Ömer Engin Lütem*
In this article we will draw attention to the fact that the plan to give part of the Ottoman lands to Armenia with the Sèvres Treaty did not materialize. We will point out that from the legal point of view the Armenian territorial claims were resolved with the 1921 Moscow and Kars Treaties and the 1923 Lausanne Treaty. Then we will describe the position of the Armenians and Armenia from the signing of the Lausanne Treaty until the end of the Second World War. Also, we will recall that at the end of the war the Soviets demanded land from Turkey in order to give it to Armenia, reviving the Armenian nationalism. The genocide allegations too fanned Armenian nationalism and led to the emergence of the Armenian terrorism that targeted Turkish diplomats. When the Armenian terrorist attacks finally came to an end the Armenian question was shifted into the international arena. And the Armenians have focused on gaining official recognition for their genocide allegations from various countries and international organizations to pave the way for demands for territory and compensation. These efforts have gained momentum during Turkey’s European Union (EU) membership process.
I. Armenia’s territorial claims in the wake of the First World War
In 1915, that is, the second year of the First World War, negotiations began among the Allied Powers (Britain, France, Russia) on how to split up the Ottoman Empire. They reached an agreement on this issue in 1916 and Italy joined them in 1917 (Map 1). That partition plan did not envisage the giving of territory to the Armenians. East Anatolia, which was sought by the Armenians, was assigned to Russia in that plan. And Russia had no intention of setting up an Armenian state there. What was being envisaged for the Armenians was autonomy at best.
After Russia withdrew from the war in 1917 the possibility of Armenia getting part of East Anatolia appeared on the agenda. However, what was now being contemplated for Armenia was foreign mandate rather than independence. It was assumed that the USA would be willing to undertake that task.1
When a Peace Conference was convened in Paris at the end of the war, Boghos Nubar Pasha, speaking on behalf of the Ottoman Armenians, called for unification of Armenia (that is, the country situated in the Caucasus) with those parts of the Ottoman Empire where the Armenian Ottomans were residing. He listed these parts in the following manner: Erzurum, Bitlis, Van, Diyarbekir, Harput and Sivas provinces (which the Ottomans used to call the Six Vilayat, that is, the Six Provinces), Cilicia, part of the Trabzon province and the sanjak (subdivision of a province) of Maras. The territory demanded by Boghos Nubar Pasha corresponds to 24 provinces of modern Turkey, namely, Artvin, Kars, Rize, Trabzon, Giresun, Tokat, Sivas, Mersin, Adana, Kahramanmaraş, Adıyaman, Malatya, Elazığ, Tunceli, Gümüşhane, Erzincan, Bayburt, Erzurum, Ağrı, Van, Diyarbakır, Batman, Siirt and Muş. Attached to this article is a map (Map 2) we have drawn to show the places demanded by Boghos Nubar Pasha. That was an area amounting to some 390,000 square kilometers. That is roughly half the territory of modern Turkey.
Boghos Nubar Pasha’s proposal was not accepted since in no part of that vast territory the Armenians were the majority. Millions of Muslims were living in these places. For that reason, even if such an arrangement were to be imposed on Turkey there would have been no way such an Armenian administration could last long. In other words, the big powers would have to help the Armenians in those regions forever. No one wanted to shoulder such a burden. Furthermore, there was a major point that Boghos Nubar Pasha did not know or seemed to forget: A great part of the land he demanded was to be given to France under the aforementioned 1916 agreement.
British Prime Minister Lloyd George dismissed Boghos Nubar Pasha’s suggestions as “Boghos’s fairy tales”.3 Meanwhile, the big powers still could not solve the problem of which regions exactly would be given to the Armenians. In the end, the allied powers put into the Sèvres Treaty, signed on Aug. 10, 1920, the provision (Article 89) that the task of drawing the boundaries of Armenia would be left to President Wilson of the USA.3 Attached to our article is a map that shows the frontiers determined by President Wilson (Map 3).
The Turkish territory to be handed over to the Armenians under the Sèvres Treaty amounted to some 120,000 square kilometers. That was only 30 percent of the total area sought by Boghos Nubar Pasha. However, here too the Armenians were the minority – both prior to and in the aftermath of the war. That area corresponds to the Van, Ağrı, Kars, Artvin, Erzurum, Bingöl, Muş, Bitlis, Siirt, Erzincan, Gümüşhane, Bayburt, Trabzon, Rize and (part of) Sivas provinces of modern Turkey.
How would these provinces, a great part of which was in the hands of the Turkish forces, be handed over to the Armenians? Under normal conditions one would expect France and Britain to help the Armenians occupy these areas since these two countries had fought against the Ottoman Empire and were still present in the region. However, these two countries had discharged a great part of their troops immediately after the war and they did not have adequate forces to assign to that task. Under the circumstances, the Armenian forces would have to tackle on their own the task of seizing the areas outlined by Wilson. However, the Armenian forces which were mostly “armed gangs” could hardly be expected to defeat the Turkish forces that were still a regular army though they had been decimated in the war. The clashes began in late September 1920 and lasted for nearly two months. The Armenian forces were defeated everywhere. With the Treaty signed in Gyumri, Armenia, on Dec. 3, Armenia lost all the provinces it was supposed to get under the Sèvres Treaty. With the Treaty of Gyumri the two sides agreed on today’s frontier between the two countries and Armenia also admitted the invalidity of the Sèvres Treaty.
Since Armenia joined the Soviet Union, the Treaty of Gyumri could not be ratified and it could never take force. Four months later, with the Soviet Union that had by then become the “owner” of the Armenian lands, Turkey signed a treaty in Moscow. The treaty acknowledged today’s frontier. In other words, regarding the frontier, the Treaty of Moscow confirmed the relevant provisions of the Treaty of Gyumri. Concerned about the possibility that due to the federal structure of the Soviet Union there might be different interpretations of this issue in the future, the Ankara government demanded that the Soviet republics of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan too acknowledge its eastern frontier. The Treaty of Kars signed on Oct. 13, 1921 ensured that.4
The Treaty of Kars remains in force; therefore, legally Armenia does not have the right to demand territory from Turkey.
II. Armenians from the Lausanne Treaty to the End of the Second World War
During the negotiating process of the Lausanne Treaty the Turkish delegation nipped in the bud Britain’s attempts to raise the Armenian question. Since Turkey’s border with Armenia had already been determined by the Treaties of Moscow and Kars, no border problem existed anymore. Thus, from the legal standpoint, the Armenian question ceased to exist.5
We see that in the new era that began with the Lausanne Treaty the Armenian question ceased to exist from the political standpoint as well. Indeed, a great part of the Armenians had gone to Armenia, following the Russian armies. Meanwhile, a considerable part of those Armenians that had been subjected to mass relocation spread to various parts of the world from Syria and Lebanon. And the Armenia that had made territorial claims on Turkey, ceased to exist as an independent country. Furthermore, the big powers that had been responsible for the emergence of the Armenian question, Russia, Britain, France and, especially, Germany, were no longer displaying an interest in the Armenians now that a new and strong Turkish state was founded in Lausanne.
During the next two decades there was very little talk about the Armenians and almost none about Armenia on the international scene. Trying to get used to and become settled in the countries to which they had migrated the Diaspora Armenians were, relatively speaking, politically inactive. However, from time to time, they did engage in anti-Turkey activities. For example, due to the influence exerted by the Armenians, the US Congress did not ratify the Friendship and Trade Agreement the USA had signed with Turkey in Lausanne on Aug. 6, 1923. As a consequence the USA was not able to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey. That issue was to be resolved in 1927, that is, five years after Lausanne.6
Meanwhile, after becoming a Soviet republic, Armenia disappeared altogether from the international political scene. The country was subjected to a vigorous collectivization drive and with the exception of the Communists all political forces, the Dashnaks especially, were eliminated. Shortly after becoming a Soviet republic the country lost contact with the outer world just as the other parts of the Soviet Union.
III. Soviet Union Demands Territory from Turkey on Behalf of Armenia (1945-1946)7
With the strength that came from having emerged from the Second World War as a victor, the Soviet Union embarked on an irredentist path, trying to expand to the boundaries Russia once had during the Tsarist era. Meanwhile, with security considerations, it had communist satellite regimes set up in Eastern Europe.
Furthermore, the Soviet Union abandoned its policy of friendship and cooperation with Turkey. It did not renew the 1925 Friendship and Neutrality Treaty and it tried to put pressure on Turkey. Then it demanded those territories that had been transferred to Russia with the 1878 Berlin Treaty, territories which the Ottoman Empire had taken back with the 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Also, it demanded to have the control of the Turkish Straits. The Soviet Foreign Minister explained the territorial demand by saying that the 1921 Treaty of Moscow had been concluded at a time the Soviet Union was still weak and that the time had come to correct that situation. Also, he claimed that Armenia and Georgia needed land.
These demands were supported by Armenia’s newly elected Catholicos of Echmiadzin. A press campaign was started to win support for these demands all over the Soviet Union including Armenia and Georgia. Via the Diaspora, efforts were made to carry out a similar campaign in America and the West European countries. The Diaspora Armenians presented a petition to the 1945 San Francisco meeting on the establishment of the United Nations, demanding the restitution of the “occupied Armenian lands”.8
In parallel with these initiatives a campaign was launched to encourage the Armenians living in various countries to settle in Soviet Armenia. The aim of the campaign was to boost the population in Soviet Armenia since the size of the existing population was too small to populate the regions being sought from Turkey.9 As a result of this campaign many Armenians migrated to Soviet Armenia from various countries, Turkey among them.
Turkey rejected the Soviet territorial claims on Eastern Anatolia as well as the demand for Soviet control over the Turkish Straits. To ensure the country’s security in the face of a Soviet Union that had gained strength in the post-war period, Turkish authorities abandoned the policy they had been pursuing, a policy that can be described as a kind of neutrality. They began to cooperate with the Western countries. Turkey benefited from the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan and, by taking part in the Korean War, it sided up with the West, confronting the East Bloc. In February 1952 Turkey became a NATO member.
For the Soviets that was a big failure. Their attempts to get territory from Turkey and to gain control of the Turkish Straits had failed. On top of all that Turkey had joined the ranks of the Western countries. The Soviet policy had backfired. Immediately after Stalin’s death in 1953 the Soviets altered that policy. They presented a memorandum to Turkey to make it clear that they were abandoning their claims regarding the Turkish Straits and the territorial claims they had made on behalf of Armenia and Georgia. However, having ensured its security by taking its place among the Western nations, Turkey did not change its stance.
IV. Revival of Armenian Nationalism (1946-1973)
Although Turkey did not accept the Soviet demands the fact that such demands had been made caused the nationalist movements to gain strength in Armenia -- to the extent that the Soviets permitted it. According to some sources Politburo member Anastas Mikoyan, who rose all the way to the position of Soviet president, played an active part in the revival of Armenian nationalism.10 Meanwhile, in the late 1950s the Soviets began to condone11 to some extent the activities of the Dashnaks –whose activities had been banned until then—probably because of two developments involving Turkey: At that time Turkey had experienced a crisis with Syria. Also, some time after that, it had permitted the flights of the American U2 spy planes. The tolerance the Soviets showed the Dashnaks caused the nationalist movements to gain ground.
Since the First World War the Dashnaks have maintained their superiority over the other Armenian political parties in the Diaspora as well. As the main representative of Armenian nationalism they have been the focal point of anti-Turkey activities.
With the onset of the Cold War, it was thought that the Catholicos12 based in Echmiadzin in Soviet Armenia would be exposed to Soviet suggestions and pressure. There were those who argued that a religious authority other than the Catholicos of Echmiadzin should be created for the Diaspora Armenians. Thanks to the efforts made by the Dashnaks and the encouragement given by the USA and the leading European countries, the “Catholicate of Cilicia” was founded in Antilias near the Lebanese capital of Beirut and part of the Diaspora Armenians became affiliated with it. Although the Diaspora Armenians should have been affiliated with the Catholicate of Echmiadzin after Armenia gained independence in 1991, the Catholicate of Cilicia did not halt its activities. Although it recognizes the Catholicate of Echmiadzin’s superiority on spiritual matters it has, in reality, been its rival.
The rapid rise of Armenian nationalism after the Second World War can be explained by the exclusively ethnic nature of the Armenian churches, political parties and associations in the Diaspora. The existence of the Armenian churches in foreign countries depended on the presence of an Armenian community in these countries. The Armenian political parties and associations needed Armenian members to be able to keep up their activities. However, as in the case of all migrating peoples, as of the second generation, the Armenians began to be assimilated in countries they had settled. That reduced the size of the Armenian churches’ congregations abroad as well as the number of members the Armenian political parties and associations had. These organizations were worried about their future. They focused on keeping the Diaspora Armenians together, trying to find a way of keeping the awareness of being Armenian alive in them. The solution they found to this problem was inspired by the Holocaust. Seeing that the Jews had gained enormous prestige due to the Holocaust and that this tragedy had played an important role towards establishment of the Israeli state, they tried to fabricate an “Armenian genocide” by claiming that the mass relocation of 1915 had the same characteristics as the Holocaust. After the Second World War Armenian youths gradually came to be systematically brainwashed at the Armenian churches, schools, political parties and associations in the following manner: “Turks committed genocide against Armenians.” When these youngsters were convinced that their fathers or grandfathers had been subjected to a genocide they wanted to take revenge on the Turks. This brainwashing also revived their dreams of founding the Greater Armenia.
