Although 85 years have passed since its establishment, it is still full of fears.
We fear the cemevis of Alevis, the mother tongue of Kurds, the headscarves of pious Muslim women, the Orthodox Greek seminary school on Heybeliada island and the Akhtamar of Armenians.
This republic even fears its founding father.
We fear that if the theological school on the island of Heybeliada is opened, İstanbul will become the Vatican. We renovate the historical Akhtamar church, but we don't allow a cross to be placed on top of it. Will this mean that we confess that those lands had once belonged to Armenians? Headscarves will bring Shariah; Kurdish language, separation; and cemevis, our brand of secularism that preaches full state control over religion.
Last week, these fears were on parade in Brussels. Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül's unfortunate remarks were followed by Armenian and Dersim conferences. The spine-chilling words of the supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who denoted Dersim as genocide and Tunceli as "occupied territories" prompted me to ask myself whether Gönül made that remark because of these people or whether these people adopt such a destructive or provocative style because of Gönül.
Other questions poured in. Why did Gönül choose Brussels to make those unfortunate remarks? Was he acting as "the minister of his prime minister," who had uttered harsh remarks about the Kurdish issue? If Gönül still does not regret his remarks, should we conclude that the government, which is expected to make Turkey a member of the EU, has adopted the "Gönül" line as the country's perspective?
Ninety-three years after the 1915 incidents and 85 years after 1923, should the representatives of this government, which takes pride in the 600-year-old Ottoman heritage, say, in the style of Bahattin Şakir, "We did right in cleansing our minorities," or should they say, "If only we could build a new nation without sending them off"? When Australia and Canada expressed their regret for killing aborigines -- and even France is hinting at doing the same for Algeria -- we hear a minister from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) express satisfaction, not regret. Should we regard this as an indication of the government's surrender to Ankara?
On the same day, representatives of the Armenian Heritage and Dersim Genocide conferences were saying that they have been wronged by Turkey. But there was an important difference. The participants in the Dersim conference apparently did not mind solving the problem or producing positive language or explaining the historical truths to the Turkish nation; the entire conference took place within a frightening provocation plan.
On the other hand, Nicholas Tatvian, the Brussels representative of the Armenian Foundation, which organized the Armenian conference, tried not to use the word "genocide" in his opening speech, though he heartily believes in it.
President Abdullah Gül's visit to Armenia astonished the Armenian diaspora. Well-known Armenian figures in Europe acknowledge that when Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan invited Gül, he never thought he would accept this invitation. He was planning to corner Turkey in the international arena, but Gül's visit disrupted his strategy and in the end, he regretted that Turkey became the winning part in this visit.
Even pro-genocide Armenian organizations are wondering if Gül's visit will bring another initiative with a different language. On the other hand, the AK Party government, which we expect to be reformist, is reverting to old and outdated discourse.