Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Turkish general admits campaign of provocations in Cyprus

source: Hellenic Antidote
date: 24 September 2010

Turks have always sought to justify the invasion of Cyprus by suggesting it was designed to save the Turkish minority on the island, which they say had been under attack since 1955 – but particularly since 1963 – from Cypriot Greeks hell bent on uniting Cyprus with Greece. Of course, this is typical Turkish falsification; but so unwaveringly have Turks been pushing this line that not only do they believe it, but many Greeks, both in Cyprus and Greece, have also come to accept that our side mistreated the island’s Turks and, as such, that we share the blame for Cyprus’ tragedy and must take punishment for our ‘crimes’ in the form of submitting to Annan-type plans.

The truth of the intercommunal clashes in Cyprus is, of course, not one of Greek persecutors and Turkish victims; but of provocations by Turkey aimed at setting Cyprus’ communities at each other’s throats and promoting Turkey’s goal of ethnic and geographical separation on the island.

And just to prove that the intercommunal violence in Cyprus in 1958, 1963 and 1967 were not attempts by Greek Cypriots to wipe out the Turkish minority and achieve unhindered their dream of Enosis, but provocations by Turkey designed to pave the way for partition, we have had this week retired Turk General Sabri Yirmimbesoglou, who served in Cyprus in the 1950s and 1960s in his country’s Special Warfare Department, admitting to Turkish TV that ‘to stir up the Turkish Cypriots, we carried out sabotage, such as the burning of mosques, and then blamed this on the Greek Cypriots. This was the modus operandi of the Special Warfare Department. In Cyprus, we burned mosques.’

It should be noted that outbreaks of intercommunal violence in Cyprus often started with bombs going off against Turkish ‘targets’, mosques, newspaper offices, etc, which were blamed on Greek Cypriots. Turkish Cypriots would then riot, attack homes and businesses belonging to Greeks, who retaliated. The Greeks, being better armed and more numerous, would often overwhelm Turkish Cypriots, who cried ‘massacre’ and then demanded Turkey’s protection, i.e. Turkey pursued a deliberate policy of exposing Turkish Cypriots to danger so that they could then use their (exaggerated) plight as proof that Cyprus’ communities could not live together, that Turkish Cypriots were being subjected to ‘genocide’ and that Cyprus had to be partitioned.

Also noteworthy is the fact that Yirmimbesoglou cut his teeth in the Turkish security services helping organise the Constantinople pogrom in 1955, which began with Turkish agents bombing Mustafa Kemal’s childhood home in Thessaloniki, blaming this on Greeks, and false claims that Greeks were massacring Turks in Cyprus, and culminated in a two-day orgy of violence and destruction targeting Constantinople’s Greek community, an event Yirmimbesoglou boasts ‘was a Special Warfare [Department] job. It was a magnificent operation. And it achieved its aim.’

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Serj Tankian of "System of a Down": Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians genocided by Turkey


source: 'The Huffington Post'
date: 21 September 2010
author: Jon Chattman
title: Serj Tankian Talks Politics and Finds the Art of "Imperfection"

Some band frontmen use their hiatus to shack up in a some faraway villa and take a full-on sabbatical from the studio. Then there's people like Serj Takian, who uses the extended time to feed his creative juices in the form of solo work. The frontman of System of a Down releases Imperfect Harmonies today -- the second solo album since the band took its hiatus some four-plus years ago, and he's quite please with the end result. "It fuses electronic beats and sounds with a full legato orchestra," he explained.

The new album, like his previous effort, Elect the Dead, is also filled with his signature political rage, as well as angst, hope, and everything else in between. And it seems the videos off the new album will follow other Tankian gems in that they're mind-numbingly stunning. Take the video for the first single, "Left of Center," for example, in which a near claymation world gets skewed. I spoke with Tankian recently and asked him about the new album, touring, and how he felt performing in his homeland.

You recently played in your native Armenia. What was that experience like for you?
Playing for the first time in Armenia, my cultural homeland, was one of the most amazing experiences I've had in my career. It was like bringing your music home. The over-the-top reception and excitement usually reserved for bands like the Beatles was a bit unexpected. It was summer time and the taste of apricots did not leave my senses.

Apricots... mmm. How is Imperfect Harmonies different than your first solo effort?
Imperfect Harmonies incorporates quite a different spectrum of sounds than my first solo record, Elect the Dead. It fuses electronic beats and sounds with a full legato orchestra, anchored down by live, rock instrumentation, spiced up with jazz solos and interludes. It's a melancholic, brooding record with an emotionally-layered depth, lyrically, to match the layers of the sounds musically. 

Are all the tunes of Imperfect Harmonies geared toward the political spectrum? Or do you have some songs that are about less weighty issues?
Actually, only a few of the songs on this record are overtly political. Most of the songs are theoretical or philosophical explorations dealing with the concept of life beyond civilization. Ecological changes coupled with human reactions, along with personal stories of love and loss dominate the emotional canvas of the record. 

Speaking of which, what can you tell us about the BP situation that we haven't heard before?
Well, this is the Huffington Post, so I'm not sure if there is anything you haven't heard or written about on the topic already... (Smiles) I think it's always important to note that regulation in industries that deal with the possibilities of catastrophic natural disasters are crucial. It was BP this time, it could be some other oil or energy company next time.

Another thing I find interesting are BP's roots as a company. BP used to co-own Iran's oil rights along with the Persian oil company. In the 1950s, when the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mossadaq, tried to nationalize Iran's oil, it was BP that went to the British gov't and the CIA, who in turn, helped overthrow Mossadaq and replaced him with the Shah to secure foreign rights over Iran's oil. 

What do you make of Obama's presidency thus far?
Obama's leadership has helped usher in some significant changes. From the healthcare bill to regulation on industries, to key changes in all levels of government personnel and bodies, to the stimulus package, his leadership has done a tremendous job since taking office. The obstructionist opposition in Congress and industry, naturally polarized to all this change, have done our democracy a disservice by acting to block all forms of progress.

