Saturday, October 14, 2006

Fear and loathing in Ankara...

In Turkey, widespread fury over the French Parliament’s decision to crimminalise denial of the Armenian genocide of 1915 continues unabated. And is threatening to escalate.

In his first remarks on the bill following its adoption, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured above) commented that "France has blackened freedoms". Erdogan also said that "There are over 500 thousand Turkish nationals living in France", he noted, "Those Turkish citizens must be as strong and effective as Armenians over there". Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul criticized the adoption of the bill. "This will be an unforgettable shame on France. From now on, France will never be able to describe itself as a country of freedoms". The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Motherland Party (ANAP) have expressed similar views.In other words, the French Parliament's decision has united the bulk of Turkey's fractious political class in opposition to Europe. That, of course, was the intention of the French Bill all along.

Turkey is also hopping mad with the Netherlands where three Turkish election candidates have been expelled from their political parties for refusing to accept the Armenian genocide allegations, Dutch universities are also apparently pressuring Turkish students to accept the Armenian genocide. Overall, there is a growing sense in Turkey that Armenian genocide recognition has become an implicit precondition for EU membership. Turkey and Europe are, thus, heading towards a major crisis in their relations…...the future looks grim.


Cranmer said...

His Grace congratulates you on the acquisition of your blog, commending its quality, and prays blessings upon it.

istanbultory said...

The noble Cranmer will forever maintain my devotion and loyalty.

Croydonian said...

I am not that keen on the validity of projecting notions of individual psychology onto nations, but I will do it anyway.

Why is Turkey so insecure, as evidenced by the absurd 'insulting Turkishness' law and the short-lived campaign to attempt to sledgehammer the rest of the world into spelling the name Türkiye?

istanbultory said...

Many thanks. The law on insulting Turkishness is an amazing piece of legislation. Section 301 of Turkey's penal code makes "insulting Turkishness, the Republic or the National Assembly" punishable by a prison sentence of between six months and three years. But the sentence increases threefold when the offense is committed abroad!! I can’t think of a parallel situation in any other country of the world.

The collapse of the Otoman Empire in 1919 and its replacement by a modernising and western-oriented state under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was always going to be contested by Islamists and the Kurds. So the Turkish state, which was effectively a one-party state from 1920-1952 and later ruled by a series of military governments developed a whole raft of legal constraints to keep any potential opposition at bay. For the past several years, Turkey's past and present has been discussed more openly and than ever before. But this also has produced a growing conflict between reformist forces and the rest of society.