En iyi dileklerle, saygılarla Bedri Baykam
(THE ARMENIAN CONFERENCE AND) THE ART OF MISINFORMATION The conference about the allegations regarding the Armenian Massacre in 1915, held in Istanbul last week-end, right before Turkey's debut talks with the EU this coming week, has been mainly the subject of several misleading news in the international press, including the IHT. It is interesting that the West has a serious inclination to publish several one-sided articles regarding Turkey, concerning the EU or Cyprus or for the Kurdish issue. The reason why the organization of such a conference in Istanbul created a public outrage was not because of its critical subject matter. The outrage was due to the fact that the conference didn't carry any impartiality or academic objectivity whatsoever. Among the invited participants there was not one single name among the renowned Turkish senior diplomats or Turkish historians that would defend Turkey's position vis a vis the allegations regarding the so called ''Armenian Genocide''. International foreign historians such as Bernard Lewis or Justin Mc Carthy were not invited either. I guess they carried -unfortunately for the subjective organizers- the ''guilt'' of believing that there had not been a genocide. I believe that world readers deserve to know more about such touchy issues than the long repeated cliches are supposed to do. To have any democratic free discussion about any subject, you have to listen to both sides of the story first. If there is no anti-thesis, than there can never be a synthesis or a possibly reached common ground. Such a futile enterprise of choosing to omit one side of the discussion-table deliberately, only results in a ridiculous, unconvincing effort to try a one-sided brain wash. This conference had already been tried to be assembled last May with the same one-sidedness, and had been postponed because of reactions of the Turkish general public. If the Turkish Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek had said ''They are stabbing us from our back'' at the time, it was not because of the subject of the conference but it was because of its ill/minded narrow approach. So when the IHT mentions the words of Ms. Krizstina Nagy, the EUs/executive spokeswoman, saying that the court-decision ''lacks any legal motivation'' she it? also chooses to disregard the conference organizers critically narrow approach and misleading guidance. Nevertheless, those of us Turks who are Kemalists, that is, believing in a fully secular democracy and freedom of expression, think that the court decision was not appropriate and the conference should still have been held without the one day delay and all the legal mess. This is because such a legal action, as well as the actions of the one suing Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, only contribute largely to keeping intact the prejudiced approach that in Turkey ''Democracy does not work well and the democrat intellectuals are severely punished'' Not that anything would come of such legal cases, except for building artificial heroes and fake martyrs of democracy. Pamuk is a typical case of a false hero of democracy. He never takes a position against the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, or against separatist Kurdish groups, all he goes by, is criticizing the Turkish state in a manner that has been existing in western media and politics for over 30 years, if not a full century. It's an attitude that pays off well for an ''international writer'' in need of publicity. So when he states to a foreign paper that ''Turks have massacred 30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians'' without any arguments or serious proofs, it only serves as the good example to use in due time by foreign critics of Turkey. Pamuk is ''The Trojan Horse'' that serves well its purpose. He's not knowledgable in those fields and he uses dramatically the campaigns on the rumors around Turkey, gives them an approval stamp, and gets full credit for his services. If you are looking for real martyrs of democracy in Turkey, you can search all those writers of the leftist Kemalist daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, who have, since 1990's, been assasinated by terrorists groups who are enemies of the secular democracy. What should Turkey have done? Not fight the bloody separatist terrorism led by the PKK, that killed thousands of Turkish as well Kurdish civilians and let the country be separated? Is that what France has done in Corsica or what Spain has done for ETA terrorism? The misleading content of the news can be so alarming that even when my own words are used by the French press, I read that I say '' make a false hero of Orhan Pamuk'' without any logic behind my argument, not even the one sidedness of the above-mentioned conference. In the Western press, it is almost never mentioned why Turkey denies the allegations of a ''Genocide''. Turkey, accepts that there has been a bloody internal war, but this had nothing to do with a genocide. For centuries and centuries, the Ottoman Empire lived peacefully with all ethnicities in its lands. Is it easy to believe the story that, one day in 1915, when the Empire who was at its knees and two inches away from being eventually ''eaten up'' by the allied forces, Ottomans would wake up one morning and decide to go hunting for Armenians out of the blue? The position taken by historians who refute the idea of a genocide is that the Ottoman Empire was defending itself, when some Armenian armed bands attacked the eastern territories of the sinking Empire and that it was just an unfortunate war which was not started by the Ottomans. One other thing that is also often disregarded, is how the Armenian terrorist group ASALA killed about 33 Turkish diplomats and civil servants in the 70's and the 1980's in a senseless ill-minded revenge spirit. At any rate Turkey has signed the UN treaty regarding genocides and there has never been an international court ruling against Turkey in this specific case. Only some undemocratic governments around the world have succumbed to the pressures of Armenian lobby groups and have ended up condemning Turkey one-sidedly on this issue. France has gone through the shame of coming to the point of forbidding anybody to even mention that ''The Genocide didn't take place''. Should this be the behavior of a country that wants to be seen as the heart of democracy? How would French people feel and behave if tomorrow there was a large scale conference bringing together only people that said that the Vichy government during 2nd World War was very democratic and that all allegations against them were unfounded? Wouldn't the same protests happen in France? We should also make a note that the Association for International researchers on genocide has published in the IHT on sept 23, 2005 an open letter addressed to Turkish Prime Minister Erdoðan: They have emphasized their point of view that there is no need for further researchs or discussions on this issue of the ''1915 Genocide'' and that the Turkish historians arguments are the only ''official versions'' of history. This proves again how eager this organization is, to close all possibilities of an objective debate and just wants to condemn Turkey only through a ''fait accompli&'' without facing any counter-ideas. In a very parallel attitude, the Armenian conference in Istanbul was the fruit of an unheard of desire to execute one-sidedly a country and stain its honor in a court-like assembly that would be more a stage-set tragic-comedy than anything else and especially not the behavior of a free university searching for the truth and world peace. Us Turks, contrary to what the people of the West are led to believe, are ready to listen to all accusations concerning history and discuss every subject freely. We are definitely mature enough and sure of our position, as well as our openness to hear opposite ideas. But do enemies of Turkey have the same approach? I'm afraid not. The only excuse I can find for the world press attitude in regards to this ''so-called conference'' is that they must never have heard the case of the university of a country trying to block totally the ideas that would only use a democratic right to answer and defend that same country's honor!