Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bagis Talks to Der Spiegel

In an interview that has quite a lot to say about Minister for European Affairs and EU Chief Negotiator Egeman Bagis, the politician talks with a very aggressive interviewer from Der Spiegel. As expected and seen in prior interviews, Bagis affirms his country's enthusiasm for EU membership and argues Turkey's geostrategic importance for Europe (for my critique of this rhetoric, see Feb. 21 post). Yet, here Bagis is asked some questions a bit outside his protfolio, and his answers are worth a look. On the question of the United States and the recent genocide resolution passed in the U.S. House, Bagis brings up American reliance on Incirlik. He also, not coaxed, repeats Prime Minister Erdogan's statistic that 100,000 Armenians are working in Turkey illegally as a means of evidencing Turkey's benevolence in response to a question about the possibility of Armenia accepting reparations and quite candidly responds to questioning about whether what happened in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 constituted genocide. Bagis is also asked about Minister of Women and Family Selma Aliye Kavaf's recent statement that homosexuality is a disease in need of treatment (see March 9 post), telling the interviewer he disagrees with Kavaf's assessment, though he is "neither a historian nor a doctor." A good bit of the interview is par for the course, but the flow and candidness make for a good read and provide some insights into Bagis and just what he can and is willing to say.

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