03 November 2006
BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell talks to Armenians in Turkey and asks why a massacre that took place nearly a century ago, and the question whether it was genocide, is such a sensitive issue in Turkey today.
Luckily the last remaining Armenian village in Turkey does not rely on the mut berry for its living. It's plucked from the hedgerow and offered to me by two village women. It smells fantastic, a heady aroma a bit like rosemary. But it tastes of nothing and puckers the mouth. Instead it's the nectarine, turning from green to orange on the trees running down the hillside, that makes the village of Vakif its money. . . . .
The mayor, Berc Kartun, is more interested in talking about how his village's unique status attracts tourists, and the economic benefit of going organic, than discussing how his parents and grandparents died. "We are all rather tired of this question. We should let the historians settle it once and for all so it comes to a stop and you won't be asking our children the same thing."
My question of course is: "Was it genocide?"
Why is modern-day democratic Turkey so sensitive about something that happened nearly 100 years ago in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire? A BBC radio programme wants me to probe the delicate question of what the state's official attitude to the killings says about present-day Turkey.
Nobody seriously disputes that many thousands of Armenians died in what is now eastern Turkey between 1914 and 1918. Some Turkish historians say 200,000 died, some Armenian historians say it was two million. Turkish writers are still prosecuted for calling it "genocide". But the French parliament has caused outrage in Turkey by voting to make denial that these killings were genocide a crime on a par with holocaust denial.
My first reaction to the programme's request was, "It's obvious". If Britain was asked to acknowledge guilt for something in the past, say the Irish potato famine, there would be fury in some quarters. If the government was pressed by its EU partners to officially label it "genocide" there might be an explosion of incandescent rage in certain papers. But the key is "some quarters" and "certain papers". There would be a lively debate, because many British liberals do feel guilt for the country's colonial past.
Certainly Martin Amis and Iain Banks wouldn't find themselves on trial for agreeing with the foreigners. Yet in Turkey top novelists do find themselves on trial for libelling their country - although the actual law says "insulting the Turkish republic", so I don't quite see how insulting the Ottoman Empire qualifies.
YOUR HELP PLEASE
One of the things I value most about writing this diary is your comments. Even the rants, re-statements of obvious positions, and questioning of my intelligence, ability and motives interest me. But the majority of comments are both thoughtful and thought-provoking.
They often give me a new perspective and a greater understanding of the stories I am covering. So help me now. I'm not asking for a rehash of the old arguments, but why it is such a sensitive subject for Turks 90 years after the killings took place?
The village of Vakif (also known as Vakifli Koyu) was once one of several Armenian Christian villages dotting the hillside leading up to Mount Moses (Musa Dagh in Turkish, Musa Ler in Armenian) very near the Syrian border.
In 1915, because of their ideal tactical position, the Christian villages were able to repulse the Ottoman attackers long enough to appeal to fellow Christians. They were rescued by a French warship and taken to safety, but later made their way home.
The international boundary fluctuated over the years. When the area again became Turkish in 1939, many of the villagers decided to go to Lebanon or Syria, but those that remained grouped together in Vakif.
HEART AND SOUL
Inside the single-room cafe men play cards and drink small glasses of tea as the rain lashes the citrus trees outside. When I talk to the mayor of oranges and selling laurel berry soap to tourists they chat noisily among themselves in Armenian. But when I ask about the past, the room falls silent. They stare intently at the mayor as though willing him not to say the wrong thing.
It turns out that one of the men is just back to visit his father-in-law, the oldest man in the village. Canik Capar was once a villager, but he is now a tourist. He says he once had a good job in a bank but was sacked when they found he was an Armenian and a Christian. He re-trained as a teacher in the 1970s but says the government didn't want Armenian teachers in the region at the time. He told me the atmosphere was often tense, and knowing what had happened in the past, he was always worried that things might turn nasty again.
So he left for Berlin, where he has lived ever since, and is now a German citizen. He tells us the obvious, that his friends have to be careful what they say. So, would he call what happened in 1915 genocide?
"I don't care what they call it, the important thing is they admit what was done."
And as an EU citizen now, does he think Turkey should be allowed to join?
"Like my [Armenian] patriarch in Istanbul, my heart and soul say No, but with my head I say Yes, because if they don't, they will turn towards the Middle East and that could lead to something happening to our people again."
