Thursday, September 10, 2015

Turkey Inches Towards Entering the Adult World

Like a spoiled teenager who refuses to admit they can do anything wrong (or a southern bro who insists that the Civil War was a "states' rights" affair), Turkey is rather notorious for throwing a temper tantrum whenever someone tries to acknowledge basic historical facts about its WWI-era Armenian genocide. But perhaps we're seeing a baby step in the right direction, as Ali Haydar Konca, Turkey's minister to the EU, has taken a big step towards actual acknowledgment of the atrocity.
"The fact that massacres happened is explicit and clear and everybody accepts that. Right now, the issue is what it should be called. We will make a decision in our party about that,” Konca told the press, becoming the the Turkish official to admit that, in fact, a Genocide had occurred.
Now before we get too excited, Konca never actually used the term "genocide". That omission is noted later in the piece, although its belied by the last sentence of the block quote (and the title of the article: "Turkey’s New EU Minister Admits to Armenian Genocide"). And the article also has the usual array of charming quotes from other Turkish leaders, including the President's declaration that any EU statement on the subject will "go in one ear and out from the other because it is not possible for Turkey to accept such a sin or crime."

So perhaps not a seismic shift. But maybe a tiny, tiny breakthrough in the long process of becoming a mature democracy that honestly reckons with its past.

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