The allegation that Turks had subjected the Armenians to genocide thus helped rebuild the Armenian consciousness. The Diaspora Armenians were unified but not on the basis of their common cultural values. They were unified against an artificially created enemy, that is, modern Turkey.
The aforementioned “brainwashing” has caused differences between generations of Armenians regarding their feelings about the Turks.
Logically, having been subjected to a mass relocation, the first generation Armenians should be the group with the biggest grievances against the Turks. However, except the fanatics, the first generation Armenians obviously had not made accusations about all Turks though they did harbor negative feelings about those persons they held responsible for the mass location. Furthermore, in general they felt a certain closeness to the Turks. The best proof of that was witnessed in 1954 when, during an official visit to the USA, Turkish President Celal Bayar went to California. In California, Armenians who had migrated there from Turkey displayed enormous interest in him, saying, “Our president has come.” They even undertook the task of promoting the California leg of Bayar’s visit.13
The second generation Diaspora Armenians were born as the immigrants’ children. Their connection to the 1915 incidents should have been limited to what they had heard from their parents. Therefore, normally, one would expect them to be more moderate in their feelings and attitude towards the Turks. However, the aforementioned brainwashing has caused the second generation to harbor more negative feelings than their parents had done,
The third generation Armenians have been fully adapted to the conditions in these “new” countries. Most of them do not even know the Armenian language. For this reason it would only be normal for them to have some sort of neutral attitude towards the Turks. Yet, thanks to the brainwashing that the Armenian churches, political parties and associations now effectively provide, the actual situation is exactly the opposite of that. Those who hate the Turks most are the members of the third generation most of whom have never met a Turk in their lives. In fact, the murderers of the Turkish diplomats came from the ranks of that generation.
In short, the feelings and attitudes of the generations of Armenian Diaspora are in “reverse proportion” to their connection with the 1915 events. The more distanced they are from these events their feelings of hate and revengefulness intensify when these should be subsiding. Psychologically this situation is not natural.14 And this constitutes the biggest obstacle to a potential reconciliation between the Turks and the Armenians.
The first outcome of the revival of nationalism in Armenia was the large-scale commemoration ceremonies held in Yerevan on the 50th anniversary of the “genocide” with the participation of hundreds of thousands of people. Also, in 1967 a genocide monument was opened in Yerevan with a ceremony. These developments have reinforced the anti-Turkey and anti-Turkish feelings in the Armenian Diaspora, feelings rarely observed in the past. This, in turn, brought about a big increase in the efforts aimed at persuading the world that the mass relocation of 1915 was a genocide.
The re-intensified Armenian nationalism created the Armenian terror that took the lives of 70 people, 32 of them Turkish diplomats, in the 1970s and 1980s.
One observes that the genocide allegations have been put forth not only to preserve the Armenians’ national awareness but also towards certain political goals. These goals can be summed up in the following manner: obtaining compensation from Turkey and ensuring that some parts of eastern Anatolia would be handed over to Armenia.
In this context the Diaspora Armenians, the Dashnaks especially, are obviously trying to pursue a four-stage strategy against Turkey.15
1.The First Stage entails making the world public opinion listen to the allegation that the mass relocation of 1915 had, in reality, been a genocide. Due to the pressure the world public would exert, various countries and international organizations would officially recognize the Armenian “genocide”.
Under the influence of the relentless Armenian propaganda drive and the Armenian terror that aimed to make the Armenian allegations heard in the world, the public, especially in the Western countries, has started to think that Turks had committed genocide against the Armenians in the First World War.
Coming to the recognition of the genocide allegations by various countries and international organizations, the parliaments of a total 17 countries as well as an international organization have recognized the “genocide” until now as explained below.
Obviously the Armenians are now in the First Stage of the Four-Stage strategy. They concentrate all their efforts on increasing the number of countries and international organizations that recognize the “genocide”.
2.The Second Stage involves making Turkey acknowledge that the mass relocation of 1915 was a genocide and apologize to the Armenians.
Armenians believe that Turkey would be obliged to officially recognize the “genocide” if more countries –especially the USA and other big countries-- recognized the “genocide”. This is not a realistic expectation. The Turkish public opinion has a strong reaction to those countries that recognize the “genocide”. The Turkish Grand National Assembly has taken a definite stance against the Armenian allegations. And a succession of Turkish governments have rejected these allegations.
Currently there is no politician in Turkey who sees the mass relocation of 1915 as genocide. On the other hand, in recent years certain Turkish writers and academics have embraced and defended the Armenian allegations on the genocide issue. However, the views expressed by these persons draw adverse reactions from the public, and they fail to sway the public opinion.16
3.The Third Stage involves making Turkey pay compensation to the victims of the “genocide” or their heirs.
There is a highly important point one should bear in mind on this issue. Recognition of “genocide” may have a direct consequence: payment of compensation. This is because it is a rule of law embodied in the legal systems of all countries that those who cause loss and damage (for example by committing the crime of genocide against a nation) must redress the situation. In other words, in principle it may not be possible to recognize “genocide” and yet refrain from paying compensation for it. That may be possible only if the other party forfeits its right to compensation.
Here is yet another point that should be known regarding the compensation issue. Since today’s Armenian State had not existed in 1915 there is no way it can demand compensation in its own name. President Kocharyan himself said that to a Turkish journalist.17 And, under the Lausanne Treaty there would be no requirement to pay compensation to persons. However, if Turkey recognized the “genocide” Turkey would be faced with demands that it should pay “ex gratia” compensation.
4.The Fourth and Final Stage entails Armenia obtaining Eastern Anatolian territory.
As explained above, there is a fact that must be taken into consideration before everything else: Armenia does not have any legal grounds to demand territory from Turkey. President Kocharyan has confirmed this point.18 Not only such a claim would lack legal grounds but also Armenia does not have the ability to back such a demand from the military aspect. And it is not expected to gain such military capacity in the visible future. And, finally, since Armenia’s population is continually shrinking and the Diaspora Armenians are not migrating to Armenia there are hardly any Armenians to be settled in the Turkish lands coveted by Armenia.
We think that none of the Armenian demands on Turkey is realistic. The demand for territory, especially, could only be called a pipe dream. Obviously the Diaspora Armenians too know that. They have been speaking less and less about getting territory from Turkey.
V. The period of Armenian terrorism (1973-1986)
Although a significant revival of the Armenian nationalism had begun in 1965 and it had become the Armenians’ main goal to persuade the international public opinion that the mass relocation of 1915 was, in reality, a genocide, at that time they could not proceed much towards that goal. At that time the international public reacted generally with indifference to their claims about events that had taken place about half a century ago. In 1973, a semi-deranged elderly Armenian killed Turkish Consul General Mehmet Baydar and his aide Bahadır Demir in Los Angeles. The case drew public interest since the murderer had no problem at all with his victims and was saying that he killed them only because they were the representatives of a state “responsible” for the Armenian “genocide”. The American press dwelt extensively on the genocide allegations when providing background information about the case. That incident gave the Armenian militants the idea that they could get a lot of attention by assassinating Turkish diplomats.
The 1974 Cyprus Peace Operation created a suitable climate for the Armenian militants to put that idea into practice.
The Cyprus Peace Operation greatly undermined the morale both in Greece and in Southern Cyprus. It was perceived as a case of Turkey defeating Greece, creating the fear that Turkey could get Southern Cyprus, the Aegean islands and Western Thrace too if required. Greece and Southern Cyprus were worried since they did not have the power to counter any such move on the part of Turkey. This psychological mood caused these two countries to embark on a kind of undeclared war against Turkey. That war was not to be fought on the battlefields. Instead, these two countries have tried to harm Turkish interests in every field without actually having a “hot clash”. Turkey had come under intense criticism due to the Cyprus Peace Operation. Ignoring the fact that legally Turkey did have the right to stage such an intervention in Cyprus, the critics were saying that Turkey had attacked an independent state. In fact, the USA imposed an arms embargo on Turkey. All these developments made it easier for Greece to implement this new policy.
In the campaign it thus began to wage against Turkey, Greece found three allies for itself: Syria, the Kurds and the Armenians.
ASALA and the PKK were founded in 1975, that is, one year after the Cyprus Peace Operation, and they obtained the support of Greece and Syria.
The Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) was the first Armenian terrorist organization created for the task of fighting against Turkey. Its members were trained in Lebanon by the George Habas group. The organization was supported by the Abu Nidal Group and the PLO as well. The Abu Nidal Group focused on terrorist actions rather than political activities. The PLO, on the other hand, was stronger in the political aspect. In the 1980s the PLO focused entirely on the political front and it withdrew its support from ASALA.
It must be noted that the situation that existed in Lebanon in the 1970s was highly suitable for the terrorist organizations to settle there and to develop. The Palestinians had settled in Lebanon when, due to the pressure exerted by Israel, they had to leave Jordan. The Lebanese State had been founded not by a nation but by various religious groups. It could not deal effectively with the pressure put by Israel on one hand and with the problems created by the Palestinians that had settled in the country. Before long law and order was disrupted. “Liberated zones” emerged in various parts of the country and fighting broke out between various religious groups.
Due to the authority vacuum in Lebanon terrorist organizations were able to easily operate there. There was yet another factor that worked in favor of the Armenian terrorist organizations such as ASALA: Lebanon had an Armenian population of some 20,000. ASALA had a leftist extremist tendency. In this aspect it was closer to the Huntchaks which is one of the traditional Armenian parties.
The second Armenian terrorist organization to be founded was the Justice Commandos for Armenian Genocide (JCAG). It was founded in Beirut in 1975 by the Dashnaks. However, unlike the Marxist ASALA, the JCAG is a nationalist organization. It has claimed that it receives support not from any foreign country but only from the Armenian Diaspora, boasting about limiting its attacks to Turkey and the Turks.
ASALA’s name has been heard more frequently than the JCAG. However, the JCAG was no less harmful, accounting for 52 percent of the attacks on Turkish diplomats and 45 percent of the bombing incidents. The JCAG halted its activities in 1983 due to the fact that the Dashnaks had come under great pressure both in the USA and Europe.
These are not the only Armenian terrorist organizations. Although the JCAG has halted its activities another organization was founded around that time: the Armenian Revolutionary Army (ARA) which has come to be seen as an extension of the JCAG. There have also been some other, less effective organizations such as the October 3 Organization, the Orly Group, the September-France Organization and the New Armenian Resistance Organization. Some of these may have been set up by ASALA and the JCAG to confuse the security forces. One of these organizations, ASALA-RM, is important because it was founded after ASALA was split up.
In the course of the terror campaign that began in 1975 and was brought to a halt in 1986 the Armenian terrorist organizations killed a total 70 people (including 32 Turkish diplomats, other Turkish officials and their relatives), wounded 524 people, took 105 people hostage and staged 208 bombings.19
Certain countries have viewed the Armenian terrorism with a certain sympathy though they have not supported these acts.
After the Socialists came to power in France in 1981, France obviously adopted a more “understanding” attitude vis-à-vis the Armenian demands and actions. However, when Armenian terrorism began to spread on the French territory the French began to counter that. However, they still did not block the Armenian political activities that encouraged terrorism. On the contrary, during those years the French media brought the Armenian genocide claims to the foreground.
With the conviction that it would weaken NATO’s southern flank, the Soviet Union viewed the Armenian terrorism with sympathy. This sympathy grew when the US arms embargo on Turkey was lifted and Turkey supported the American thesis in favor of deployment if short-range nuclear missiles in Central Europe.
Although Iran did not openly support the Armenian demands and actions the Khomeiny regime missed no opportunity to push secular Turkey into a difficult situation. That could be seen from its unwillingness to prevent the Armenians in Iran from attacking the Turkish Embassy in Tehran.
Curiously, during the period in question the Armenian terrorist attacks were not actually denounced in the Western world though everybody in the Western world seemed to be opposing terrorism in principle and not approving the Armenian attacks. That was because, during the Ottoman era, great powers such as the USA, France and Britain had been in the position of the “protector” of the Armenians. As a result the public in these countries had become sympathetic towards the Armenians. Armenians were Christian and that acted as a factor reinforcing that sympathy. Furthermore, due to the Armenian propaganda, there was a growing belief to the effect that the Armenians had been subjected to genocide. Due to these reasons they were viewed with a certain sympathy and the killing of innocent people was met with indifference merely because the victims were Turks. This self-contradiction indicates that a serious ethical question of assessment exists in the Western world.
