Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Turkish ambassador and I: a revealing encounter with arrogance, dishonesty and resentment

I had a spat on Twitter recently with Turkey’s ambassador to Yemen, Fazli Corman, in which this senior Turkish diplomat – who has previously served his country at the UN in New York, in Canada, Japan, Oman and Greece – revealed himself to be not only arrogant, rude and dishonest, devoid of intellectual curiosity, but also someone with a severe prejudice and resentment towards Greeks. I’m reproducing the exchange below because I believe it exposes the attitudes and disposition of the Turkish state – and should leave Greeks in no doubt as to who and what they are up against.

The dispute began when I objected to an article
, Turkey, the Arab world, and the myth of moderate Islamism, by Nervana Mahmoud,‏ in which the author stated that Turkey had a ‘well-established democracy’ going back to the 1950s. I tweeted to her, rather sarcastically, that this was only the case if you discounted the coups of 1960, 1971, 1981 and the postmodern coup of 1997.

Corman evidently saw my tweet and read other tweets I’d written in which I’d been critical of those who, in reporting the crackdown on anti-Erdogan protests in Turkey, had portrayed Turkey as a misunderstood western-type liberal democracy when, in fact, it is an authoritarian, belligerent, hyper-nationalist entity that bears many hallmarks associated with fascism. Corman criticised what he saw as my ‘negativism’ towards Turkey, then brought up the Akritas plan and asked, because of my moniker, whether I wasn’t somehow related to it!

Now, I know that the Akritas plan was drawn up in 1963 by minister of the interior Polykarpos Yiorkadjis in response to the build up of Turkish arms on Cyprus and the increasing threat of a Turkish invasion. It spelled out how Greek Cypriots might thwart a Turkish assault by knocking out the armed enclaves Turkish Cypriots had established before these enclaves had a chance to link up with invading forces from Turkey. I also know that Turkey has attempted to portray the Akritas plan as a Greek Cypriot plot to annihilate Turkish Cypriots and, indeed, Corman repeated this claim and stated that, between 1963-74, Turkish Cypriots were incarcerated in concentration camps and were exposed to a campaign of ‘eradication’ and ‘extermination’.

(Corman, in a tweet revealing a deep-seated resentment of Greeks, added: ‘You never miss a chance to insult us, but rather you should focus on yourselves’, before going on to accuse Greeks of being ‘obsessive nationalists’).

Rather than engage in a slanging match with Corman, I preferred to provide him with a link to the Akritas plan and asked him to show me where it mentioned any intention on the part of Greek Cypriots to wipe out Turkish Cypriots.

His reply was that the plan wouldn’t state its objective so blatantly, but that the frequent mention of ‘national struggle’ clearly proved Greek Cypriots’ genocidal intentions.

I pointed out that ‘national struggle’ at this time clearly meant a struggle for self-determination, which for Greek Cypriots aimed at the revision of the 1960 constitution, the removal of those provisions they perceived granted the Turkish minority excessive powers and which the Turkish Cypriots had been exploiting to undermine the normal functioning of the Cypriot state and to create a state within a state. I said it was spurious to equate ‘national struggle’ with a desire to eradicate the Turkish Cypriots, and, indeed, I asked for facts and figures regarding this alleged extermination of the Turkish Cypriots – you’d expect such a calculated campaign to have been well publicised and documented, particularly in the international media.

I also argued that what Corman termed ‘concentration camps’ were in fact armed enclaves into which Turkish Cypriots had wilfully retreated in order to create the conditions for partition on the ground, which Turkey would definitively impose by invasion. In 1965, the UN Secretary General, U Thant, referred to this Turkish ploy as ‘deliberate self-segregation’. In fact, I told Corman, the only plan of ‘eradication’ that existed in Cyprus was the plan for partition being followed by Turkey, in which Greek Cypriots would be eradicated from those parts of the island Turkey was expecting to annex – a plan brutally and successfully executed with Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

Unfortunately, to Corman, my measured and informed comments demonstrated that I was ‘living in a fantasy world’ and he said he felt ‘sorry’ for me. Annoyed by Corman’s boorish arrogance – and my own naive assumption that if you present someone with well-argued facts then they will come to their senses, particularly if they are a senior diplomat (who you’d expect not to believe any old rubbish and to be disposed to rational thought) – I expressed surprise that a high-ranking Turkish diplomat was ‘regurgitating risible propaganda’ and said his outpourings were what I’d expect of a brainwashed ultra-nationalist. Despite Corman showing signs of wanting to continue the argument – even if he said he regretted starting a conversation with me – I decided to end the exchange, regarding it as pointless to engage with an obtuse fanatic with no interest in truth or reasonable discussion.

