Sakset/Fra hofta

The Times har dybdeintervjuet Recep Tayyip Erdogan. En mulig invasjon av Nord-Irak står i sentrum, men vel så interessant er det han sier om armenerne og paragraf 301.

Erdogan vurderer åpenbart amerikanernes innsats i Irak svært lavt:

The Times: You have by your own admission mounted 24 previous incursions into northern Iraq. Why would this one be any more successful than any of the previous ones?

Erdogan: It would be wrong to speak before we have done anything. Of course every operation aims to be successful. You may or may not achieve this – that is a different issue. The United States came to Iraq from tens of thousands of kilometres away. Why and for what purpose it came I cannot say. Whether it has so far been successful I cannot say. But if you ask me my personal opinion – there’s no success that I can see. There is just the death of ten of thousands of people. There is just an Iraq whose entire infrastructure and superstructure has collapsed. These need to be correctly evaluated.

Det er tydelig at Tyrkia og USA har sklidd fra hverandre, ikke minst på grunn av Irak. Men dypest stikker armenerne. Erdogan sier at hvis resolusjonen om folkemord blir vedtatt vil USA miste Tyrkia. Det er sterke ord.

Erdogan har en evne til selvrefererende utsagn: han vil ha full åpenhet om armenerne, men sier samtidig at genoci er en umulighet fordi religionen forbyr det.

The Times: To what extent did the house foreign affairs committee’s approval of the Armenian resolution make it more likely that you would take action against the PKK? Has it inflamed nationalist sentiment here, has it made you less willing to heed the appeals of president Bush?

Erdogan: For a start let me say with all sincerity that the American administration has taken all the steps it can with regards the measures taken by the Foreign Affairs Committee. I would like to thank President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and all other representatives of the senior administration who have made efforts in this direction.

But I look at this as a whole. The so-called Armenian genocide has its own dimension, the presence of the separatist terror organisation in northern Iraq has its own dimension. The developments with regards the so-called Armenian genocide have an ugly aspect of domestic politics about them. Because those who sign up to a campaign against Turkey in relation to the so-called Armenian genocide are really the ones firing a bullet at the friendship between America and Turkey.

I speak with great self-confidence when I say we have opened up our archives – let the Armenians open theirs if they have them. If any third countries have them let them open them up as well. Let Historians work, let art historians, legal experts, political scientists, archaeologists work. Let us make a joint decision based on the results of their findings. We have not run away from this. I wrote a letter to (Armenian President Robert) Kocharyan in 2005 and I have still not had an answer. The diaspora is working under a different premise. It is not possible for us to accept the taking of such steps with no basis on documents or research. Our history is not the history of genocides. Our religion would never allow this. Therefore we do not accept this.
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The Times: Would you like to characterise the state of US-Turkish relations? Do you think they are in a state of crisis?

Erdogan: I do not think so. I do not want to think so. Because both we as the Turkish administration and the American administration are making efforts to continue our relations in a positive manner. But let me say this clearly: If a law relating to the so-called Armenian resolution passes through the US Congress then America might lose a very important friend.

Paragraf 301 gjør det straffbart å fornærme «tyrkiskhet». Omtale av armenerne faller inn under denne definisjon. Men Erdogan hevder at det bare berører fornærmelse mot staten, og at andre europeiske land har tilsvarende lover. Det hadde vært interessant å høre hvilke.

The Times: You said earlier that you were very open to discussions of the whole issue of genocide? Why not let the Turkish people discuss it? Why not repeal article 301?

Erdogan: 301 is not an article that has anything to do with this. The contents of 301 are very different. 301 is actually an article that mainly relates to insults to the state administration of the Turkish republic. This is why it is about insulting Turkishness. But this is not about ethnicity. It includes insulting the head of state, insulting the Parliament speaker, I believe the Prime Minister is also included. Nevertheless we are working on 301. In the law of most European Union countries there are articles similar to this. Although we have yet to reach a conclusion we are looking at explaining the expression «Turkishness» with a separate paragraph. This would be to the effect that by Turkishness we do not mean any ethnic quality but an expression defining constitutional citizenship. Another area of change is related to whether the crime is committed at home or abroad. There was a 50 percent increase in the sentence if it was committed abroad, but we are planning to decrease this to the same sentence whether committed at home or abroad.

The Times: Isn’t the problem with 301 has been the way it has been interpreted…Therefore don’t you think these nuances will be ignored by gunmen who decide to shoot people based on conviction under this law. Isn’t the problem that it symbolises too much now for any subtle changes to make much difference?

Erdogan: But the current article does not create the basis for anything like this. For one thing it has absolutely nothing to do with Armenians – it is not an article targeted at our Armenian citizens. It would be very wrong to come to this conclusion based on the Hrant Dink incident. At the moment there are 40,000 Armenians who have fled Armenia and come to live in Turkey. They are illegal in Turkey and we know about this.

Interview with Recep Tayyip Erdogan in full