SHAFAQNA- President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed on Wednesday that the Nobel committees are biased in their decisions, and so is the UN Security Council, which he said was composed entirely of Christian nations.
Erdoğan made his remarks as he addressed a ceremony for the Presidential Grand Awards in Culture and Arts at his newly built palace, widely known as Ak Saray, in Ankara.
He praised Turkish artists in his speech, dismissing criticisms that artists are not able to flourish in Turkey. “No, this [criticism] is not acceptable. They flourish and they do so despite obstacles. When you examine the decisions of international organizations, do not expect them to act objectively. Does [the] Nobel [committee] make its decisions objectively? Never. We have seen it; we still see it. Does the UN Security Council make its decisions objectively? Never,” Erdoğan said.
In 2006, novelist Orhan Pamuk became the first, and so far the only, Turkish national to be awarded a Nobel Prize by winning in the category of literature. Pamuk’s political views, however, led to criticism within conservative circles in Turkey that the decision to award him was a political one, not in recognition of his literary accomplishments. Pamuk was subject to criticism and even prosecution for remarks in which he denounced the killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in World War I and the killing of Kurds in Turkey in the 1980s.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which selects the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, declined to comment on Erdoğan’s remarks, saying that it does “not respond to individual opinions.”
Criticism has mounted at home in recent months against the government, led by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) founded by Erdoğan, over interventions, increasing state pressure targeting artists and the withdrawal of some state funds for the arts.
Erdoğan also repeated his long-time criticisms of the UN Security Council, claiming that five nations that hold permanent membership on the influential world body are Christian. The UN Security Council consists of 10 rotating non-permanent members and five permanent members with veto powers. Even though four of the five members have Christian-majority populations, Christianity has little presence in China.
“There is [representation from] Europe, Asia, America. If you consider it in respect to continents, where are the other continents? These five countries are made up only of Christians. Is there a Muslim country there? No. The entire world is looking at what comes out of the mouths of these five countries. If one of them says ‘no’, then the matter is closed. Can there be such oppression? There is no justice, just oppression, while the world awaits justice,” he said.
He also claimed the international community pays no regard to the tragedy in Syria. But the world is interested in Africa a great deal, he said, adding that this interest is only about the oil, diamonds and gold reserves of the continent.
“[Some] 300,000 people were killed in Syria; millions were forced to leave their homes. When they see us, they extend their congratulations for the work we do [regarding the Syrian refugees]. Cut it out with this talk. Tell us about how much support you gave to Turkey, which shoulders the burden,” he said.
‘Orwell, Defoe would’ve applauded Erdoğan’
Erdoğan’s criticism of the UN system was lauded by novelist Alev Alatlı, who was granted a presidential award at the ceremony.
Alatlı praised Erdoğan for his assertion that the “world is bigger than five,” a reference to the five nations holding the permanent membership of the UN Security Council, and said English novelist George Orwell and “Robinson Crusoe” author Daniel Defoe would have applauded him if they were alive today.
“Do you know, when you say that the ‘world is bigger than five,’ George Orwell, who said ‘In a time of universal deceit — telling the truth is a revolutionary act,’ would have stood up and applauded you. And Daniel Defoe would have joined him as well,” she said.
On criticism against new palace: ‘We don’t care’
Erdoğan also touched on criticism of the newly built presidential palace, which cost at least TL 1.3 billion ($615 million), saying the new complex does not belong to him but the nation and that it shows where Turkey is governed from.
“They have said this and that. Let them say it. We don’t care at all. We are in an effort to become a big state. We have Dolmabahçe Palace and Topkapı Palace, which we are still proud of. Do we have something that we can leave for the future generations? Look at this [palace]. When people ask where Turkey is governed, this palace will answer that question,” Erdoğan said.
“This is not Tayyip Erdoğan’s palace. This is the palace of the Turkish nation,” he added.