1. Nervana Mahmoud: Turkey, the Arab world, and the myth of moderate Islamism
2. john akritas: ‘Well-established democracy since 1950s?’ You mean apart from the coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980 and the postmodern one in 1997.

3. Fazli Corman: Reading your negativism on Turkey, I wondered if “Akritas” simply your name or related to that “plan” in Cyprus?

4. john akritas: You mean the plan to thwart an invasion of Cyprus that Turkey propagandistically presents as plan to wipe out TCs.

5. john akritas: I’m just skeptical of claims that Turkey is a model democracy. More like, ultranationalist, authoritarian, bellicose.

6. Fazli Corman: Did you really learn Akritas plan like this??? As I know it was a plan to exterminate & eradicate Turks from Cyprus.

7. Fazli Corman: You never miss a chance to insult us, but rather you should focus on yourselves.

8. john akritas: Not true. The plan can be read here: Please show me where it mentions ‘eradicating’ TCs.

9. Fazli Corman: Would they write it like that? What do you think is the “national struggle” that is mentioned all over?

10. john akritas: How have I insulted you? I’m a critic of the Turkish state and the inflated claims made about Turkish ‘democracy’.

11. john akritas: ‏National struggle refers to self-determination. It’s not right to interpret this as a plan to kill TCs.

12. john akritas: Read my brush with Turkey’s ambassador to Yemen @FazliCorman, who repeats outlandish claim that GCs tried to eradicate TCs

13. Fazli Corman: Outlandish?? You deny a very clear fact, even not historical, since I have seen this as a kid. Concentration camps of TCs.

14. Fazli Corman: Blaming Turkey of military coups should have reminded you of your own ones. Nationalism; Greeks and GCs by far more obsessed.

15. john akritas: Concentration camps! TCs retreated into armed enclaves in preparation for partition. UN called it ‘deliberate self-segregation’

16. Fazli Corman: Whether or not you accept, it was a plan to wipe out Turks. And it was implemented between 1963-74 until we stopped.

17. Fazli Corman: Ask the Turkish Cypriots who lived in the Island between 63-74 and then speak on ultranationalism or bellicose...

18. Fazli Corman: ‏What is self-determination then? Living side by side in the Island with TCs? Is that what you believe?

19. john akritas: 1/2 Self-determination meant unitary state in which TCs had minority rights. You can’t interpret this as plan to wipe out TCs.

20. john akritas: 2/2 On the other hand, what could Turkish policy of ‘partition or death’ mean other than wiping out GCs from northern Cyprus?

21. john akritas: 1/2 There was no such plan and nothing like it ever happened. For you to make such a claim, you must provide facts and figures.

22. john akritas: 2/2 Truth is between 1967-1974, relations between GCs and TCs were improving, even if TMT was against any return to normality.

23. john akritas: And even if your narrative is correct, which it is not, it can’t justify the brutality of the invasion or 40 years’ occupation.

24. john akritas: And brutality of the invasion was no accident. It had to be this way to fulfill Turkey’s long-term policy of partitioning Cyprus.

25. john akritas: And since I dispute your TC woe narrative, I believe Turkey is on Cyprus for other reasons, to do with nationalism and undemocratic state.

26. Fazli Corman: Unfortunately it seems that you are living in a fantasy world, I feel sorry for you... Regret the time I spent talking to you.

27. john akritas: I feel sorry for Turkey if all its officials are capable of is regurgitating risible propaganda. Are you the best they can do?

28. john akritas: I expect nonsense about concentration camps and genocide from a brainwashed ultra-nationalist, not a senior diplomat.

