Written by Dr Yiorghos Leventis*
SPECIAL ISF ANNIVERSARY FEATURE ARTICLE
The latest incident authored last Sunday (17 April 2011) in Berlin by an excessive and arrogant Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish Foreign Minister, serves as a cool reminder of the troublemaking policies of his country. Turkey, a staunch NATO ally, sporting the most formidable military machine second only to the US within the North-Atlantic alliance, may not actually be the linchpin of Eurasian security as it is often par excellance portrayed ex Washington or London cathedra.
During Berlin’s NATO Foreign Ministers’ summit, Davutoglu losing his temper showed once more his true colours. Davutoglu argued that the EU made a mistake by accepting the Republic of Cyprus (RoC) as a full member of the European club of the rich and famous. Karel Schwarzenberg, his Czech counterpart, could not tolerate Davutoglu’s flagrant interference in the EU internal affairs. The Czech Foreign Minister quietly told his audacious Turkish opposite number to mind his own business.
“Angry like a Turk”: the Perennially Angry Nation …
“Angry like a Turk”, the Balkan Christian peoples’ apothegm goes; an aphorism born out of centuries-old bitter experience of Ottoman subjugation lasting till the advent of the last century. Yet in the dawn of the twenty first century, Ahmet Davutoglu atavistically in a genuine ‘angry Turk’ – must have been bygone – fashion thundered that Ankara would never take a seat at the same table with RoC representatives. Baroness Ashton, the EU’s High Representative on Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, present at the high level meeting, did not fail to notice Davutoglu’s loose of temper. She is quoted as saying that she had never seen Davutoglu so ‘upset’ before. Incidentally, an excellent book, the latest to come out on Turkey’s politics by Kerem Oktem bears the appropriate title Angry Nation (Zed Books, London, 2011)
Indeed, Davutoglu has already amply propagated his grand design of the recreation of the Ottoman geopolitical space in which Turkey will be playing a hegemonic role for years to come. His trademark volume “Strategic Depth” (Stratejik Derinlik) in which he asserted that Turkey has become a key country, emerging from its position of serving as a forward base for NATO during the Cold War appeared on the scene in 2001.
Curiously, within the last year, Anglo-American think tanks and other western opinion leaders have been at pains to promote the current Turkish leadership as the novel world class statesmen promoting peace and tolerance both at home and globally. In separate(?) but parallel processes two leading UK and US foreign policy institutes decorated in turn the Turkish President and Foreign Minister … “Decorations merrily galore these days … How wonderful!” Burak Bekdil remarked ironically in the Turkish daily Hurriyet (30 March 2011). How much of a coincidence is this? I would add.
Desecrating Woodrow Wilson in Honour of … Ahmet Davutoglu
Let us visit the two exemplary cases. First, in North America, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the United States’ Smithsonian Institution presented the Woodrow Wilson Award for public services to Ahmet Davutoglu (June 2010, together with Ferit Sahenk, a prominent businessman). The Woodrow Wilson Center found that Turkey’s Grand Designer “has catalyzed the development of Turkey’s foreign relations, elevating its position in international discussions.”
A striking comment appears on Hurriyet’s blog: “Anyone remembers Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points? The twelfth point calls for autonomy of the minorities on the land of the former Ottoman empire. He won a Nobel Prize for his 14 points … One wonders whether this award is given to Davutoglu as a down payment for some contract job along the 12th point of Wilson. Trojan Horse anyone? anyone?” [http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=strategic-depth-vs.-arrogant-shallowness-2010-03-30]. Naturally a long list of Armenian-American and American-Hellenic organizations inundated the Smithsonian Institution with letters aimed at reminding the Governing Board of Woodrow Wilson’s principles. Their plea to rescind Davutoglu’s award thereby protecting Wilson’s true legacy went unheeded. The WWC continues down the path of overly close relationships with Turkish-affiliated corporations and lobbying organizations …
H.M. Queen of England Bows Before the … Magnanimous Abdullah Gul
While the WWC was busy decorating Davutoglu on the other side of the Atlantic, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House, London) was equally busy staging its own award ceremony bestowed upon Mr. Abdullah Gul, the Turkish President. According to the British Institute’s decision the Annual Prize (November, 2010) went to Gul in recognition of his role behind many of the positive steps that Turkey has taken in recent years and as a significant figure for reconciliation and moderation within Turkey and internationally. The downpour of prefabricated nonsense continues in the internationally circulated RIIA invitation to Mr. Gul’s award receiving ceremony: He has also made significant efforts to reunify the divided island of Cyprus and has played a leading role … in initiating a process of reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia. Mark the wording: ‘reconciliation’, ‘moderation’ and “significant efforts to reunify the divided island of Cyprus”, “reconciliation [once more!] between Turkey and Armenia”.
