Please find below:
(1) Version published in The Washington Post of AHMP Associate Mr. Karakostas' letter in response to James Glassman's Op-Ed;
(2) Mr. Karakostas' original unedited letter in response to James Glassman's Op-Ed; and
(3) James Glassman's syndicated Op-Ed piece.
THE WASHINGTON POST
Saturday, May 16, 1998; Page A13
Free For All
No Tears For Turkey
In "Setting Turkey Free" [op-ed, May 5], James Glassman laments the European Union's exclusion of Turkey and blames "opposition from the Greeks, and from richer Europeans with a racist streak and a fear of easy immigration."
In contrast to the rosy picture painted by Glassman, Turkey is one of the most politically repressive nations on earth. In March 1996, the New York Times cited Turkey as the country leading the world in imprisoned journalists, ahead of China and Syria. Imprisonment, torture and assassinations of Turkey's journalists have earned Turkey the distinction of being "one of the world's most dangerous countries in which to pursue a career in journalism," according to Amnesty International.
In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus, and in a brutally characteristic fashion ethnically cleansed its Greek population from 37 percent of the island-democracy's territory, which Turkey continues to occupy today. Turkey's war against its indigenous Kurdish population has resulted in between 1 million and 3 million Kurds being ethnically cleansed from more than 3,000 villages destroyed by Turkish troops, according to State Department reports.
From the authoritarian military that governs Turkey to the wave of Islamic fundamentalism engulfing it, Turkey is not "a beautiful bird in a small cage," as Glassman imagines, but a cesspool of international aggression, government corruption and deadly political repression.
-- Theodore G. Karakostas
The writer is an associate of the American Hellenic Media Project.
May 10, 1998
American Hellenic Media Project
P.O. Box 1150
New York, N.Y. 10028-0008
Short version (one of two responses)
To the Editor of The New York Post:
In his May 6 column, "To Set Turkey Free", James K. Glassman laments the European Union's exclusion of Turkey and blames "opposition from the Greeks, and from richer Europeans with a racist streak and a fear of easy immigration".
In contrast to the rosy picture painted by Turkish apologists such as Mr. Glassman, Turkey is one of the most politically repressive nations on earth. As Turkey's greatest novelist, Yesar Kemal, had written from his prison cell in 1995, a nation's soul can be gleaned from how it treats its dissidents.
In March of 1996, The NY Times cited Turkey as the country leading the world in imprisoned journalists ahead of China and Syria. Imprisonment, torture and assassinations of Turkey's journalists have earned Turkey the shameful distinction of being "one of the world's most dangerous countries in which to pursue a career in journalism" according to Amnesty International. As revealed by a startling internal investigation leaked to the press this year by the Turkish prime minister's office, government-sponsored terrorists and assassins with a budget of $50 million have been killing journalists, politicians, writers and other dissidents for the past two decades.
In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus and in a brutally characteristic fashion ethnically cleansed its Greek population from 37% of the island-democracy's territory, which Turkey continues to occupy today. Turkey's war against its indigenous Kurdish population, just as tragic as the far more publicized war in Bosnia, has resulted in between one to three million Kurds being ethnically cleansed from more than 3,000 villages destroyed by Turkish troops, according to State Department reports.
From the authoritarian military that governs Turkey to the wave of Islamic fundamentalism engulfing it, Turkey is not "a beautiful bird in a small cage", as the delusional Mr. Glassman imagines, but a cesspool of international aggression, government corruption and deadly political repression.
Theodore G. Karakostas
Setting Turkey Free
By James K. Glassman
Tuesday, May 5, 1998; Page A23
ISTANBULsVisit Turkey and become an instant millionaire.
When you change $100 at the airport, you're handed a wad of 24 million Turkish liras. At first, this is funny: 900,000 for a cheese omelet, 7 million to fill up your gas tank. But it's not hard to see how demoralizing an annual inflation rate of 97 percent -- the highest, by far, among the 40 largest economies in the world -- can be on the people who live here. It's foolish to save or to plan, and the taxes on phantom gains eat you alive.
