Twice A Stranger

A Tabula Rasa of a Stranger

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The First Official Turkish Visit to Armenia after Decades

September 5th, 2008 · No Comments

The First Official Turkish Visit to Armenia after Decades President of Republic of Turkey Abdullah Gul is on a historical trip to the Armenian capital Erivan on Saturday. The football match between Armenia and Turkey for the qualification of World Cup 2010 turned to be a first diplomatic relations between the countries. Turkey and Armenia currently has no formal diplomatic ties since the problem of Nagarno –Karabakh since 1993. After the invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s adressing Gul to watch the match in Erivan together accepted by Abdullah Gul with the support of AKP government and strong opposition of nationalist opposition parties CHP and MHP. So called ‘football-diplomacy’ brought new hopes for these neighboring countries at least to start to have diplomatic relations under the shadow of three basic problems: recognization of ‘Armenian Genocide’, Nagarna Karabakh problem and the isolation of Armenia in the region with closed borders and customs from Turkey in the west and Azerbaijan in the east. This invitation became more meaningful and indeclinable after the Caucasus Cooperation Platform offer of Turkey aftermath of Georgian – Russian tension in the region. Both President Gul and Prime Minester Tayyip Erdogan had stated that in this platform Armenia will also be included. A Turkey on the path of European Union is facing the difficulty of confrontation with her chronic problems which is not openly argued since the beginning of the foundation of the republic. The system changes in 1970s of Portugal, Spain and Greece could not take place in Turkey. And Turkey today has to solve her basic problems with a big courage. It needs a big courage because after all these years these problems turned to be a taboo issue and even to mention about them is aggressively repulsed. These problems were namely: Kurdish, Islam, Armenian and even Cyprus problems/questions. It is obvious that the moment of facing these issues will be the moment of Turkey’s self – identification and confrontation with her essential D.N.A. as well as her history.

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Ergenekon - Deepstate - AKP Trial - PKK

July 29th, 2008 · No Comments

All around the world, news analysis and the specialized people commenting and analyzing one trial. The trial of the ruling party AKP. There is shortly two things to say about that issue: 1- In democracy is there any place for closing a party? 2- Do you have a right to judge a party with supposing without seeing any actual violation of the rules? In other words did AKP’s oppositions can say that the party became the centre of illegal creation or organization and putting his ideas into action? In democracies any idea cannot be sentenced before it goes into action. But some people believe that democratic deficit can give a path to the penetration of the democratic regime in an undeveloped democracy. So even the possibility of such a danger should be banned and prevented before it goes to the action. This argument seems like the Vanilla Sky movie in which the criminals are detached by a high technology and their violent action is blocked by some special forces.  I still believe the tolerance to any kind of ideas but never ignore the danger of reappearance of medieval age ideas.  I can write about that issue again but here I would like to take your attention to an other trial which is ERGENEKON. To learn the origin of the name can be useful for non-Turkish readers to have a good introduction for their writings. Ergenekon is the place in Turkish Nationalistic mythology where the first Turks immigrated to all around the world and ‘carried the civilisation to the other parts of the world’. It was a place in Central Asia which ‘was the centre of the civilization’. Turks left that territory due to the scarcity of the water and the sources with the guidance of a grey wolf (again for the nationalist theory it is believed that Turks first appeared from that wolf) and ‘brought the civilisation to the other corners of the world’.  This is the today’s funny but 1930s’ serious Turkish History Thesis (There is no need to say that there are still nationalists believe to that or at least considers as the main epic motif of the culture). After the SUSURLUK accident, the hidden face of the deep state in Turkey is stepped on and catches a snapshot of that literally famous hidden state arguments which was always a myth for many people. This case is closed professionally even the big reaction from the public. The second try is ERGENEKON to find out the dirty hands behind the curtain. As a law case it has many limitations but as a social case it is a hope for the transparency of the dirty business of the state institutions including army, university members etc. It is also a hope as deterrent example for the half minded people try to be a cheap and easy hero for their circles. The third agenda is the last bombing: 1- It can be an other bloody terrorist attack by PKK, Hizbullah, Al Qaida, etc. or as some people claim it can be the extension of ERGENEKON which seeks to destabilize the country and put it into chaos to legitimize the penetration of the military. 2. For PKK case, it can be a reaction to the last bombings and un-solving of Kurdish problem (But still it seems that PKK is totally away to make a unified decision since it is in a big separation crises and ideologically dissolved movement-just kept itself as a bandit group in the mountain without giving any (anymore) moral and ideological agenda to its members in other words a loosen group) or it can be the business of again hidden hands who want to create destabilisation and Turkish - Kurdish conflict after not getting a ‘good’ Islamic - Secular clash (these two groups will never clash each other violently because of many reasons). Whatever the reason is that the obvious part is putting behind the importance of the 2 trials and especially the ERGENEKON which is found as having many connection from the Assassinations of journalists, clergies, etc. and many assassination plans; bombings to Cumhuriyet newspaper, and the Supreme Court, and many other plans…Turkey is so close to encounter with its own realities, hidden state, blind nationalism, fake Turkish - Kurdish, Islamic - Secular tensions. Turkey is in a chaos but I always believed that every chaotic atmosphere is also the precursor of the new births, new creations. At the end the power struggle, war of idees (I wish it would be bloodless and just on idea stage) will find themselves as the victorious and looser and finally going to create a synergy. But the issue is here whether the outcome, hopefully will have as less  physical damage as it can or we will see a bloodshed in Turkey.As the citizen of Turkish Republic, I got so much tired to see that dogfights and to see the innocent people to suffer and pay it with their lives both in the streets of big metropolitan cities and both in the mountains of ‘no-man’s-land’. If there would not be the law of nature -when the elephants have tango the grasses suffers a lot- If there would not be the sufferings of non-sided innocent people, I could hail the battle of ideas and the new-old institutions struggle to protect or get the place in the public sphere but now after all these bloodshed, i can only say STOP IT, LEAVE THE PEOPLE ALONE…WHAT YOU WANT? POWER? MORE BENEFIT? WHAT IS THAT SO VALUABLE THAT YOU CAN’T SHARE? WHY DON’T YOU LEAVE ME ALOOOONEEE?  WHATEVER I THINK OR DO TO MYSELF IT IS NOT YOUR BUSINESS. FOR THE SAKE OF GOD DON’T TRY TO CHANGE ME OR INSIST YOUR OWN IDEAS TO ME….OR SHORTLY ALL OF YOU GUYS IN POLITIC AND SOCIAL AREA —PLEASE FUCK OFF TO THE DARK CORRIDORS OF YOUR DIRTY AND STINKY IDEAS AND STOP TO SEEK FOR BENEFIT OVER THE PEOPLE’S LIVES…

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Bir siteden alintidir

May 5th, 2008 · No Comments

Asagida yazan herseye katilmakla beraber bu hukumetin de ne kadar kendine demokrat oldugunu vurgulamadan gecemeyecegim…

ORADA OLMASAK DA DEMORATİK BİR TÜRKİYE İSTİYORUZ!

Bizler demokrasinin var olduğu ülkelerde her gece darbe tehditi ile yaşamayan Türkiyelileriz.

Türkleriz, Kürtleriz, Ermenileriz, Süryaniler ve daha niceleriyiz.

