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Questions

Why does Turkey want to become an EU member?

Turkey’s accession to the EU is our strategic choice and would be a natural outcome of comprehensive, centuries-long relations with European countries. We share a common destiny. We cherish and defend the same values and norms the EU is built on, such as democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.

Turkey is a part of the European family. Since the foundation of the Republic, Turkey has taken part in almost all European institutions, in most of them as a founding member. Turkey has made considerable contributions to the formation of the current European architecture through the constructive role it played within international organizations such as the Council of Europe, OECD, NATO and OSCE.

We cooperate extensively with the EU on almost every policy field including foreign policy issues. Our contribution to the EU’s security and defence policy is significant. The EU is our main economic partner. Since 1996, Turkey is part of a custom union with the EU.

Turkey’s EU membership will be a natural result of the transformation process in all fields of life in our country. The ongoing reforms, especially in the areas of democracy, human rights and rule of law, constitute a significant aspect of our efforts towards EU accession and show our willingness to contribute to the global role of the EU.
 

What will be the benefits of accession for Turkey and the EU?

The EU’s enlargement policy has proved to be the most successful integration project in our continent. The European Union, comprising of 27 member countries with a population of almost 500 million people has evolved into a multi-dimensional powerful international structure in our continent in terms of political, economic, social and cultural co-operation and development. The EU has a large “acquis communautaire” which aims at raising the standards in a wide spectrum of issues, ranging from food safety to foreign and defense policies. In this context, the ongoing reform process which aims at adopting the acquis will provide our citizens with the highest norms and standards in every field of their daily lives.

On the other hand, the accession of a democratic and modern Turkey with its unique geo-strategic position would bring major benefits to the EU as well. Thanks to our dynamic economy and young population, the enlarged Union with Turkey on board can respond better to the challenges of globalisation. With our pro-active and multidimensional foreign policy and strong ties with the countries of the region Turkey can contribute to the credibility and effectiveness of the EU’s foreign policy. Turkey’s location can also help to expand and diversify supply routes for oil and natural gas to European markets. Turkey could contribute to the Union’s perception of cultural diversity and the dialogue among cultures because we share the same universal values.

Furthermore, as a factor of stability in its region, Turkey’s membership to the EU would also contribute to regional and global peace and stability as well as the dissemination of universal values to a wider geography.
 

What is the current state of play regarding the accession negotiations?

Turkey’s accession negotiations started in 2005. Since then 13 chapters out of 35 have been opened and one provisionally closed (Science and Research). Unfortunately, after the start of our accession negotiations, certain member states have changed their policies in contradiction with their own previous decisions and commitments. Politically motivated blockages and the exploitation of our accession talks in domestic politics by some European leaders have led to a stalemate in the process. As a result, the pace of our negotiation process has slowed down. Despite this, we continue our efforts in line with the Accession Partnership Document and National Programme for the Alignment with the acquis. We expect the EU to respect its commitments and to take the necessary steps to help overcoming this stalemate. Despite all these hurdles, Turkey will continue its efforts for accession with determination.

State of Play in the Accession Negotiations Process of Turkey as of 1 May 2012

Chapters

Chapters Opened  

Chapters Closed

1 – Free Movement of Goods

 

 

2 – Freedom of Movement of Workers

 

 

3 – Right of Est. & Freedom to Provide Services

 

 

4 – Free Movement of Capital

19 December 2008

 

5 – Public Procurement

 

 

6 – Company Law

17 June 2008

 

7 – Intellectual Property Rights

17 June 2008

 

8 – Competition Policy

 

 

9 – Financial Services

 

 

10 – Information Society And Media

19 December 2008

 

11 – Agriculture And Rural Development

 

 

12 – Food Safety, Vet. & Phytosanoitary Policy

 30 June 2010

 

13 – Fisheries

 

 

14 – Transport Policy

 

 

15 – Energy 

 

 

16 – Taxation

30 June 2009

 

17 – Economic And Monetary Policy

 

 

18 – Statistics

26 June 2007

 

19 – Social Policy And Employment

 

 

20 – Enterprise And Industrial Policy

29 March 2007

 

21 – Trans-European Networks

19 December 2007

 

22 – Regional Pol. & Coord. of Structural Instr.

 

 

23 – Judiciary And Fundamental Rights

 

 

24 – Justice, Freedom And Security

 

 

25 – Science And Research

12 June 2006

12 June 2006

26 – Education And Culture

 

 

27 – Environment

 21 December 2009

 

28 – Consumer And Health Protection

19 December 2007

 

29 – Customs Union

 

 

30 – External Relations

 

 

31 – Foreign, Security And Defence Policy

 

 

32 – Financial Control

26 June 2007

 

33 – Financial And Budgetary Provisions

 

 

34 – Institutions

 

 

35 – Other Issues

 

 

 

When can Turkey become an EU member?

Turkey can become an EU member when the accession negotiations are completed i.e. all chapters are successfully closed. The decision must be taken by unanimity of all EU member states. The next step would be the signature of the Accession Treaty and its successful ratification by the European Parliament and all member states.

The accession process has never been easy for any aspiring country. Turkey spares no effort in this regard and has so far made great strides towards accession.
 

Has Turkey lost interest in the EU? Do Turkish people still want to join the EU?

