Losing faith in Turkey - Macleans.ca

Losing faith in Turkey


Turkey is a country for which I’ve long had much affection, and, until recently, hope. I’ve traveled from one end of the country to the other, which was always a pleasure. Politically, I’ve admired it as a Muslim democracy and a bridge between East and West.

A few months ago, before Israel’s raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla, I wrote about Turkey’s apparent drift away from the West, and especially Israel. I think there were valid reasons for concern at the time. On the other hand, Israel’s 2008-2009 war in Gaza was responsible for much of the chill in Turkey’s relationship with Israel, and Turkey’s anger was justified given the hundreds of Palestinian civilians who died in the conflict.

As for Turkey’s fraying ties with Europe, I blame much of this on Europe itself and its refusal to grant Turkey membership in the European Union. I personally feel the idea that there is some sort of unified European culture is absurd. What, exactly, do Bulgaria and Ireland have in common? Finland and Greece? But even if one were to judge Turkey’s ‘Europeanness’, its long ties to the region should have guaranteed its membership. Instead, some powerful member states, principally Germany, balked. Turkey got tired of begging and went to look for new friends. It’s hard to blame them.

But every once in a while, there are events that force even cynically realist political leaders to decide what they stand for.

Iran is planning to stone a woman to death, for adultery or some such act decreed a sex crime by the Islamist cretins who run that country. They’re going to bury Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a mother of two, up to her neck in a hole and throw rocks at her face and head until she bleeds to death, or, if she’s lucky, her skull caves in and expedites her passing. Asked about this during a press conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu could manage only:

“We’re trying to work and consult on all these issues with our neighbour Iran. Of course we have to see the file.”

A government that can’t bring itself to condemn this sort of barbarism lacks moral clarity. That should matter as Canada considers its relationship with its NATO ally Turkey.

UPDATE: Iran now says it will not stone Mohammadi-Ashtiani to death, though she may still be killed by another method.


Losing faith in Turkey

  1. Thank you for continuing to report on what is important in the world. It may be ignored by most Canadians, but please keep at it.

  2. As a democracy, Turkey, like most democracies, largely bases its foreign policy on domestic considerations. And democratic governments, above all, must get elected. Turkish people, like most people in the Arab and Muslim world, dislike how Israel treats its Palestinian population. Rightly, or wrongly, they perceive Israel as an aggressive bully.

    I find the current rhetoric in Turkey overly-populist and crude, but that Turkish politicians would pander to outrage over murdered Turkish citizens is no surprise. Israeli politicians would do the same. So would Canadian (unless the citizen in question was a Canadian soldier murdered by Israel while acting as a UN Observer).

    Thirdly: Stoning anyone to death is barbaric. So is torturing someone by simulating their drowning. So is sending them to a country where they will be beaten and possibly murdered. Canada never broke off relations with the United States over these offenses. Canada also maintained relations with Chile during a time when the Chilean security services routinely tortured and murdered its citizens. One alleged technique was the use of dogs to rape female prisoners.

    The question is: what does Turkey hope to gain? Domestically and in the wider region.

    • In response to your third point…Excuse me!!! You are comparing the stoning of an innocent woman who decided that she'd like to make her own decisions as to who shares her bed with the torture of potential/likely terrorists? That kind of warped thinking is exactly what's wrong with this country!!!

  3. The cold fact is Turkey isn't ready for EU membership. Though, that doesn't excuse politicians like Sarkozy who claim Turkey is culturally incompatible.

    • The reason why Turkey isnt still a member of the EU is because France & Germany do not want to have a ''second UK'' in the union (another regional powerhouse to share power with) and because of racist, islamophobia tendencies in Europe.

    •  Turkey does not need EU, all it needs is get out of customs union which only works for EU.
      Turkey is culturally incompatible, you cant see planes full of immigrants sent back. As an immigrant in Turkey i know it first hand. Turkey does not discuss laws like contraception, or abortion, ivf. Turkey does not attack anyone for oil. Shall I count more incompatibilities?

