Turkish Press reaction to Armenian Resolution

The USG Open Source Center translates and summarizes Turkish press reaction to the US congressional resolution concerning the Armenian genocide.

‘Turkey: Roundup of Press Reactions to House Resolution on Armenian Genocide
Highlights of reports and articles in the Turkish secular press about a resolution supporting allegations that Armenians were subjected to genocide by the Ottoman army in 1915 which was approved by the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on 10 October
Turkey — OSC Summary
Friday, October 12, 2007

Istanbul Milliyet (Internet version-WWW) in Turkish–centrist, mass appeal daily, one of the country’s top circulation papers, owned by Aydin Dogan, head of the Dogan Media Group–carries a 600-word report entitled “Turkey’s Bargaining Chips” which highlights possible actions that could be taken by Turkey in order to persuade the US House of Representatives not to ratify the resolution in a plenary session. According to diplomatic sources, an authorization bill which the Turkish Government intends to push through Parliament in order to send Turkish troops into Iraq can be used as an important bargaining chip.

In addition, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to tell the Bush Administration during his upcoming visit to the United States in November that cooperation between Turkey and the United States about Iraq and other issues could be seriously hurt if the resolution eventually clears the House of Representatives. According to the report, Turkey may also use other options such as imposing prohibitions and restrictions on US military activities in Incirlik air base, refusing a possible US request to use Mersin port during a troop pullout, preventing or restricting the use of Habur border crossing, refusing possible US requests to join peace-keeping operations, furthering political and economic ties with Iran, including the conclusion of an energy agreement which the United States strongly opposes, and disqualifying US companies vying for military contracts.

In a 400-word article entitled “The Armenian Resolution,” Milliyet columnist Taha Akyol accuses Armenian nationalists of resorting to “the ugliest forms of dirty tricks such as using humanly and religious feelings for fueling hatred and vengeance, issuing threats, and bribing people.” He says: “Various US presidents described the events that took place in 1915 as a ‘mass massacre.’ But, Armenian nationalist were not satisfied. Their primary objective in convincing parliaments to pass ‘genocide’ resolutions is to prepare the ground for making forcing Turkey to meet their political demands and to pay compensations. This is a political assault.”

Pointing out that American politicians downplay angry reactions voiced in Turkey, Akyol concludes by saying: “We should show them that Ankara is not bluffing and American interests in the region and the Armenian State have started to suffer harm.”

In a 400-word article entitled “Why did not the Strategic Card Work?” Milliyet columnist Sami Kohen says that efforts made by the Armenian lobby in the United States and their influence on the US Congress outweighed the strategic arguments of the Bush Administration. Ascribing the passage of the resolution to pressure put and tactics used by the Armenian lobby and distrust toward Turkey due to the rejection of a motion on Iraq in 2003, Kohen points out that there are signs indicating that Ankara intends to take concrete action rather than making statements in response. He comments: “The matter should be handled not emotionally, but by taking Turkey’s interests from a broad perspective despite public outrage. In other words, steps to be taken should be effective and produce the intended results without causing much harm to as or severing basic external ties. Turkey is still able to use its ‘strategic card’ for that purpose.”

In a 300-word article entitled “Incirlik Card,” Milliyet columnist Derya Sazak says that the Turkish Government which, he notes, has cooperated with the United States in the past five years is in a state of shock. Sazak asserts that expansionist policies pursued by the United States in the Middle East has changed the situation. He says: “Today the United States has new allies. A process started in the US Congress about ‘Armenian genocide’ at time when Turkey was planning a cross-border operation in northern Iraq because of the PKK’s presence there. The ‘friendly and allied’ United States scored the ‘Armenian genocide’ goal after Johnson’s letter about Cyprus, the embargo, and the ‘hood’ incident in retaliation for the rejection of a motion on 1 March (2003) which were among the crises witnessed in recent past. What else should happen to prompt Ankara to close down Incirlik?”

Istanbul Hurriyet (Internet version-WWW) in Turkish–centre-right, mass appeal daily, country’s top circulation paper, owned by Aydin Dogan, head of the Dogan Media Group–carries a 400-word editorial entitled “Blame Falls on us, not the US Congress” by Oktay Eksi who says that a propaganda campaign waged by the Armenian diaspora will attain its goal this time. Eksi points out that successive Turkish governments did not allocate sufficient resources and personnel in order to refute Armenian allegations and to conduct an aggressive campaign like Armenians. He cautions: “Unless our government realizes the gravity of the situation and takes action based on ‘war logic’ rather than making empty statements, we would miss the last opportunity and face a defeat.”

In a 400-word article entitled “The Biggest Retaliation,” Hurriyet columnist Ferai Tinc points out that retaliation threats issued by Turkey were ignored by US congressmen because they have lost their deterrent effect and turned into political tactics mainly targeting the Turkish public. Stressing that Turkey may resort to official retaliation, Tinc says: “I am not sure whether such official retaliation could be effective. But, I know that actions it has taken in Iraq, its indifference to the PKK’s terror campaign, stopping its efforts in Cyprus, and the last resolution have irreparably tarnished the United States’ image in the eyes of the Turkish public. In my view, retaliation in the form of a nation’s judgment is the biggest, most effective, and lasting retaliation.”

In a 350-word article entitled “We Lost our Nerves,” Hurriyet columnist Tufan Turenc says that Turkey was shaken by what he describes as a second blow delivered by the United States at a time when the Turkish nation was grieving for soldiers killed by PKK guerillas. Turenc criticizes the government for not responding to insidious plots hatched against Turkey and says: “Even the United States did not take them seriously although they had obeyed and sworn allegiance to it. The Armenian resolution was approved amid a big round of applause from an Armenian audience. There is no doubt that genocide will be recognized by an overwhelming majority of the members of the House of Representatives. The Justice and Development Party could not cope with terrorism and the Armenian question.”

Istanbul Sabah (Internet Version-WWW) in Turkish — Center-right, mass appeal daily; under state receivership since April 2007 pending investigation into alleged wrongdoing by former owner Turgay Ciner — carries a 400-word editorial entitled “Shackles” by Erdal Safak cautions that if a resolution supporting Armenian allegations of genocide will sooner or later ratified by the US Congress because Hillary Clinton who, he says, describes the events of 1915 as genocide and is a staunch supporter of Armenian claims will succeed US President Bush. Safak also says that Turkey actually drew unnecessary attention to Armenian allegations by resorting to retaliations against countries where resolutions about Armenian genocide were adopted by parliaments and showed that it was its Achilles’ heel although it could have resolved the problem 15 years ago without much fuss.

Istanbul Vatan (Internet version-WWW)– Center-right, mass appeal daily, published by a group of former Sabah columnists allegedly with financial backing from media tycoon Aydin Dogan –carries a 600-word article entitled “For the Sake of Justice” by Gungor Mengi who predicts that the resolution will not be ratified by the Senate and President Bush even if it clears the House of Representatives, adding that Turkey should devise a new strategy aimed at totally eliminating the possibility of the passage of a resolution about Armenian genocide as a result of a decrease in the United States’ dependence on Turkey due to security considerations.

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