Armenian terrorist attacks were brought to a halt at the end of 1986 mainly because of the negative reactions the Armenians triggered when they attempted to harm non-Turks as well. The biggest one of the attacks of this kind took place at the Orly Airport, Paris, on July 15, 1983. Eight people died and some 60 were injured when a suitcase left in front of the Turkish Airlines (THY) office at the airport exploded. Only two of the dead were Turks. That incident altered the pro-Armenian atmosphere. It triggered serious debates in the Armenian circles, causing rifts especially in ASALA, initiating the process of the Armenian terrorism’s demise. Following some other attacks of this kind the security forces of many countries, France among them, put the Armenian militants under closer scrutiny, and the tenet, “justice and justice alone”, came to be more strictly observed during the trials of the Armenian terrorists.20
The second reason for the end of the Armenian terrorism was that in a number of countries, France included, the authorities had clearly stated that they would not accept utilization of terrorist methods.21 That made a deterrent effect especially on the “financers” of these terrorist acts.
The third reason was that by then the Turkish state had started to better protect its officials serving abroad.
The fourth and final reason was that the Armenian terrorism had already attained its goal of making the world public opinion hear about the “genocide the Turks committed against the Armenians in 1915”.
VI. Politization of the Armenian question (1987… )
After the terrorist attacks were brought to a halt the Diaspora Armenians became politically active. Their goal was to elicit from the parliaments of certain countries resolutions recognizing the “genocide”. For that purpose they have tried to promote their genocide allegations as extensively as possible in the world.
After Armenia became independent in 1991 the Armenian Diaspora has tried vigorously to protect the interests of this new state and to obtain financial aid for it.
The Diaspora has made two kinds of efforts to have the 1915 incidents recognized as a genocide: activities aimed at influencing the public opinion, and political activities.
A. Activities aimed at influencing the public opinion
Thanks to the Armenian terrorist attacks the public in western countries began to think that Turks must have committed genocide. However, not trusting the collective memory of the international public the Armenians have repeated their allegations over and over for emphasis.
Over the past 25 years especially many books have been written to prove that the Armenians had been subjected to a genocide. In general these are in the form of scientific books. In the past, with a few exceptions, only Armenians used to write on this subject. In recent years non-Armenian writers too started to tackle this subject. Furthermore, some Turkish writers too have published books in which they supported the Armenian views. Some Turkish academics have embraced the Armenian views without even writing any book or long article on the Armenian question themselves.
In addition to books numerous articles have been published in scientific magazines on this subject. Also, special importance is being attached to the publishing of items on the “genocide” issue in newspapers and certain magazines.
Meanwhile, conferences, panels and other meetings are being organized on the genocide issue in those countries that the Armenians have chosen as their target for their campaigns.
Lately the genocide issue has formed the subject matter of a number of literary works as well. Almost all of the people who write these novels, books of poems and plays are of Armenian origin.
Coming to the films on this subject, “documentaries” abound. These are shown by the TV channels in many countries, starting with the USA, France and Lebanon, during the month of April every year. Very little authentic visual material dating from the year 1915 exists. Some of the footage used in these films is fabricated and the authenticity of some others is questionable. The same misgivings can be expressed also about the “genocide exhibitions” staged in April every year.
Among the feature films two have been more prominent than the others: Mayrig (Mother) and Ararat (Mount Ağrı). Mayrig is by a French director of Armenian origin, Henri Verneuil (Ashot Malakian), and was made in 1991. Ararat, directed by Atom Egoyan, a Canadian Armenian, was first shown in 2002. Both of these are high-budget films. Although it does refer to the alleged genocide Mayrig mainly tells the story of a family that migrated to France in the wake of the mass relocation of 1915 and its struggle to earn a living there. Ararat deals only with the alleged genocide. It has an utterly disarrayed scenario dotted with scenes of brutality. Mayrig proved relatively successful whereas non-Armenians have not displayed interest in Ararat.22
Armenians finance these activities with donations. The Armenians have a tradition of making donations and the wave of nationalism triggered by the genocide allegations has bolstered that tradition. Today, donating money for such purposes is being considered a national duty for well-to-do Armenians.
How much money is being spent for the activities aimed at influencing the international public opinion and for the political activities we will be discussing in the following section? Armenian sources do not provide information on this issue. However, one could make a rough estimate. One author23 has written that the Armenians spend $14 million every year to influence the US Congress. Another source has pointed out that the film, Ararat, had cost more than $15 million.24 Add to these the cost of the aforementioned scientific books, articles, novels, poems, plays, films, exhibitions and various kinds of meetings. The overall sum must be no less than a hundred million dollars since activities of this kind are not limited to the USA and are being carried in many other countries (France, Canada, Australia and Lebanon especially) as well.
There is great demand from the Armenian circles for such activities. Since these activities entail big sums of money and large amounts of people earn an income from them, it would not be an exaggeration to say that an “Armenian genocide industry” has been born. The fact that this industry is enabling so many people to earn an income has become one of the factors –albeit a secondary rather than a primary one—causing the genocide allegations to be put forth so persistently.
B. Political activities
The political activities of the Diaspora Armenians mainly consist of the efforts being made to elicit from a number of national parliaments and international organizations resolutions recognizing the “genocide”.
a. Resolutions passed by the parliaments of a number of countriesFONT face=Verdana>
Significantly, the Diaspora Armenians are asking the parliaments rather than the governments of the individual countries to recognize the “genocide”. This is because these governments are in charge of carrying out their countries’ foreign relations. They have a responsibility to this effect. If any of these governments were to take a decision on the genocide issue that would almost certainly cause problems in that country’s relations with Turkey. Since these governments do not want any such development they try to stay out of the Armenian allegations as much as possible. Parliaments, on the other hand, are not the “direct interlocutors” of foreign countries. So they feel free to express an opinion about a foreign country or an international issue or to take recommendatory decisions. If those that demand such decisions happen to have the kind of voting potential that could affect the election results in a country, that acts as an incentive, making it easier for them to get what they want from a parliament.
Here is the list of the 18 countries who, via the decisions taken by their parliaments, have recognized the Armenian “genocide”:
- Uruguay – 1965, 2004, 2005
- Greek Cypriot Administration – 1982
- Argentina – 1993, 2003, 2004, 2005
- Russia – 1995, 2005
- Canada – 1996, 2000, 2004
- Greece – 1996
- Lebanon – 1997, 2000
- Belgium – 1998
- Italy – 2000
10. Vatican - 2000
11. France - 2001
12. Switzerland – 2003
13. Slovakia - 2004
14. The Netherlands – 2004
15. Poland - 2005
16. Germany - 2005
17. Venezuela – 2005
18. Lithuania - 2005
As can be seen from the list most of these decisions were taken in the 1990s and onwards. This is because, after the period of Armenian terrorism, the Diaspora focused on gaining official recognition of the “genocide” and, after Armenia gained independence, this country threw its support behind the Diaspora efforts to this effect.
The genocide resolutions gained momentum since 2000 mainly because of Turkey has become a candidate for EU membership. Those European countries that had hesitated to take a decision on the genocide issue in the past, took that step in the end, thinking that, as a candidate country, Turkey would not be in a position to object vigorously.
The highlights of the resolutions passed by the parliaments of individual countries can be summed up in the following manner25:
Uruguay (1965, 2004, 2005)
Uruguay was the first country to acknowledge the Armenian genocide allegations. The Parliament of Uruguay (the Senate and the House of Representatives) passed such a resolution due to the fact that the country has a small but an affluent and therefore effective Armenian community but no Turkish presence at all. With that initial resolution Uruguay’s Parliament declared April 24 “Day of Remembrance for the Armenian Martyrs” in honor of “the members of that nationality slain in 1915.
Uruguay’s Parliament confirmed that decision in 2004. In 2005 it passed another resolution, this time urging the Foreign Ministry of Uruguay to suggest to the UN that April 24 be declared the “Denunciation and Repudiation of All Forms of Genocide Day”.
Southern Cyprus (1982)
The House of Representatives of Southern Cyprus declared, by passing a resolution, that it “condemns unreservedly the crime against the Armenian people which had the dimensions of genocide and which uprooted the Armenians from ancestral lands.” It expressed support for “full restoration of the inalienable rights of the Armenian people” without specifying these. The significance of this resolution comes from the fact that it was passed during the most intense period of Armenian terrorism and that it thus provided some sort of encouragement to the terrorists.
Argentina (1993, 2003, 2004, 2005)
In its initial resolution on this subject the Argentinean Senate had commemorated the “death of 1,500,000 Armenians at the hands of the Turkish government between the years 1915-1917”, expressing “complete solidarity with the Armenian Community which was the victim of the first genocide of the 20th century”. The Senate confirmed that decision in 2003, 2004 and 2005. Turkey does not carry considerable “weight” in Argentina while the country has, just as Uruguay does, an influential Armenian community. However, unlike is the case with Uruguay, Turkey has a significant trade relationship with Argentina.
Russia (1995, 2005)
In 1995 the Duma passed a resolution to denounce the “extermination of the Armenian people from years 1915 to 1922”, and to acknowledge April 24 as “a day of remembrance for the victims of the Genocide”. The text includes the words “the Turkish Empire”. Two factors are thought to have led to that resolution: the influence exerted by the Armenian minority in Russia which is believed to be one million strong, and the allegations –heard especially during those years-- that Turkey was aiding Chechnya.
However, although the allegations about Turkey aiding Chechnya had disappeared by 2005, the Duma passed another resolution in 2005, conveying its regrets to the fraternal Armenian people on the 90th anniversary of the “genocide” which it strongly denounced, urging the entire world to commemorate it.
Canada (1996, 2000, 2004)
In 1996 Canada’s House of Commons had passed a resolution that made references to the Armenian “tragedy” and other crimes against humanity, and declared the week of April 20 to 27of each year as the week of “remembrance of the inhumanity of the people toward one another”. Armenian militants were not satisfied with the resolution since it did mention Turkey or the Turks at all and referred to the 1915 incidents only together with many other cases. They waged a relentless campaign to elicit a new resolution exclusively on the Armenians. That campaign proved effective and in 2002 the Senate passed a new resolution, this one recognizing “the genocide of the Armenians”, condemning “any attempt to deny a historical truth as being anything less than genocide”, and designating April 24th every year “as a day of remembrance of the 1.5 million Armenians who fell victim” to “genocide”.26 Furthermore, in 2004 the House of Commons adopted a resolution that said the House was officially acknowledging “the Armenian genocide of 1915” and condemning it “as a crime against humanity.”
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham issued a statement after that resolution was adopted, stressing that the Canadian government’s June 10, 1999 stance had not changed, and that the resolution passed by the House did not commit the government.27 The Canadian government’s June 10, 1999 stance was that the 1915 incidents were a tragedy but did not constitute a genocide.28
In a statement issued on April 22, 2004,the Turkish Foreign Ministry denounced the way Canada’s Federal Parliament had passed such a resolution by pursuing marginal views. It pointed out that it is not a duty for the parliaments to pass judgment on the controversial periods of history, that decisions of this kind could inspire feelings of hatred among people of different origins and thus disrupt social harmony, that neither the Canadian Armenians nor Armenia would benefit from the decision, and that the responsibility for any negative consequences would lie with the Canadian politicians.
The main reason for the Canadian assemblies to adopt resolutions that reflect the Armenian views is the presence of an Armenian minority in Canada. Turks too live in Canada in notable numbers but they are not effectively organized.
With a bill passed on April 25, 1996, the Greek Parliament declared April 24 as “the day of commemoration of the genocide of the Armenians by Turkey”. Greece had given all kinds of assistance to the Armenians in the wake if the 1973 Cyprus Peace Operation. However, it had obviously not been in a hurry to recognize the “genocide”. This is mainly because Greece had not wanted to reveal its position though it was secretly helping the Armenians in various ways. Obviously what caused Greece to abandon that cautious stance was the Kardak (Imia Rocks) crisis that broke out in January 1996, bringing Turkey and Greece to the brink of a war. After that crisis the Greek Parliament took the “genocide” decision.
Lebanon (1997, 2000)
In a resolution it passed in 1997 the Lebanese Parliament called on the people of Lebanon to “declare their solidarity with the Armenian people” on April 24. The resolution referred to the “organized extermination acts” of the “colonizer” (the Ottoman Empire) “against our peoples” in the beginning of the century. In another resolution it passed in 2000 the Lebanese Parliament recognized and condemned the “genocide perpetrated against the Armenian people”, referring to “massacres perpetrated by the Ottoman authorities as a result of which 1.5 million Armenians fell victim.” Furthermore, it said that international recognition of “this genocide” was “a necessary condition for the prevention of similar crimes that may occur in the future”.
Thus, with these two resolutions, the Lebanese Parliament has embraced all of the Armenian views. This is due to the fact that the Lebanese system is based on religious communities and, in this framework, the roughly 200,000-strong Lebanese Armenian community holds certain positions in the parliament and the government. It can be remembered that this position of the Armenians had enabled them to turn Lebanon into a kind of “main center” for Armenian terrorism.
The Belgian Senate acknowledged in 1998 the alleged Armenian genocide by referring to the European Parliament resolution on this issue. After reiterating the well-known Armenian theses (saying there was historical evidence attesting to genocide without the slightest doubt and that the crimes of the past must be recognized so that reconciliation could take place between peoples), it urged the Turkish government to admit the historical reality of the “genocide” perpetrated by the last government of the Ottoman Empire in 1915.
