I beg your pardon… but I am a...Turk!

The Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the year I started to work as a junior diplomatic reporter. Turkey recognized all the newly independent states. Delegations from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan started to come to Turkey  I would cover their visits. In many instances, either a Kazakh or a Kyrgyz would look at me and say I am probably from their lands.

Well, at the end of the day, we Turks indeed came from Central Asia, so I was not surprised by their comments.

Then wars started to erupt following the fall of the Iron Curtain. During the Georgian-Abkhaz war, I realized the presence of both Georgian-origin Turks and Abkhaz-origin Turks, as both sides tried to lobby for the government to take their side. I recall vividly how a cameraman was proudly saying he was an Abkhaz, despite the fact that he and his parents were born in Turkey.

The three sisters that lived across our apartment were Circassian. They were tailors and my parents even sent me for a brief internship to their house, a futile effort to get me out from the top of the trees. But at that time that did not mean much to me. I became more consciously aware of the presence of Circassians and Chechens in Turkey, after conflicts erupted in the Caucasus.

Through the war in Bosnia, I found out there are more Bosnians living in Turkey than Bosnia itself. The expression “Albanian obstinacy,” probably came from those who emigrated from Albania and Kosovo. The expression “being from the other side of the water,” means being a migrant from the Balkans. All this coincided with the ugly war in the southeast. From the days of “Kurds are mountain Turks,” we came to talk about Kurds consisting of 20 percent of the population.

All this made...

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