Reaction of the Iranology Foundation to the Recent Remarks of the President of Turkey

Following the recent remarks of the Turkish President in Baku, the Iranology Foundation published the following response.

In the Name of God

The remarks of Erdogan, the Turkish President, about the flesh and blood of Iran, Azerbaijan, which were against political norms and historical facts, aroused great fury and hatred in Iran and other political and cultural circles of the world and were condemned by them similar to his other open and hidden interferences in the affairs of Iran and dear Azerbaijan. Before a more serious review of the problems of the Shi’ite and Iranian ethnic groups, particularly our Kurdish brothers, who are treated cruelly by the Turkish government and whose human rights are violated in this country, here, the Iranology Foundation provides a brief description of the great cultural Iran and looks forward to a time when all Iranian ethnic groups that live elsewhere, and all the regions which have been separated from Iran return to their motherland.

All researchers in the field of history introduce the historical Iran as a vast land comprising a part of Transoxiana and the whole Western Asia extending to the Mediterranean Sea and Egypt and sharing borderlines with Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Caucasus region since the time of the Median government. This historical and vast geographical region has always dazzled the eyes of the world with the names of Iranian ethnic groups and nations and the people who have lived there from ancient times until now. Any reference to this geographical and historical territory always reminds us of all the Iranian ethnic groups who are presently living there including the Lurs, Laks, Mazanis, Gilaks, Kushis, Tat people, Talysh people, Baloch people, Pashtuns, Kurds, Azerbaijanis, etc. The lively Iran is the Iran of various ethnic groups, races, and backgrounds that have always lived peacefully alongside each other beyond the borderlines of ethnic geographies in this land. They have also experienced a brilliant past in the history of the great Iran alongside each other in spite of their different cultures and lifestyles. Although some events and incidents in the course of history have resulted in weak politicians’ and rulers’ gifting a part of this land to other countries, rather than making a claim about territorial unity, we can talk about cultural unity among all Iranian ethnic groups, even those that have been separated from this country. They have always regretted their separation from their motherland and culture in the framework of poetry and prose, which constitute a vast realm in the history of Iranian literature since long ago. Nostalgic literature enjoys such an enormous depth and breadth of pain and nostalgia in each and every line it embodies, and Iranian poets have always created poems lamenting separation from the land of Iran:

  • Aras, create a wave, storm like a sea,
  • Destroy the palace of oppressors over their heads,
  • What flows in you is tears, not water,
  • Which has turned into blood,
  • Behold this desperate time and rise into sky,
  • Be a judge, exercise justice, pass a second judgment,
  • Join the seized lands to Iran once again,
  • Or clear the way and remove the captured borderlines,
  • Or reconcile the two souls and bring happiness to our hearts.

Nevertheless, in contrast to this nostalgia that can be heard from the other side of the Aras river, which longs to rejoin its motherland, some pseudo-politicians who have stepped into the realm of history and literature deny some of their important parts, which saddens the people of wisdom and thought. The history of Iran is not limited to the history of an ethnic group, tribe, or region. Iran covers a territory as vast as the Iranian culture and as diverse as Iranian ethnic groups. However, irrespective of any territorial, historical, and geographical claim, it is a lively and energetic cultural country. This land is the true heir and guardian of its ancient culture, civilization and, of course, people. History testifies to the peaceful coexistence and interactions of various Iranian ethnic groups with each other in the land of Iran, as well as to their unity and friendship with one another. Perhaps, that is why Iranian rulers are different from those politicians who have never been able to compromise and coexist with other ethnic groups and nations, such as Kurds, Armenians and, at times, the Shi’ites of their own land in the course of history.

The remarks of Rajab Tayyib Erdogan and the playing of the particular Ottoman march known as Mehter in Baku, a separated part of Iran, his interventionist words about Armenia and their great similarity to the remarks he has made about the legitimate and official Syrian government along with Azari holders of the ceremony referring to the names of some of the most important elements of Iran’s historical and natural heritage, Arg Alishah of Tabriz and Mount Sabalan, during the military march provoked great dismay, astonishment, and fury.

Wise people are well aware that this thoughtless behavior, more than anything else, threatens the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Moreover, if it does not originate in lack of knowledge and ignorance, it is a provoking act rooted in Erdogan’s imagination. What is considered as proof for the legitimacy of encroaching Azari-speaking lands of Azerbaijan is nothing but an absurd idea and, due to the present political conditions of the world, a despicable thought. If the idea of speaking the same language of a neighboring country can be accepted as an excuse to invade and capture that land, belonging to the same ethnic group and being of the same race would be a more solid excuse. About half of the people of Asia Minor (present Turkey) share a race and culture different from Turks and speak a language different from the standard language of this country. Among the non-Turkish speaking ethnic groups in Turkey, the brave and honorable Kurd men and women, who have always been oppressed and treated cruelly by pan-Turkist extremists, are Iranians who, similar to other Kurds in far corners of the world, endear their motherland.

A little attention to the history of cultural Iran could help the seditious ringleaders of the region with remembering that the present Turkey and many farther regions were a part of the Iranian territory and belonged to a world government during the Akaemenid era. They should also know that the courageous and hardworking Kurds are presently living in their ancestral land, which is now called by another name. Given such facts, could one ever ignore the cruelties against Iranian Kurds in Turkey?

On the other hand, the presence of numerous Persian words in Turkish language, which have been massively distorted and changed since the beginning of the modern era in Turkey, demonstrate the great influence of Persian over Turkish language and culture. Even in Central Asia, the Origin of Uzbek Turkish language, there are about 5,000 Persian words in use, and if the syntactic, semantic, morphological, and lexical rules of the Persian language which are used in modern Turkish are omitted from this language, almost nothing will remain from the language which is known as Turkish. Moreover, if we separate the cultural and civilizational heritage of Iran in Asia Minor from its collection of historical-cultural monuments, there will remain nothing even from their Ottoman heritage. This is because the whole historical and literary heritage of the Seljuk and Ottoman governments in Asia Minor belongs to the long lasting heritage shared by various regions in the great land of cultural Iran.

The honorable name of Azerbaijan, which is recorded in its original form Atropatena (the place of making a fire) in Behistun inscription; the name of Cappadocia, a province in the center of present-day Turkey, which appears in its original form Ketpatukh in Xerxes I inscription in Van, and many of the monuments and artistic and literary works of the Islamic period of Iran function as solid documents testifying to historical and cultural unity of the great land of Iran. Without any prejudice and following an approach completely different from the thoughtless behavior we witnessed in Baku, we look at such legacies as irrefutable proof demonstrating equality, brotherhood, and inviolable unity in the region.