Turkey has a 50-year long history with the EU. Membership in the EU continues to be our strategic goal. We maintain this goal despite the current stalemate in our accession process. This is a testament to our determination.

Desiring to share a prosperous future with other European nations on the basis of common values, Turkish people retain their strong support for EU accession. The support of the public opinion is the real driving force behind our reform efforts. However, there has been a significant decline in the faith of our citizens in Turkey’s accession. This is due to the political hurdles we face in our accession process as well as the negative attitude and statements of certain European statesmen.

Despite the opposition of some member states, most of the EU countries support Turkey’s accession to the EU. The Enlargement Strategy Document published by the European Commission in October 2011 stresses that “Turkey is a key country for the security and prosperity of the European Union. Turkey’s contribution to the EU in a number of crucial areas will only be fully effective with an active and credible accession process”.

Turkish people are aware of the benefits of the pre-accession process. The EU contributes financially through a variety of projects which aim at supporting political reforms, strengthening the rule of law and human rights, improving infrastructure and protection of environment, as well as increasing the quality of education by training and scholarships. The accession process helps carrying forward reforms which serve the welfare of our citizens and the prosperity of our country.

  

What are Turkey’s Approach to and Expectations from Climate Change Negotiations?

Climate change represents a threat which may create serious effects for humankind and our planet. There is an urgent need to address this threat on a global scale. To this end, negotiations are underway under the UN umbrella with the participation of all Parties.

In this context, Turkey welcomes the recent approval at the COP 17 held in Durban, the Republic of South Africa between 28 November – 9 December 2011, of a roadmap for the post-2012 climate change regime which will follow the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Durban package includes, inter alia, the approval no later than 2015 of a legal document in the combat against climate change which will be applicable to all Parties and which is expected to enter into force as of 2020.

Turkey has always supported the development of an equitable, comprehensive, rule-based and legally binding international instrument on the basis of the principles of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” in the combat against climate change. With this understanding, Turkey will continue to actively contribute to the process.

Turkey aims at gaining access to new technologies and financial resources in order to combat against climate change. In this context, Turkey expects equitable access to current and future technology and fınance mechanisms under the Convention which are made available to developing countries.

Although Turkey is listed in Annex-I, Turkey is a middle income developing country and has a different position according to basic indicators such as GDP per capita, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emission. This fact is mentioned by Turkey at United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meetings. Defining all Annex-I states as “developed countries” is not an approprıate approach.

It was agreed at the COP 17 that the discussions on the modalities for the provision of support for mitigation, adaptation, technology development and transfer, capacity-building and finance to Turkey, whose special circumstances were recognized by the Parties in Marrakesh (2001) and Cancun (2010) Conferences, would be continued. We will pursue the matter with resolve with a view to taking the necessary steps in due course.

  

What is the content of the “zero problems with neihgbours policy” of Turkey?

Our approach of “Zero Problems with Neighbors” is a contemporary reflection of the basic principle we have adopted since the foundation of the republic, that is “peace at home peace in the world”. Turkey aims to resolve all problems with its neighbors to pave the way for advancing relations in every field on the basis of mutual benefit.

The aim of establishing a belt of security and prosperity in our neighbourhood is also important for the steady continuation of Turkey’s development. Turkey has indeed achieved substantial progress and stability in economic, political and social fields in the last decade. And in order to sustain the pace of this development, it needs more stability around as well.

In this sense, the zero problems approach is a long term goal on which we will work in patience. Indeed, no one expects all problems to be solved overnight. Moreover, Turkey’s good will and efforts alone will not be enough. The outcome of efforts towards improving relationships will also depend on the stance of our neighbors as well as the changes in the circumstances that define our relations.

For example, our bilateral relations with another important neighbor Syria has entered into a new phase since the regime in Syria has engaged into violence against its own people and denied our calls for cooperation to end the conflict. This is not due to the failure or inconsistency of our zero problems approach, but rather Syria’s stance which does not provide any opportunity for moving forward. However, even under current circumstances, Turkey did not lose her will for solving problems and we are ready for developing our relations and solving problems with a regime enjoying the trust and support of the Syrian people.

No matter how deep rooted or complicated the problems are, the right step to be taken is obvious. We need to adopt a realistic and constructive foreign policy approach which will not allow negative aspects to overshadow the positive ones.

With this understanding, we have focused on prospects for cooperation and commonalities rather than differences. We have shaped and developed our relations on the basis of the principles of “security for all”, “political dialogue”, “economic interdependence”, “cultural harmony” and “mutual respect”. We have advanced our relations to new levels through High Level Cooperation Councils, visa exemptions and free trade agreements.

Along the same line, we tried to contribute to the improvement of dialogue channels and building of confidence among countries in our region. We undertook roles as “facilitator” for helping solve hard issues, by proving a credible meeting point which enabled the parties to regional problems gather under different formats and exchange views.

We believe a cooperation and partnership spirit is growing in our neighborhood as a result of our understanding and efforts. We also think this significantly contributes towards the establishment of lasting peace and stability in our region, which could not realize its real potential as it had to cope with many conflicts and disputes for so many years.

 

Turkey has been very active in the field of mediation recently. What are the reasons for this and what are your priorities in the field of mediation?

