Turkish Referendum: The Price of Winning

The “Yes” vote in the Turkish referendum may turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Not only was the reported margin in favor of the constitutional changes far slimmer than Erdogan’s AKP party and pre-election polls had expected, with only 51.4 percent of the vote, but the political fallout in Europe may be profound.Read Further...

Cloak and Dagger in German-Turkish Relations

The news that the Turkish intelligence agency MIT was not only spying on German citizens in their home country, but had requested help in this pursuit from the German intelligence service BND, signaled a new low-point in Berlin-Ankara relations. Relations had already been poisoned by wild accusations made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against the German government and Chancellor Angela Merkel that she was “Nazi-like” and “using Nazi methods.” The resulting controversy regarding whether or not to allow AKP politicians to campaign in Germany for a “yes” vote on the upcoming referendum ended in a decision, by Ankara, to cancel all such planned events. That seemed to lower the political temperature.Read Further...

Analysis: The Sick Man on the Bosporus

The ostensible casus belli in the escalating conflict between Turkey and Europe, especially Germany, is the April 16 referendum on the introduction of a presidential system which would grant the Turkish president powers so vast as to eliminate checks and balances on the part of other institutions like the judiciary and parliament. In what is shaping up as a tight race, the ruling AKP seeks to win over Turkish citizens living abroad for a “yes” vote and therefore demands the right for its politicians, be they government representatives or party officials or not, to campaign freely in Germany, the Netherlands, France and other countries with a Turkish community. The AKP has cheerfully ignored the fact that such campaigning abroad is in flagrant violation of Article 94/A of Turkish electoral law.Read Further...

AKP in Campaign Frenzy: Crossing the Red Lines

Few could have imagined the depth to which relations between Germany and Turkey have sunk over the past weeks. No matter how accustomed one has become with outrageous statements issuing from Ankara, who could have predicted that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would accuse the government of Angela Merkel of “Nazi practices”? On March 5 in a speech in Istanbul, Erdogan, addressing Berlin, said there was “no difference between your practices and the Nazi practices in the past.” Read Further...

In Praise of Folly

In Germany, the tradition of political carnival goes back centuries, in Mainz, for example, it reaches back to the Napoleonic period, more than 200 years ago. This year Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the star of the show. Read Further...

A History Lesson in Germany

Living in Europe, the past envelops you like a warm garment, and is never absent, especially the recent past, say developments over the last century. This is particularly true of Germany, where the political class, as well as the broader population, have invested immense intellectual, financial and emotional resources to work through the darkest chapter in their country’s history. But not only: in the 20th century, Europeans either lived under a totalitarian dictatorship, as in Italy and Germany, or suffered the consequences through occupation, repression, internment, concentration camps and the ravages of war. So when a public figure expresses the view that some event smacks of Nazism, he or she is not engaging in reckless name-calling.
Increasingly over the past week, politicians in Europe have raised the question explicitly, whether the Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is becoming a dictatorship, a fascist regime, like under the Nazis.Read Further...

Freedoms Are Not Relative

On October 3 Dresden hosted the celebrations for the Day of German Unity, the reunification that was forged in 1990. Bundestag President Norbert Lammert expressed optimism and pride that “We are living together today in a way that generations before us could only dream of: in unity and justice and freedom.” A day later prosecutors announced a decision that made clear that “freedom” includes freedom of speech and opinion, freedom of the press and of artistic expression. It was not a good day for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Read Further...

No Holiday for Erdogan  

On October 3 Dresden hosted the celebrations for the Day of German Unity, the reunification that was forged in 1990. Bundestag president Norbert Lammert expressed optimism and pride that “We are living  together today in a way that generations before us could only dream of: in unity and justice and freedom.” A day later prosecutors announced a decision that made clear that “freedom” includes freedom of speech and opinion, freedom of the press and of artistic expression. It was not a good day for Turkish president Recept Tayyip Erdogan. Read Further...

Jailed Writer, Linguist Nisanyan Receives Saroyan Medal from Armenian Diaspora Ministry

On September 23, the Cezayir complex in Istanbul hosted the ceremony awarding Istanbul-based Armenian intellectual, philologist, writer and publicist Sevan Nisanyan’s family the William Saroyan Medal of the Diaspora Ministry. Renowned political, public and cultural figures were invited, including Turkish lawmaker Selina Dogan with her husband Erdal Dogan, President of “Anadolu Kültür” foundation Osman Kavala, Ufuk Uras, Armenian representative of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Arsen Avagyan.  The event was moderated by journalist Hrant Gasparian.Read Further...

