Memorandum from Professor Norman Stone
1. On the basis of seven years' experience
of Turkey, I wish to endorse what Mr Barchard has written. A very
important perspective is purely historical: the country has come
a long, long way since its foundation in 1923. Back then, you
could not rely on a Turk to make a table with stable legs. Now,
Turkey's is the sixteenth or seventeenth-largest world economy,
and growing. With all the complaints and grievances that go on,
this deserves some stress. Turkey and the USSR emerged at roughly
the same time, with something of a similar "modernisation"
programme. Turkey has been considerably more successful: Russian
men die in their late fifties, Turkish ones after three score
and ten. Turkey, with not much in the way of raw materials, will,
on present form, have greater trade with the West than Russia.
Turkey gets quite a bit of bad publicity (incidentally, quite
bewilderingly, as far as any of the foreign residents whom I know
are concerned) and this slap-on-the-back perspective might usefully
2. I do have one substantial point to add,
as regards Turkish students' education at British universities.
At present, they have to pay full-whack fees, which, with living
costs, are apparently higher even than in the USA. Greek or Portuguese
students attend British universities at far lower expense, along
the same lines as the locals. We have been quite good with scholarships,
but not nearly as good as the Americans (or the French). I believe
I have the support of the Anglo-Turkish chamber of commerce in
saying that the indirect benefit of students' coming to this country
is very great. Certainly, in my own experience, Turkish students
have flourished here, and, in terms of anchoring Turkey firmly
to the West, their presence is a good thing. The London School
of Economics does a good job, and friends of mine there have been
complimentary about their Turkish students, especially the girls.
3. It is unfortunately true that the present
visa business makes enemies for us. The system does seem to be
unnecessarily harsh and humiliating. Turks from all walks of life
dread it, and horror-stories abound (I have a very distinguished
colleague at Bilkent, the dean of Ottoman history, an octogenarian,
who just refuses invitations of lecture to the UK). I do my best
to defend itthat we do not have identity cards and therefore
have to defend the points of entrance etcbut it does seem
to be the case that people anxious only to chase a girlfriend,
or earn a bit of money and then go home have to attempt the asylum
seeking route. One of my brightest former students interprets
Turkish in Glasgow and she is full of stories as to how people
pass themselves off (unwillingly) as persecuted Kurds.
[Professor Norman Stone was formerly Professor
of Modern History, Oxford, and is currently Director of the Turkish-Russian
Institute, Bilkent University, Ankara].
Professor Norman Stone