The changing mindset of Turkish state

Published 28.01.2015 01:00

I have some bad news for those who, driven by a categorical sense of hostility against the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), want to present Turkey as if it were under the administration of a self-enclosed government that is moving away from the West. This news, which is rather hard to swallow, is also for those who invent lies that the government joins hands with al-Qaida and who accuse President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of anti-Semitism due to his firm stance against Israel's offensive in Gaza.

My first news item concerns a ceremony that is being held today, Jan. 27, a date that was set by the U.N. in 2005 as an international day of commemoration in memory of Holocaust victims. The ceremony, which is being held at Bilkent University, is being attended by a top-level parliamentary delegation for the first time, as well as representatives of the Jewish community, to condemn the Holocaust. Parliamentary speaker Cemil Çiçek, who recently went to Prague to attend commemoration ceremonies, is taking part in this ceremony as well. Even though these ceremonies were previously held in synagogues, they were taken outside synagogues for the first time last year, when the ceremony was held at Kadir Has University.

Another point to emphasize is the state's revolutionary approach to the Armenian issue and the message that was published on the 1915 incidents on the Prime Ministry's website. As you might remember, on April 24, 2014, then prime minister, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued quite a historic message to offer his condolences to the descendants of Armenians who lost their lives during the 1915 incidents. This message clearly indicated that the mentality of denial policies as a stereotyped reaction of the state for years changed considerably and this issue went beyond a taboo for the state. The message said, "It is a duty of humanity to acknowledge that Armenians remember the suffering experienced in that period, just like every other citizen of the Ottoman Empire. In Turkey, expressing different opinions and thoughts freely on the events of 1915 is the requirement of a pluralistic perspective as well as of a culture of democracy and modernity."

Another message that was published by the Prime Ministry this year on the eighth year commemoration of the assassination of Hrant Dink shows that the same mental transformation continues. I advise Turkish readers to read Ali Bayramoğlu's relevant article in Yeni Şafak. The message read: "Having already underscored the inhumane consequences of the relocation policies essentially enforced under wartime circumstances, including that of 1915, Turkey shares the suffering of Armenians and, with patience and resolve, is endeavoring to re-establish empathy between the two peoples. ... Our desire to share in the pain, to heal the wounds and to re-establish friendships is sincere. Our course is set toward a horizon of friendship and peace."

This statement and top-level participation in the commemoration ceremony indicates that Turkey has taken up a principled position toward the atrocities of past while the message regarding the 1915 incidents points to the fact that the state is undergoing a crucial mental transformation.

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