Interview with Iraqi Turkmen Front Turkey Representative Dr. Hicran Kazancı

February 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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16 February 2011, Wednesday

Interview with Iraqi Turkmen Front Turkey Representative Dr. Hicran Kazancı 
–          Distinguished Hicran Bey, could you introduce yourself to the Turkish world, the Turkmen public? For example where in Kirkuk did you grow up, where did you start school, where did you complete your education, how were you introduced to the Turkmen cause?
–          I was born in 1965 in Piryadi neighborhood of Kirkuk, I started primary school at the Hicri Dede elementary school, later transferred to Musalla elementary and graduated from there. I complete my junior and senior high school education in Kirkuk after which I studied at the department of Agricultural Economy in the University of Mosul and completed my studies. In 1994 I benefited from a scholarship provided by the Republic of Turkey to members of TurkishStates and Communities and came to Turkey in 1995. Thus I was able to complete my post graduate and doctorate studies at the Faculty of Science of Ankara University in 2003. While I was studying in Turkey I worked in Iraqi Turkmen Front at various levels. I worked as Secretary General at the Turkmeneli Student Union, Deputy Representative and political advisor at the ITF Ankara Representation. During these years I was also academically educated in political sciences, in 2001 I participated in trainings such as “Becoming a party and organization” at Bilkent University, “Leadership and Becoming a Party”, “Leadership” traings given by the Political Science Faculty of Ankara University in 2003 and 2005. I started working at Turkey National Security Strategy Center as responsible person for the Middle East which continued for two and a half years. During this time various new developments were taking place in Iraq. At the beginning of 2005 the distinguished Sadettin Ergeç was elected as head of Iraqi Turkmen Front. After a short time Chairman Sadettin became Kirkuk MP from the ITF list and entered the Iraqi parliament. In 2006 I returned to Iraq and was advisor to Head of Iraqi Turkmen Front Sadettin Ergeç until 2007. After that I was appointed to the position of ITF Turkey Representation Foreign Affairs responsible person. During this position I continued to receive political training. In 2007 I attended courses such as “9th Global Leadership Forum”, “Middle East Studies”, “Narcotics and Terror” at Istanbul Bahçeşehir University and participated in a 5-6 month training in Washington D.C.  on the subject of “Training”.

–          Again during 2008-2010 I participated in long term certificate studies on the subjects of “Crisis Management and Psychology-2008”, “School of Politics-April 2009”, “School for Diplomats-2009”, “Global Leadership Forum-2010” given by Bahçeşehir University. A few months ago I was appointed to Iraqi Turkmen Front Turkey Representation. In general, I have been trained and actively involved in Turkmen politics since 1994.
–          Yes, when looking at your curriculum vitae it is easy to see that you have a shiny past in the Turkmen political arena which is not easy to come by, what do you owe this to? How do you define yourself within this scope?
–          I see myself as a person from the backbone of the Turkmen movement, independent and committed to the Turkmen cause.
–          What is the official date of your appointment to Iraqi Turkmen Front Turkey Representation?
–          I was officially appointed on 23 July 2010.
–          Your appointment was kept confidential for a while, it was not announced or rather not made public; why do you think is the reason for that?
–          No, I started my duty as soon as my appointment communication arrived.
–          Yes you started your duty but did the Iraqi Turkmen Front publish any official communication on any site saying that Dr. Hicran Kazancı was appointed to the Head of Turkey Representation?
–          I shall reply that as soon as I received the official communication about my appointment, I forwarded it by facsimile to official organizations, news agencies and all sites in accordance to procedure.  I received congratulatory messages from some official organizations. However, any publication on the sites you refer to involves the editors of those sites.
–         Well did any site publish this news?
–          News agencies immediately published the news, for example CIHAN of İHA.
–          So you say that at least one newspaper has registered this news item; when I did not see any news about your appointment I wondered were there any reservations about the issues? So that is not the case.
–          There were no reservations, but as you are aware, there are those on all platforms who do not want to change the status quo; they might have objections. As is the case with other issues, this was valid also for my appointment.
–          I do not want to give a wrong impression, but as someone who archives official documents I did not mean only you but I have not come across any official appointment communications regarding the other Turkey representatives either. For instance was the distinguished Sadun Köprülü appointed with an official appointment document?
–          Yes, by proxy
–          I see, was there also a personal one? I mean as ITF Turkey Representative?
–          No, because in the official communication regarding my appointment the text said: “The ITF Turkey Representative duty which has been executed by the Distinguished Sadun Köprülü by proxy has been concluded.” 
–          from your statement and from the official correspondence of ITF I understand that your appointment was to replace the previous Turkey representative Ahmet Muratlı rather than Sadun Köprülü which has been on the grapevine of Turkmen sites for a long time. Have I understood the situation correctly?
