For Immediate Release: July 7, 2008
Contact: Nikolaos Taneris, New York, Tel. 1-917-699-9935
NEW YORK—The Washington Post reported in its Saturday edition on the ongoing
corruption and manipulation of American scholarship by the Turkish government,
Susan Kinzie’s article “Board Members Resign to Protest Chair’s Ousting Leader
in Georgetown-Based Agency Encouraged Scholars to Research Mass Killing of
Armenians” details the most recent scandal surrounding the ITS (Institute of
Turkish Studies) founded with a $3 million dollar grant paid directly by the
Beginning in the 1980s, in response to the Congressional arms embargo of the
1970s following Turkey’s criminal military invasion of Cyprus, the Turkish
Embassy in Washington DC, under the leadership of then Turkish Ambassador Sukru
Elekdag, initiated a far flung campaign in America to whitewash Turkish criminal
history. The practically non-existent ,apathetic community of Turks in America,
was reorganized with the help of millions of dollars of funding-- buying high
priced advisors to set up such Cyprus Invasion denying entities as the
Washington DC-Based “American Friends of Turkey” the ATC (American Turkish
Council) recently reorganized under the new name “Turkish Coalition of America”
,the ATAA (Assembly of Turkish American Associations) and the New York-New
Jersey-Based FTAA (Federation of Turkish American Associations) whose job was to
organize a “Turkish-American” parade to counter the decades long parade by
Greek-Americans on New York’s Fifth Avenue.
The Parade like the funding of Turkish ‘academic’ institutes was set up for the
dual purposes of Genocide denial and Cyprus Invasion denial. According to the
Turkish Daily News ( May 21, 2007) “In the 1980s the parade was a platform where
Turkish Americans tried to draw the attention of American public to some of
Turkey's international conflicts such as those with Armenia and Greek Cyprus…The
first official Turkish Day Parade in the city was held on April 23 1980. Those
who attended that parade remember vividly that there were only two flags in the
150 people cortege. The FTAA could not get a permit for the parade in 1981
either. In 1982 however, with support from Ankara FTAA was able to get the
permit to organize first official Turkish Day Parade. It was decided that the
parade would take place on the weekend that is closest to May 19th,” (NOTE: May
19th is the day in 1919 that Turk leader Mustafa Kemal landed in Pontus to
perpetrate the Pontian Genocide, In Turkey this is celebrated as “Turkish
Greek-American scholar Speros Vryonis wrote the first detailed academic study of
Turkish government manipulation of American scholarship in his monumental work
“The Turkish State and History: Clio Meets the Grey Wolf.” Vryonis documents the
ITS (Institute of Turkish Studies) attempt to manipulate American scholarship,
and in turn US public opinion, with the granting of monies to Genocide deniers,
activities that question the objectivity of this group and its role in
essentially lobbying on behalf of the Turkish Embassy.
Turkey has also bankrolled the establishment of endowed Chairs of Turkish
Studies at various American universities, at least one such Chair, the endowed
Chair of Turkish Studies at Portland State University , paid for directly by
funding from the Turkish Embassy, is involved in actively producing Cyprus
Invasion denial literature, and is home to the “Cyprus Peace Initiative”. The
“Cyprus Peace Initiative” actively lobbied for the discredited, so-called Annan
Plan, which made provisions that call for Turkish military to remain and
intervene over all of Cyprus.
The Washington Post article follows on the heels of a long list of credible news
outlets that have reported on Turkey’s false historical revisionism and the
Turkish Embassy’s morally bankrupt attempts to present a distorted image of
Turkey’s true face to the American public.
(Article is reproduced for Fair Use and Educational Purposes)
Board Members Resign to Protest Chair's Ousting
Leader in Georgetown-Based Agency Encouraged Scholars to Research Mass Killing
By Susan Kinzie
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 5, 2008; B05
The issue that has roiled U.S.-Turkish relations in recent months -- how to
characterize the mass killing of Armenians in 1915 -- has set off a dispute over
politics and academic freedom at an institute housed at Georgetown University.
Several board members of the Institute of Turkish Studies have resigned this
summer, protesting the ouster of a board chairman who wrote that scholars should
research, rather than avoid, what he characterized as an Armenian genocide.
