* Article by Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek


May 14, 2007 issue - Over the past five years, President Bush has made
various efforts to reform the Arab world. They have all stumbled over one
enormous obstacle. In the region, the people who win elections are not
democrats. They seem to believe in elections (at least as long as they
win), but not in the individual rights, laws and traditions that create a
genuine liberal democracy. The administration has pushed for elections in
Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt, only to find that religious
fundamentalists have triumphed in most of them. Except in Turkey. In
Turkey the popular ruling party, the AK despite some background with
political Islamas proved to be the most open, modern and liberal political
movement in Turkey's history. That extraordinary achievement may now be in
peril because of the overreaction of Turkey's secular (and unelected)

All the political and legal maneuvering aside, the issue at stake is very
simple. Does the AK Party have a hidden Islamic agenda that it would
implement once its nominee for the presidency, Abdullah Gul, attained that
office? I put that question to the urbane Gul, currently the foreign
minister, during a phone conversation last week. "No," he said flatly. "But
why listen to what I'm saying now? Look at what we have done in government
for four and a half years. We have worked harder than any party in Turkey's
history to make this country a member of the European Union. We have passed
hundreds of laws that have freed up the economy and strengthened human
rights. Why would we do this if we were trying to Islamize Turkey?"

I asked him whether he thought Turkey should adopt Sharia, Islamic law,
which is a goal of almost all Islamist parties around the world. "No," he
replied. "There is no possibility of introducing Sharia in Turkey. We are
harmonizing Turkey's laws with the EU's standards in every area. Is this

Gul is right. The secular establishment's suspicions about the AK are best
described by Turkish columnist Mustafa Akyul as "fact-free paranoia." The
Army memorandum accusing the AK of Islamic tendencies points as evidence of
an Islamic agenda to two isolated cases where headmasters allowed students
to sing Qur'anic verses and celebrate Muhammad's birthday on Turkey's
Republic Day. That's not exactly a sign of an impending theocracy.

The other issue that keeps coming up is the headscarf, which under Turkey's
coercive secularism is actually banned in public buildings. Gul's wife
wears one, and Turkey's elites are in a tizzy that a man who will occupy
Kemal Ataturk's position has a wife in a headscarf. Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan's daughters felt similarly and went to Indiana University,
where they had the freedom to wear whatever they wanted unlike in Turkey.

"I have no intention of forcing or even asking anyone to wear a headscarf,"
Gul explained. "It's a matter of personal choice. Not all the women in my
family wear them. If I don't ask my family to do it, why would I ask
others? In fact, were I to try to force Turks to wear headscarves, there
would be a negative reaction from my own family."

The crucial player now will be the Turkish armed forces, which have deposed
four governments over the past five decades. I asked Gul what he thought
their attitude was going to be as events unfolded. "I have talked with the
Army chiefs several times in the last week," he said. "I am sure that they
will respect the democratic process. [Interfering with it] is not any part
of the Army's role in a modern democracy. But I understand that they have
concerns, and we will work things out together. As a Turk I am proud of the
armed forces. And as foreign minister I have had excellent dealings with

I asked Gul whether Islam and democracy were compatible. "Of course," he
said. "Turkey is a Muslim country. But that doesn't mean we should mix
Islam and politics. It would be bad for both." Rejecting any comparison
between the AK and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, he said, "We are not an
Islamic party. Religion is a matter for individuals, not politics. The
Turkish Constitution speaks of a secular state, and we agree with that.

"I don't like Islamic political parties," Gul added. "But as Muslim
societies democratize, you will see greater religious expression everywhere
in society. It is a consequence of democracy. People in Muslim countries
are devout, socially conservative ... You cannot fight against this. You
have to understand it and allow some expression of this belief."

The European Union and Condoleezza Rice have warned Turkey's generals to
respect the democratic process. My guess is that they will, and not only
because of outside pressure. Over the past five years, Turkey has gone
through a quiet revolution and is now an increasingly genuine liberal
democracy. The secular demonstrators against the AK held up signs that said
NO SHARIA, NO COUP. That is what most Turks seem to want. They will not
accept being treated like denizens of a banana republic.

* Editorial in International Herald Tribune

May 3, 2007


The long struggle between Turkey's generals - the self-appointed custodians of secularism - and the growing popularity of parties rooted in Islam has taken a dangerous turn. Both sides need to step back from the brink for the sake of Turkey's democracy and its hopes of joining the European Union.

The crisis came to a head after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamic-oriented party nominated Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to be Turkey's next president, and the Constitutional Court overturned his election to the post by the Parliament. Gul's supporters see the decision as a desperate attempt by Turkey's secular elite to hold on to power.

As president, Gul would have had the power to nominate judges and university deans and to approve or veto nominations to the cabinet and other sensitive government positions.

Gul is a moderate who has kept Islam largely out of public policy during his four years in government. But his wife is known for wearing the Islamic head scarf in public, which offends the military's rigidly unyielding vision of secularism.

Army leaders had responded to his nomination with an unmistakable threat to overthrow the democratically elected government, a threat that must have influenced the Constitutional Court, which itself is part of the secular establishment of Turkey.

