Well, Armenian-Turkish relations seem to be the urgent issue in
regional politics (in the South Caucasus) and even more urgent than
the conflicts in this area. Some people think, and I will rank on a par
with them, that within the resolution of this old controversy between
two nations - Armenians and Turks - lies the key to other conflicts
as to the Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) conflict - I will say for sure.
So, what exact prejudices have been preventing the normalization of
Turkish-Armenian relations? Here I want to reply to some arguments
made by Mr. Birand (brought up in the TDN article on 16.10.2007) and
other authors who have some judgments over the above mentioned issue.
At least under two statements by Mr. Mehmet Ali Birand I will sign
in with no eye open: "Let's get rid of articles like the 301 of the
Turkish Penal Code. Let's convince our Azerbaijani brothers.
Azerbaijani brothers should be made to change their mind." These are
the first obstacles for Turkish-Armenian reconciliation.
Mr. Birand says that it will be defective for Turks to identify
themselves as a nation who committed horrible crimes against another
nation, which Armenians claim is defined as genocide in International
Law. Of course, it is very difficult to come to this after some
70 years of "other history." Jose Manuel Barroso stated in 2006
(in Harvard University) that "...the best for Turkey would be to
recognize the genocide.... in Europe we do not like the statement
"there was no genocide."
Terminology not important, but...
I constantly believe that there is no real difference how we will
call the huge crime against humanity committed by Young Turks.
Surely. Some call it "war concomitant losses," "need to protect
state unity," "mass deportation" - the matter will remain as it is:
There were over 1.5 million people dead. A well-known French scientist
Jacques de Morgan wrote in 1917: "The deportations of Western Armenians
are nothing but concealed race extermination. There is no language
rich enough to describe the horrors of it." So, anyone is now free
to understand these words as he wishes and one can easily compare
this with the statements in U.N. Genocide convention (1948).
The main point is - we should recognize and condemn it once and for
all, then try to move ahead with open borders, open and cooperating
societies and true common economic interests within BSEC or any
Today most Turks, or even some Armenians find it very convenient to
forget history after the 1909-16s. I want to remind us of the following
fact: In 1918-19 the revolutionary war tribunals in Istanbul sentenced
(in absentia) Talat, Enver, Cemal, Nazým and other Young Turk leaders
to death and the tribunal statement defined their crime as follows:
1. The mass deportation of Armenians was illegal;
2. They organized "deep state," illegal organization to punish
3. Young Turks party dragged the Ottoman state into meaningless war
I will let you bring your judgments over this, too.
Some honorable representatives of Turkish civil society, former
ambassadors Gunduz Aktan and Þukru Elekdað suggest that Turkey should
seek international arbitration regarding this issue and solve the
problem once and for all. As a precedent one can surely recall the
Srebrenica massacre and the verdict brought up in this regard by Hague
tribunal. But on the other hand there is no country that recognized
the tragedy as genocide and more importantly no state accuses Serbia
nowadays of committing such a crime.
One thing that nobody can change: Armenians and Turks will remain
neighbors however that may be. So, logically we cannot afford hostility
because of our common past. We need empathy and quick actions.