Thursday, 31 March 2011

Finland Strongly Supports Turkey's EU Membership

The state visit to Turkey by President Tarja Halonen said Finland strongly supports Turkey’s EU membership, says Yle. According to Halonen, however, what is more important than the timetable is “what kind of marriage, namely the relationship between Turkey and the EU there will be”.

During the official visit to Turkey, President Halonen will meet with President Abdullah Gül. In addition to prospects for the talks on bilateral relations and Turkey’s EU membership negotiations, they will focus in the Middle East and North Africa region, ongoing change and sustainable development.

Hat-tip: Tundra Tabloids

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Turkish Photo of the Year

This is the photograph that has just won the news photo of the year prize in Turkey. It shows an Israeli soldier being beaten up after boarding the ship Marmara en route to Gaza.

So much for Turks being more enlightened. It seems these people have the same mentality as Palestinians, who like to name their streets and squares after mass murderers.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Turkish Government Mounts Raids to Suppress Book on Gulen Network

On Friday the Turkish government mounted a series of raids to recover and destroy draft copies of a book on the Gulen network. The book has not yet been published and now may never be. Its author was Ahmet Sik, who himself was recently arrested in connection with the never-ending Ergenekon investigation. The book explored the connections between the Gulen network and the Turkish police.

Fethullah Gulen is a reclusive, cult-leader-style billionaire, who lives in exile in America. He owns a vast network of educational institutions worldwide, as well as many other companies, and has built up enormous political influence within Turkey and outside of it. He advocates the islamification of societies through the stealth infiltration of state institutions, but eschews terrorism and overt hostility to other religions.

Work patiently and creep silently into the institutions in order to seize power in the state.

He fled Turkey in 1999 while under indictment for plotting to undermine secularism. Those charges were thrown out in 2006 when a more Islam-friendly government was in power and according to a Wikileaks cable, Turkish President Gul is a Gulenist but Prime Minister Erdogan is not.

The same Wikileaks cable also provides some interesting insight on the extent of the Gulen network's penetration of the Turkish National Police (TNP):

Gulenists also reportedly dominate the Turkish National Police, where
they serve as the vangard for the Ergenekon investigation --
an extensive probe into an alleged vast underground network
that is accused of attempting to encourage a military coup in
¶2004. The investigation has swept up many secular opponents
of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), including
Turkish military figures, which has prompted accusations that
the Gulenists have as their ultimate goal the undermining of
all institutions which disapprove of Turkey becoming more
visibly Islamist. (COMMENT: The assertion that the TNP is
controlled by Gulenists is impossible to confirm but we have
found no one who disputes it, and we have heard accounts that
TNP applicants who stay at Gulenist pensions are provided the
answers in advance to the TNP entrance exam. END COMMENT)

The cable also spoke about the climate of fear surrounding the Gulen network in Turkey:

Most discussions in Turkey which touch on Gulen tend
to be somewhat delicate and deliberately artful. Our
interlocutors often seem reluctant to express their views,
seemingly uncertain if it will rebound on them to their

Meanwhile, according to the now-embarrassing Guardian newspaper, there's no problem with free speech in Turkey; and anyone who insists that there is must be part of some big Jewis... oops, I mean Zionist conspiracy.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Thousands of Turkish Pistols Intercepted En Route to Jihadists in Yemen

In total, 16,000 pistols were intercepted.

The Dubai police on Thursday announced that they had seized the consignment of pistols made in Turkey, which were apparently destined for Saada in northern Yemen, the stronghold of Shiite rebels. Six Arab residents of the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a member, were arrested in connection with the affair. The pistols were concealed in a container of furniture.

The Turkish government has denied any connection to the weapons smuggling operation and promised to conduct an investigation.

“An investigation into this affair is being carried out in coordination with all the competent authorities,” a ministry statement said, a day after Dubai’s police announced the seizure of the weapons and the arrest of six suspects.

“This attempt to transfer weapons is not based on any permit delivered by our official authorities,” added the statement, which noted that Turkey imposes strict regulations on the export of arms to conflict zones.

“It is not possible to authorise such an export, which could lead to the further loss of human life in Yemen,” where the government in Sanaa has faced mounting protests in the past two months, the statement said.

Sure, we believe them.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Turkey-NATO Quarrel Still Unresolved

Reading around the papers today, it becomes obvious that there is still no definitive agreement on the extent of NATO control of the military campaign in Libya to be assumed next week. Discussions are ongoing.

What seems clear, however, is that NATO will have full control of the no-fly zone and the sea embargo. This is uncontroversial mainly because there is nothing really to be done there. Libya no longer has any significant functional military aircraft and the prospect of Gaddafi getting weapons shipments by sea is remote.

The question of whether NATO will have full control of the bombing of ground targets in Libya has not been resolved, however. It looks as though Sarkozy is pushing for decision-making authority to remain in the hands of a smaller group of nations who are actively participating in the strikes. This would exclude Turkey because it is taking no part in the bombing campaign and opposes it in principle.

As I suspected in a previous post, therefore, what looked at first sight like a complete victory for Turkey, in gaining veto power over the strikes, is in fact not so, because of the authority being claimed for this smaller group of nations which will be making the final decisions, supposedly taking the views of other NATO countries (and perhaps a few Arab countries too) into account.

As before, Turkey's motivation seems to be a mixture of religious bigotry - expressed in the form of opposition to bombs that could killed civilians in "a Muslim country" - and a desire to spite France for having been excluded from the original meeting.

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Crackdown on Press Freedom in Turkey

Good article about the crackdown on press freedom in Turkey, with an accompanying audio report.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Turks Agree to NATO Control of Libya Mission

It has been agreed that NATO will take over full operational control of the military campaign in Libya from the US within a few days. Turkey has also sent six ships to participate in the naval blockade of Libya.

If the Guardian's account earlier in the day is to be believed, this would seem at first sight to be a victory of sorts for Turkey. According to the Guardian, Turkey had insisted on full NATO control of the campaign while France preferred only partial NATO involvement. Full NATO control would give Turkey veto power over every operation and Turkey has already expressed opposition to the ground bombing campaign. It seems other Middle Eastern countries like Qatar may also participate in the NATO decision-making body on an ad hoc basis, as happens already in Afghanistan.

This sentence in the Guardian's latest article would seem to suggest that the agreed solution is more in line with the original French plan, however:

Political oversight will be in the hands of a committee of a smaller number of countries involved in the military campaign.

It will be interesting to see whether Turkey has veto power as seems likely and, if so, whether it uses it to stymie effective operations. This certainly has the potential for more dramatic quarrels. And the legacy of bitterness this week's tussles have provoked is sure to have long-lasting diplomatic effects. France must be absolutely furious about the way Turkey has acted.

Fierce France-Turkey Quarrel Erupts Over NATO Control of Libya Operation

The French Turkish quarrel is now erupting into the open. The Guardian reports that it is stymieing plans for the Americans to hand over operational control to someone else.

Turkey has launched a bitter attack on French president Nicolas Sarkozy's and France's leadership of the military campaign against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, accusing the French of lacking a conscience in their conduct in the Libyan operations.

The vitriolic criticism, from both the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the president, Abdullah Gül followed attacks from the Turkish government earlier this week and signalled an orchestrated attempt by Ankara to wreck Sarkozy's plans to lead the air campaign against Gaddafi.

Apparently childish pique forms the basis of Turkish policy on the Libya conflict.

The Turks are incensed at repeated snubs by Sarkozy. The French failed to invite Turkey to last Saturday's summit in Paris which presaged the air strikes. French fighters taking off from Corsica struck the first blows. The Turkish government accused Sarkozy of launching not only the no-fly zone, but his presidential re-election campaign.

The clash between Turkey and France over Libya is underpinned by acute frictions between Erdogan and Sarkozy, both impetuous and mercurial leaders who revel in the limelight, by fundamental disputes over Ankara's EU ambitions, and by economic interests in north Africa.

The confrontation is shaping up to be decisive in determining the outcome of the bitter infighting over who should inherit command of the Libyan air campaign from the Americans and could come to a head at a major conference in London next week of the parties involved.

And there's a dash of jihadism and Castro-style anti-western hysterics in there too.

Using incendiary language directed at France in a speech in Istanbul, Erdogan said: "I wish that those who only see oil, gold mines and underground treasures when they look in [Libya's] direction, would see the region through glasses of conscience from now on."

President Gül reinforced the Turkish view that France and others were being driven primarily by economic interests. "The aim [of the air campaign] is not the liberation of the Libyan people," he said. "There are hidden agendas and different interests."