Obama's mistakes are the escalation of the invasion of Afghanistan, and going back on his use of the word Genocide when dealing with the slaughter of Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians at the hands of the Turks during WWI. 

You don't presently have any North American dates on this tour -- can we expect some soon?
Yes. We are in the process of planning a new North American tour to support Imperfect Harmonies. 

Can we expect another System of a Down album? I'm sure you get asked this a lot, but as a fan, I have to ask the cliched question.
There are no current plans for a System Of A Down record. The band has been on hiatus since 2006. 

What's currently on your iPod? Any Rick Astley?
Wow... I have close to 3000 records on my iPod. No Rick Astley though. (Smiles) 

Lastly, where do you want to be musically in seven years?
Well, artistically, I want to try everything the muse brings to my window. I have a musical, Prometheus Bound, opening at the American Repertory Theater in March 2011. I'm writing my 1st classical-jazz symphony for orchestra, releasing my second poetry book, called Glaring Through Oblivion, and have a few other projects including film scoring and a non-fiction book in the works. You could say that my expressional explorations are what get me out of bed in the morning. I'm a big fan of the Huffington Post, so thanks for having me on.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Boxer Places 'Hold' on Bryza Nomination: An Excerpt from a Message by Ken Hachikian, Chairman of the ANCA

Senator Boxer placed a "hold" on Matt Bryza's confirmation as Ambassador to Azerbaijan . Her stand represents a powerful symbol of how thoughtful Senators and active citizens can ensure that U.S. diplomacy is driven by American values, not special interests. 

On Monday of this week The Wall Street Journal was on the offensive, unfairly attacking Senator Boxer for daring to question Bryza's nomination. In a mean-spirited editorial, the Journal bitterly and repeatedly attacked the ANCA's "hard line" opposition to Bryza's deeply flawed nomination. (Well, if "hard line" means fearlessly standing up to anti-Armenian interests, it's a badge we all wear with honor.) 

We can't accept is the Journal's insulting our community by demeaning all of us, who believe in Armenian Genocide recognition, as somehow suffering from a "tribal Caucasian obsession."
It's an outrage that the Journal so scornfully smears an entire ethnic group. And for what? The "crime" of honoring the victims of genocide. Disgraceful!

This is a new interview of ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian to Voice of America. He explains that Obama's nomination of Bryza will die when the Senate changes after November and Obama will have to re-nominate the new Ambassador:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ANCA Action Alert: Ask your Senators to Oppose the Bryza Nomination

Armenian National Committee of America, Action Alert

Ask your Senators to Oppose the Bryza Nomination: Call your Senators TODAY!

On Tuesday, September 21, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to vote on Matthew Bryza, President Obama's controversial nominee to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan. 
Senator Barbara Boxer, last month, requested a delay in the Committee vote in order to provide Senators with a meaningful opportunity, during the August recess, to examine Mr. Bryza's diplomatic record, conflict of interest issues, and his written responses to Senate inquiries.

Matt Bryza's troubling diplomatic track record, his potential conflict of interest issues, and his recent testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee clearly establish that he is not the right person to advance U.S. interests and America values as Ambassador to Azerbaijan.

Please call on your two U.S. Senators to prevent the confirmation of this deeply flawed nomination. 
Simply type in your ZIP Code and you will get an easy-to-use phone script to call your U.S. Senators TODAY. Calling is quick and easy.

You can watch the Bryza confirmation hearing online on the ANCA website:

You can read the ANCA's concerns about the Bryza nomination at:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Armenian news site: "Greek-Cypriots Oppose Bryza Nomination"

source: Asbarez.com
date: 13 September 2010

NEW YORK–The Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA) on Monday issued a statement calling on Greek-Cypriot Americans to “strongly oppose” the nomination of Matthew Bryza to the open position of US Ambassador to Azerbaijan. The statement described Bryza as a biased and “unsuitable representative” for the post and urged activists to make their opposition felt through an Armenian National Committee of America Action Alert asking Senators to Oppose the Nomination.

We present the statement below in its entirety:

NEW YORK—On August 3rd, the US Senate Foreign relations Committee chairman John Kerry postponed a committee vote on the nomination of US Ambassador to Azerbaijan designate Matt Bryza in response to a hold over request by Senator Barbara Boxer.

Matt Bryza’s troubling diplomatic record and his conflicts of interest issues in regards to his bias towards Turkey’s cycle of impunity and denial of Turkey’s crimes of Genocide and Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus makes him an unsuitable representative for America in any post.

The Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA) calls on Greek-Cypriot Americans to strongly oppose the Bryza nomination based on his support of the deeply flawed Annan plan. Based on Turkish-British racist bizonal bicommunal federation, the Annan Plan would have falsely legitimized the illegal Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, would have allowed the illegal Turkish settlers to remain in homes and properties stolen from Greek-Cypriots by the Turkish military and would have ultimately transformed Cyprus into a Turkish protectorate with British bases, after the eventual forced migration of all Greek-Cypriots and all other indigenous Christian minorities on the island — Latins, Arab Maronites and Armenians. 


At a press conference on July 21, 2006 on his return from a ten day trip to Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, in response to a question on the status of the Annan Plan and whether it’s off the table, he stated: “I would just repeat what I said, that the basic ideas that are—that became known as the Annan Plan reflect wisdom and hard work and a spirit of fairness, I would argue.”

In his July 21, 2006 press conference, Bryza responded to a question from a Turkish reporter from the Anatolia News Agency asking “what does the U.S. government plan to help these people [Turkish Cypriots] end their isolation?”

Mr. Bryza responded “that we have done a number of things….We are providing $30.5 million in assistance…to the Turkish Cypriot community….So we are already actively working to end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots—or to ease the isolation of Turkish Cypriots.”

In a Press Release on the official website of the Turkish Embassy in Washington DC, Matt Bryza is quoted prominently as follows:

““We are constantly thinking about how we can minimize, reduce, eliminate the isolation of our Turkish Cypriot friends. This is not simply because we seek to reward our Turkish Cypriot friends for voting in favor of the Annan Plan, but because we realize that the best way to facilitate a long term settlement is to raise the economic well-being of Turkish Cypriots so that there are not economic disparities between the north and the south.”