29. Fazli Corman: I should’ve stopped responding you much earlier. But concentration camps and attempted ethnic cleansing in Cyprus are facts.


Hermes said...

Very good, John. If the diplomat's responses are indicative of the quality of Turkish diplomacy, that is hilarious.

John Akritas said...

What they lack in intelligence, they make up for in fanaticism, a fact that should enter our calculations.

PhilippouApogonos said...

Thank you for this John. Very important insight into the mind of Turkish diplomats. I do not imagine people like Bayis ,for example, are much different. The problem is that the mythology of Greek Cypriot aggression towards T/C and forcing them into "concentration camps" has been promulgated for such a long time that it has entered mainstream and is now accepted by the Greek left as well as the Greek Cypriot left as fact , justifying our acceptance of the Anan monstrosity as just punishment. ( It should now be called BanAnan plan which adequately depicts its intentions).

John Akritas said...

What the Turks do with their propaganda and lies is try to force you to defend your actions – in this instance, I had to spend time explaining the Akritas plan – so that we don’t talk about what the Turks did, the plans they had for partition, etc. Instead of talking about the Turkish invasion, we end up talking about what we did and didn’t do in 1963.

And, yes, it is amazing that even Greeks, from Cyprus and Greece, have come to believe this nonsense about 'concentration camps' and 'genocide'. I object to it all not just because, as you say, it is politically motivated – designed to make us accept Annan-style plans – but also because it historically inaccurate. It's an insult to my intelligence and shows complete contempt for the truth.

Loukas Leon said...

Nothing surprising here. He's a 'senior diplomat': so what! One seasoned diplomat defined Foreign Minister and ambassador-at-large Ahmet Davutoglu’s basic characteristics as “naïveté, romanticism, a lack of knowledge and a refusal to consult and learn.” Diplomats more than anyone should be expected to regurgitate this sort of propaganda, although evidently this one comes across as particularly brainless.

As we know, they have their fair share of partners in crime – both Greek and other. From p.460 of Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 To the Present (2013), by 'historian' Brendan Simms:

"… the Turks invaded Cyprus to forestall an attempt by radical Greek nationalists to exterminate the Turkish population."

PS – John, no idea what some of your tweets about 'democracy', 'liberal democracy', 'fascism', 'authoritarianism' etc are all about. They make little sense. For instance, you state that: "The invasion was an act of fascist brutality". What on earth does this mean? It was an act of Turkish brutality, plain and simple. Stuff we've come to expect for hundreds of years. You think a 'real' Turkish democracy wouldn't have carried out such an invasion? As if 'real' democracies do not engage in invading and occupying other peoples lands, 'brutishness', 'brutality', 'bellicosity' and whatever else you mentioned.

John Akritas said...

It is a trait of democracies that they criticise and reflect on what they do. This does not mean that they are incapable of brutal actions, but they are harder to justify in democratic societies and are always open to challenge. The classic examples, I suppose, are Athens’ behaviour regarding Myteline and Melos. In the case of Myteline, Athens votes to massacre the islanders, only to reflect on this act of brutality and rescind the vote at the last minute; while in Melos, although they do massacre the islanders, afterwards Athenians – or a section of them – are horrified by what they have done. In contemporary democracies, this critical culture takes the form of anti-colonial, anti-racist, anti-war, etc, discourse. Compare this to how Turkey treats its past. Turkey lacks and has always lacked this democratic culture and, even if cultures are not immutable, I see no evidence that in the foreseeable future Turkey will acquire such a culture, as my encounter with the Turkish ambassador indicates. (The post I put up recently on the objectivity of the Greeks is worth considering).

Hermes said...

The Turks have fought several hard and soft wars against us and some of their other neighbours. The soft war has continued to this day. The success of their war effort is really a mirror of how weak we are. Today, we have become so weak, so Finlandised, where a large part of Greek society have internalised their arguments. Unfortunately, we mistake objectivity or a justice for equally apportioning responsibility, where there is no case to be made. We trade short term peace for long term insecurity and danger. We place too much faith in international bodies to compensate for a lack of creativity. All these problems, and many more were clearly outlined by Panagiotis Kondylis over 10 years ago. Not surprisingly, he was rejected by the Greek university establishment.