Do the above elegant expressions poured on Mr. Gul hold any water under serious scrutiny? Let us examine the RIIA leadership claims of Mr. Gul’s achievements one by one:
1. Turkey’s reconciliation with Armenia badly falters over the Turkish leadership’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. Incidentally, the Armenian world community comprised of extended diasporas – a 20th century widespread dispersion of the Armenian people escaping Turkish monstrosities – commemorates today (24 April) the sad anniversary of the launch of the April 1915 abominable Ottoman genocidal Armenian policy. For eight long years, the Ottoman leadership employed a premeditated policy of mass deportations, assassinations, rapes and forced conversion to Islam seeking the extinction of the Armenian presence from Asia Minor. By 1923, year of the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, virtually the entire Armenian population – numbering two million – of Anatolian Turkey had disappeared. Has not Germany acknowledged and apologized for the Jewish Holocaust? Why cannot Ankara do the same with regard to its own Armenian Holocaust? Conclusion: The Turkish leadership has yet to come to terms with its own past. The rulers in Ankara will have to meaningfully apologize by compensating the Armenian descendants for the despicable human suffering inflicted upon their ancestors. Furthermore they will have to restitute (or compensate for lost) properties along with restitution of full civil rights to the Armenian people.
2. Judging from the latest killings of Kurdish demonstrators in Diyarbakir in the country’s southeast staged in the run-up to June’s general elections, there is little room for hope in improvement of the lot of minorities in Turkey. If the Turkish deep state is treating its largest, importantly Muslim Kurdish minority – numbering around 20 million – in such a cruel way, what can next-to-extinct (leftovers of the Armenian community in Istanbul number less than sixty thousand, while the Greek Orthodox even less than three) Christian minorities expect from the Anglo-American applauded and lavishly decorated Turkish statesmen’s practices? The angry Turks cannot even a tolerate a handful of peaceful law-abiding Kurdish members in the Turkish Grand National Assembly … The ‘tolerant’ electoral approval committee has been employing all sorts of antics to get rid of the candidacies of the most moderate of Kurdish leaders in Anatolia imposing tight deadlines for submission of clear record certificates and the like on behalf of the troubled Kurdish politicians. Only after clashes erupted with the organs of the oppressive regime resulting in Kurdish blood shed in the streets of embattled Diyarbakir did the Western-praised Turkish authorities partially rescind the ban on only a few of the mild Kurdish candidates in question. And what of the Kurdish leader’s Ocalan perishing in the Turkish jails for more than ten years? Is that also an integral part of the policies of ‘reconciliation’ and ‘moderation’ worthy of Her Majesty’s London decoration?
Cyprus re-unification: euphemism for tirelessly promoting dismemberment
3. Does the continuing violation of the rights of 160,000 displaced Greek Cypriots and the 37 year-old presence of a formidable 43,000 Turkish occupation force violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus constitute ‘significant efforts to reunify the divided island of Cyprus’? I surmise that the desecration of no less than 500 churches, monasteries, chapels, cemeteries and other places of Christian Orthodox, Armenian, Maronite and Jewish worship in the island’s occupied north are dismissed by the RIIA as … insignificant incidents in the grand march towards ‘reunification’, ‘tolerance’ and ‘reconciliation’ on the island tirelessly promoted by Mr. Gul. The decorated Turkish statesman’s ‘noble re-unification aim’ seeks to enchain the island eternally to Turkish military guarantees and ‘unilateral right of intervention’ in both future constituent vassal states!
