BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
The year is ending, so why not end it laughing?
A friend sent an article, “Must Turkey always stand alone in the world?” from a leading Turkish newspaper, “Hurriyet” (which, with Turkey’s treatment of journalists, laughably means freedom).
Its author, N. Murat Ersavcı, a diplomat with 41 years of service under his belt, bemoans many Turks’ sense of standing alone despite 60 years of membership in NATO. He cites examples, some of which I’ll address, but conveniently “forgets” the REAL reasons creating the situations he complains. Those are usually Turkey’s failings, faults, or faux pas.
The European Union’s decision to reject Turkey’s application for full membership seems to have struck Mr. Ersavcı particularly hard, since he gives it extensive attention. Laugh. Yet, he never mentions it was because of Turkey’s policies, behavior, and even (in part) Genocide denialism.
He seems to expect everyone to consider that “Turkey is a big country … and it lies not at the heart of one region but at the edge of several different regions … and so it has several different agendas and perhaps cross-cutting interests.” Laugh. Yet somehow this seasoned diplomat doesn’t see that those agendas and interests are all intrusive, disruptive, and often lethal. Could that be why Turkey is not given the type of consideration Mr. Ersavci would like to see?
The strangest assertion he makes is that “some … neighbors yearn to exclude … [Turkey] and its citizens from the international community, a would-be blockade, and conduct a constant low-level campaign to this effect.” Laugh. I wish Mr. Ersavci would name these horrible neighbors. The only blockade in the area, of any sort (other than those involving Israel), I’m aware of is that of the Republic of Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan.
He also harks back a little farther to “the 1975 U.S. arms embargo against Turkey … triggered by ethnic lobbies within Congress after Turkey intervened in Cyprus”. Laugh. While it’s true that Turkey used Greek interference in Cyprus as an excuse, does Mr. Ersavci think that anyone believes Ankara wasn’t thrilled by the opportunity to reclaim that which had been wrested by Great Britain from the Ottoman Empire back in 1878 in exchange for support against Russia to which it had just lost a war? Plus, it’s not like the Greeks landed thousands of troops on the island, followed by tens of thousands of Turkish settlers, beginning an occupation that continues even today. The malign intent of Turkey’s actions in 1974 are confirmed by the fact that Ankara is now implementing the same pattern of demographic reconfiguration in Rojava/Northern Syria.
While we’re on a Hellenic theme, let’s parse this gem from his piece: “… Greece, for which any estrangement of Turkey from the Western world is unhealthy in the long term.” Laugh. Does anyone not perceive the implicit threat Mr. Ersavci makes against a neighboring country?
He writes, “I could not help thinking of these unhappy precedents … when … the U.S. Congress … decided to recognize the hardline Armenian claims against Turkey … which pleases a bloc of U.S. ethnic voters but has no relevance to the present-day issues whatsoever. The resolution was part of an ethnic agenda by a particular community, but … will cause damage in the real world of today’s politics and economics.” Laugh. Of course no “oh we poor, long suffering, misunderstood Turks” piece would be complete without a reference to Ankara’s favorite bogeyman – the Armenians! Mr. Ersavci does not disappoint on this front.
He is depressed by “international… and American reaction particularly … to ‘Operation Spring of Peace’ [invading Syria – GY]” since “coverage outside the country is largely unfavorable … and much of the vocabulary … is implicitly hostile and misleading [and] conceals … truths about PKK terrorists …” Laugh. Mr. Ersavci, perhaps because he has seen so much over his long career, somehow omits the fact that the Kurds his country is now savaging are not members of the PKK (even if they are ideologically aligned) and they are simply fighting for their rights.
All this and more lead back to his apparent core concern, ensuring “Turkey’s engagement and dialogue with the EU and others deepens. The alternative – a policy of trying to live with a breakdown in international dialogue – could … produce only more international crises.” Laugh. I hope Mr. Ersavci won’t deem me presumptuous if I give him and Turkey a few suggestions.
First, address the above errors, then consider ceasing actions (among many others) such as:
- Shooting down a Russian plane
- Planning to invade Armenia, twice (from Greek ambassador’s memoirs and 2019 leak)
- Violating Greece’s Aegean Sea airspace frequently and ongoingly
- Inciting Moslems/Turks in Bulgaria against their government (1980s)
- Maintaining jails that inspire films such as “Midnight Express”
- Butting in to the politics of nearby countries – Egypt, Libya, and the most extreme case of Syria
- Turning on your closest regional ally, i.e. Israel
- Cease denying the multiple genocides committed by Turkish governments
You get the idea, right Mr. Ersavci? Act decently, and Turks will no longer have to “feel alone”!
Let’s all thank Mr. Ersavci for the laughter and opportunity to assist our “poor-always-maligned-neighbor”, Turkey, in finding its way into the good graces of the international community.