Mr. Bryza’s comments are a prime example of his continuing personal lobbying on behalf of Turkey .

Mr. Bryza’s persistent parroting of Turkey’s arguments based on false historical revisionism of Turkey’s crimes of invasion and occupation of Cyprus are a deliberate effort to mislead Washington and Americans overall about the truth regarding Turkey.

Mr. Bryza is married to Zeyno Baran a Turkish-born foreign analyst at the Hudson Institute. Baran is a major producer of Turkish invasion denial propaganda over the years. She and Bryza have documented links and connections to the Turkish government and deep state involved in making Turkish-occupied-Cyprus an illegal base for international narcotics trafficking and terrorism.

Matt Bryza in no way should represent American interests; we encourage the Greek-Cypriot American community and its friends to join the Armenian-American community to stop Bryza. 

Armenian National Committee of America ANCA Action Alert: Ask your Senators to Oppose the Bryza Nomination. Call your Senators TODAY!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Washington Times Carries Cyprus Action Network of America’s Call to Oppose Bryza nomination

Washington Times Carries Cyprus Action Network of America’s Call to Oppose Bryza nomination
For Immediate Release: September 17, 2010
Contact: Nikolaos Taneris, Tel. (917) 699-9935

WASHINGTON, DC—James Morrison, columnist, Washington Times, made the Cyprus Action Network of America’s recent call to oppose the nomination of Matt Bryza to the post of American ambassador to Azerbaijan the lead of his prominent “Embassy Row” column in the Thursday. September . 16 edition of the Washington Times.

Morrison wrote in his lead paragraphs:

“In the hottest diplomatic dispute facing Congress as it convenes next week, Armenian-Americans are stepping up their campaign to prevent Matthew J. Bryza from serving as U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to consider his nomination on Tuesday. They have picked up support from Cypriot-Americans, who complain that Mr. Bryza, whose wife was born in Turkey, is biased toward Turkish positions on Cyprus.” Morrison also added “The Cyprus Action Network of America on Monday registered its opposition to Mr. Bryza.” And then Morrison quoted extensively from the Cyprus Action Network of America’s statement "Matt Bryza's troubling diplomatic record and his conflict of interest issues in regard to his bias toward Turkey's cycle of impunity and denial of Turkey's crime of genocide and Turkey's illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus makes him an unsuitable representative in any post," it said in a statement.”

The Washington Times columnist also noted that Mr. Bryza  a career US foreign service worker has been criticized for refusing  to condemn the  Turkish troops illegally  occupying Cyprus , and the columnist went on to quote Senator Menendez who, in his written questions, asked Mr. Bryza to "explain why you believe that a U.S. [congressional] resolution recognizing the genocide in Armenia would harm our relationship with Turkey."

Morrison’s “Embassy Row” column is found at:

To view the Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA)’s complete statement along with the Greek translation of Greek-Cypriot refugee journalist and researcher Mrs. Fanoulla Argyrou’s letter to the US Senate to oppose the Matt Bryza nomination, please visit the Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA) website at: http://cyprusactionnetwork.org/

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Letter to members of the US Senate: Mat Bryza’s pro-Turkish devotion incompatible with human rights principles

We copy an open letter of veteran journalist, author and researcher Fanoulla Argyrou to the members of the US Senate, regarding the possible nomination of Matthew Bryza. Please distribute this letter to blogs and social networking sites.

Mat Bryza’s pro-Turkish devotion incompatible with human rights principles

Honourable Members of the United States Senate,

We have heard that the US Senate Foreign Relations committee chairman John Kerry, in response to a request by Senator Barbara Boxer, has postponed the committee vote on the nomination of US Ambassador to Azerbaijan designate Matt Bryza.

We welcome this move and hope that enough time will be allowed and enough research will go into the preliminary work needed to establish the suitability or not of Mr. Bryza to this post.

We remember Mr. Bryza very well and his statements during 2006 when he toured our area.

In his July 21, 2006 press conference, Matt Bryza responded to a question from a Turkish reporter from the Anatolia News Agency asking "what does the U.S. Government plan to help these people [Turkish Cypriots] end their isolation?"

Mr. Bryza responded "that we have done a number of things. We are providing $30.5 million in assistance to the Turkish Cypriot community. So we are already actively working to end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots-or to ease the isolation of Turkish Cypriots."

That was an insult to us Greek Cypriots, victims of a brutal Turkish invasion and continued occupation of half of our country Cyprus, a member of the UN and the EU. The Turkish Cypriots are not in any isolation whatsoever. That is a fabricated myth by Turkish propaganda. The Cyprus issue is not “the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots” but the fact that Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and still holds under occupation half of a sovereign country.

The majority of Turkish Cypriots supported and welcomed the Turkish invading forces and joined them in their invasion against us the Greek Cypriots. To this day they condone Turkey in her violations of our human rights. It is us the Greek Cypriots who are isolated in that since the Turkish invasion in 1974 for 36 years Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots do not allow us to return to our land and properties. The Turks, Turkish Cypriots and the imported Turkish Anatolian population of settlers (purposely imported by Turkey in order change the demography of the occupied area and fill in the gap she created by the forceful uprooting of us the 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees) are using however our stolen properties without our permission.

In total violation of our human rightsThe Turkish Cypriots enjoy the benefits of “both worlds”. Unlike us the victims and uprooted Greek Cypriot refugees, are free to travel anywhere in Cyprus, have been issued passports of the Republic of Cyprus, identity cards, they travel thus as citizens of the EU anywhere and their children enter European universities, they enjoy free medical, they come every day to the free part and work and get paid without paying taxes, whereas we the Greek Cypriots have to pay for our health cover [see APPENDIX I]. They are paid pensions, welfare, and all the benefits as citizens of the Republic of Cyprus without paying a penny in taxes and obligations. We the Greek Cypriots have in fact become second class citizens in our own country because it us the Greek Cypriots who subsidise them!

