Thursday, August 30, 2007
Professor Erik-Jan Zürcher and Turkey
The Medal of High Distinction award of Turkey was presented to him at the Turkish Embassy in The Hague by Ambassador Tacem Ildem.
Erik-Jan Zurcher has been a Professor in the Netherlands of Turkish languages and cultures since 1987. His book: 'Turkey, a Modern history' is well-known in Turkey.
In 2005, he received the Medal of High Distinction from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an honor which is rarely awarded.
Hürriyet, Turkish mainstream bourgeois newspaper runs a story about R. Fisk, and are misusing the views of Erik-Jan Zurcher about the Armenian Genocide, suggesting that Prof. Zurcher are on the denial side...
Let's have a look at some extracts, links etc. about Erik-Jan:
"But apologies are not a matter for discussion," says Erik J. Zürcher, professor of Turkish linguistics and literature at the University of Leiden. "It is not realistic to make the present Turkish Republic responsible for the murders of 1915. The Turkish government could, however, express finding the events tragic." This is not to be expected. Turkish pride and fear for an Armenian claim to "Wiedergutmachung" come in the way of normalization.
Here is the article. VPRO is an outstanding TV station in the Netherlands.
"At the same time, the feeling that what had happened should never be allowed to happen again; that Anatolia should not go the way of the Balkans and was in a very real sense the “Turk’s last stand” was certainly instrumental in the decisions to embark on the wholesale extermination of the Armenians and the expulsion of the Greek Orthodox"
Here is the article.
Introducing Taner Akcam professor Erik-Jan Zürcher, professor of Turkish language and culture at the University of Leiden, mentioned that Akcam is one of the scholars, who presents “the state of the art” in his field of research. He combines in his research Armenian scientific publications, documents from Ottoman archives and Turkish Military Tribunal of 1919 as well as documents found in the German archives. After Akcam’s speech many Turks stood up to protest rather than ask questions, but Akcam peacefully and effectively managed to give clear response and at the same time tried to pacify the Turks by repeating the statement: “we have to learn to talk”.
Answering a question about the Turkish proposal to Armenia to form a joint commission of Turkish and Armenian historians, professor Zürcher said that a dialogue is necessary, but that the proposal is not as innocent as it seems, because of the conditions put forward by Turkey. Turkey wants the historians to be appointed by the governments and also all political discussion on historical subjects to be suspended during the work of the commission. It should not come as a surprise that Armenia cannot accept the proposal under such conditions.
Here is the article.
I agree with the research of Erik-Jan in contesting misconceptions and prejudices about Turkey. But Hürriyet did a lousy job: Professor Zurcher endorsed the Armenian Genocide claim. But he encouraged in his books, interviews, and seminars etc. reconciliation.