After that development the Armenians and Armenian sympathizers in Belgium tried to elicit a similar decision from Belgium’s National Assembly as well. Later they made an effort to insert a clause into the law that makes negation of Holocaust a crime in Belgium so that the law in question would cover negation of the “Armenian genocide” as well. Until now they have not been successful in these efforts. The way the Turks in Belgium have worked to counter these attempts, has obviously played a part in that.
After much hesitation and waiting (since Italy has close relations with Turkey) the Italian Parliament finally passed a resolution on the “genocide” issue in 2000 as a result of the insistent efforts of a number of pro-Armenian deputies. Referring to two paragraphs of the European Parliament decision on the European Commission’s 1999 Progress Report on Turkey (the paragraphs on the alleged Armenian genocide and the Turkey-Armenia relations), it asked the Italian government to “pursue energetically the easing of all tensions between peoples and minorities” in the Caucasus region “in order to create, with due observance of the territorial integrity of the two states (Turkey and Armenia), pacific coexistence and respect for human rights”. It is obvious that by acknowledging the Armenian “genocide” only indirectly, that is, only by referring to the relevant European Parliament decision, the Italian Chamber of Deputies has prevented this move from adversely affecting Turkey-Italy relations.
At the end of Catholicos of Echmiadzin Karekin II’s visit to Vatican in November 2000 the Catholicos and Pope Jean-Paul II issued a joint communiqué that contained the remark, “…The Armenian genocide, which began the century, was a prologue to the horrors that would follow.” Thus Vatican acknowledged the alleged Armenian genocide. The Pope visited Armenia in October 2001 and prayed at the genocide monument. Both in that prayer and in the communiqué issued after his meeting with Karekin II, references were made to the Armenian “genocide”. Vatican has been striving to have Vatican’s primacy acknowledged by all Christians. Seeing the impossibility of persuading the big churches to do that, it is conducting a policy of seeking closer relations with the Armenian, Assyrian, Caldean and Maronite Churches and the other smaller eastern churches. For this reason his acknowledging the “genocide” should be seen as a gesture made with the intention of winning favor with the Armenian Church. That gesture was made in the year 2000 because the European Parliament’s Progress Report on Turkey contained statements that acknowledged the alleged genocide. In other words, just as Italy, Vatican has chosen to hide behind the European Parliament on this issue.
The Armenians in France have political influence that is not proportionate to their numbers: 350,000-400,000. They have been campaigning for a long time to have the Armenian “genocide” acknowledged in that country. This issue was put on the French National Assembly’s agenda in 1998 but it was only after Turkey was granted candidate country status by the EU that the authorities in France had to make that concession to the Armenians. At that time the March 2001 local and municipal elections were looming on the horizon and the ruling and opposition parties were running neck-and-neck. On Jan. 29, 2001 the French Parliament passed a law consisting of a single sentence: “France publicly recognizes the Armenian genocide of 1915.”29
In Turkey adverse reactions began even before that law was actually passed. On Jan. 9, 2001 the Turkish Grand National Assembly adopted a resolution, which said that the controversial bill had been put on the French Parliament’s agenda due to concerns about “vote-getting” and that it was based on prejudices and a distortion of history. It pointed out that if the bill were to be passed that would destroy the freedom of thought and expression and the freedom of scientific research and publication in France on that particular subject. Turkey wanted to develop its relations with France but progress in that regard would depend on mutual goodwill, it stressed. It pointed out that if the bill were to be passed France would not be able to stick to the principle of neutrality and that, for that reason, Turkey would react with suspicion to every step France would take. Recalling that the French Parliament had refused to assess the tragic events that had taken place in Algeria in the past, leaving to history the task of making such an assessment, it said that Turkey now expected France to act in the same manner. History should not be exploited to inspire hatred between nations, the Turkish Grand National Assembly said, remembering yet another time in this respect the murderous campaign waged against Turkish diplomats and some French nationals.
After the controversial bill was enacted in France, the Turkish government issued a statement to condemn the law, reject it together with all its consequences, and warn that the law in question would cause a serious crisis in the relations with France.
In a press release on the same day the Turkish Foreign Ministry referred to the enactment of the law in question as an irresponsible move that would reactivate Armenian terrorism. It demanded that the French government take the measures required to ensure the safety of the Turkish nationals in France, Turkish diplomats among them, in that climate.
After the enactment of the said bill Turkish-French relations saw a serious decline. The Foreign Minister of the time, İsmail Cem, told the French Ambassador that the law in question could reactivate xenophobia and Armenian terrorism in France. The Prime Minister of the time, Bülent Ecevit, said that the law would harm Turkish-French relations. President Sezer referred to the French Parliament’s decision as “lacking in common sense”. The Cabinet discussed the potential sanctions to be imposed on France. Military purchases from France were curtailed. Meanwhile, due partly to the effects of the media coverage, the Turkish public opinion embraced negative views about France. That caused astonishment in France. However, since they could not back off from the controversial law, bilateral relations remained tense for some time. Later, thanks to the positive stance and efforts of the French government on the issue of Turkish membership in the EU, bilateral relations gradually returned to normal.
Here, it must be pointed out that the French Armenians were not fully satisfied with the law in question. They criticized it because it did not envisage any sanctions for “those negating the Armenian genocide”. They called for a new law on the “Armenian genocide” issue that would be similar to the Gayssot Act under which those negating the Holocaust get punished.
Nearly three years later, that is, in 2004, in the course of the debates taking place in France on the proposed European Constitution it was observed that a great majority of the French people opposed Turkish membership in the EU. The French political parties too were affected by that mood. While the right wing and centrist parties opposed Turkish membership in the EU the Socialist Party continued to be in favor of Turkish membership in principle but it tied Turkish membership to progress in the field of human rights and democratization and on the Armenian “genocide” issue.30 Since Turkey is rejecting the genocide allegations in reality the Socialists too have opposed Turkish membership in the EU.
This phenomenon has affected the French government’s stance as well. At the EU’s Dec. 17, 2004 summit meeting France made efforts to ensure that Turkey would be given “special status” rather than full membership. When these efforts failed it reluctantly agreed to the initiation of the accession talks with Turkey on the condition that the negotiations would be open-ended, that is, on the condition that the negotiations would not necessarily culminate in full membership and that, for example, the possibility of giving Turkey only special status would not be ruled out.
As of that date a change took place in the French government’s stance on the Armenian question. Until then they had not said Turkey should acknowledge the alleged genocide. Now, various French politicians, President Chirac among them, started talking about the need for Turkey to engage in an “exercise in memory” regarding the Armenians. The Armenian “genocide” issue is not one of the Copenhagen Criteria and it has not been mentioned in the EU documents regulating the negotiations to be held with Turkey. Therefore, this issue is not expected to be put forth as “EU stance” during the negotiations. However, France may unilaterally ask Turkey to acknowledge the “genocide”. If Turkey refuses to do that, France may have to resort to a path that would entail a great responsibility, that is, the path of vetoing Turkish membership.
On this occasion let us stress a number of points: So as not to jeopardize the outcome of the referendum that was to be held on the proposed European Constitution, the French government had the French Constitution amended prior to the referendum. In its amended form the French Constitution permits referendums to be held on the candidacy of those countries that would join the EU after 2007. In other words, the French people have been granted the right to veto Turkish full membership in the future if they wanted to. However, despite this change, the French people rejected the proposed European Constitution with 55 percent of the participants saying “No” to it in the referendum. In the list of the factors that caused the French people to say “No” to the European Constitution the issue of Turkish entry into the EU was ranked fifth. In other words, anti-Turkish feelings have made only a relatively small effect on the referendum results.
On Dec. 16, 2003 the Swiss Parliament (National Council) passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian “genocide”.31
The Armenian minority in Switzerland enjoys influence that is not proportionate to its size. For years the Armenian minority made persistent efforts to elicit from the Swiss Parliament a resolution supporting the Armenian allegations. They got support from a number of Swiss politicians as well as from Kurdish separatist elements. A succession of Swiss governments resisted these efforts, taking into consideration the country’s relations with Turkey. The attempts made by the Armenians in 1995, 2000 and 2001 did not yield results. In the March 13, 2001 vote the Swiss Parliament rejected a draft resolution to this effect – with a three-vote margin. Later, a motion signed by 115 of the members in the 201-member Swiss Parliament was presented to the Parliament. The sponsors wanted the Parliament to acknowledge the “genocide” and to inform Turkey of this. It was going to be put to a vote on March 20, 2002. Voting did not take place because the Swiss government announced it was against such a move.32 However, since roughly half of the parliamentarians were in favor of such a move it became obvious that a resolution is this kind was going to be passed sooner or later.
In fact, the Canton of Geneva had already (on Dec. 10, 2001) passed a resolution embracing the Armenian allegations. The Canton of Vaux where the historic Lausanne Treaty had been signed adopted a similar document on Sept. 23, 2003. This triggered comments in the Armenian press about the symbolic meaning of the document in question, “Lausanne being the city where the treaty wiping Armenia off the face of the maps had been signed”.
Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey was to pay an official visit to Turkey on Oct. 6. According to Swiss press reports she was planning to visit the “Kurdish regions” as well as Ankara and Istanbul. However, citing as grounds the resolution passed by the Canton of Vaux, Ankara cancelled the visit.
On Dec. 16, 2003 the Swiss Parliament adopted a resolution along the following lines: “The National Council (Parliament) recognizes the Armenian genocide of 1915. It asks the Federal Council (the government) to take note of this decision and to relay it through the usual diplomatic channels.” The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement, vigorously condemning and rejecting the Swiss Parliament’s decision. It stressed that the events were being distorted and portrayed as genocide in a one-sided manner. That was unacceptable, it pointed out. It expressed astonishment over this attempt to mislead the public opinion. It pointed out that the Swiss Parliament would be responsible for any potential negative consequences of the decision it had taken with domestic political considerations in disregard for the Turkey-Switzerland relations and for the sentiments and opinions of the Turks living in Switzerland.
On Dec. 22, 2003 the Turkish Grand National Assembly adopted unanimously the following communiqué that denounced the Swiss Parliament’s decision. Earlier the text had been jointly approved by the AKP and the CHP groups in the Parliament:
“Parliaments should refrain from being reduced to a position where they would be serving the aspirations of those circles that want a clash of civilizations. According to our assessment the erroneous decisions taken during this sensitive period when there should be solidarity and cooperation against international terrorism, amount to rewarding the racist Armenian terror that has taken the lives of great numbers of innocent people, targeting the interests of many countries, Switzerland among them. With its decision that has profoundly hurt the feelings of the Turkish nation, the National Assembly [Swiss Parliament] has also undertaken the responsibility for the negative developments that may take place in the Turkey-Switzerland relations that had progressed favorably in many fields in recent years. The Assembly [Turkish Grand National Assembly] denounces and considers unacceptable the one-sided, erroneous decision of the Swiss National Assembly that deliberately distorts historical facts.”33
At first glance it seems hard to understand that Switzerland has tried to satisfy 5,000 Armenians while ignoring the presence in the country of some 100,000 Turks of whom 20,000 are Swiss nationals. The Swiss Parliament must be taking into consideration not the size of a community but the influence it wields.
Turkey-Switzerland relations remained stagnant for about two years. Then, responding to the insistent demands of the Swiss side, the Turkish authorities agreed to have Ms. Calmy-Rey visit Turkey in March.
Shortly after that visit a new crisis broke out between the two countries when judicial investigations were initiated against the Chairman of the Turkish Historical Society Yusuf Halaçoğlu and Turkish Workers Party Chairman Doğu Perinçek for speeches they had made in Switzerland at different times, speeches in which they had declared that the Armenians had not been subjected to a genocide. That development affected trade relations as well. Kürşat Tüzmen, the state minister responsible for foreign trade, demanded cancellation of the Turkish-Swiss Business Council’s June 22-24 meeting. Furthermore, the visit Swiss Economy Minister Joseph Deiss was planning to make to Turkey in September was cancelled.
Halaçoğlu and Perinçek were being investigated in Switzerland merely because they had expressed their thought on a certain subject. The investigation triggered debates on the extent of the freedom of expression in Switzerland, causing an unfortunate situation for a country that boasts about being the cradle of democracy.
The Parliament of Slovakia adopted on Nov. 30, 2004 the following resolution: “The Slovak Parliament recognizes the genocide of Armenians in 1915 during which hundreds of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were killed, and considers this act a crime against humanity.”34
The Slovak Parliament’s decision came as a complete surprise and, initially, the reasons for it could not be understood since there is no sizable Armenian community in Slovakia and the country does not have a close relationship with Armenia. Later, the reasons for that move could be explained by looking into certain events in Slovakia’s history.
