Thursday 14 December 2017 Last Update: 12:19 AM

Letter from Australian Ambassador P. F. Peters

Published: 05-02-2017


The following letter was penned back in 1994 by Australia's former ambassador to Ankara, Mr. P. F. Peters, as a response to an anti-Turkish letter published in the daily The Australian.

Addendum at bottom reveals further thoughts by Tom de Waal, coordinator of the Caucasus project of the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

 "Armenians themselves inflicted as much damage as others..."

Mr. George Karagiannakis's letter (2/6), making all sorts of incredible allegations against Turkey in regard to its domestic and foreign policies, should not be allowed to go unanswered.

 

It is not possible in the space of a few lines to answer all of his allegations. However, in fairness to the truth, the following points must be made:

 

The 'facts beyond credible dispute' to which he alludes are in fact based largely on fictions to justify unrealistic ambitions or failures in the past to achieve totally unrealistic goals.

 

Whilst it is true and sad that many Armenians lost their lives in their own bid for territory, what is not recognized is that the Armenians themselves inflicted as much damage as others in the hostilities of that time, goaded on by some Western powers for their own selfish and geopolitical objectives.

 

The Turks had no deliberate policy of genocide at any stage, only the removal of Armenians from the front line with Russia, where they were collaborating with the Ottoman Empire's enemies and were thus a threat to its security.

 

The Kurdish issue is more complex. Two points are relevant:

 

The PKK, like IRA, is a terrorist organization, SUPPORTED MATERIALLY BY THE GREEKS AND ARMENIANS, with the stated objective of destabilizing Turkey. It has so far assassinated over 10,000 people in Turkey. It has no justifiable claim to represent the Kurdish people.

 

Most Kurds are integrated into Turkish society. About one-third of the Turkish Parliament is of Kurdish origin. This illustrates the absence of discrimination.

 ...If any genocide or ethnic cleansing has taken place, this has always been carried out by the Greeks

 

As for Cyprus, if any genocide or ethnic cleansing has taken place, this has always been carried out by the Greeks. The abortive coup of 1974, organized by EOKA and Greek colonels, aimed at elimination of the Turkish Cypriots from the Island. Turkey intervened to protect them and prevent Enosis. Since that date, the island has been peaceful and free of bloodshed.

 

Turkey has consistently supported a fair and reasonable settlement on Cyprus, but one that gives the Turkish Cypriots a secure future and equal political and social status with the Greek Cypriots.

 

The real problem between Greece and Turkey is Greece's reluctance to give up its Megali idea, that is, the recovery of the territories occupied by the Byzantine Empire, which finally fell to the Turks in 1453. All the many conflicts between Greece and Turkey over the past two centuries have been initiated by Greece. Your correspondent's reference to bloodied Turkish history is therefore clearly wrong, except in the fact that in the past three Greek-initiated conflicts, the Turks gave the Greeks a severe hiding, which partly accounts for the large fall in numbers of Greeks in present-day Turkey.

 

Regarding persecution. the Ottomans had one of the most tolerant policies towards non-Turks of any empire of its day. The three communities of Jews, Greeks and Armenians were virtually autonomous within the empire.

P. F. Peters

 

Former Australian Ambassador to Turkey

(The Australian, June 9th, 1994)