Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Turkification of Turkey

The Turkification of Turkey
Turkey’s Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül made the headlines recently with his remarks on the history of the country’s nation-building process. "One of the great achievements of Atatürk... is the population exchange between Greece and Turkey," he said, speaking at the commemoration of the death of the country’s founder. "Could Turkey be the same national country had the Greek community still lived in the Aegean or Armenians lived in many parts of Turkey?"

These words of the minister -- whose ministry is a most weird one, because it is subordinate to the military that it is supposed to supervise in a real democracy -- implied that he was content with the loss of Turkey’s Armenians and Greeks. The former had been "lost" during the tragic expulsion of 1915, and the latter were "exchanged" with the Turks in Greece in 1923. And according to Mr. Gönül, Turkey became the nation it is today thanks to these designs on its populace. Before criticizing the minister, I think we should simply acknowledge that he was telling the truth.

Yes, in the past century Turkey has been "Turkified" by state power. This was done by the removal of the non-Muslim elements, first, and then by the assimilation of the non-Turkish Muslims into "Turkishness." Turkey’s ethnically conscious Kurds, who are the only "survivors" of this Turkification policy, are today also the focus of the country’s deepest problem.

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