In today’s world where globalization continues at a very fast pace, a conflict in one region carries the potential to destabilize other regions and result in global fallout. Therefore, as a country affected by the many conflicts in this highly volatile region and concerned by tensions and developments in neighboring regions, Turkey is committed to mediation and facilitation efforts.

Actually, our efforts in the field of mediation are part of a larger policy to create a belt of stability, security and welfare in our region and lay the foundations for realizing its true potential. We believe that enhanced regional cooperation and economic interdependence minimize the risk of conflict and acts in itself as a preventive measure. Thanks to the steps we have taken in this field, we have already covered important ground with our neighbors in generating common solutions to problems.

In fact, as part of this comprehensive approach, we lend assistance to conflicting parties in their efforts to foster dialogue, and we share our experience as a credible partner. In this respect, in recent years we have conducted effective mediation attempts to facilitate reconciliation and cooperation among different parties and have supported peace agreements in various theatres such as Iraq, Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Iran.

In addition, we believe that coordination, cooperation, and sharing experiences in the field of mediation/facilitation is essential to conduct efficient and successful initiatives. It was with this understanding that we launched the “mediation for peace” initiative and established the “Group of Friends of Mediation” together with Finland in September 2010. These efforts aim to generate interest and support for mediation activities and to lay down guidelines. As a direct result of our efforts, on 22 June 2011 the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution on strengthening the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution. We have maintained this momentum with the UN’s Guidance for Effective Mediation prepared by the Secretary-General in June 2012 and the follow-up resolution adopted by the General Assembly in September 2012. A similar “Group of Friends of Mediation” was formed in March 2014 at the OSCE with at the initiatives of Turkey, Finland and the Swiss Presidency.

We believe that the UN should increase its presence in areas with proximity to the conflict zones and should contribute to an effective coordination mediation efforts at the regional level. In this regard, we have proposed to host a Center in Istanbul to be used for the UN’s mediation efforts. We are currently discussing the issue with relevant UN departments.

In line with its leading role in the field of mediation, Turkey also hosts “Istanbul Conferences on Mediation”. The first two conferences that brought together representatives from various institutions, NGOs and experts were held in February 2012 and April 2013 respectively.

  

What is Turkey’s stance vis-a-vis the nuclear program of Iran?

Turkey supports the establishment of a nuclear weapons free-zone in the Middle East and encourages countries in this region towards the attainment of this goal. In this framework, pursuing a principled approach regarding the Iranian nuclear issue, Turkey believes that a solution can only be found through diplomacy and contributes to this end. The solution to the issue should recognize the right of every country respectful of NPT obligations to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, while at the same time addressing the concerns of the international community regarding the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

 

Why did Turkey vote “Against” the sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear program?

Turkey believes that a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear issue is the only viable option and has been making substantive efforts. The Joint Declaration signed by Turkey, Iran and Brazil on 17 May 2010 demonstrates that diplomacy and engagement can work. Furthermore, the Joint Declaration provides a basis to give diplomacy a chance. Turkey voted “against” the new sanctions on Iran in order not to undermine the window of opportunity provided by the Joint Declaration for solving the problem on Iran’s nuclear program through peaceful means.

 

What would be the reaction of Turkey if Iran develops a nuclear weapon? Will Turkey also try to acquire nuclear weapons?

Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery constitutes a serious concern for Turkey. Therefore, Turkey contributes actively to the efforts in the areas of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Turkey, being party to all international non-proliferation instruments and export control regimes, pursues a policy of zero tolerance for proliferation while fulfilling its responsibilities emanating from the said regimes and instruments. Turkey believes that nuclear weapons do not provide any country with additional security and in line with this understanding does not include such weapons in its national security policy.

 

While there are PKK elements in Iraq, what kind of an anti-terror cooperation mechanism is there between Turkey and Iraq?

There are a variety of mechanisms established for the elimination of PKK from Iraq.

One of them is Trilateral Mechanism, initiated on 19 November 2008 between Turkey, Iraq and the US. We attribute importance to the continuation of this process. In the Meeting of the Trilateral Security Committee on 11 April 2010, in Istanbul, Turkey, Iraq and the US agreed on an Action Plan. The plan embodies the measures to be implemented by the parties against the PKK in northern Iraq and efforts are underway to put the plan into practice. In this regard, we expect to see the implementation of concrete measures beyond the exchange of intelligence against the PKK.

Signed by Mr. Beşir Atalay, Minister of Interior of Turkey and Iraqi Minister of Interior Cevad Bolani in Baghdad on 15 October 2009, “The Agreement between the Republic of Turkey And The Republic Of Iraq On Combating Terrorism” envisages cooperation between the two countries against the terrorist organizations, including PKK. The ratification process of this agreement still continues.

Turkey wants to improve and enhance the ongoing cooperation with Iraq on counter terrorism issues.

 

What is the Foreign Ministry doing so that Turkish citizens can travel visa free to the European Union?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey has all along been actively raising the issue with the European Union Commission as well as European Union member states both on multilateral and bilateral platforms.

As a negotiating candidate country having Customs Union with the European Union since January 1996 as well as some acquired rights derived from the Additional Protocol between the Community and Turkey, Turkish citizens should have enjoyed visa-free travel to the EU long along.