Bizim bir zamanlar gelip yerleştiğimiz ve yabancısı olduğumuz bu topraklarda, siyaset hep sivil alanda.

İnsanlar hep tartışıyor ama kimse kimseyi öldürmüyor. Hiçbir parti kapanmıyor. Hiçbir dil yasaklanmıyor. Hiçbir ülkenin Başbakanı’na, Cumhurbaşkanı’na düşüncesinden dolayı dava açılmıyor. Hiçbir televizyon kanalında askerler demeç vermiyor. Hiçbir devletin kurumları internet sitesini kullanarak gecenin bir yarısı demokrasiyi tehdit etmiyor.

Ve hiçbir yazar yazdıklarından dolayı öldürülmüyor. Kimse kimseye şunu demezsen seninle konuşmam demiyor. Burada insanlar ilk önce konuşuyor. Tokalaşıyor. İkna ediyor, uzlaşıyor.

Velhasıl, Türkiye’nin başına gelenler, burada pişmiş tavuğun başına gelmiyor.

Avrupa Birliği’ne girmeye çalışan bir ülkede yaşananları bizler burada kimseye anlatmayı beceremiyoruz. Bizim hatamız olsa gerek askerin siyasette ne işi olduğunu anlamıyorlar. Partilerin kapatılmasını, Hrant Dink gibilerinin öldürülmesini, Orhan Pamuk’un vatan haini ilan edilmesini, darbe tehditi ile yaşamanın ne demek olduğunu anlamıyorlar.

Bizler artık bunları anlatmak istemiyoruz!

Türkiye’nin normalleşmesini istiyoruz. Nefes alsın istiyoruz; dostlarımız, ailelerimiz, sevdiklerimiz, tanıdıklarımız, tanımadıklarımız. Normal bir ülkede yaşamanın tadına onlar da varsın istiyoruz. Normalleşen bir ülkede çocukların, gençlerin ölmediği bir ülkemiz olsun istiyoruz, gitmesek de görmesek de yıllarca.

İstiyoruz çünkü bizler evimizden uzak kalıp anladık ki, gerçek demokrasinin ve adaletin var olduğu bir Türkiye yeryüzünde yaşanacak en güzel ülkedir.

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MODERN SLAVERY

February 10th, 2008 · No Comments

 ALI OSMAN EGILMEZ, ΑΛΙ ΟΣΜΑΝ ΕΓΙΛΜΕΖ

The forced migration of the ‘black’ man to the ‘civilized’ world started in 1…. ….we don’t need a clear cut period of time, the fact and importance is not the time but the story and the process had been started.

The migration is always a painful phenomenon. Nobody wants to leave the place that he is happy and satisfied but the forced migration is the most painful and inhuman act of the powerful one over the weak one who has no means of defense (mental and physical).

The story narrated by the ‘white man’ is listened and believed by the rest of the world. “We the people of the superior –or developed- civilization of West have right and duty to dominate and teach the other civilizations deprived from the knowledge of constructing a ‘good civilization’.” According to them if the ‘uncivilized world’ follows the path of the western world, they can succeed ‘the civilization’. At the end of the uni-linear progress of the history is the western civilization and in the starting point, in the lowest part are the African ‘savage’ tribes. They are creating this discourse since the first anthropologist and colonial forces’ arrival to the continent. The science is used to proof that ‘truth’ in order to give a way to the ‘white civilized man’ to complete his duty called as ‘white man’s burden’. Bringing civilization to this savage world while forcing them to change all the culture that they have meant converting in Christianity, exploiting their raw materials and sources and the worst thing making the people slaves in their own lands or in the lands of the ‘masters’.

Apart from the stupidity and arrogance of seeing his own civilization as the superior one and the others’ as the backward the physical outcome of that discourse was the most painful one in human history. The wars created in the last 2-3 century had directly or indirectly the effect of the western powers. We the people of this region know it very well. From Balkan Wars to the Bosnian, Kosovo War and finally Iraq, Afghanistan… This ‘burden of white man’ did not finish and will not finish.

This sociological, cultural and politic infrastructural discourse was for the legitimization of the brutal and wild economic implications, namely called with different names as colonialism, imperialism, capitalism and finally globalization… They are finally serving to the same aim, serving to the ‘civilized world’.
The world did not show any reaction to the kidnapped children of Ghana by French Health Organization members who were selling these children to the French families who knows for which purpose. The numbers of sold African children are 2.000 per year in Britain according to the known statistics. Or what about the African girls, who knows for what reasons and ways they are arriving to the western capitals to serve their body to the men. World doesn’t show any reaction to these stories because the means of propaganda in the hands of the people who are the main figures of this dirty business. They don’t have to be in this ‘simple kind of work’ but they have to tolerate even this most obvious brutal way of their ‘empire’ for the sake of all system, for the sake and peace of free market economy. This is the market…It is not the case done by the ‘white man’ anymore. It has not direct ethnic reference. The modern slaves are in all around the world. Modern slaves are slaves with salary. Salary mainly is enough to buy bread. Or the amount of earning can be much lower than the general of the population due to their immigrant statue and your ethnic origin in one country. This is called as modern slavery. The modern slaves can be slave in their own countries because of their ethnic and religious origin or simply just because of being from the biggest family of the world, the poor class. The modern slaves can be the migrants working with the lowest salary without social security that we see in the street of the Athens for instance. They are working with the amount of money and in the jobs that none of the normal Greek citizen will even think to work. The modern slaves even can be the well educated people of the relatively poor countries’ citizens living and searching for better opportunities in western societies.
You most probably know all these things that I mentioned above. But did you know the history of the last category of people? The modern educated people living in western countries are also the objects of may be the most soft version of slavery. Let me give you some examples about them. Let’s take for instance some Balkan educated people. Apart from the stories of teacher, lawyer, doctor girls of Eastern Europe working as sex labors, the story of university, master educated people are migrating for better life. I heard many stories for instance in Greece that some computer engineers for instance from Serbia is coming to Greece with some European labor programs and working here in Athens with lower salaries and without social insurances. They cannot go to other jobs because they have the residence permit problems. Their stay depends on the bosses of the companies that they are working for. In the country where the social security is a must, these things are somehow pretended not to be seen again for the sake of capitalism to work. These young people are working here for years with that money in the expensive living conditions. They might be in better condition than in their own countries but not in the society where they live. You can give different names to these stories, imperialism, capitalism, modern slavery, etc. This is the only thing we can do. Sit, write and make classifications and give names… What else we can do, I don’t know. If I would know the way to get rod of this I would start to the change from my own life while I am working and treated like a second class citizen in the prestigious magazine where I write and prepare a whole section without paid even make the interviews from my home phone. Don’t ask me why I do this then! I do because I feel I have to; I do because I am a modern slave of some local names like ‘master’ Kostas, Υοrgos…etc.

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Musical exchanges in the Aegean

February 10th, 2008 · No Comments

Musical exchanges in the Aegean

By Ali Osman Egilmez, ΑΛΙ ΟΣΜΑΝ ΕΓΙΛΜΕΖ

This summer in this part of the Mediterranean, two countries are exchanging their most talented performers. In Turkey and Greece, the neighboring countries’ concert halls and amphitheaters are echoing with local and universal sounds.