No big wonder Queen Elizabeth as the Head of the former British colonial power decorates Mr. Gul. Successive UK governments have been acting in unison with Turkey in their concerted effort to amplify and ‘legitimize’ eternally the specially protected status of their two military bases plus the big number of other surveillance facilities on Cypriot soil through a new Ankara-London-pre-fabricated-ideally-UN-rubber-stamped Cyprus comprehensive settlement plan whereby the island’s absolute Greek majority will be once more brought down to its knees emasculated from any rights gained through EU membership. That was the ‘reunification concept’ behind the Anan plan which the Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly (76%) rejected in a referendum on this very day seven years ago.
Today the dismemberment of the island in an emasculated so-called ‘United Cyprus Republic’ continues to be on the Anglo-Turkish agenda. As long as the Republic of Cyprus holds its ground asserting its rights as an equal partner in European security structures such designs will not come to fruition.
In all probability, Ankara will continue making trouble by vetoing EU-NATO co-operation meetings where Cyprus is entitled to its rightful seat on the table. As it didwo years ago by stubbornly vetoing the election of NATO’s Danish Secretary General. The bitter dispute over religion and liberty in April 2009 risked turning the western military alliance into the hostage of Turkey.
In the European calendar April is the month of spring when peoples’ hearts blossom reaching out to construct bridges of tolerance and co-operation. In sharp contrast, as the unfailing historical record shows in the Turkish calendar of almost century (1915-2011) April turns out to be the month of anger, bigotry and intolerance.
Is it not high time that Europe and the Western alliance calmed down the angry and intolerant Turks by shifting attention to other secure pillars of Eurasian security? That is the question …
* Dr Yiorghos Leventis is the International Security Forum Director. This special feature article marks the second anniversary of ISF.
Lecturerin British History and Literature, Ionian University
written by Dr. William Mallinson, May 05, 2011
Unfortunately for Davotuglu and the more simplistic-minded part of the Osmanli and Selchuk deep state, Levendis’ analysis is spot-on, even if undestandably hard.Like so many IR theorists(he is not a historian), Davutoglu has been auto-lobotomised into the rigid yet lazy preudo-conceptual prisons of Anglo-Saxon IR theory, thus emulating the Metternich-obsessed minor academic Kissinger, to whose so-called ‘realist school’ he clearly belongs. There is nothing original in anything he writes, merely imitations. If we add to this Turkey’s identity crisis, inferiority complex (as pointed out by a former British Ambassador to Turkey, and mix it in with Britain’s manic support for Turkish entry to the EU (carrying out the US’s orders), to further weaken ant future Common Foreign and Security Policy, then Levendis’ article makes sense.
written by guido Lenzi, May 11, 2011
An Uruguayan poet (of all people!) appropriately observed that “just when we thought we had all the answers, the questions changed”. Turkey’s 360 degree foreign policy inaugurated by Foreign Minister Davutoglu is mean to restore greater international influence to a great nation.It implie however a very difficult juggling act, in the presently shifting sub-regional and global situations. Turkey’s NATO obligations are no more what they were; on the other hand, its aspiration to EU membership seem to run counter to the freedom of action in foreign policy tha Ankara pursues; its relations with its neighbours in the Black Sea have a stop-and-go pattern. Relations with Armenia, as much as the Cyprus issue, remain thorns in its side that need to be removed to restore Turkey’s credibility as an international actor on its own terms rather than the faithful Atlantic ally and patient EU candidate it has successfully been in these post-war years. In the meantime, contradictions are bound to appear and contradictory signals sent. While the international community attentively watches and waits. The upcoming national elections may contribute to lifting the fog.