Furthermore Turkey in 1974 has murdered thousands of Greek Cypriots, 1619 are still missing presumed murdered as well and Turkey still does not reveal the whereabouts of these people in order relieve their families of the misery of waiting and dying without knowing what happened to their loved ones.

The Turkish invading army raped well over 800 Greek Cypriot women of all ages. The actual number to be precise reaches 2,000 and the 800 number represents those who had abortions.

At a press conference on July 21, 2006 on his return from a ten day trip to Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, in response to a question on the status of the Annan Plan and whether it's off the table, he stated:

"I would just repeat what I said, that the basic ideas that are-that became known as the Annan Plan reflect wisdom and hard work and a spirit of fairness, I would argue."

The Annan Plan was a monstrosity of the worst kind that provided Turkey 99% of all her demands over Cyprus i.e. giving her the control of the whole island on a platter. (Statement of admission by Turkish veteran journalist M.A. Birand). That plan excluded the 200,000 Greek Cypriots from returning to their homes, was that American “wisdom” and “fairness”? That plan opened Turkey an avenue to turkify the island in only few years after that. The people of Cyprus rejected that plan during the referendum on 24 April 2004. 76% of the Greek Cypriots rejected it and if one separates the vote of the illegal settlers from those of the Turkish Cypriot votes will find that even the indigenous Turkish Cypriots rejected that apartheid solution. Which favoured Turkey and only Turkey.

Mr. Bryza in his July 21 2006 statement found “wisdom” in it, “hard work” and “spirit of fairness”. Well, wisdom and fairness are two things that plan definitely did not reflect. What Mr. Bryza’s statement reflected though was his pro-Turkish stance which relates to his undisputable conflict of interest which stretches to his Turkish contacts. Starting from his Turkish born wife who is a major producer of Turkish invasion denial propaganda over the years.

Mr. Bryza is considered a major asset for Turkey but not for America.

We hope the Senate will use adequate judgement in taking the proper and right decision in respect and protection of the principles of human rights. To protect the victims and not those who offend.

Yours sincerely,

Fanoulla Argyrou 
Refugee from occupied Nicosia, Cyprus. 

According to information provided by the Cyprus Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus Christofias Government up until December 2009 had given the Turkish Cypriots 167,28 million Euros! (And that is only from the present Government)

Break down figures:
22,62 million Euros for medical services
117,9 million Euros in social benefits
1,22 million Euros for child benefits and student grants
9,25 million Euros for agricultural purposes
4,35 million Euros for education
4,22 million Euros for electricity supply to the occupied
0,26 million Euros for telecommunications
7,46 million Euros in looking after the Muslim places of worship and houses in the free part of Cyprus, the Turkish language department at the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation and retaining the check points.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Turkish racial policies and the forgotten islamist pogrom of 1955

source: FrontPage Magazine
date: 24 May 2005
by Alyssa A. Lappen

For 50 years, historians, diplomats and state department officials have touted Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as a great secular leader in a predominantly Muslim region, whose policies modernized and democratized Turkey, shaping it into a Western-style state. But Ataturk was western only insofar as he implemented the Turkification of Gobineau, wherein he substituted the Turks for the Aryans, whose ideology had terrible results in the rise of European Nazism. Regardless, in 1955, barely 17 years after the dictator's death, a little-known pogrom, driven primarily by Islamic fanaticism, targeted the Greek population of Istanbul, with the intent of driving non-Muslims from Turkey. 

From 1950 to 1960 Turkey experienced a profound reawakening of Islam, which the government and Demokrat Parti (DP) of Prime Minister Adnan Menderes both exploited and encouraged. Today, the policies Turkey set in motion in that pogrom remain in sw

According to Speros Vryonis Jr.'s landmark new study, The Mechanism of Catastrophe, the September 1955 government-orchestrated pogrom against the Greek Orthodox community “included the systematic destruction of the majority of its churches,” monasteries and cemeteries. Published this month by Greekworks.com, the work subtitled The Turkish Pogrom of September 6-7, 1955, and the Destruction of the Greek Community of Istanbul shows that riots which destroyed 4,500 Greek homes, 3,500 businesses, 90 religious institutions and 36 schools in 45 distinct communities, resulted not only from “fervid chauvinism, or even [from] the economic resentment of many impoverished rioters, but [from] the profound religious fanaticism in many segments of Turkish society.”

American, British and Greek diplomats all agreed that the violence was “indicative of religious fanaticism,” a fact with which even some Turkish commentators concurred.

A towering intellect and scholar of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, as well as modern Turkey, Vryonis witnessed reactions to the pogrom in 1955, after beginning his dissertation work at Harvard's Byzantine center at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington D.C. Newspapers reported violence targeting the Greek community of Istanbul and suggested  the state department was pleased at “how the Turkish government had taken it in hand very quickly and restored order,” Vryonis recalled at a recent New York City lecture to introduce the book. He recoiled at the table talk of British and American scholars at Dumbarton Oaks, expressing the view that the Greeks had gotten what they deserved.

Vryonis questioned how riots could erupt so suddenly and violently as to destroy a whole community. Furthermore, at nearby St. Sophia Cathedral, the Greek archbishop described tens of thousands of people with no homes, no clothes and no food. The diametrically opposite perspectives concerned one and the same event. Vryonis, however, trained in chemistry, physics and Greek and Latin classics, “put it aside. I was not ready. [Studying this] demanded a knowledge of Turkish. It demanded a good knowledge of Islam, it demanded a familiarization with modern Greek history.” Fifty years later, at 76, he has written the definitive work on the events. The work has the power to alter official U.S. positions on Turkey, if only policymakers will read it.

Actually, the discrimination against the Greek, Jewish and Armenian populations of Turkey had begun much earlier, during the First World War. “The attitude towards the minorities was not something new in 1955,” Vryonis says today. “It had a long tradition that was inherited from the Young Turks [who] took over as the Ottoman Empire was faltering, lost the Balkan wars, got in the losing side in the First World War, [perpetrated] the genocide of the Armenians and [moved] the Greeks ... from the area of the Dardanelles at the urging of the German general Otto Liman von Sanders....” who unsuccessfully assumed the Ottomans' defense and ordered the Greeks to be swept away from the Sea of Marmara. 