  4. To suggest that Turkey is a democracy is really to display a profound ignorance of that country and its history. Just for starters, since 1974 Turkey has been occupying with 40,000 troops northern Cyprus, after the Turkish army ethnically cleansed 200,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes, raped hundreds of women and massacred 6,000 innocent men, women and children. Turkey also denies the its guilt in the Armenian genocide – imagine what we'd think of Germany if it denied the holocaust – and Turkey brutally suppresses its own Kurdish population, some 20% of the population, which is why there is a brutal war going on between the Turkish army and Kurdish freedom fighters.

    Turkey is nowhere near ready to join the EU, which for Mr Petrou's information is united by a common adherence to democracy, the rule of law, freedom of expression and so on – none of which exist in Turkey. It is a pity that it took the jihadi flotilla and the breakdown in relations with Israel for people to realise the sort of country Turkey is.

    • I am actually sympathetic to your argument. But it begs further questions. Canada used to deny women and natives the vote; was it a democracy? England used to deny Catholics the vote? Was it a democracy? Was the US when it denied equal rights to black people?

      Is present day Israel a democracy? Palestinians in the Israeli-controlled West Bank are denied many basic rights.

      I do think, however, that what lies behind Turkey's recent moves is the more interesting question.

    • Moslem is Moslem , cannot change . They are moving into all countys now. They live in group neighborhoods , use their own language , do not learn the language of the country they migrate too. Have lots of children , don't work , Soon the Nation is a blend of Moslems and natural born citizens, after that they populate and procreate and 30 or 40 years down the line they will overthrow the government and rule their midevil ways on everyone .

    • I think the ignorance here is coming out of John Kimon. He is beating the bush here. USA have invaded Vietnam, North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other foreign entities since the end of 2nd world war. Yet, I don't think John Kimon would raise a question about USA's democracy. Occupying other countries through its armed forces has nothing to do with the modern version of democracy as preached by USA. Turkey did not invade Cyprus. Turkey merely tried to protect the civilians of the Northern Cyprus from the barbaric Greek forces. At least the Turks can not make the same mistake as they did before the Greeks massacred and raped Turks in Smyrna/Izmir during Greko-Turkish war. Turkey is actually more secular than the western European countries like France or England. Muslims are being oppressed in modern Turkey. "Jihadi Flotila"? Israeli Nazis are forcing the Palestinians into starvation while you are having full meal everyday. Turks and international community then send help for those Palestinians and get killed by the Israeli terrorists and that is nothing to you. Shows what kind of human being you are.

  5. I assume Petrou has lost faith in many countries (including Canada) who have used very soft diplomatic language when questioned about ties to certain countries who have committed atrocities…

    For example, seldom do (many) countries speak (out) directly against some of the worst atrocities committed by Israel throughout the last 50 odd years (including Canada, United States, United Kingdom, etc…).

    Or, there was a time, during apartheid South Africa, those same countries only used the mildest of words to condemn the evils of that regime.

    I can name at least 10 installed dictatorships (by the US) who have hardly ever received tongue lashings by those same Americans (ex. Honduras, Chile, Nicaragua, Columbia, El Salvador, Bolivia, Indonesia, etc…) during times where citizens of those countries were being brutalized in extreme and violent circumstances. In fact, quite the opposite, American administrations would justify the actions of their installed dictatorships (ie. ''might be a SOB but he's our SOB'')

    So what is it Petrou… Is there something about Turkey that makes it worth singling out or is Turkey just another country you have lost faith in?

    • Don't you think citizens of each country should be responsible in checking out the governance of its own country? Otherwise you will be blaming the same countries for interfering if they do as you mentioned like if the replacement is not as what one expected? You might not know it, there are a lot of criticisms and actions done by diplomats behind the scenes, but outside forces are limited what they can do without being blamed by people like you. They are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

      • I don't disagree with you…

        ''You might not know it, there are a lot of criticisms and actions done by diplomats behind the scenes, but outside forces are limited what they can do…''

        You might want to address yourself to Petrou on that point, not me. You see, Petrou feels he must single out Turkey partially based on what can be deemed as soft language in regards to Iran's vicious laws and punishments. All i am pointing out is such soft language seems to be the standard, particularly when countries are speaking about allies (or quasi-allies). In my opinion, that's just Petrou sullying Turkey for the sake of I don't know what. There are many more examples of inane soft language/diplomacy coming from countries we should expect much more…

        As Petrou said: ''But every once in a while, there are events that force even cynically realist political leaders to decide what they stand for.'' – I cannot single out Turkey in this instance all the while ignoring the examples I have given.

