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December 23, 2011, Friday

‘Turkish Sarkozys’ versus ‘Sarkozyland’ ex parte Armenians

I find Turkey’s reaction to “Sarkozyland’s” genocide bill needlessly exaggerated. Both

the Turkish media and opposition are trying to benefit from the process. At the end of the day, the bill is not a definitive scientific verdict on the issue, and everyone can see that France is not working on the moral high ground but for shameless domestic and international political gain. Who takes Sarkozyland seriously and why should we?

The government should not elevate the tension in the country and should not aggravate the feelings of its citizens by overreacting to the incident. Most importantly, Turkey should not blackmail France by claiming she will do certain actions if she will not be able to impose them. This could indeed undermine the credibility and prestige of the country.

Saying this does not mean that France should not be punished. What I am saying is that the government should work on carefully drafted, effective plans that will work and harm France in the long run. Otherwise, only resorting to emotions and reminding Turks how great their grandfathers were are not effective tools against France. France and Germany have been trying to distance Turkey from the EU process and our reactions and actions should play into their hands. In this regard, it has been wise to base our arguments on the basis of freedom of speech. This message should directly be communicated to the French people and intelligentsia and in order to be effective, we should not look like cowboys and rough hooligans. Some ministers who think they are making very clever jokes should revisit their domestic consumption-focused attitude. Talking about freedom of speech to gain the moral high ground on this issue, the government must as soon as possible annul the notorious Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) that criminalizes the “insults to Turkishness” that killed Hrant Dink.

I do not find reminding France now of its own massacres in Africa ethical. If Turkey had a problem with these very obvious crimes against humanity, then she had to tackle them in a sophisticated manner even when we had good relations with France. Remembering these atrocities and bloody massacres that terminated millions only when we have a problem with France simply reduces Turkey to Sarkozyland’s moral nadir. France should not be our teacher in this dirty political game that tries to gain advantages from other people’s sorrow and pain. I would urge our state to make plans on the issue for the long run and educate experts, scholars and academics who would study these alleged crimes against humanity all over the world, including Turkey. Nevertheless, I know very well that after a few weeks an enthusiastic, emotional anti-French festive season, we will all return to our myopic daily lives and wake up in April again when another bill approaches the US Congress. We deserve our politicians.

A more robust strategy to tackle Sarkozy-type politicians so that they will not gain an advantage from the Armenian issues includes our normalization vis-à-vis 1915. Even the official Turkish version accepts that several hundred thousand Armenians were either massacred or died because of the terrible conditions during their forced deportation. Whatever the cause of the decision to deport these people was, in the final analysis, it was the state’s primary duty to protect these innocent civilians against whom there was not any court verdict. Turkey has to apologize at least for its inability to protect them. Then, it must invite Armenians abroad to come and get their inheritance in Turkey. Thirdly, Turkey must erect some monuments and build museums for these massacred, great people who had lived in these lands for thousands of years but faced extinction because of some secular-nationalist Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) dictators’ faulty, to say the least, decisions and actions.

These are primarily our moral duties that we must fulfill even if there is not one Sarkozy on Earth.

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