Leaders Try to Keep Country Afloat As Turkey Sinks into More Turmoil

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Leaders Try to Keep Country Afloat As Turkey Sinks into More Turmoil

By Harut Sassounian

Publisher, The California Courier

The Turkish State is sinking into more turmoil with every passing day. Several members of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party have resigned from their parliamentary seats in recent weeks. The Party has been accused of corruption and receiving funds from suspicious sources overseas. The press, feeling somewhat shielded by the European Union, is more brazenly exposing the scandals associated with the government and is using harsher tones in criticizing the Prime Minister's shortcomings. In the midst of all this internal turmoil, the government is trying to overcome the many obstacles facing its quest for membership in the European Union, while nervously attempting to quell the Armenian demands on the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Turkish newspapers have published literally hundreds of articles on the Armenian Genocide in the past couple of weeks alone. This has become such a burning issue within Turkey that judging from the volume of ink on this subject, one would think that the genocide had just taken place, rather than a century ago. Turkish officials are getting more and more apprehensive as April 24 is approaching. The EU is further squeezing the Turks by demanding that they face their bloody past and improve their present legal system and behavior.

Here is a sample of the issues covered by the Turkish media in the past few days:

The Turkish Ministry of Ecology and Forestry announced that it has decided to delete the words "Kurdish" and "Armenian" from the names of the "Kurdish fox" and the "Armenian sheep." The Ministry said that the names of these animals were threatening the unity of the Turkish State! It is amazing that a country with the second largest army in NATO is feeling threatened by a couple of animal names. What's next? Are the Turks going to change the names of some food items fearing that they may endanger Turkey's national security? There must be an enemy lurking behind every bush! There was a worldwide outcry at the televised scenes of the Turkish police brutally beating the female demonstrators participating in a protest march during the International Women's Day in Istanbul earlier this month. European officials said they were shocked by these scenes of excessive use of force. Instead of chastising the police, the Prime Minister criticized the women in the march and blamed the Turkish media for reporting the beatings. One Turkish newspaper said in a banner headline, "joining Europe will be tough with this mentality." The European Parliament promptly passed a resolution stating that it "strongly condemns the police brutality in Istanbul" and asked the EU to conduct an investigation. Some EU officials questioned the readiness of Turkey to start negotiations for joining the European Union.

Prominent Turkish commentator Semih Idiz wrote that the Turkish government had not even implemented the Hatti Himayun reforms it had proclaimed in 1839, let alone those being adopted nowadays to comply with the EU requirements. Going even further, Idiz said that the Young Turk revolution of 1908, "hailed by Turks, Armenians and Greeks alike," deteriorated into "a modern-day ultra-nationalist tyranny under which all of these peoples of the empire suffered greatly and without exception." Last week, Prime Minister Erdogan and the leader of the main opposition party, at a joint press conference, called for Turkish and Armenian historians to study the "events of 1915." This is yet another clever ploy by the Turkish side - similar to TARC. This suggestion would kill three birds with one stone: it would distract the attention of the public away from domestic turmoil, appease the EU, and undermine the Armenian demands on the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Many non-Armenians along with some Armenians mistook the Turkish announcement as a gesture of goodwill, hoping that the "historians" would prove the facts of the genocide to the Turks, leading to a long sought out recognition.

Fortunately, Armenia's Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, having learned from the lessons of TARC, did not fall for this Turkish trick. He immediately dismissed this suggestion. "The historians have already said their piece and it is now up to Turkey to determine its attitude," he said. "It is not a question for historians. They have already done their work.... But since Turkey denies this, this has become a political issue and so needs a political solution," Oskanian said.

The Armenian Genocide is an established historical fact. It is an insult for any Armenian to be asked to prove it. The Turkish leaders know full well the extent of the crimes committed by their ancestors. They just don't want to admit their country's criminal past. If the Turks are sincere about wanting to study what happened in 1915, they had 90 years to do it. The whole world knows what happened in 1915. We do not need any more investigations. There is no doubt about the Turkish guilt. The only thing that remains to be discussed is the appropriate penalty for having committed genocide!