Sunday, 17 May 2015



Taner Akcam, a well-known Turkish historian who recognizes the Armenian
Genocide, has shared his views on the reasons which has says should
oblige Turkey to revisit its past.

In an article published in the newspaper Taraf, Akcam says he finds
that the necessity of talking about history, especially the Armenian
Genocide, stems from two major beliefs.

"The first belief is that people believe that what happened in 1915
was not a crime. So the question does not fall within the concept of
the Genocide. That's totally wrong ... They say if a state experiences
a hazard which has claimed the lives of some of its citizens, it may
be a sad truth but is never considered a crime.

"The second belief is that saying anything about 1915 means to blacken
and blame the Turkish nation, because those who say, 'The Armenian
Genocide did happen' therewith say, 'our grandfathers are slaughterers,
and Turks are slaughterers'. Many perceive it as a personal insult.

"As a result, there is an extremely strong connection between being
a Turk and the inability to talk of the Armenians' being slaughtered
in 1915. How is it possible to cut that connection? Is it possible
to say - while being a Turk - that Armenians were slaughtered in 1915?

"Yes, it is possible. [The Turkish-Armenian journalist] Hrant Dink
was assassinated for being an Armenian.

"The [ultranationalist] Ogun Samast assassinated him on behalf of
the Turkish government. Today, when you say 'Samast is a murderer',
few if any people take it as a libel or blasphemy for Turks.

"People are able to draw a demarcation line between labeling Samast
as a murderer and [preserving] the Turkish identity, but they cannot
do the same when it comes to the the Samast-style [Ottoman rulers]
Talaat, Enver and Cemal."

"Is it possible to apply the same position to the 1915 events? Yes,
it is.

" To do that Turkish political figures have to cut the connections
between being a Turk and calling the slaughters committed in 1915 by
their name," says the historian.
Armenians refocus on reparations after genocide anniversary
Author Kadri Gursel 
May 4, 2015
Translator Timur Göksel 

Every year on April 24 , the day commonly accepted as the beginning 
of the Armenian genocide, Ankara vehemently refuses to recognize 
the 1915 massacre and deportation of Ottoman Armenians living in 
Anatolia as genocide, and focuses on Washington and whether the 
US president will use the word "genocide" in his April 24 message. 
As this year was the centennial of the Armenian genocide, Ankara 
and the Armenian diaspora as well as Yerevan paid special attention
 to the matter. The general expectation was that even though it is the 
centennial, President Barack Obama would not want to damage 
bilateral ties with Turkey. This is in fact what happened, and Obama 
did not say the word.

From Ankara’s viewpoint, Obama's refraining from saying "genocide" 
meant that the campaign for international recognition was over without 
inflicting heavy damages to Turkey.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis did use the word in the mass observing the 
centennial at the Vatican’s San Pietro Basilica, and the European 
Parliament accepted by a vast majority a resolution defining the 
April 1915 events as genocide.

In Yerevan, where I spent the week with a group of journalists as 
guests of the Hrant Dink Foundation , Al-Monitor looked into what 
kind of an agenda now awaits Turkey on the Armenian issue. The 
foundation, set up in memory of the Armenian-origin journalist 
assassinated by a Turkish right-wing extremist, lists among its 
objectives developing a culture of dialogue, peace and empathy in 
relations between Turkey and Armenia. 

The common point of the answers I received to my questions from 
key university, media and political figures in Yerevan was that the 
focus of the days to come will be the restitution of properties and 
compensation to the grandchildren of the victims and deported 
Armenians. Historian Vahram Ter-Matevosyan of the American 
University of Yerevan told Al-Monitor April 22 , “Talk of restitution 
rather than condemnation is becoming a trend. This trend will 
grow after April 24 , 2015.” Ter-Matevosyan said Armenians could 
go to Turkish courts to recover their properties. He explained that 
research by The American Worcester State University calculated 
that restitution and reparation claims could reach $43 billion. 

Hayk Demoyan, the director of the Armenian Genocide Institute 
and Museum of Yerevan, confirmed in our April 2 meeting that 
claims for compensation and property restitution will be increasingly 
on the agenda in the coming days. He said priority is expected to 
be given to the return of church real estate. Demoyan said, “Many 
Armenians have land deeds , and these must be returned to their 
owners,” and asked for the opening of Ottoman property registries.

Back in Istanbul, it was no surprise to read an April 28 New York 
Times report that lawyers for the Armenian church had gone to 
Turkey’s supreme judicial venue, the Constitutional Court, about the 
return of the church property confiscated in Kozan, Adana province, 
in 1915. This was the first such litigation and probably a precursor 
of others to follow.

