EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY
Canberra, 26 May 2009
1. The motion passed on April 30th, 2009 by the South Australian Parliament with the support of ministers and the offensive remarks made against Turks and the Republic of Turkey during its discussion are deeply regrettable.
2. Turkey and Australia are close international allies and partners, even though they are geographically very far apart. Much of the friendship between them is based on a determination to overcome former hostility and conflicts which cost the lives of many sons of both our nations and to build a better world of cooperation and peace. Now some ministers and politicians appear to back a policy of creating division and resentment between our two peoples where none previously existed. The consequences of this could be far-reaching.
3. The South Australian Parliament’s resolution is clearly the work of an ethnic lobby determined to stir up and distort ancient antagonisms. As such it could very easily bring the friendship between Turkey and Australia to a halt. Ethnic lobbies should not be allowed to damage the excellent relations between our countries originating from the Gallipoli spirit and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s words of reconciliation to Anzac mothers.
4. Australian citizens of Turkish origin naturally fear that a deliberate climate of hostility is being created towards them and that there is a strong racist undercurrent to it. They resent attempts to suggest that they share any of the views or the version of history contained in the resolution. To impose an unfriendly and distorted view of another country’s history on Turkey, ignoring the ideas and views of its people as well as all scholarship, family history, and much evidence, surely comes very close to racism.
5. Politicians can not and should not try to write history, particularly the history of countries and nations on the other side of the world and events nearly a century ago. For local politicians to do this in a country espousing multiculturalism is especially unfortunate. The result of their doing so can only be increasing political and ethnic animosity and problems.
6. The resolution would not have gone through if South Australian legislators had permitted an impartial discussion of the history concerned. Many of the claims made by the campaigners are untrue – and can be shown to be exaggerated, distorted or false. But the work of mainstream academics working on Ottoman history was simply ignored, as were all moderate voices. One of the aims of the campaigners is clearly to suppress the freedom to express any views but their own.
7. Turkey has proposed many times to the Republic of Armenia and to the Armenians of the Diaspora that an impartial review of the history concerned should be jointly undertaken by Turkish and Armenian and international scholars together. To date these proposals, including the formation of Joint Historical Commission, which are still on offer, have always been rejected. Unlike those of Armenia and of the Diaspora, Turkish archives are fully open to researchers.
8. There is no prejudice against Armenians in Turkey and no desire for continuing animosities with them. The fact that around 70,000 citizens of the Republic of Armenia have migrated into Turkey as guest-workers in the last few years is clear proof of this.
9. Despite campaigns such as this one coming from countries far outside our region, work to build up relations is going ahead between Turkey and Armenia. Nevertheless Turkey can hardly be expected to ignore resolutions unanimously adopted by ministers and politicians in a manifest spirit of confrontation and disregard for the views of the entire people of a country they clearly know little or nothing about.