Turkish democracy has outgrown this kind of army tutelage, which has brought it four military coups since 1960.

The European Union rightly denounced the latest threat, but the Bush administration equivocated. Washington needs to tell Turkey's generals, through diplomatic and NATO channels, that a military coup would have highly damaging consequences.

While the generals' threats are out of line, some of the fears of Turkey's secularists are real and understandable. Turkish citizens, particularly Turkish women, enjoy legal rights, intellectual freedoms and economic opportunities that are regrettably rare elsewhere in the Muslim world.

Hundreds of thousands of Turks marched this weekend in Istanbul and Ankara to demonstrate their support for secularism and their anxieties about Gul.

Erdogan and Gul have done a good job of keeping their religion separate from their politics while instituting reforms to bring Turkey closer in line with European democratic standards. But given the disquiet that any religious inroads into politics creates in Turkey, they would do well to reassure secular Turks.

One useful step would be for the party to run a more politically and religiously inclusive set of candidates in parliamentary elections, which seem likely later this year.

During the Cold War, Turkey guarded Europe's frontier against Soviet expansionism. Today, it occupies an equally important position as a true Muslim democracy on Europe's frontier with the Islamic world. Washington has a clear interest in helping Turkey keep its democratic balance. It needs to leave Turkey's generals in no doubt where it stands.

* An excerpt from the State Department Press Briefing

May 2, 2007


QUESTION: United States supports Turkish democracy, there are a lot of statements on that -- a few statements, I mean. My question is about that: How has U.S. support Turkish democracy? What does support mean? How does support Turkish democracy?

MR. CASEY: Well, first of all, I don't think the United States needs to be dictating to Turkey how its own internal politics should work, but it means exactly that. Turkey is a friend and NATO ally. We fully support the right of the Turkish people to determine who their leaders are going to be. We certainly reject any kind of external interference into Turkish domestic political affairs and we certainly also wish to see, just as the Prime Minister said the other day, that the Turkish people should be able to decide through the ballot box who their leaders are going to be and who's going to be in charge.

QUESTION: May I follow?

MR. CASEY: Hold on, Mr. Lambros. Don't jump out of your seat quite yet.

QUESTION: All right.

MR. CASEY: Okay, I'll let him follow up, since he asked the question, and then you can follow up on his follow-up.

QUESTION: Yes, yes, yes. On the same subject.

QUESTION: Okay. Is there any change on other issues such as committing PKK terrorism, Kirkuk and murder in Iraq?

MR. CASEY: Well no, our positions on those issues remain the same. Certainly we want to work with Turkey and the Government of Iraq to try and combat the threat that's posed from the PKK. I think you heard a little bit from some of our briefers earlier in the week about that subject. I know General Ralston continues his mission and continues his contacts both with Turkish and with Iraqi officials, but we remain fully committed to working with the Turkish Government and the Iraqis to deal with that problem. On Kirkuk, I think you've heard our answer on that one before and I just refer you backto what we said previously.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: Follow up on Turkey. Mr. Casey, the late popular Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou said, "Democracy in Greece at the gun point" by U.S.-supported dictator Colonel George Papadopoulos. The popular Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan said yesterday, "Today democracy in Turkey has been shot with a bullet" by the dictator today, General Yasar Buyukanit, but so far, I know who is behind. Question: Are you really concerned, Mr. Casey, about democracy in Turkey, which has been brutalized by the Turkish generals?

MR. CASEY: Well, thank you for that trip down memory lane, Mr. Lambros, but --


MR. CASEY: Look, I think the Secretary made clear in the remarks she made to the traveling press on her trip what our position is. I've stated it here again. I think you heard it from Sean the other day. We believe that a free and democratic Turkey in which the Turkish people decide for themselves who their leaders are is critical for that country. It is critical for Europe, and it's critical for the world and we will continue to support and call for respect for the constitutional order and democratic process in that country.

QUESTION: One more for the Army. A leading editorial of Washington Post, Mr. Casey, wrote yesterday "that Bush Administration quietly asked the Turkish Army to remain in its barracks" where they belong and leave the politicians alone. Do you agree as the Department of State?

MR. CASEY: Do I agree with The Washington Post editorial? Well --

QUESTION: Do you agree with the (inaudible) in common politics --

MR. CASEY: Well, since I did see -- since I did happen to see the members of the --

QUESTION: -- vote in internal politics?

MR. CASEY: Well, since I did happen to see the members of the editorial board of the Post earlier today, I certainly wouldn't want to say anything to offend them. But Mr. Lambros, U.S. policy is U.S. policy. It's quite clear we support the democratic order in Turkey. We wish to see the constitution, the ballot box rule in Turkey. And I think the Secretary and everyone else has made that quite clear. Certainly we don't want the military or anyone else interfering in the constitutional process or doing anything in an extra constitutional way.

QUESTION: Thank God.

* An op-ed by Suat Kınıklıoğlu in International Herald Tribune

May 3, 2007


Ankara/ The Turkish Constitutional Court's decision to block the election of a new president was an unfortunate and unnecessary intervention in Turkey's political process by the powerful secular elite.

The secular establishment - which has the powerful support of the military - claims that the election of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, a member of the moderately Islamic governing AK (Justice and Development) Party - would challenge the secularism that is at the heart of the modern Turkish state.