–          What you say is correct, your evaluation is correct, actually I was appointed to replace the previous representative, afterwards nobody was appointed as principal Turkey representation. This duty was given to Sadun Köprülü by proxy based on his seniority. Actually it is not such a major issue.
–          Of course, however, it is important to inform the Turkmen public; so are you saying that news, articles, interpretations regarding your appointment which have been circuiting the Turkmen sites for a long while are not a correct approach in principal? 
–          That is not true at all, unfortunately a part of the Turkmen media and writers who are unaware of the truth are busy with minor details also keeping us busy is not a correct approach.  Of course all this is upsetting for us because the basic duty of our media is to be objective and reflect the truth.
–          As soon as you were appointed you started numerous activities one of them being opening the doors of the representation wide open to the media. Especially after the interview with Hürriyet reporter was published, has the Turkish media taken a greater interest in you?
–          Yes, the interest has been major; after my appointed my first interview was with Hürriyet newspaper; I told the truth about Iraqi Turkmen to the Hürriyet reporter. As you know, Hürriyet is a major newspaper and backbone of the Turkish media. Of course, journalists look at the reality of statements, the truth, the sincerety. I had a regular interview, it was published and created some impact; this was followed by other journalists.
–          In one of your statements to the press, you said that you had paid courtesy visits to the President of Turkey, The Speaker for the Grand National Assembly and many high level politicians but you had yet to meet the Prime Minister. What are your chances of meeting the Prime Minister of Turkey in the near future? Have you made any request for this purpose?
–          The Hürriyet reported asked me whether I had visited the President, Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs after my appointment and I said no not yet because I have not yet had such an opportunity because they are occupied with the multidimensioned foreign policy of Turkey. I will make these visits at an opportune time is what I said. After the statement of course I did meet with the President, the Speaker for the Grand National Assembly and some Members of Parliament but until now I have not had the honor of meeting the Prime Minister. I am aware that the distinguished Prime Minister is extremely busy with both internal and foreign policies. I hope I can realize an appointment with the Prime Minister when he is in Ankara.
–          Is the opposition leader the distinguished Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu included in the high level political program?
–          Of course he is included as are other party leaders; with the exception of BDP I want to meet all party leaders with a seat in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, members of parliament and representatives.
–         In the article in Hürriyet newspaper you put an important issue on the agenda. “Why don’t you speak with the Kurdish leaders you said “Everybody speaks to the Kurdish leaders except for us ” and you linked the reason for this with the Kirkuk problem and proposed “Let us leave the identity of Kirkuk to one side and let’s get together for other joint sharing”. How will this happen, can you elaborate?
–          See here Cengiz Bey, in Iraq we are confronted with a portrait like “Turkmen Front does not speak to the Kurds”. Everyone meets with the Kurds, when we look at the most recent KDP congress, we see that all the political party leaders of Iraq, representatives, high level government officials were all there. When we look at the results of the most recent elections we see that Kurdish parties have key roles which they continue to play. As you know, after the last Arbil meeting the Iraqi government was established. Now it is as if everyone meets with them except us which is not the case. We are ready and willing to sit at the table with all the political groups in Iraq. We are ready to talk to Arabs, Shiites or Kurds. However, there is a problem with the identity of disputed areas, since 2003 populations have been transferred to these regions and this is headed by the Kirkuk problem; when we look at the administerial organizations in Kirkuk we see an overwhelming Kurdish domination. The former US Foreign Secretary Henry Kissinger made a wellknown statement towards the end of the 60’s referencing ethnic sectarian disputes which was “There are two solutions to ethnic sectarian disputes. One: you dispute and the strong one wins over the weak one. Two: you come to the table under equal conditions and look for a solution”. Now in the 21st century it is impossible to have such a conflict. It is not desired by the Turkmen nor the Kurds nor will the international powers permit it. Since this is impossible then we are obliged to select the second solution which is to sit together under equal conditions. However, as to what us Turkmen groups should do I can say this: first of all we must sit at the table under equal conditions. In other words, the identity of Kirkuk should be put on the back burner. The Kirkuk issue is not a small one nor is it the issue of the ethnic groups living there. In addition to being an ethnicity problem for those living there it is a problem for the central government plus a problem for the neighboring countries surrounding Iraq as well as a problem among the ruling powers.  For this reason we should not wrestle with this situation too much. The real problem of Kirkuk is the problem of conflict of interests of the ruling powers. Us Turkmen are obliged to determine our position in providing a solution for the problem arising from the conflict of interests. In other words we are obliged to lift the tablecloth and look underneath. Now if someone were to ask “has population been shifted into Kirkuk? The answer is yes. Has the administrative structure of Kirkuk been changed? Yes it has. Is Kirkuk dominated by a certain ethnic group? Yes it is. We are obliged to sit at a table under equal conditions in order to resolve these issues. Equal conditions start with 32% of the administrative structure; Turkmen, Arabs, Kurds and 4% Christians. Of course there is a problem with the application. When we tell the high level organizations about the equal conditions they say that if there is a 32% sharing in the structure then we are obliged to apply this in all organizations for instance clerks and laborers in a petroleum company, in all areas. This should not be such a big problem, this can be put on the table for a joint resolution.  What I am trying to say is that the problems should be recognized and tackled at a table. There is another thing, when you talk to KYB you go to its congress, pay courtesy visits which is fine but you are also obliged to the others. They also have activities which must be attended, you need to balance your actions. What I want to underline is that of course us Turkmen are ready to meet with any group provided we do not capitulate from our red line.