ImageDuring these months many performances will be held, while the famous and talented Omar Faruk Tekbilek has already opened the season in Athens with an extraordinary concert. The famous Turkish accordion virtuoso Muammer Ketencoglu, with a range of music varying between Balkan and Aegean, accompanied by his group Zeybek, and Aynur, the fascinating Kurdish voice that many became familiar with from the documentary of Turkish-German director Fatih Akin, The Sounds of Istanbul, will follow.

Throughout the year, Turkey also wept to the soundtrack of the highly awarded Turkish film My Father and My Son, composed by Greek musician Evanthia Reboutsika. The new style in Turkish folk music which includes a mix between traditional Turkish instruments and electronic elements brought the well-known Baba Zula to Greece. Meanwhile, the exchange continued with world-renowned Greek director Theo Angelopoulos’s film score’s composer Eleni Karaindrou in Ankara.

It must be noted that the mutual exchanges of culture between Turkey and Greece have been gradually increasing over the years, extending the function of the ‘clef’ as a key for the ‘cloaked collective conscious.’ The expansion of this phenomenon was commented on by many scholars as the social result of the political rapprochement. It seems that people and cultures were thirsty for this infusion during all those years of separation. A closer look, into the perception and definition of the audiences and performers, must be taken.

International music with local taste

The concerts and performances mentioned here have a common characteristic: their high quality. Their success lies in their ability to use contemporary and universal methods in music. One of these artists, Tekbilek, defines his work as ‘music rooted in tradition that has been influenced by contemporary sounds.’ He describes his approach as ‘cosmic.’ He uses his creativity within the essence of ‘mysticism, folklore, romance and imagination.’ For instance, Fuat Saka, a Turkish Black Sea singer, might not have won fans in Athens if he had just retained the pure local sound. If he had, he would probably have only gained the attention of a few people with Pontic roots and missed a younger generation eager to hear something authentic but also contemporary.

Fans of this music are also a specific kind of audience, similar to each other in both countries. That specific type of audience sprang into existence within the Balkans as an effect of globalization. As a consequence, many listeners in the region, influenced by international sounds, started to demand other music forms but similar to their music as well. The best doors to knock on were those of their neighbors.

This specific audience group does not comprise listeners of ‘popular’ music, who consume easily without digesting its essence, message or absence of dreaming. It is a group of conscious consumers with a hunger for good-quality art. They share more global thoughts while having a taste for traditional values compared to simpler listeners. The intellectual level of this audience, together with their unprejudiced standing, may open the gates for the much delayed cultural fusion between the masses ― that’s if we take into account that intellectuals are usually considered pioneers in societies.

The mystery and the authenticity of Anatolian music have found an audience in Greece. It should not be seen as an orientalism on the part of Greek intellectuals. They are not looking for a new Anatolian-Turkish bohemian-style sound, but something deeper. An answer can be found via social psychology. The same is valid for the Turkish audience, which prefers the soft, familiar and entertaining melody of the bouzouki and lyre.

Recalling the forgotten past with music

ImageBalkan people show their emotions, express them more readily and portray them more deeply than their more rational Western peers. This anarchic emotional background changes the music of this geographical area, leading it away from the given doctrines of nation-states and nationalist discourses. It opens the gates to the subliminal realities and to the hidden mystical past. Listening to a song or an instrument enriched with soul by a virtuoso is like developing wings and looking at the world from above the borders, then returning to the normal flow of life. We’re now left in the arms of the wise common past with this music, hard to forget, like an uncompleted delicious flavor…

The common experience of life, which we obscured in the past, thrown into the dark labyrinths of our collective subconscious, hidden between the dusty pages of history, or made colorless and pale in the sinister corridors of politics, was recalled from the subconscious. The failed lives which are left half-ended, like unfinished sentences with three dots (…), are remembered again with these sounds. We started to realize our commonalities and remembered that we used to live together…

An Athenian, for instance, may remember the taste of a partly heard song from a record on the gramophone, a remembrance of the foggy Bosporus, from a melody that he now hears in the Odeon of Athens from a Turkish neyzen1. They who owned the record could have been his grandparents… but he can deeply feel and recognize the song, even he had never heard it before, simply from the stories his grandfather whispered to him like the winds of Pringipos2 or from the tasty meals his grandmother cooked with a sigh, ‘Ah, Konstantinoupoli!’

This is not their first encounter with this sound. In the books they read, on the wall of a mosque or church, in an ancient ruin by the roadside, in the smoke of a narghile, in a dance, on a plate of meze, in a street name and in their lullabies, they have already heard this sound. This sound was the sound of our Turkish or Greek neighbors who left a home country behind them a long time ago. We were forced to forget them and their sounds, but we could not…

This linking of memories is the result of fantastic unknown cosmic paths in our small brain cells. Like a butterfly effect in our minds, these notes grab us and carry us to the gates of an old relative’s house whom we haven’t talked to for a long time, bringing us childhood memories and pleasure.

It’s just like that. A melody, a taste, a dance from the other side of the border…

We left our lands, we left our neighbors, and we left our lives on the other side of the sea without even being able to say goodbye to them. This is the story of being left half-finished. The common sentiment felt by both sides.

The attention is raised by the need to hear the ‘other’ side’s similar melodies. To feel the art of the ‘other’ gives us a chance to see ourselves as well.

There are more similarities which can bring us closer than differences. Music can help us close our ears to all the aggressive propaganda and open them to the heartbeat of the Aegean as music has the power to become a channel between us, transcending the prejudices and misunderstandings, helping us embrace the future.


  1. Player of the reed flute (often used to play in Mevlevi Dervishes’ music).

  2. One of the Princes’ Islands in Istanbul.

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Turk polls: Bringing the periphery into the center

February 10th, 2008 · No Comments

 

Turk polls: Bringing the periphery into the center

ALI OSMAN EGILMEZ, ΑΛΙ ΟΣΜΑΝ ΕΓΙΛΜΕΖ

It has always been the dream of right-wing parties in Turkey to achieve the success and be the inheritor of Turkish Statesman and Prime Minister (1950–1960) Adnan Menderes, who founded the first legal opposition party ― the Democratic Party (DP) ― in 1946 after the Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s single-party period and made the DP in the 1950 elections the first party with an absolute victory over the CHP while gaining 53.3 percent of the vote. On May 2, 1954, the DP increased its support, getting 57.6 percent of the vote. Since then no Turkish party had achieved an increase of their votes after entering the elections as the ruling party until July 22, 2007, when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) did just that.

According to the results of the July 22 elections, three parties exceeded the 10 percent threshold. The AKP, with 46.66 percent of the votes, guaranteed its being the single ruling party with 340 seats and increased its votes 12.38 percent compared to the 2002 elections, which made the AKP the ruling party of Turkey for 4.5 years. The CHP got 20.85 percent of the votes with a 1.46 percent increase, gaining 112 seats, although it wa a big disappointment when one considers the huge numbers that had recently participated in ‘Republic Protests’1. The third party in the General Assembly became the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), which doubled its votes compared to the last elections. Extremist nationalist parties got 14.29 percent of the votes while ensuring 71 seats in the parliament.

For the first time in Turkish political life, a significant number of independent candidates entered the parliament, securing 5.2 percent of the votes and 27 seats (the 10 percent threshold is valid only for parties, not for independent candidates).