But if the record of the last five years under AK Party rule is any indication, those fears are misplaced. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his government have shown themselves to be shrewd pragmatists willing to operate within Turkey's secular democracy. In fact, the very popularity of the AK Party is due to its success in distancing itself from the Islamist Virtue Party.

The governing party's moderation and success have become an inspiration for a wide range of moderate Muslim elites in the Middle East.

Those outside Turkey who view the recent mass rallies in Turkey in support of secularism as an expression of Western values should think twice. Most militant Turkish "secularist" are in fact suspicious of Turkey's aspiration to join the European Union, often strongly anti-American and generally uncomfortable with globalization.

By contrast, the AK Party has led one of the most impressive pro-democracy drives in Turkish history and has brought the country into accession negotiations with the European Union. The Turkish economy has grown on an average of 7 percent over the last five years, and has attracted close to $50 billion in foreign direct investment in three years.

Not surprisingly, polls indicate strong support for the AK Party while a weak opposition is struggling to pass the 10 percent threshold quota.

By blocking the election of Gul, a politician who has kept Islam largely out of public policy, the secularists are denying Turkey a critical opportunity to further moderate the AK Party. What is lost on the militant secularists is that the AK Party will eventually transform into a German-type Christian Democratic Party if it is allowed to do so.

The Turkish establishment must understand that it cannot intervene in the political process forever. It must allow Turkey's Muslim democrats to moderate themselves by learning and experiencing power and responsibility within the democratic process. This is the only way Turkey will find its elusive domestic political consensus.

In any case, the primary reason behind the intervention of the secular establishment was not fear that Turkey would become Islamic. Their fear was that the democratization drive, led in part by hopes of entering the European Union, will erode their power.

In this respect, Gul's nomination touched a key nerve of Turkey's fragile democracy -relations between the civilian government and the military, which perceives itself as a guardian of secularism and has ousted four elected governments since 1960.

The Turkish president not only appoints all judges and university rectors, but is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, with the authority to appoint the uniformed chief of the army.

Erdogan has now declared that he will seek early elections, as well as sweeping constitutional changes that would make the president popularly elected, rather than elected by the Parliament.

Thus the real question behind the crisis is what sort of democracy will prevail in Turkey - one under a secular elite with an authoritarian flavor, or an open and transparent democracy under Muslim democrats.

Suat Kiniklioglu is director of the German Marshall Fund of the United States' Ankara Office. His views are his own and do not represent the views of the German Marshall Fund.

* Statement by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

En route to Egypt/May 1, 2007

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, the European Union has warned the Turkish military not to intervene in the current dispute over the choice of a new president for Turkey. Does the U.S. feel the same way that the Europeans do on this?

SECRETARY RICE: The United States fully supports Turkish democracy and its constitutional processes, and that means that the election, the electoral system and the results of the electoral system and the results of the constitutional process have to be upheld. Yes. The answer is yes, the U.S. would be in a similar position.

* An editorial in the Christian Science Monitor

May 1, 2007


That strategic ally so vital to NATO; that bridge between Europe and the Middle East; that symbol of a relatively stable, secular democracy in a Muslim nation: Could Turkey now rupture over Islam's role in public life?

On Sunday, at least 700,000 protesters marched in Istanbul, insisting that Turkey maintain its secular laws and demanding the resignation of the government, which is led by the Islamic Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

Sparking the protest is the election of Turkey's president, who is chosen by parliament - which in turn is dominated by the AKP. At first the AKP prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wanted the job. That met with a backlash from demonstrators and a warning from the military. Last week, the AKP foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, became the party's official candidate - setting off Sunday's much larger protest and another military warning.

What's objectionable about these men? Their wives wear the head scarf, a sign of Islamic modesty.

The controversy stretches further than a piece of silk fabric, although the covering itself is no small matter. The strictly secularist Constitution forbids wearing a head scarf in a public building. The ban is thanks to the revered founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who also gave women the right to vote and changed the alphabet from Arabic to Roman letters.

The protestors fear that a head scarf in the presidential palace would be just the first step to an official Islamic influence on public life. They point to AKP-Islamic "creep" through patronage, textbooks, and tolerance of radical Islam.

The presidency, able to veto legislation and appointees, has kept the AKP in check, the protesters point out. If the head-scarf crowd takes this job, too, it will be all over for modern Turkey, they warn.

But in five years of power, the AKP has been a modernizer. Mr. Gul has advanced Turkey's drive to join the European Union. Mr. Erdogan has pushed human rights reforms (he still has more to do). The economy has sprinted ahead, and per capita income more than doubled. The military's role conforms more closely to EU norms. And Gul and Erdogan profess respect for secularism.

It can't be denied, though, that Turkey is feeling its Islamic roots. Nearly 50 percent declare themselves observant Muslims. That the AKP wants devout Muslims to be able to wear head scarves to school and wants fairer treatment for graduates of religious schools seem reasonable demands by American standards.

And there's the rub. Ataturk founded Turkey on the French secular model, in which religion is not just separate from, but subordinate to, the state. One need only look at the 2005 riots by the French immigrant community, many of whom are Muslims, to see what can happen when one group feels suppressed and discriminated against.

