Author Archives: Isis

Turkish English Relations Throughout the History

Category : Kişisel Bloglar

One of the prominent history specialists called Prof. Ilber Ortayli from Turkey was in London to deliver a conference last month. The conference took place at the Kensington Hilton. The number of the participants was about 350 people. Perhaps, had the entry fee been considerably less, the participation would have been higher. Here are my brief notes from the conference.

Ortayli pointed out interestingly that Ottoman Empire and England did only get in touch in three different centuries. The first relations were carried out when Murat the Third appointed an Ottoman Ambassador to London at the time of Queen Elizabeth I which coincided more or less to the Spanish Armada in 1588. On the other hand, Hugh Williams contends that the failure of Spanish Armada protected England from a possible Ottoman Invasion. The reason why he is delivering such conspiracy theory is that he is probably believing the Ottoman Administration sent out his first ambassador to England for the first time deliberately just before the Spanish Invasion. He thinks that had the Spanish Victory happened, the Ottomans would have invaded to Europe and England.

The next relations took place in 17th and 18th centuries when the English and Ottoman Ambassadors exchanged. But, the first secretary of Turkish Embassy was of course Keçecizade Mehmet Fuad Pasha in 19th century who was a Europeanized diplomat, fluent in English and French, later became the minister of foreign affairs to Abdulaziz Sultanate. On the other hand, according to Ortayli, the English Ambassadors in Ottoman Anatolia had never been as effective as the Venetian and Italian Ambassadors.

Ilber Ortayli argued that Grand Vizier Mithat Pasha was in great favor of England throughout his life and that thought misled him to expect help from England against Russian Troops. Ortayli states that Mithat Pasha was not a politician but a province governor therefore it was quite normal for him not to think wisely when Ottomans declared war against Russia, called the battle of 93. The Russian defeat cost his life since the idea of Russian war belonged to Mithat Pasha therefore Abdulhamit II signed his execution. Frankly speaking, it is not known what exactly the relationship between English Authorities and Mithat Pasha but England asked from the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamit not to execute him, rather to a life sentence.

Another more astonishing point to mention pertaining to 19th century is that Benyamin Disraeli was the first British Prime Minister to back up the Turks. Although he was a rhetoric speaker and had a wise intellect to deserve the position, according to Ortayli, it was not a coincidence for a British of Portugal Jewish descent to be elected as the head of the state. Because he well read the history and knew that the only way of heading to India and Asia was based on the good relations with Ottomans. When he raised his voice against the hostility in the House of Commons, he was booed and attacked his Jewish origin. He replied with an admiring joke. “So what if I am Jewish, while our ancestors were reading Torah, your forefathers were at the top of the tree perching just like hens.” However, the Ottoman Turkish relations got weakened tremendously after the Berlin Congress as Germany emerged in the European politics.

Despite the fact that English – Turkish Relations were only confined to the Political arena, the English society read about the Turks as barbaric people in their history and literature sources such as the poems of Shakespeare. The poet refers Turks to womanizers. The entire audience could not stop laughing when Ortayli who is also a good joker responded to Shakespeare as follows; “there is not a single nation across the world that does not have intimacy with women anyway. King David is said to have had hundreds of women in his possession. “

The third relations dramatically were carried out during the World War I when the Sultan Mehmet V Rashid declared war on Britain, France and Russia. As soon as the stereotyped English troops invaded to the territory of the sick Ottoman Empire in WWI, they were shocked by the attitudes of the Turks because Turks were not eating humans unlike mentioned in their books. Conversely, Turks shared their food with the prisoners of the war and treating their wounds. We also come across this fact in a letter belonged to the Australian Sergeant H.D. Coliver which he wrote to a friend of him in praising the Turks “We in fact knew that Turks were good hearted . But I was astonished by the following story. My twelve soldiers were injured and they were found by the Turkish Red Crescent . They dressed the wounds of our soldiers and left them there to be picked up by the English soldiers. They did not kill or capture them.”