In addition to initiatives for compensation and restitution of properties, 
Yerevan will continue to pursue other means to re-establish diplomatic 
ties with Turkey. The protocols signed by the two countries in October 
2009 had stipulated mutual steps to normalize bilateral relations. 
Unfortunately, these documents, although still legally valid, are politically 
dead and will continue to remain so for the foreseeable future.

The blame for this distressing situation lies with President Recep 
Tayyip Erdogan. Before the protocols were signed, when he was still 
prime minister in May 2009 , he linked the normalization of Turkish
-Armenian ties to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Today , the chances 
for a normalization initiative to succeed are weaker than in 2009. 
The political and psychological conditions are worse than they were

Why such a bleak outlook? There is no strong economic or political 
reason for Ankara to give up a solution to Nagorno-Karabakh as a 
precondition. Normalization of ties with Armenia will not enhance 
Turkey’s relations with the West, as was the case before 2009. The 
ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) used the prospect of
 normalization to obtain the West’s support for its struggle to end 
the military tutelage in the country. Today , Turkey’s application 
process for EU membership seems to be in a coma and the AK
P leadership has no intention of resuscitating it as Turkey continues 
to distance itself from the West. As Azerbaijan’s investments in 
Turkey grow, Baku’s influence over Ankara is becoming more tangible.

In Yerevan, journalists were told that the Armenians had lost their 
confidence in the AKP government for not implementing the protocol
s. This means that the Yerevan government will not have an easy 
time of persuading its public to support any normalization with the 
AKP’s Turkey.

If the protocols had been implemented, the dynamic that would have 
blossomed could have kept the Armenian diaspora out of Turkey
-Armenia relations. But now the diaspora appears to have become 
more of a direct party to bilateral relations, and this further complicates 
the issue.

[in the last section, you can include the government of the UK]

Speech of Taner Akçam at TIME SQUARE on April 26, 2016 
at the Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration 

On this, a day laden with great urgency and historical meaning, 
I would like to thank you for allowing me to appear with you and 
to share your grief and sorrow.

Today does not merely mark the centennial of the annihilation of 
some 1.5 million Armenians; it also marks a century of denial of this 
crime. The Turkish government continues to deny not merely any 
responsibility for the horrors inflicted upon Armenian people, but 
even the fact that it happened at all. As a Turk, it is from this fact 
that my sorrow and great shame derive. 

My sole consolation is that I do not grieve alone: the nation of 
Turkey consists of more than simply its denialist regime; there 
is another Turkey, and the citizens of that Turkey are ready to 
face their history. It is those Turks who feel obligated to erase the 
black stain left by those who committed these crimes. In more than 
25 cities from Istanbul to Van, the people of this Turkey have not 
waited for denialist government to recognize the genocide. Instead, 
they have been blazing a new path; one that allows them to discover 
their past. I am not an official representative of this other Turkey, but
 I know I speak for many when I convey to you, the Armenian people, 
my sincere apologies for both past crimes and for this century of 

Here, as I stand before you today, I think I can promise in name
of this other Turkey to do everything in our power to finally put 
an end to this denialism. 

Our history is not merely a chronicle of murderers. It is also a 
history of brave and righteous people who risked their lives to 
save thousands of Armenians. And it is only through the recognition 
and honoring of these people that we can hope to build a better future. 
While we should indeed today condemn those crimes committed and 
the refusal to acknowledge them, we must also acknowledge our debt 
to those who refused to participate or actively opposed them. Such 
persons have taught us, through their example that human decency
and courage can indeed survive in times of great evil. 

Recognition of my country’s historic wrongs is not simply important 
for the sake of historical accuracy---instead it directly concerns the 
kind of society that we envision for our future. Dehumanization is the 
most important component of all mass atrocities. In order to be 
able to kill, perpetrators first dehumanize their victims. Recognition 
of the crime is necessary for restoring that humanity, for returning 
to the victims their dignity! Without this recognition subsequent 
generations cannot properly mourn and heal. Mourning and healing are 
necessary for closure, and can only come after the truth is acknowledged. 
If we fail to do so, we inadvertently lend legitimization to the perpetrators 
and their goals. After decades of denials, you Armenians need to heal 
and to be assured that the justice you seek will be attained. Any 
reconciliation between Turks and Armenians will have to be built 
on a foundation of acknowledged truth! Without truth, there cannot 
be peace. And I am here to assure you in name of this “ other Turkey ” 
that we are determined to continue the struggle until the truth shall 
finally prevail. 

To achieve a Turkey that is democratic, secure society and 
respectful of human rights, it must begin with a confronting of 
the past, an acknowledging of past wrongs. 