Turkey needs to better accommodate religion in the public sphere. If it's overreach that secularists fear (and there are some grounds for this), they should take heart in checks on government that are functioning, including their own protests. If they want more checks, they should consider changing an electoral system that has given the AKP disproportional power.

Rule by fundamentalists of both stripes - either secularists or Islamists - will only harm Turkey.

Copyright C 2007 The Christian Science Monitor

* An editorial in the Washington Post

May 1, 2007


The 'secular' opposition and military try to prevent the free election of a new president.

TURKEY'S ATTEMPT to consolidate a liberal democracy in a predominantly Islamic country has reached a turning point. The parliament is due to elect a new president this month, and the ruling AK party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds a commanding majority of seats. Mr. Erdogan has led the most successful government in recent Turkish history; polls show that his party remains by far the country's most popular. His nominee for president, Abdullah Gul, has served capably as foreign minister and is well regarded in Western capitals.

In a fully mature democracy Mr. Gul's election would be a foregone conclusion. Instead, Turkey entered this week in crisis, with the Supreme Court considering an opposition attempt to stop the vote on procedural grounds and the military issuing an ominous warning that it might intervene. The reason is the background of Mr. Gul and Mr. Erdogan: Both have political roots in moderate Islamic parties and are supported by many Turks who would like to see the country relax the rigid secularism its governments have practiced since the end of World War I. The fear that control by the AK party over both the posts of president and prime minister might allow for such a change prompted the military's pronouncement and a demonstration by hundreds of thousands of people in Istanbul on Sunday.

The record of the past few years strongly suggests that Western governments have no grounds to support the attempt to stop the election, much less a military coup. Far from pursuing an Islamic agenda, Mr. Erdogan has led Turkey's effort to join the European Union, implementing numerous progressive reforms that previous governments failed to accomplish. An economic basket case five years ago, Turkey now is rapidly growing and modernizing. In the teeth of fierce anti-American sentiment stirred by the Iraq war, Mr. Gul has been a friend of the United States. He and Mr. Erdogan have promised repeatedly to respect the secular constitution; to assuage the opposition, Mr. Erdogan chose not to follow previous prime ministers who had sought the presidency, though he is the country's most popular politician. The fears about Mr. Gul boil down to mostly symbolic matters, such as whether his wife will wear a head scarf in public.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the opposition challenge, the result would probably be a new general election, which could give the AK party a new mandate, or force it to compromise with the opposition. Mindful of its low standing among Turks, the Bush administration has tried to avoid being drawn into the political conflict while quietly urging the Army to remain in its barracks. But U.S. support for a democratic outcome -- an election untainted by military pressure -- should be unambiguous. Turkey stands to benefit if the millions of people who support the AK party can be fully included in a political system that for years was controlled by an elite tainted by incompetence and corruption. In a region where Islam and
democracy have yet to be fully reconciled, fears about mixing the two are reasonable. For now, however, the principal threat to democracy in Turkey comes not from the AK party but from its opponents.

* The New York Times editorial on Turkey

May 1, 2007


The long struggle between Turkey’s generals — the self-appointed custodians of secularism — and the growing popularity of parties rooted in Islam has taken a dangerous turn. Both sides need to step back from the brink for the sake of Turkey’s democracy and its hopes of joining the European Union.

The crisis came to a head last week after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamic-oriented party nominated Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to be Turkey’s next president. In that position, Mr. Gul would have the power to nominate judges and university deans and to approve or veto nominations to the cabinet and other sensitive government positions. Mr. Gul is a moderate, but his wife is well known for wearing the Islamic head scarf in public, which offends the military’s rigidly unyielding vision of secularism. Army leaders responded to the nomination with an unmistakable threat to overthrow the democratically elected government.

Turkish democracy has outgrown this kind of army tutelage, which has brought it four military coups since 1960. The European Union has rightly denounced this latest threat. But the Bush administration has equivocated. Washington needs to tell Turkey’s generals, through diplomatic and NATO channels, that a military coup would have highly damaging consequences.

While the generals’ threats are out of line, the fears of Turkey’s secularists are real and understandable. Turkish citizens, particularly Turkish women, enjoy legal rights, intellectual freedoms and economic opportunities that are regrettably rare elsewhere in the Muslim world. Hundreds of thousands of Turks marched this weekend in Istanbul and Ankara to demonstrate their support for secularism and their anxieties about Mr. Gul.

Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Gul need to address these concerns. One useful step would be for Mr. Erdogan’s party to run a more politically and religiously inclusive set of candidates in parliamentary elections, which seem likely later this year.

During the cold war, Turkey guarded Europe’s frontier against Soviet expansionism. Today, it occupies an equally important position as a true Muslim democracy on Europe’s frontier with the Islamic world. Washington has a clear interest in helping Turkey keep its democratic balance. It needs to leave Turkey’s generals in no doubt where it stands.

