Turkish Tea and Open Letter to Katherina Branning in the United States of America

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2007
Turkish Tea Book

Open Letter to Katherina Branning in the United States of America on her book, ‘’Yes, I would Love Another Cup of Tea: An American Woman’s Letters to turkey’’

After receiving notices from perhaps over a dozen websites and friends, including TAC Alumni Association group and the Association of Turkish-American Architects, Engineers and Scientists in New York,  I finally had a chance to watch your video ‘’Yes, I would Love Another Cup of Tea,’’ introducing Turkey and Turks (http://analiztv.aktifhaber.com/news_detail.php?id=26264), during an international summit in İstanbul, where even the US Vice President Joe Biden, known for his anti-Turkish stand on some issues, praised Turkey and Turks during his speech at the Summit on Global Entrepreneurship (Dec 3-6, 2011). Needless to say, you are now a fan of thousands of Turkish-Americans and Turks around the world, as many have voiced their opinions, and I am sure many more will become your friend after reading your book, “Yes I Would Love another Cup of Tea: An American Woman’s Letters to Turkey” published by Pacifica Institute.

Turkey is a great country with its history, geography, culture, growing economy, thousands of Turkish entrepreneurs in many other countries, and of course its wonderful people, spare a few. Just a couple of weeks ago, there was a Summit of World Turkish Entrepreneurs in İstanbul (Nov 16-17), attended by close to 2,000 Turks from around the world and on Dec 3-6, the Prime Minister’s Summit on Entrepreneurs took place where Mr Joe Biden spoke to perhaps 3,000 attendees who came mainly from Turkey, the US, 57 Islamic countries, and many other countries, including Spain and even far away Mongolia. All of these conferences and many others, including ‘’The Leadership in the 20th Century’’ conference held back in April 2011, attended by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Hanan, also in İstanbul, took place in the Republic of Turkey created by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923, and yet his name was not mentioned at all during any of these conferences and his photograph did not adorn the great congress centres as they once did.

Anyone with an interest in Turkey and a keen eye on her people, can produce a video or write a book, as many have done before, going back to the Ottoman times. In your video, you mention Ataturk only in a passing comment stating that ‘’The followers of Ataturk established the Republic of Turkey’’. I respectfully submit to you that the Republic of Turkey was not established by his followers, but by Mustafa Kemal Pasa himself and Ismet Inonü and several others close to them. In fact, some people in Turkey, who can not be his followers, are unfortunately trying to destroy the principles of Ataturk with the help of certain enemies of Turkey abroad, as many continue voicing their concerns. The Turkish Constitution, which is being re-written now, I am afraid, will not include the first three clauses that refer to Ataturk’s principles, some claiming that ideologies have no place in a constitution.

Thank you for making the video and writing the book, which I hope the future editions will include a short section on Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the greatest leader of the 20th century, in the words of Prof. Arnold Ludwig of Brown University, who is among the speakers at the 3rd Atatürk Symposium at the UN today, and the creator of the Republic of Turkey, and his contributions to humanity. Believe me, during an informal poll that I took at the World Summit of Entrepreneurs, many did not know who Ataturk was although many books have been written about him by the likes of British Andrew Mango and Lord Kinross, the Venezuelan Jorge Blanco Villetta, and others. Many world leaders wrote in their memoirs that Ataturk inspired them and President Kennedy praised Atatürk stating: ‘’He was one of the greatest figures of our century.’

Perhaps, you could include, in the new edition of your book and video, the following Introduction by Prof. Talat Halman to a book by Özer Ozankaya, ‘’Atatürk’s Legacy: Views by World-Famous Intellectuals’’ published in 2001:

‘’Destiny has endowed very few individuals with any of Atatürk’s achievements. The protagonist of his nation’s sovereignty. Undefeated commander. Pioneer of anticolonism. Staunchest foe of imperialism at home and abroad. Creator of a Republic. A transformer of the political, legal and socio-economic systems. Spellbinding orator. Cultural revolutionary. Secularist visionary. Humanist and international peacemaker. Model fort he leaders of emancipation and of emergig nations. The hero of a 20th-century renaissance.’’

This is what Professor Justin McCarthy, another speaker at the UN Atatürk Symposium today, the ‘’Distinguished Professor’’ at the University of Kentucky in Louisville, Kentucky, stated in the same book that includes interviews with many world philosophers and intellectuals:

‘’If Atatürk had not come there would not be any Turkey; in fact, there would not be Turks any longer in Anatolia.’’

Therefore, dear Ms Katherina, it is nice to write and talk about the Turks, Turkey or tea, or perhaps even rakı, but this needs to include the story of Ataturk who changed the course of world history and your opinion about the ‘’Father of Turks’’.

Thank you.

Yuksel Oktay
A concerned Turkish-American
Girne, North Cyprus

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