Participation in the 2007 elections reached 80 percent in spite of taking place during the summer holiday season. The number of women MPs in parliament doubled compared to the last assembly, reaching 50, of whom 31 are in the AKP. One of these women MPs is an independent candidate from Istanbul. She is a member of the Democratic Society Party (DTP)2 and still imprisoned, sentenced for being a member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). She will get out of the jail though, due to the immunity of MPs, and join the parliament.

Image

After the elections, there will be some changes in the makeup of the assembly. Twenty-three of the 27 independents are former members of the DTP. They will have the chance to regroup in the parliament under the party’s name. On the other hand, the coalition of the Democratic Left Party (DSP) with the CHP for the elections resulted in the entrance of 13 DSP members into parliament from the CHP lists. They are also expected to resign from the CHP and come together under the DSP umbrella. With that change, the CHP will have 99 seats in the parliament.

AKP victory

The AKP increased its votes in almost every city. The most important was the increase on the Aegean side of the country, which is traditionally a stronghold of the CHP, as well as Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia, which used to be pro-Kurdish DTP centers. In these regions the AKP either became the leading party or leveled with the other two parties. For instance, Izmir was symbolically seen as the last stronghold to be conquered by the AKP and the last bastion to be defended by the CHP. The results showed that the AKP doubled its votes even in Izmir and became a real threat to the CHP. Those votes mainly came from the poor neighborhoods of the city. On the other hand, the CHP secured the middle- and upper-class votes as it did all around Turkey. That is why, strangely, the traditional social democrat voters (the excluded groups of the system in the international conjecture) went over to the AKP and center-right votes (simply the bourgeoisie votes) went to the CHP.

This success of the AKP can roundly be seen as the result of 4.5 years of stability and economic growth in the country and the reactions to the April 27 ‘e-intervention’ of the military during the presidential election. During the election period, the AKP successfully used this discourse. With tremendous growth that almost doubled the Turkish economy it was not difficult for the AKP to play the ‘prosperity card.’ After all, as former US President Bill Clinton said, ‘It’s the economy stupid!’

The AKP is very close to getting the achievements of the ‘periphery’ in the sense of getting a place in the ‘core’ with the election of the AKP-supported president, symbolically the cornerstone of secularism. The majority of the parliament belongs to the AKP, but after a previous court decision, the ‘magic’ number 367 is needed. With the 340 seats of the AKP and 27 seats of independents, the majority of them pro-Kurdish DTP members, that number to provide the absolute majority is now within reach. Here, it seems that the DTP is going to be a key party in some crucial periods and decisions in the near future. The first one will be the presidential elections. In this regard the DTP started to give the signals of bargaining with the expected future ruling party, the AKP.

Furthermore, the AKP proved that it is not simply an Islamic party supported by growing middle-class Islamists but a central liberal party which has garnered the vote of one out of every two people in the country from different classes, ethnic origins, statues, ideologies and lifestyles. As Erdogan claimed on the night of July 22 after his party’s election victory, they absolutely ‘became a societal center.’ In his speech, he also used very conciliatory language and stated his commitment to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s doctrines and embraced the other segments of society rather than resorting to provocative talk after such an historical victory.

CHP

ImageOn the other hand, the loser of the election was definitely the CHP, although it did slightly increase its votes by around 1.5 percent. Deniz Baykal added a nationalist debate to the Kemalist status quo and etatism of the CHP and transferred some prominent names from right-wing parties before the elections. Apart from Ilhan Kesici, none of them could have been selected. The nationalist discourse of the CHP (voters mainly chose to vote for the ‘real addressers’ of nationalism, the MHP rather than the CHP ― this discourse of the CHP mainly brought the votes to the MHP) united with the ‘threat’ propaganda stating the danger against the Kemalist and secular regime and acting with the military put the party in a more conservative position as being far away from social democracy’s values. The CHP and ‘elites’ proved that they are far from seeing the current social dynamics in Turkey. Several factors have contributed to rising nationalistic sentiments in Turkey and the consequent rise of the MHP. Negative developments in Europe itself have exercised an unfavorable impact on Turkish politics. The fact that Turkish membership had emerged as a major issue of contestation in France and also in countries like Austria during the European Parliament elections of June 2004 created the image in the average Turkish mindset that EU membership was not a credible objective. A typical line of thinking was that although accession negotiations had been formally opened, a sufficient number of obstacles would be created on the way to make sure that Turkish membership aspirations would be diverted to an inferior track of ‘privileged partnership.’ It is important to emphasize that rising Euroskepticism is a phenomenon that tends to affect most countries engaged in the process of accession negotiations, as was also the case for the new Central and Eastern European members of the EU which encountered such a phenomenon during their transition process to full membership.

ImageIt is understood that the regime anxieties of Kemalist elites and institutions are not shared by the majority of the people. On the contrary, the AKP was seen as ‘unjustly treated’ by the regime defenders and it increased its votes, especially during the process of Abdullah Gul’s presidential candidacy.

The two biggest ‘threats’ Turkey faces are the separatist movements (mainly the Kurdish separatist movements) and the Islamic movement, according to the Kemalist ‘core’ and elites during modern Turkish history. That is why Kurdish and Islamic identities were suppressed and excluded from the public sphere for many years and forced to stay on the ‘periphery.’ Starting with Adnan Menderes, who was more pro-Western but tolerant toward the traditional way of life and Islam, and continuing with Turgut Ozal, Recep Tayyip Erdogan can be seen as the mobilizer of the periphery toward the center. The reaction of military and other Kemalist institutions to the elections remains to be seen.

In consolidated democracies, mainly two parties get the majority of the votes, one from ― traditionally speaking ― the center right, the other from the center left. Turkey found its center right but the other pillar is totally missing. The CHP is far away from the social democrat or center left with its status quo and elitist characteristic. Thus there is a strong need for a social democratic formation in Turkey.

What next?

In this colorful parliament, people now are afraid to experience the vicious battles of Secularist-Islamist, Kurdish separatism3-Turkish nationalism, respectively CHP-AKP, DTP-MHP.

 

  • In this atmosphere, the agenda of the parliament is expected to proceed as follows:
  • Within a week the official election results will be announced
  • The MPs will take an oath;
  • The president of the assembly will be chosen within 10 days of the oath ceremony;
  • The new president of the republic will be chosen within 30 days;
  • A new government will be formed and get a vote of confidence within 45 days.

Within this period the AKP will form the government and the parliament will proceed with the election of the president, which dragged the country into the ballots.

The big bet for the AKP and Turkey is finding the balance between the rising nationalism, the Kurdish problem and the continuation of Turkey’s economic growth, EU aspirations and democratic reforms. One thing is certain: Turkey will continue in the coming months to hit the headlines while struggling to find its identity.


 

  1. A series of peaceful mass rallies that took place in Turkey in 2007 in support of the Kemalist ideal of state secularism. The biggest was in Izmir, with the participation of 1.5 million people protesting the ruling AKP, claiming it has a ‘hidden Islamic agenda against secularism.’
  2. A pro-Kurdish left-wing political party in Turkey.
  3. The DTP has two groups within itself: The radicals sometimes express ideas about federalization but a reformist group is in favor of solving the problems within the democratization of Turkey.

