Eric Edelman

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U.S. Ambassador to Turkey.

Classified report

In a classified report to the State Department, the Ambassador makes clear reference to Turkey's need to face its genocidal past and calls historiography there a joke, even including a Soviet joke to illustrate his point.


The study of history in Turkey is subject to “to rigid taboos, denial, fears, and mandatory gross distortions,” noting that without facing its past, Turkey cannot take on the challenge of becoming an EU member. “Until Turkey can reconcile itself to its past, including the troubling aspects of its Ottoman past, in free and open debate, how will Turkey reconcile itself to the concept and practice of reconciliation in the EU?” he says.

Edelman notes that “the study of history and practice of historiography in the Republic of Turkey remind one of an old Soviet academic joke: the faculty party chief assembles his party cadres and, warning against various ideological threats, proclaims, ‘The future is certain. It’s only that damned past that keeps changing.’”

Mentioning the AK Party’s “tentative” and meager efforts in dealing with history straightforwardly, Edelman notes that “the road ahead will require a massive overhaul of education, the introduction and acceptance of rule of law, and a fundamental redefinition of the relation between citizen and state.”

Read full and uncensored report