Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has slammed French leaders throughout history for “arriving at where they are today” through the pain and sorrow of others, while he sent a veiled message to Armenians that every pain is worthy of respect, as long as it is mutual.
“Do not engage in imperialist plans over the pain of others,” Davutoğlu said to ex-colonizers, particularly France, as he spoke in Edirne at a conference titled “From Balkan War to Balkan Peace,” marking the hundredth anniversary of the Balkan Wars. Davutoğlu recalled the events of 1915, saying that 1915 was the year Turks waged a battle on multiple fronts against a large number of Western opponents and that Gallipoli was one of the most profound of those fronts where Turkey lost 250,000. “You did not suffer in 1915; the ones that suffered were those 250,000 martyrs in Gallipoli,” Davutoğlu unleashed at France for judging the events of 1915 from a one-sided perspective that favored one side of history for “political benefits.” Addressing the French leader, Davutoğlu noted that France became what it is today “by making others suffer,” and now “they are trying to build history from the pain of others.”
Also calling on the Armenians, Davutoğlu repeated that all Armenians were neighbors to Turks and have shared the same lands, and Turks respect Armenians. “We share their pain if they respect our pain too,” Davutoğlu urged Armenia, noting one more time that “a fair memory” would be the solution to the controversy surrounding the events of 1915 when large numbers of Armenians, estimated at somewhere between hundreds of thousands to more than a million, were killed by Ottoman Turks as they were sent away from their homelands to calm an armed uprising, according to Turkish records. Davutoğlu also noted that at the time of the Zurich protocols signed between Turkey and Armenia, he had prepared a speech calling on Armenia to contribute to “a collective consciousness.” At the time of the Swiss and US brokered ice-breaker deal, speeches to be delivered by both sides were cancelled, and although the protocols were signed, they have not been ratified by either parliament so far.
With regards to the hundredth year of the Balkan Wars, Davutoğlu also announced “a peace manifesto,” which would enable the Balkans to enjoy peace after many years of pain and suffering in the region. He called for a mutual vision among Balkan countries, as he said that prejudice and keeping enmities alive would continue to harm the entire region. He also suggested that both the Balkans and the Middle East were remembered by their connection to bloodshed and wars, “as if it is the responsibility of the people of the region,” and recalled that none of the wars in either region was started by the will of the people who live there. “There has been a bad parenthesis [a pause in peace] imbedded within the 20th century in the Balkans; now we want to close it,” he said with reference to the peaceful history of the Balkans, disrupted only for a century by the intervention of foreign forces.
The foreign minister also bitterly touched on the EU, saying that the bloc still hesitates on visa waivers, saying that the Balkan neighbor cities now considered within the EU cannot be separated from the Turkish ones across the border. “This wall will not hold, it will collapse,” Davutoğlu said, referring to the borders of the EU that are closed to Turkey since the country is not a member. Turkey has been negotiating for years for membership, and it is the only member candidate that does not benefit from a visa waiver that other candidate countries enjoy with the EU.
The foreign minister also drew a comparison between Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern day Turkey, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, saying that one leader excelled beyond the pain and the other fed on the pain of others and kept it alive for the sake of its benefit. He voiced the possibility that Turks could have held on to their pain suffered on the Western front and held Greeks as eternal enemies, but they rather held a hand out to the Greeks and made their peace. On the Western front, Greek forces, one of the Allies during World War I, waged a war against Turks to break through the Western front to penetrate İstanbul under the command of the British forces. Around the same time, ANZAC forces -- mainly Australian and New Zealand -- landed at Gallipoli, but Turks were able to defend the Western front. The Turkish victory fostered the country's self-confidence and enabled the establishment of modern day Turkey, but the country was nevertheless defeated along with the Central Powers, led by Germany.