Institute of Turkish Studies (ITS), a non-profit organization, was founded in
1983 with $3 million donated by the Government of Turkey in Washington, D.C.
ITS issued a press release on May 31, 2019 announcing that it will cease its
operations on September 30, 2020.
was a surprising announcement for two reasons:
sum of $3 million is a relatively small amount for the Turkish government
having spent tens of millions of dollars to hire public relations and lobbying
firms in the United States for many years. Returning the $3 million or whatever
is left of it to Turkey will not make a major difference in the country’s
financial condition. Turkey needs several hundred billion dollars to recover
from its economic collapse.
the boastful press release by the Institute’s leadership about its
accomplishments, the withdrawal of the funds by the Turkish government implies
that the Institute had failed to meet its propaganda goals. The Turkish
government stopped funding ITS in 2015. To make matters worse, the Institute’s
leaders acknowledge in their press release that they have not been successful
in raising sufficient funds from outside sources to continue the Institute’s
operations. In recent years, the ITS received partial financial support from
Georgetown University, Koç Holding, FIBA Holding, and Mr. and Mrs. Muhtar Kent
(former Board chairman of The Coca-Cola Company), and other individual donors.
ITS press release claims that its grants since 1983 have promoted Turkey and
Turkish studies “in 45 US states plus the District of Columbia. Over 130
dissertation writing grants translated into 70-plus professorial positions at
American institutions of higher education, and language and research awards
helped prepare at least 235 others who took up teaching and research positions in
the United States and elsewhere. Awards to several dozen developing scholars
over the last five years will pay further dividends in the future. Nearly 80 US
institutions established library/research collections relating to Turkey, or
added significantly to existing resources, thanks to ITS funding, and 19
American universities received seed money to support the establishment of new,
Turkey-related teaching positions.”
recent years, the ITS was located at the offices of the Edmund A. Walsh School
of Foreign Service on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
The Honorary Chairman of the Institute was the Turkish Ambassador in the U.S.,
confirming the close supervision of ITS grants by the Turkish government.
Institute of Turkish Studies has been embroiled in a number of scandals,
starting with Heath Lowry who was the founder and executive director of the
Institute from 1983 to 1993. Lowry was instrumental in preparing and publishing
full-page ads in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Washington
Times on May 19, 1985, signed by 69 ‘scholars’ who denied the occurrence of the
Armenian Genocide. Lowry subsequently became the Ataturk Professor of Ottoman
& Modern Turkish Studies at Princeton University, funded by a $750,000 Turkish
was the first target of a legal confrontation with the Turkish Institute, after
I wrote an editorial in 1985 in The California Courier listing the names of the
U.S. scholars and the amount of money they had each received from the Turkish
Institute. Interestingly, many of these scholars were the same ones who were
given grants by the Turkish Institute. I received a letter from the attorneys
of ITS stating that they will sue me for libel unless I published a lengthy
retraction which I refused to do. My attorneys informed the Turkish Institute
lawyers that their allegation of libel had no merit and informed them that we
will file a counter lawsuit. In response, the ITS dropped its threatened
in 1995, an article titled “Professional Ethics and the Denial of Armenian
Genocide,” was published in Holocaust and Genocide Studies exposing a letter
sent to Prof. Robert Jay Lifton, drafted by ITS Executive Director Heath Lowry
in 1990 on behalf of the Turkish Ambassador Nuzhet Kandemir, denying the facts
of the Armenian Genocide. Lowry’s draft letter in the name Ambassador was
inadvertently sent to Prof. Lifton, causing a major academic scandal.
2006, American professor Donald Quataert resigned from the chairmanship of ITS
Board after refusing to obey the Turkish Ambassador’s orders that Turkey would
revoke the ITS funding unless Prof. Quataert retracted a scholarly book review
in which he had written "what happened to the Armenians readily satisfies
the U.N. definition of genocide.” Several other ITS Board members resigned
shortly in protest.
the announced closing of the Institute of Turkish Studies, there will be one
less outlet for Turkish propaganda in the United States distorting the tragic
truths of the Armenian Genocide.