Is it not astonishing that the president and prime minister of what purports to be a serious, westernised country are coming out with embarrassing North Korea-like rhetoric like this? "Oil, gold mines and underground treasures"?

It seems the French Interior Minister is the one who had used the word "crusade", to which Turkey took fierce objection.

Earlier this week, Claude Guéant, the French interior minister who was previously Sarkozy's chief adviser, outraged the Muslim world by stating that the French president was "leading a crusade" to stop Gaddafi massacring Libyans.

Erdogan denounced the use of the word crusade yesterday, blaming those, France chief among them, who are opposed to Turkey joining the EU.

According to the Guardian, which is not necessarily to be trusted because it has a strong pro-Turkey bias, Turkey is currently vetoing NATO operational control of the action in Libya because it wants NATO to have total political control too. This would allow Turkey to veto operations, such as the air strikes on ground targets, which it objects to, claiming they go beyond the UN-sanctioned remit for a no-fly zone. France does not want to hand over full control to NATO because that would give Turkey veto power which it would then use to undermine the success of the operation, which is clearly intended at removing Gaddafi from power. It is believed that almost all of Libya's aircraft have already been destroyed so if Turkey blocks air strikes on ground targets, there would be almost nothing left for the coalition to do. Given its pro-Gaddafi approach, this would obviously suit Turkey just fine.

All in all, this seems to a diplomatic quarrel of rare intensity. When the dust settles on the Libyan adventure, you have to wonder whether Sarkozy will respond to it by vetoing Turkey's EU membership application outright. There must be a real chance of that now.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Turkey Still Blocking NATO Action

NATO ministers have ended a third day of talks over the crisis in Libya without agreement on whether the alliance will assume command of military operations aimed at protecting civilians from forces loyal to leader Muammar Qaddafi.


NATO diplomats who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity after the meeting said the main obstacle to agreement was Turkish opposition.

Turkey said it objected to NATO taking responsibility for offensive operations that could cause civilian casualties, as well as to the alliance enforcing the UN-mandated no-fly zone while coalition aircraft simultaneously bomb Libyan forces.

Speaking in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, "It would be impossible for us to share responsibility in an operation that some authorities have described as a 'crusade'" -- an apparent reference to the use of that term by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Qaddafi himself.

A NATO source who spoke to the Associated Press said Turkey, a Muslim NATO member with major commercial interests in Libya, wanted Western coalition countries to finish their air strikes before NATO assumes command.


Pause for a moment to reflect on this:

"It would be impossible for us to share responsibility in an operation that some authorities have described as a 'crusade'"

So a NATO member is refusing to participate in a NATO operation or even consent to other NATO members conducting the action under NATO auspices because of a descriptive term used by the Russian Prime Minister and the dictator Gaddafi, the target of the operation! How insane is that?

Apart from the Islamic motivation, it seems personal pique is still a factor in Turkey's decision. Turkish officials are continuing to express bitterness about France, apparently because Turkey was not invited to the meeting that preceded the start of military action:

Diplomatic correspondent Idiz says France's leadership in the strikes has particularly irked Ankara, adding a chill to relations already strained over President Sarkozy's vocal opposition to Turkey's EU membership bid.

"Given the personnel animosity that Erdogan and Sarkozy feel for each other, I don't think there is much love lost between the two capitals at the moment. I do also think there is a brinkmanship, one-upmanship going on between the two capitals. France seems to have passed Turkey in the race over Libya, and Ankara is clearly smarting from this," Idiz said.

But professor of international relations Cengiz Aktar, at Bahcesehir University, warns such rivalry risks losing sight of what is really important.

"Erdogan gives [the] impression he is against the international intervention because he is angry with Sarkozy. This can't be serious. In international relations, this sort of anger does not count. What counts is the interest of [the] country or the safety and security of human beings," Aktar said.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

More Confirmation that Turkey Has Vetoed NATO Action in Libya

The Associated Press are also reporting that Turkey has vetoed NATO action in Libya.

And there's a clue about what may have inspired the strange remarks about France:

Diplomats said Turkey, a NATO member that sees itself as a bridge between Europe and the Muslim world, was angered by its exclusion from an emergency summit Saturday in Paris organized by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, at which the 22 participants agreed to launch armed action against Gadhafi's military.

In a Telegraph blog post, Con Coughlin, a man with very good connections in the military and intelligence establishments, has also confirmed that Turkey is blocking NATO action, supposedly in cahoots with Germany.

Incidentally, Con Coughlin is a strong supporter of Turkey's application to join the EU. Will you now recant this foolishness, Coughlin?

Turkey Vetoes Nato Action in Libya!

Israel radio has apparently reported that Turkey has vetoed NATO action in Libya! This is being reported on the Israel Matzav blog here. It would be nice to see this confirmed from more mainstream sources but if true it is a shocking development. How long will deluded western leaders continue their absurd pretence that Turkey is still "one of us"?

On Sunday Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan made a bizarre statement that sounded like the kind of hysterical claptrap that normally emanates from Colonel Gaddafi or Fidel Castro:

NATO should only enter Libya to determine that Libya belongs to Libyans and not to distribute its natural resources and richness to others," Erdogan said, speaking in Saudi Arabia. He said the operation must not turn into an occupation.

Ooh, we want to "distribute its natural resources and richness to others"! It's all about stealing their oil! And sand! The fact that the prime minister of a country can make such a daft remark shows how far from western norms his country now is.

The Turkish defence minister also made some strange and insulting remarks about France:

Signaling further discord within NATO, Turkey's Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul criticized the prominent role played by fellow-member France in the U.N.-mandated intervention.

"It seems impossible for us to understand France being so prominent in this process. We are having difficulty in understanding it being like the enforcer of United Nations' decisions," Turkey's Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul told reporters.

It should be clear to any reasonable person that the time has come to expel Turkey from NATO, where it is now more of a liability than a help. This is not the first time that Turkey has been obstructive within NATO. It consistently blocks plans for EU-NATO cooperation and also threatened to veto Anders Fogh Rasmussen's appointment as NATO Secretary-General because of the stance he had previously taken on the Muhammad cartoons issue when he was Danish Prime Minister!

On the prospect of EU membership, too, Turkey's siding with Gaddafi, obstructing NATO action and insulting France has to have repercussions. French President Sarkozy has quietly opposed Turkey's membership of the EU but it is not enough to him to slow down the process of opening chapters. He needs to man up and terminate the application process outright.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Members of the European Parliament Corrupt! I am Shocked, Shocked I Tell You!

Pope is Catholic! Yes, this isn't exactly a revelation but it's nice to have it proved all the same. The Sunday Times ran an article yesterday, exposing the willingness of several MEPs to insert amendments to legislation in return for cash. There is no direct connection to Turkey here but it has long been my contention that Turkey's path to joining the European Union is being smoothed by corrupt methods, including bribery and, most likely, blackmail.

The Sibel Edmonds case in America shows the extraordinary lengths Turkey was willing to go to in order to influence legislators over relatively trivial matters. In Europe, where Turkey's major strategic objective of joining the European Union is in play, it is only reasonable to assume that similar methods are being used. Unfortunately, the Sunday Times investigation shows that European legislators are wide open to this kind of manipulation.

Turkey Tries to Shift its Stance on Libya and Hopes No One Notices

Even after the resolution was passed in the Security Council, the Turks were still bleating about acting as mediators with their usual carpet-seller spiel about acting as a bridge between West and East. Now, however, they are feeling a little left out in the cold and trying to shift their position closer to the western camp of nations and hope that no one notices how isolated they were.

Turkey is changing its tune on intervention in Libya, saying it will make the necessary contributions to the no-fly zone it previously opposed amid hints that it might participate in a possible NATO operation to stop the crisis in the North African country. Libyan leader Gadhafi had been 'warned... to respect his people's will,' Turkey's prime minister says.

Turkish Colonists Refuse Integration in Austria

These translated article extracts were published on the excellent Gates of Vienna website. They tell the story of Austria's unsuccessful struggle to integrate its Turkish colonists and the dawning realisation that it just isn't going to happen. Some comments from the Gates of Vienna correspondent appear in square brackets. One of the Turkish colonists interviewed has an amusing explanation for the failure of Turks to integrate in Turkey: there aren't enough Turkish actors or presenters on Austrian TV! Ah, that must be it!

Istanbul on the Danube

Who would have guessed that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s visit to Germany a couple of weeks ago would have impacted Austria in such a way that spring-like buds of knowledge, rather than negation, make their way to the surface?