At the end of the First World War the Czechs and the Slovaks were brought together in a single state: Czechoslovakia. Later, when the Czechs, who were more populous and more affluent, gained an influential position in the state mechanism, certain extreme right, racist movements emerged in Slovakia. After the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939, the part of the country where the Czechs lived was attached to Germany as the Protectorate of Bohemia. On the same day, an ostensibly independent Slovak Republic was founded. The Slovak Republic followed the same policies as the Nazi Germany. In this context, the over 80,000 Jews in Slovakia were deprived of all their rights and, after some time, most of them were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp --which was on the other side of the border—where they were killed. Towards the end of 1944 Slovakia was occupied by the Soviet armies and Czechoslovakia was re-established by reunifying that region with the Czech zone. The Soviets asked their new allies, Poland and Czechoslovakia, to drive out the Germans that had been living in these countries for centuries. Thus, millions of Germans were exiled to Germany under extremely hard conditions. Meanwhile, the Slovaks drove out the Germans living in the Carpathian Mountains region. Forcing them to go to Germany.
During the disintegration of the Soviet Union, with the help of Germany the Slovaks founded an independent state once again. Knowing well that because of the way they had treated Jews and the Carpathian Germans, they would not be accepted as a respectable nation by the European countries, the Slovak Parliament passed a resolution that extended an apology to the Jews in December 1990. About two months later it apologized to the Carpathian Germans in the same manner.35
Since then Slovakia has displayed sensitivity to human rights issues and made a point of showing the world that it does respect human rights. In this framework the Slovak Parliament did not find it difficult to recognize the alleged Armenian genocide probably with the conviction that this would not draw a strong reaction from Turkey, a country waiting at the gates of the EU to be admitted.
The Netherlands (2004)
On Dec. 21, 2004 the Dutch Parliament asked the government to “continually raise the recognition of the Armenian genocide in an emphatic fashion” within the framework of its dialogue with Turkey.36
The reasons for the Dutch Parliament’s decision are not clear. The Netherlands has a highly active and affluent Armenian minority. However, since their numbers are too few, the Dutch Armenians are not in a position to elicit resolutions from the Parliament and they can hardly exert an influence on all members of the Dutch Parliament from the financial aspect. One might think that members of the Dutch Parliament must have acted in this manner because, due to the Armenian propaganda, they sincerely believed that the Armenians had been subjected to a genocide. If that is the case it would not be easy to see why they are not interested in what the neighboring Belgium had done in Congo or the massacres of France in Algeria or why they are failing to look at their own colonialist past in this light. Instead of all that why are they insisting on describing as genocide –without doing any research at all-- a mass relocation that had been performed in a country far from the Netherlands nearly a century ago? Obviously, there must be a different motive behind the Dutch Parliament’s decision.
It is no secret that unlike the peoples of Southern Europe, the peoples of Central and Northern Europe are generally insensitive and intolerant towards the foreigners in general. This is especially through when these foreigners have “different” customs and traditions. Those with a colonialist past –the Dutch, for example— tend to consider themselves superior to the “Orientals”. However, despite their great accumulation of capital the Dutch do not have a big enough population. As the other developed economies of Europe, they needed and obtained foreign workers. Almost all of these happen to be “Oriental”. The presence of foreign workers and their families in the country has created an integration problem. It is not possible to say that this problem has been solved by now. The Dutch people feel uncomfortable about the presence in the country of the foreign workers and their families. Yet, there is the possibility that Turkey will be an EU member -- albeit in no earlier than a decade—and that would increase the number of Turks in the EU. Conservative segments of the Dutch society are trying to prevent that. On the other hand, it is a fact that without Turkey it would not be possible for the EU to carry out its Middle Eastern and Caucasian policies successfully. Under the circumstances, the Dutch do not want to have Turks in their country but, at the same time, they need Turkey. This conflict has driven the Dutch to act in self-contradictory ways. While the Dutch government made efforts in favor of starting the EU-Turkey talks, most of the Dutch parliamentarians sought schemes that would render the talks more difficult. The demand that Turkey acknowledge the Armenian “genocide” was obviously seen as a “solution” to this dilemma by the Dutch in this context.
The Polish Parliament passed the following resolution unanimously on April 19, 2005: “The Sejm (Parliament) of Republic of Poland pays homage to the victims of genocide committed on Armenian population in Turkey during the 1st World War. Remembrance of the victims of this crime and condemning it is a duty of all humanity, all countries and peoples of good will.”37
The Polish Parliament’s decision triggered strong adverse reactions in Turkey both from the people and the government. This is because the Turkish public had a highly favorable image of Poland. That image stemmed from the developments of the past. Throughout their history the two countries had a common enemy, that is, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire had refused to agree to the splitting of Poland between Russia and Prussia. The Turkish public perceived it as a kind of betrayal when the parliament of a country about whom Turks harbor such good sentiments unanimously adopted a resolution that mirrored the Armenian views on an issue on which Turkey is highly sensitive.
On April 20, that is, one day after the Polish Parliament adopted that resolution the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued the following statement:
“The Polish Parliament adopted on April 19, 2005 a resolution that acknowledges as genocide the events of 1915. We condemn and reject that resolution.
“It is irresponsible to distort and, in a one-sided fashion, define as genocide the incidents that took place under the First World War conditions and caused the Turks and the Armenians to suffer greatly.
“Turkey has maintained that national parliaments are not the places where judgments would be delivered on the controversial periods of history, and that parliaments should avoid initiatives that would fan feelings of hatred and vengefulness between peoples.
“With the conviction that it is the historians who could reach the soundest conclusions on the historical events, Turkey has suggested to Armenia formation of a group of Turkish and Armenian historians that would research the 1915 developments and incidents by looking into the archives of not only Turkey and Armenia but of all the countries concerned, and report their findings to the international public.
“It has deeply grieved the Turkish people that, rather than advising the Armenian government to accept our proposal, the Polish Parliament has taken a decision based on distorted information about the events of 1915. The way the Polish Parliament has acted is not compatible with the feelings of friendship that have flourished for nearly eight centuries.”
The Polish Parliament took that decision due to a variety of reasons.
Firstly, we must point out that the Turkish people’s warm feelings towards the Polish people are not reciprocated. The people in Poland do not feel a special sympathy for the Turks. For them the Russo-Ottoman wars and the plans to divide Poland are ancient history. If, because of these, they had once felt an affinity towards Turkey, that must have disappeared during the Soviet era. Turkey has been a staunch member of NATO. Under the circumstances, the Soviets definitely did not allow displays of sympathy in Poland for Turkey in remembrance of the way the two countries had had Tsarist Russia as their common enemy.
Since Poland does not have a big Armenian community and has not formed a special relationship with Armenia there must be some other reasons behind the Polish Parliament’s decision. As is the case with all former Soviet republics that are newcomers to the EU, Poland is making an extreme effort in defense of human rights – probably to compensate for its own shortcomings. Also, certain suggestions coming from Germany, the old foe that has become Poland’s new friend and protector, may have played a role in the adoption of the resolution. Obviously, Poland has taken this decision due to two reasons. Firstly, as all the other EU member countries, Poland has the right to veto Turkish membership in the EU – on various occasions in the course of the accession process. So, Poland may have assumed that in the course of that process Turkey would be forced to maintain good relations with the EU countries and thus would not be able to react strongly to the “genocide” resolution. Secondly, Polish authorities seem to think that whenever a negative development takes place Turkey vigorously protests it but it forgets all about it quickly afterwards. In fact, Speaker of the Polish Parliament Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz has said that the problem between the two countries would disappear in a few days.38
On June 16, 2005 the Bundestag (German Federal Parliament) passed a resolution entitled, “Remembrance and Commemoration of the 1915 Armenian Expulsion and Massacre: Germany Should Contribute to the Reconciliation of Turks and Armenians”. That was longer than any other resolution adopted on this issue to date. Taking into consideration the importance Turkey attaches to its relations with Germany, and, also, the presence of the some three million Turks in Germany, we will examine this resolution in detail.
In the second half of the XIXth Century, racist movements emerged in Germany and, due partly to the disappointment caused by the German defeat in the First World War, these movements led to the birth of the Nazi regime. It is no secret that the Nazi regime reached the apex of racism, killing six million people merely because they were Jews. Later, the big defeat Germany suffered in the Second World War, the partition of the country, and the foreign victors’ occupation of the German territory for years, have significantly lessened racism in Germany, the cause of these tragic events, although it has not been eliminated altogether.
In the face of the threat the Soviet Union posed to the West European countries, the latter felt the need for Germany’s help. Leaving aside that country’s past, they admitted Germany into the ranks of the free nations of Europe. The German economic development began in a short time. Although it had capital it did not have enough manpower. That gap was bridged with the “guest” workers brought in from other countries and Germany became Europe’s strongest economy in a time span that can be considered short.
The “guest” workers, mostly Turks, had a different culture, different traditions. This caused a problem for the Germans that, due to their racist background, were not basically tolerant. To solve this problem the “integration” concept was put forth. That meant assimilation of the foreign workers. However, that drive has not yielded the desired results. Only a limited number of the guest workers have been assimilated. The great majority retains the national customs and traditions although three generations of them have lived in Germany by now. After the reunification of Germany, East Germans that had not embraced democratic values and human rights joined the West German society, increasing racist behavior and xenophobia.
The political formation that consists of the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU), and is called the Christian Democrats for short, played a major role in the establishment of the Federal Germany in the aftermath of the Second World War. The Christian Democrats were also the architect of the close and friendly relations between Turkey and Germany in all fields in the post-war era. The Christian Democratic g
ernments provided financial and military assistance to Turkey. It was the Christian Democratic governments that opted for bringing in from Turkey most of the foreign workers the German economy needed.
This favorable picture was altered after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and reunification of Germany, that is, after Europe’s need for Turkey from the strategic standpoint lessened and unemployment began to rise in Germany due to recession. The Christian Democrats started to put on the agenda the Turkish workers’ integration problems in Germany and they opposed the Turkish bid for full membership in the EU. However, they considered a potential weakening of Turkey’s relations with the EU hazardous as well. So, they put forth the idea that Turkey should be offered “privileged partnership” as opposed to full membership. When that did not materialize they tried to find another formula. Meanwhile, they started harping on the “Armenian genocide” theme obviously with the conviction that if they accused Turkey of having committed genocide that could cause the Social Democrats to lose votes in the next parliamentary election.
Meanwhile, it must be noted that in Germany accusations related to the Holocaust tend to seriously upset the rightwing circles in general. However, it is not possible to reject these accusations. They seem to believe that if it turned out that the crime of genocide had been committed by others as well –at an earlier date-- that would somehow lessen the severity of the Germans’ crime. This is the way they perceive this issue. For this reason in the German right there is the tendency to blame others for genocide. When directing accusations at Turkey the Christian Democrats aimed to get support from those circles.
Considering all these issues the Christian Democrats presented a draft resolution on the Armenian question to the Bundestag on Feb. 23, 2004. The Greens, a partner in the ruling coalition, supported the draft while the Social Democrats initially opposed it. When the Social Democrats lost the regional election in the North Rhine-Westphalia state the decision was taken to stage a fresh general election. As a result, the Social Democrats stopped opposing the Christian Democrats’ draft, thinking that if they continued to oppose it they could lose votes in the general election.
After being slightly amended the draft was adopted unanimously –that is, by consensus without holding a vote—by the Bundestag on June 16, 2005.
The text did not include the word “genocide”. However, it did contain some other phrases that might convey the same meaning. It referred to, for example, “almost total annihilation of the Armenians” and “expulsion and annihilation of the Armenians”. There has been speculation to the effect that the word “genocide” was not put into the draft so as not to trigger strong adverse reactions from the Turks living in Germany.
The resolution underlined the need for addressing history in an honest manner, expressing the conviction that this would be the most important basis for reconciliation. It stressed that this point is valid especially in the framework of the European remembrance culture, saying that this would entail, among other things, facing up clearly to the dark pages of one’s national history.
Germany triggered two big wars on the European continent in a quarter of a century (1914-1939), caused the deaths of millions of civilians and soldiers, and committed the crime of genocide against the Jews. The defeat it suffered in the end was so great that, to be able to be accepted as an independent state once again, it had to give up a great part of its territory, remain under the occupation of foreign forces, and, before everything else, acknowledge all the crimes it had committed and pay compensation.
However, Germany constitutes a special case which is obviously not being taken as an example by other countries. Those countries that were not defeated in the war, especially, are not inclined to face up to their own colonialist past or other dark pages of their history. France constitutes the most striking example of that, refusing to acknowledge the massacres and other atrocities committed in Algeria.
With that resolution the Bundestag said that in Turkey it was still not possible to hold comprehensive debates on the events that took place during the Ottoman era, and that those academics and writers that tackle that specific period in history were being prosecuted. It expressed regret on account of that situation. Those who drafted that resolution were obviously not informed about the situation in Turkey. In recent years an intense debate has taken place in Turkey on whether the mass relocation of 1915 was genocide. No criminal proceedings have been initiated against those that argue that the mass relocation was genocide. Many books that reflect the Armenian views –including the works of the champions of the genocide allegations such as Yves Ternon and Vahank Dadrian—have been published in Turkey. Also published in Turkey is a book that has become quite popular in Germany: “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh” of Franz Werfel.
After making the aforementioned erroneous and unjust accusations the resolution says –obviously in an effort to strike a balance—that there were initial favorable signs indicating that, in line with the European culture of remembrance, those in Turkey were now displaying an increasing interest in the Armenian incidents. It gives various examples of that.