Turkey has also taken steps to meet EU conditions for visa free travel of the Turkish citizens to EU countries, such as 1) biometric passports; 2) visa labels with ICAO standarts; 3) progress on readmission agreement talks; 4) airport transit visa practise.

Biometric passports were in circulation since June, 1, 2010.

Visa labels with ICAO standarts will be ready before the end of the year 2010.

Draft bill on Foreigners Residence and Travel in Turkey launching airport transit visa practise will probably enter into force by the end of the year 2011.

ReadmissionAgreement talks are ongoing fast and smoothly.

Consequently, Turkey should be included in the list at annex (II) of “Council Regulation (EC) 539/2001 of 15 March 2001 listing the third countries whose nationals are exempt from that requirement”.
 

Is there any legal procedure which the Turkish citizens may follow against the visa requirements of the EU members?

Turkish citizens facing unfair visa practise may start legal procedures against the competent authorities of the State concerned through an attorney.
 

What are the problems encountered by the ethnic Turkish population in Greece?

The Turkish Muslim population living in Greece (with the exception of Western Thrace) and the Greek Orthodox population living in Turkey (with the exception of İstanbul, Gökçeada and Bozcaada) were subject to a population exchange, in line with the relevant agreements to which Turkey and Greece are parties.

Today, about 150,000 ethnic Turks live in Western Thrace, the north-eastern region of Greece. This population constitutes the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace whose status was established by the Lausanne Peace Treaty of 1923 and whose rights were guaranteed by several bilateral and multilateral agreements. Yet the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace faces breach of its minority rights. Some of the problems encountered by the Turkish Minority are;

-denial of ethnic identity,

-non-recognition of the elected religious leaders,

-problems regarding minority waqfs,

- citizenship rights (Approximately 60,000 minority members lost Greek citizenship as a result of the Article 19 of the Greek citizenship law which was in effect between 1959 and 1998. The repeal of the said Article in 1998 does not have a retroactive effect, thus 60.000 victims are not entitled to reacquire the Greek and therefore EU citizenship.)

- problems in the field of education (no kindergarten education is provided in mothertongue, the level of education in the minority schools lags behind the average, demands regarding opening of new minority schools remain unmet, etc.)

- political representation remains low ( 3% national threshold which applies also for the election of independent candidates, curbs the ability of the Minority to send independent representatives to the Parliament)

-problems regarding the freedom of expression and media.

The right of the Turkish Minority to express its identity has been denied. ECtHR ruled in its 3 rulings that the ban on the Turkish Muslim Minority NGO’s having the words “Turkish/Minority” in their titles is discriminatory and in contradiction with the freedom of association (Article 11 of the ECHR). Also for the cases taken to the Court by the elected Muftis, there exist 4 rulings of the ECHR against Greece, which signify that Greece has violated the freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 9 of the ECHR) and that “in democratic societies the state do not have the right to interfere with communities’ religious leadership.” Greece does not implement the above mentioned ECtHR rulings.

On the other hand, Greece does not recognize the minority rights of the Turkish community in Rhodes and Kos islands with the pretext that those islands did not belong to Greece when the Lausanne Peace Treaty was signed. The Turkish community in the islands face difficulties in the fields of administration of its Waqfs, performing religious duties, religious and Turkish education.

 

Is it possible to talk about rapprochement lately?

Following the dialogue and cooperation process, initiated between Turkey and Greece in 1999, a more constructive understanding has begun to define the terms of bilateral relations which were problematic during the past decades. The conclusion of more than 30 bilateral agreements/protocols/MoUs in various fields such as trade, tourism, environment, culture, energy, transportation and security related matters has contributed to enabling cooperation on issues of common interest.

Throughout 2010, Turkey and Greece have furthered their efforts in order to improve bilateral relations. Right after assuming office, Prime Minister Mr. Papandreou paid his first visit abroad to İstanbul in October 2009, on the occasion of the Informal Meeting of the SEECP Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Later, the exchange of letters initiated by PM Erdoğan has reflected the common will of both political leaders to further developing relations on a more constructive basis.

Alternate FM Droutsas paid a working visit to Ankara on 8 April 2010, while Foreign Ministers of both countries met on many other occasions, in the margins of various international meetings.

During PM Erdoğan’s Athens visit, with ten Ministers and a delegation over 300 people including approximately 200 businessmen on 14-15 May 2010, the High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) held its first meeting and 22 documents were concluded in various fields, on top of the existing ones.

The establishment of this mechanism signals the beginning of a “structured” and “institutionalized” phase in Turkish-Greek relations, which will enable Turkey and Greece to upgrade the level of relations from “rapprochement” to “partnership.” In order to “maximize” cooperation, the Council will convene at least once a year alternately in Greece and Turkey under the co-chairmenship of the two Prime Ministers. The HLCC model in essence aims at bringing together all relevant Ministers from both sides in the form of a joint cabinet meeting, in order to take up their issues at hand and develop a “joint vision”, under the guidance of the two Prime Ministers.

 

Will we take the issues to the International Court of Justice?

In order to resolve all interrelated Aegean issues, Turkey, within the framework of ongoing dialogue process, does not rule out any means of peaceful settlement listed in Article 33 of the UN Charter (negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration or judicial settlement-International Court of Justice) based on mutual consent of both Parties.