To my knowledge, Kurier columnist Peter Rabl is the first journalist to invite those unwilling or unable to integrate to “live out their Turkishness in their own homeland.” What is surprising in this case is the utter lack of outcry from the establishment: neither politicians nor the army of lawyers and NGOs have so far branded Mr. Rabl a racist. One wonders what is going on here:

Turks the Biggest Problem for Integration
March, 12. 2011
by Peter Rabl

Among the big lies in the integration debate are the customary statistical averages of all immigrants living here. If, as seldom happens, you break down the data by nationality, the immigrant Turks prove to be the biggest problem. And the nationalistic government in Ankara purposefully resists the integration of their emigrated compatriots.

Recently, the newsmagazine Der Spiegel published data on the degree of integration of immigrants to Germany, which can definitely be extended to Austria. On a scale of 1 = failed integration to 8 = successful integration, the immigrants from EU states rate 7.0, those from the Far East rate 6.8. The Turks are far down at 1.3

And from the viewpoint of the nationalistic regime of President Erdogan, that is fine. Two years ago at a speech in Cologne, he had already termed assimilation a “crime against humanity.” Two weeks ago in Düsseldorf, he followed up: For Turkish emigrants, Turkish must be the first language learned, and only then German. “You are my citizens,” shouted Erdogan to his followers. “I am here to see to your well-being.”

Major Problem — German

An Austrian parliamentary delegation was faced with such expressions of official policy in Ankara. Requiring German courses at home, as provided in the new alien law, was perceived as “more of a provocation. A Turk will always feel like a Turk. We just have a very strong national consciousness.”

For decades immigrants have been encouraged in this feeling in their mosques, whose imams are sent and paid by the official Turkish religious office. Now an additional dedicated agency is being created to concern itself with emigrants.

Even the ethnic Turkish integration spokesperson Korun, from the Green Party, finds that the policy of “You must remain Turks” is something that we “need like a hole in the head.”

In easily 50 per cent of Turkish families in this country, Turkish is exclusively spoken, Turkish TV watched and Turkish newspapers read. The result is severe a deficit in German abilities, extending into the third generation — even after successful graduation from secondary school. The consequence is a statistical overrepresentation of Turks among school dropouts and unemployed.

From this and the far higher birth rate of Turkish immigrants, a social problem develops that urgently needs to be confronted. Against Ankara’s nationalism, with appropriate pressure for integration of the Turks living here. But as a last resort, in certain cases, also the invitation to preferably live out their pure Turkishness in their own homeland rather than in an unwelcome parallel world among us. [emphasis added]

Austrian Interior Minister Maria Fekter has been known for her outspokenness and understanding of the situation with regard to Muslim immigrants exhibiting not the slightest interest in learning basic German or integrating into Austrian society. She has insisted time and again that German skills are absolutely imperative for integration to succeed, though this has so far not been proven. I remain skeptical that rudimentary German skills are sufficient for integration to take place. But it is a start:
“German Before Immigration Bothers Only Fundamentalists”
March 12, 2011

Maria Fekter sees problems with integration of Turks. She is considering a German language and a training instruction requirement for imams in Austria.

An Austrian parliamentary delegation — as reported — was on an integration mission in Ankara last week. The results were sobering: “Turks stay Turks” was heard often from politician and experts. The existence of integration problems in Austria was disputed.

Kurier: Is integration a foreign word to Turkish politicians?

Fekter: This is not new to me. The demeanor of President Erdogan and the very clear positions of the Turkish ambassador in Vienna lead to the suspicion that there are efforts to bind Turkish emigrants more closely to Turkey. The fact is that the great majority of them are well integrated, living according to Western values. There are big problems with only a small group. They provocatively carry their Don’t-Want-To-Be-Integrated like a shield.

Kurier: One of Erdogan’s advisors sees German courses in other countries as a “provocation.”

Fekter: We require German before they come here. There are tons of language schools. It is easy to learn German. [The Greens and their affiliated whining NGOs are unhappy about this; they say that it is impossible for Pakistani or Bangladeshi, even Turkish immigrants to study German before coming to Austria. Well, duh, if these would-be immigrants find this hurdle too high, perhaps they should just stay where they are.] Our experience is that many of them, especially women, come to us without a word of German — even after they have been Austrians for a long time. German before immigration disturbs the fundamentalists. It bothers them just as much that we have raised the age for arranged marriages to 21.

Kurier: Is there a consciousness on the Turkish side of problems with forced marriages?

Fekter: I have discussed that with the Turkish ambassador and with Anas Schakfeh (president of the Islamic religious community). Both of them said straight out: They cannot change that. It is tradition. In a certain group — real traditionalists from rural areas — it is common practice. They insist that we not interfere. There are great gaps in the knowledge of health problems that occur when children are produced in a familiar circle across several generations. [Taqiyya, anyone? Forced marriages are not a tradition, everyone knows that, even the Islamic religious community. They do not want to stop it. If it were “only” a tradition, then it would be more than easy to stop it.]

Kurier: Is that a mass problem or individual cases?

Fekter: We know that a third of ethnic Turkish girls disappear from the education system after the requisite school attendance. [Sounds like a mass problem, doesn’t it?] That is an indication that they are being taken care of in the group — and that functions even beyond marriage. A third! It is not proof, but an indicator of what numbers are involved.

Kurier: Turkey is planning a new agency for Turks in foreign countries, to better supervise them. Does that make sense?

Fekter: We already have the imam organizations. Imams are leaders in the community, are Turkish citizens and are bound by President Erdogan’s instructions. With that, Turkey already has a long reach in Austria. I am uncomfortable with having structures here that are subordinate to the Turkish state. We are also offering instruction for imams in Vienna, but they do not make use of it. [Now why would that be?] Those we would like to see there, do not go there. Only the more moderate ones come. [Who are the moderate ones? Where do they preach? What do they preach? A different Koran?] And that makes us worry. We have to consider whether there should be a requirement that imams be instructed in Austria. A German test for imams is also necessary to consider. [How about first scrutinizing the teachings of Islam as required by the Law on Islam?]

Kurier: Will you increase the pressure on immigrants?

Fekter: There are two big worries. We Austrians have difficulty dealing with religious symbols that we encounter visibly. The head-covering, to be sure, harms no one — but it bothers Austrians very much. [It harms no one? Are you kidding me? Six-year-olds covered from head to toe are not harmed by their coverings? These young children can be observed on Viennese streets. They are a reality. Wake up, Madam Minister!] The other side has a big problem with emancipation and equal treatment for women. They find that deeply suspect and they reject it. [Now, why would they do that? Perhaps it is the content of their religion?] We must work on these two basic problems, We must state clearly what we expect: it is not acceptable to have a surfeit of young people who have just a school completion certificate — or not even that. That starts with the language deficit. Students can’t understand what is going on in school, no certificate, no apprenticeship, no credentials. We must break through that.

The final “Wow!” experience comes from members of a parliamentary delegation comprising MPs from ÖVP. They recently visited Ankara and were bluntly told that Turks in Austria have no intention of integrating into Austrian society. My first thought was: “Well, they could have saved the money by going to the culturally enriched areas in Vienna, accompanied by members of the Wiener Akademikerbund. But apparently, these parliamentarians do not believe their own voters, or former voters. But, then again, it’s a start:

Immigration “Unsettles People”
March 13, 2011

(Kurier interview by editor Christian Böhmer with ÖVP [Austrian Peoples Party] parliamentary group head, Karlheinz Kopf and UETD [Union of European Turkish Democrats] spokesman Sami Akpinar.)

Discussion: What can Ankara contribute to the integration of Turks? And should Austria give imams instruction?

Are German courses for Turks a provocation? What are the real problems of the ethnic Turkish community and how can they be resolved?

Kurier: Parliamentary Group Director Kopf, you were in Ankara recently to hear suggestions for the integration debate from politicians and scientists. Are you satisfied with the answers?

Kopf: To say the least, I was surprised. What was the starting situation? We have 200,000 immigrants of Turkish background and they are to some extent not well-integrated. Our question was: How can integration work better? I had the impression in official Turkey, to the contrary, that the message is, “Stay Turkish!” That is essential. [My God, he got it!]

Kurier: Can you understand, Mr. Akpinar?

Akpinar: I grew up in Vorarlberg, like to look at pages 213 and 214 in the Teletext to see how Altach and Lustenau are doing in soccer. Why shouldn’t we consider a constructive cooperation in the integration process with Turkey? A negative interference would be counterproductive. We are well-advised to first pay attention to the population in Austria, because the integration problem is not ethnic, it is social.