As the first step it says that a number of the Turkish nationals of Armenian origin were invited to the Turkish Grand National Assembly for talks on the “crimes committed against the Armenians” and the “Turkey-Armenia relations”. What it means is the April 4, 2005 meeting of the EU Harmonization and Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish Grand National Assembly. A number of writers, some of them of Armenian origin, had been invited to that meeting. However, the meeting saw an exchange of views on the Armenian question and no such topic as “crimes committed against the Armenians” was discussed.
The second step mentioned in the resolution was the Turkish-Armenian women’s dialogue, an event that hardly made any effect on the public opinion.
The third step cited in the resolution was the exchange of documents between Turkish and Armenian historians as a result of the first contacts that took place between them. What it meant was the contacts held between a number of Turkish and Armenian historians in Vienna. However, the resolution did not mention the fact that this initiative came to a premature end when the Armenians withdrew from the talks.
The fourth step mentioned in the resolution involved the inauguration of Turkey’s first Armenian museum in Istanbul. Prime Minister Erdoğan and Armenian Patriarch Mesrob opened the museum together. The prime minister has thus made a gesture solely for the benefit of the Turkish Armenians. And the Turkish Armenians are not a part of the Armenian question as they themselves have said on so many occasions.
As the last step the resolution cited Prime Minister Erdoğan’s proposal for creation of a commission of Turkish and Armenian historians. However, it said that this effort could prove successful only if it took place on the basis of free and scientific debates accessible to the public.
The resolution said that, considering the presence in Germany of large numbers of Muslims that had come from Turkey, there was an important task to recall the past and thus make a contribution to reconciliation. These words meant indirectly that it was a duty for the Turkish migrants workers in Germany to “admit” that Turks had committed genocide against the Armenians. The Turks in Germany have no such duty. Obviously, under the influence of the growing xenophobia in Germany, an attempt is being made to put pressure on the Turks in Germany, using the Armenian question as a pretext.
The resolution said that normalization of the relations between Turkey and Armenia was highly important for the future of the region, and that, in this context, the two sides should urgently take confidence-building measures on the basis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe principles. It said, for example, that Turkey reopening the border could end Armenia’s isolation and encourage the start of diplomatic relations. Furthermore, it maintained that within the framework of the EU Neighborhood Initiative, Germany had a special commitment to help bring about normalization and improvement of relations between Turkey and Armenia and thus contribute to stability in the Caucasus region. Significantly, without making any reference to why stability in the Caucasus region had been disrupted in the first place, the resolution asks Turkey to open its border with Armenia and to establish diplomatic relations with it to rebuild stability in the region. Yet, it was Armenia who disrupted stability in the Caucasus by occupying Karabakh and some other parts of Azerbaijani territory. Armenia refuses to officially recognize Turkey’s borders and puts forth genocide allegations against Turkey in order to gain political advantages. The Bundestag resolution makes no reference at all to these facts about Armenia and this undermines the credibility of the resolution.
The resolution said that the German federal states should, by way of education, contribute to the tackling in Germany as well the issue of the “expulsion and annihilation” of the Armenians. This means that the Armenian genocide allegations should be taught in German schools. That would inspire hostility in the German students against the Turks while the students of Turkish origin would start having feelings of guilt. They must have thought that due to such feelings some of the students of Turkish origin would in the end cast aside their national identity.
With the resolution in question the Bundestag has made certain demands on the federal government. Here is a summary of these demands with explanations of our own given in parentheses:
- The federal government should help bring about an agreement between Turks and Armenians by way of apology/forgiveness for the historical crime, and reconciliation. (Turks do not believe that they have committed a crime against the Armenians. Therefore, it is out of the question for them to apologize. Furthermore, the Armenian question is mainly a political issue that is based on certain calculations of self-interest rather than a psychological issue. So, it could not be resolved by way of making one side extend an apology.)
- An initiative should be made to ensure that Turkey’s Parliament, Government and society would question unconditionally the role they have played against the Armenian people in the past and in the present. (This is an indirect way of saying that Turkey should, with its parliament, government and people, acknowledge the alleged Armenian genocide.)
- Efforts should be made towards creation of a commission of historians with the participation of international experts along with Turkish and Armenian academics. (Thus the Bundestag accepted Prime Minister Erdoğan’s proposal for a commission of historians. However, it argued that international experts too should take part in the commission. Thus it wants to internationalize the issue rather than letting the Turks and Armenians solve their problems between them.)
- An effort should be made to release to the public not only the relevant documents of the Ottoman Empire but also the Federal Foreign Ministry archival documents that Germany has relayed to Turkey as well as some other countries. (Since the German Archives are already “open” the demand that these should be opened to the public does not make sense. Furthermore, these words create the impression that in Turkey only the Ottoman documents have been published. This is not true. In Turkey, the relevant British and French documents too have been published. Furthermore, the Turkish Historical Society is planning to publish the Russian documents as well. Meanwhile, the relevant German documents too can be published. However, since these have already been examined the publication of the German documents on this issue can hardly be expected to make a significant contribution to the research being done on the Armenian question.)
- Efforts should be made to ensure that the planned conference in Istanbul that had to be postponed due to state pressure, takes place. (That was a reference to the conference a number of pro-Armenian Turkish academics and writers had wanted to stage at the Bogazici University in late May 2005. It is not clear why the German government should make an effort to ensure that conference would take place. Also, it is not true that the conference was postponed due to pressure put by the state. In fact, the conference took place four months later with the Turkish government’s help.)
- Efforts should be made to ensure that freedom of thought would be guaranteed in Turkey especially vis-à-vis the Armenians’ fate. (Those who drafted this resolution obviously did not have adequate information about the conditions in Turkey. Freedom of thought does exist in Turkey. In fact, there are a number of people currently saying and writing that the mass relocation of the Armenians in 1915 was genocide.)
- Germany should help normalize the relations between Turkey and Armenia. (The Bundestag resolution mirrors the Armenian views. In other words, this resolution is not objective or just. In principle, the German government would have to take into consideration the views expressed in that resolution. Therefore, it is not possible for the German government to make a favorable contribution to the normalization of the Turkey-Armenia relations.)
To sum up, the resolution passed by the Bundestag made groundless allegations such as, “The Armenians in Anatolia were almost entirely annihilated.” This shows that the persons who drafted this resolution had no knowledge of history. It contains irresponsible, extremely dangerous and provocative proposals. For example, with this resolution the Bundestag has advised the German government to include in the schoolbooks of the German states as a topic the “expulsion and annihilation of the Armenians” though that could inspire hostility towards Turks in the German youth. Turkey has a deep-rooted tradition of statehood and would not need the parliaments of foreign countries to take decisions about its history to be able to face up – on the basis of documented information—to any part of its history. If, as stated in the resolution, the Bundestag feels the need to face up to German history, it should do that within the framework of its own historical responsibility and not via Turkey and not on the basis of groundless allegations that distort the historical events.
On this occasion let us point out that the Bundestag resolution would not have any legal consequences for Turkey. This is because, as a requirement of the principle of national sovereignty, a state has the obligation only to fulfill its own commitments. The decisions taken in other countries unilaterally would not have legal significance. On the other hand, it must be pointed out that this resolution may have certain negative political consequences. It could cause Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora to further toughen their stance against Turkey. Also, if the German government tried to make moves in line with the resolution, there could be troubles, even crises, in Turkey-Germany relations.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement on June 16, denouncing the Bundestag resolution. It said that the resolution resulted from domestic policy considerations in Germany and that it contained totally groundless allegations as well as the kind of suggestions that could inspire hostility towards the Turks in the German youth. The Ministry said that the Turkish authorities had told their German interlocutors in advance that adoption of such a resolution would adversely affect bilateral relations. The full text of the statement issued by the Turkish Foreign Ministry was along the following lines:
“Today (June 16) the Bundestag passed a resolution –submitted jointly by all of the political parties represented in the Parliament-- about the events of 1915. We regret and strongly condemn this resolution.
“The draft resolution had been on the agenda of the Bundestag for nearly three months. Our views about the draft were relayed to our German interlocutors at every level. We pointed out that it had a one-sided content and that the text contained grave material errors and shortcomings resulting from lack of adequate information. We stressed that approval of such a draft, especially by a country such as Germany whom we have always considered a friend and an ally, would deeply hurt the Turkish people and adversely affect bilateral relations.
“However, we regret to see at this stage that the Bundestag has not taken into consideration all these warnings.
“It is evident that the initiative stemmed from domestic political considerations. Exploitation of such a sensitive issue for petty calculations of domestic politics is proof of irresponsibility and narrow-mindedness.
“Since it contains baseless allegations such as, “Armenians in Anatolia were entirely annihilated”, the resolution passed by the Bundestag shows how far from historical knowledge are those who had drafted it. Furthermore, it puts forth irresponsible, extremely dangerous and provocative proposals, for example advising the German government to include in the federal states’ educational policies “the expulsion and annihilation of the Armenians” which could result in inspiring enmity against the Turks in the German youth.
“The Republic of Turkey has reconciled with its past. With the conviction that historical events can be assessed not by parliaments but only by historians and experts, it has opened its archives to all researchers including the Germans and the Armenians. It has officially relayed to Armenia its proposal that the Turkish-Armenian relations during the Ottoman era should be examined by a joint commission. Turkey has too deep-rooted a tradition of statehood for it to need the decisions foreign parliaments would take about its history to be able to face up – on the basis of documented information—to any part of its own history. If, on the other hand, as stated in the resolution, the Bundestag feels the need to face up to German history, it should do that within the framework of its own historical responsibility and not via Turkey and not on the basis of groundless allegations that distort the historical events.”
As mentioned above, the Bundestag decision was taken unanimously. It is an unacceptable situation that not even a single person came up in the Bundestag to defend the Turkish views despite the very close relations between the two countries, the presence of an over three million-strong Turkish presence in Germany and the fact that millions of German tourists visit Turkey every year. Although it had been duly warned, the Bundestag did not take the trouble to take into consideration the views of either the Turks in Germany or the Turkish public opinion. And this has adversely affected the Turkey-Germany relations, shaking the confidence placed in Germany and the Germans. Meanwhile, the Christian Democrats who won the latest election and became a partner in the coalition government keep up their policy of opposing Turkish membership in the EU. This has further disrupted the bilateral relations that had already been worn out by the Bundestag resolution mirroring entirely the Armenian views. Under the circumstances, it is a possibility that the potential crisis to which we referred above, may break out sooner than expected.
The Parliament of Venezuela passed unanimously on July 14, 2005 a resolution supporting the Armenian genocide allegations.
The preamble of the resolution argued, in brief, that the first scientifically planned, organized and executed genocide in the history of humanity took place 90 years ago, perpetrated against the Armenian people by the “Young Turks and their ideology of Pan-Turkism”, involving the extermination of almost two million people. It said that crimes of this nature should be denounced to prevent them from happening again, and that the “Armenian genocide” should be repudiated by the Turkish people and all the peoples of the world. It said that due to political causes and interests, there was an ongoing attempt to change history “through the negation of this genocide”. Declaring support for the demands of the Armenian people and government, it urged the EU to postpone Turkey’s membership bid until recognition by Turkey of the “Armenian genocide”.
Obviously this is the harshest and the most exaggerated one among the resolutions adopted on this issue by the parliaments of various countries to date. Undoubtedly, what has rendered the Parliament of Venezuela so bold is the geographical distance between the two countries and the fact that their relationship is hardly of a sizable scope. Another factor which enabled it to take such a decision with ease is the presence in the country of a wealthy, in other words, influential, Armenian community whereas few Turks live there. Furthermore, the resolutions adopted in Uruguay and Argentina certainly set a precedent for the Parliament of Venezuela. One Armenian source has written that with this resolution, President Chavez of Venezuela, who has been criticized by the US for his authoritarian rule and his populist attitude, has found a chance to urge the westerners, especially the European countries, to do their conscientious duty.
The Lithuanian government adopted on Dec. 15, 2005 a resolution recognizing and denouncing the Armenian “genocide” and urging Turkey to recognize it as well. In a statement it issued on the next day the Turkish Foreign Ministry pointed out that it is not a duty for parliaments to pass judgment on the controversial periods of history; and that history must be assessed by historians. It stressed that the resolution would not make a favorable effect either on the relations between Turkey and Lithuania or the process of normalization of the Turkey-Armenia relations.
Lithuania does not have any problem with Turkey. Furthermore, it has not formed a special relationship with Armenia. The reasons for the Lithuanian Parliament’s decision must be connected to the fact that, just as Slovakia, Lithuania had cooperated with the Nazis. At the start of the Second World War it lost its independence and was attached to the Soviet Union. Later in the war it was occupied by the German army, regained independence and started cooperating with the Nazis. In this framework almost all (95 percent) of the Jews in Lithuania were annihilated. The number of Jews that lived in Lithuania prior to the war was believed to be in the 220,000 – 250,000 range.39 At the end of the war it was incorporated into the Soviet Union once again. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union it gained independence once again and. Obviously trying to make what was done to the Jews forgiven or forgotten, it began acting as a champion of human rights during the process of accession to the EU. By acknowledging the Armenian “genocide” the Lithuanian Parliament has tried to ease its own responsibility. In other words, by claiming that the crime of genocide committed against the Jews in Lithuania was not unprecedented, Lithuania is trying to stress that it was not the “only one” in such a situation.
