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Armenian and Turkish claims are still on both nations’ agenda. The Armenian Diaspora is pushing the leaders of their countries to recognize the events of 1915 as ‘genocide’ if they haven’t done so yet. Turkey claims that it was not ‘genocide’. People in Armenian Republic who are struggling with severe economic problems try to contribute to the Diaspora’s work.
There are two aspects of the problem:
- What happened in the past?
- What will happen in the future?
In terms of the past there are claims, accusations, cover-ups, deceptions, disinformation and falsifications on both sides. Even though digging out the ashes of history is basically the historians’ job- this is what Turkey says-, we should at least admit that the Armenians were massacred in 1915.
The problem lays on the legal definition of the crime. Genocide briefly means a deliberate, planned act to totally liquidate a race or a nation. Were those massacres “genocide” or not? This is the bottom line of the question.
Some of the evidences presented by the Armenian side in order to prove the “genocide” are untrue. To gain support of the public some falsifications have been created like number of victims or the Andonian letters…Armenian side in last two years started to include “the period of the Turkish independence war and Atatürk era” into the timeline of the relocation or deportation. These kinds of falsifications do not serve any purpose but weaken the claims.
Turkey’s one of the biggest faults is not publishing the catalogs of the documents of the General Security Directorate (Emniyet-i Umumiye) and the Political Crimes Department (Birinci Sube). Without these catalogs, Turkish Archives cannot be considered as completely open. All of the governments that came to power in Turkey after 1980 stated that they opened the archives, but they did not. This ignorance or deliberate lies gives the impression that something is hidden. Another is the rejection of massacres committed for example in Kütahya far from the Russian front.
Genocide briefly means a deliberate, planned act to liquidate a race or a nation totally.
The leaders of the Union and Progress Party (Ittihad ve Terakki) drafted the relocation law they gave the orders to enforce it. The same group sent 90.000 Turkish soldiers to the Allahuekber Mountains to assault on the Russian troops. Approximately 40 thousand of them died because of typhus and cold without firing a single bullet, due to the fact that they did not get enough reinforcements. Was this not a crime against Turks?
At that time there was only one medical school in Turkey, which was the Military Medical School in Istanbul. They sent all the med students to Gallipoli and all of them died there. There were no doctors in Turkey for 10 years.
In the four years they were in power, five thousand laws were passed in the parliament and none of them were seriously put into effect.
The leaders of the Union and Progress Party were not able to plan anything, even the genocide. If you look at the number of Armenians who were not relocated (from Izmir and Istanbul for instance) and the Armenians in the high posts of the Union of Progress Party, the genocide claims can not be realistic.
Actually the biggest problem is not what happened in the past. It is what will happen in the future…
With growing hate between the two nations we cannot go anywhere. Hate is blocking the road to tranquility, peace and possibly prosperity. The population of the Republic of Armenia is decreasing every year. People are fleeing from their own country because of poor living conditions. Will the recognition of “ genocide” make them prosperious?
Let’s say that Turkey recognizes the genocide. What will happen afterwards? Most of the Armenians would take a deep breath and say, “We got our ancestors’ revenge”. Yet, it would not have any effect on their lives. Some Armenians, mostly Armenian - Americans, would file suits against the insurance companies of 1915. They would get a good compensation from the companies, then those insurance companies would revoke these fines to Turkey and Turkey would pay it.
So, let’s say that the grandson of Andon who died during the relocation campaign of the Ottomans gets a good sum of money. The grandson of Khachatur who also died in the same era doesn’t get anything and would carry on the hate to his grandson. This is a vicious cycle… There would be no way out of it.
29th July 2006
I was born in Trabzon in 1947 and graduated from the Ankara University Law School. I have been a journalist for 35 years. I worked at the Turkish Radio and TV Corporation (TRT), the Anatolian Agency, Gunaydin newspaper, Voice of America and various magazines. Currently I am the Istanbul representative of The New Anatolian, one of the two English newspapers published in Turkey.
In 1973, two Turkish diplomats were killed by an old Armenian in Los Angeles. It was the first time that our generation - born and raised in Anatolia- started learning about what happened in the past. People living in Istanbul might have known something about the events occurred in 1915, but having been raised in Trabzon, I had known almost nothing on the Armenian Question.
After then I started my research, read many books and articles on the subject, listened to mostly second generation Armenians’ and Turks’ stories and discussed this issue with many people. Also since I lived in the United States for 7 years, I have had the opportunity to look at the other side of the coin. Many people in Turkey didn’t have the chance to read the books and articles that I was able to.
I am not going to get into the relationship between Armenian and Turkish citizens of Turkey in this article. Armenian citizens of Turkey are treated as equally as the others. I support them in their struggle to obtain religious foundations again and if they are being oppressed, they can count me in on their legal struggle.
Two nations that lived together for 700 years had become enemies due to the extreme nationalist movements and the superpowers’ intrigues. The struggle still continues in many forms. Turks and Armenians did not obtain anything else but hate. Without hate, these two nations can be together again, for the sake of future generations. In the article I’ll write my personal views on the issue I have to confess that no one who has been dealing with that kind of a bloody event can completely be unbiased.