* Commentary by Morton Abramowitz and Henri J. Barkey in the Wall Street Journal

April 24, 2007


By midnight tomorrow, Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan will decide the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) candidate for president of Turkey. Ten days ago, in an unprecedented gathering demonstrating the polarization gripping that country, hundreds of thousands marched in Ankara against Mr. Erdogan choosing himself. They chanted such slogans as "no imam in Cankaya" (the presidential palace) "and the army should do its job"(getting rid of Mr. Erdogan).

Ironically they insist that he remain in the more important job of prime minister. Given the growing clamor, as well as concern from many in his own party wanting their best vote-getter to remain prime minister, this cannot be precluded.

The rising popular tensions and talk of military coups reinforce the perception that the upcoming presidential election and parliamentary ones likely to quickly follow represent a historic turning point. For the first time in Turkey's modern history, an Islam-influenced political party will control the two most important institutions of the state, the presidency and parliament. This would be true even if Mr. Erdogan remains prime minister, because the president is elected by the parliament which the AKP dominates. Many fear a decline in Turkey's secular state and a reorientation of its foreign policy, away from the West and toward the Islamic world.

Control of the executive and legislative branches gives AKP the ability to appoint university rectors, bureaucratic administrators, and to alter important pieces of legislation and social conventions. With the power to appoint many judges, the AKP will in effect control all branches of Turkey's democracy. Even the military—Turkey's most autonomous body—fears that an AKP president may interfere with promotions.

The principal concern for most secularists is not the introduction of Shariah law, but rather the greater infusion of religion into all aspects of Turkish life. Many elements of the party have been pushing hard to enhance the position of religious schools and particularly relax the ban on headscarves, especially in universities. In short the nature of Turkish life will change.

One cannot be oblivious to such concerns because they also are based on secularists' firm belief that Mr. Erdogan cannot be trusted and whatever his words and policies—e.g., his dedication to European Union membership—they are a smokescreen for darker purposes.

Still, judging by Mr. Erdogan's record the past four years, his agenda will be far from "Islamist." The AKP came to power democratically, and by most indications has governed well: The economy is booming, industry flourishing, EU-oriented reforms are in full swing, and Turkey is a rising power in the region.

Regardless of who becomes president, the AKP will still have to worry about the Turkish military looming large over politics, its own desire to enter the EU with all the socioeconomic concessions that entails, and the enduring democratic imperative: to produce results and retain the confidence of the population to win elections. Hopefully, continued AKP domination will finally lead to the growth of a serious opposition party, missing in Turkey for years.

While the new president has to assume an above-party persona, this will clearly not satisfy the strongest secularists for whom the AKP, Mr. Erdogan and his headscarf-wearing wife remain anathema. Still, whether Mr. Erdogan remains prime minister or becomes president, there is little realistic threat to Turkey's democracy. Surveys show Turkey's people becoming more religious, but also adamantly opposing an Islamic state. The correctives of a rapidly growing civil society, a press increasingly fond of freedom and democratic accountability will remain.

If Turkey achieves this transition peacefully, it will signal the normalization and maturation of its politics—especially because Mr. Erdogan's success will come against the military's wishes. In the last 47 years, the Turkish military—the protectors of Ataturk's secular legacy—initiated four coups against elected leaders. In a country where a chief of staff's press conference gets more interest than one by the president or prime minister, it will take sustained political and economic
stability, a combination which has so far eluded Turkey, to remove the fear of military intervention from politics once and for all. The AKP and Mr. Erdogan, anxious not to rock the boat and confirm they are the reliable conservative party they claim to be, may well prove their critics wrong and oversee just such a period, particularly if the EU helps.

Mr. Erdogan's Turkey has become a more confident and active international player, and its foreign policy is no longer American-centric, a result of changing geostrategic realities, the blossoming of its economy and a floundering U.S. policy in the region. Most importantly Mr. Erdogan, despite all the European obstacles, has realigned Turkey closer to the EU, continues to pursue membership, and offered dramatic concessions to resolve the Cyprus conflict.

While the U.S. and Turkey have many common policies, they continue to have differences on matters such as Iraq, Iran, Syria and Hamas. Under Mr. Erdogan, Turkey has established an independent voice in the Middle East, but both countries have tried to minimize or overlook their differences and recognize a common interest.

Turkey today is not the Turkey of 20 years ago—largely a U.S. supplicant, threatened by Moscow and suffering economically. Turkey's strength and new assertiveness can complement U.S. strategic interests and should be welcomed, even if Americans have to work harder to manage the bilateral relationship.

Iraq, however, looms large as a problem, even as Turkey's leaders fervently hope the U.S. succeeds in keeping Iraq together. Turks feel they have lost much from America's military involvement in Iraq. It has brought them face to face with a long dreaded nightmare: a Kurdish state next door and its political impact on Turkey's own Kurds. Coupled with shoddy EU treatment and rising anti-Americanism, this has re-aroused xenophobic nationalism.

Present Turkish concerns focus on two issues: a proposed 2007 referendum on whether oil-rich Kirkuk is to be included in Iraqi Kurdistan, which they vehemently oppose; and the unwillingness of the U.S. or the Iraqi Kurds to eliminate the anti-Turkish PKK insurgents based in northern Iraq. Both issues are straining relations with Washington and can quickly develop into a full-blown crisis. Recent threats by some Iraqi Kurdish leaders have prompted ominous counter-threats from Turkish generals. If the situation is not managed prudently, it may portend a dramatic shift in the balance of the U.S.-Turkey alliance and is, perhaps, the biggest danger to continued
AKP rule.

