Monday, 20 April 2015

ARMENIAN NEWS...@ - [what do you think about the following article?

It has a great second heading, starts off well then seems to 
diminish Turkey's responsibilities by saying that anyone may yield
to genocidal actions - so where's the accountability? where's the
solace for victims? what about the consequences? Do we just 
accept this as a feature of human nature that cannot be changed?
Am I over-reacting?] 

The Times, UK
We're all capable of committing genocide
David Aaronovitch 
April 15 2015 

Turkey's row with the Pope over the Armenian massacre 
highlights how no country can hide from its history 

A row between the Pope and the Turks has a pleasingly antique ring to
it, invoking 16th century tapestries of the Battle of Lepanto or the
Siege of Malta. And the summoning of the ambassador of the Vatican to
the foreign ministry in Ankara (not, alas, to the Sublime Porte in
Istanbul) for a dressing down was indeed over a historical matter. But
one that resonates even a hundred years after the event.

Last Sunday, Pope Francis referred to the "first genocide of the 20th
century" as being that of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire. A
century ago next week, it began with the arrest and murder of more
than 200 Armenian intellectuals and politicians. In the succeeding
months, between a million and a million and a half members of this
Christian minority died in a series of forced marches and deportations
into the desert areas of Ottoman Syria and Iraq. Those who were not
murdered died from starvation, thirst and disease.

Why did it happen? The Armenians were seen by the government as fifth
columnists aiding their Russian Christian brethren to the north, with
whom Turkey was at war. Much of the brutality was abetted by
neighbours of the Armenians who both feared them and stood to gain
from their disappearance. By the end of 1916 the Armenian population
of Turkey had almost completely disappeared, creating a bitter
diaspora outside the country and leaving mass graves inside.

Turkey and Turkish patriots have refused to accept what happened as a
genocide. Even in the 21st century to speak or write openly about the
events of 1915-16 can be fatal. In 2007 the Turkish-Armenian
journalist Hrant Dink, who had appeared in a documentary about the
genocide, was shot dead in Istanbul by a teenage nationalist.

In one of those ironies defined by the inability of the perpetrator to
appreciate irony, Dink was murdered by a man insulted by the idea that
he was the kind of man who might murder people.

On the day Dink was killed his newspaper, Agos, carried a story about
the restoration after 90 years of an Armenian church on an island in a
lake in Turkey. It was a place I knew. Twenty years before I had stood
outside that church - the Church of the Holy Cross on Akdamar island -
and marvelled at its romantic location and the unique friezes on its
outside walls.

When I was there it was ruined, having been abandoned at the time of
the genocide. But then the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in its
expansive, seemingly ideologically generous phase, first restored the
building and then, four years later, permitted a Christian liturgy to
be said there, followed in 2013 by the baptism of some Armenian boys.

I am something of a Turkophile. I love the country and its people and
so I was pleased. If Erdogan could somehow drain the swamp of extreme
Turkish nationalism then Turkey could make a great contribution to the
modern world. But I knew too that at the reopening of the Akdamar
church there had been a demonstration against the ceremony. A banner
read: "The Turkish people are noble. They would never commit

The elastic band snapped back.

Almost as soon as Erdogan found himself under real political pressure
he reverted to nationalism.

Critics of the government were not just wrong, they became
unpatriotic. Opposition to Erdogan was not legitimate because it was
somehow foreign - associated with conspiracies by outside powers to
diminish Turkey.

Volkan Bozkir, Turkey's minister for European affairs, criticised the
Pope by reference to his native Argentina this week. In that country,
said Mr Bozkir, "the Armenian diaspora controls the media and
business" and that was why the Pope said what he did. You would have
thought it was a too-obvious echo of Holocaustdeniers' accusations
about the Jewish lobby.