Kopf: I’m with you. If at most 70% of Turkish immigrants complete their educational requirement; if unemployment is twice that of Austrians, that leads to isolation and parallel societies. The Turkish government knows all that and still shout-outs keep coming.

Kurier: Mr. Akpinar, why does Turkish President Erdogan tell his countrymen “Learn Turkish first and then German”?

Akpinar: The president encouraged people to stay true to their roots and to learn German. The basis of integration is the common language — there is no doubt about that. At the same time, we must see that Erdogan is addressing tens of thousands of people in Europe. What has gone wrong? I believe communication has failed. [Elaborate please.]

Kopf: But why do the second and third generation of Turkish immigrants not feel themselves to be Austrians?

Akpinar: Because there is a lack of models. For example, when staffers of the UETD counsel students, the young people often ask: Are you really a doctor or an architect? They don’t believe an ethnic Turk can succeed.

Kopf: But why doesn’t official Turkey let its people go? Why pay for a religious office with 60,000 employees? The religious office in the Austrian education ministry has only three employees — because we are a secular state. [These three employees are unable to verify the teachings of the Koran.]

Akpinar: We can solve the problem quickly. Austria should educate imams, who will then take over religious duties. [Paid for by the Austrian taxpayer, right? How about educating imams back in Turkey?]

Kopf: That would be a step away from [Turkey] usurping the function. But at the moment, the imams are paid by Ankara, stay a few years and leave. That looks like they don’t want to let go.

Akpinar: I am with you. We have to resolve the problem here, not in Turkey. [How?]

Kurier: Why is Ankara pushing the assimilation debate? No politician in Austria is calling for the assimilation of the Turks.

Akpinar: Voluntary assimilation is fine, but when we say “You must give up your religion, your manner of clothing or the way you think,” that is dangerous. [The way one thinks: denying women their basic rights under the Austrian constitution must never be allowed in Austria. This way of thinking must be denied. Take it or leave it.] Basic rights are violated. [Which rights? One is free to return to the country of origin if one is not happy dressing the way one does in a secular European country.]

Kopf: And there is an area of tension. Our legal system is based on values that do not accord with Islam. Child marriage, forced marriages, all that makes people here nervous. Our culture does not accept that.

Akpinar: But these subjects are not statistically relevant. I don’t know of any forced marriages or marriages with minors. These are not the immigrants’ problems. [Of course not, they are all the product of our imagination, right?]

Kurier: How can we rehabilitate those fellow citizens who have lived here for a long time, hardly speak any German, only watch Turkish television, patronize the Turkish baker, etc. Can and should we change that?

Akpinar: An example is the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Company), which in contrast to the ZDF (German Second Television) has no Turkish moderators or actors. In Germany, there are series where German-speaking Turks in Istanbul are solving criminal cases... [Yes, Turkish moderators are the answer... But only so that the majority population learns Turkish...]

Kopf: SOKO (Special Investigation Commission) Istanbul...

Akpinar: Exactly!

Kopf: But is that enough of an explanation? That there are no ethnic Turkish actors on television?

Akpinar: Certainly. The young people don’t feel themselves represented. There is also a dearth of heroes. In Germany, the head of the Greens is a Turk. That is formative. Turks like to emulate.

Kopf: I hear from female teachers that fathers refuse to talk to them about their children, because they want to talk to a man. What are the teachers to do?

Akpinar: That is a minority with the wrong attitude. In a Turkish household, the wife is the [lady] boss.

Kopf: We are more macho than the Turks?

Akpinar: (laughs) In most households, the Turkish husband has nothing to say. You wouldn’t believe what all my father does for housework. Cooking, ironing, cleaning. Mamma Mia!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Violent Turkish Colonists Overwhelm German Education System

If Turkey gets into the EU or gets the visa-free travel agreement it seeks, there will soon be scenes like this all over Europe.

Turkey's Top EU Negotiator Says Country Won't Necessarily Join Euro Zone

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--Turkey wouldn't necessarily adopt the euro if it joins the European Union, the country's top E.U. negotiator said Friday.

"Even if we become a member, we do not have to have to come into the euro zone immediately," said Egeman Bagis, Turkey's Minister for E.U. Affairs.

He pointed to the U.K. and Sweden---E.U. members that have kept their own currencies--as examples of what Ankara may decide if Brussels votes to include the country in its regional pact.

But Bagis cautioned that Turkey hasn't yet made a final decision whether it would be worth its while. "We will cross that bridge when we come to it. I'm not saying we will, I'm not saying we won't," he told Dow Jones Newswires at a briefing at the Turkish embassy in Washington.

He said that although Europe's ongoing economic crisis had created additional political friction for the Turkey's efforts to join the union, the country's healthy growth also has potentially strengthened its long-term negotiating position.

"My new slogan is, 'Hold on tight Europe, Turkey's coming to your rescue,'" Bagis said. "We can help the E.U. get out of this difficult situation," Bagis said. "Europe needs Turkey economically, Europe needs Turkey's young and dynamic workforce, Europe needs Turkey's access to reach 70% of the energy resources that it so desperately needs."


Was Turkish rule in the Balkans relatively benign?

A few days ago I quoted an article about Turkey's attempts to re-establish its influence in the Balkans in an attempt to fulfil its cherished fantasy of recreating the Ottoman empire. In this article, the journalist stated as fact that

the historical reality is that the Ottomans were relatively benign rulers in the Balkans, allowing occupied lands to keep their way of life and religion.

But were they really? Consider this extract from The Balkan Peninsula, written in the early 20th century by Jovan Cvijić, in which he describes the effects Ottoman rule had on the non-Muslims, who were forced to live in conditions of dhimmitude:

[they became]…accustomed to belonging to an inferior, servile class, whose duty it is to make themselves acceptable to the master, to humble themselves before him and to please him. These people become close-mouthed, secretive, cunning; they lose all confidence in others; they grow used to hypocrisy and meanness because these are necessary in order for them to live and to avoid violent punishments. The direct influence of oppression and violence is manifested in almost all the Christians as feelings of fear and apprehension. Whenever Moslem brigands or evil-doers made their appearance somewhere, entire districts used to live in terror, often for months on end. There are regions where the Christian population has lived under a reign of fear from birth until death. In certain parts of Macedonia, they don’t tell you how they fought against the Turks or against the Albanians, but rather about the way that they managed to flee from them, or the ruse that they used to escape them. In Macedonia I heard people say: “Even in our dreams we flee from the Turks and the Albanians.” It is true that for about twenty years a certain number of them have regained their composure, but the deep-seated feeling has not changed among the masses of people. Even after the liberation in 1912 one could tell that a large number of Christians had not yet become aware of their new status: fear could still be read on their faces.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Turks Still Trying to Extort Visa-free Status From Europe

The Turks are pushing hard to get visa-free travel in Europe and rather than laugh in their face and tear up their EU application, Europe's weak leaders are considering giving it to them. As leverage the Turks are using the proposed re-admission agreement which would see Turkey take back illegal immigrants who entered Europe through its territory, promising not to sign it unless a deal on the completely unrelated issue of visa-free travel is made.

"They might be two different issues, but for us they are connected," said Selim Yenel, deputy undersecretary for Bilateral Affairs and Public Diplomacy of the Turkish foreign ministry. "Unfortunately the EU must come to their senses.They have not done so Nothing is happening on the visa question and they want us to sign the re-admission agreement. Well sorry that is not going to happen."

As a senior Turkish foreign ministry official put it, Brussels has to understand it can't have its cake and eat it, too.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Interesting Conspiracy Theory About Erdogan

I came across this comment on the Guardian today and found it thought-provoking.

Erdogan's rants are aimed at the Turkish population in Turkey, NOT Germany. He builds nationalism at home. He is trying to provoke the EU to the extent that he is not held responsible for Turkey's failure to become an EU member - Erdogan simply does not want EU membership, but he could never say that openly, so he needs to provide a reason as to why it is not tenable!

Erdogan does indeed act outrageously to the point that it is hard to believe Turkey's EU application is still on track. If this is the game he is playing, he can probably hardly believe how weak and timorous Europe's leaders are. I know I cannot.

Lending plausibility to the theory is the fact that Erdogan was previously associated with the recently deceased Necmettin Erbakan, Turkey's first jihadist Prime Minister, who was forced to resign by the military, and who opposed EU membership and wanted Turkey to turn east instead. Turkish support for joining the EU has indeed declined steeply in the last few years, partly because of the insulted national pride about not being welcomed with open arms. Could it all be a Machiavellian plot by Erdogan to precipitate Turkey's rejection by the EU without getting the blame?