John Akritas said...

Exactly, H. To the extent that Greek TV stations are now awash with Turkish soaps. Samaras should close these stations down.

Hermes said...

Interesting comment from Simms. Did Sampson and his crew make statements, and when did they make them, that could be construed as genuinely wanting to exterminate the TCs? I think there was something published in Eleftherotypia but has it been confirmed that he intended to do this and when was this published? And even if he stated this, did he have the means to do this?

John Akritas said...

No doubt Sampson was a Turk hater and he did make such statements a couple of years after the invasion; but this was bravado from a gangster. There are a few things to remember:

1. The coup, organised from Athens, did not intend to wind up with Sampson as president. Because the coup was botched and Makarios was not killed, the junta could not find any respectable Cypriot politicians – such as Glafkos Clerides – to assume the presidency. Sampson was a last resort.

2. The coup was not aimed at bringing about enosis of all of Cyprus with Greece. The idea was to remove the main obstacle to partition – Makarios – and then come to an arrangement with Turkey as to how to divide Cyprus. Since the junta’s plan was to strike a deal with Turkey, it would not have been in the junta’s interests to start a campaign against the Turkish Cypriots and provoke Turkey. (The success of the coup could only be guaranteed if Turkey could be persuaded the coup was a matter between Greeks).

3. Indeed, for the week Sampson was president – 15 July to 23 July – his main concern was to crack down on Makarios supporters and leftists. The TCs were not touched.

4. As noted, Sampson’s reign came to an end on 23 July, a few days after the Turkey’s first invasion on 20 July, after which Clerides became acting president while Makarios was abroad, i.e. constitutional order had been restored. Yet, with Sampson well and truly out of the picture (not sure if he’d been arrested), the Turks went ahead with the second (and more devastating) phase of their invasion on 14 August.

In other words, claims by the Turks that the invasion was prompted and justified by Sampson are part of their propaganda campaign.

Hermes said...

Thanks John. What I am aiming for is to find genuine evidence that the Greeks had plans to exterminate the TCs. As yet, I cannot find any. I want to write an email to Brendan Simms politely asking him if he can back up his statement.

If anyone is interested in asking him, his email address is:

I am almost certain of what type of answer I'll receive but I am interested nonetheless.

John Akritas said...

I'm not familiar with this guy Simms. Has he written on Cyprus? Frankly, anyone who proposes that the Greeks were planning to exterminate the Turks on the island is talking out of their backside. Turks were killed in 1963, and in 1974 there were a couple of horrible massacres committed by rogue Greek elements; but to suggest any of this was part of a deliberate and calculated campaign of genocide is rubbish. As I told Corman, the only plan for eradication that existed in Cyprus was related to Turkey's plan for partition, which was predicated on the ethnic cleansing of the GCs from that part of Cyprus Turkey wished to annex. Enosis in the 1950s was aimed at the British, not the TCs; while in the 1960s, the aim of the GCs was to deprive the TCs of those privileges they'd been granted by the 1960 constitution; privileges the GCs felt the TCs had been abusing to pursue partition.

Hermes said...

Brendan Simms wrote this book that just got published by Basic Books:

As Loukas Leon stated above, on p.463 he writes:

"… the Turks invaded Cyprus to forestall an attempt by radical Greek nationalists to exterminate the Turkish population."

Simms is not an expert on Cyprus, he is a historian of IR. However, you cannot casually write such serious things without any references.

What deeply concerns me is that the narrative that Turkey invaded and has occupied Cyprus since 1974 because of an Athens-based coup has almost passed into fact. The English/US press and academia state this all the time. Even Greek press and academia do as well (see my above comments on internalising other's arguments). Now, another narrative, that of Greek plans to exterminate TCs, will become fact. However, there is no basis for these claims.

John Akritas said...

I missed LL’s reference to Simms. Clearly, for Simms to make such an absurd statement reveals an agenda or lack of academic seriousness.

