20 October 2006

1169) Armenian Genocide: What it Means to US and EU, By Mehmet Kalyoncu

The resolutions H.CON.RES.195 and H.RES.316 on Armenian Genocide, which were approved by the US House Committee on International Relations1, and several EU states’ attempt to make it necessary for Turkey to accept Armenian genocide to start the EU accession talks, have once again raised the question: Aside from what it means to both Armenians and Turks, what does “ Armenian Genocide” mean to the great powers of the West?

“ Armenian Genocide” , as Armenians name it, or “So-Called Armenian Genocide” as Turks like to call it; what determines the fate of the unfortunate incidents took place in the late Ottoman era is neither whether the Turks are willing to accept it or not, nor whether the Armenians are bold enough to embark on a thorough academic research on the issue. What determines the fate of Armenian Genocide debate is how both the US and the EU perceive it. For both the US and the EU, Armenian Genocide issue is nothing more than a stick that they use when carrot does not work to get Turkey on line with their interests. . .

Late developments on the very issue in both the US House of Representatives and the European Parliament suffice to prove this argument. Both fellow Turks and fellow Armenians should realize that it is up to their efforts and dialogue to fix this almost century-long problem which has plagued their socio-economic and political relations.

Armenian Genocide is merely political instrument for a majority of the US Congress members, at least of those in the House Committee on International Relations. The explanations by the Congressmen and the Congresswomen in the Committee for their support for the resolutions H.CON.RES.195 and H.RES.316 suffice to prove that they view the Armenian Genocide as purely political, rather than historical and legal, issue. Moreover, California’ s Democrat Congressman Tom Lantos’ explanation for why he has changed his position on the Armenian genocide debate blatantly demonstrates that the issue does not mean anything else to him other than mere political instrument to pursue the US interest vis-à-vis Turkey. As he roughly put it, his position on the Armenian genocide debate is directly related to whether Turkey respects the US interests or not. Turkey did not allow the US troops to pass through its lands, and hence prevented the US to open a northern front against Saddam’ s troops. As a result, the number of the US casualties has amounted almost two thousand. For this very reason, he has changed his position against Turkey.

One could also reasonably argue that he might have been pursuing his own interests as representative of a state that has sizable Armenian diaspora. For the third parties watching the Turkish-Armenian debate, it was stunning to hear why he used to favor Turkey five years ago and why he has changed his position against Turkey now. No doubt that it was a big and unexpected slap in the faces of the fellow Armenians who sincerely believe in their cause and accordingly pour millions of dollars into the election campaigns of the US Congress members by hoping to influence the US’ official position on the Armenian genocide issue.

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