USA and the Armenian Question
Although it is not considered to be one of the countries that have acknowledged the alleged Armenian genocide, the USA does have a special “place” on this issue. Due to the activities of the Protestant missionaries in Anatolia the USA’s interest in --and relations with-- the Armenians date back a very long time. It was as early as in 1894 that the US Senate took its first decision in favor of the Armenians. American interest in the Armenians grew further after the mass relocation of 1915. Currently the USA has an Armenian minority of some one million people who seem to be well adjusted to the country. The Armenian vote matters in elections especially in states such as California, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
After Armenian terrorist attacks began the Armenians tried to elicit from the US Congress a resolution acknowledging the alleged Armenian genocide. The US Congress declared the April 24 of the years 1975 and 1984 the “National Day of Remembrance of Man’s Inhumanity to Man”. Both of these resolutions said that the Armenians had been subjected to a genocide. The 1984 resolution claimed also that the “genocide” in question was committed by Turkey. However, since these resolutions were limited to the years 1975 and 1984, the Armenians were not satisfied. In 1996 the US House of Representatives adopted a resolution under which Turkey would be given $22 million from the Economic Support Fund, slipping into the draft the “Armenian genocide” issue. It tied the release of the aid to the condition that Turkey should acknowledge the Armenian “genocide” and take all appropriate steps to honor the memory of the victims of it. However, the resolution did not yield any results since Turkey refused to obtain aid under these conditions.
Another Armenian propaganda effort involves the US presidents. Every year the Armenians urge the president to issue a message to mark April 24. The first such message was issued in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan who, having served as state governor of California, had been in close contact with the Armenians. That message was basically about the Holocaust though it did refer to the Armenians as well. Although President Reagan remained in office until 1988 he did not issue another such message. During his four-year term his successor, George Bush too issued only one such message, that is, in 1990. President Bill Clinton issued six messages during his eight years in office, every year starting from 1994. President George W. Bush issued one every year in what seems to have become a tradition by now.40
While Turkey watched on attentively and expressed its objections, a draft resolution that contained almost all of the Armenian allegations managed to clear the congressional committees and reach the House floor in 2000. At a time it seemed almost certain that the draft would be passed, President Bill Clinton sent a letter to the Chairman of the House, Dennis Hastert, on Oct. 19, 2000, pointing out that the USA had important interests in the region and that tackling the bill at such a time would adversely affect these interests and prevent the efforts aimed at improving the Turkey-Armenia relations. He urged the Senate not to take any action on the draft. As a result, the chairman of the House dropped the draft from the agenda.
The Sept. 11, 2002 terrorist attack in New York and the military intervention staged in Iraq in 2003 increased the USA’s need for cooperation in various fields with Turkey, a country that had strategic importance even before these developments. To the same extent the possibility of the Armenians eliciting a pro-Armenian decision from the US Congress was lessened. In fact, since then the Armenians have not targeted a resolution that would directly address the Armenian “genocide”. Instead, they have limited their efforts to having a reference made to the Armenians in a draft dealing mainly with the Holocaust.
When Turkey did not permit the US troops to cross into Iraq via Turkey for the Iraqi operation the Turkey-USA relations cooled off for some time. That led to the expectations that the Armenians would use that opportunity to submit a new draft. However, they waited until after the ceremonies marking the 90th anniversary of the alleged genocide. Finally, in the summer of 2005, two draft resolutions were submitted to the House on the genocide issue.
One of these (H. Con. Res. 195) was identical to the draft that had been submitted in 2000. In the preamble all Armenian allegations imaginable were listed. In the operative section of the draft it was said, in brief, that the Congress should commemorate the Armenian “genocide” every year, that the president should do the same thing on behalf of the American people and that the Turkish government should acknowledge the “culpability” of the Ottoman Empire in the |”genocide”. It said that Turkey’s EU membership bid should be supported only if Turkey did that. Furthermore, it urged the Turkish government to initiate a rapprochement with Armenia and the Armenian people “for a just solution”.
In the other draft (H. Res. 316) the same Armenian allegations were listed and acknowledged, and the following call was made: The American foreign policy should reflect the problems related to the Armenian “genocide” and the US president should use the word “genocide” in his April 24 message every year.
Both drafts cleared the relevant committees and were relayed to the House floor. There is a widely held conviction to the effect that unless the president intervenes these drafts will be passed.
Yet another draft (H.R.3103) submitted by the Armenian Caucus in the US House of Representatives urged the secretary of the state to present a report to the Congress every year on the steps the USA would take to ensure that Turkey would lift the embargo on Armenia and on the plans the USA would be making to this effect.
Another draft submitted by the same group (H.R.3361) urged the authorities not to provide any US aid for the construction of the proposed railway between Kars, Turkey and Akhalkalaki, Georgia.
It is obvious that these drafts are aimed at making the US Congress accept the Armenian demands which can be summed up in the following manner: recognition of the “genocide”, reopening of Turkey’s border with Armenia and prevention of the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway construction.
Meanwhile, in the USA, a number of state legislatures too have passed resolutions upholding the Armenian genocide allegations.41 In the USA, it is customary for the state legislatures, state governors and mayors to issue statements or messages on various issues that their voters believe to be important. Benefiting from this custom, the Armenians have managed to elicit resolutions of this kind in those states where the Armenian vote holds sway. It has not been possible to block these attempts because the number –and, therefore, the political influence—of the Turks living the USA is much smaller than that of the Armenians.
The Legal Value and Political Impact of the Parliamentary Decisions
What would be the effect of the aforementioned decisions of the parliaments of the countries in question?
Turkey (or any other independent state) is not obliged to abide by the decisions of the parliaments of foreign countries. For this reason these decisions would not have legal consequences for Turkey. But this does not mean that these decisions would not cause hazards for Turkey.
Since the early 1980s Turkey has been criticized so much on the grounds of human rights violations. If, now, on top of all this, the belief that Turkey had committed the crime of genocide (which is the biggest crime against humanity) came to prevail, that would further mar Turkey’s image. That, in turn, would help create feelings of distrust towards Turkey, adversely affecting Turkey in a wide range of areas extending from tourism to foreign capital investments. Also, those circles in Europe that oppose Turkish membership in the EU would gain a trump card.
We must oppose the genocide allegations and try to make known the true nature of the 1915 events not only because of the issues mentioned above but also because the genocide allegations do not fit the historical facts and this is an attempt to taint the honor of our ancestors.
Turkey takes the path of diplomacy to prevent the adoption of parliamentary resolutions of this kind. By making diplomatic initiatives Turkey tries to show the true nature of these historical events and to explain that these resolutions are directed at certain political goals that even entail a questioning of Turkey’s territorial integrity. However, the Turkish embassies’ efforts to this effect have been fruitful only in a few countries. This is because parliaments obviously think that not them but the governments of these countries are responsible for diplomatic relations. In other words, in a given country, an effort to pass a resolution of this kind can be blocked only if the government of that country makes an initiative against it at the parliament. And, to take such a step, a government has to have excellent relations with Turkey (or has to be wary of embarking on a path of conflict with Turkey) and, at the same time, it has to have parliamentary majority.
In countries where Turks outnumber Armenians, preventing such resolutions would depend on the extent of the political influence the Turkish community wielded. Turks outnumbering Armenians would not necessarily mean that Turks carry greater “weight” politically. That would require full adjustment to the conditions in that country, being fluent in that country’s language, and participation in the political life of that country actively.
b. The Decisions of the European Parliament
In our day international organizations abound. Among these we will be focusing on those ones that have states for members and those that are important in the political field.
Despite all the efforts the Diaspora Armenians have made all these years –efforts in which the Republic of Armenia too has taken part over the past five years— only one international organization has accepted the Armenian genocide allegations to date: the European Parliament. Contrary to what many Armenian sources claim, the United Nations and the Council of Europe have not accepted the Armenian genocide allegations.42
The European Parliament tackled this issue in 1987 for the first time. Two factors played a part in that development: Turkey had applied to the EU for full membership on April 14, 1987 and Armenian terrorism had recently come to a halt. Here are the highlights of the European Parliament’s June 18, 1987 resolution the text (in English) of which is given in Appendix 5:
- It recognizes the mass relocation of 1915-1917 as genocide.
- It states that if Turkey continued to refuse to recognize the “genocide” that would constitute an obstacle to the Turkish full membership in the EU.
- It says that Turkey cannot be held responsible for the aforementioned incidents.
- It stresses that no political, legal or material claims can be derived from Turkish recognition of the “genocide”.
- It condemns Armenian terrorism.
Obviously the articles “a” and “b” make the kind of statements that would be sought by the Armenians but rejected by Turkey whereas the articles “c”, “d” and “e” make the kind of statements that the Armenians would not want but Turkey could accept. Thus the resolution tried to strike some sort of balance between the two sides.
During those years no progress could be made regarding the Turkish candidacy for EU membership and the aforementioned resolution lost its significance, serving no purpose other than being used as a tool for Armenian propaganda from time to time.
The Turkish candidacy was put on the agenda once again with the 1999 Helsinki summit. This gave certain circles in the European Parliament an opportunity to put forth the Armenian “genocide” issue once again. This issue has been taken up mainly during the European Parliament debates on the European Commission’s annual progress reports on Turkey.
In the resolution it passed after debating the European Commission’s 2000 Progress Report regarding the Turkish candidacy, the European Parliament referred to the genocide issue along with many other subjects. It demanded that the Turkish government and the Turkish Grand National Assembly “publicly” acknowledge the Armenian “genocide”. It also demanded that the Turkish government initiate a dialogue with Armenia towards establishment of normal diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries and the lifting of the embargo.
The European Parliament resolution on the European Commission’s 2001 Progress Report on Turkey, however, made no reference to the genocide issue. On the other hand, the resolution in question asked Turkey to lift the embargo on Armenia and to play an active role for the resumption of the dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Meanwhile, the genocide issue came up in another European Parliament report: The 2002 report on the relations with the countries of South Caucasus. That document referred to the European Parliament’s aforementioned 1987 resolution as “the June 18, 1987 resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide of 1915”. Also, it urged Turkey to end the embargo on Armenia. The report drew adverse reactions in Turkey. Those Turkish political parties that have “parliamentary groups” issued a joint statement on Feb. 28, 2002, that is, on the day the European Parliament resolution was passed. They stressed that the European Parliament was deliberately denying the historical facts.
The European Parliament resolution43 on the European Commission’s Turkey Progress Report for the year 2002 (the Oostlander Report named after the rapporteur who prepared it), on the other hand, tried to establish a link between the genocide issue and the Copenhagen Criteria by saying that the resolution of the Cyprus problem and normalization of the relations with Armenia were definitely among the issues envisaged by the Copenhagen Criteria. However, what really matters in this regard is the attitude of the European Commission that is carrying out the accession talks with Turkey.
The report in question referred to the 1987 resolution and dealt with such issues as the utilization of the Armenian language, respect for and appreciation of the Armenian and Assyrian cultural works, discontinuation in Turkish schools the education given on the “alleged genocide”. Furthermore, it urged Turkey to develop good-neighborly relations with Armenia and demanded the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border and the establishment of diplomatic relations as a first step in this direction.
The European Parliament resolution on the Progress Report on Turkey for the Year 2003 did not make a direct reference to the genocide issue. Due to the insistence of the pro-Armenian members of the Parliament it referred to the June 18, 1987 resolution but it contented itself with that. On the other hand, the resolution urged Turkey to reopen its border with Armenia, encourage good relations with Armenia, and refrain from the kind of moves that could prevent the “historic reconciliation”.
In that section of the European Commission’s Oct. 6, 2004 report that focused on the potential effects of Turkish membership on the EU, it was stated that Turkish membership would stretch the EU borders to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan and that the EU could exert a stabilizing influence on South Caucasus via Turkey. But for that, it added, Turkey should solve its problems with its neighbors before joining the EU.
In this context the report underlined with special emphasis the need for Turkey to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia, reopen the land border and, develop its relations with Armenia.
The report said that interpretation of the tragic events, especially the human suffering experienced in the region during the years 1915-1916, was an important issue. It stressed that the expectation for Turkey to join the EU should cover the improvement of the bilateral relations with Armenia and the reaching of a reconciliation on the events in question. When referring to the mass relocation of 1915-1916 the report used the term “tragic events” rather than the term preferred by the Armenians, that is, “genocide”. On account of this it was criticized by the Diaspora.44 On the other hand, for the first time this issue entered a European Commission document. The Commission wants Turkey to bring about a reconciliation about these “tragic events”. It is not clear when and with whom the reconciliation is to be reached. However, since the Armenian Diaspora does not have an international identity the reconciliation would have to be reached with Armenia. On the other hand, one understands that the Commission expects the reconciliation to take place prior to Turkish membership.