I’ve always assumed that the ‘Turkey invaded Cyprus in response to an Athens coup’ narrative – which, as you say, explains very little – is a product of journalistic laziness as well as a wish to apportion blame to both Greeks and Turks, who they regard as crazy orientals always at each other’s throats. Regarding Cyprus, the British always asserted that they were caught in the middle of this primitive ethnic conflict in which they were trying to hold the ring. It’s one of the reason the legal action EOKA fighters are proposing to bring against the UK government as quite significant; it’ll expose the dirty role of Britain in Cypriot affairs.

PhilippouApogonos said...

I have just read the following based on UK released documents. We must never forget that the Turkish plans in Cyprus from mid 1950s are closely connected , indeed interdependent with British plans until today and as we write.

Μέθοδοι διχοτόμησης
| Εκτύπωση | 20/06/2013 | ΤΗΣ ΦΑΝΟΥΛΑΣ ΑΡΓΥΡΟΥ

Πρόνοιες σχεδίου Ανάν και «επιτροπής αποζημιώσεων» εντοπίζονται το 1957
Τα ερωτήματα των Βρετανών ήταν κατά πόσον ήταν πρακτική λύση για όλους και αν στην πραγματικότητα ήταν η λιγότερο αρνητική επιλογή που είχαν

μέρος β’

Στο προηγούμενο μέρος της παρουσίασής των νέων βρετανικών εγγράφων, έγινε αναφορά στις μελέτες που έκαναν οι Βρετανοί προς υλοποίηση της διχοτόμησης στην Κύπρο. Το 1957 μελετήθηκαν τελικά (από την αποικιακή κυβέρνηση Χάρτινγκ στη Λευκωσία) δύο τρόποι διαχωριστικής γραμμής για τις δύο ζώνες (το 1956 είχαν μελετηθεί τέσσερις) και δόθηκαν ξεχωριστές εκτιμήσεις για τις δαπάνες. Οι δύο αυτές διαχωριστικές γραμμές βρίσκονται στον χάρτη και αντιστοιχούν από X σε X και από Y σε Y.
Υπολόγιζαν ότι:
Α) Καθαρή διχοτόμηση θα έπαιρνε τέσσερα χρόνια για την αναγκαστική μετακόμιση πληθυσμού.
Β) Σταδιακός διπολισμός των δύο κοινοτήτων μέσω επιχειρήσεων πολιτικών και οικονομικών πιέσεων. Αυτός ο τρόπος υπολόγιζαν θα χρειαζόταν δέκα χρόνια να φέρει αποτέλεσμα.

Επιτροπή περιουσιών
Οι οικονομικές πιέσεις θα επιβάλλονταν με τη δημοσιοποίηση της διχοτομικής γραμμής και τη θέσπιση νόμου, που θα απαγόρευε τις πωλήσεις ακίνητης περιουσίας ή μεταβίβασής της ως δωρεάς ή κληρονομιάς σε Ελληνοκύπριο στην τουρκική ζώνη ή σε Τουρκοκύπριο στην ελληνική ζώνη. Θα ιδρυόταν μια επιτροπή περιουσιών, που θα αναλάμβανε να αγοράσει τις ακίνητες περιουσίες που θα τις προσέφεραν Ε/κ στην τουρκική ζώνη ή αντίθετα, και θα τη μεταπωλούσε σε Ε/κ αγοραστές στην ελληνική ζώνη ή αντίθετα. Θα διδόταν προτεραιότητα σε αγοραστές που ζούσαν στη «λανθασμένη ζώνη» και ήθελαν να εγκατασταθούν με τις οικογένειές τους στη σωστή πλευρά της γραμμής. Οι αξίες της ακίνητης περιουσίας θα πάγωναν π.χ. στις τιμές αγοράς του 1956... Σημειώνεται ότι οι πρόνοιες αυτές ελάχιστα διαφέρουν από τις πρόνοιες που συνόδευαν το απορριφθέν Σχέδιο Ανάν 50 χρόνια αργότερα, όπως επίσης και τις σημερινές επιδιώξεις της ψευδοεπιτροπής των κατεχομένων.