Turks were also surprised that English military vessels resembled precisely to Venetian vessels and came to an understanding that the English nation was specialist in seamanship.

In WWI, the most important invaders in Turkey were English Forces. The Italian, Greek and French militias were in small numbers. Ortayli said that the armistice was being run by the English Generals because of the national mobilization. He probably attributed their management in Istanbul to the military experience and tactics of English Generals as opposed to the Italian and French Generals. Yet, English Intellectuals hold only Turks to account for the prolonged period of WWI.

To remember briefly the British- Ottoman Turkish relations; British failure in Gallipoli had led them to think to take over Jerusalem through the Arab Revolt. The reason why they could not succeed in Gallipoli was that they could not resist against the national mobilization. Simon Montefiore argues that the British which was ruled by David Lloyd George who was newly elected as the Prime Minister of England, initially tried to make a deal with Jemal Pasha in order to reach their goal against the two other Ottoman Pashas, namely Talat and Enver. Because Talat and Enver Pashas knew that the British supported a Zionist establishment under a British Mandate, hereby they were strictly against the Jewish home land in Jerusalem. However, Talat and Enver Pashas discovered that Jemal Pasha was making plans to overthrow the Young Turks and discharged his position in Jerusalem. Jemal Pasha then fled to Berlin. By coincidence they came across in the Congress of Berlin and according to Montefiore , Talat Pasha was reluctantly about to agree to the declaration of a Jewish home land with the collaboration of England. Talat Pasha later on was not approved for this plan since he was alleged that he embraced the notion of chauvinism and was seen as a threat for Arab and Jewish world. Subsequently, Abdullah Ibn Hussain asked help from Lord Kitchener , the British agent in Cairo for military aid for his father Sherif Hussein. Montefiore discloses that although Sherif Hussein was quite old, greedy and ignorant for the British, they agreed to give military aid against the Ottoman troops provided that the Sheriff would incite the Arab revolt against Ottomans. Lawrence played an irrefutable play in all of these steps. But Sherif Hussein stipulated that he would declare his own empire in the entire Hijaz, Syria ,Jerusalem and Palestine. Lawrence only acknowledged the condition if he could exclude Jerusalem and Palestine for his empire. Sheriff who otherwise were about to be overthrown by the Ottomans reluctantly agreed and launched the Arab Revolt. In fact Sherif was deceived by the British since Syria and Lebanon were already promised to France, whereas Ottoman Empire had no geopolitical agenda in WWI.

After the Palestinian front was waivered by the Ottomans and Germans in 1917, the British Mandate was accepted in 1920 based on the Balfour Declaration. An interesting conversation occurred between Nashashibi, the mufti of Jerusalem and Lord John Chancellor, the new high commissioner. Lord Chancellor asked the mufti to sell the West Wall, known as the Kotel in order that Jews could build a courtyard there. The Mufti rejected this offer saying:
” We might have sold our entire land to Jews but the Prophet ascended to the sky via Buraq (a horse) from this wall. So it is not even open to negotiate.” I am curious whether Nashashibi who is believed to have been descended from 18th century merchants that manufactured bows and arrows for the Ottomans, had any direct or indirect Ottoman connection as a spy.

In terms of Europeanization of the Ottomans, Ortayli’s argument was that Ottoman Turks were totally strangers to the Western values until the Tanzimat with the exception of military field. The Ottomans in Tanzimat made impeccable analysis regarding the Europeans and adopted them to the internal politics. Turks have been specialists on two aspects; engineering and medicine. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was an intelligent leader and straight after the WWI, he went on to the peaceful agreement with England. Perhaps, had he not signed an agreement with Britain, the Turkish English relations would have normalized much later.

Having said that, the liberal democracy of Britain and Switzerland arise from the fact that they read their own history very well and make reasonable analysis. That is why they come forward in science, technology and politics. That is why they are so realistic and sound mind in today’s world. Ortayli stressed out that for this reason, the more Turks are to be influenced and inspired with the British way of works in politics, in industrial field, diplomacy , education and urban development, the quicker success will ascend in Turkish politics.
He contended that London and Rome are the capitals of Europe. Hence, America highly unlikely makes correct steps in politics without consulting to England. Every ratification in external politics and diplomacy pass through the Britain’s consent.