Ultimately, I'm not convinced by this theory, but it does provide some interesting food for thought.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

More Ergenekon Arrests in Turkey

There has been another wave of Ergenekon arrests in Turkey. 20 people have been arrested, including military officials. This time the Turkish government is claiming the arrests have some connection to "the killing of three Christian missionaries in the southeastern city of Malatya in 2007". Is this some crazed attempt at winning Western support for the crackdown by trying to link the mythical Ergenekon plot to attacks on Christians?

Turkey Refused to Intercept Ship Carrying Arms

It seems that prior to intercepting the Victoria, the ship which was carrying arms believed to have been intended for Palestinian militants, Israel asked Turkey to perform the interception itself within its own waters. Turkey refused.

It is also now being reported that the ship was flying Turkish and Liberian flags.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Turkish Foreign Minister Waxes Lyrical About Common Destiny of Middle East

In a speech delivered to an Al-Jazeera forum recently and published in the Guardian today, Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, waxes lyrical about the "common destiny" of the Middle East. It gives a fascinating insight into his, and Turkey's, mindset.

The wave of revolutions in the Arab world was spontaneous. But it also had to happen. They were necessary in order to restore the natural flow of history. In our region – west Asia and the south Mediterranean – there were two abnormalities in the last century: first, colonialism in the 1930s, 40s and 50s that divided the region into colonial entities, and severed the natural links between peoples and communities. For example, Syria was a French colony and Iraq a British one, so the historical and economic links between Damascus and Baghdad were cut.

The second abnormality was the cold war, which added a further division: countries that had lived together for centuries became enemies, like Turkey and Syria. We were in Nato; Syria was pro-Soviet. Our border became not a border between two nation states, but the border between two blocs. Yemen was likewise divided.

Now it is time to naturalise the flow of history. I see all these revolutions as a delayed process that should have happened in the late 80s and 90s as in eastern Europe. It did not because some argued that Arab societies didn't deserve democracy, and needed authoritarian regimes to preserve the status quo and prevent Islamist radicalism. Some countries and leaders who were proud of their own democracy, insisted that democracy in the Middle East would threaten security in our region.

Now we are saying all together: no. An ordinary Turk, an ordinary Arab, an ordinary Tunisian can change history. We believe that democracy is good, and that our people deserve it. This is a natural flow of history. Everybody must respect this will of the people.

If we fail to understand that there is a need to reconnect societies, communities, tribes and ethnicities in our region, we will lose the momentum of history. Our future is our sense of common destiny. All of us in the region have a common destiny.

Now, if this transformation is a natural flow of the history, then how should we respond? First, we need an emergency plan to save people's lives, to prevent disaster. Second, we need to normalise life. And finally, we need to reconstruct and restore the political systems in our region, just as we would rebuild our houses after a tsunami.

But in order to undertake that restoration, we need a plan, a vision. And we need the self-confidence to do it – the self-confidence to say: this region is ours, and we will be the rebuilders of it. But for all this to happen, we must be clear about the basic principles that we have to follow.

First, we need to trust the masses in our region, who want respect and dignity. This is the critical concept today: dignity. For decades we have been insulted. For decades we have been humiliated. Now we want dignity. That is what the young people in Tahrir Square demanded. After listening to them, I became much more optimistic for the future. That generation is the future of Egypt. They know what they want. This is a new momentum in our region, and it should be respected.

The second principle is that change and transformation are a necessity, not a choice. If history flows and you try to resist it, you will lose. No leader, however charismatic, can stop the flow of history. Now it is time for change. Nobody should cling to the old cold war logic. Nobody should argue that only a particular regime or person can guarantee a country's stability. The only guarantee of stability is the people.

Third, this change must be peaceful – security and freedom are not alternatives; we need both. In this region we are fed up with civil wars, and tension. All of us have to act wisely without creating violence or civil strife between brothers and sisters. We have to make this change possible with the same spirit of common destiny.

Fourth, we need transparency, accountability, human rights and the rule of law, and to protect our social and state institutions. Revolution does not mean destruction. The Egyptian case is a good example: the army acted very wisely not to confront the people. But if there is no clear separation between the military and civilian roles of the political institutions, you may face problems. I am impressed by Field Marshal Tantawi's decision to deliver power to the civilian authority as soon as possible.

Finally, the territorial integrity of our countries and the region must be protected. The legal status and territorial integrity of states including Libya and Yemen should be protected. During colonialism and cold war we had enough divisions, enough separations.

This process must be led by the people of each country, but there should be regional ownership. This is our region. Intellectuals, opinion-makers, politicians of this region should come together more frequently in order to decide what should happen in our region in the future. We are linked to each other for centuries to come.

Whatever happens in Egypt, in Libya, in Yemen, in Iraq or in Lebanon affects us all. Therefore we should show solidarity with the people of these countries. There should be more regional forums, for politicians and leaders, for intellectuals, for the media.

Usually the "Middle East" – an orientalist term – is regarded as synonymous with tensions, conflicts and underdevelopment. But our region has been the centre of civilisation for millennia, leading to strong traditions of political order in which multicultural environments flourish. In addition to this civilisational and political heritage, we have sufficient economic resources today to make our region a global centre of gravity.

Now it is time to make historic reassessments in order to transform our region into one of stability, freedom, prosperity, cultural revival and co-existence. In this new regional order there should be less violence and fewer barriers between countries, societies and sects. But there should be more economic interdependency, more political dialogue and more cultural interaction.

Today the search for a new global order is under way. After the international financial crisis, we need to develop an economic order based on justice, and a social order based on respect and dignity. And this region – our region – can contribute to the formation of this emerging new order: a global, political, economic and cultural new order.

Our responsibility is to open the way for this new generation, and to build a new region over the coming decade that will be specified by the will of its people.

Does this man sound like a European? Does it sound like he in any way thinks of himself as being European or perceives any connection with Europe's past or future? No. He is a Middle Easterner. He identifies with the history of the Middle East. He fantasises about the future of the Middle East. Insults to the "dignity" of the Middle East pain him. He wants to dialogue with his fellow Middle Easterners about how to build a new Middle East, one into which we non-Middle Easterners must not dare intrude. We should let him do so, outside of the European Union.

Turkish Newspaper to Publish Wikileaks Cables Relating to Turkey

The Turkish newspaper Taraf says it has made a deal with Wikileaks to publish thousands of leaked cables that relate to Turkey. It says it will begin publishing reports on the cables tomorrow. More of the leaked US diplomatic cables came from Turkey than any other single country.

Israel Intercepts Weapons-Carrying Ship Travelling from Turkey to Egypt

Israeli commandos intercepted a ship travelling from the port of Mersin in Turkey to Alexandria in Egypt. The ship contained weapons Israel believes were intended for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

The ship was German-owned, Liberia-flagged and had originated its journey in Syria.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Charles Tannock MEP Speaks in the Turkey EU Parliament Debate

Turkey Seeking to Re-establish Ottoman Empire in the Balkans

Turkey uses economic clout to gain Balkan foothold


The minarets and Turkish coffeehouses in this southern Serbian town are reminders of the Muslim empire that once shook Europe's foundations by pushing armies all the way to the gates of Vienna.

Now Turkey — the modern state that replaced the Ottoman empire — is staging a comeback. Turkey's fast-growing economic clout is allowing it into Europe through the back door, even as its dream of joining the continent through the path of EU membership founders.

Turkey's trade with the Balkan countries increased to $17.7 billion in 2008 from about $3 billion in 2000. Turkey's companies have built the largest university campus in the Balkans, in a suburb of Sarajevo, Bosnia. And its banks provided 85 percent of loans for building a highway through Serbia for Turkish transit of goods to the EU.

On a 2009 trip to Bosnia, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu explicitly linked his nation's Balkan strategy to the Ottoman Empire, which ruled the region between the 14th and early 20th centuries.

"The Ottoman centuries of the Balkans were success stories. Now we have to reinvent this."

"Turkey," he declared triumphantly, "is back."

Many Muslims in the Balkans welcome Turkey's growing influence. Avdija Salkovic, a 25-year-old student, has spent his whole life in Novi Pazar but considers Turkey his motherland.

"Our feelings toward Turkey have always been the same," said Salkovic, sipping strong black tea in a smoky cafe in the shadows of a mosque in this predominantly Muslim town. "The difference is that Turkey is back to its historic lands, and is finally looking at us."

Those feelings of kinship are strong in Turkey as well. Many Turks trace their roots to the Balkans and still have relatives living in the region, a legacy of Ottoman days. A fascination for one another's popular culture — from music to soap operas — strengthens the affinity.