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Saturday Morning in Athens with Turkish Passport

December 29th, 2007 · 1 Comment

ALI OSMAN EGILMEZ, ΑΛΙ ΟΣΜΑΝ ΕΓΙΛΜΕΖ 

While looking to the title, don’t misunderstand. Nothing happened to a ‘Turkish’ identity carrier in Athens. The worst thing happened in the city that we (orientalist - people proud of the purity of east) cheer the multiculturalism of the past and fruit salad of the modern times, in Istanbul. I am still hundreds kms away from the border but still there are invisible disturbing things just coming and slapping in your face when you had to deal with. Turkey is a ‘western oriented secular country’ that is in some practices, just a bullshit. There can be some secularist (be careful not secular, secularist) or westernist (be careful again not western but westernist) around but they are not the majority. Turkey is a conservative country. You can see that from the election polls that never a real social democrat or leftist government ruled the country or from the social hysteria that catching you in every corner of the life even in big metropolitan cities. They are metropolitan just in number nothing else…In other words they reached to the ‘metro’ level but not to the ‘politan’ one.

The reality I countered today was shortly like that: As a person who doesn’t feel to belong an ethnic identity in his ideas, the reality pushes him to deal with some papers which is a burden on his shoulder because of an unselected national identity of him. This is just a vagina accident of 25 years ago… With more concrete words, as a Turkish Republic citizen I need visa from Greek Consulate in Istanbul to come back to the country where my residence permit finished. After waiting from 6 o’clock in the morning and applying for visa after showing all the bank accounts that I have and all the real estates that my family have and my parents’ salary checks everything, of course if you have all these things you will pass the ‘eye check’ of the guy sitting in front of the table and making the first approvements of giving ‘holy’ Schengen visa to you. After getting my visa 3-4 days later I will come back to Greece and provide some other documents from my university if I find it open luckily and if I find the secretary woman satisfied from yesterday’s night activity, I can get the documents easily in 2-3 days (!). Then I should go to my favorite destination, to the residence permit application office. I should wait outside may be from 5 in the morning till 5 in the afternoon with many immigrants who passed the ‘real survivor’ contest of the life through Bulgarian mountains or in a 20 people capacity boats sailing through Aegean Sea with 60 people…then I will wait around 8 months to get my ‘residence permit’ for which I am so grateful to have that ‘permit’ for my big and dear masters. I am so thankful to you for allowing this second type citizen, ignorant, untouchable piece of human to stay in YOUR paradise lands (!) Thank you so much.

Have I ever mentioned about the movement of ‘paperless world’? It is the one that I am a passive volunteer of it. Passive but what can I do while all those papers are still ‘actively’ atacking me, how can I stand up and save my ass from the penetration and not be passive still?(!) That’s not so easy brother! Not so easy at all… especially in this part of Europe when all the borders created with an continuing hatred (actually there is no border did not created without hatred and blood). My dream is a borderless world but it seems that it is impossible when we still have never ending borders in the minds of the people…It is a 19th century solution to keep the wild animals in different cages (yes, cage…your country can be only a cage if you don’t know how to go over it and look at it from outside) in order not to attack and pull into pieces.

Anyway, the topic was not that. I was planning to go to Istanbul to start to the first step of the bureaucratic fight of Kafka. In the mean time I wanted to take my beloved, a part of my soul, my girlfriend to show my country my beautiful my lovely bastard Istanbul to her. In the mean time I was afraid to show the ugly face that I wanted to forget all these times. I was afraid if she encounters with the unsuppressed sexual hunger and the obvious examples of it in the streets. (I believe the one of the reason of dis-ingenuousness of conservative stand of Turkish society is the unsatisfied sexuality of the men of the society which led them to be more wild in every manner of social life-from politics like being more nationalist to the obvious physical, verbal or just staring attacks to foreign or local girls in the streets, squares, or in police stations, etc. and of course as a result having a schizophrenic women race around calling themselves as the most western and modern, and trying to proof her ‘western’ and ‘modern’ character with drinking raki with men, having sex with men but until a point of virginity borders…This is the girl who is modernist not modern. I am not talking about the conservative family girls at all…)

While I was afraid of all these things and getting nervous while thinking what she will do alone among all these untrustworthy world outside while I am dealing with consulate and of course I forgot to say the army issues that I should deal (there is no need for the discription of this process). I couldn’t a place to stay in my friends’ houses because of different reasons and started to search for hotels and hostels which would be reasonable for our student budgets. I couldn’t find any. Not because of the full rooms but because of my passport. They all told me that I cannot stay in the same room with my girlfriend if I don’t have marriage papers. Or I should show an other country passport which means as Turkish citizen, I cannot share a room with a woman in the same room. Or our surnames will be the same which means we should be sister and brother but I couldn’t take myself to say to the reception after all these rules that ‘If we would stay in Serbia little bit more we would all have the same surname since we Turks as you described are so dangerous for the women all around the world’ he said ‘I didn’t say we Turks are dangerous’ then I replied to this vicious circle discussion ‘But you implied!’. Anyway, that is the reason pushed me to write all these things here. I made a very confused composition in the writing but the reader who is familiar with the topic will catch the main theme.

Shortly, I am going to Istanbul alone and thinking how to explain to my girlfriend this situation without creating a bad image of my country that I all the time tried to break the prejudices about her in the case of conservative, Islamist, eastern outlook. Again I should open a parenthesis here. I am not uncomfortable with eastern and Islamic outlook of my country but I just got tired of westerners’ one way of looking which is seeing Turkey with its only one color. I always tried to show the other colors of the country that I believed we have. This last example showed just the only color but you will read many nice rainbow stories about it as well. This is Turkey, this is Balkans and Middle East actually this is so human; having all these oppositions in his inside not the binary ones but the multiple ones. How happy who says I am the child of oppositional dilemmas….

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Sein und Zeit (About)

December 29th, 2007 · No Comments

 ALI OSMAN EGILMEZ, ΑΛΙ ΟΣΜΑΝ ΕΓΙΛΜΕΖ

In order to describe the contributor of this site, I chose to use the German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s most important work. He states that “our aim in the following treatise is to work out the question of the sense of being and to do so concretely.” In order to understand a ’self’ or individual I always believed to the necessity of considering the Zeit Geist (The Soul of Time). As a person tries to look at the facts above from all ethnic, national, class and gendered identities, I can only not deny the strong influence of ‘the time’. In other words, I am just an other member of modernity and the 21th century.

