575) 'It is Unethical to Accuse One Side in the Armenian Issue' Patriarch of Turkish-Armenians, Mesrob Mutafyan II

Patriarch of Turkish-Armenians, Mesrob Mutafyan II said the dilemma facing Turkish-Armenian relations can only be overcome by dialogue and mutual respect.
Reflecting the true nature of reality requires courage, said Mutafyan. "In the unfortunate conclusion reached, it is unethical attitude for both parties to ignore each other's responsibility or to completely put it on the other side."

Both nations must be able to look at each other's history without prejudice, he added. "We have to change the mentality of degrading the other."

On Thursday, the Patriarch made a speech at the opening ceremony of a symposium titled "The Art of Co-Existence in Ottoman Society: The Case of Turkish-Armenian Relations" organized by Erciyes University in the Turkish city of Kayseri.

Both countries have achieved important successes in historic social and cultural fields; the respect of Armenians and Turks for each other's national and religious symbols is increasing, according to Mutafyan.

Mutafyan said the incidents that occur during representative independence celebrations are outdated, and maintained they sow seeds of enmity.

"Instead of publishing books presenting the Turkish and Armenian theses in different ways memorized by everyone, Turkish and English translations of Armenian works that can make important contributions in Turkish-Armenian relationships must be realized," Mutafyan said.

Mutafyan, highlighting Turks and Armenians are people of the same territory, said the expression, "The Turks and Kurds are essential elements," is discriminatory.

Calling himself a Republican child, Patriarch criticized the understanding of secularism.

"The practice of 'Jacobean secularism' in our country sometimes prevents Islam's ethical dimensions and spiritual richness of meaning from being adding to the analyses," Mutafyan said.

The Armenian Patriarch called on Turks and Armenians to abandon the narrow horizon of nationalism and said, "Replacing nationalism and racism with hospitality is more appropriate to our ethical values."

The symposium, where 125 academics from more than 40 universities within and outside Turkey participated, will continue today as well.

By Sezai Kalayci, Musa Ozyurek, Kayseri
April 21, 2006


Patriarch Mutafyan complains of nationalism

Both Turks and Armenians need to distance themselves from the narrow window of nationalism and racism, Turkish Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan stated yesterday at a symposium held in the central Anatolian province of Kayseri.

Delivering a speech at the symposium titled The Art of Living Together in the Ottoman Society: The Case of Turkish-Armenian Relations and hosted by Erciyes University, Mutafyan complained of re-enactment demonstrations held in Anatolia marking the liberation of several provinces during the War of Independence. During those re-enactments, Ottoman Armenians are usually portrayed as traitors and are killed by Turks.

“The inconsideration during those demonstrations is nothing more than uncivilized implementations that are seeding enmity,Mutafyan was quoted as saying by private NTV news channel.

“Establishing hospitality instead of nationalism and racism instead is more in compliance with our moral values.

‘Mutual sacrifice necessary for Turkish-Armenian relations'

Mutual respect will play a key role in starting a dialogue between Turkish and Armenian people and for normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia, Mutafyan said and offered acceleration of historical and scientific studies that introduce the concept of living together with concrete examples, instead of nostalgic expressions concerning good relations between Turks and Armenians in the past.

“Dialogue is indispensable for breaking free from today's dilemma in relations and for dialogue, building of mutual trust is indispensable, Mutafyan was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency, while emphasizing that more than new interpretations, new resources were necessary at the current stage of deadlock.

The Armenian patriarch also pointed out the difficulty in bringing parties together if those parties are humiliating each other and directing verbal insults at each other.

April 21, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News


Getting rid of taboos

We have great respect for freedom of thought and naturally cannot complain if someone comes up with an assertion that the Turkish nation is so noble that the crime of genocide cannot have occurred in its history even though we may have difficulty understanding what the correlation is between nobility and crime.

Throughout the ages, nobles all over the world have been involved in heinous crimes. Right, the criminal of one person might often be the hero of another, but history is full of stories about Vlad Tepes Dracula and such controversial noble people, the acts of whom cannot be comprehended by those who might consider them among the “great people of their nations.

Those peoples and their acts, irrespective of how deplorable or praiseworthy they might be, have become history. There can be no benefit to anyone in scratching past wounds and creating fresh hostilities.

Having said this, we have to underline our belief that peoples must develop the ability to accept their histories as they are and stop trying to forge imaginary and heroic tales under the pretext of rewriting history.

Irrespective of whether the number was as high as the Armenians claim or as negligible as some Turkish historians tend to believe -- even if, as put forward by some people, the number of Turks, Kurds and other ethnicities who perished in those years was much higher that the number of Armenians killed, or if the killings were the result of civil war, prevailing conditions, famine or the like, and regardless of whatever information was available to the Ottoman administration of the time proving the collaboration of the Armenian population with aggressor Russia -- the fact is that an immense human tragedy took place and many perished in our land, and these sufferings have inflicted a serious trauma on the mentality of a nation with which we not only share some hostilities but also a beautiful common culture.

What really happened during those difficult years -- when the Ottoman Empire was in the process of dissolution and the central authority was weakened and when demoralization, poverty, famine, epidemics and wars were just ordinary facts of life -- must be researched by scholars of history in Turkish, Armenian, British and Russian archives, and the outcome must be respected by the political elites of both Turkey and Armenia without any prejudice.

Insisting that the Turkish nation is guilty of genocide and making the acknowledgment of the genocide claim a precondition for further talks cannot be a starting point. Similarly, basing Turkey's position firmly on a policy of denial and rhetoric that no such crime could have been committed by this "noble" nation cannot be a starting point, either. We must get rid of these taboos. We have to talk more on these subjects. We have to stop criminalizing people who speak out against the official policies.

There is an allergy in Turkey to the use of the word genocide. That's for sure. There is an obsession in Armenia and in the Armenian diaspora on the use of the word genocide as well. Perhaps we should put this controversy over the semantics of the word behind us and find a mutually acceptable description that could help overcome the mental deadlock on this issue on both sides. Anyhow, genocide is a crime defined in international law under a United Nations resolution dated Dec. 11, 1946; therefore, the term cannot be applied retrospectively. Thus, why can't we find another terminology for the 1915-1918 events and proceed from that point on towards shedding light on what indeed happened?

It is in the best interest of Turkey to leave this contentious issue behind and move ahead on forging and cementing good neighborly relations with our neighbor Armenia. And it is in the best national interest of the Armenians to succeed in looking into the future and see the prospects that are offered by good neighborly relations with Turkey rather than burying themselves in a history based on hearsay, exaggeration, emotions and unverified claims.

Why can we not manage to look into the future and concentrate on our mutual interests?

April 22, 2006





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