But non-Muslims, especially in Orthodox Christian Serbia and Bulgaria, view the Turkish inroads with growing alarm and suspicion. Turkey's on a mission to establish "hegemonic control" over the Balkans, warns Bulgarian political scientist Ognyan Minchev.

The EU and U.S., too, are increasingly wary of Turkey's growing clout, particularly in places like Bosnia, Serbia and Albania, which like Turkey itself are stuck in the limbo of a snail-paced EU membership process. Washington, while recognizing Turkey's value as a go-between with Muslim communities, is loath to share influence in a region where it has strong strategic interests.

In place of distant European dreams, Turkey is offering an immediate embrace. And as Ankara also courts hardline regimes like Syria and Iran, some in the West fear its growing leadership in the Balkans could complicate EU attempts to instill Western democratic and financial standards here.

"For many years, the perception has been that Turkey needs Europe more than Europe needs Turkey," said Misha Glenny, a prominent Balkans political analyst. "If Europe does not look hard at the dynamism of Turkish economic and foreign policy, it may miss the boat."

The Balkans still aspire to EU membership, but Turkey allows them privileged access to a huge and rapidly growing domestic market of 74 million people, compared to about 55 million in the entire Balkan region.

"If the Balkans find that too many obstacles are strewn about the road to Brussels, they may well be tempted to set out on the shorter road to Istanbul," Glenny said.

A confidential diplomatic cable sent last year by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara describes Turkey's "back to the past" policy toward the Balkans as "problematic." In fact, it said Washington's biggest strategic headache in the region is Turkey, which is trying through political "pawns" to impose its domination.

However, the cable, released by WikiLeaks, also underplays Turkey's chances, saying it has "Rolls Royce ambitions, but Rover resources."

Dusan Reljic, an analyst at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, agreed that Turkey will struggle to become the dominant power, because — despite grumblings — the region is still politically focused on joining Europe.

"It is a kind of an imperial over-stretch," said Reljic. "But they can't deliver."

However, economic signs of Turkish influence in the region abound.

In 2008, Turkish Airlines bought a 49 percent stake of Bosnia's national carrier, BH Airlines, and is negotiating the takeover of Serbia's troubled national carrier, JAT airways. Dozens of Turkish firms have flocked to Bosnia, and the two nations have signed an arms-production deal. Since January last year, Serbian exporters have been selling their products in Turkey free of customs duties.

Perhaps most significantly, Turkey has been using its recent diplomatic rapprochement with Moscow to lobby for making the Balkans a major strategic hub for a Russian gas pipeline planned to stretch from Central Asia to Western Europe, via Turkey.

Turkey has been less successful presenting itself as a diplomatic broker in the Balkans, wading into several political disputes in a region torn apart by a series of bloody ethnic wars in the 1990s.

However, there is one role Turkey, a largely secular Muslim nation, may be ideally positioned to shoulder: stemming the rise of Islamic radicalism in some Muslim-dominated areas of the Balkans.

"Turkey does point the way in how to integrate Islamist-based politics into the political life of a country, and thereby reduce the possibility for violent groups to emerge in the country," said Fadi Hakoura, a Turkey analyst at U.K.-based Chatham House.

Many in the Balkans whose ancestors converted to Islam during the Ottoman occupation see Turkey as a possible land of refuge in times of trouble. There are an estimated nine million Turks with Balkan ethnic roots living in Turkey. Many of the Ottoman sultans and viziers — the empire's medieval prime ministers — were ethnic Bulgarians or Serbs, and the harems were populated with women from the Balkans.

The deputy mayor of Novi Pazar, administrative capital of the economically troubled Sandzak region, said several Turkish political and economic delegations have recently visited his city with proposals for building roads and investing in a large meat factory that would export products to Turkey.

"The Turks know this region historically," Mirsad Jusufovic said. "Their logic is, why don't we invest in the region that will be a part of the European Union before Turkey is."

The Turkish influence in Sandzak is so deep that when Turkey beat Serbia in a world basketball championship semifinal last summer, thousands of local fans hit the streets of Novi Pazar waving Turkey's red flags and chanting anti-Serb slogans.

Turkey's intentions remain a source of suspicion among Serbs, who recount tales of Ottoman horrors across the generations. Only some 15 percent of Serbs consider Turkey a friendly power, according to a Gallup poll.

But at the state level, the historic vision in Serbia of Turkey as an abusive occupier has little influence. And the historical reality is that the Ottomans were relatively benign rulers in the Balkans, allowing occupied lands to keep their way of life and religion.

And Ottoman stereotypes don't prevent tens of thousands of Serbs from visiting Turkey each year or becoming addicted to Turkish soaps.

"Only after watching on TV how they live, speak, have the same habits and eat the same food as us, I understood how similar the Turks are to us Serbs," said Dragana Milosavljevic, a Belgrade housewife. "It looks like their empire never left us."


The Wikileaks cables mentioned

an “extraordinary” speech given by Davutoglu in Sarajevo in 2009 in which he argued that “the Balkans, Caucasus, and Middle East were all better off when under Ottoman control or influence ... however, now Turkey is back, ready to lead — or even unite. ... We will re-establish this [Ottoman] Balkan.”

Monday, 14 March 2011

Peter Van Dalen Speaks Against Turkish Accession to the EU

Dutch MEP, Peter Van Dalen, of the ChristenUnie party, speaks against Turkish accession to the EU.

"Turkish accession to the EU would be one of the greatest historical mistakes ever."

Philip Claeys Speaks Against Turkish Accession to the EU

One of the best speeches in the EU Parliament debate last week was from Philip Claeys of the Belgian party Vlaams Belang.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Lorenzo Fontana Speaks Against Turkey's Accession to the EU

Lorenzo Fontana, of the Italian Northern League, speaks against Turkish accession to the European Union in the EU Parliament's debate on the 2010 Progress Report on Turkey. He mentions the fact that Turkish delegates recently voted against a resolution condemning the persecution of Christians around the world. I hadn't heard of this previously but researched it. It turns out he's right. Turkish representatives voted against this Council of Europe resolution condemning violence against Christians in the Middle East. Apparently they objected to one of its clauses, which specifically referred Christian masses being interrupted and shut down on Christmas day in Cyprus last December.

The text of the clause read as follows:

Following the adoption by the European Parliament of a resolution on the situation of Christians in the context of freedom of religion, on 20 January 2011, the Assembly calls on Turkey to clarify fully the circumstances surrounding the interruption of the celebration of Christmas Mass in the villages of Rizokarpaso and Ayia Triada in the northern part of Cyprus on 25 December 2010 and to bring to justice those responsible.

The incident is described more fully here:

During the morning service on Christmas at the Church of Agios Synesios at Rizokarpaso, located in the northern Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, so-called “police officers” of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime entered the church, ordered the priest to stop the liturgy, forced the priest and the Christian Orthodox Cypriot worshippers attending the service out of the church and proceeded to lock its doors.

The “police officers” claimed that they stopped the service on instructions by the so-called “Ministry of Foreign Affairs” of the occupation regime, because the priest did not obtain prior permission to conduct Christmas service.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Distinguished Dhimmi : Geoffrey Van Orden

Geoffrey Van Orden is another of the British dhimmis who distinguished themselves in the debate on the 2010 Progress Report on Turkey. He seems quite passionate about the subject too, rebuking the Cypriots for their irrational obsession with trivial matters like, you know, having half their country occupied by a foreign invader.

Van Orden's behaviour strikes me as particularly repulsive. This is a man who on his website hints at some sympathy with the view that Britain should not even be in the EU:

I go to Brussels to speak up for British interests and the people of the East of England. I didn't become an MEP in order to promote the EU. I want us to govern our own country.

Yet there he is, just like other notable Eurosceptics Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell, passionately campaigning to get Turkey into it! Like them, he, too, is a founder member of the Conservative Friends of Turkey Association.

As with Carswell, the mind simply boggles at the hypocrisy of this man's support for Turkish accession when considered in the light of some of his other public statements. Here he is, for example, talking about public support for immigration restrictions on the ConservativeHome website:

After the economy, Conservatives across the East of England are most concerned about immigration and ‘human rights’ legislation. This is the conclusion from a wide-ranging opinion poll that I carried out across Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire (the full results of which are available on request).

Apart from the economy, the unprompted issue of greatest concern was immigration, followed by “human rights” and health & safety laws. In answer to specific questions, the overwhelming wish was to see immigration cut (98%) with 83% wanting ‘drastic reductions’. 56% support a Royal Commission on Immigration.