  6. Perhaps Turkey has lost faith in Petrou?

  7. After what is happening in Europe, why do they want to be in the union? Do they have another agenda?After what happened to farce of aid fIotilla, I think Turkey is radicalizing under this current leader.

    • Turkey is not the only one radicalizing. Bush the Whackey, dickey attorney shooter, Netanyahu the bibi, even the zermans want a more rightist leader. It is the new world order fad.

  8. Turkey does Not belong in the EU, ever! No nation that declares itself ” islamic” should ever be allowed in a bloc that provides freedom for all. Talk about the trojan horse.

    • "a bloc that provides freedom for all"? Try to reread what you have written after detoxifying yourself. Europe is no where to be called freedom for all. No tolerance for any other color. That adjective is for US, not for any other land.

  9. I guess that number was 2 million. Yes and that 6000 men were purely innocent they never hurt a single soul. I bet Greeks did the same thing in Cyprus and Smyrna. Sorry but you need to listen Giants more often. constantinapole, constantinapole is now istanbul… nice song. Darn it red jackets, never liked the tories, I think we should sue brits,darn limeys for their atrocities. Gotta watch Patriot.

  10. Regarding points in the article, you may regard this is as a critique, unless sincerity is not an issue;

    Islam in Iran is more like Nazi Germany era and Christianity, so your point about Iran;s barbaric practice simply does not fit to the overall article, if again as mentioned before insincerity is an issue.
    Also regarding Turkey and Iran case, US asked and put Turkey and Brazil to make the offer to Iran, story is not Turkey jumped in offered to Iran. It was a US initiated action offered by Turkey and Brazil. US never assumed that Iran will accept it. For that reason, Virginia boys will not be send to Iran tomorrow to die in vain.

    Flotilla incident I guess that does not require any explanation. Turkey should be honored for the way they stood up. Even US could not say anything when their sailors was literally killed by Israel. Turkey is asking for apology, not creating lynch mobs.
    If your conclusion is based on these two incidents and it is Turkey is moving away from West, it is faulty,maybe just weak. Besides one must research Islam in Turkey and other Arab countries, differences would be huge.

    On top of that historically, Turkey was never in good will with Iran or any other Arab countries. For who looks into the history without pure hate could be able to deduce that Turkey's recent act did not fit well within the Arab community.

  11. Good column, Michael and it is disappointing to see an "aspiring European" wrap itself in such neanderthal, religious fanatic's clothing like Turkey is and has been doing rather consistently.

    You may not remember, Michael, but back in 1915 American Ambassador Montegue wrote about the cruelty, massacres, female dismemberment, child burnings and horrific torture that befell on the poor Armenians who had the misfortune to be living prosperously in Asia Minor (Turkey). The Turks practiced Genocide against 2 million Armenians (and another million Greeks in Smyrna) who to this day cannot forget the cruelty that was officially sanctioned by Turkey in 1915 and again in 1922. The B'Nai Brith and European communities sponsored a "Film Night" back in the 80s and we were invited to the viewing of the movie: "1922". That was an eye opener and certainly speaks volume of Europe's reluctance to admit the country to its fold. Turkey has been receiving billions yearly from the U.S. and yet chose to align itself with the Kaiser and Hitler. Kemal Ataturk, that great Turkish leader, tried to "modernize" his countrymen, but his success has never been quite realized…..
    Let's hope Obama recognizes the Genocide of the Armenians and stops being too timid to call a spade a spade. History was not meant to be "spinned" by the politicians of the day….

