Monday, May 08, 2006

Turkey Spanks Canada Over 'Genocide'

Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Canada, Aydemir Erman, after the Canadian prime minister made the unforgivable error of acknowledging the "somber anniversary" of the Armenian genocide.

Stephen Harper can't be arrested and tried under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code—for insulting Turkishness—which is what would have happened to a Turkish citizen, so the Turkish government is doing the next best thing: precipitating an international diplomatic incident. And all to cleanse history of an event that happened almost 100 years ago under the auspices of the Ottoman Empire, which no longer exists and was abolished to make way for the modern Turkish republic.

"For us, this is a serious matter," said Yoney Tezel, a counselor with the Turkish embassy in Canada. "The Armenian claims are a direct attack on our identity, on Turkey's history. We feel it's unfair. That's why when these claims find some recognition we always consider that something negative."

What the Turkish government is unwilling to contemplate (and unwilling to allow its citizens to legally contemplate) is whether this "identity" and this "history" have been falsified. Tezel's statement says nothing about historical accuracy. The Armenian claims are an attack on Turkish identity. Therefore they are bad. It doesn't matter whether they are true.

Thankfully, Turkish identity is deeper and Turkish history is far broader than the Armenian genocide. The sooner the Turkish government realizes that, the better. Once they realize that their past does not need to be idealized into a fairy tale, then they might be ready to join the European Union.
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