By Ali h. Aslan
The first Turkish novel, ?Akabi Story? was written by Armenian Vartan Pasha in the middle of the 19th century and printed in the Armenian alphabet. What an interesting manifestation of fate is that the first Nobel Prize for Turkish literature has an Armenian element as well. Our successful novelist Orhan Pamuk, who was subjected to national anger after referring to events experienced by Anatolian Armenians during World War I in a way different than the ?official history? rhetoric, received this prestigious award.
Carefully followed by the world?s elite, the Nobel Prize?s presentation to a Turk should normally be expected to make a positive impact on
There are many who tie the Nobel committee?s choice to political reasons. We are also angry with the latest efforts of the French parliament to outlaw views that deny the so-called Armenian genocide with complete disregard to freedom of expression. However, it is obvious that we have not been able to overcome the vengeful Armenians. They increasingly gather the world intelligentsia behind them and deal defeat after defeat to
As a grandchild of the Ottomans, who treated minorities in a much more civilized way than its contemporaries did, I get upset when controversial aspects of our history are highlighted in the West. On the other hand, I believe that our neglect has also played a big role in events coming to this point, and I bemoan this.
If only we had been able to take reasonable precautions against the exploitation of some of our non-Muslim citizens by imperialists during the final period of the Ottomans. If only we had been able to realize our passage to the nation state model by better protecting our multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnical structure. If only we had kept
The Ottomans appointed our Armenian citizens as ambassadors to
But alas, Armenians and Greeks, whose century-old criminal records we haven?t yet erased, even the Jews, whose positive image generally persisted during the Republic period, still have difficulty today in openly taking jobs in the Turkish bureaucracy. Recently an ugly campaign was carried out against Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit with the claim that he is Jewish. I don?t know if the claim is true or not. But assuming it is, why should the religious preferences and ethnic roots of our statesmen be a problem, as long as they remain loyal to this country, flag and nation?
Actually, it would be a great contribution to both our nation?s internal harmony and international status if non-Muslim and non-Turkish elements were comfortable enough to put forth their real cultural identities in every aspect of life, including bureaucracy. Those who openly say ?I?m Jew, I?m Armenian, I?m Greek, I?m Alevi, I?m Kurdish, or I?m a religious Sunni? can face serious obstacles, especially in bureaucratic careers. Hence, most of them hide their identity by survival instincts and trip up those they see as a threat. At the root of the political fights that shows our country as unstable to the world is this type of continuous quarreling. The
Our ethnic and religious differences can be turned from being our weak spot, particularly in foreign policy, into being an advantage. For example, we?re sending troops to
Source: ?Zaman Online?, 22 October 2006