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Friday, November 10, 2006

In Memoriam [2]

Part Two

Atatürk's Legacy: What mistakes have been made?

For years since Atatürk's death, believing that his legacy was restricted to physical soil, Turkish politics has been about protecting the rump part of a disowned Ottoman heritage that had to be protected at all cost from "unknown enemies within and without", rather than focusing on protecting the social and human rights of its people.

But at what cost? If a country is to survive, what must it survive as?

For far too long, while Turkey has been helping to drive its dire public image with bad politics, it has allowed international groups - losers of the 1920s drive to grab whatever Ottoman lands they could - to continually hijack Atatürk's image with some half-baked "anti-Kemalist" views to fire up anti-Turkish sentiment on the international stage.

To the countries that romanticised their struggles against a flagging Ottoman regime and their subsequent violent expulsions of Turkish minorities from newly sovereign lands while rallying cries of "genocide" for responses in kind, Atatürk epitomises what Western Europe hated and feared the most, ever since the Turks came to conquer Vienna.

A successful Turkish soldier, now awakened to a racial identity. Though many critics fail to take account - or explain - that the Kemalist ideology was politically left-wing. It's a contradiction in Western terms, but most Turkish liberals and socialists can be devoutly nationalistic, too.

Fear of Turkish nationalism

This anomaly arguably occurred due to the fact that "nationalism" was a foreign notion to Turks. It was adopted by Atatürk to energise the peoples of the region to fight for the creation of a republic. In effect he used new nationalism against an ancient nationalism - the Hellenic drive of the Greeks to revitalise Greek and Byzantine influence in the region and fill the void the Ottoman Empire had left in its collapse, something they had wanted do to for centuries.

The fear of Turkish nationalism runs as deep in the Greek heritage as does the hatred for the old occupier and neighbour. The most recent example is the head appointment of Bishop of Paphos Chrysostomos as Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus, who has constantly made such remarks as "fighting to the end" and "drinking the blood of Turks". He also told Greek Cypriots that if they voted "yes" in the 2004 referendum in Cyprus, they would not go Heaven.

The failure of the Greek Cypriots to ratify the UN agreement to open the way for reunification of the divided island is said to be largely due to Chrysostomos, and even former enlargement commissioner, Guenter Verheugen was bitterly disappointed with the Greek Cypriot rejection, just days before a divided Cyprus was welcomed into the EU, claiming that he had been "tricked" by Greek Cypriots that had signalled they would vote positively.

Yet, fear of Turkish nationalism has made Greek Cypriots elect Turkophobe Chrysostomos as their religious leader this month, and no promised benefits for the Turkish controlled north of the island - who voted "yes" - ever materialised from the EU, due to the veto of the Greek Cypriots.

With the Greek Cypriots now trying to resolve a UN matter within the auspices of the EU by using its privileged position as political advantage over their Turkish counterparts. By criticising Turkey for not keeping its promises to Cyprus in the European Commission's latest report, it seems that Europe agrees with Cyprus using its tactical advantage.

Read about the Cyprus issue >>

Part one | End of part two | Part three

Main Index | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3

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