President, International Strategic Studies Association
written by Gregory Copley, May 13, 2011
Why does the writer persist in his comment that “HM the Queen” of the United Kingdom was decorating Gul? If a Greek café owner gives me a free cup of (Turkish?) coffee, I do not say that I have been decorated and rewarded by the President of the Hellenic Republic. It is this kind of gratuitous commentary which casts a shadow over otherwise credible analysis. I agree that the RIIA recognition of Gul was equally gratuitous and shocking in many respects, but for Dr Leventis to make this an act of all British peoples is ludicrous.
written by Dr. Yiorghos Leventis, May 14, 2011
Mr. Gregory Copley: Sir, many thanks for your interesting comment. I do not for one moment believe that the British public en masse approve and decorate Ankara’s foreign & domestic policy choices (Armenia, Cyprus, Kurdistan – in alphabetical order). To claim that such a conclusion is coming out of this article is misleading. It would be partially (at least) misreading this analysis. On the contrary, it is argued explicitly in my anniversary article that the RIIA – and by extension its decorating agent, the RIIA’s patron ‘H.M. the Queen’ – are grossly misleading the British public with misinformation about Mr. Gul’s domestic and foreign policy choices obfuscating all three above mentioned core issues. The gratuitous – I couldn’t agree more – decoration of Mr Gul by the Head of the UK state does not serve the goals which the RIIA advocates. It no doubt adds insult to the enduring injury suffered by the Armenians, Cypriots (Greek & Turkish), Kurds and other historic minorities oppressed for decades by unaltered heavy-handed Turkish policies. By the way, I recommend listening to Kerem Oktem (Oxford University) ECFR website podcast interview on the Kurdish issue prior to next month’s Turkish general elections. On the whole, thanks for acknowledging the credibility of my analysis.
written by Andreas Evriviades Louca, May 16, 2011
Despite the desperate attempts of the international community (mainly the U.S.A, UK and their allies) to present Turkey to the world as a “lynchpin”, the real image of a country possessing a mentality stemming from past centuries still manages to escape. The seemingly endless violation of human rights in its own territory against the Kurds-Armenians-Alevi, the illegal occupation of 36% of Cyprus’s territory since 1974 as well the reluctance to acknowledge the legality of the Republic of Cyprus are just some of the acts committed by Turkey during the last decades.
Schwarzenberg’s reaction to Davutoglu’s arrogance was short lived it must be noted, shortly after his response towards the minister of foreign affairs of Turkey he reluctantly apologised and attempted to portray the event as a “misunderstanding’’. Nothing more and nothing less than the usual European tactic of protecting Turkey’s disintegrating image, a mirror of the fear stemming from the leaders of the European countries faced with Turkey’s military strength and powerful political ties with the western allies.
Without opposition it is not a surprise that Turkey resembles a spoiled child, only capable of asking for more political “presents” without considerable effort to evolve into something that even vaguely resembles a democratic state. Turkey’s attempt to balance itself between the Islamic world of the Middle East as the leading force representing its interests and Europe as a member of the E.U and eventually becoming its leader is completely understandable. Davutoglu openly admitted through his book “Strategic Depth” that Turkey’s goal is to eventually revive the Ottoman Empire, which spread a reign of terror across the Balkans in past centuries. Had such a plan been so crudely presented in public by another leader, the international community would have branded him a dangerous madman, in Turkey’s case however the European leaders remain silent.
Perhaps here we can trace the roots of Davutoglu’s anger, when the powerful entities of the world remain motionless while Turkey acts in such an oppressive way, the reaction of a smaller country such as Cyprus along with the economically devastated Greece (which renders the country almost politically powerless) seems unfathomable. Especially if we take into account that both countries are allies of the U.S.A/UK and have been the recipient of massive pressure from them in regarding matters of Greco-Turk relations. Especially on the people of Cyprus regarding the acceptance of a new plan to reunify Cyprus, based on the pro-Turkish plan that failed to win the people acceptance during the referendum of 2004 resulting in a humiliating loss for the former general secretary of the United Nations Kofi Atta Annan.