A hundred years ago, the Ottoman government had a flawed concept 
of national security. They viewed the Armenians and their demands for 
equality and social justice as a threat to the Ottoman state and society
They targeted the Armenians for extermination. Today in Turkey 
Turkish and Armenian children are taught, through textbooks 
published by the Education Ministry, that the Armenians continue 
today to pose a threat to national security. These textbooks are 
filled with hateful and racist remarks against Armenians and are 
steeped in distorted narratives about “treacherous Armenians.” 

It is very troubling to see that the U.S. has still not officially recognized 
the Armenian genocide. The justification for their position remains the 
same: the crucial role of Turkey in the country’s geopolitical security 
strategy. To raise a moral argument regarding a century-old event, 
they argue, would needless anger their Turkish ally and jeopardize 
American security interests. It is ironic that the words, ‘national 
security,’ continue to haunt Armenian people even here in the 
United States. 

But juxtaposing “national interest” and “morality” is just plain wrong. 
Any security policy in the Middle East that excludes morality cannot 
ultimately be a “realistic” policy because it ultimately undermines 
national security. History and historical injustices are not dead issues 
and have very real consequences in the Middle East, where the past 
has always been the present. There is a strong interconnection 
between security, democracy, and the accurate understanding of history, 
and perhaps nowhere more than in the Middle East. 

Historical injustices and their continual denial of them by a state or 
dominant group poses an obstacle to both further democratization 
and also for stable relations between different ethnic and religious 
groups. Kurds, Arabs, Alewites, Armenians and other Christians in 
the region perceive each other and Turkey through this flawed 
prism of history. If we want a successful regional policy, we have to 
find a way to integrate acknowledgement of past wrongs into any 
national security policy.

Turkey’s ongoing policy of denialism both at home and abroad 
is not simply a moral abomination ; it threatens to the country 
and the region’s democracy, stability and security. 

Turkey continues its denialist policies because it has yet to face 
serious external pressure to do otherwise. This “ other Turkey” of 
I spoke is determined to face up to the darker history of our country’s
past and put an end to the denialist policies. All that is lacking is 
external pressure from international community.

The United States has thus far continued to support the denialist 
regime in Turkey, but how can the United States, which prides 
itself on its exceptionalism in supporting liberal values and human 
rights at home and across the world, justify a position at odds with 
its own democratic values? America should not uphold human rights 
only when it is expedient. The test of American exceptionalism is the 
commitment to persevere in upholding these principles even when it 
may seem costly or inconvenient to do so. 

By officially recognizing the Armenian genocide, the United States 
could lend its moral and political weight to encourage Turkey to come 
to terms with its history, to further embrace democratization, and to 
contribute to its own future stability and that of the region. The citizens 
of my Turkey, the “other Turkey,” and the Armenians throughout the 
world are waiting for the US to join us in acknowledging the truth.

Again, I thank you for allowing me to address to you here on this day 
of both sorrow and hope. Let us remember and honor the victims, 
and continue
Armenians' strategy
May 16 , 2015 

Like any other community, Armenians side with groups that voice 
their grievances in a more radical way. One reason for this is Turkey's 
denial over the years of the 1915 events. This situation justified radical 
Armenians whose rhetoric dominated the majority of discussions in 
the Armenian community. Although this did not necessarily require 
Armenians to develop a maximalist strategy, it was the easiest way 
toward which the Armenian diaspora was inclined. 

The strategy in question consists of three parts: Moving the issue of 
recognition away from its historical context and reducing it to the 
acceptance of genocide, regarding the Turkish state as an addressee 
that is supposed to accept it as genocide and considering activism as 
a sufficient policy.

The description of the matter as recognition of the genocide relieved 
Armenians considerably. It enabled Armenians to escape the 
complicated structure of history and, for instance, it made them leave 
the politics of Dashnaks to the sphere of "experts." For Armenians, 
it became a kind of historical knowledge that the 1915 incidents were 
genocide, so much so that we Armenians do not have to know about 
our own history. For a vast majority, it might be enough to know that 
what was experienced was genocide. Unfortunately, this preference
 means the estrangement of Armenians from their own history and
 experiences. Perhaps, one reason why they cling to the term genocide 
is their wish to conceal this alienation.

It was exhausting to regard the Turkish state as an addressee, as 
this situation doomed Armenians' emotional world to a superficial 
politicization. This is because forcing a state to take a certain step 
implies that you yourself are acting like a state. Indeed, the Armenian 
diaspora dedicated all its energy to lobbying. It strived to convince 
foreign governments and  parliaments to accept the Armenian 
genocide. Thus, the issue gradually became an interstate topic and 
Turkey's denial politics became legitimate. It was nonsensical to talk 
about the goodwill of states that acknowledged the genocide. Nation
-states are the parts of a world where non-ethical institutionalizations 
and interests are prioritized. Therefore, the presence of countries that 
accept the genocide said something to Turkey about their policies on 
Turkey, but they did not say anything about 1915. Moreover, it moved 
1915 further away from its historical context and made it a part of 
current opportunistic politics. 