  

What is genocide?

The description of the term “genocide” is clearly defined in the 1948 United Nations Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Turkey is a party to this Convention.

According to Article 2 of the aforementioned-Convention, the fundamental element of the crime of “genocide” is the “intent” to destroy a group in part or as a whole simply because they are the members of that group.

In order to specify an act as a “genocide” the following two proponents should be sought for; a) existence of a competent and special tribunal decision b) exact proof regarding there was a clear “intent” to destroy a group specifically because of their ethnical-religious origins.

According to Article 6 of the said-Convention, there must be competent tribunal decision to call an act as “genocide”. This court can be the courts of a state in which genocide was perpetrated or an international justice tribunal constituted according to the Regulation enshrined in the Convention of Rome.

Likewise, in the case of Holocaust which is the most widely known example of genocide around the world, crimes perpetrated against Jews and Romans had been concluded by the judgement of the Nuremberg Trials which had been specifically constituted for the alleged crime.

Similarly, according to the court decisions which is in charge of judging such criminals Srebrenica and Ruanda Trials enacted as genocide.

Accordingly, without the existence of a competent tribunal’s decision, the claim of genocide cannot be put forward or defended on legal grounds. In this regard, “genocide allegations” which do not rely on competent tribunal decisions cannot go beyond baseless claims lacking legal validity.

In this regard, the decisions taken by non-competent institutions especially parliaments bear the risk of diluting the specific definition of the crime of genocide and, consequently, the exploitation of the concept of genocide. These constitute also a violation of the freedom of expression and of scientific research.

 

What is the position and policy of Turkey towards genocide as a whole?

Turkey’s position and policy on the issue of “genocide” is apparent. Turkey is one of the signatory states which ratified the Convention in her National Parliament and institutionalized genocide as a crime in her national legal system. Turkey contributes to the endeavours on judgment and penalization of the criminals who have perpetuated and/or played a role in these.

Turkey, as a respected member of international community contributes to this issue in all relevant platforms, first and foremost in the UN.

(Click for the web site of the remembrance ceremony of Srebrenica Genocide which was held on July 11th, 2010 in Bosnia-Herzegovina and H.E. Mr. Prime Minister also attended – click for the speech of H.E. Mr. Prime Minister.)

 

What happened in 1915?

To understand what exactly happened between Turks and Armenians in 1915 one has to examine what happened until 1915.

Ottoman Empire was a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society reflecting the Empires of the time.

Turks and Armenians have lived in peace in Anatolia for over eight centuries. Up to 19th century Armenians were called “loyalnation” (Millet-i sadıka) because of their success in integration to the Ottoman community. As privileged subjects of the Ottoman Empire, Armenian community were to rise to prominence as ministers, ambassadors, governors and industrialists. They were not subjected to any discrimination because of their ethnic and religious roots.

In the Ottoman time:

- Twenty-nine Armenians achieved the highest governmental rank of civilian generals (pasha);

- There were twenty-two Armenian governmental ministers. Among the posts held were the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Trade, and Postal Services;

- Gabriel Noradunkyan who was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1912-1913 is Armenian.

- Numerous Armenians headed governmental departments concerned with a variety of functions, including agriculture, census, and economic development;

- In the post-1876 Ottoman Parliament (Meclis-i Mebusan), there were thirty-three elected Armenian representatives;

- Seven Armenian Ambassadors and eleven Consul-Generals and Consuls served in the Ottoman diplomatic service;

- Eleven university professors of Armenian origin brought their valuable contributions to the Ottoman academic life.

(Click for the list of Armenian statesmen and civil servants in the Ottoman rule)

Towards the end of the 19th century, the “Entente Powers” of those days began to regard the Armenians as an important tool which could be manipulated against the Ottomans. They promised the Armenians a state of their own in Eastern Anatolia where paradoxically they constituted only a minority.

With the Berlin Conference which was held after the 1877-1878 Ottoman-Russian War, Armenians gained great political acquisitions. With Article 61 which was accepted in the Conference (Ottoman Empire will implement reforms and create a secure environment in East Anatolia, will inform the relevant countries about the precautions) “The Armenian Issue” submitted to the agenda in the international arena.

It was with the creation of two radical revolutionary Armenian committees, the Hinchag Committee formed in Geneva, Switzerland in 1887, and the Dashnag Committee, established in Tbilisi, Georgia in 1890, that Armenian national aspirations began to assume the more classical form which the Ottomans had come to know and worry in the previous half-century. After that with these Committees provocations and foreign subsidy rebellions were started in different cities of Ottoman Empire. First big Armenian rebellion was started in Van in 1896. After quashing the rebellion Armenian organizations continued their activities and they arranged many rebellions in different cities.

The start of World War I and the entry of the Ottoman State into the war against the Allied Powers were seen as a great opportunity by these revolutionary groups. They revolted against the Ottoman Government, collaborated with the invading Russian Armies and other foreign forces, launching attacks on the Ottoman army and Muslim civilians from behind the front and engaging in acts of sabotage. In March 1915, the Russian forces began to move toward Van. After the failure of Sarıkamış Operation, on April 11, 1915, the Armenians of Van initiated a general revolt which is the second rebellion of Armenians in Van, massacring all the Turks in the vicinity to enable the city’s quick and easy conquest by the Russians. As a result, Ottoman Government enacted the Relocation Law on May 27, 1915. The Armenians who were living around strategic military locations were to be relocated in other areas far from the war zone.