A good society (in my book anyway) is one in which the government has only a few functions -- but maintaining sound money is certainly one of them. In this, the Turkish government has failed, and it's a shame. The Turks don't deserve it.
This is a magnificent country, established as a secular republic 75 years ago by the revolutionary democrat Kemal Ataturk, one of the great leaders of the 20th century and the object of a continuing cult-like worship that's fully deserved. As a member of NATO, Turkey was a front-line bulwark against the Soviet Union, and it helped win the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein. The Turks are born capitalists. They work hard, they're imaginative, they love to trade.
Today, however, Turkey is suffering. There's a distinct lack of political leadership, and the result has been six separate governments in four years, huge budget deficits and crony capitalism embedded in state-owned banks and industries. Meanwhile, the terrorists of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) are in armed revolt in the southeast, and Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise. The country is 99.8 percent Muslim, and the same sentiments that, in 1453, led the conquering Ottomans to deface the Byzantine mosaics inside the beautiful red Hagia Sophia persist.
But Turkey persists as well. GDP has risen 7 percent in each of the past three years, and unemployment is now 5.8 percent -- half the rate of France, Germany and Italy. The country's entrepreneurs are doing big business in the former republics of the U.S.S.R., up the Black Sea.
Here's the main thing Turkey has going for it: kids. This is a country awash in young people, the greatest natural resource of the 21st century. It is brainpower -- the engine that drives the process of trial and error and discovery -- that brings prosperity, and the more brains the better. In a country the size of Texas or France, the population of Turkey is 72 million (more than Great Britain, less than Germany), with a literacy rate of 82 percent. But the key statistic is that 31 percent of Turks are younger than 15 (vs. 19 percent for Europe), and just 6 percent are older than 64 (vs. 14 percent and climbing).
Walking in a neighborhood near the Bosporus late Friday afternoon, I was swept along in a tide of kids -- attractive, laughing, carrying schoolbooks, dressed in smart uniforms. On the the right, across the blue straits crowded with tankers, freighters and ferries, is Asia; on the left, brown and green hills with hundreds of minarets, microwave towers and construction cranes. In Istanbul, a city of 11 million, the traffic is absurd, but the shops, bars and restaurants are humming into the night.
By contrast, much of Europe today is a museum. Stuffy and conservative, it goes to bed early, demands its welfare-state comforts, whines at the smallest inconveniences, lets inertia determine its foreign policy.
It seems almost out of jealousy and a fear of the future that the European Union has rejected Turkey's application for membership -- Turkey, which helped keep Europe free in the chilliest days of the Cold War. At the conference I attended here, sponsored by the New Atlantic Initiative, a German official named Hans-Friedrich von Ploetz explained that Turkey wasn't ready for the EU because of wild inflation and a budget deficit that's 8 percent of GDP.
That's a fair objection, but disingenuous. The reasons for Turkey's exclusion aren't economic. They run deeper and uglier: opposition from the Greeks, whose hatred of the Turks is ancient, and from richer Europeans with a racist streak and a fear of easy immigration.
I'm not a big EU fan, anyway, but membership would provide a huge psychological boost to Turkey, a country with an inferiority complex. Becoming a partner in the euro, the single European currency (which I do like), would help solve Turkey's money problem. Let the country define itself as modern, European and vigorous -- the way Ataturk saw it. That would help wipe the sneers off the faces of Europeans like the change clerk at the Frankfurt airport, who said when I handed him 17 million liras, "Oh, funny money," and counted out 80 German marks.
Turkey is on the brink of an economic explosion. The Turks themselves are ready, and the potential is enormous -- after all, 47 percent of the nation is still engaged in agriculture. But the Turks need two things: partnership with Europe and freedom from the constraints that their own government imposes through high taxes, state-owned businesses and unsound money.
To keep Turkey down is an act of cruelty -- like keeping a beautiful bird in a small cage. Setting it free is one of the worthiest projects I can think of.