Whether Mr. Erdogan becomes president or remains prime minister, Turkey will not be "lost" as some in Washington—not the U.S. government—fear. The Turkish people's ties to the West, democracy and secularism are hard to sever and capable of withstanding great challenges. Nor is there any indication that Mr. Erdogan or his party will attempt a dramatic excision. Turkey's growth and dynamism lies with the West.

Morton Abramowitz, a Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation, is a former American ambassador to Turkey. Henri J. Barkey is professor of international relations at Lehigh and concurrently public policy scholar at the Wilson Center. This article first appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

ABD'den 301, Ermenistan ve Irak mesajı

ABD’nin Avrupa ve Avrasya’dan sorumlu Dışişleri Bakan Yardımcısı Daniel Fried, CNN Türk’te Yasemin Çongar’ın sorularını yanıtladı. 5 Şubat 2007, Washington, D.C.

Çongar: Sayın Bakan Fried, iyi günler CNN Türk’e konuk olduğunuz için teşekkür ederiz. Siz Hrant Dink için Washington DC’de St Mary’s kilisesinde yapılan törende hazır bulundunuz. Orada çok güzel bir konuşma yaptınız. Bildiğiniz üzere Dink, 301. Maddeden dolayı geçtiğimiz yıl “Türklüğü aşağılamak” suçundan hüküm giymişti. Bu yaşananlar ışığında, ABD hükümetinin 301. Madde hakkındaki görüşü nedir?

Fried: Ben, Dışişleri Bakanı Gül dahil, 301’inci maddenin değişmesi zamanı geldiğini söyleyen Türklerle hemfikirim. Nihayetinde, Türkiye bir demokrasi. Bu yasa bir anakronizm gibi görünüyor. Başka bir zamanda başka bir ülkeye uygunmuş gibi görünüyor. Üstelik, Türklüğü aşağılayan kim? Hrant Dink mi? Yoksa onu öldüren aptal mı? Hrant Dink, Türklüğü aşağılamadı. O, Türk tarihinin ve kültürünün en iyi yüzünü temsil ediyordu; çok kültürlü geçmişi, kozmopolitan değerleri, muazzam tarihsel derinlik hissini temsil ediyordu. Benim Türkiye’yle özdeşleştirdiğim şeyler bunlardır, ucuz, katil bir milliyetçilik değil. Milliyetçilik küçük halkların ürünüdür, kendine güvenen halkların ürünü değildir. Bence Türkler yüce bir halktır. Yüce bir halkın 301 gibi yasa maddelerine ihtiyacı olmaz. Ama benim ne düşündüğüm önemli değil. Türklerin ne düşündüğü önemli. Ben de, Abdullah Gül gibi Türkiye’nin bugününü ve yarınını temsil eden Türklerle hemfikirim.

Çongar: Bu bağlamda suikastten sonra bir çok yazar, tanınmış romancılar ki, buna Türkiye’nin yegane Nobelli yazarı Orhan Pamuk da dahil, polis koruması altına alındı. İstanbul’dan ayrılmasından kısa bir süre önce, Orhan Pamuk, suikast zanlılarından biri tarafından doğrudan tehdit edildi. Siz de, Amerika’da, yurttaşlık hakları konusunda zorluklar yaşamıştınız; sizde de suikastler yapılmıştı. Türkiye, bu milliyetçi nefretten ve korkudan kurtulmak için ne yapabilir?

Fried: Milliyetçilik Türkiye’nin tekelinde değil. Bütün ülkeler şu ya da bu zamanda bu hastalığa yakalanmıştır. Mesele, Türkiye’de milliyetçiliğin olup olmaması değil, iyi liderlerin bu konuda ne yapacağıdır. Liderlerin daha iyi bir vizyon adına ayağa kalkması gerekiyor. Biz, bunu kendi ülkemizde Yurttaşlık Hakları Hareketi sırasında yaşadık. Siyahıyla beyazıyla büyük liderler ayağa kalkıp “Amerika, bu değil, olamaz” dediler. Zamanla, bir kuşak sonra değiştik; en kötü halimziden en iyi halimize geldik. Bunu yapabilmek, ahlaki liderlik gerektiriyor. Ben, İstanbul’daki cenazede, “Hepimiz Hrant Dink’iz, Hepimiz Ermeniyiz” diyenlere bakınca, bu ahlaki liderliğin Türkiye’de mevcut olduğunu görüyorum. Bu, “Daha iyi bir yol var ve biz onu temsil ediyoruz” demektir. Bu Türklüğe hakaret değildir. Bu yüce bir tavırdır. Bu Türklüğün potansiyeli konusunda harika bir mesajdır.

Çongar: Abdullah Gül o cenazeye katılamadı, ama Ermeni diasporasından ve Erivan’dan bir çok kişiyi davet etti. Bazıları da geldi. Türkiye’deki atmosferi düşününce, Ermenistan ve Türkiye için ilişkilerini normalize etmek mümkün mü? Ankara ve Erivan’a mesajınız nedir?