You can read a story below that I wrote to a journalist…

When I was born in 1982, people in Turkey was voting for the constitution which was prepared by the Military junta which had taken the power 2 years ago. Still babies and mothers were dying because of giving birth in their homes not in the hospital because of the prohibition of going out at night. I was the one of the lucky if we don’t include that the most fascistic constitution will indirectly define my life like all the others in the country.I grew up in a sheltie town of Izmir, Kadifekale. It has an ancient past but its inhabitants had never had any idea about that when they were in the struggle to earn a living. Its ancient name is Pagos it is the one of 3 archaeological sites of the center of Izmir. And it is the only hill in the center which gives it a fantastic view where you can see almost all the provinces of this 3 million city and including the dark blue of Izmir Gulf. It has a 2 thousand years old castle which was built by Alexander the Great after his dream which directed him to make this decision according to the legend. It can be said that it is Lycabitos of Izmir with a big class difference among their settlers. When I describe this city with those words I am sure some of the readers will understand what I meant when I describe Izmir, because Greeks has a great and depressive connection with that city and…My city is always called as “gavur Izmir”. We always proud of that because it was the symbol of being the most western city of Turkey and feeling the sophisticated atmosphere of Jewish, Greek, Armenian, Arab and Turkish times of Izmir, this cultural richness before the nationalism viruses came in front of its doors like its sisters Thessaloniki and Istanbul. I grew up in front of that castle while looking to the night lights of Izmir from the hill. All my neighbors were Cretans. We were calling them as Cretan migrants. I learnt first Greek words from them. I should admit that they were not so good teachers if u consider my first Greek word which was putana(!) My first love was also a green eyed blond girl, now I can say that typical Greek looking like other Cretans. Who knows, may be fate had cooperation with my subconscious and brought me to Athens because of that (!)After I start to primary school when I was 5.5 years old with a jealousy of my friends in the neighborhood who were 2 years older than me and had the right to go to school. We made a kind of small arrangement with our schools’ chairman who was my mother’s close relative. I passed from the “lathe” of Turkish Education system; you can easily understand that from the names of my primary schools that I was walking at least half an hour every time to go there. One’s name is Ali Rıza Efendi (father of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk) and Zubeyde Hanım(Mother of Mustafa Kemal) and secondary school was Dumlupınar(Name of the battle against Greeks in Minor Asia Campaign). While I was growing up, the inhabitants of neighborhood was changing. Now my classmates were generally Kurdish people migrated from eastern parts of Anatolia. Long time later I understood that they were the children of the families escaped from the civil war of Turkish state and Kurdish guerrillas. They were the people of the middle. Later on they affected my political and world view so deeply.My family was little bit different from our neighbors in the sense of religiousness. Like all families from Konya(Central Anatolian City), my relative environment was generally conservative comparing to our Cretan neighbors whom were generally called as “Yunan gavuru”-Greek non-Muslim by my grandmother when she was angry to them. In the summer holidays I was going to the mosque to learn Koran and how to pray and how to be a “good Muslim”. I read Koran in Arabic and I still have in my memory some parts of it even in Arabic. 1 week before I started to high school, which meant being a young man and being in a different environment and life, I had the most catastrophic experience of my life. I lost my father when he was only 46 years old. He was defeated by life and left alone by his heart. It was an unavoidable end for him if you consider he started to hard work life since he was 8 years old after leaving his family in Konya and coming to Izmir to work. He was the only person I loved and admired most. Not my mother not my sister or brother or anyone… I feel the absence the figure of father whom I would show my steps to be a man, introduce my first girlfriend [in a sense of revenge of Oidipus complex(!)] and discuss about worldly manners…I started to life 1-0 like all my friends because of the poorness of my family now I lost an other colloquial pillar of my life. But a philosopher says that “A disaster which cannot kill you, will make u strong”. It is true.During the first year of high school I was a really good Muslim. I was praying 5 times a day, reading Koran etc. But later on I started to question everything in my life like the religion with the lightning of my sister who was the only liberal thinking and the educated person of the family. My short life is full of those questionings and self criticism and the sharp turnings.If you live in a chaotic environment that makes you more creative and ready to give birth to new things. I slowly started to learn the communist ideas which was full of justice and freedom etc. Very valuable words for a young man who lived in a poor family and problematic environment. I witnessed the protests of Kurdish people who were the supporter of Kurdish guerrilla group PKK in Southeast Anatolia. I saw how 2 young girls burnt themselves to announce their screams to the state. If the police or the soldiers didn’t hear that scream, I heard it deeply I can guarantee that. In that period, in school, in media, in the streets there was only one discourse “all the Kurds are terrorist”. But I was growing up with them in Izmir, “the most western city” of Turkey thousands of kilometers away from the battle in the Eastern part of the country, all my friends were now Kurds. They were telling their similar stories “how their villages were burnt by the soldiers”. I didn’t want to believe to those things in the beginning like all citizens of nation states whom got the national education and loyal to his state without questioning it and its discourses. In the mean time the death soldiers were keeping to come to my neighborhood where is the only cemetery for soldiers in the city. There were almost everyday at least 2 funerals of those young people. I was watching their mother’s cries and hearing curse to PKK and to Kurds. My dilemmas were continuing, I was questioning the religion, I was questioning the political life in Turkey, the state, the system, almost everything. I wanted to learn something else rather than I learnt in the school like “how being a Turk is very proud thing”, or “how Greeks or Armenians or Arabs betrayed us or massacred”…Or in media they were all the time telling hidden that “Kurds are enemies”. I was watching Kurdish television’s news bulletin which was 1 hour after Turkish televisions via satellite in my sister’s house with her husband. I was confused all the time. Those information coming from the “civil war” was totally contrary to each other. May be in that misinformation environment I decided to be a journalist. I started to go to conferences of Communist organization and participated to 1th May activities which I would find the bigot parts as well later on and criticize it too. Those things gave me freshness and a hope for the future, not for me but for my country and the all human beings in the world. I got my universalised ideas from those times. Then I finished the high school with a good remark. But I still had the confused brain and questionings. I had only known that “I should have to leave Izmir and go somewhere more bigger. Izmir, Kadifekale was not enough to me. I should have to go much bigger cities and see more things about world. And leave my mold which is surrounding me, I should have to leave my eggshell and see the real world. For that aim I studied a lot to go to Istanbul. It was the only satisfactory city for my aims. Ankara had so Kemalist connotations and had no sea (for a person from Izmir it is a kind of prison), Konya or other central Anatolian cities were so Islamist…Istanbul was everything that I was looking for. I had a scholarship to go to private school offering specialized courses. I was prepared for the university exam which 2 million students are taking every year and only 200 thousand of them are having right to go to universities but mostly so unpopular universities. In the exam I got a very good remark and in that “horse race” I was in the first 5000. That meant I could go to wherever I want. I chose Istanbul Bilgi University Media and Communication Systems. Thank God I gave that decision. It was a private university but I got full scholarship including some amount of monthly payment. I found some other scholarships too and went to Istanbul. We don’t always need to leave to somewhere but at least we need to legitimize our move. It can be a kind of consolation or big expectations, or with more dense word, hope. “Not to be in imposing frame” (that imposing frame was materialized in the sense of the city, Izmir. I always left the place, or girlfriends when I felt that I am going to be bind and when I fell that I am not free and have responsible…I always leave…), “getting out from the egg shell” and “standing on his foots”. These were the words that I used too much in order to legitimize my move to Istanbul. In a sense I was deeply feeling those ideas. Because the life that I was living in Izmir was not enough for me, I wanted an other life, more free. I could do it in Izmir as well but to chance the place would make the things easier at least psychologically. I stand on my foot all those 5 years in Istanbul and now in Izmir. I didn’t get any cent from my family. They didn’t have that economy to support me either. My mother was tying to survive with the expansion coming after my father’s death. I wanted to see a big world; I had to leave the “nest” in order to “fly”. It was so scary because there would be no secure home just next to me of anymore. I was different from other migrants because I had always the security of going back to Izmir to my mother but in that case it was impossible. I should have to be 0 in order to do that. Migrants generally have zero point before moving but we, educated poor youth has the social pressure on our shoulders which includes not just ur hopes but OUR families too. They don’t expect nothing material from u in deed but a life for u that they could never pass near it but just see in the television…I had my luggage and took the bus kissed my mum, elder brother and elder sister. It was my first time in out of Izmir and I was in the middle of 15 million peopled Istanbul. I found my dormitory, I slept 2 days while freezing because I went there in the weekend and the office giving quilt was closed. I spent a year in that dormitory in a small room with 5 other students from different universities. I said I was lucky to choose Bilgi University because it was a private one and away from the state ideology or the main discourse contrary to the state universities. In the second year I rented house with my leftist and Kurdish friends in the center of the city. I had one of my good times in that 80 years old Greek house. I also started to learn Kurdish.During those years when the Kurds see me supporting their ideas they could never believed that I was a Turk. Unfortunately, the number of Turkish people thinking like me was so rare. The only opposite site of mine was comparing to my Kurdish friends who mainly came to Istanbul from the war zone and naturally thinking more emotionally than me, was I always supported unarmed fight and right seeking. The other cornerstone of my life was starting to make double major in Sociology. Now as a sociologist and a journalism background person I can honestly say that this department and the doctrines of it (of course in that university) changed my life radically. Those doctrines took away all my radical sides and made me to think more critically that is why I had decided to study this disciplined too. After all I realized the cultural difference with me and my Kurdish friends. They were mainly coming from rural areas but I grew up in a modern city with modern thoughts. They were open minded people but had some cultural background that was forcing them to be a feudal minded people either. The Kurdish movement started to seem to me that including a kind of nationalism in it. I was escaping from Turkish nationalism, I found myself into an other one, interestingly using the same arguments and methods within different contexts. I always searched for an environment away from bigot ideas and narrow mindedness. Now I can tell that I am neither Communist, nor Islamist nor any other identity. I feel more liberal and in the same time more anarchists. I feel definitely Eastern but live western. I am from Turkey but not Turk…I like the culture and the people of Anatolia but not their state at all. And these are same for Greece, Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Iraq, Iran…for all Balkan and Middle east regions. That is the identity confusion which sometimes I liked sometimes I got tired…In the second year of the university, a professor offered me to join a workshop called as “reporting for peace” between Greek and Turkish journalism students in Thessaloniki. While I was still dreaming Istanbul they offered me to go abroad as a first time in my life. That offer changed my life totally. I couldn’t trust to my English and me in deed that I could succeed or not. It was the best experience of my life. I had foreign friends as a first time in my life again. Actually, if I would go to an other city I would not have the same taste that I had in Thessalonica. My first and full observation was “everything was the same” the words, the foods, people… I didn’t feel so much that I am in a foreign country. After that visit I came to Greece 5 more times with different organizations or as a tourist. I started to join many international organizations I went to Serbia, Brussels, Netherlands, Russia.. Wherever I go in abroad I realized that I have always friendship with Balkan people and especially with Greeks. All my best friends became Greeks. I realized that we are laughing to the same jokes, getting angry to the same things. After all those journeys I had a bigot stereotype that I was anti western after seeing our difference with them. It is still my only stereotypical idea, unfortunately.WHY GREECE?After all those visits to Greece and having lots of good friends from Greece I always asked the same question to myself, “how come those people became enemy” They swear with same words they love with similar words they eat the same food, do the same dance… what happened? I always believed that history is written today. Especially nation state history is a creation. If you want to have a nation, you should first of all define the other in order to differentiate yourself from others. In that sense Turks for Greeks Greeks for Turks were the best choice whom fought against each other many times because of irredentalist ideas as the result of the nationalism virus. That intellectual curiosity was the first reason. To find out the all “why”s .. The second reason was more pragmatic. All those visits surprisingly showed me that after Turkey Greece was in the second place which is giving so much importance to Turkey. Foreign news coverage is full of Turkey. If a general staff of the army or prime minister of Turkey gives a speech even those can be the first news here. All families have a life story related with Asia Minor, Pontus, shortly today’s Turkey. The songs about Izmir were the most touched ones all the time for me.

