(Photo: The Church of the Holy Cross, an Armenian church on Akdamar Island in Lake Van, September 19, 2010/Umit Bektas)
Officials from Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate pray outside the Akdamar church, one of the most precious remnants of Armenian culture 1,000 years ago, called the Church of Surp Khach, or Holy Cross and inaugurated in A.D. 921 on the Akdamar Island on Lake Van, Turkey, before a historic service, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010. Several hundreds of Armenian Christians arrived to celebrate a mass on Sunday for the first time since the WWI killings of Armenians.? Read more »(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
I?ve been to Akdamar island and have seen the magnificent church. It is covered on the outside with incredibly detailed and exotic carvings. The building was used as a discotheque in the 1960s and then an army encampment. The latter use probably saved what remains of the interior frescoes from further harm. Some other churches I saw in Van on the mainland were ruins being used to house goats. Here are some accounts of the Akdamar service and the politics around it:
According to a survey by Forbes magazine, Istanbul, Turkey’s financial capital, had a total of 28 billionaires as of March 2010 (down from 35 in 2008), ranking 4th in the world behind New York City (60 billionaires), Moscow (50 billionaires) and London (32 billionaires). How the country fares beyond producing billionaires?
The Quote of the Week: ?Turkey?s new foreign policy, neo-ottomanism, Davutoglu doctrine? ( by Dario D?Urso)
Excerpt from Dario D?Urso (2010), ?Shifting Turkey: Ankara?s New Dynamics Under the AKP Government?, Portuguese Journal of International Affairs, Spring/Summer 2010.
The core of Davutoglu?s vision is the ?zero problems with neighbors? policy, which should be pursued by exerting the maximum level of Turkey?s soft power in the region, thus decreasing the muscular role played by the military in shaping Turkish foreign policy since the founding of the Kemalist republic. The change of perspective brought by Erdogan, Gul and Davutoglu ? whose personal background is rooted in central Anatolia, a more conservative and religious region of Turkey compared to the coast and Istanbul ? has often been labeled, specially by its detractors, as ?neo-Ottomanism?. The implication is immediately clear: the AKP government is pursuing an active promotion of Turkey?s strategic interests in the region of its former empire, emphasizing the role of political Islam in its external projection, neglecting Western aspirations and establishing new partnerships with other former imperial powers, such as Russia and Iran. Davutoglu has never seemed fond of such a label, always denying any ?imperial? ambition behind AKP?s activism in Ankara?s foreign policy, eventually preferring the term ?Pax Ottomana?? implying that Turkey is a privileged mediator in many of the regional conflicts around its borders.
THE EUROPEANIZATION OF TURKEY: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
by Mustafa Sezer Ozcan (Doctoral student in Political Science at the University of Bielefeld)
Turkey has been a fundamental factor of European political, economic and cultural geography throughout the history. It has been trying to be a part of the European system since the foundation of the Republic. In fact, the Europeanization process of Turkey has longer and deeper historical roots that goes back to the Ottoman Era in order that the first essential steps were taken by the Ottomans on the way of Westernization. The Ottoman Empire, from the fifteenth century until 17th century?s Karlowitz Agreement was a significant world power who played an important role in the European balance of power system and had the ability to resolve the conflicts and lead the European states. In the early 17th century, as the Empire lost its military superiority and fell behind European states in technological developments, the Ottoman elite began to import European ideas, lifestyles, and ways of thinking from the Europe. During the end of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Ottomans showed a special eagerness for the adaptation of European culture, science and technology and tried to catch up with the European project of modernity in order to Europeanize the Empire. In the first place, they built military schools and academies which imitated the West; and, they prepared a constitution in 1876 (1) that was the first Constitution of the Empire, called ?Kanun-i Esasi?, establishing a Constitutional Monarchy and through this constitution a parliamentary system had been established, which was an important development along the road to the supremacy of law. In addition to that the First Constitutional Monarchy was abolished later by Abdülhamit the Second and was reestablished again in 1908, by him (2).