When we analyze the 1915 Events in the historical context, the Ottoman Government which was facing enormous internal and external threats such as terrorist attacks, rebellions and cooperation with enemies resorted to a defensive measure and increased precautions. Accordingly, these precautions were not pre-planned and they have no political purpose based on a certain ideology. On the contrary, they are implemented because of military and security related needs.

Military historians say that Ottoman Government was forced to enact the Relocation Law of May 27, 1915 because of the military necessities and the threat of separatist movements.

(Click to see the examples of American, British and German archive documents related to Armenian separatist movement.)

The other point should be noted that Armenians were not foreseen to be deported, but were relocated to the places outside the war the Ottoman territories. The Armenians living in the Eastern Anatolia were transferred to zone within other Ottoman regions, reserving their right to return back to their homes after the end of the war.

(Click to see the text of the letter written by American historians and academicians on 19 May 1985 addressed to the members of The Assembly of Representatives.)

(Click to see the letter of the French academicians.)

The transfer started after necessary preparations. Meanwhile, Armenians living in areas outside the military operations were not part of the resettlement process. Thus, the Armenians living in Istanbul, Kütahya and Aydın were not affected by this law. The decision made by the Ottoman Government was not extension of any ideology.

In this law, every measure was foreseen to be taken to ensure the security of the Armenians subjected to relocation. The Ottoman Government instructed the local authorities to take the necessary security measures for the orderly relocation of the Armenians. Moreover, officials or civilians who disobeyed the instructions of the Government and committed offences against Armenian convoys were tried by the Military Courts (“Divan-i Harbi Örfi, 1915-1916). The Courts decided to take 1673 people into custody and passed death sentences for 67 individuals. The documents relating to the case are available in the Ottoman archives. Despite these measures, war conditions, local gangs, robbery, local feelings of hatred and vengeance have prompted attacks towards the convoys during the transfer process. The Government tried to prevent them. As a matter of fact, there were very limited attacks on the Armenian convoys in the regions where the state authority was relatively high. Insufficiency of food and other means in war days, heavy climatic conditions and outbreaks of epidemic diseases like typhus had also led to the increase of loss of human lives. In fact, the said time period was an era in which all Anatolian people shared the same fate. It should be noted that 3 million people, mostly civilian Muslims, died in Anatolia during World War I. Those who perished in the hands of Armenian bands reached 524, 000, between the years 1914 through 1922.

How did a state, willing to annihilate Armenians and targeting to massacre, try officials or civilians who committed offences against Armenian convoys? And why did this state adopt a special law to take the necessary security measures for the orderly relocation of the Armenians? The circles claiming the 1915 events as “genocide” cannot respond to these questions. Also, the answers for these questions prove that there was no intent of the Ottomans to destroy the Armenians.

In the Ottoman period, Armenian society was fully integrated to the Ottoman society and bureaucracy. Even, it is well known fact that the Union and Progress Party who adopted the Relocation Law, cooperated with the Armenian groups during and after the process of coming to power. Many Armenians were elected as Parliamentarians in the general elections of 1908, 1912 and 1914 from the list of the Union and Progress Party. Among these Bedros Hallaçyan served as Minister of Trade and Public Works two times as well as a member of the headquarters of the Union and Progress Party.

After World War I, the Armenian allegations were investigated between 1919 and 1922, as part of the legal process against the Ottoman officials. Subsequently, 144 Ottoman high officials were arrested and deported for trial by Great Britain to the island of Malta.

The information that led to these arrests was mainly provided by local Armenians and the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul. So while the deportees were under detention on Malta, the British occupation forces in Istanbul, which had absolute power and authority in the Ottoman capital, looked frantically everywhere to find evidence in order to incriminate the deportees.

However, no evidence, demonstrating that the Ottoman Government, the members of the Union and Progress Party and the Ottoman officials deported to Malta either sanctioned or encouraged the killings of the Armenians, was found.

Moreover, no evidence could be found on this direction in the American and French archives. After two years and four months of detention in Malta, all the deportees were set free without trial.

(Click to see the confession of Arnold J. Toynbee who is the writer of “the Blue Book”, one of the famous literatures of genocide propaganda. He allowed that he had written this book for propaganda of war on order in the context of power balances.)

(Click to see the quotation from Admiral Bristol’s report regarding the events.)

Within the framework of the efforts to equate the events of 1915 with the Holocaust, various Armenian groups recently claim that the ruling Union and Progress Party during the period of World War I, with a Social Darwinist ideology, tried to apply a repressive “Turkification” policy and aimed to annihilate Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

In this framework, one of the concepts is formed as a racism targeting to collective identity instead of a racism rejecting in terms of biology. Numerous historians who are experts of the Union and Progress Party disclosed that this argument was thoroughly baseless, since the Union and Progress Party did not have a monolithic ideology. The Holocaust was a horrific outcome of centuries-long racist ideology penetrated into the European society. In the Ottoman Empire, such a racist ideology against the Armenian subjects of the Empire never existed. There was, in no way, Turkish-Armenian discrimination in terms of administration.