Fried: Bence bu hem mümkün, hem de şart. Türkiye büyük bir ülke ve Ermenistan’dan çok daha büyük ve güçlü bir ülke. Bence siz onlara el uzatmalısınız. Bu Hrant Dink’in ve onun çabasının ruhuna çok uygun olur. Dink, hem Türk, hem Ermeni olmakta ısrarlıydı. O Türkiye’nin gururlu bir vatandaşı ve Ermeni halkının evladıydı. İkisi arasında tercih yapması gerektiğini söyleyenleri reddediyordu. Bence Türkiye, Hrant Dink’in anısına şimdi Ermenistan’a el uzatmak için sıradışı adımlar atmalı.

Çongar: Bu tartışmanın bir ucu da Türkiye’nin tarihine uzanıyor. Şimdi Kongre’nin önünde Soykırım Tasarısı var. Hükümetinizin bu karara karşı olduğunu biliyorum. Bunu durdurmak için hükümetiniz ne yapmayı planlıyor? Ve Türkiye bu konuda ne yapabilir?

Fried: Bu tartışma daha önce de ortaya çıktı, çıkmaya devam edecek. Ne yazık ki, Hrant Dink’in katli de bu konuda yaraya tuz basacak. Biz, Kongre’ye, bu tasarının, Ermenistan ile Türkiye arasında umduğumuz türden bir uzlaşma sürecini ilerletmeye yaramayacağını anlatacağız. Ortak tarihlerine dikkatle bakmak Ermenistan ve Türkiye’ye kalmış bir şey. Özellikle Türkiye, kendi tarihini sıkıca gözden geçirmeli. Bu tasarı, bu sürece hizmet etmez. Türkiye’nin bu süreci tamamlayabilmek için cesaretlendirilmesi gerekiyor. Peki Türkiye ne yapabilir? Bence, Türkiye’nin ABD Kongresi istediği için, yabancılar için değil ama, kendi iyiliği için, kendi içine iyice bakması ve kendi tarihi konusunda dürüst olması gerekiyor. Ve Ermenistan’a el uzatıp ileriye dönük bir yol önermesi gerekiyor. Türkiye, bu konuda liderlik gösterebilir ve göstereceğini umuyorum.

Çongar: Şimdi de Irak’a geçelim. Geçenlerde General Ralston Mahmur Kampı’nı gezdi. Kampın eninde sonunda kapanmasına yönelik adımlar atılıyor gibi görünüyor. Kamp sakinlerinin geri dönmesi için Türkiye ne yapabilir?

Fried: Türkiye’nin yapabileceği bazı şeyler var. Ve ben (Gül-Rice görüşmesinde) bu konunun gündeme gelmesini bekliyorum. Ama PKK konusunda başarılı bir strateji hem baskı unsurunu, hem de PKK’ya asla değil ama, Kürt nüfusa el uzatma unsurunu içermelidir.

Çongar: Türkiye’deki Kürtlere mi?

Fried: Evet, Türkiye’dekilere, ama aynı zamanda rak Kürt Bölgesel Hükümeti’ne. Onlar, sizin komşunuz olacaklar; dostunuz ve ortağınız da olmalılar. Dolayısıyla, bu ciddi bir strateji gerektiriyor. Ama haklısınız... General Ralston çabalarını yoğunlaştırdı. Ben de, siz bana bunu daha önce sorduğunuzda, size adımlar attığımızı anlatmıştım. Şimdi bunları görüyorsunuz, ve daha fazlasını göreceksiniz.

Çongar: ABD’nin Ulusal İstihbarat Tahmini’ne ilişkin bir soru sormak istiyorum. Irak Tahmini’ne bakınca, ABD istihbarat örgütleri Kerkük’teki riskleri anlıyor gibi görünüyor. “Burası bölgesel bir çatışmanın merkezine dönüşebilir. Kürtler Kerkük’ü tamamen kontrol altına almaya kalkarsa, Türkiye de Irak’a çekilebilir.” ABD Kerkük’ün böyle bir çatışmanın merkezi olmaması için ne yapmayı planlıyor?

Fried: Biz belki federal, ama birleşik bir Irak’ı desteklemek için Irak hükümetiyle, Kürt Bölgesel Hükümeti ile Türk dostlarımızla birlikte çalışmak istiyoruz. (Irak’ta) Petrol gelirinin eşitlikçi biçimde dağıtıldığı tek bir devlet istiyoruz ki, zaten Kerkük meselesi de büyük ölçüde petrolle ilgili. Bu, çok zor koşullarda, çok çaba harcamayı gerektiriyor. Ama Türkiye’nin burada herhangi bir şeyin içine çekilme durumu yok. Türkiye büyük ve güçlü bir ülke. Kendi kararlarını alacaktır ve bu kararlardan sorumlu olmalıdır. Bence Türkiye, Irak’a çok iyi bir komşu olabilir; Irak’ı istikrarsızlaştıracak birşey yapmayacaktır.

Çongar: Sizce (Kerkük’te) referandum ertelenmeli mi?