The only advantages of Turks compared to European nations, Turkish nationals are more involved with their classical culture and keep them alive whereas new generations in Europe are utterly strangers to their classical values. Ortayli criticizing Turks said, history is not known by the Turks, let alone the Turkish Muslim theologians. But Ilber Ortayli’s contentiton which I partially agree is that whatever the Turks do, the Western prejudices will never change against Turks and Muslims. Therefore, Turkish Lobbies must be evaluated in Britain and Turkish entrepreneurs are supposed to raise funds towards it. When he mentioned “funding” he jumped over the manner of funding. He said that not only Turks, but the British also likes benevolence. We come to know this fact that when an Ottoman Janizary (Yeniceri) fled to Britain in 18th century, his name was recorded in the donation list. What he implies is that the funding and the name of the benevolent must be recorded, should not remain as secret.

At the end, he raised two more issues; one is Anti- Semitism;which he believes that the Anti Semitism is a luxury and not a necessary pillar for Turkey. The second is regarding the Armenians; he said that Armenians started to lobby in America and Europe in terms of genocide fairytales because their culture was gradually dissolving and the Armenian intellectuals wanted to revive it, just like the behavior of a celebrity who wants to survive in the celebrity list.

No doubt, Ilber Ortayli made tremendous contribution to the Turkish audience and as a humble student, I owe gratitude to him.

Leaving aside the Ortayli’s conference, the Independent made a headline last week as “What have the Turks ever done for us?” . The article was praising the Turkish contribution to the British life in six areas and making a list of why Turkey should join to EU.

Multiculturalism; The paper suggests that centuries before the word of multiculturalism was ever existed, Ottoman Empire was home to Christians, Jews, Arabs and Armenians. The article considers that Turkey is the only partner who offers a safe bridge to Islam and a promising exit from the class of civilization.

Trade; The Ottomans with their ships and caravans, achieved domination of the silk road and taught West everything about trade before the advent of ocean –going ships. So even today, according to the paper, it offers a huge market and connections to the resources of the Caspian and the Middle East.

Politics; they developed tremendously the statecraft descending from the steppe of central Asia to the gates of Vienna. The pioneers of the disciplined bureaucracy and the inventors of a enduring army awed their enemies and seduced the Christian fighters who could see a better life under the Ottomans.

Art; The article says that Turkey has brought Europe the finest works such as calligraphy, metalwork, manuscripts and glass, Chinese poems, Persian textiles and Venetian paintings. They flourished the humanist enlightenment centuries ahead of Europe.

Military; Their forefather’s Genghis Khan with his cavalry swept across Anatolia into the Balkans and beyond. Their enemies only matched and copied their techniques and invention. The paper states that Today’s Turkey is a prominent member of Nato and lends credibility to the European defense force.

Style; They sat on divans on beautiful carpets, smoking hookah and eating lakoum and baklava and yet Europe learnt how to bath from Turks.

Consequently, every civilization has influenced and has been influenced over others to some extent since the globe turned into a big village. The question is, how we can live in harmony with the minimum disputes and clashes.


Hugh Williams, Fifty Things You Need To Know About British History, Collins, 2008
Simon Sebag Montefiore, Jerusalem, The Biography, W&N 2011
Lord Micheal Carver, 1914-1918, Turkish Front
Talha Ugurluel, Canakkale Savaslari, Kaynak Yayinlari, 2005,


Category : Kişisel Bloglar


     Any articles or books regardless of their authors’ are such inconsequential as opposed to the magnificence and significance of life itself. Nevertheless we still do compose scripts. If none of us do write, no one will do so for us. We write to emphasize what we behold and what we do contemplate in regards to each and every substance and incident around. Differentiating between interpreting the world and commentating is worthwhile as to only competent individuals raise their voice to interpret what exactly happens or happened in details whereas many people do comment from their own point of view. So I must admit that I am amongst the latter.