Ζήτημα… πρακτικότητας
Στα συμπεράσματά τους οι σχεδιαστές Χάρτιγκ σημείωναν τα εξής: «Κανείς δεν μπορεί λογικά να υποστηρίξει ότι η διχοτόμηση είναι καλή λύση για το κυπριακό πρόβλημα. Τα ερωτήματα που πηγάζουν δεν είναι κατά πόσο είναι επιθυμητή αλλά κατά πόσο είναι πρακτική, κατά πόσο είναι λύση για όλους και κατά πόσο, στην πραγματικότητα, είναι η λιγότερο αρνητική από αριθμό άλλων επιλογών μπροστά μας. Το συμπέρασμα στο οποίο φθάσαμε με τη μελέτη αυτή είναι ότι η διχοτόμηση ίσως να μην είναι πρακτική, εκτός και αν επιβληθεί με δύο τρόπους (είτε με τον έναν είτε με τον άλλον) διά της βίας - είτε διά πυρός και σιδήρου είτε σταδιακά, με ένα σκόπιμο διπολισμό μεταξύ των δύο κοινοτήτων κατά τη διάρκεια μιας δεκαετίες ή και περισσότερο...».

PhilippouApogonos said...

Λύση faute de mieux
Η έκθεση συνέχιζε: «Η διχοτόμηση θα πρέπει να θεωρηθεί ως λύση faute de mieux (εφόσον δεν υπάρχει τίποτα καλύτερο) και πρέπει να χρησιμοποιηθεί μόνο και εφόσον δεν βρίσκονται πιο λογικές λύσεις. Οι προτιμητέες λύσεις παρά τη διχοτόμηση είναι α) η αυτοκυβέρνηση βάσει του σχεδίου Ράτκλιφ και β) ανεξαρτησία κάτω από διεθνείς εγγυήσεις, με κάποια διεθνή Αρχή να κρατάει τα ηνία και γ) η λύση με μια περίοδο προσαρμογής σε ένα ομόσπονδο σύστημα με ξεχωριστές ζώνες, μια ελληνική και μία τουρκική. Η διχοτόμηση θα φανεί ως μια σκόπιμη απόφαση υπέρ της φιλίας με την Τουρκία και εχθρότητας εναντίον της Ελλάδας, και επομένως θα υπάρξει ο ισχυρισμός ότι η διχοτομική γραμμή σε τέτοια περίπτωση θα γέρνει υπέρ της εξυπηρέτησης των τουρκικών συμφερόντων... Μετά την ανταλλαγή πληθυσμών και νοουμένου ότι όλοι οι Έλληνες θα έχουν εκδιωχθεί από την τουρκική ζώνη, η ισορροπία θα επανεκτιμηθεί, δίδοντας στους Τούρκους μεγαλύτερο ποσοστό γης... Η ελληνική ζώνη θα είναι σε καλύτερη μοίρα βιωσιμότητας, λόγω των ορυκτών πλούτων που θα βρίσκονται στην ελληνική πλευρά...».

Η μοιρασιά
Εν πάση περιπτώσει, έγραφε η έκθεση Χάρτινγκ, έστω και αν οι Τουρκοκύπριοι, που είναι μόνο το ένα πέμπτο του πληθυσμού, θα έχουν σχεδόν το ένα τρίτο της νήσου... δεν έχουμε λόγο να υποθέσουμε ότι οποιοδήποτε σχέδιο διχοτόμησης, που για την κυβέρνηση της Α. Μεγαλειότητος θα είναι αντικειμενικό και δίκαιο, θα γίνει δεκτό ως ικανοποιητικό είτε από τους Τουρκοκυπρίους είτε από την τουρκική κυβέρνηση.


John Akritas said...

For non-Greek readers, PA is referring to plans devised by the British colonial authorities in the mid-1950s detailing how Cyprus might be partitioned into Greek and Turkish zones, including how Greek and Turkish Cypriots would be forced to abandon one zone and move into another. The logic behind British thinking, which was shared by the Turks, continues to dominate approaches to a Cyprus settlement, and was given clear form in the Annan plan.

Hermes said...

A great article in English on the reprobate, Alexander Downer.

John Akritas said...

There’s also this letter from a former high commissioner to Australia on Downer.

There were reports in the Cypriot press a couple of weeks ago that Downer was going to resign his Cyprus gig to become Australia’s ambassador to Washington; but he's not gone yet.