A guide through Turkey for the Armenian diaspora

Published 04.11.2014 01:54

Etyen Mahçupyan, an esteemed intellectual who Daily Sabah readers are acquainted with, has been appointed chief advisor to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu upon Davutoğlu's proposal last week. Some reactions to the appointment were reflected on social media and by anti-government media outlets. The main objection was based on the claim that appointing Mahçupyan as chief advisor was the government's move to lean into a more functional strategy with regard to the government's denial policies at the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian genocide. The objectors argued that Mahçupyan was manipulated as part of this strategy and he displayed an ethical weakness by accepting it in return for the position.

Our Armenian fellows in the diaspora community might not know the dynamics in Turkey's domestic politics and the power struggle in the country as they are exposed to 100 years of denial and isolation policies. We are constantly implored that Turks must sympathize with the anger they feel and should not categorically classify the diaspora as "hostile to Turks and Turkey." I can gladly say that as the dynamo of the democratization process over the last 12 years in Turkey, the religious strata of society and their political representative, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), are displaying a quite good-willed effort on this matter.

With rising Islamophobia, especially following Sept. 11, it might be possible for some Armenians in the diaspora to feel more close to the "secular totalitarians" who ruled Turkey for 80 years in the midst of the sovereignty struggle in Turkey. Because they still comprise the elite stratum of Turkey and still control 70 percent of media outlets in the country. So, the channels depicting Turkey abroad are under the control of this stratum. Moreover, the Gülen Movement, which somewhat balanced this power inequality to a certain extent, completely took the opposite side as a result of the power struggle it had with the government.

The authoritarian Kemalist regime has been sustaining a defeat for the last 12 years in Turkey thanks to the AK Party's democratic reforms, elections, and non-military methods excluding violence. The anomalies experienced in the country have remarkably risen within the last two years. The beginning of these anomalies coincided with the date when the reconciliation process was initiated by the government to resolve the Kurdish issue in the country since the clash between the state and PKK was the most crucial factor that concealed the military domination in the country and blocked the ways to civilian politics. But more importantly, three successive elections were going to be held - local elections on March 30, 2014; presidential election on Aug. 10, 2014 and general elections in 2015.

So, the Gezi Park crisis was manipulated for provocation. Also on Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, 2013, an illegal group in law enforcement and the judiciary attempted a judicial coup under the guise of corruption investigations. They attempted to overthrow the government with a civil war or a coup that was disguised as a legal procedure since it did not seem possible to topple the government in political and democratic ways. And now another coup was attempted through the Kobani crisis. The Oct. 6-7 pogrom was a provocation motivated by that. The incidents took place at a phase when a law on the reconciliation process passed in Parliament, the PKK's imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan said the process was healthy and progressing and the bloodshed completely stopped in the region, which led to the assumptions that the PKK's leadership in the Qandil Mountains of Iraq was persuaded to side with the coup attempts.

The only way to politically redesign Turkey is the PKK taking up its weapons again and influencing the 2015 elections with the chaos it creates. The Armenian issue is regarded as a tool in this sovereignty struggle. In reality, no one is interested in the pain of Armenians. Be sure that these groups will readopt their denial policies after they realize their aims since they are the up-to-date wing of the unionists.

Currently, secularism and modernity in Turkey are actually represented by religious factions. They also regard the Armenian issue as a moral and conscientious duty that is needed to be faced. They are aware of the fact that the people now know they weren't taught history objectively. They also know that not facing the Armenian issue would constitute an impediment to the democratization process.

It would be naive to say that the government thinks this issue could be resolved with condolences for the 1915 events and the recent appointments since the Armenian issue is not an immediate matter for Turkey. It was also possible to suspend this issue for years by the government basing its policies on denial rhetoric and geopolitical importance. We are living in the same world with the Bashar Assad regime, which killed 300,000 people in Syria but is still protected.

Also, to correctly evaluate the process of facing history that has started in Turkey, it is important for the Armenian diaspora to sympathize with the situation in Turkey and abstain from those who want to instrumentalize their pain.

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