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About the Internet Site

December 29th, 2007 · No Comments

ALI OSMAN EGILMEZ, ΑΛΙ ΟΣΜΑΝ ΕΓΙΛΜΕΖ

This Internet blog is just a small try of a person who wants to express his un-belongings to anywhere apart from his dream lands where you cannot find any borders, ethnic, national, religious, gender identities; no prejudices, no hysteric traumas of individualism or collectivism…It is a piece of land where the people have just a blank page in their brains like a newly born baby… all white and pure…It is an utopia place not including the mistakes that human-beings have done all these years while creating pre-judged identities and categories. This is a place where nobody is ‘normal’ because there is no ‘abnormals’ around to make a ‘normal’ definition over ‘abnormals’. This is a place where you cannot find Kurdish - Greek - Turkish - Mexican, homosexual - straight, woman - man, young - old, crazy - clever, …etc… We are all a member of a blank slate - tabula rasa in which we took lessons from the ‘old world’s mistakes and trying to construct a new world and again not belong to ‘us’ but belong to the ’self’ - ‘me’ or ’self’ - ‘you’.

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Ημερολόγιο Συνόρων - Μια αθηναϊκή ιστορία από την Τουρκία

December 21st, 2007 · 3 Comments

 

 

Ημερολόγιο Συνόρων - Μια αθηναϊκή ιστορία από την Τουρκία

Του ΓΚΑΖΜΕΝΤ ΚΑΠΛΑΝΙ gazikap@gmail. com

ALI OSMAN EGILMEZ, ΑΛΙ ΟΣΜΑΝ ΕΓΙΛΜΕΖ

Γεννήθηκα τις ημέρες που ψηφιζόταν το Σύνταγμα. Ήμουν τυχερός. Άλλα μωρά είχαν πεθάνει. Οι μανάδες συχνά δεν μπορούσαν να πάνε στο μαιευτήριο λόγω της απαγόρευσης κυκλοφορίας που είχαν επιβάλει οι στρατιωτικοί.

