“Nationalist First, Islamist Second: The Armenian Issue Shows the Limits of the Erdogan Government,” by Firat Demir

“Nationalist First, Islamist Second: The Armenian Issue Shows the Limits of the Erdogan Government,”
by Firat Demir
for Syria Comment, March 23, 2010

The Armenian issue (together with the Kurdish problem) continues to trouble the Erdogan government. In a recent series of speeches, PM Erdogan once again proved that he is not a safe bet for those who want a full fledged democracy in Turkey.

The Erdogan government appears to be tilting towards extreme nationalism, a troubling tendency which has plagued the country for more than a century. Whether Erdogan’s intolerant nationalism is part of his underlying nature or a temporary populist ploy to gain votes in the approaching national elections is of less importance than the fact that his government has started making the same mistakes as did his predecessors.

Turkish PM threatens to expel 100,000 Armenians over genocide vote
Adam Gabbatt and agencies, guardian.co.uk, Thursday 18 March 2010 14.52 GMT

Turkey’s prime minister has threatened to expel 100,000 Armenian immigrants after the US and Sweden agreed to describe first world war killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.

Turkey threatens to expel 100,000 Armenians
Story from BBC NEWS, Published: 2010/03/17 17:39:36 GMT

Turkey’s prime minister has threatened to deport 100,000 Armenian migrants, amid renewed tensions over Turkish mass killings of Armenians in World War I.

Recent resolutions in the US and Sweden have called the killings “genocide”.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the BBC that of 170,000 Armenians living in Turkey “70,000 are Turkish citizens”.

“We are turning a blind eye to the remaining 100,000… Tomorrow, I may tell these 100,000 to go back to their country, if it becomes necessary.”

Thousands of Armenians, many of them women, work illegally in Turkey. Most do low-skilled jobs such as cleaning.

The Prime Minister who is the lawyer of the Committee of Union and Progress

Taraf, 20.03.2010

The Prime Minister criticized Cengiz Candar (of Radikal newspaper) who asked for a public apology for the PM’s earlier deportation threats to Armenian illegal immigrant workers [translation by Firat Demir]:

“These claims [of Armenian Jenocide] are baseless and cannot stain our history…I am calling on those journalists and others who try to give us humanity lessons: Be Turkey’s and the Turkish Nation’s lawyer first. … I am calling on those who advice me to apologize: We know who to apologize very well. Whose lawyer are you?”

The Prime Minister

Ahmet Altan, Taraf, 20.03.2010 [translation by Firat Demir]

There is a very rude and impolite question sentence that Tayyip Erdogan uses when he gets angry with the criticism of  journalists.

“Who are you?”

He gives the impression that he thinks that only he has the right to ask this question in such a tone.

I think he doesn’t consider the possibility that the same question might be asked of himself as well.

“Alright, who are you?”

Which of the crowded Erdogan portraits that we sometimes approve with admiration, and sometimes criticize with surprise corresponds to the real Erdogan?

Is the Erdogan who follows the “zero problem with neighbors”  policy and who is creative and bright and is respected by the world You?

Or, are you the unreliable politician who first signed the protocols with the Armenians and then withdrew them?

Are you the brave leader who initiated the Kurdish opening?

Or, are you the scared, timid man who reversed his course and could not continue the [Kurdish] opening as soon as he saw the events following the Habur incidence?

Are you the tolerant Muslim who says that “we love the created because of the creator” and who embraces every race, faith and tribe?

Or, are you the nationalist who threatens the poor Armenian woman who works for 400 liras [$265] in Istanbul with deportation, and who forgets the Prophet Mohammed’s farewell speech as soon as his Armenian policies hit road blocks?

Are you the brave law loving leader who started the Ergenokon trial and went after the gangs within the state?

Or, are you the gang-loving politician who attempts to be the lawyer of the “Committee of Union and Progress” gang, same as Deniz Baykal who said that he is the lawyer of Ergenokon?


Are you the great leader who resisted and did not waiver in the face of coup attempts?

Or, are you the coup-lover who defends and excuses the murders of the Committee of Union and Progress junta?

Are you the intellectual who had the courage and history knowledge to call Dersim [incidence] a massacre?