Fried: Irak Anayasasına saygı duymalıyız. Iraklıların kararlarının ve bu konudaki mücadelerinin sonuca ulaşmasına izin vermeliyiz.

Çongar: Hangi şartlar altında Türkiye’nin bir askeri müdahalesi verimli olabilir?

Fried: Bence askeri müdahaleden söz etmek, verimli bir askeri müdahale yapmaktan çok daha kolay. Bence, Türkiye’nin (Irak’a) girmesi halinde ciddi riskler ortaya çıkar. Umarım, Türkiye ile işbirliği yaparak bu seçeneğin önlenmesini sağlayabiliriz.

Çongar: Zamanınız için teşekkür ederim, sayın Bakan...


The text of the Senate Resolution introduced by Senator Joseph Biden, the Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on February 1, 2007:

Condemning the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist and human rights advocate Hrant Dink and urging the people of Turkey to honor his legacy of tolerance.
Whereas Hrant Dink was a respected, eloquent advocate for press freedom, human rights, and reconciliation;
Whereas, in 1996, Mr. Dink founded the weekly bilingual newspaper Agos and, as the paper's editor in chief, used the paper to provide a voice for Turkey's Armenian community;
Whereas Mr. Dink was a strong proponent of rapprochement between Turks and Armenians and worked diligently to improve relations between those communities;
Whereas Mr. Dink's commitment to democratic values, nonviolence, and freedom in the media earned him widespread recognition and numerous international awards;
Whereas Mr. Dink was prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for speaking about the Armenian Genocide;
Whereas, notwithstanding hundreds of threats to Mr. Dink's life and safety, he remained a steadfast proponent of pluralism and tolerance;
Whereas Mr. Dink was assassinated outside the offices of Agos in Istanbul, Turkey, on January 19, 2007;
Whereas tens of thousands of people in Turkey of many ethnicities protested Mr. Dink's killing and took to the streets throughout the country to honor his memory;
Whereas the Government of Turkey has pledged to undertake a full investigation into the murder of Mr. Dink;
Whereas the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has stated that when Mr. Dink was shot, “a bullet was fired at freedom of thought and democratic life in Turkey”;
Whereas the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Vartan Oskanian, stated that Mr. Dink “lived his life in the belief that there can be understanding, dialogue and peace amongst peoples”; and
Whereas Mr. Dink's tragic death affirmed the importance of promoting the values that he championed in life: Now, therefore, be it
1 Resolved, That the Senate –
(1) condemns the murder of Hrant Dink as a shameful act of cowardice perpetrated with contempt for law, justice, and decency;
(2) supports the pledge of the Government of Turkey to conduct an exhaustive investigation into the assassination of Mr. Dink and to prosecute those responsible;
(3) urges the Government of Turkey to repeal Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and work diligently to foster a more open intellectual environment in the country that is conducive to the free exchange of ideas;
(4) recognizes the decision of the Government of Turkey to invite senior Armenian religious and political figures to participate in memorial services for Mr. Dink;
(5) calls on the Government of Turkey to act in the interest of regional security and prosperity and reestablish full diplomatic, political, and economic relations with the Government of Armenia; and
(6) urges the people of Turkey to honor Mr. Dink's legacy of tolerance.



Legislation Urges Repeal of Article 301 to Protect Human Rights, Freedom of Speech and Expression

Washington, DC – 29 January 2007 - One week after more than 100,000 mourned slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in Istanbul, US Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Queens & the Bronx) introduced legislation (H. Res. 102) in the US House of Representatives condemning the Agos newspaper editor’s assassination, and calling on Turkish authorities to continue investigating the circumstances and fully prosecute those involved in the murder.

“Today, as members of the US House of Representatives, we join the people of Turkey and Armenia in mourning the loss of Hrant Dink, and condemn the senseless murder of an outstanding individual who truly led a courageous life,” Crowley said. “Hrant Dink was a man of conviction and principle who fought for freedom of the press and speech, and for tolerance and understanding. Through his illustrious career as a journalist he tried to bridge the divide between Turkish and Armenian people by fostering a dialogue in the newspaper he founded, Agos.”

Hrant Dink founded the bilingual weekly newspaper Agos in April 1996, to foster a dialogue and encourage understanding between the Turkish-Armenian community and the larger Turkish population. He served as its editor until Jan. 19, 2007, when he was shot dead outside of Agos’ main office in downtown Istanbul. H. Res. 102 is expected to be voted in the House as an up or down vote within the next two weeks.

Journalists and the media community around the world recognized and honored Hrant Dink for his courage and principles, and he was awarded the prestigious Bjornson Prize for Literature for his publications on the Armenian genocide. Hrant Dink’s support for human rights and outspokenness of injustices in Turkey against ethnicArmenians won him notoriety with authorities, who prosecuted and convicted him in court for insulting Turkishness in Turkey under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. Congressman Crowley’s resolution also urges the government of Turkey to
repeal this section of Turkish law that prohibits free speech and is used
to silence critics.

Congressman Crowley stated, “We ask that the government of Turkey remove Article 301, which is an outright attack on the fundamental right to freedom of speech. Authorities should do all in their power to stop acts of intolerance, intimidation and violence against individuals who exercise this fundamental right from happening.”