American Hellenic Institute


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AHI Letter To National Interest About Turkey
November 14, 2000 No. 57/00 (202) 785-8430

AHI Letter To National Interest About Turkey

On November October 18, 2000 Eugene T Rossides sent the following letter to the National Interest in response to two articles about Turkey appearing in the Fall issue.

"I am writing about the article "Talking Turkey" by Norman Stone in the Fall 2000 issue of National Interest. Your journal has a hard won reputation for challenging articles, a chief virtue of which is that they diverge from the government party line. This makes your journal a breath of fresh air in Washington intellectual circles. I was therefore astonished to see that you had found space to include a propaganda hand-out from the Turkish Foreign Ministry masquerading as a piece of serious scholarship.

That Turkey should have its apologists is unremarkable. Military dictatorships invariably find that there is always someone willing to do their bidding. It is, however, very sad to see a former Oxford professor now at Bilkent University, Ankara in this tawdry role. There are so many egregious errors in his piece, particularly with regard to Cyprus, that one hardly knows where to begin.

Perhaps the best contrast is with Graham Fuller's review of Atatürk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey (in the same issue). Mr. Fuller puts his finger on the central challenge facing Turkey when he says "If there is a problem with the Turkish state today, it is indeed the unthinking perpetuation of Kemalism as a static set of values." This highlights the fact that in Turkey, unlike any of the true democracies in the European Union which Turkey aspires to join, the military calls the shots. If Mr. Stone had addressed this issue there might have been some value in his analysis. But, of course, the general who dictated his words would never have allowed that.

It should further be noted that Mr. Fuller's own article is hardly unbiased. He glosses over the fact that Atatürk was a dictator responsible for the slaughter of several hundred thousand Armenians and Greeks. His revolution supplanted the rule of the Sultan but in its place left military rule. This very militarism has been responsible for Turkey's horrendous repression of its 20 percent Kurdish minority, a point that Mr. Fuller overlooks. I suggest that Mr. Fuller consults John Gunther's chapter on Atatürk in his book Inside Europe (1936). Both Professor Stone and Mr. Fuller should read "Turkey's Dream of Democracy" by Mr. Eric Rouleau, the former French Ambassador to Turkey, in the November/December 2000 issue of Foreign Affairs."