Interview: The Implosion of the Erdogan-Gülen Family Devastates Turkey

BERLIN — Special Correspondent for the Mirror-Spectator Muriel Mirak-Weissbach recently interviewed prize-winning author Dogan Akhanli on the recent coup attempt in Turkey and its devastating purge in the country. Akhanli is a German of Turkish descent who escaped the military dictatorship and received asylum in Germany. A prize-winning author of novels and plays, as well as a human rights activist, he has come under attack for having dealt with the Armenian Genocide in his works.Read Further...

To Be a German or a Turk, That is the Question

Relations between Berlin and Ankara, already strained by the German Bundestag’s June 2 resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, have ratcheted down since, reaching a new low point in the wake of the Turkish government’s responses to the failed coup attempt on July 15. Though sighs of relief could be heard throughout Germany when it was confirmed that a military coup had been defeated (albeit at the cost of many lives), new apprehensions arose with the blow by blow reports of mass arrests, not only of military actors who had commanded tanks and occupied buildings, but of legions of others whose alleged crime was association with the movement of Fethullah Gülen, the man promptly designated as the mastermind behind the coup.Read Further...

The Challenge of Peace

Much has been made of the official Turkish reaction to statements made by Pope Francis during his visit to Armenia June 24-26. That hysterical response was as predictable as it was tasteless. One might take due note, but then move on.Read Further...

Erdogan Overplays His Hand

There are good reasons to believe that on June 2, the German Bundestag (Parliament) will vote up a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The government coalition parties, Christian Democratic Union and Christian Socialist Union (CDU-CSU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD), plus the Green party, have agreed on a unified text, after intense debate and repeated postponements.Read Further...

German-Armenian Forum Launched in Berlin

BERLIN – MAY 28, 2015— Ten years ago the Bundestag (Parliament) passed a resolution on the Armenian issue, but that focused on facilitating an Armenian-Turkish dialogue. The recent events in Berlin marking the centenary of the genocide constituted a breakthrough in the same direction, as reported in the Mirror-Spectator.Read Further...

Revisionsprozess gegen Akhanli / Akhanli Case at Istanbul Court

Revisionsprozess gegen Akhanli / Akhanli Case at Istanbul Court
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Bad Theater in Istanbul: Turkish Court Performs Kafka

ISTANBUL — Like any other day in the summer season, on July 31, thousands of tourists were standing in lines in the blistering heat to visit the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and numerous other sites here.
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Activist Targeted by Turkish Authorities Again

What is really happening in Turkey? And where is it going to lead? What began as a protest against government plans for Gezi Park in Istanbul’s Taksim Square has swelled into a mass movement throughout the country and those thousands of citizens engaging in civil disobedience are giving no signs of capitulation. Not only: solidarity actions are unfolding in other countries especially in Germany, which hosts a very large Turkish community. Here, a new judicial scandal against a leading German-Turkish intellectual, which broke out just prior to the Gezi protests, is intersecting the ferment and fuelling the wave of solidarity with those fighting for democracy and free speech in Turkey.
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Turks Join Armenians in Germany to Honor Genocide Victims

It is not usually the case that the guest speaker at a commemoration event for the victims of the 1915 genocide against the Armenians is Turkish, at least not in Germany. But in Hamburg, it is becoming somewhat of a tradition, since Toros Sarian first broke the ice two years ago. Sarian, who issues a multilingual online publication ArmenienInfo.net (HayastanInfo.net), is co-founder of the Initiative for Remembrance of the 1915 Genocide, which organized a gathering in the St. Petri church on April 21st. In recent years, he has invited not only Germans of Turkish origin to speak, but has consciously engaged representatives of other communities. Thus, this year, flanking keynote speaker Cem Özdemir, National Chairman of the Green Party whose family comes from Turkey, was Ali Ertam Toprak, Chairman of the Alevi Community in Germany and Secretary of the Alevi Communities in Europe, and a spokeswoman for the Turkish-Kurdish Initiative for Democratic Rights and Freedom.Read Further...

To Be, or Not To Be, a Turk
Reflections on the Inner-Turkish Debate on 1915/1916

Why does Turkey have such difficulty in dealing with its historical past? Why can the Turkish authorities not acknowledge that in 1915 the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire was the victim of genocide? If the German post-war political elite was capable of facing up to the Holocaust and establishing relations with the Jewish people, in Israel and elsewhere, why cannot the Turkish leadership do as much? The question was raised during a seminar in Potsdam, Germany on November 5, on “The Inner Turkish Discussion of 1915/1916.”Read Further...