    The recent changes in English law shows us by all means that British Coalition Government takes the advantages of their power in making laws against the social, legal and political developments. Their main argument is to get out of the recession as quickly as possible through introducing some legal (but not always lawful) restrictions supposedly “developments” to the public as well as minimizing the budget. Since this is not my area, I rather leave it to economists to discuss.

   We will look at two vital proposals in this essay that Lib-Cons introduced . Accordingly, what walks of life will be severely affected and to what extent this will be a budget saving as the Parliament held.

       -Plans to restrict “no win no fee” agreements

       -Plans to close 157 courts, Magistrates Courts[i] in majority.

   Let’s start from the first plan. Lawyers in the UK do not ask money from their clients in traffic accident cases unless they win the case. But now this is thought to be restricted. The proposal was introduced by Lord Justice Jackson. Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and the Personal Injuries Bar Association (PIBA) strictly oppose the plans on the ground that this will prevent many claimants who involved with complex and serious injuries to bring their cases to counselors. They stress out that it will not only hit the weakest link but also it could be contrary to Article 6 and Article 14 of the European Conventions on Human Rights simply because disabled individuals also who can not afford could be denied access to justice. In the same context the Vice Chairman of PIBA also argues that the claimant will no longer able to access to justice when NHS has been at fault and those who are able to bring the case to courts will be in advantage of getting paid the reasonable compensations and some costs no longer will be paid by the loser of the case.

   Despite the critics from lawyers concerning the proposal, the Justice Secretary justifies the reforms on the Conditional Fee Agreements (CFA) so that the reform will help the country towards cost savings.

   A Times reader alleges that the proposal was in fact introduced by the Tory government as hidden taxation on guilty parties’ to fund litigation for those who can not afford to pay privately. Prior to the proposal, the tax burden fell in to government therefore all taxpayers had to fund the Legal Aid. This is a quite interesting argument from public which stands against the illustration of the Vice Chairman of the PIBA.

   I agree with the PIBA and APIL on this question. No win no fee agreement was one of the excellent domestic agreements of the UK’s Democratic System which was perfectly complied with the Article 6 of the European Conventions on Human Rights.  It was an agreement for the winner party and burden on paying the costs by the loser party. If you encounter a road accident and have no cash to sue your alleged party then you as a citizen will no longer be under the protection of laws .To implement the CFA will not only hit the weakest in the society but it will widen the cliff between rich and poor. It is perhaps not wrong to say that there will be emerging another era of aristocracy in the UK which is not surprising for the Tory voters at the end of the day.[ii]

   History repeats dramatically .When Margaret Thatcher came to power the country’s inflation was %27 and this rate was successfully decreased by the end of 1983 to %4 through adopting the economic liberalization of Thatcher. Despite the male dominated world she managed to rule the country for 11 years. Do we have any similar hopes for David Cameron as well? It is very unlikely because today’s Conservative led by David Cameron has not yet pursued as successful government policy as his predecessor. He rather hardens the laws and tries to appear as a cute guy to the upper class while contradicting himself concerning the various types of benefits (incapacity benefits etc.). You can rise up in a hereditary peer family. There is nothing wrong with these values but when it comes to ruling a country you need to be more universal and address to every walk of life in making laws. Conversely it would be no more possible to remain the country’s reputation at the very top of the list of the most liberal countries across the world.  Let us say that we appreciate every proposal of the government for the sake of recovering the downturn. People of the country would ask in this stage; why do you then attempt to reform the ECtHR in Strasbourg when you take over the Council of Europe in coming November. Any relevance to economy? We will discuss further this issue in the next essay.

   If we come back to the first proposal, the NHS point raised by the PIBA deserves significantly to be taken into account. Simply because CFA will make the NHS’s faults more invisible when considered the injured patients who face with the unaffordable Court costs.