But Mr Bozkir was not finished with Argentina. Who, in any case, were
the Argentinians to talk? Was not Argentina "a country that welcomed
the leading executors of the Jewish Holocaust, Nazi torturers, with
open arms"? If Mr Bozkir's "Armenian lobby" point was absurd and
demeaning, his "Argentinians are not innocent" point was almost the
opposite. Because, of course, he was right. And, indeed, he could have
taken it further. Where, after all, were the original inhabitants of
that long, grassy country? Dead, scattered and deprived of land and
liberty by the ancestors of those now calling Mr Bozkir's great
grandparents genocidaires. He might have added (and Turks often do)
the "whatabout" objection to any discussion of culpability. What about
the Turks "ethnically cleansed" from the Balkans in the long decline
of the Ottoman Empire after 1878? Or those displaced from Greece
following the war of 1919 to 1922? Where are the minarets of
Thessalonica now? And much of that would have been true too. Because
the awful reality of massacres and despoliations is not that any of us
could become the victim of them, but that any of us - in the wrong
circumstances - could become the perpetrators. For example, the tribal
ancestors of the Kurds, a people whose aspirations to nationhood and
democracy I support - played a horrible part in the genocide of the
Armenians. By the 1980s they were themselves the victims of a
genocidal campaign by Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

Our ancestors first profited massively from and then repented the
slave trade, selectively massacred rebels in the colonies and presided
neglectfully over terrible famines. It was not all they did, but they
did it all the same. It is a necessary condition to not repeating such
crimes, I think, that you must recognise that they were indeed crimes.

Nor does it end there. There is, of course, a moral difference between
committing genocide and other gross violations of human rights, and
looking on while others commit them. But the latter - the stance of
the Bad Samaritan - is still morally hard to defend. I am thinking of
Rwanda in 1994. And also I reflect that many thousands of Armenians
ended up as corpses in the region of Syria and Iraq now held by
Islamic State or after being barrel bombed by President Assad. To
judge by our leaders, we're happy to walk by on the other side.

The stance of the Bad Samaritan is still morally hard to defend. 

Today's Zaman, Turkey
April 16 2015

The White House has described the the World War I killings of up to
1.5 million Armenians as a "historical fact," urging Turkey to face
painful elements of its past to build a more tolerant future.

"President [Barack Obama] and other senior administration officials
have repeatedly acknowledged as historical fact that 1.5 millions
Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days
of the Ottoman Empire," Josh Earnest said during a press briefing
on Thursday.

He said Washington earlier stated that they mourn those deaths and
"full, frank and just acknowledgements of the facts is in the interest
of everybody, including Turkey, Armenia and the US."

As Armenians across the world are preparing to mark the centennial
of the Armenian killings in 1915, the issue has stirred controversy
in Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected remarks
by Pope Francis on the 1915 events and other ministers described the
European Parliament's resolution on the issue as "null and void."

Turkey says it had never had an intention to massacre Armenians and
that the deaths with "inflated numbers" are part of a tragic war that
had taken a toll on all sides, including Turks. Ankara says it is up
to historians to decide on the issue and rejects politicization of
the debate. Armenia rejected an offer by Turkey to establish a joint
commission, arguing that such a move would dilute the tragedy.

Armenians believe that up to 1.5 million of their brethren were either
killed or sent to death a century ago and claims that the killings
amounted to genocide. On Sunday, Pope Francis angered Turkey by
suggesting -- not for the first time -- that the Armenians killings
were the "first genocide of the 20th century." Turkey scoled Vatican
ambassador in Ankara and recalled its ambassador from Vatican for
"consultations" -- a nickname for a diplomatic protest.

One of the principles that has guided the US administration's work in
this area and the atrocity-prevention more broadly, Earnest added,
has been that nations grow strong by acknowledging and reckoning
with painful elements of their pasts and doing so is essential to
"building a foundation in a more just and more tolerant future."

Every year on April 24, Obama issues a statement to mark the
anniversary of the 1915 events. Although he made an electoral promise
that he would recognize the killings as the genocide, he only used
the Armenian word for the events -- the great tragedy -- so far.

The question remains if he is going to use the term this year as
Armenians have renewed their push on Western governments recognize
the 1915 killings as genocide. A resolution on the recognition of the
so-called Armenian genocide remains on the agenda of a US House of
Representatives committee and nearly 50 US lawmakers have extended
their support for the resolution.

President Obama has so far refrained to use a language in his
statements that would outrage Turkey. "This has been our policy,
position and our approach for a number of years now," Earnest said when
asked he the president is going to use the word "genocide" this year.

He said it has been customary for the president to issue a statement
on this "terrible historical event" on April 24, but he said he would
not anticipate "any updates on our policy until then."