On the other hand, Ottoman Empire sent Notes to the Governments of Spain, The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden on February 1919 and asked them to assign two legal experts and form an enquiry commission to investigate the claims of Armenian massacres. Unfortunately, this initiative has remained inconclusive due to the British intervention.

(Click for the copy of the letter dated 30 November 1919 written by Boghos Nubar Pasha, the Head of the Armenian Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference)

What is the total number of the Armenian deportees?

The ones who support the Armenian allegations overestimate the number of the Armenian losses during the relocation, above the historical facts.

According to the latest Ottoman census figures, which was taken in 1914, total number of the Armenian population within the Ottoman territory was 1.295.000, during the time of the census.

It is estimated that the total number of the Armenians, whom were relocated within the context of a military necessity on a temporary basis were around 600.000.

 

Did all Armenian deportees die?

The allegation towards all the Armenian deportees were massacred and annihilated is far from truth as well as historical facts and objectivity.

It is a fact that some Armenians lost their lives during the relocation. However, the radical factions of the Armenian diaspora began to argue that the death toll of the Armenian deportees were 600.000 just after the WWI. Later on, this number has been increased up to first 800.000 and then to 1.5 -2. Millions.

It is not possible to determine the exact number of Armenians who lost their lives during WWI. In fact, this is not the case solely for the Armenians, but all the citizens of the Empire whom lost their lives during WWI. Due to the reason that the Ottoman Administration did not keep the records of the deaths during the wars, it is not possible to estimate the definite death toll during the war.

In this regard, the best possible guess is to try to estimate the total number of citizens of Armenian origin of the Empire. Accordingly, some statistical estimations can be made from this.

Set aside the inflated and fabricated statistical figures, which have been produced in order to make contribution to the radical Armenian propaganda, the statistical figures of the reliable sources with regard to the total number of Armenians within the Ottoman territory differ between 1.056.000 and 1.555.000. This is in parallelism with the figures of the latest Ottoman census, which is around 1.295.000.

Talat Pasha, in his speech delivered during the last congress of the Committee of Union and Progress which was in Nov. 1st, 1918, argued that the total number of the Armenian deaths were around 300.000.

Boghos Nubar Pasha, whom was one of the prominent figures of the Armenian independence movement, in his speech at the Paris Peace Conference (1918), stated that 280.000 Armenians had stayed after the WWI and 700.000 Armenians had fled to the other countries.

This number overlaps with the estimate towards 300.000 Armenians had lost their lives during WWI.

 

What is the proposal of Turkey towards the settlement of the debate with regard to the Events of 1915 ?

There is a conflict of memories between the Turkish and Armenian nations with regard to the events of 1915. Turkey does not have any intentions towards imposing her own memory records over the others. However, no one has the right to impose its own memory records on Turkey either.

Republic of Turkey, has supported the idea of the events of 1915 should be evaluated by the historians.

Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, HE. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sent a letter to the President of Armenia then H.E. Mr. Kocharian in April 10th, 2005 and proposed to establish a commission of historians and scientists of the relevant fields in order to conduct a scientific research and announce its results. The commission that was envisaged to be established, had been proposed to conduct its research not only within the Turkish and Armenian archives, but also within the relevant archives of the third countries. Additionally, the Turkish Grand National Assembly, in its declaration dated 13th April 2005 with regard to the Armenian allegations, has indicated its full sport to this historical proposal of our Prime Minister. However, it has not been possible to attain an official reply to the letter of our Prime Minister.

The sub-commission on the historical dimension, foreseen in the Protocols signed in October 2009 between Turkey and Armenia, aims at overcoming the differences in memories between Turkish and Armenian peoples on the events of 1915. This would allow both people to rekindle the friendship and reach a just memory.

Turkey believes that this sub-commission on historical dimension would play a crucial role in reaching a just memory with regard to the events of 1915.

 

What is the situation of the archives of the Ottoman period and is it open to the researchers ?

The Ottoman archive system, which is even today given as an example in the fields of scientific historical research and archive researches, has been conducted on the basis of systematic record taking since the establishment of the Ottoman State. Ottoman Administration has always acted with sensitivity and delicateness about recording all the administrative decisions as well as archiving them within the state apparatus.

Within this context, all the archives that have been inherited from the Ottoman Era, are today in İstanbul, held under the auspices of the “Directorate General of the State Archives” which is functioning under the Prime Ministry. The archives are open both to all researchers.

It should be underlined that allegations towards the Ottoman archives such as it is “not open or research permissions are granted on a selective basis” are fabricated. One can get a glimpse about the correctness of these allegations by noting that even the ones who support Armenian allegations do have free access to these archives and conduct their researches.

Ones who would like to conduct a study within the Directorate General of the State Archives, which has a developed catalogue and archive record system, can learn the application procedure as well as obtaining application documents from the following web site: www.devletarsivleri.gov.tr.

 

What is the situation of the archives in Armenia as well as the Armenian archives in other countries ?