Or, are you the history-ignorant one who defends the murders that the Committee of Union and Progress committed together with the German army, claiming that “Muslims don’t commit Genocide”?

Who are you?

Comments (8)

qunfuz said:

There’s no doubt that Erdogan’s Armenian comments were ugly. I’m not sure, however, that any other Turkish party or prime minister would do better. This was a kneejerk response to the vote in the US congress, which itself was a sign of the machinations of the Israel lobby. When Turkey was an Israeli ally, the lobby protected Turkey in Congress. This time it encouraged Congressmen to vote against Turkey. Erdogan’s record on relations with Armenia had been better than any previous Turkish regime. Until this.

Of course, Turkey would be in a stronger position if it accepted that what happened was a genocide, apologised for it, and paid some compensation. It can claim accurately that these terrible events took place before the founding of the modern Turkish republic. But Turkey still finds this difficult to do for cultural and political reasons. My advice to my Turkish brothers and friends is to get over it and move on. The region needs a Turkey with as few hang-ups as possible.

My summation of recent challenges to Israel – http://qunfuz.com/2010/03/23/a-process-of-change/

March 23rd, 2010, 7:51 pm


idaf said:

Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan is currently on a 3 day state visit to Syria, invited by president Asad. He’s been quite vocal about Turkey. One would think that embarrassing Syria with Turkey in Der ezZor is not the most diplomatic act. Here’s a direct quote of a speech of the Armenian president speaking in Der ez-Zor today:

“Quite often historians and journalists soundly compare Deir ez Zor with Auschwitz saying that “Deir ez Zor is the Auschwitz of the Armenians. I think that the chronology forces us to formulate the facts in a reverse way: “Auschwitz is the Deir ez Zor of the Jews”. Only a generation later the humanity witnessed the Deir ez Zor of the Jews. Today, as the President of the Republic of Armenia, the homeland of all Armenians, I am here to ask: “Where and when will be held our Nuremberg?”


March 24th, 2010, 4:52 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

The crusaders killed miliion musslem,France killed million algerian.have they appologized yet.NO
right now Israel is killing many many many palastinians,and they are still killing, USA has killed over 1.5 million Iraqi and still killing.
None is justified,but this is the world we are living in.You can not pick and choose.

March 24th, 2010, 6:14 pm


almasri said:

He should apologize for armenian treason against turkey and armenians killing turks.
May be turkey will then consider reciprocation and matter closed.

March 24th, 2010, 7:16 pm


jad said:

What a limited understanding of history you have Masri, get a brain for change.
Along with your bad attitude, your poor manners and your close minded, you are taking sides in a matter that is not related to you in anyway, similar to what some short sighted ignorant Arabs do when it comes to Nazi Germany and denying the Holocaust.

How about you ask your Egyptian government to apologize for letting the killing of Egyptian Copts to continue unstopped or for treating them like 3rd class citizens for the last 60 years, or to apologize for letting many radical Ulama’ to spread the hate messages against the minorities, before you jump in and take the side of the Ottomans 100 years ago matter, it’s Turkey’s problem not yours.

“apologize for armenian treason against turkey”
Using your smart logic, Syrians and Lebanese should apologize from Turkey for demanding and fighting for the freedom of Syria and Lebanon from the 400 years Ottoman occupation.

You reminded me of someone with the name of Majid, a weird, rude and defiantly close minded fellow like you who used to write similar ignorant comments, at least his comments sounded a bit smarter than yours.
I wonder if all Egyptians/Fake Egyptians are like you, I hope not.

March 24th, 2010, 9:31 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Looks like poor Bibi is having a hard time in Washington. It doesn’t look good.
Bibi is known for not preforming well when under pressure.

Well said Tribal-Jad.
The problem is that this is a blog in English. In sites in Arabic, there are many AlMasris. In fact, the AlMasris out-there are the loud majority, and not you, Tribal.

March 24th, 2010, 10:25 pm


almasri said:

I’m not going to argue with you JAD. It seems it is you who does not know anything about history.
I would have tried to find some value in your copmment. But with your attitude, it is not worth any consideration whatsoever. You might as well go into a monologue and put Turkey on trial based on your ignorance.

March 24th, 2010, 11:24 pm


almasri said:

The rich and valuable history of Ottoman Turkey,


March 25th, 2010, 8:46 pm


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