For Immediate Release
Contact: Vanik Hacobian
tel: (917) 428-1918
ANCA ER RESPONDS TO USA TODAY EDITORIAL
WATERTOWN, MA – The USA Today on Thursday, December 19, 2002, printed a Letter to the Editor written by Arin Gregorian, Director of the Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region. The letter, edited by the USA Today staff, was written in response to the December 16, 2002 editorial, “Don’t give up on Turkey.” Gregorian’s edited letter is included below along with the original USA Today editorial. For additional information, please contact Vanik Hacobian at 617-923-1918 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues. #### ANCA ER LETTER TO THE EDITOR December 19, 2002 Turkey must adhere to ‘true democracy’ Contrary to the argument in a USA TODAY editorial, Turkey is not the “strong democratic model” that a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq and other Muslim nations need. And I don’t agree that the Bush administration was dealt a “slap” by the European Union’s decision not to admit Turkey as a member anytime soon. Rather, it was reminded that the European Union has outlined specific criteria for Turkey’s admission (“Don’t give up on Turkey,” Editorial, Monday). In two separate European Parliament resolutions, as well as regular EU reports, Turkey was notified that admission to the EU is conditional on, among other things, real democratic and human-rights reforms, withdrawing from Northern Cyprus, recognition of the Armenian genocide and the lifting of Turkey’s illegal blockade of neighboring Armenia. Turkey has not made substantial progress toward any of these goals. – Recent human-rights “reforms” in Turkey have been little more than a facade as groups such as Helsinki Watch and Amnesty International have recently reported that torture is still rampant in Turkish prisons. – Turkey has made no effort to withdraw from Northern Cyprus, despite numerous EU, United Nations, and U.S. congressional resolutions. – Recognizing the crime of genocide committed against the Armenian people at the beginning of the last century couldn’t be further from Turkey’s mind as that country continues to engage in a state policy of denial. – In a true democracy, the military does not have the last word. Turkey’s constitution, however, gives the military so much power that it has pushed out the government on at least three occasions during the last century. Instead of telling the EU to “give up” its principled criteria for membership, USA TODAY and our government should use their influence to urge Turkey to adhere to these democratic principles. Arin Gregorian, director Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region Watertown, Mass. USA TODAY EDITORIAL Don’t give up on Turkey After the European Union decided against admitting Turkey as a member anytime soon, Turkish officials could barely hide their bitter disappointment this past weekend. U.S. officials felt the same way. The EU’s rebuff was not just a slap at Turkey, but also at the Bush administration, which had lobbied fiercely for an ally that will be critical if American forces go to war against Iraq. The setback complicates Washington’s careful diplomatic preparations to line up a strong alliance for a showdown with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Turkey borders Iraq, which is why the U.S. wants to use Turkish air bases and station troops in the country, the only Muslim nation in NATO. So far, Turkish officials have only said maybe because Turks overwhelmingly oppose a war with Iraq. The U.S. had hoped that securing EU membership would clinch the deal. Still, the administration needs to keep up the pressure on the EU to set a firm date for talks with Turkey. Other top priorities include following through on an offer of $5 billion in U.S. aid and seeing that Turkey gets a $35 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to help its distressed economy. Getting Turkey on board is crucial for more than strategic reasons. The U.S. could put on display an Islamic democracy working with the West, a powerful antidote to Osama bin Laden’s propaganda that the two cultures are incompatible. Equally important: Turkey’s support would be a welcome sign that the administration is pursuing the intense diplomacy needed to overcome opposition to war with Iraq. Though the new anti-Iraq alliance in the region lacks the outspoken and unwavering support of the coalition assembled for the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. has quietly secured agreements with key Muslim countries. For example, U.S. forces are carrying out military exercises in Qatar. Kuwait has agreed to serve as a major staging area. Saudi Arabia is expected to allow use of its facilities. Even Iran has hinted at cooperation. Indeed, President Bush personally worked the phones to encourage the EU, which expanded its membership from 15 to 25 last week, to begin immediate talks on admitting Turkey. But Europe’s economic and political club ruled out any negotiations before 2005 with what would be the EU’s first Muslim member. By sticking with its diplomatic courtship of Turkey, the U.S. doesn’t just improve the chances of gaining a vital wartime ally. It can show a post-Saddam Iraq and other Muslim nations a strong democratic model to follow.