–          In the past, Barzani made an interesting observation about the identity of Kirkuk; he emphasized that even if there was only one Kurd in Kirkuk, this province would geographically be situated within the boundaries of their region. So let us pretend that we sat at a table with Barzani’s group and Barzani brought this statement from the past to the table; are we going to say to them that for us Kirkuk is the capital of Turkmeneli you can call it what you want? Is the conversation going to be based on you call it yours we call it ours?
–          We can say that if someone expresses an opinion about a disputed area, another will defend the opposite opinion. However, I believe that such passionate statements are in the past. When we look at all the political actors in Iraq we see that they have forsaken the passionate statements. Why is that? Because they have realized that one cannot get anywhere by politisizing with these symbols. Particularly, the problem of Kirkuk is a political one which can only be resolved with the agreement of all groups. The groups cannot resolve the issue by inciting, I believe those statements are history. Now we are getting positive messages from these groups. One of these is that a presidential deputy in the local Kurdish administration should definitely be a Turkmen; they themselves say that the third presidential deputy of Iraq should be a Turkmen. These are good statements. Of course we did not hear them before.
–          If we return to your statements in the press, here is another headline by you: “if we had recognized the Kurdish region in 2003 we would have saved Kirkuk. How do you mean, can you elaborate?
–          In those days headed by the Iraq representative of the US, Zalmay Halilzad, meetings were arranged in Arbil, in the Selahaddit region. Post Saddam era was discussed at that meeting and that Şhiite, Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen would be among the groups administering the new Iraq. However, in order for the Turkmen to be among those groups, the Kurdish autonomy which takes place even in the constitutional law of Iraq needed to be recognized by the Turkmen. However, this was totally rejected by the Turkmen. That is why we were left outside the process. Outside the process decisions about the future of Iraq are taken and when you are outside the system, you are not aware of decisions taken against your  interests and you don’t have an opportunity to voice an objection. But when you are included in the process decisions cannot be taken against you. That is what I mean… If we had been within the process at that time the population registry offices in Kirkuk would not have burnt down nor would Kirkuk have been ransacked on the 9th of April, nor would have the lands of the Turkmen been seized. Even if the events could not have been prevented 100%, at least 90% of them would not have taken place.
–          In addition to this, if the the famous Memorandum of 1st March had passed through the Turkish parliament none of the mentioned incidents would have taken place, out Turkmen politicians were hopeful of the passing of this decision. Can we say that all this happened to us because the decision was not approved?
–          I don’t completely agree. You see, because the 1st of March Memorandum did not pass, the State of Turkey became prepotent in a Iraq centered Middle East. While the Ottoman Empire was dominant in the Middle East the Turkish flag would fly there because it was dominant but now the Turkish flag is flown with a desire although there is no dominancy. The reason for this is the rejection of the 1st March memorandum. When we look at the contents of the 1st March memorandum it has not been understood up until now which is why it was rejected. As a result of this rejection, Turkey is particularly respected in the whole of Iraq.
–          In another one of your flash statements you said: The US gave permission but we were unable to establish an armed forces We have not heard a similar tough self criticism so far from our politicians nor intellectual Turkmen. Could you enlighten us on this issue? In addition, do the Turkmen still have a need for an armed force? How would you answer this question?
–          Let us start from the end; do the Turkmen still need an armed force? Yes they do but not as an independent militia force. Now the stones have started to settle. Iraq has a constitutional law and is becoming a state. We can get armed within the framework of the this constitutional law. How is that possible? For instance we have armed organization, the police force, the army and we have right to be proportionally represented in these organization. If we have the 32% representation in these organizations our needs shall be met. We have a specific participation in all the armed organizations of the state this problem like the security problem in the previous periods shall be solved by itself. As to the first part of your question, yes in order to assess the situation of the Turkmen after 2003 one must look further into the past. In the past Turkmen politics were executed from Ankara and Istanbul and that was a mistake. Until the 80’s, us Turkmen executed Turkmen politics in Iraq always within the framework of associations, civil society organizations. But the other groups were one step ahead of us, some with the support of the state, declared themselves political parties before the 80’s. For long years our political statement was Mosul, Kirkuk belongs to Turkey and shall become Turkish. This statement caused extreme reactions in many parts of Iraq. For the same reason, all the other groups treated all Turkmen with a prejudicial manner. The more Turkey told our politicians not to say something, the more they would insist on saying it. But that is something that our politicians ignorant of international relations would do.