In the 1930s, Ataturk developed racist theories that all history and languages flow from Turkish history and language. Ever since, the Turkish state has “believed that there should be one language, one nation, one culture, one religion,” says Vryonis.

Kemalism effectively established the "Turkification of Gobineau's theory of the racial, and therefore civilizational, superiority of the Aryans."[1] These ideas included the Turkish Historical Thesis (Turk Tarih Tezi) and the Sun Theory of Languages (Gunes Dil Teorisi). The former holds that the history of Turkey as known today doesn't consist merely of Ottoman history, but is much older and in fact dispersed culture to all nations, including the Greek classical nation, the Hittites, the Chinese, the Romans and all European nations. The latter holds that Turkish was the first language ever spoken by humans, and is the foundation for all other languages, be they classical Greek and Latin, Romance languages or even Anglo-Saxon tongues.  (What is more astounding are those historians, including Bernard Lewis, who apologize for this supremacist line.) [2]

Although Turkish scholars like Taner Akcam and Fatma Muge Gocek reject these racist theories—still taught in Turkish schools—they founded the basis for discriminatory laws passed against Greeks and other non-Muslims during the 1930s and later. In 1932, for example, law 2007 barred entry to a large number of professions of Greek citizens of Istanbul (etablis). 

Under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which provided boundaries for modern Turkey and arranged population transfers between Greece and Turkey, the Greek “settlers” were allowed to stay in Istanbul without prejudice. Nine years later, Turkey violated the treaty with impunity, imposing a series of 31 crippling laws to reduce Greek political, legal, economic and cultural strength. Some 10,000 Greek citizens were deprived of their livelihoods as tailors, merchants, photographers, carpenters, doormen, lawyers, doctors and realtors and forced to emigrate, penniless, to Greece. 

In 1941 and under Turkish Prime Minister Sukriu Saracoglu in 1942, the Turkish government and minister of foreign affairs, figuring that the Germans would emerge victorious from World War II, began the mass deportation of minority men aged 18 to 38. The forced labor battalions of the so-called 20 generations of Jews, Greeks and Armenians were meant never again to see the light of day.

Modern Turkey also inherited the religious discrimination against non-Muslims from the Ottoman empire. Thus in 1942, Saracoglu's government established the varlik vergesi, a capital tax so onerous as to impose financial ruin on the community. 

“Taxpayers who do not settle their debts within one month from the date of posting of notice will be compelled to labor until they have completely settled their debt, in any part of the country in public services of an unmilitary character or in municipal services, according to their physical ability,” the law required, according to a 1943 report in the New York Times by C. L. Sulzberger. [3]

“Not long after Varlik was applied small numbers of defaulters were arrested and after a few days' detention sent by train to Ashkale in Eastern Anatolia [the Turkish “Siberia”] to work on the roads,” Sulzberger's report continued. 

The first groups were those assessed more than 100,000 lira who had paid little or nothing of their indebtedness. The government's position was that no one was taxed more than he could afford to pay, that failure to do so was evidence of unwillingness to pay and that the full penalties of the law must therefore be enforced.

To date not many more than a thousand persons are believed to have been subjected to this drastic penalty. Many of them are wealthy and prominent citizens. Almost entirely they come from the minority Christian and Jewish populations. Their labor on the roads can hardly have been much use, but some of them have managed to scrape up funds and pay and have then been released while the example of the remainder frightens the rest of the minority population as an inducement to pay at all costs. [4]

The tax was set at confiscatory rates—Greek Orthodox at 156 percent of annual income, Jewish at 179 percent, and Armenian at 232 percent—compared to the 4.96 percent annual income tax suffered by Muslim Turks, according to a Times editorial, and applied to everyone, including minority bell hopes and taxi drivers. At least one Turkish newspaper spoke of “liquidation” of the minority mentality and their populations, by inducing them to leave Turkey. [5]

Since these taxes were temporary, Vryonis sees no parallel with the punitive jizya (poll) and karaj (land) taxes on legions of earlier generations of non-Muslim dhimmis. To this observer, however, the laws, their intent and result strongly resemble the ruinous jizya and karaj taxes. Like them, the varlik vergesi effectively deprived the community of its wealth, imposing severe penalties if Greek and other non-Muslim citizens did not pay within fifteen days of its promulgation. In the end, massive numbers of minority property and businesses were transferred to Muslim hands, much as khalifs in earlier eras had expropriated them, forcing non-Muslims often to convert to Islam to survive. 

Not surprisingly, between 1924 and 1934, Istanbul's Greek population fell by two thirds, from nearly 300,000 to 111,200, according to Vryonis. By 1955, the number of Greeks had dropped another 24 percent, to 85,000. “This is by way of background, by way of ideology, by way of the nature of the Turkish state, which we should add remained military and dictatorial,” he says. 

In 1954, the matter of Cyprus became entwined with the fate of Istanbul's Greek minority. That year, Turkish foreign minister Mehmet Fuat Koprulu declared that his government had no interest whatever in the outcome of a Greek plea to the international community for Cypriot independence. But within a matter of months, at the prompting of the British government (which then controlled Cyprus), Prime Minister Menderes ousted Koprulu, installed foreign minister Fatin Rustu Zorlu in his place, and turned a 180 degree about-face on the issue. The armed campaign against Britain by the Greek National Organization of Cypriot Fighters elicited howls of indignation from the Turkish press, which joined the battle cry of the Cyprus is Turkish Association, known as KTC for its Turkish acronym. 

Eventually, KTC and its press cohorts shifted public attention from the Greek Cypriots to the Greeks of Istanbul. But it was up to the DP and the government to organize the roughly 100,000 necessary students, labor unionists and other rioters and transport them to Istanbul to destroy, in a matter of nine hours, the homes and businesses of 85,000 Greeks scattered through 45 hilly square kilometers in areas hard to access from one another. The pogromists came equipped with lists of Greek addresses to target, though the Armenian and Jewish communities were also hit. Armenians lost 1,000 stores, 150 homes, three churches and four schools, while Jewish residents lost 500 shops, 25 homes, and suffered damage to one synagogue. 