Or here in a publication "The Dangers of Multiculturalism", cited on his own website:

For centuries, countries such as Britain have proudly given refuge to those
fleeing persecution from around the world. At the same time we have
welcomed those who wish to come to our country to make a positive
contribution to our society. We have benefited enormously from such
small scale immigration both economically and culturally.

In the past decade this situation has changed dramatically and without any
democratic mandate. There has been massive and uncontrolled growth in
immigration, both legal and illegal, often from societies where there is no
secular, liberal democratic tradition. There are inevitable negative
consequences of this for the integrity of our nation and its core values. We
are in danger of creating a fractured society made up of clusters of clan,
faith and ethnic communities which have become the visible expression of

To avoid this situation and to develop a coherent national entity where all
citizens are well integrated, have equal opportunities and respect as well as
certain common, defining national perspectives, then further immigration
must be severely limited.

I wonder how many of his constituents know that he spends his time passionately campaigning to get Turkey's 80 million Muslims into the European Union and be given the right to immigrate to Britain.

Here is a transcript of his speech:

Madam President, I recognise that there are differing views on Turkish accession both between and within the political groups in this Parliament, my own included. My personal view has always been very supportive of Turkish aspirations towards Europe. Of course there are concerns but I would say that, given the turbulence we are now seeing in North Africa and the Middle East and against the background of a continuing threat from Islamist terrorism, never has it been more important for us to send a positive signal to Turkey that she is welcome in the club of the European democracies.

I would ask our Greek Cypriot and Greek friends in particular to give up their unilateral approach to the Cyprus problem, to be more even-handed and to reach a comprehensive settlement with the Turks before it is too late. We criticise Turkey over the Additional Protocol – we have heard the same again this afternoon from the Presidency-in-Office – yet no mention is made of the failure to implement the EU Council decision of 26 April 2004.

Turkey is a key member of the Atlantic alliance, a democracy with a pivotal role at the interface between West and East, and a country that is changing fast with a growth rate that puts her among global leaders. Let us get moving! Let us not lose Turkey at this stage!

Distinguished Dhimmi : Michael Cashman

In the recent EU Parliament debate on the "2010 Progress Report on Turkey", I thought the most repulsive contribution was from the Labour MEP for the West Midlands, Michael Cashman. Watching his speech, it is very easy to imagine this man as the member of some Soviet-style Duma rather than a democratic parliament. There is no attempt at serious substantiation of his point of view; he simply declaims it defiantly, his bellicose tone implying that any dissenters would be immediately classified as evil and sent off to re-education camps or firing squads had he the power to make it happen.

"I am proud to stand up and welcome the progress made by Turkey in its accession to the EU. I have long been a supporter of Turkish accession. It is in the EU’s interest and indeed it is in Turkey’s. We can take a narrow, populist view or we can show leadership and vision. That leadership and vision is to bring Turkey into the EU, where it belongs."

These words - uttered in the crude, belligerent tone of an old trade union bruiser or communist cadre - crackle with contempt for the ordinary people he nominally represents. His constituency, the West Midlands, used to be the beating industrial heart of England but now bears greater resemblance to a third world cesspit.

Like the Communist nomenklatura of old, Cashman manages to combine a sense of moral superiority with up-to-the-neck levels of personal corruption. The press revealed a few years ago that he routinely pays his gay lover £30,000 per year from EU taxpayer funds, supposedly for administrative services even though his partner is also the director of a busy PR firm.

Review of the EU Parliament Debate on Turkish Accession to the EU

As previously reported, the EU Parliament this week hosted a debate on Turkey's accession process to the European Union. Although billed as a "progress" report, more than one speaker wrly noted that no progress had been made and it would have been more accurate to describe it as a "situation" report.

The entire debate is available for download as a video file here. (WARNING: the file is 1.2 Gb).

It was striking how many of the EU parliamentarians deplored the lack of free speech in Turkey and spoke about how essential it was to the functioning of a healthy democracy. These same people would, no doubt, be the first in line to call for the prosecution of anyone who warned about the evil nature of Islam and the potentially pernicious effects of its spread throughout Europe. Other prominent themes included the Cyprus issue and the maltreatment of Christians and other religious minorities in Turkey.

It has to be said that the British MEPs were guilty of far greater dhimmitude than any other national contingent. Michael Cashman, Graham Watson and Geoffrey Van Orden particularly undistinguished themselves. I intend to make separate posts featuring some of the speeches made in the debate and discussing the backgrounds of some of the speakers. Like most EU citizens, I am forced to watch helplessly as a utopian political elite determinedly pursues this enormously destructive course of action. We can only hope that by exposing the individual involvement of these MEPs, their constituents will be able to expose them to unpleasant electoral consequences.

Some of the most sceptical (and therefore best) speeches came from the nationalist and anti-Islamic parties which are thankfully now prospering around Europe. However, I felt the only speaker who told the blunt, unvarnished truth was the Dutch MEP Barry Madlener of Geert Wilders' PVV. This is the speech featured above. (Don't worry. Like most of the speeches, it lasted barely longer than a minute.)

Sadly there was little or no full-frontal critique of the whole idea of admitting Turkey to the European Union, although a few mentioned the "privileged partnership" idea. Similarly, there was almost no mention of Islam, the corrosive effect of the Muslim presence in Europe already or how it is likely to be exacerbated by Turkish accession.

Friday, 11 March 2011

EU Parliament Issues Critical Report on Turkey's Progress Towards Membership

The EU Parliament issued an extremely critical report on Turkey's progress towards becoming an EU member.

The Cyprus-Turkey deadlock, lack of dialogue among Turkish political parties and the undermining of press freedom and other basic rights in Turkey are the key factors slowing down the country's EU accession talks, said rapporteur Ria Oomen-Ruijten (EPP, NL) during the debate.

The resolution, adopted with the support of a large majority of MEPs, welcomes Turkey's adoption of constitutional amendments but stresses that "an overall constitutional reform" is still needed to transform Turkey into a real democracy. MEPs also applaud the recent finalisation of negotiations on a readmission agreement to handle migration. Once this enters into force, the Commission should initiate "a visa dialogue, with particular attention to the matter of entry conditions for business people and students".

Among the main remaining challenges, MEPs list the worrying deterioration of press freedom, including self-censorship of national media and internet sites; the situation of women and rising rates of honour killings and forced marriages; and the lack of protection of religious minorities. "Only limited progress" has been made to ensure their legal protection so that they can own properties, open houses of worship or train clergy, adds the resolution.

The EPP group of parliamentarians apparently pushed for an amendment calling for "study of the possibility" of a "privileged partnership" being offered to Turkey instead of full membership, but was persuaded to withdraw it. The Socialists pushed for a text stating that full membership was the goal. Eventually a compromise was agreed and the text declared that the process would be "long-lasting and open-ended".

The Turkish government has been squawking about the critical resolution:

The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling it one-sided, out of line with reality, and unacceptable to Turkey.

"Turkey, as a negotiating EU candidate country, expects the EP, the voice of the European people and EU public, to take a fair and objective stand and display seriousness required by its function," the statement said.

"We observe that the report includes some views of a limited number of EP members, who represent certain countries, with concern over their domestic politics at the cost of risking the EU's interests," it said.

The full text of the resolution can be read here.

Turks Say They Will Only Back No-Fly Zone With UN Mandate

The Turks are trying to weasel out of their opposition to a NATO-led no-fly zone being imposed on Libya. Having previously threatened to veto any NATO action, they now realise that leaves them in an uncomfortably isolated position. So they have dreamed up a new wheeze to justify their opposition: they'll support the no-fly zone but only if it is approved by the UN. Of course they know Russia or China will veto the proposal in the UN so it will never happen. But at least the Turks have some diplomatic cover.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Germany Getting Tired of Turkish Hectoring

Ever since the Second World War, the Germans, oppressed by guilt, have been generally unassertive in international affairs. It looks as though Erdogan may finally have succeeded in prodding them out of their diffidence, however.

Horst Seehofer, a senior politician and head of the CSU, which forms parts of the ruling coalition, recently spoke with rare, undiplomatic candour about the blustering demands made by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan the previous week:

“A country that disregards the human rights of women as much as Turkey does, that on its own territory renders life difficult for Christians, from such a prime minister we do not need lessons about how to deal with religious minorities in our countries,” Mr. Seehofer said.

He also backed up Hans-Peter Friedrich, the new German Interior Minister, who declared last week that nothing in history substantiated the claim that Islam was part of German culture.

It looks as though Erdogan may finally have performed some useful function by rousing the dormant spirit of the German people.

