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Talking turkey and talking Turkey

I would like to note that All Saints’ annual Festival is this Saturday, from 11am until 5pm. Most importantly, this is a chance to eat Johnny Ioannides’ gyroi, which are the absolute best in Bloomington. That said, the planners asked if I’d participate in the “Meet the Author” activity since they’d heard that I write magazine articles sometimes. I decided it might be a good opportunity to try to drum up a bit of interest in Pascha at the Singing School, and as it works out, John will have some of the illustrations done to display along with the manuscript.

I’ve got an exam on Monday in my Ancient Greek Oratory class. Between now and 2:30pm on Monday I’ve got approximately 91 paragraphs of Antiphon’s Greek to make sure I’ve got down cold. I figure that the utility of a course like this is that it really makes you feel like you know what you’re doing when you go back to reading Greek in saints’ lives and so on.

Last night I attended a talk entitled “Turkey Today,” given by Mr. Kenan Ipek, the Consul General of the Republic of Turkey. I had been warned that it would likely be mostly diplomatic hot air, and for the most part that’s what it was, but there were some notable bits. First of all, he said that the two pillars of Turkish foreign policy are their relations with the European Union and their relations with the United States. He affirmed a couple of times Turkey’s intention to become part of the EU, saying that it will demonstrate that the EU is “not a Christian club”. (At the same time, he also repeatedly emphasized that Turkey is a secular state.) Curiously, he also said that the support of Turkey’s own population regarding their application to the EU has seen a sharp drop in the last few years.

He spent some time talking about Turkey’s neighbors — Iran, Iraq, and Russia being those about whom he chose to speak. Greece only got a passing mention; an audience member asked about Turkey’s policy with respect to the Balkans, and in that context, Mr. Ipek said that they support Macedonia’s independence “as long as it does not contradict Greece.” I’m still not sure what that means.

The Halki seminary came up (I was going to ask about it but got beaten to the punch), and he gave a very predictable answer about how they expect it will be reopened, but only if the Patriarchate agrees to operate it according to Turkish law. “We respect that it is a Christian seminary,” he said, “but as a seminary it has to function the same way Jewish and Muslim schools are expected to function in Turkey.”

A fascinating moment came up when an audience member asked about the possibility of Turkey opening their Armenian border. At this point, Mr. Ipek said that they are open to the idea but that Armenia’s “allegations regarding certain historical facts” have to be dealt with first. They have suggested a joint historical commission between Turkey and Armenia to research the truth of the matter, he said, and that Turkey will abide by whatever this hypothetical commission finds to be true. “We are willing to do that because we know the allegations are false,” he said, and added that Armenia has not responded to this suggestion. At this point, another woman from the audience identified herself as a member of a family of Armenian survivors from the events of 1915, and she asked why the Turkish government has not followed the lead of many Turkish intellectuals and simply apologized pre-emptively for the genocide (her word). At this point, the consul general began to backpedal; suddenly the events of 1915 were a “tragedy for all concerned,” the result of “wartime,” with “Armenians and Turks” being killed, and so on. But, he insisted, no matter what archive somebody might go into, “You will not find any piece of paper anywhere that says, ‘The Turkish government decrees to all of its people that they are to kill every Armenian they see.’ That doesn’t exist.” Therefore, he maintained, there was no Armenian genocide. There were a few audience members who went up to that woman afterward and thanked her for her courage.

I will have a lengthy post or two coming up regarding my initial thoughts upon reading Foucault for the first time. I hope to have that within the next couple of days. What will probably happen is that the response paper I wrote for class will be one post, and then a second post will contain all of the stuff that couldn’t really be said in class.

Dix and Ober are still what I’m reading. Probably will be for another couple of weeks yet.

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3 Responses to “Talking turkey and talking Turkey”


  1. 1 Anna 9 October 2009 at 12:04 am

    I and most Greeks love the Turkish people but when politics comes up… *sigh*…

    Also, the plural of gyros is gyros 😛

  2. 3 rwp 9 October 2009 at 11:45 am

    I guess that makes you more ethnic than we are. Course, we aren’t very ethnic. There’s nothing ethnic here about pierogies, kielbasi, or haluski — go to any county fair and you’ll find them for sale alongside cheeseburgers, ham pot pie, and funnel cakes (the best pierogies are at the arts fair).


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