  12. How can Turkey ever become "European" when Human Rights in that country are non-existent! Women are living in the 15th century and the country survives thanks to the American dole….God save Europe if it ever lets them join. Now they can join forces with other similar dictators in the region—with U.S. bucks as always. There was an old joke that "Turkey's America's best kept mistress"…time for a Divorce???
    Good article/

    • Get a grip of the reality, watching too much orient express. By the way 15th century ottoman era, women were leaders, simply had more power then from any European country also from US. By the way what was the last time US had a female president. M. Thatcher my favorite,ballsy lady.

  13. What John Kimon above says is one of the "forgotten massacres" in History. In 1974, Turkish army invaded Cyprus, destroyed homes, raped thousands of women and children, tortured young men and shot them in the back, and committed atrocities (under the condoning eye of Mr. Kissinger) that should have banned that country from EVER joining the European Community. The formerly thriving Greek-Cypriot community (85% of the population then) was reduced to half due to the ethno-racial altering Turkey sought by installing permanently, till now, 40,000 turkish soldiers in northern Cyprus.

    No one talks about the CYPRUS MASSACRE of 1974 by the feroucious, indeed BARBARIC TURKISH ARMY. The Cypriots became REFUGEES in their own country. Half of Cyprus is still occupied by the Turkish hordes. A repeat peformance of their horrendous massacre (Genocide) of 1.5 milion Armenians. I have no doubt that Sarkozy knows fully well what awaits Europe….Americans have allowed Turkey to commit its atrocities unchecked. Now, due to political advantage, all of a sudden we find that Turkey's under the microscope fo Civilization for the first time! Amen.

    • Nicos sampson was not my uncle. Greek Cypriots started killing Turkish civilians in 60's , Turkey used its legal right as a guarantor interfered to Cyprus. Simply Greeks asked for it. Killings are done by local greek militia against Turkish civilians.

      he just did not kill turks but also Brits too. get the facts straight before spitting lies around

  14. I think what the discussion is missing is an acknowledgment that there is a fundamental incompatibility between Islamic States/ Islam societies and what the west generally uses as its definition of Human Right – the UN Charter. Our democratic principles conflict with Islamic and Tribal values and practices.

    I wouldn't want Turkey in the EU either.

  15. This was perfect you warned me openly and without guilt (as you should have none) about your personal biases and then talked about little known (and for me virtually inaccessible) news. Thanks for a important well written article.

  16. West has never been a true friend of Turkey, right from the beginning. Isolated, neither east nor west, always on security alert, with huge minority population.
    Also as an immigrant country had many problems unique to itself, cultural clashes bigotry, and WW2 militarization, that still lurks in the veins.
    Turkey thinks it has always been honest to west, especially Europe, but felt cheated in NATO ( Cuba crisis, Opium incident, PKK, successive coups) which brough a bunch of impotent governments in 90s.
    In 2000s people wanted a strong leadership, and they got it. A bit dictatorial, a bit progressive with Islamic roots. Commitment to west continued, while west drifted further, thanks to 9/11. Perhaps that  gave Turkey a space to breath as well as a single party rule.

    On criticizing Iran, you can not criticize your one of the biggest trade partners who sell you oil cheaper than anyone else. The same reason why S. Arabia, which has 10 times worse situation, goes unchecked.
    You can not compare Canada with its tiny population and huge resources. It is not democracy, it is wealth what you compare.
    Lets compare Canada’s position in 2008 Ossetia, and Palestine now? Shall we? This is called diplomacy. This is called diplomacy. And I guess Canada with better economic liberation should press more for the right of people around the world. But It simply ignores.

    Also Israel, well it was late, hardest critic of Israel in Turkey had always been leftist, Accusation of State terror was made by Bulent Ecevit first. Islamists in fact enjoyed good relations, Erdogan himself received many honors from Jewish lobbies in USA.
    But thanks it is over, Islamist have at last came to same conclusion with the humanists all over the world against Israeli tyranny. But  I do not think they can pursue a greater scheme to find peace in the region.