Saturday, April 14, 2007

Turkey never blackmailed or threatened U.S.

It takes a grain of salt to accept the politic-speak of Daniel Fried below. It will never be a good time for Turkey.
The Turkish Government has never blackmailed or threatened the U.S. Government. They have never said that they will take retaliatory steps if the Armenian Genocide resolution passes, said Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at a daily press briefing posted at

“The Turkish government has said that Turkish opinion would be inflamed and outraged by this resolution and that they, the Turkish government, fear what the Turkish parliament might do in reaction to something our parliament might do. So it’s a little bit different than what you described.

Turkey is a good ally. It is also a country which is undergoing a profound democratic transformation itself. Turkey has for decades had the formal elements of democracy, but in the last 10, 15, 20 years it has deepened this democracy, and especially in the last 5 to 10 years. The boundaries of freedom of expression are now much greater than they were before. Civilian institutions are much stronger. The role of the military is much more circumscribed. These things are advancing, and as this happens there is a growing discussion in Turkey about their own past, and in particular the past of the Ottoman Empire and its relationship to the Armenian community there and the mass killings that took place in 1915 and afterwards. Turks are beginning to discuss this.

We encourage them to examine their history and the painful, what can be called dark spots, and they’re not the only country that has them. The United States has plenty of our own: slavery, treatment of American Indians, treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. We have a lot of things in our history of which we’re not proud.

We think that Turkey and Armenia need to discuss their shared past in a serious way. This needs to be a discussion that historians have. The United States doesn’t deny any of the killings. They’re an established historical fact, but historians need to discuss the details of what happened, why it happened, who did what. This needs to happen, and it needs to happen as a process of genuine national reconciliation.

We also think that Turkey ought to open up the border with Armenia and restore normal relations. We’re pleased by recent steps Turkey has taken, like restoring the Armenian church in Eastern Turkey, even if as a museum. That’s still something. And there is in Turkish society a constituency for this kind of reconciliation. Hrant Dink was murdered by an extremist nationalist, but then 100,000 Turks were in the street saying we are all Armenians, we are all Hrant Dink. It didn’t mean literally that they’re Armenians, but it means we reject nationalism. We embrace a Turkish identity which is tolerant. That’s very hopeful. That’s a very good thing. That’s what we want to encourage,” Fried said.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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