–          We are having this interview in the ITF Turkey Representation building. This four storey building is proof of your awareness. In the face of this magnificient building it seems as if the Turkmen public is unaware of all the great works carried out for the benefit of the Turkmen. The works of an important organization “Kirkuk News Agency” in the building also do not reflect the Turkmen. The works going on in the big building are not reflected in the Turkmen media, only a web site like Kerkü exists. My question is this: Do you think the works carried out in this great building are sufficient?
–          I speak for myself when I say that personally I never think what I do is enough; I try always to do more, go forward in an effort because the work is for my nation and whatever is done can never be enough. My personal opinion is that our opportunities are plenty but so far what has been done does not justify these opportunities. But it will reach the desired level. This building does not only house the Iraqi Turkmen Front Turkey Representation, the representation occupies only one floor. As you can see, the first floor houses the Kirkuk News Agency. The second floor belongs to us. The third floor and basement house the studios of Kirkuk News Agency. The top floor is a guesthouse which is open to all Turkmen.
–          As soon as you were appointed to Turkey Representation, you determined the official car as a service vehicle; how should be interpret this?
–          My personal opinion is that we should stay from pomp; I shall give you an example from the period when I was studying at Istanbul Bahçeşehir University; during my studies I took the opportunity of visiting the historical sights in Istanbul. Two places caught my attention, one being the Topkapı Palace and the other Dolmabahçe; I visited both places and I determined that while Topkapı Palace was simple and rather modest, the Dolmabahçe was splendid, with fine crystals and ornamented with gold. The Topkapı palace was built in a period when the Ottoman ruled the world whereas Dolmabahçe was built during the decline. This proves that we must steer away from pomp. The official vehicle is used for representation work but also for emergency situations of Turkmen citizens; if necessary as a transport for Turkmen patients which is why I prefer to call it the service vehicle.
–          Let’s examine the solidarity meetings a little, I believe until now four solidarity meetings have been held, two in Istanbul and two in Ankara. As far as I understand, these meetings are platforms where Turkmen persons, associations, foundations and other non-governmental organization representatives come together to discuss various problems. You do not have a dedicated location for these meetings. These meetings can take place in Ankara, Istanbul or Kirkuk. From these new developments I understand this: ITF is realizing an initiative, the Turkmen community is opening up, listening to its members, noting their ideas, their criticisms rather than explaining themselves. In short, the ITF is opening itself to the whole Turkmen community to produce a new policy: is this the case?
–          Cengiz Bey as you know, before external Turkse settled particularly in Ankara and Istanbul, they were settled by Turkmen. Many of our distinguished brothers have settled here. They have made large contributions to the Turkmen cause. It way my personal idea to bring these distinguished brothers together and benefit from the experiences and wisdom. In thinking about how this could be brought about I got the idea for these solidarity meetings. If course I shared this idea with ITF center. My idea gained the support of our authorities including the Head Sadettin Bey and I started the ball rolling. The idea of these meetings is to get Turkmen elders, experienced persons, writers, intellectuals together rather than get together with organizations in Turkey. We listen to what they have to say about the Turkmen agenda, what are the pros and cons of our representation and put their proposals on paper. Our main duty is to listen to the idea and proposals, note them down as urgent issues and transpose them to the central office without any prejudices. Another duty is to answer any questions regarding our activities in an open and frank manner and provide information. We are obliged to question the way we are perceived from the outside and try to correct any existing faults. In short, that is the purpose of our solidarity meetings. Can it be construed as an initiative? Yes, I think it can.
–          Before I ask my final question, if you allow me I would like to present my perception of the change in ITF. Until yesterday, I put both my negative and positive thoughts about the ITF from pen to paper without any qualms. I did this because I always rendered this select organization as superior and so far I have never spoken unethically about the orgnization, my critism has always been about persons. I wrote articles with the proverb “the friend speaks harshly” in mind and for this I have been the brunt of numerous unfair accusations. Still I never refrained from writing and speaking the truth. Today, for the first time, I have been hosted by an authority such as the ITF Turkey Representation in a session of exchanging ideas for which I thank you. I am sure that your personal efforts have large part in the changes taking place in the ITF, your productive solidarity meetings are solid proof of this. For this I want to particularly thank you. I was asking from the point of view of informing the Turkmen public and meeting their expectations it is evident that a change is happening in the ITF Turkey representation; can we call this change the first step in the expected changes in the ITF?
–          Yes we can…
–          Thank you.
–          I thank you for coming here on this wintry day.
 Cengiz Bayraktar-Gündoğdu- İzmit


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