The fact that the Armenian diaspora eventually found activism sufficient 
overwhelmed the debate. They failed to understand that the repetition 
of norms and moral principles was not politics. As Armenians were 
victims, they thought that the recognition of their sorrows and the 
alleviation of their grievances was their incontestable right. However, 
history is not a fair judge. Obtaining the things that you think you 
deserve is directly related to what you are doing here and now. The 
recognition of 1915 requires Armenians to develop a correct political 
strategy today .

The logic of this correct strategy is possible with going beyond the 
there e mistakes that have been made so far - understanding and 
recognizing concrete life experiences, rather than genocide, in all 
their complexity; expecting this recognition from Turkish society, 
rather than from the state and accepting particularly the conservative
 wing of society as an addressee and escaping the comfort of activism, 
trying to understand the current Turkey and to get in touch with it. Such 
a strategy will rapidly make Armenians' experiences the property of 
Turkey's community and will make statist resistance meaningless. 
Then it will be up to each individual to call it genocide or not. Yet still, 
we can manage to look at history together. 

Buenos Aires Herald, Argentina
May 14 2015
By Richard Townley
Herald Staff

Parliamentary speaker calls on Netanyahu gov't to 'reevaluate'
its position

Israel has a moral obligation to officially recognize the 1915 Armenian
genocide, The speaker for the Israeli Knesset, Yuli-Yoel Edelstein,
declared yesterday, during a special parliamentary debate.

With Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on a trip to Germany, the comments
come with the speaker as acting-president.

"The state of Israel must reevaluate the criteria of our position on
this issue," Edelstein said.

"It is no secret that Israel has taken too ambivalent a stance on
the Armenian genocide," he added. "We Jews who are still suffering
from the impact of the Holocaust cannot minimize the tragedy."

Edelstein called the event "one of the most atrocious and dramatic
incidents" of the last century.

The Armenian Genocide refers to the massacre, a century ago, of up to
1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in what is now Turkey during
World War I. Historically, Turkish governments have dismissed the idea
the act was one of genocide, and argue that they were not racially
targeted killings, just one event in the fall of an empire. The
Armenian government however is insistent the massacre was genocide.

Israel's reluctance to recognize it as such may be confusing to outside
observers, not least given their unique history as a state created
in the wake of the 20th century's most well-documented genocide.

Recently, Pope Francis -- who is set to sign a groundbreaking treaty
that recognizes Palestinian statehood imminently, a move that triggered
anger in Israel yesterday -- sparked diplomatic outrage in Turkey
after referring to the 1915 massacre as an act of genocide.

For decades, the Turkish position has meant that the United States,
an important ally, has sought to avoid ruffling Ankara's feathers. In
fact, in 2006, then-senator Barack Obama hammered the George W. Bush
administration for not taking a stand.

"The Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or
a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an
overwhelming body of historical evidence," he said at the time.

But since assuming office, Obama has been surprisingly reticent about
the matter, refusing to officially acknowledge the event as a genocide,
as promised in his first election campaign seven years ago.

Ties between the nations

Turkey has the second-largest military in NATO, behind only the US,
and is a crucial ally when it comes to Syria, Iran, the Islamic
States and other Middle East issues. Israel, until recently, had
strong military and political ties to the largely Muslim country.

Speaking to the Herald yesterday, Carlos Manoukian, head of press
and cultural affairs of the Armenian Centre of Argentina, said that
both Israel and the United States should recognize the "truth" of
the massacre.

"Countries that say that they are defenders of human rights --
for example, the US -- but maintain an untrue (version of) history,
eventually have to tell the truth," he said, adding that "Israel is
closely aligned to the US" and as such, their policy must be aligned.

As of 2015, the governments of 27 countries, including Argentina,
as well as forty-three individual US states, have recognized the
events as genocide. The governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan, though,
still deny such a term is appropriate.

Israel has long been a customer of Azerbaijan, importing 40 percent of
its oil from the Muslim-majority state and it exports a considerable
supply of weapons and defence systems to Baku. Armenia and Azerbaijan
meanwhile have had troubled relations, especially after warring over
Nagorno-Karabakh, a largely Armenian territory inside Azerbaijan,
in 1991.

Some have speculated that Israel's refusal to recognize the genocide
has been part of a desire to ensure good relations with Azerbaijan.

A century on, the impact of the forced deportation and slaughter
of ethnic Armenians -- also known as "The Great Catastrophe" --
continues to reverberate.

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