The failed and seriously flawed tactic of trying to appease Turkey despite its expansive ambitions (known as the tactic of the “Good Child” in Greece and Cyprus) is currently being adopted by the rest of the members of the European zone. Undoubtedly Turkey knows that there is a strategic gap between Eastern Europe and the Middle East that needs to be filled by a powerful country. The only way that Cyprus can deter this scenario is through the enlightenment of the European people regarding the violation of human rights caused by the Turkish invasion as well as the conditions in which minorities in Turkey are forced to live by. Definitely the usage of experienced analysts and political scientists will be a step in the right direction, lest we forget that most of the people of Europe are either ignorant of these issues or are seriously misinformed.
written by Athanasios Fragkis, July 13, 2011
Dr. Leventis hit the nail on the head by referring to the Turkish war machine as second only to that of the US within NATO. The button of power and influence is due to change hands from a US/uk possession, to Chino-Indian, with Iran in between making waves. Add the problem areas of Iran and Afghanistan, the recent developments elsewhere in the Arab world and the volatility of the Palestinian problem, and there you have it. Turkey has become vital to their existence. With importance like this, don’t be surprised if Gul, Davutoglu or in deed any Turkish politician、 is decorated by the Pope for services to Christianity.
written by Oksana Oleynik, July 19, 2011
I have carefully read your article ‘angry turkey’. This is a serious research on important policy issues. I think I have no full knowledge on the subject and therefore can not comment on the facts objectively. I can only talk in the eye of a man in the street. Besides I have a negative attitude to Turkey because I do not accept the religion of Islam and the barbaric methods of the Turkish on foreign policy, towards to Christianity, as far as it goes to suffering of people. I also have a negative attitude towards a Turkey’s policy to expand the boundaries of Turkey by taking a part of the island of Cyprus, and an unwillingness to solve the problem by civilized way and to preserve the integrity of Cyprus. Similarly, I have a negative attitude to the collapse of the Soviet Union because of which have been lost economic, cultural and other ties. Due to the fact that the collapse of the Soviet Union has been lost the power of country, and Russia and the breakaway states went far behind in there development.
I am not a politician – I am a lawyer and can only give a legal assessment of some concrete facts, I can not understand and accept the genocide in all its manifestations. I condemn the emotional expansiveness of political figures in their comments, because I think it’s unprofessional.
I hope a solution will be found.
Ph.D, Professor, University of Belgrade
written by Darko Tanaskovic, August 01, 2011
Timely written, acute and intelligent analysis not only of the specific statement by Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs but also typologically highly relevant contribution towards understanding of the characteristic behavioral pattern of Turkish officials in general. Their presumed right of being always angry for something is amazing indeed. But be aware, sometimes, actually quite often it’s a premeditated and successful tactical move in order to achieve their political gains, which otherwise wouldn’t be logically possible.This text could be extremely useful for all those who happen to diplomatically deal with nowadays Turks.
written by Slobodan Jankovic, September 15, 2011
This article and some of discussion it has provoked turn to be quite precipitable. First it points to British unchanged policy in the Mediterranrean, and discovers that there are also people in Western academic circles who see that the Anglo-american IR theories are quite restrictive and lobotomising.
Latest article on Turkey in New York Review of Books (august2011), by Kinzer, mentions “Erdogan is often angry”. Was Kinzer inspired by dr Leventis? 🙂
The trend of Turkey deviating from the path without an end (endless EU integration) and British security and other policies being crafted outside the EU framework puts in question the issue of the EU future and in particular the destiny of the Balkans and its ambitious Anatolian neighbour.
written by moncler sale, October 12, 2011
Great input, thanks for all the interesting opinions, etc. Hopefully the site will attract more people.
A really good analysis
written by Christos Alexandrou, October 17, 2011
A Turkey its a strange and broplimatic state. The article of Dr Leventis is one ofe the most importan that I have read the last year.