Within weeks of writing about the matter in late 2006, Binghamton University
professor Donald Quataert resigned from the board of governors, saying the
Turkish ambassador to the United States told him he had angered some political
leaders in Ankara and that they had threatened to revoke the institute's
After a prominent association of Middle Eastern scholars learned about it, they
wrote a letter in May to the institute, the Turkish prime minister and other
leaders asking that Quataert be reinstated and money for the institute be put in
an irrevocable trust to avoid political influence.
The ambassador of the Republic of Turkey, H.E. Nabi Sensoy, denied that he had
any role in Quataert's resignation. In a written statement, he said that claims
that he urged Quataert to leave are unfounded and misleading.
The dispute shows the tensions between money and scholarship, and the impact
language can have on historical understanding.
Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed when the Ottoman Empire collapsed
after World War I. Armenians and Turks bitterly disagree over whether it was a
campaign of genocide, or a civil war in which many Turks were also killed.
In the fall, when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) championed a bill
that would characterize the events of 1915 to 1917 as genocide, the Bush
administration fought it and several former defense secretaries warned that
Turkish leaders would limit U.S. access to a military base needed for the war in
The Turkish studies institute, founded in 1983, is independent from Georgetown
University, but Executive Director David Cuthell teaches a course there in
exchange for space on campus.
Julie Green Bataille, a university spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail, "we will
review this matter consistent with the importance of academic freedom and the
fact that the institute is independently funded and governed."
The institute's funding, a $3 million grant, is entirely from Turkey.
A few years ago, Quataert said, members of the board checked on what they
thought was an irrevocable blind trust "and to our surprise it turned out to be
a gift that could be revoked by the Turkish government."
Quataert, a professor of history, said the institute has funded good scholarship
without political influence. The selection of which studies to support is done
by a committee of academics on the associate board, he said, and approved by the
board, which includes business and political leaders. Never once, he said, did
he think a grant application was judged on anything other than its academic
He also noted that during his time there, no one applied for grants that would
have been controversial in Turkey. Asked if any of the research characterized
the events as genocide, Cuthell said, "My gut is no. It's that third rail."
Roger Smith, professor emeritus of government at the College of William and
Mary, questioned whether the nonprofit institute deserves its tax-exempt status
if there is political influence -- and whether it is an undeclared lobbying arm
for the Turkish government.
Cuthell said none of the institute's critics ever bothered to check the truth of
Quataert's account with the institute: It does not lobby, Cuthell said, and "the
allegations of academic freedom simply don't hold up."
The controversy began quietly in late 2006 with a review of historian Donald
Bloxham's book, "The Great Game of Genocide." Quataert wrote that the slaughter
of Armenians has been the elephant in the room of Ottoman studies. Despite his
belief that the term "genocide" had become a distraction, he said the events met
the United Nations definition of the word.
He sent a letter of resignation to members of the institute in December 2006,
and one board member resigned.
But in the fall, around the same time that Congress was debating the Armenian
question, Quataert was asked to speak at a conference about what had happened at
the institute. He told members of the Middle Eastern Studies Association that
the ambassador told him he must issue a retraction of his book review or step
down -- or put funding for the institute in jeopardy.
His colleagues were shocked, said Laurie Brand, director of the school of
international relations at the University of Southern California.
Ambassador Sensoy, who is honorary chairman of the institute's board, said in a
statement this week, "Neither the Turkish Government nor I have ever placed any
pressure upon the ITS, for such interference would have violated the principle
of the academic freedom, which we uphold the most. The Turkish Government and I
will be the first to defend ITS from any such pressure."
Since the May 27 letter from the scholars association was sent, several
associate and full members of the board have left. Marcie Patton, Resat Kasaba
and Kemal Silay resigned; Fatma Muge Gocek said she would resign, and Birol
Yesilada said his primary reason for stepping down at this time is his health,
but that he is concerned about the conflicting accounts of what had happened.
"It's a very difficult line that scholars walk," Patton said, "especially
post-9/11, especially because of the Iraq war."
Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA)
2578 Broadway #132
New York, NY 10025
New York: Tel. 917-699-9935
The Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA) is a grass-roots, not-for-profit
movement created to support genuine self-determination and human rights for the
people of Cyprus.
You may post any CANA article, press release or action alert on the internet as
long as you credit CANA and the author(s).