The Commission also pointed out that it would be important for Turkey to contribute to the easing of the tension that exists between Armenia and Azerbaijan due to the Karabakh problem. Significantly, the Commission is expecting Turkey’s contribution not for the resolution of the Karabakh problem but for the easing of the tension created by that problem. In other words, it is being insinuated that Turkey’s supporting Azerbaijan could increase the existing tension.
The most important part of the Commission report concerned the recommendations the Commission made to the Dec. 17 summit meeting of the EU heads of state and government regarding the progress on Turkish accession to the EU. There was no reference to the Armenians or Armenia in these recommendations. Accordingly, no reference was made to these issues in the final communiqué of the Dec.
7 summit. Thus the insistent Armenian demand that Turkish recognition of the “genocide” should be made a precondition for the start of the EU-Turkey talks, was not fulfilled.
After examining the European Commission’s aforementioned Progress Report, the European Parliament adopted a recommendatory decision on this issue on Dec. 15, 2004. Noting that the Turkey-Armenia border had still not been opened, it said that this was an opportunity missed for the Turkish authorities to establish good relations with Armenia. It stressed that the Turkish authorities had not complied with a number of other issues also related to Armenia, issues that had been cited in the European Parliament’s June 18, 1987 resolution. (We had noted above that with the 1987 resolution the European Parliament had recognized the Armenian “genocide”, urged Turkey to do the same, and warned that if Turkey did not recognize the “genocide” that would constitute an insurmountable obstacle on Turkey’s path to EU membership.)
In the “recommendatory decision” the European Parliament also told Turkey it would be supporting the process of reconciliation with the Armenian people by recognizing the “genocide”. Furthermore, it asked the European Commission and the European Council (the EU heads of state and government) to urge Turkey to officially recognize the “genocide reality” and to reopen its border with Armenia without delay.
In that document the European Parliament said that reopening of the Armenian church in Ani to visitors, the notable work of Turkish historian Halil Berktay on the genocide issue and the reestablishment of the relations with the Republic of Armenia at state level were future-oriented vital steps. However, it went on to say that this process should reach its logical conclusion: the reopening of the Turkey-Armenia border. By the way, let us point out that Halil Berktay has not written a book on the genocide issue, that he expresses his views mostly during the interviews he gives, and that, for that reason, it is not easy to understand why his --nonexistent-- work is being considered a vitally important step. Also incomprehensible is the remark about the “reestablishment” of relations between Turkey and Armenia at state level. Turkey recognized the Republic of Armenia in 1991 and the officials of the two sides hold official contacts at all levels when required although they do not have diplomatic representatives in one another’s country. There is no such thing as “reestablishment” of relations between the two countries.
In the document in question the European Parliament expressed the conviction that Turkey and Armenia should keep up the reconciliation process with the help of a committee consisting of independent experts so that the tragic experiences of the past could be publicly overcome.
It can be seen that the European Parliament decision reflects the Armenian views much more extensively than the European Commission reports had done. Meanwhile, it is significant that the European Parliament is almost insisting that Turkey should recognize the Armenian “genocide” and open its border with Armenia.
The only part of that document that the Armenians would not like was the suggestion that the tragic events of the past, in other words, the genocide allegations, should be researched by an independent committee of experts of the two sides. Armenians are convinced that the “genocide” has been adequately proven and they do not want a study to be conducted on this subject. The European Parliament suggestion for an “independent committee of experts” is compatible with the proposal Prime Minister Erdoğan made in a letter he sent to President Kocharyan on April 13, 2005. Prime Minister Erdoğan suggested creation of a group consisting of the historians and other experts of the two countries, a group that would research the relevant documents in the archives of all the countries concerned and report its findings to the international community.
On Sept. 2005, that is, a few days before the start of the accession talks between Turkey and the EU, the European Parliament passed a resolution that voiced the Turkey-related demands and complaints of the EU member countries. First and foremost, these demands included Turkish recognition of Southern Cyprus. The Armenian genocide allegations too were included in that resolution.
In the Article “J” of the Preamble it was said that the Turkish authorities had still not fulfilled the demands that had been expressed on the Armenian question in the European Parliament’s June 18, 1987 resolution. Furthermore, the Article 5 of the operative section of the resolution urged Turkey to recognize the Armenian “genocide” as a precondition of Turkish accession to the EU.
Thus the European Parliament has confirmed yet another time its stance of accepting the Armenian allegations. However, the European Parliament decisions are not binding. They are of a recommendatory nature, indicating the Parliament’s tendencies. Turkish recognition of the Armenian “genocide” is not one of the Copenhagen Criteria. Neither have the other relevant documents –in the latest instant the Document Drawing the Framework of the Turkey-EU Negotiations—put on record that Turkey must recognize the Armenian “genocide”. Under the circumstances, as an organization the EU will not be demanding that Turkey recognize the alleged genocide. However, in the course of the negotiations, since talks will be held member countries as well, the member countries will be able to put on the negotiating table the issues they want “individually”. If Turkey refuses to negotiate this subject or makes it clear that it will not recognize the alleged genocide there is nothing these countries can do other than “vetoing” Turkish membership in the EU. And that would go against the EU tradition of acting together. Under normal conditions it would be hard to imagine that Turkish membership process can be halted only because of the genocide allegations. Coming to the European Parliament, if, in the future, that is, in ten years at best, Turkey manages to successfully complete the negotiations and an accession agreement can be drafted, there will be the possibility that the European Parliament would (during the ratification process of that agreement at the European Parliament) take into consideration its 1987 resolution and the other decisions it has taken since then, and refuse to ratify the accession treaty as long as Turkey does not recognize the alleged genocide.
* Ret. Ambassador, Director of the ASAM Research Institute for Crimes Against Humanity (İKSAREN).
1 Kamuran Gürün, Ermeni Dosyası [Armenian File], pp. 298-301
3 Ibid, p. 323.
3 The texts of those articles of the Sèvres Treaty that concern the establishment of Armenia, protection of the minorities and punishment of the war criminals (in Turkish and English) are attached as Appendix 1.
4 The text of the Treaty of Kars is in Appendix 2.
5 Ret. Ambassador Gündüz Aktan’s article “Lausanne Peace Treaty and the Armenian Question” which is in this CD provides extensive information on the Armenian question in Lausanne.
6 Bilal N. Şimşir, Amerika’da Ermeni Propagandası ve Büyükelçi Ahmet Rüstem Bey, [Armenian Propaganda in America and Ambassador Rüstem Bey], Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 2, p. 45,46.
7 Baskin Oran (ed.), Turk Dış Politikasi [Turkish Foreign Policy], Vol. I, pp. 502-509; Kamuran Gürün, Savaşan Dünya ve Türkiye (1939-1945) [The Fighting World and Turkey (1939-1945)], pp. 643-662.
8 Kersam Ahoranian, A Historical Survey of Armenia, Baikar Publications, Massachussetts, 1989, p. 141.
9 Ibid, p. 140.
10 Gérard Dédéyan, “Histoire des Arméniens”, Toulouse 1982, p. 553.
11 Gaidz Minassian, Guerre et Terrorisme Arméniens, Paris 2002, p. 18.
12 Catholicos is the title given to the highest religious leader of the Gregorian Armenians.
13 Seyfi Taşhan, Ermeni Diasporası ve Batı Ülkeleri [Armenian Diaspora and Western Countries], www.foreignpolicy.org.tr/makale/stashan_190101.
14 For the psychological state of the Diaspora Armenians see: Erol Göka, Ermeni Sorununun (gözden kaçan) Psikolojik Boyutu [The Psychological Dimension of the Armenian Question (that escapes attention)], Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 1 (March – April – May), pp. 128-136.
15 In Turkey some writers call this the “Three-T Plan”. The first T is Tanitma which means promotion in Turkish. The second is Tazminat (compensation) and the third Toprak (territory).
16 Certain Turkish writers and academics that support the Armenian views attempted to stage a conference on the “Ottoman Armenians during the Decline of the Empire: Issues of Scientific Responsibility and Democracy” theme at the Boğaziçi University. However, they postponed the meeting due to the pressure exerted by the public opinion. That caused certain EU countries and EU bodies to make remarks to the effect that freedom of expression did not exist in Turkey. The conference in question was later held at another university (Bilgi University) on Sept. 24-25, 2005 amid continuing protests.
17 Mehmet Ali Birand’s interview with Kocharyan, Posta, Jan. 31, 2001.
19 For the full list of the Turkish public officials martyred by the Armenians see Appendix 3.
20 It is not possible to say that the captured Armenian terrorists were always justly punished. There is, for example, the case of Hrair Klindjian who had fired (but missed) a gun at Turkish Ambassador in Berne, Doğan Türkmen, on Feb. 6, 1980. Klindjian was put on trial in Marseille on Jan. 22-23, 1982. Although Türkmen’s guard, Sadi Taşdelen, identified him as the attacker, the jury did not reach the conclusion that he was indeed the culprit. However, since his connection to the assassination attempt was all too clear, he was given a two-year jail sentence. At the end of the trial, he was released from custody. Curiously, during the trial, there was no reference at all to any other culprit or culprits. The witnesses called by the defense during the trial based their testimony on the assumption that the alleged genocide had really taken place. The judge permitted the jury to hear these statements that had nothing to do with the murder attempt. Thus the trial was turned into a forum for Armenian propaganda and, for that reason, the court records have been published by the Armenians as a book. “Les Arméniens en Cours d’Assises”, 1983, Rocquevaire/France, ISBN, 2-86364-018-6
21 Minassian, aforementioned work, p. 95.
22 For the principal documentaries and feature films made by the Armenians see: Sedat Laçiner, Şenol Kantarcı, Ararat, Sanatsal Ermeni Propagandası [Ararat: Artistic Armenian Propaganda], Ankara 2002, pp. 25-38
23 Sam Weems, “Armenia, Secrets of a ‘Christian’ State”, St. John Press 2002, pp. 373-374.
24 Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Press Release, Nov. 20, 2002.
25 See Appendix 4 for the texts (in English) of these resolutions published by the Armenian National Institute.
26 For the details of this resolution see: Ömer Engin Lütem, Olaylar ve Yorumlar, Ermeni Araştırmaları No.6, pp. 15-16.
28 Reuters, April 21, 2004.
29 Ömer Engin Lütem, Olaylar ve Yorumlar, Ermeni Araştırmaları No. 1, pp. 10-21.
30 Ibid, p. 18.
31 Ermeni Arastirmalari, No. 18
32 Ermeni Arastirmalari, No. 3, pp. 13-17; No. 4, p. 19; No. 5, pp. 17-19.
33 Akşam, Dec. 24, 2003.
34 Agence France Presse, Dec. 2, 2004.
35 Noyan Tapan, Dec. 3, 2004.
36 Press Release, Federation of Armenian Organizations in the Netherlands (FAON), 24 April Committee, Dec. 21, 2004.
37 European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy, Press Release, April 21, 2005.
38 PAP News Wire, April 21, 2005.
39 Anar Somuncuoğlu, Litvanya’nın Türkiye Karşıtı Kararı, Hakimiyet-i Milliye, Jan. 3, 2006.
40 The texts of the messages issued by the US presidents are in Appendix 6.
41 As of the year 2005 a total 38 American states have passed resolutions on the Armenian “genocide”: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
42 In a report presented to the UN Subcommission for the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities in 1985 “Armenian genocide” was listed among the acts of genocide. However, the subcommittee merely took note of that report. The report in question did not form the subject matter of any decision. Normally, the report would be expected to be endorsed and relayed to the Human Rights Commission which is the higher body, and, from there, sent to the Economic and Social Council and, after that, to the UN General Assembly. For information on this issue see: Türkkaya Ataöv, What Really Happened in Geneva: The Truth about the ‘Whitaker Report’, Ankara, 1986.
Coming to the Council of Europe, none of the Council of Europe bodies has taken a decision on the alleged genocide. In 1978 a total 51 parliamentarians from various countries issued a communiqué supporting the genocide allegations on the occasion of April 24. In 2001, 63 parliamentarians issued a similar communiqué, again to mark April 24. However, these committed not the Council of Europe but the persons who signed the communiqué. Also, considering the fact that the Council of Europe Consultative Assembly consists of 306 members, the number of the parliamentarians signing these communiqués is not so high.
43 That was on the “Oostlander Report” named after the rapporteur that prepared it. The report and its appendix was adopted by the European Parliament on June 5, 2003 with 216 votes in favor and 75 against while 38 members abstained. The report touches on various other issues regarding Turkey. About the Armenians, in addition to the aforementioned remarks, it refers to such issues as the utilization of the Armenian language, respect for and appreciation of the Armenian and Assyrian cultural works, and discontinuation of the education given in Turkish schools on the “alleged Armenian genocide”. Furthermore it urges the academics and the representatives of the nongovernmental organizations of the two countries to keep up their dialogue so that the tragic experiences of the past can be overcome.
44 La Federation Euro-Arménienne issued a statement on Oct. 7, 2004, saying that the European Commission used incorrect words, censoring the term “genocide, and thus enabled Turkey to keep up the “negation”.