, Turkey, UK, US)

    In the long run, sure. In the short run, not so sure. The track record of outside peacekeepers is mixed, to say the least. UN troops have conspicuously failed to keep the peace in, for instance, Congo… or in Kosovo last March, if you want an example that’s a bit closer to home.

    Greek and Turkish troops present their own problems, sure — the Turks fear and distrust the Greek military, and vice versa. On the other hand, the presence of Greek troops makes the G/Cs feel a lot more secure, and same-same for Turks and T/Cs. French or Russian or Pakistani troops would just not provide that.

    My instinct is to go for tripwire forces, at least in the short and medium term. But I’m willing to be convinced.

    Doug M.

  41. Doug, I have to disagree with you. All indications are that Greek and Turkish Cypriots do not wish to murder each other, which is not the case in Congo or Kosovo.

    There is no strong nationalist group on either side that supports the ethnic cleansing of the other, and the recent mixing of the two peoples without incident after the border crossings were opened is an excellent sign.

    I think a small peacekeeping force would be sufficient.

    Freyir, unfortunately, after an area’s populations leaves, it rarely gets to go back. The Acadians didn’t get to go back to Acadie; the Germans didn’t get to go back to Koenigsberg, the Sudetenland, and points farther east; the Jews didn’t return to Poland; and the Palestinian refugees almost certainly won’t get to go back to Israel. I don’t agree with it, but even the EU accession of the Czech republic wasn’t enough to get the Czech government to repudiate the ethnic cleansing of Czechoslovakia.

    P.S. I hate to keep harping on “perfidious Albion”, but the UK currently occupies a large amount of Cyprus and refuses to vacate the island completely, even though it abrogated its self-defense treaty with Cyprus when Turkey invaded. That’s some more unfinished business that should get taken care of.

  42. Curtis, no member of the EU currently occupies another EU country. Turkey occupies Cyprus. No member of the EU has refused to recognize mass killings that its government undertook and continues to punish the state containing the fragment of people left that its past government failed to kill. All EU governments now allow public education in minority languages (even France as far as I can tell). (In the case of France it could be better, obviously, but it is more than exists in Turkey.) No EU nation condones torture, though there are some suspicions where Spain is concerned, but it is certainly not as widespread as in Turkey, if it does exist in Spain. All European governments have complete civilian control of the military.

    Turkey really is in a class by itself in these matters, I’m sorry to say.

  43. Hektor,

    I agree with everything you’ve said, but I was a little leery of mandatory public financing for minority language education. I’m not sure that all EU members do this. Also, I don’t think the Turkish government denies that Turks in and out of the government killed Armenians. I believe the dispute is about the number killed, the manner in which they died (i.e., was it from lack of protection, or out and out slaughter. It does make a difference, I think), and whether that is the only story worth telling from that period. I don’t think membership should depend on whether they are willing to call it a “genocide”. Opening the border, I believe should be a requirement.

    I think the Turks should pull out of Cyprus. But I would also like to see the Greek Cypriots respect the rights of the Turkish minority, as well. I also wish they had appected the Annan plan.

    I could be wrong, but that’s the way I read it.

  44. Not only will the people who left not return, the people who came will not leave, Geneva or no. For proof, look no further than the Russians (and Russian-speakers) in the Baltic republics. As most of Western Europe never recognized the Soviet conquest of the Baltics people moved there by the Soviet government were quite clearly illegal occupiers, and the Baltic governments well within their rights to try to push them out. (Whether truly pursuing that policy would have been smart is another matter.) EU policy has been to press for accommodation of the Russians. So it will be with Turkish settlers in northern Cyprus.

    On the book front, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide is a good place to start on the history, legal background and political implications of calling massive massacres genocide. A major them of the book is American reaction, because Power is an American patriot, but a similar book could be written about almost any major European power. N.b., she starts with Armenia.

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