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Media Watch 2004

18 November 2004
Source: Kurdistan Observer
Author: Adil Al-Baghdadi
Comment: The following is an article of Info Turk of 7 December 2004.
The Kurds, Turkey's metamorphosis to a European state
"However, it seems that Turkey' military and civilian leaders do not realize, just like Ataturk didn't, that being a European means more than wearing a suit and a tie... And acting like one is certainly nothing to do with the fact that their country has a bit of a territory within the European continent, which in fact was an integral part of Greece ... By contrast, the present Turkey, which is a by-product of Ataturk supremacist, Kurdish-hating and jingoistic mentality still has a very long way to go to convince even its ardent supporter in Europe that it has changed, but not on the cosmetic level."

Turkey's bid and eagerness to join EU is a welcome sign that the country wants to change and shake off its not so glamorous 80 years past of either direct tyrannical military rule or intermittent military-controlled civilian governments.

The heirs of Ataturk and the despotic Ottoman rule, which fought the Europeans for centuries and stopped the flow of renaissance to reach regions within its domain - especially the Middle East - are now knocking at every European door and begging for an admission.

However, it seems that Turkey' military and civilian leaders do not realize, just like Ataturk didn't, that being a European means more than wearing a suit and a tie.

And acting like one is certainly nothing to do with the fact that their country has a bit of a territory within the European continent, which in fact was an integral part of Greece.

To be part of Europe and declare one is European is not also by joining the Eurovision contest and parade scantly clad and beautiful young Turkish women.

There is more to it than that, in fact there are more than 600 years of it to be precise.

As throughout many centuries of the despotic Ottoman rule Europe went through complete social, political and cultural transitions, especially during the renaissance era, the likes of which have not yet being tried in Middle East let alone Turkey.

This era has shaped Europe to what it is now, a collection of countries that has strong adherence to democratic principles, unwavering conviction in human and equal gender rights rights and above all tolerance towards anything that is different, be it ethnic and religious groups, homosexuals and others.

By contrast, the present Turkey, which is a by-product of Ataturk supremacist, Kurdish-hating and jingoistic mentality still has a very long way to go to convince even its ardent supporter in Europe that it has changed, but not on the cosmetic level.

Many reports in Turkish dailies frequently carries news about the Turkey that everyone has come to know, that's to say a Turkey that is intolerant towards the Kurdish population in northern Kurdistan and Kurdish gains in southern Kurdistan.

The underlying tone of such articles and reports describe the inexplicable derision and mistrust towards people who contributed greatly to creating Turkey - which afterwards denied their existence for more than 80 years - and who will yet again contribute to Turkey's accession to European Union.

In one such report the Turkish Human Right Organization head, Yusuf Alatas, describes the current situation in Turkey regarding the supposedly newly found rights for Kurds to broadcast and teach Kurdish.

In it he says: 'Has the problem of broadcasting in native language been solved with a half-hour broadcast, when in fact watching private TV channels in the same native language is not allowed? And will people attend Kurdish courses where they have to undergo interrogation?

Are people asked personal questions when enrolling in English language courses? After all they pay money to attend these courses'.

Turkey should not expect to qualify to the much-prized club membership by applying a trimmed down versions of EU adaptation packages.

What's more, it should not assume to be treated like a European state when it still relapses back to its tyrannical past in between now and then.

To behave, act and think like a European takes centuries.

It would be a tall order and implausible demand, however desirable and beneficial that maybe, to ask Turkey to enrol en-masse all of its military and civilian leaders in courses ranging from studies in European history, human rights, multi-ethnic societies in democracies and rights of nations for self-determination.

They even may find it useful to enrol in courses in basic decorum such as tolerance and respect towards others.

Also it would be a far-fetched request to ask Turkey's establishment and its military leaders to take long sessions with European psychiatrists to rid themselves from the Kurdo-phobia, which has besotted them and has gripped Turkey for centuries and up until now.

But, heaven to be hold, there is a short cut for Turkey to become a modern European entity that is by embracing and helping the Kurds in Northern Kurdistan to achieve political and cultural rights.

And by owning up to the genocide of Armenians and by granting cultural and political rights to Turkey's substantial Arab, Greek, Assyrians and Laz population and others.

This would convince even its staunchest opponent in Europe and millions of Kurds that Turkey is on the right track to become a true European country.

The travesty of justice for Turkey is that the very people whom she disowned, decimated, humiliated and culturally annihilated for more than 80 years are now the most critical factor in deciding whether Turkey can be part of Europe or not."