All the evidence is that the 1955 pogrom was well organized. “We have independent accounts of Turkish newspapers, of the Greek consulate official, and this is very important, of American[s], that there were [three] systematic waves of destroyers,” says Vryonis.

The first wave—identified by the Turkish newspaper Milliyet and confirmed by the foreign press and Greek officials—destroyed metal doors and barriers to all churches, houses and businesses. They smashed all obstacles to entry. The second wave commenced pilfering and the pillaging. Those who had foresight came with trucks so as to systematically loot and carry off their booty. “But the basic job of the second wave was to begin the destruction of the houses, the apartments, the church, the stores, and then to move on, just as the first wave moved on very quickly,” says Vryonis, as did the second. The third came some time later to finish off the marauding.

“Greek businesses were pilfered or destroyed,” says Vryonis. “Stealing of food stuffs and destruction of grocery stores and the food industry was rife, and thereafter produced a food shortage in Istanbul. The price of eggs rose 6 times, while tobacco rose 20 percent. Most bakeries were utterly destroyed. People had to wait in line even for a piece of bread. In the houses, food was looted or else destroyed by pouring gasoline. Houses were no longer habitable. People had nothing to eat and no where to sleep. Mattresses were literally cut into shreds.”

British and American officials, to the extent that they expressed opinions, generally attributed the pogrom to two factors: “simultaneous self-erupted nationalist and economic motivations.” Certainly, notes Vryonis, there were elements of nationalism, a force in Turkey since Ataturk. As to economic resentment, the living standard of Asia Minor peasants compared to that of Istanbul minorities like night to day. But pogromists came well-equipped with pickaxes, shovels, wooden timbers to serve as battering rams, acetylene torches, gasoline, dynamite and large trucks full of stones. How could a spontaneous eruption occur when security people, secret police, municipal police and the armed services were everywhere? 

The third factor (unmentioned by officials), and the genuine underlying cause, Vryonis notes, was religious fanaticism. He continues: 

The churches suffered massive destruction.... Most of the reports denied that there was any religious fanaticism. An interesting thing about the American ambassador's report, Mr. [Avra] Warren. It was made up of disjointed reports of several other diplomatic servants in Istanbul who saw what happened. [Warren was in Ankara.] In Ankara, there were a few demonstrations, but there were no Greeks there. He didn't see it. And he said there was no evidence of religious fanaticism—if you [except] 70 Greek churches that were destroyed. 

...I couldn't make heads or tales of that. So I decided that this was a scissors and paste report, because earlier he talks about the disgusting and beastly manner in which religious sanctuaries were desecrated. Desecrated is a purely religious term. It involves the violation of that which belongs to divinity, and pollution is a refinement of it. It means despoiling that which is sacred, and the soiling in this case was urination and defecation—defecation on the alters, urination in the communion cups..... [We] had several independent accounts of the destruction of the huge cemetery at Sisli, where they not only took the time to destroy it, but took the corpses out from mausoleums, and also desecrated them, and left in a very large number [of cases], defecation on each of these remains.

So if you look at the church cannons, ...you are violating God's property. Now what is God's property? ...That which has been consecrated by religious ceremony. You can have a building that is going to be a church, but until the liturgy is performed in it, until it is consecrated, it is not sacred. Before an icon is consecrated in any manner, it is just a picture, if you don't like it you can rip it up. The same with the sacred vestments, but once they enter into the liturgical ritual, these things are forbidden, they belong to God. And if you take in all these aspects, if you look at all the photographs, the piercing and removing of the eyes of Christ, the cutting and removing of His hands, by which He hangs on the crucifix which is a constant in the Constantinoplitan church, if you look at mockery, the mockery of putting priests' sacred garb on their donkeys, and the use of the metallic elements on their garbage collectors, the fanaticism is    very important, and it coincides with the rise of Islam.

Of course, the government was involved, says Vryonis, as the 1960 and 1961 trials at Yassiada proved in their brief consideration of the matter. Contemporary newspaper and eyewitness reports (which the book provides) also describe government assistance given to pogromists during the riots as their organizers shouted “Cleanse the fatherland of the infidel!” and “We do not want infidels' merchandise in our country.” Official vehicles also transported the pogromists after they had finished their grisly work.

But while Menderes and several of his ministers were hung, they lost their lives for violating Turkey's constitution, not the destruction they wrought on its Greek and other non-Muslim citizens. For these crimes, not a single man was punished, according to Vryonis. 

The Islamization set in motion via discriminatory laws and violence, before and during the pogrom, has continued ever since, with constant pressure on the non-Muslim communities. Having lost everything, the Greek community began to emigrate. In 1964, the Turkish junta forced a very large number to leave or turn over their businesses to Turks within a certain number of hours, says Vryonis. They were taxed, though they were leaving, and their accounts were blocked. Furthermore, intermarriage between Greek citizens and Turkish Greeks was taxed when all marital property was decreed to belong to the “settlers” —making it easier to confiscate.

Today, the Greek residents of Turkey, mostly in Istanbul, number only about 1,800, according to Vryonis, and property rights continue to be so much a concern that the European Union is pressuring Turkey to implement legal changes. Of course, these are cosmetic at best.

"The society has already declared that the identity of Turkey is Islamic,” explains Vryonis. M. Hakan Yavuz discusses the situation in Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. The state apparatus tried to enforce Kemalism, limiting the power of Islam, albeit not insofar as minorities are concerned. “But the Turkish version of Islam is undergoing a revitalization which has successfully challenged [secularism],” says Vryonis. “Most of the provincial universities, for some time, have had major student organizations that are Islamic, that are not recognized by the authorities, but the authorities in the provinces are often Islamists.” 

