End of the ‘one minute’ era
There is a very important commemoration ceremony Jan. 27 at Istanbul’s Kadir Has University’s grand hall. University Rector Professor Mustafa Aydın has sent out invitations for this commemoration.
Even though the host is a university founded by a foundation, it is the Republic of Turkey that is hundred percent behind this ceremony.
This support is stated in the invitation text as “With the contributions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” However, those who know diplomacy would also know very well this is “a shy expression of the support of the state.”
This is the official name of the program: “International Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day.” Let me say it more openly; it is the Commemoration Day of the Jewish Genocide.
Turkey will commemorate the tragedy of the genocide of 6 million Jews during the Second World War.
Before explaining the significance of Jan. 27, let’s take a look at the recent past of this incident.
The United Nations has declared Jan. 27 the “International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust” in 2005.
This day has started to be commemorated in Turkey over the past three years. However, up until today, the commemoration ceremonies were organized by the Jewish community in Turkey. In other words, the Republic of Turkey was not officially involved.
The Jewish community has contacted the Foreign Affairs Ministry and told them they would not organize a ceremony this year, stating it would be more suitable for the purpose of the day for an establishment other than the Jewish community to hold such a ceremony.
At the end, a solution was found. The ceremony would be organized by Kadir Has University.
However, this is not the only feature of this year. Up until today, Turkey was participating in the ceremonies held by the Jewish community at the level of general manager in the ministry. This year, for the first time, it will participate at the level of Deputy Undersecretary.
Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Undersecretary Naci Koru will deliver a speech at the ceremony.
I checked the program. The President of the University Can Has is delivering a speech. After him, Associate Professor Umut Uzer from Istanbul Technical University will speak. Then, Ambassador Ertan Tezgör, head of the Turkish Delegation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) will take the floor. (Thanks to this invitation, we have learned there is an international NGO named IHRA).
He will be followed by the Head of the Turkish Jewish Community İshak İbrahimzadeh. And the last speaker is deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Naci Koru.
The meaning of this, I think, is the following:
The “One minute era” that started in Davos on Jan. 29, 2009 will de facto end on Jan. 27, 2014, five years later. I think this is one of the important signs of Turkey’s return to “real politics” in the Middle East.
However, there is a very important question left. Next year is the 100th year of the Armenian Genocide claims.
What will Turkey’s 2015 policy be? The country has started commemorating the Holocaust - outside the Jewish Community, even if shyly. What will Turkey, which was not able to shed light on the Hrant Dink murder, say to the world on that year?
Since we are giving up on Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s “Alice in Delusion Land” policies, it would be beneficial to start preparing the infrastructure for real politics for 2015.
On my own behalf, I am congratulating the Republic of Turkey’s new step, even if it was a shy one.
Ertuğrul Özkök is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Jan 22. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.