Let us take the arrival of the New Year as an opportunity for going a century back, and return step-by-step to 2013 to remember the longstanding conflicts we have been carrying on our backs without solving them since then.
1913: With the Second Balkan War the exodus of Balkan Muslims seeking refuge in Anatolia increased. 1913 was also the starting point of the state-sponsored campaign to purge non-Muslim minorities of Anatolia, launched to retaliate against the cleansing of Muslim populations in the Balkans which would later cause great sorrows and tragedies.
1923: The foundation of the Republic, a date which is unknown to many students today. For the 90th anniversary we will wait and see if politicians will rightfully question the Kemalist legacy.
1933: The year when the regime abolished the 70-year-old Darülfünun (the Ottoman university), thought to be insufficiently pro-Western and revolutionary. The founding of a new university that would act at the disposal of state regimes instead of promoting free thought.
1943: The semi-official mouthpiece of the regime, the Cumhuriyet daily, reported that 31 people who “refused” to pay the Wealth Tax, imposed in November 1942, would be sent to the Aşkale district of Erzurum. Between Jan. 27 and July 3, 1,229 non-Muslims were sent to the Aşkale concentration camp for forced labor. In the 70th anniversary of this tragedy, non-Muslims are still not regarded as full citizens.
1953: Contrary to popular belief, the conquest of İstanbul was celebrated for the first time since 1453.
1963: Turkey and the European Economic Community (EEC) signed an association agreement, meaning our relations with the EU are as old as the EU. 2023 is likely to bring up certain positive developments, but the pride held by each of the political parties impedes any progress for the time being. Still, the fate of these relations is obvious: full membership in 2023.
1963 is one of the noteworthy years in our shameful history of military coups. It was the year that witnessed the effect of the many young officers who had become active in the run-up to the coup of May 27, 1960, carried out by Talat Aydemir. Moreover, this is the anniversary of the establishment of the National Security Council (MGK), which has been largely demilitarized thanks to the government. Let’s hope the same for overall demilitarization, which is still in its infancy.
1973: The first bridge over the Bosporus was constructed this year. Although the prime minister had previously said, “A third bridge would be a crime,” we must now be prepared for the fourth one to serve car owners better.
1983: The year was characterized by last-minute endeavors by coup perpetrators before handing over administration to civilians. To foil their efforts, the Turgut Özal-led Motherland Party (ANAP) came to power and paved the way for the demilitarization process of today. Laws concerning political parties and elections which are still in force today were passed in 1983. In the wake of ANAP’s election victory, but before it moved to form its government, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) was established to complicate the Cyprus issue further. We may see new developments on this issue with the election of Nicos Anastasiades as president of the Republic of Cyprus next month.
1993: The year when mass murders and assassinations still uncovered were conducted by the “deep state,” such as the Madımak massacre, in which Alevi and leftist intellectuals were killed in a fire in the Madımak hotel in Sivas; the Başbağlar massacre, in which 33 people were brutally killed on July 5, 1993, in the village of Başbağlar in the Kemaliye district of Erzincan; and the assassination of prominent journalist Uğur Mumcu.
2003: In its first year in office, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) passed four legislative packages of reforms that sought with unprecedented resolve to ensure greater political and legal harmony with the EU’s acquis.
In March, then-KKTC President Rauf Denktaş announced that he would reject the first UN-brokered Annan Plan even before any meeting was held to discuss it, thereby paving the way for the divided island, as represented by the Republic of Cyprus, to become an EU member next year.
And it was also of the year of the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plan.