27 April 2006

608) Extracting a Lesson from Armenian Emigration

The Editor in Chief of the Armenian newspaper Agos, Hrant Dink and Turkish-Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan made two different statements last week on the Armenian issue. Dink said it was a big mistake on the part of the Armenians to trust the British, Germans, French, and Russians.

Protestant missionaries and Russians caused conflicts among the two communities which had lived together for centuries, during the last years of the Ottoman Empire, and they watched the events that unfolded and the Armenian emigration. These countries acted in accordance with the interests of their respective states and left when their interests were at risk. These provocations caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Turks and Armenians. People were left homeless. Children became orphans and women became widows. Two good friends became enemies, perhaps forever. The big states left this region after getting what they wanted. Neither the rights nor the future of the Armenians was secured.

Unfortunately, the same game is being played today and the players of this game do not even need the least change in tactics. The game that was planned for the Armenians in the past is presently being planned for the Kurds. Those who are striving for the establishment of a Kurdish state with encouragement from Western powers are not taking the future into account. They do not care about what they will do with the regional forces they are provoking, after these foreign powers leave this region. However, the locals should make their calculations very well as to what they are going to do when the foreigners are gone.

Mutafyan’s remarks last week need to be diagnosed very well. Looking at the Armenian issue from another perspective, he said that Armenian political parties and Armenian patriarchs in the 19th century also bore the responsibility for the outbreak of the crisis. Mutafyan, undoubtedly, did not put all the blame on the shoulders of the Armenians; however, he stressed that the Armenians and big states also bore the responsibility along with the Ottoman Empire.

What I am particularly interested in here is the mistakes of the Armenian leaders; the Armenian patriarchs not fulfilling their duties of averting such a crisis and the Armenian leaders not warning the youths sufficiently to prevent them from being deceived. It is necessary to scrutinize the mistakes of the Armenian leaders who did not issue the necessary warnings and take measures against the provocations made by the Russian spies and Protestant missionaries at the break in this historical faultline.

Dink’s and Mutafyan’s statements on the Armenian issue are such that could bring a new perspective to history. These rare warning statements show that this geography can still extract very important lessons from the past. Instead of judging the past once again, we should rather focus on “What lessons could be drawn today from those events”. While events that occurred 90 years ago are being reenacted through the Kurds this time, one should look back at those days again and extract lessons from the mistakes. Powers outside the region, which have some plans for this region, have always provoked conflicts among various ethnicities here. When their plans materialize and they leave the region, the region’s residents are left on their own.

Turks and Kurds had been living in these lands before everyone else. They had the same belief and thought. They married each other. They are still living in these lands and will also continue to do so in the future. Moreover, they are still relatives. Their leaders, with common sense, should tell the youths more about these realities. The leaders of the Kurds, in particular, should understand this historical fact well and act in a more constructive manner. Ethnic nationalism has done no good to any nation; it will do the Kurds no good, either.

People living in this geography should be more careful when they are listening to the utterances of foreigners. If there is another break in the faultline, the consequences will be hard to bear.




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