State Archives of Armenia, which is of significance for conducting a thorough research in terms of the allegations and ongoing debate with regard to the events of 1915, is following selective methodology in granting permission to the researchers. As far as it is noted from the press, all parts of the Armenian State Archives is not open on the grounds that “the classification has not been concluded yet”.

On the other hand, the Armenian archives in the third countries such as “the Dashnak Archives in the US” and “Archives in Jerusalem”, which are thought to include significant correspondence, information and documents, are open to researchers on a limited basis.

It is not possible for a scholar, regardless of his / her nationality, who argues that the events of 1915 cannot be described as “genocide” to conduct a research in the aforementioned archives.

 

Is it a crime to describe the events of 1915 as “genocide” in Turkey and are the ones whom argue this exposed to legal investigation ?

It is possible to argue that Turkey is the only country, where the events of 1915 can be discussed in a free manner.

In this vein, accusations stating that some persons who are exposed to legal investigation and prosecution do not reflect the truth. Thus, neither in article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, nor in any other part, there exists any provision towards the events of 1915. Accordingly, there is no one in Turkey now, who has been tried or prosecuted due to the reason that he / she described the events of 1915 as “genocide”.

On the other hand, contrary to a number of countries, in whose legal systems there exist laws on “the punishment of denial of genocide”, books, articles and other publications which allege the events of 1915 as “genocide” are freely distributed whether in their original languages or published in Turkish translation. Among these publications, there are some which can be characterized as “fierce propaganda material”.

In contradiction with this liberty atmosphere in Turkey, in a number of European countries, some of which are EU members, there is legislation that indicates “denial of Armenian genocide” as a crime. Turkish citizens who support contrary views can be prosecuted and tried in these countries.

We regret these initiatives, which are known to be undertaken under pressure and direction from the radical elements of the Armenian diaspora. Moreover, they constitute an obstacle to create a open and free debate atmosphere with regard to the events of 1915.

 

What is the current stage in the normalization process between Turkey and Armenia ?

Turkey, in order to sustain comprehensive and lasting peace in line with the established norms and principles of international law as well as strengthening security and stability in its periphery by reaching peaceful settlements to the current conflicts, aim to abrogate the obstacles stemming from conflicts which are standing in front of regional cooperation and welfare without prejudicing the interests of our country.

From this point of view, our Government, has attempted to establish ground for dialogue with the Republic or Armenia, which had been established after the collapse of the Soviets Union. Turkey recognized the independence of the Republic of Armenia in 1991 and has aimed to create an atmosphere based on mutual trust and could include the settlement of the historical problems among the two countries, which could pave the way for peace and stability in the region.

In this vein, as a result of the the negotiations assisted by the facilitation of Switzerland, “Protocol on Establishment of Diplomatic Relations” and “Protocol on Development of Relations” between Turkey and Armenia were signed between the foreign ministers of the two countries.

(Click for the English texts of the Protocols)

Regarding the Protocols between Turkey and Armenia, Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia has declared its decision on conformity with the Armenian Constitution on 12th January 2010. It has been noticed that there were preconditions and constraining provisions within the detailed decision of the Court. The detailed decision has impeded the reason for negotiations and the main goal that had been aimed by the Protocols.

(Click for the text of the Statement of the Ministry dated 18th January 2010)

It has been notified to our counterparts, firstly to Armenia, that this kind of an approach is unacceptable.

On the other hand, President of the Republic of Armenia H.E. Mr. Sarkisian, in a speech delivered on live broadcasting by the state television channel of Armenia on 22nd April 2010 has officially declared that Armenia has suspended the Protocols for an unlimited period.

Turkey, in line with its loyal adherence to the principle of “pacta sunt servanda” in international relations, keeps its adherence to the fundamental principles of the protocols. The main goal that Turkey aims with the Protocols is conclusion of the normalization process between Turkey and Armenia, in a way that provides with comprehensive peace and stability in the South Caucasus. Hence, overcoming all the boundaries in the region.

 

What is Turkey’s general policy towards the Asia-Pacific region?

Over the last 20 years, the Asia-Pacific region, covering a wide area from China to New Zealand, has been steadily increasing its weight in world politics and the global economy. Parallel to this remarkable development, Turkey is developing its relations with all the countries in this region.
 
Politically, there has been a significant increase in the exchange of high level visits with various countries in the Asia-Pacific over the past 10 years. Turkey has embassies in most of the countries in this region and is further increasing the number of its diplomatic missions, the latest example of which has been the opening of the Turkish Embassy in Myanmar in March 2012.
 
In the economic field, Turkey’s trade volume exceeded 46 billion USD in 2011 with the region, and this number is projected to increase further.
 
In the cultural field, there have been various initiatives to introduce Turkish culture to the region and vice-versa. “The Year of Japan in Turkey” in 2003, “the Year of Japan in Turkey” in 2010, “the Year of China in Turkey” in 2012 as well as the upcoming “Year of Turkey in China” in 2013, “the Year of Turkey in Australia” and “the Year of Australia in Turkey” in 2015 are some of the major events in that regard.

Finally, Turkey also attaches importance to upgrade its cooperation with the regional organisations in the Asia-Pacific. Turkey’s acceptance as a Development Partner of the Pacific Islands Forum in 2008 and Turkey’s accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation of the ASEAN in July 2010 can be counted among the recent remarkable developments in this field. .