«ΜΕ ΛΕΝΕ ΑΛΙ. Γεννήθηκα το 1982 στην Ιζμίρ. Η πόλη μου αποκαλείται “gavur Izmir”, θυμίζοντας την παρουσία των Ελλήνων. Τώρα, με την άνοδο του Ισλάμ, η ονομασία αυτή είναι πολυτιμότερη παρά ποτέ. Μας συνδέει με τη Δύση. Σε καμία πόλη της Τουρκίας δεν μπορείς να φιλήσεις δημόσια τη φίλη σου, παρά στην “άπιστη Ιζμίρ”. Εδώ ζούσαν μαζί, Έλληνες, Εβραίοι, Αρμένιοι, Άραβες και Τούρκοι. Πριν η συμφορά του εθνικισμού χτυπήσει τις πόρτες τους.
Μεγάλωσα σε μια φτωχή γειτονιά, την Kadifekale. Οι γείτονές μου ήταν Κρητικοί. Τους φωνάζαμε “Κρητικούς μετανάστες”. Τις πρώτες ελληνικές λέξεις τις άκουσα από αυτούς. Δεν ήταν άψογοι δάσκαλοι πάντως. Η πρώτη λέξη που μου έμαθαν ήταν “πουτάνα”… Ο πρώτος μου έρωτας ήταν μια κόρη Κρητικών μεταναστών.
Η οικογένειά μου προερχόταν από την Κεντρική Ανατολία. Ήταν πολύ θρησκευόμενη. Οι Κρητικοί γείτονές μας δεν νοιάζονταν για τα της θρησκείας. Η γιαγιά μου γινόταν έξω φρενών. Τους αποκαλούσε “Yunan gavuru” (Έλληνες, μη μουσουλμάνοι). Στο σχολείο πέρασα από τον τόρνο της τουρκικής εκπαίδευσης. Το τι μαθαίναμε, το καταλαβαίνετε από τα ονόματα των σχολείων. Το δημοτικό το έκανα στο Ali Riza Efendi (πατέρας του Ατατούρκ) και στο Zubeyde Hanim (Μητέρα του Ατατούρκ). Το λύκειο στο Dumlupinar (η μάχη ενάντια στους Έλληνες). Μια εβδομάδα πριν αρχίσω το λύκειο, έχασα τον πατέρα μου. Ήταν μόνο 46 χρονών. Τον πρόδωσε η καρδιά του. Δούλευε από οκτώ χρονών. Τον αγαπούσα πάρα πολύ…
Το πρώτο έτος στο λύκειο ήμουν ένας καλός μουσουλμάνος. Προσευχόμουν πέντε φορές την ημέρα. Αργότερα, το κεφάλι μου το πλημμύρισαν πολλές ερωτήσεις. Στο δεύτερο έτος μυήθηκα στους κύκλους των αριστεριστών. Με συγκινούσαν τα κηρύγματά τους για ελευθερία και δικαιοσύνη. Πολύτιμες λέξεις για ένα παιδί που μεγάλωσε σε φτώχεια. Καθώς μεγάλωνα η γειτονιά και το σχολείο μου άλλαζαν. Οι συμμαθητές μου ήταν Κούρδοι πλέον. Ερχόντουσαν εδώ για να ξεφύγουν από τον εμφύλιο πόλεμο. Είδα με τα μάτια μου πώς δυο Κούρδισσες αυτοπυρπολήθηκαν για να ακουστεί η κραυγή τους.
Την ένιωσα βαθιά μέσα στην ψυχή μου αυτή την κραυγή. Ήμουν όμως πολύ μπερδεμένος. Από τη μία άκουγα τις ιστορίες για τη βία του στρατού. Από την άλλη έβλεπα καθημερινές κηδείες Τούρκων στρατιωτών. Οι μανάδες αναθεμάτιζαν τους Κούρδους και το ΡΚΚ. Μεγάλωσα μέσα στα διλήμματα. Για τη θρησκεία, για το πολιτικό σύστημα, για τις “εθνικές αλήθειες”…
Τελείωσα το λύκειο με καλούς βαθμούς. Διάβασα πολύ για τις εισαγωγικές εξετάσεις. Μέσα σε δυο εκατομμύρια μαθητές που έδωσαν εξετάσεις, βγήκα στους καλύτερους 5.000. Κέρδισα υποτροφία. Επέλεξα το Istanbul Bilgi University, για να σπουδάσω ΜΜΕ. Το επέλεξα γιατί ήταν ιδιωτικό και ξέφευγε από την κρατική προπαγάνδα. Πήγα Ιστανμπούλ και προσγειώθηκα μέσα σε δεκαπέντε εκατομμύρια κόσμο. Στο δεύτερο έτος νοικιάσαμε, μαζί με τους αριστεριστές και τους Κούρδους φίλους μου, ένα σπίτι στο κέντρο της πόλης. Τότε άρχισα να μαθαίνω κούρδικα. Κάποια στιγμή άρχισε να με ενοχλεί ο εθνικισμός των Κούρδων φίλων μου. Με χίλια ζόρια είχα απαλλαγεί από τον τουρκικό εθνικισμό. Ξαφνικά βρισκόμουν στη μέση ενός άλλου εθνικισμού, που χρησιμοποιούσε τα ίδια επιχειρήματα, τις ίδιες μεθόδους. Τι είμαι εγώ σήμερα; Ένας πολύ καχύποπτος άνθρωπος απέναντι στις απόλυτες αλήθειες και τη βία. Νιώθω Ανατολίτης αλλά ζω ως Δυτικός. Δεν είμαι Τούρκος, είμαι από την Τουρκία. Γιατί, υπάρχουν πολλοί τρόποι για να είσαι Τούρκος. Και πιστεύω ότι αυτό ισχύει για όλα τα έθνη…
Στο δεύτερο έτος, ένας καθηγητής μου έδωσε την ευκαιρία να επισκεφθώ τη Θεσσαλονίκη, για να συμμετάσχω σε σεμινάριο με Έλληνες και Τούρκους φοιτητές. Η πρώτη φορά που περνούσα τα σύνορα της Τουρκίας. Με εντυπωσίασε ότι εδώ τα πάντα έμοιαζαν με την Ιζμίρ και την Κωνσταντινούπολη: ο αέρας, τα φαγητά, οι άνθρωποι. Από εκεί και πέρα ταξίδεψα σε αρκετές ευρωπαϊκές χώρες. Όπου πήγαινα, οι καλύτερες παρέες μου ήταν Βαλκάνιοι, ιδίως Έλληνες. Έτσι μου δημιουργήθηκε ένα άλλο στερεότυπο. Ότι εμείς οι Βαλκάνιοι είμαστε κάτι διαφορετικό από τους Δυτικούς. Είναι το τελευταίο μου στερεότυπο, δυστυχώς…

ΥΣΤΕΡΑ από όλα αυτά αναρωτιόμουν: Πώς μπόρεσαν Τούρκοι και Έλληνες να γίνουν εχθροί; Η λαχτάρα μου για να εξηγήσω το γιατί ήταν ο λόγος που αποφάσισα να κάνω το μεταπτυχιακό μου στην Ελλάδα. Αρνήθηκα γι’ αυτό μια υποτροφία για τη Σουηδία. Με είχε εντυπωσιάσει εξίσου το γεγονός πως ό,τι συνέβαινε στην Τουρκία, στην Ελλάδα γινόταν πρωτοσέλιδο. Επίσης σπάνια βρίσκεις ελληνικές οικογένειες που να μην έχουν μια ιστορία που να σχετίζεται με την Μικρά Ασία και τον Πόντο. Τα τραγούδια από τη Σμύρνη είναι τα πιο συγκινητικά που έχω ακούσει στη ζωή μου…
Και έτσι, ήρθα εδώ πριν από δυο χρόνια. Σήμερα κατοικώ στα Τουρκοβούνια, Άνω Γαλάτσι. Μαθαίνω ελληνικά και τελειώνω το μεταπτυχιακό μου. Με τους Έλληνες φίλους μου συζητάμε συχνά για το παρελθόν, το παρόν, το μέλλον. Εμείς δεν μπορούμε να αλλάξουμε την ιστορία των παππούδων μας. Μπορούμε ίσως να δώσουμε ένα άλλο νόημα στο μέλλον. Για το καλό των παιδιών μας…».

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