[this last month's article may explain the timidness of the USA]
Turkey threatens 'serious consequences' after US vote on
Armenian genocide
5 March 2015 

Strategic partnership at risk despite Barack Obama's attempts to
stop Congress resolution

Turkey has threatened to downgrade its strategic relationship with
the US amid nationalist anger over a vote in the US Congress that
defined the mass killings of Armenians during the first world war
as genocide.

Barack Obama's administration, which regards Turkey as an important
ally, was today desperately seeking to defuse the row. It expressed its
frustration with the House of Representatives' foreign affairs committee,
which voted 23-22 yesterday in favour of a resolution labelling the
1915 massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians a "genocide".

A furious Turkey may now deny the US access to the Incirlik air base,
a staging post for Iraq, as it did at the time of the 2003 invasion, or
withdraw its sizeable troop contribution to the coalition forces in

On the diplomatic front, the US needs the support of Turkey, which has
a seat on the UN security council, in the push for sanctions against Iran
over its nuclear programme. Turkey is also helpful to the US on a host
of other diplomatic issues in the Middle East and central Asia.

The White House and state department began work today to try to
prevent the controversial issue making its way to the floor of the house
for a full vote.

In Turkey, Suat Kiniklioglu, the influential deputy chairman for external
affairs in the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), warned of
"major consequences" if the resolution was accepted by the full House
of Representatives.

"If they choose to bring this to the floor they will have to face the fact
that the consequences would be serious – the relationship would be
downgraded at every level," he said. "Everything from Afghanistan to
Pakistan to Iraq to the Middle East process would be affected.

"There would be major disruption to the relationship between Turkey
and the US."

His comments reflected deep-seated anger throughout Turkish society,
as well as an official determination to press the Obama administration
into making sure the resolution progresses no further.

Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Washington for urgent "consultations"
immediately after the vote, which was screened live on nationwide

Its foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, appeared to blame the outcome
on the White House, and said that describing the 1915 Armenian killings
as genocide was an insult to Turkey's "honour". France and Canada
have both classified the killings as genocide, unlike Britain.

"The picture shows that the US administration did not put enough
weight behind the issue," Davutoglu told a news conference. "We are
seriously disturbed by the result."

The mass killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians has long been a highly
sensitive subject in Turkey. While the issue is now more openly debated
than in the past, Turkish officials insist that to describe it as genocide
equates it with the Nazi Holocaust.

Turkey admits that hundreds of thousands of Armenians died, but
disputes suggestions that it was part of a programme to eliminate the
population, insisting instead that many died of disease. It has also
suggested that the numbers have been inflated, and pointed out that
many Turks died at the hands of Armenians.

Hillary Clinton , the US secretary of state, who is on a visit to South
America, stressed that both she and Obama opposed the house vote
and wanted to see it go no further. She said any action by Congress
was not appropriate. "We do not believe that the full Congress will,
or should, act upon that resolution, and we have made that clear to
all the parties involved."

Asked how she squared her support for the Armenian campaign
on the election campaign trail with her new position, she said
circumstances had changed, with the Turkish and Armenian
governments engaged in talks on normalisation and a historical
commission established to look at past events.

"I do not think it is for any other country to determine how two
countries resolve matters between them, to the extent that actions
that the United States might take could disrupt this process," she

The chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, Ken
Hachikian, who led the lobbying campaign to get the house committee
to back the resolution, today dismissed the Turkish threat of reprisals.
"This is part of a Turkish pattern or huffing and puffing. With the other
20 countries that have passed similar resolutions, they made similar
threats and then it was business as usual," he said.

Hachikian, who is based in Washington, said he hoped the vote would
go to the full house before 24 April, Armenian genocide commemoration
day. He accused Obama and Clinton of hypocrisy in trying to block a
vote, saying they had supported the Armenian campaign during the
presidential election.

He said the Turkish government had spent $1m during the past few
months lobbying members of Congress. His committee had spent only
$75,000, which included adverts in media outlets read by members of
Congress and their staff.

Although Hachikian claimed to have the votes needed, and 215 members
of the 435-member house have publicly backed the resolution, the chances
of a full vote are small, given the opposition from the White House and
state department.

The vote came as attempts at rapprochement between Turkey and
Armenia – which have no diplomatic ties – had already run aground.
A protocol signed in Geneva last October promising to restore relations
has yet to be ratified by the parliament of either country.

Both Turkish and Armenian analysts voiced fears that the protocols may
now be doomed.

No comments: