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Posts Tagged ‘Armenians of Turkey’

Socialist International

Socialist International

Such was the overarching theme of XXIII Congress of the Socialist International (SI) that convened in Athens from June 30th to July 2nd with “close to 700 participants from 150 political parties and organisations from 120 countries.” Only one party per country is allowed membership, other parties with socialist or social democratic party lines can only be observers and not full members i.e. Democratic Society Party (DTP) of Turkey which is one of the 33 members of Party of European Socialists has only observer status in SI whereas Republican People’s Party has full membership. RPP (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal decided to boycott this year’s meeting for he was frustrated by some potential wave of criticism his party may have faced during this year’s convention. A committee of the Socialist International that convened a council meeting in Geneva this time last year had proposed an investigation into its member, Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey’s main opposition party, and announced in a report that it will launch a monitoring process into CHP over its commitment to the principles of democracy. Indeed this past year is full of instances in which CHP proved over and over its LACK of Commitment to any democratic process in Turkey to the extent that anybody with a sane mind would think more than twice to use democracy and CHP in the same sentence. While Germany, France and Sweden were getting ready to warn CHP about its not being socialist, a move CHP tried to counteract by sending the party’s deputy chairman and foreign policy executive Onur Oymen to Europe to lobby SI members, a Professor of International Relations, Baskin Oran, who also ran but lost as an independent in last year’s Turkish legislative elections also wrote a letter to SI to ask them to exclude CHP from SI. According to Sabah newspaper’s English edition, Oran claimed “The last two law scandals by the constitutional court started with the attempts of CHP. One of these two is making the quorum for presidential election 367 and rejection of wearing headscarf at universities. If CHP is excluded from socialist international, they may pull together and change. My aim is to get CHP excluded from the socialist international to get them make necessary changes and then regain membership.” Haluk Ozdalga, now a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), but formerly active in social democratic politics for over 25 years, also sent a letter to SI criticizing CHP’s dismal but consistently anti-reformist record in the annales of last year’s Turkish politics.

However if people think today’s CHP is an exceptional and unfortunate page in the long and “glorious” history of Turkish “national socialism” they sure are making a mistake. From a utilitarian point of view maximizing the happiness of the greatest number of people at the expense of minorities, perhaps CHP could have been the equivalent of a decent social democratic party. Notwithstanding, CHP had always that nationalist and to a certain extent xenophobic undertone, which SI now decided to be finally critical of, even when most of Turkey’s voters on the left cherished and applauded the party indiscriminately. Indeed, few “so called” social democratic parties have the honor! of forced labor camps in their track record, as a result of draconian income taxes levied on their minorities and CHP is one of them. Not only that, the Inonu Government of 1964, himself a CHP leader, was the mastermind of the last large scale Greek expulsions from Turkey in mere two days by reneging the 1930 Greco-Turkish Convention.

I hear you dear reader saying, “well, well, well, those were the times. Who was not a bit ultra nationalist those days, all of Europe was fashionably xenophobic, ain’t it? Are not you being a little too harsh?” Well, I also wish The Times They Are A-Changing dear reader, I seriously wish. However I am a bit hopeless, it looks like “plus CHP change, plus c’est la meme chose” indeed since the world is changing perhaps what remains may even be worse by any contemporary social democratic standard. Consider this dear reader before your final judgment: In February 2008 the Turkish parliament approved -by 242 to 72 votes- a long overdue and still extremely imperfect law which guarantees returning properties confiscated by the state to its non-Muslim minorities. Millions of dollars worth property were expropriated from its Armenian, Syriac and Greek foundations by the state in 1974 following a ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeals. The new law would allow the foundations some of the properties but not those already sold to the third parties by the state -something that was heavily criticized by the representatives of the Turkey’s minority communities dwindling in size. Guess which Socialist International member applied to the Constitutional Court to have the law annulled by claiming “the law is clearly imposed by the EU” on the one hand, and by arguing the law will violate the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 and its emphasis on reciprocity. Despite the fact that CHP’s leader Deniz Baykal will claim later in the year, that the state must be “ethnically blind” his party’s February record towards minorities contradicts with his own “ethnic-blind” stance. What I understand from Baykal’s rather evasive speech is as follows: The state must be ethnically blind among its Muslim citizens (so long as they operate within the boundaries of not just any but state regulated, and state branded Islam), but has to definitely see its non-Muslim citizens and their foundations as foreign. Kudos to Mr. Baykal and Kudos to Mr. George Papandreou who according to a Radikal newspiece reassured CHP of the continuation of its membership to Socialist International. So much for the “Courage to make a difference”

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