Indeed, the majority of Turks are believing Muslims, a factor that emerged after the 1994 elections, when the Islamist Welfare Party won landslides in the mayoral elections in Asia Minor. Vryonis questions how the military can continue to bar Islamists from entering the officer corps. “It may be that has already happened,” he adds, “the dam has already broken and we don't know. Once that happens the show is over.” 

This matters, since the U.S. has armed Turkey so mightily. It has “the largest military establishment in the Middle East, Africa and Western and Northern Europe,” Vryonis says. “They have a big advantage when it comes to the buildup of tanks, jets, and this involves updating the armaments in Cyprus. The question is into what hands will all of this fall?”  

The answer was perhaps previewed in 2003 when the Turkish government refused to allow the disembarkment of 62,000 American troops to open a front in northern Iraq. In Iran, Vryonis points out, U.S. weapons fell into the hands of the Khomeiniites when the Shah fell. 

As to whether Kemalists are inherently all Muslims, Vryonis cannot assess the psychology of each person. “But if you look at the example in Iran, they executed the chiefs of Savak, and told the other ones to stay ...and watch what they were doing.” Within the Turkish government, he says, groups are said to have split, some working closely with Russia, others with China, and still others focusing on the European Union. 

A final issue concerns the Islamic army itself, Vryonis says. “[It] is not a homogeneous entity. [Islamists] tend to win elections by attracting people who are dissatisfied with this or that or the other,” says Vryonis. Even Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “in order to survive, wears about 4 or 5 or 6 masks. One is for the European Union, one is for Greece, and that changes, another is over the Israeli Palestinian issue another is for the military.... The state department never solved these problems.” But clearly, Vryonis says, Islamists “want a powerful Turkey and they want it to be more powerful than it is now.” 

The lesson to be taken from the 1955 pogrom is that little, if anything, has actually changed in Turkey. 


[1] Vryonis Jr., Speros, The Turkish State in History: Clio Meets the Grey Wolf (1993 ed), p. 67.
[2] Vryonis Jr. Speros, The Turkish State in History, pp. 57-78.
[3] Sulzberger, C.L., “Ankara tax raises diplomatic issues,” New York Times, Sept. 12, 1943, p. 46.
[4] Ibid.
[5] “The Turkish minorities,” New York Times, Sept. 17, 1943. p. 20.

Alyssa A. Lappen is a former Senior Fellow of the American Center for Democracy, former Senior Editor of Institutional Investor, Working Woman and Corporate Finance, and former Associate Editor of Forbes. Her website is www.AlyssaaLappen.org.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

An article by Shlomo Avineri right after the rejection of the Annan Plan by Greek Cypriots in April 2004

From Fanoulla Argyrou's archives, an article by Professor Shlomo Avineri, written in 2004, right after the rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriots. As Mrs Argyrou noted, Professor Avineri was one of the very very few foreign writers to explain to the world why we the Greek Cypriots were justified in rejecting the "Annan Plan". And said that "... In a united Europe, Greek Cypriots would not have freedom of movement in their own country - they would be ghettoed"..

article in "Financial Times"
28 April, 2004
by Shlomo Avineri

The Greek Cypriots' overwhelming rejection of the United Nations plan for the reunification of Cyprus should not come as a surprise. In the international media, the plan by Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general, had been presented as a fair-minded and well-intentioned compromise. The Greek Cypriots would regain some territory and a "Swiss-like federation" would reunify the island.

But this is not the way it looked to most Greek Cypriots in the south. To them it appeared that the UN and the European Union were bent on legitimising at least some of the consequences of the Turkish invasion of 1974, because the EU wanted to take the Cyprus issue off the table in order to facilitate negotiations on Turkey's accession to the EU.

Although the Annan plan in its various versions - the last one filled 9,000 pages - has not been fully translated into either Greek or Turkish, most of its outlines were, of course, known. But while outside observers focused mostly on the territorial and constitutional aspects suggested by the plan, for most Greek Cypriots the plan not only failed to answer their concerns but also seemed to be contrary to both UN and EU norms and values.

While some Turkish-occupied territory would be returned to Greek Cypriot rule, the contours of the Turkish Cypriot region would still reflect the outcome of Turkey's military invasion of 1974. Only half of the 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees uprooted by the Turkish invasion would be able to return to their former homes. The rest would not be able to return, or be entitled to adequate compensation.

Most of the Anatolian Turks who have been settled in the north by the Turkish occupation authorities would remain. Turkish forces would also stay in the north until Turkish accession to the EU - an arrangement the Greek Cypriots would consider an infringement of their sovereignty. The UN and the EU, which, justly, oppose the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, appeared to reward Turkish occupiers and settlers in the Cyprus case.

Last but not least, Greek Cypriots would not be able to move freely or settle in the Turkish north. This last prohibition rattled Greek Cypriots most because it meant that in a united Europe, where every EU citizen would be more or less free to take up residence and work in the Turkish part of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots would not have freedom of movement in their own country. In a way, the Greek Cypriots would have been ghettoised.

The failure to win approval for the Annan plan has wider ramifications. It shows that there are limits to what massive international pressure can accomplish when at least one of the participants in a dispute feels that its concerns have not been adequately dealt with.

Even well-intentioned plans cannot be first worked out by outside powers and then rammed down the throats of recalcitrant parties, whether in Cyprus or Bosnia, Kosovo or Kashmir, or in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When there is no local political will, outside pressure is not strong enough to achieve a workable solution. In such cases, conflict management is preferable to unrealistic outside schemes for conflict resolution.

The Greek part of Cyprus will enter the EU on May 1 under difficult conditions. Much wisdom and restraint will now be needed from both the EU and the Greek Cypriots. The EU, while obviously disappointed, should respect the sovereign will of the Greek Cypriot majority. The referendum, after all, was suggested by the international community and the EU expressed willingness to accept the Greek part of Cyprus even if reunification was not achieved by the accession date. To be vindictive now against the new member - Cyprus, albeit truncated - would be a political mistake and a moral failure on the part of the EU.

As for the Greek Cypriots, they should be careful not to translate their decision into triumphalism. Specifically, they should not view their successful accession to the EU as a licence for trying to bar EU negotiations with Turkey about future membership. On the contrary, like the Greek government, they should now advocate and support EU membership for Turkey.

