Volkan Bozkir is a former minister from Turkey who under a rotational system occupies the high chair of president of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for the current year. His position requires him not to sound like a partisan Turkish politician but act independently.
On a visit to Pakistan, he endorsed the contentious Pakistani view on Kashmir, urging it to raise the Kashmir issue ‘more strongly’ at UN platforms. He also linked the Kashmir and Palestine issues. He had nothing to say about Pakistan’s illegal occupation of a part of Jammu and Kashmir, its attempts at incorporating Gilgit Baltistan as a Pakistani province, and the plight of Turkish origin Muslims in China.
Bozkir has shown that Turkish nationals, no matter what position they occupy, have to echo the views of their president, Recep Erdogan, who has forsaken his country’s liberal secular values to walk on narrow fundamental path.
Erdogan’s soul mate is the Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, once a playboy cricketer; that makes it obligatory upon Turkish leaders to harp on Kashmir on foreign soils. Of course, Erdogan lives in an illusionary world, assuming for himself that under him Turkey has already become a great power. He recently warned the US President Joe Biden that he stands to elose a precious friend’ if he corners Turkey, especially on human rights issues.
The long-time member of the US-led military alliance is a virtual pariah within Nato and has been making desperate but vain bids to be accepted as a member of the European Union. Erdogan would not admit it but his abrasive ways have done no good to his country.
Turkey and Pakistan are locked in a tight embrace which naturally means that the two countries have joined hands against India. They have established deep military and strategic relations that include offer of the Nato weapons with Turkey to Pakistan.
According to Indian media reports published some time ago, Indian intelligence agencies have found evidence of Turkey’s interference in India’s internal affairs, including support to fundamentalist youth, who are lured with scholarships to Turkey for onward travel to the Mecca of terrorism, Pakistan, where they are radicalised. Some reports even linked the son of Erdogan to these efforts.
Till the extreme right-wing Erdogan became President, Turkey’s relations with India were good even though as a Muslim nation Turkey never supported India on Kashmir. There were many other matters on which the two countries cooperated and worked to mutual advantage. Erdogan changed that quickly. And abandoned the avenue of liberalism and secularism. Turkey antagonized the US and almost the entire West.
Dissidence in Turkey is crushed with an iron hand. Anyone questioning Turkish leadership or its policies faces prosecution for ‘insulting’ Turkey. Prominent Turks who have incurred the wrath of Erdogan include Nobel laureate Orban Pahmuk. A veteran dissenting journalist was assassinated.
Turks, like Bozkir, have accepted the fancied world view of Erdogan where Turkey is assumed to have taken over the leadership role of the entire Muslim Ummah from Saudi Arabia. Over a year ago Erdogan had roped in prime ministers of Malaysia and Pakistan to outwit Riyadh by calling a conference of Islamic nations. The trio did not forget to sound the Kashmir bugle from the new forum. Unfortunately, his two Islamist guests – prime ministers of Malaysia and Pakistan – cowered under oblique threats from Saudi Arabia. The coup against Riyadh collapsed ingloriously!
That the Turks’ heart bleeds for Kashmiris and their rights is incongruous. Turkey has been accused of the act of ‘genocide’ in Armenia during the World War I. Between 1915 and 1916 about one million Christian Armenians were massacred by the Turkish Ottoman state. It was one of the first genocides or ethnic cleansings the world has witnessed. The holocaust of Germany took place nearly 30 years later.
Nothing riles Turkey more than a reminder of its genocide in and around the Anatolia region. In fact, Turkey does not want the world to use the term ‘genocide’, first used by a Polish lawyer, Ralph Lemkin, for the mass killings of Armenians, but 30 countries do. The number is likely to go up if Turkey pursues its aggressive, fundamentalist policies. Bozkir needs to be reminded that as far back as 1946 the UN had accepted that an act of genocide was committed by Turkey.
Turkey explains the genocide as reaction to subversive activities against the Ottoman state. The Armenians are accused of starting a civil war with armed uprising. But most of the world rejects the Turkish explanation because the excessive and inhuman reaction of the Ottoman state has been quite clear. Turkey cannot talk of human rights of others when it has a horrible and indefensible precedent that has discredited it in the eyes of most of the world.
Turkey has been denying rights of its Kurdish minority, using violence and torture to subjugate them. The Kurds are not allowed to speak their language; teaching and learning of their language in schools is banned. Their areas are frequently bombed.
Meddlesome Turks like Bozkir would do well to first look inwards at the treatment of Kurdish minorities and the systematic stifling of dissent before gratuitously speaking on behalf of Kashmiris and advocating stronger presentation of the Kashmir issue at the United Nations.