   What about the second proposal on the list above? The Justice Secretary has presented the plans to close at the least of 157 Magistrates and County Courts[iii] as a rationalization of the courts which are under used and lack facilities. The Ministry’s justification on the proposal is that the access to justice is not about access to buildings. Some people would have to make more journeys but the travel costs and timing of defendants as well as witnesses do not concern the Courts.

   The researches however revealed by the Magistrates tell the opposite. The highest levels of use and with the best facilities are target to the courts closure. Senior Judges like John Thornill argues that Justice Ministry in their decisions do not take the objectives and evidences in to account. Although they acknowledge that some courts are subject to the lack of financial sustainability, Government takes the decisions at the expense of financial concerns without considering the community’s need to access to justice and probability at increasing crime rates.  He adds that while he is in favor of rationalizing the court estates,   justice must be seen where offences are committed. “If a case takes place 45 miles away, is this local justice?”

   After various consultations with the legal associations and senior judges the Justice Ministry announced in December 2010 that only 15 courts are saved from the original closure plan of 157 courts, including 103 Magistrates. So the consultations and evidences presented did not make a big impact for the Government to divert from their plans.

   The Times Legal Editor Frances Gibb expresses that there are a number of reasons for the closure proposals. Justice Ministry wishes to confine the minor civil disputes to be resolved though mediation and more effectively use of private legal insurance. He says that the cyber justice system will take over the facilities delivered by the County and Magistrates Courts. It sounds funny for parties to use internet legal services rather than applying to the court. They think perhaps to decrease the tenses over cutting the legal aid by replacing a new cyber system so that the poor party is not exposed to the court proceedings.

   They argue that %80 of the theft trials are for the items less than £200 and they are not necessarily to judge in the County Courts. What a flattering and precarious statement is this! I am sure many future offenders are clapping your words as they are only in trivial numbers. If you do not allow so called minor criminal and civil offences to be proceeded in the County Courts then you have to bear the consequences which would likely turn in to major events in the future. Criminals under 18 or even over 18 will automatically contemplate for what they do is not a major offense so they will continue to harm the society. I am not arguing however that they are not going to be charged or whatsoever. But they will not know what a court atmosphere is like. Indeed they would be in great convenience in committing an offence. I think we all have to renew what we know about the objectives of a justice system despite the statistical fact that no jurisdiction in the world has ever achieved to prevent crimes in societies.

   What we said right at the beginning is that all the factors which were revealed by Kenneth Clarke to justify the closure are nothing more than excuses but saving the budget as clearly seen in the statement of Justice Secretary “The proposed closure could save £15.3 million a year while one off maintenance backlog bill is 21.5 million.”

   There are surely more effective and steady ways of saving the budget such as removing or reducing the incapacity benefits. It was in fact proposed by David Cameron even before the elections took place however it was withdrawn recently after the strong oppositions. I agreed what David Cameron discussed in one of his speeches regarding the benefits. The argument was “Benefit system creates a benefit society”

   Yet Kenneth Clarke says that “Middle Class does not understand the impacts of cuts” Yes I do not understand and appreciate the cuts on justice system and public funding. It is perhaps beyond my visions. I kindly remind Mr Clarke that as long as we middle class work, our taxes shall continue to go for those who are entitled to benefit system. What about in vice versa situation? In a situation where no citizen works particularly who voted for the Tory but instead turning the Trafalgar Square in to Egyptians’ Tahrir Square? Are you ready to pay the benefits from the state’s treasure?

   Although I share the concerns of the prospective undergraduate students who actively protested the tuition fee rises across the country, they should bear in mind that they are not the only parties who were affected by the government’s new introductions. It seems quite clear however that the raised undergraduate students’ fees will play a giant role in recovering the economy.

   So the proposals are less predictable as to the state is not for people in the new era but people for the state. May God help all of us.


  [i] Magistrates Courts are the lower courts in the English Court Hierarchy which mostly deal with criminal cases and a very small number of civil disputes.

 [ii] . Conservative was first established under the name of Tory Party in 1678.  Therefore they are sometimes referred to as Tory or Tories.

[iii]County Courts deal with civil proceedings.

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