As the month of fasting for Muslim’s across the world was drawing to a close Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a significant announcement. The Turkish government will be taking steps to return the confiscated properties of non-Muslim minorities that had been seized for various reasons, some of these dating back to the 1930s.
This announcement actually comes as a result of a law passed in 2008. This announcement is starting to give some shape as to how that law will be implemented. There are definite questions that remain as to how the whole process will be accomplished, who will get what, what documents will be required, etc. So until properties and deeds actually start changing hands this should not be considered a closed book. Yet, nonetheless this announcement is significant for another reason.
This public decision by the Turkish government recognizes that mistakes were made in the past and they are now taking steps to rectify those mistakes. This is crucial for every country to be able – and willing – to do. No government or state has a truly impeccable record from every step. No one expects this to be the case. Yet, one of the hallmarks of a good society is that it is able to admit mistakes, to – if possible – correct those mistakes and work to make sure that future mistakes are not made.
As one Turkish politician was found of saying “yesterday is yesterday, today is today.” This attitude attempted to argue that the choices made were correct given their context of yesterday. The current government seems to be taking steps to rectify mistakes from the past and pursue a trajectory of positive developments.
There will continue to be difficulties and missteps along the way but the confidence to admit these mistakes – rather than ignore them – is a sign of maturity for a government.
Inspired by Makar Esayan’s article: On the law to return the property of non-Muslims and yesterday http://bit.ly/pDBvza