This would be not only be magnanimous and politically astute, it might also be the only way towards a united Cyprus in the future, under conditions more acceptable to the Greek Cypriots and more in tune with international norms and values.

Shlomo Avineri: Turkey's frontline foreign policy

Journalist Fanoulla Argyrou comments: I would be grateful if you would kindly circulate the following comment to all those who received the article below. A very good analysis of Turkish intentions by Professor Avineri, as always. Back in April 2004 Professor Shlomo Avineri published an article in the Financial Times in London (on 28th April 2004 to be exact) titled "Realities behind the failure over Cyprus". He was one of the very very few foreign writers to explain to the world why we the Greek Cypriots were justified in rejecting the "Annan Plan". And said that "... In a united Europe, Greek Cypriots would not have freedom of movement in their own country - they would be ghettoed"...

by Shlomo Avineri, Professor of Political Science at Hebrew University, Director-General of Israel's Foreign Ministry in the first cabinet of Yitzhak Rabin
article in "In Depth", Volume 7, Issue. 4
Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs, University of Nicosia

A few months before he became Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief adviser, met with a group of Middle Eastern academics and policy experts, including Arabs and Israelis. With his academic background and immense erudition, he succeeded in painting, on a wide canvass, the new directions of Turkey’s policies under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leadership.
By then, it had become clear that Turkey’s road to the European Union had been closed, somewhat rudely, owing mainly to combined German and French pressure. But those who expected Islamist fire and brimstone from Davutoglu were deeply disappointed.
What was articulated was a levelheaded and sophisticated exposé, seldom heard from policymakers: it was thoughtful, honest, and breath-taking. It was also a clear departure from the conventional foreign-policy straightjacket devised by Kemal Ataturk, which had for decades forced Turkish diplomacy into the Procrustean bed of 1920’s-style integral nationalism.
Davutoglu began conventionally, declaring that Turkey’s geopolitical situation would always dictate the country’s foreign policy. Then came the bombshell: contrary to the conventional Kemalist view of the One and Indivisible Turkish Nation, Davutoglu referred to what everyone has known since modern Turkey was created: the country has more Azeris than Azerbaijan, more people of Albanian origin than live in Albania, more people of Bosniak origin than live in Bosnia, and more Kurds than in Iraqi Kurdistan.
This reality, Davutoglu maintained, means that violence and instability in Turkey’s immediate neighborhood threatens to spill into Turkey itself, and regional external conflicts can easily become internally disruptive. Hence the credo of Turkish foreign policy should be “zero conflicts with our neighbors and in our neighborhood.”
This, he explained, was the reason that Turkey was trying to find an accommodation with Armenia. It justified Turkey’s policy vis-à-vis the Kurdish Regional Government in Northern Iraq, its involvement in Bosnia and in Kosovo, its rapprochement with Syria, and also its attempt to mediate between Syria and Israel.
Turkey, he argued, is neither pro-Israeli nor pro-Syrian: it seeks an Israeli-Syrian accommodation in order to add another building block to regional stability. All these steps are taken by the AKP government because it is in Turkey’s interest, given not only its geopolitical position, but also its unique multi-ethnic structure (he didn’t use that terminology, though the implication was clear).
Since then (Davutoglu became Foreign Minister in May 2009), much of what Turkey has done can be explained as being in line with this “zero conflicts” theory, including a slightly more nuanced policy on the Cyprus issue. Yet recent developments suggest that, if this policy is pushed to its limits, it stumbles on its own premises.
One can well understand a Turkish policy of trying to defuse tensions with Iran over that country’s nuclear program. But the joint Iranian-Brazilian-Turkish initiative goes beyond such a policy.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva may have stepped on a hornets’ nest, owing to his unfamiliarity with regional policies and his general anti-Yanqui sentiments. Erdogan must have known that, by trying in this way to shield Iran, he is opening a wider chasm with the EU – and obviously with the United States. Opposing new sanctions against Iran in the Security Council further alienated Turkey from both the EU and the US. This does not sit well with a “zero conflict” policy.
The same can be said about the shrill tone that Turkey, and Erdogan himself, has recently adopted vis-à-vis Israel. Walking off the stage at Davos during a round-table debate with Israel’s President Shimon Peres might have gained Erdogan points in the Arab world, which has historically viewed Turkey with the suspicion owed to the old imperial ruler. But the vehemence with which he lashed out at Israel during the Gaza flotilla crisis obviously went far beyond (justified) support for beleaguered Palestinians and (equally justified) criticism of the messy way in which Israel dealt with an obviously difficult situation.
While gaining support on the so-called Arab street, and perhaps upstaging Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in the role of a modern Commander-of-the-Faithful, Erdogan’s policy and behavior have shocked not only Israelis, but also moderate Arab leaders in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and some of the Gulf states.
For many years, the AKP appeared to many in the region and elsewhere as a model for a democratic party with Islamic roots. But by supporting Hamas, Erdogan has allied Turkey with the most disruptive and extremist fundamentalist force in the Muslim Arab world – an organization that has its origins in the Muslim Brotherhood, the arch-enemy of all Arab regimes in the region (including, of course, Syria).
Since Erdogan is a critic of Israel, Arab rulers cannot say this openly. But Arab governments – and their security services – are beginning to ask themselves whether Turkey’s policies will undermine whatever internal stability their states possess.
This is the exact opposite of a genuine “zero conflict” policy that aims to minimize tensions and enhance stability. Turkey now finds itself, through its alliance with Iran and support for Hamas, rushing headlong into a series of conflicts – with Europe, the US, Israel, and moderate Arab regimes that have survived Iranian Shia fundamentalism but may now feel threatened by a neo-Ottoman Sunni foreign policy.
Turkey is thus emerging not as a regional mediator, equidistant from contending local players, but as an assertive, if not aggressive, regional power aiming for hegemony. Far from avoiding conflicts and mediating existing tensions, Turkey under the AKP appears intent on stoking new conflicts and creating new frontlines.