Turkey Blocking NATO Action in Libya

As countries in Europe and North America are talking up the need for military action in Libya, with the focus on a no-fly zone, Turkey remains resolutely opposed to these initiatives. NATO would be the natural vehicle for any action that would be taken but Turkey is likely to use its veto power to block any concrete proposals.

Instead Turkey is coming out with its usual spiel about how it act be a bridge between East and West, offering to mediate with the Gaddafi regime.

"Well, Turkey has bridges to these people and these nations they do not have,” Idiz added. “Turkey can say things to these countries that other people can not. And, therefore, given that Turkey's special relationship, the fact that it is an Islamic country. So I think Turkey is in (a) unique position here, and I think the West itself does not really know what to do."

The whole episode is yet another indication that Turkey is unfit to remain a member of the NATO alliance. There is a moral gulf between Turkey and the west that is only going to widen in the years to come.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Erdogan Claims International Law Protects the Language of People of Turkish Origin Living Elsewhere

I wrote last week about Erdogan's visit to Germany and the negative impression he had made.

Erdogan gave a very interesting interview to the Rheinische Post which I have only just discovered. I have translated excerpts of it below:

Interviewer: Do you see yourself as the president of the Turks living in Germany?

Erdogan: Of course I am the president of all citizens of the republic of Turkey, wherever in the world they are.

Of the roughly three million Turks in Germany, many already have a German passport. Who should these citizens be loyal to, Germany or Turkey?

Erdogan: The norms in relation to the loyalty of migrants to the countries in which they are living have changed. Even when these people have accepted citizenship in their new home, there is a global consensus today that they should retain their mother tongue and culture. In this context, it is important to us that even those Turks with a German passport maintain both of those things, and we support them in this. At this point, I would like to point out that in France, Holland and other EU countries, double citizenship is permitted.

Three years ago, you already gave a speech about integration in Germany. That was in Cologne. At that time you provoked a lot of criticism with the phrase: "Assimilation is a crime against humanity". What is so bad about assimilation, if it takes place without compulsion?

Erdogan: In international law there is the provision that, in the countries in which they are living, migrants should maintain the language and culture of their country of origin. Consequently a policy designed to deprive them of their language and culture would be an infringement of international law.

It has long been though that integration was only a question of time. But even in the third generation of Turks in Germany there are still huge problems with it. What went wrong with integration?

Erdogan: It was wrong that for the integration of Turks in Germany, the German authorities did not take into account the views, expectations and needs of the Turks as the target group. As of today the German authorities in questions of integration also do not take into account the views of the responsible authorities in Turkey. For successful integration, I think it is necessary that in future the German authorities do not act unilaterally, but rather aim for cooperation with the Turkish migrants, the Turkish civil organisations and the Turkish government.

These are some quite extraordinary statements. He is now barely attempting to disguise the fact that he thinks even people of Turkish descent who are German citizens should be loyal to him and Turkey. And his claim that international law requires migrants to maintain their language and culture is utterly bizarre. What international law is this? And he demands that European governments consult with him on questions of domestic policy!

Regardless, it should be completely clear at this point that Turkish migrants represent a kind of fifth column within European society and their movement abroad represents imperial-style colonisation in which they are expected to exhibit loyalty to a foreign power. Any European government should feel fully entitled to completely cut off the flow of Turkish migrants.

Would You Give Her a Visa?

We may finally have found a Turk worthy of a visa. But she can't get one. Apparently this model has been unable to obtain a visa to attend a modelling contest in Germany. While this new-found rigour on the part of German officials is certainly to be welcomed, it is perhaps, in this case, a little excessive.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Why Erdogan Has Sided With Gaddafi

Although he was quick to take the side of the Egyptian protesters against Mubarak, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has been much more reticent about Gaddafi. He has pooh-poohed the idea of NATO military intervention (implicitly threatening to veto it) and has refused to endorse plans to impose economic sanctions on Libya.

The explanation comes in an article recently published in the Boston Globe:

Turkey’s odd position on Libya is rooted in its large investments in the country and close personal contacts of Prime Minister Erdogan with Moammar Khadafy. In addition to the well-publicized "human rights" award that Erdogan received from Khadafy, there are more pressing national economic interests at play. Over the past ten years Turks have won almost all lucrative construction contracts in Libya. Consequently, as many as 30,000 Turkish citizens were working and doing business in Libya at the time of the uprisings.

Erdogan To Give Turks Living Abroad The Right To Vote In Turkish Elections

The ruling AKP party in Turkey plans to give Turks living abroad the right to vote in Turkish elections, despite Turkey's Supreme Election Board having ruled this out for technical reasons.

But who are these Turks living abroad? Are they expatriate businessmen, on secondment to a foreign country for a few years? It seems much more likely that Erdogan has in mind the millions of Turkish colonists in Europe, who are happy to parasitise European taxpayers while refusing to integrate with European norms.

On his recent trip to Germany, Erdogan spoke of something called blue cards he was planning to introduce:

Erdogan said Turkey would issue special documents — “blue cards” — for Turks who abandon their Turkish citizenship in favour of German nationality, a procedure required under German law. “We will recognise the blue card as an identity document and make it easier for you to make transactions at government offices and banks” in Turkey, he said.

Will these blue cards also grant the right to vote in Turkish elections? We already know that Erdogan considers people of Turkish descent living in Europe to be "his people", even if their families have been living in Europe for generations. We know that he cherishes the concept of a "Greater Turkey" which includes these people. Yet he also wants them to acquire citizenship in the European countries they are currently colonising so that they can exert political influence there in favour of Turkey and Islam. It looks very much as though this "blue card" initiative is a scheme designed to allow Turks to participate in the political islamification of Europe without giving up their rights in the "Greater Turkey".

And lest you think Germany might lodge an objection to this plan:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel told us that there were no problems at their end,” Erdoğan said.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Human Rights Watch Denounces Detention of Journalists in Turkey

Human Rights Watch has issued a statement denouncing the detention of journalists in Turkey. Key extracts from the statement are quoted below.

The arrest of nine journalists and writers on March 3, 2011, in the absence of clear reasonable cause, will have a chilling effect on free speech, Human Rights Watch said.

"In the absence of evidence that the police have credible reason to think Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener are responsible for wrongdoing, their arrests are a disturbing development," said Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch. "It raises concerns that what is now under investigation is critical reporting rather than coup plots."

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly raised concerns about restrictions on freedom of expression and press freedom, through laws introduced by the Justice and Development Party government in the previous parliament. There are also serious concerns about the high number of prosecutions, some of which result in convictions, for statements that neither advocate nor incite violence.

Some journalists in Turkey have been subject to prolonged pre-trial detention. The more common trend is repeated prosecution, which Human Rights Watch considers a form of harassment and which can have a chilling effect on the legitimate right to free speech.

"The government should take steps to remove all restrictions in law on freedom of expression and to demonstrate a commitment to press freedom and lively critical debate, which together are the hallmarks of a democracy," Sinclair-Webb said.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

More Journalists Arrested in Turkey

7 more journalists have been arrested in Turkey, allegedly in connection with the mythical Ergenekon plot which Erdogan and his fellow jihadists have been using as a convenient pretext to suppress the anti-jihad forces in the country, including the military and secular journalists.

The police raided the homes and offices of 11 people in Ankara and Istanbul. Among those detained were Nedim Sener, an investigative journalist for the newspaper Milliyet; Yalcin Kucuk, a writer who is a prominent critic of the governing Justice and Development Party; and Ahmet Sik, a journalist and academic who alleges that an Islamic movement associated with Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish-born cleric living in the United States, has infiltrated the country’s security forces.

Several thousand people protested against the repression of journalists generally in Turkey on Friday in Istanbul.

Even the risible European Commission has been moved to express its concern:

"The European Commission is following with concern the recent police actions against journalists," EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said in a statement late on Thursday.

Friday, 4 March 2011

EU Agrees to Ease Visa Restrictions on Turks!

Like a wily little Anatolian peasant, haggling over the price of a carpet with a naive western tourist, Turkey has yet again got what it wanted from the weak European Union. This time the EU has shockingly agreed to ease visa restrictions on Turks in return for Turkey taking back the illegal immigrants who made their way into Europe across its territory.

Malmström said that the EU had decided to open a visa dialogue with Turkey to look at ways of making it easier for Turkish citizens to enter the EU. She said that options under consideration included harmonisation of procedures for issuing visas and supporting documentation, multiple-entry visas for business executives, and visa waivers for students and researchers.

The Turkish ghettoes that have sprung up around Europe, whose inhabitants, according to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, should learn Turkish before they learn the native language, are going to get bigger.