refuge. That Karekin tr, Catholicos of All Armenians, is still new on job and has not had sufficient time to tackle this challenge is true. And, that there simply are not enough capable, qualified, devoted priests in the Armenian Church is also true. But those decrying the state's commitment to respect individuals, freedom to worship are doing nothing to add to the resources ofthe Mother Church so that it may demonstrate that the national church can still be the home of the Armenian soul, even 1700 years later. On the contrary, by insisting on the closed, reactionary, authorthe
itarian approach (no sects allowed) they are making it more possible for devout Jehovah's Witnesses (as well as those who pretend to be) to claim intolerance and request asylum elsewhere. Thus, all the immediate responses simply lead to more trouble. The easiest position - and the one that happens to be the right thing to do - would be to allow each to worship according to their convictions. Together with that policy, there must be an active program to demonstrate why the traditional Church should be the church of choice. But first, there must be choice. .
Looking for a Spirit of Change Turkey's new President can do much to mend bridges All
announcements about Turkey's new President, Ahmet
Necdet Sezer (See page 30) were accompanied by a wide range of expectations. Chief among them was the repeated hope that the new president, a former head of the Constitutional Court, will push
for further democratization and
strengthen the rule of law. President Sezer, then, is expected to both represent, and lead, a "spirit of change." That will be difficult in a country which seems to allow its policies to be guided by its emotions. The Republic of Turkey is nearly 80 years old, yet it seems as paranoid today about the possibility that it will be dismembered as its predecessor, the Ottoman
Empire, was 100 years ago. It is worried about the Kurds in Anatolia, the Armenians in the Caucasus, the Europeans at its western doors, the Syrians to the southeast, Iran to the south, and of course, Greece. Ironically, despite its uncomfortable relations with most of those in its immediate neighborhood, Turkey sees itself as a bridge between Europe andAsia, between East and West, between Islam and Christendom, between the old and the new. For this to happen, President Sezer must make inroads in tuming Turkey into a useful and friendly neighbor, rather than a frighr ened and dangerous one. Only such a change in attitude will free
the Turkish leadership to design and implement the kind of legislation and institutional framework that will indeed turn Turkey into a member of the European Union (EU) and thus a connected member of a geographic and ideological community. There are many transformations that will have to take place. The EU expects that the state must be disentangled from the economy. The state must also be disentangled from the specifics of educational and religious practice. Finally, the state must be disentangled from imposing cultural and linguistic conditions that are, at heart, political. If Turkey is willing and able to distinguish between the fundamental and the expedient, then it can indeed build the necessary domestic and international bridges. Perhaps the smooth transfer of power from 'Baba' Suleiman Demirel to the more youthful, pragmatic Sezer will inspire the confidence that the Turkish leadership needs to make difficult, bold decisions. This will make Turkish society more democratic, and the Republic of Turkey a more egalitarian, predictable, reasonable neighbor and ally. Turkey's neighbors want this to happen. But if Turkey's president is able to lead with such psychological reforms, it will be doing so foremost, for the benefit of its own people. r
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Armenian International Magazine | The Big Escape - June 2000