The whole question of historical guilt is an interesting one. Should I bear any guilt for the sins the British committed in Africa, if they were sins, any more than I do for the crimes of Jack the Ripper committed around the same time?
Britons are learning about atrocities committed in colonial Kenya
And if I and my government do bear this burden, should we feel similar guilt for the evil committed by Elizabeth I against Catholics or Mary I against Protestants? Should we apologise to the French for the 100 Years War, and they to us for 1066? Thinking about it, weren't the "Normans" actually "Norsemen"? So should an apology be forthcoming from Denmark, Norway and Sweden?
I'm not going to speculate further about Turkey, but if it was Britain I suspect part of the problem would be a certain kind of nationalism.
It seems to me that nationalism comes in two distinct types. One is fiercely proud of the achievements of the country, its history and language. The other is prickly, always looking out for insult and offence and its main motivation seems to be not pride, or even prejudice, but nursing old wounds.
Let's call it stabinthebackism, in memory of the Weimar Republic. Any gentle poking of fun, questioning of values or tradition is seen as the latest sign that the barbarian hordes are already inside the gates.
It was, I believe, Spike Milligan who used to say that he enjoyed kicking the backs of people's chairs when they didn't rise for the national anthem at the end of a theatre performance or film in the cinema (as was once routine). He said he did it not because he cared much about the national anthem but because it was a good excuse for kicking people. There are those still with us who have a similar motivation, without the irony.
2 November 2006
Comments by BBC Readers
I think the Armenian massacre is a touchy Turkish subject for two reasons. 1) It has been denied and denied truths cause guilt and anger by those who deny. 2. Modern Turkey feels itself a different, better, nation and culture than the one that slew the Armenians. I've lived in Turkey and admire the people there greatly.
Marvin McConoughey, Corvallis, Oregon USA
Something that happened nearly 100 years ago is being brought up in order to hinder Turkey's membership of the EC. Armenia refuses to take part in a joint commission of historians, and the archives of the USSR have not been examined. No country has a clean slate, least of all France
Georgina Özer, Istanbul, Turkey
Much of Turkish music, architecture, cuisine and art have Armenian roots. If the Turks admit to the Armenian Genocide, they fear to lose a large part of what they believe is Turkish identity
David Whitman, Sydney Australia
A strong country accepts its painful past and a weak one denies it.
Georgina Burns, London
There is no question that it was genocide. Don't call it a "massacre". Call it what it is. The Turkish people feel guilty because they have learned the "party line" in their education, but in their hearts they know the truth. Historical guilt exists when the nation has not acknowledged its past.
Annette Gurdjian, Oregon, USA
I believe admitting to guilt would not be the problem as such. There is enough proof that terrible things have been done by one nation against another. I think the problem would rather be that by admitting guilt, one admits that one has been wrong and commited acts that should not be permitted. In the eyes of many, this could weeken the self-created identity "nation". So in the end it all comes down to the fact that the individuals' fear to lose his identity influences the policy making.
You've asked for some insight into the Turkish mind, and I'm more than happy to oblige. Of course Turkey has its own share of fanatics who just want an excuse to "kick people", and they form one of the fiercest (and also one of the most unfocused and badly-led) centers of opposition to the debate of what actually happened in 1915. The cases opened against writers (I believe you actually had Orhan Pamuk's case in mind) were all the doing of these people, and so was the short lived proposal to recognize an "Algerian Genocide". But most people in Turkey simply do not believe that what took place can be classified as a genocide, and we have never seen proof to the contrary. I'm sure you've done a lot of research already, but you might want to remember the number of people who could actually be sentenced for war crimes against the Armenians were but a handful, even with English and American comissions ploughing the country deep for proof. However, the most important thing causing this indignation towards France is the simple injustice of it. In the past few years, Turkey has opened the imperial Ottoman archives to scholars, has allowed the free debate of what happened in 1915, and even though with the usual ups and downs, has adopted a much more liberal approach towards the issue.
Mehmet Cansoy, Istanbul- Turkey
Asking why Turkey finds it difficult to discuss atrocities in 1915 is a legitimate question. But an equally legitimate question is how many Ottoman Muslims died at the hands of Armenians and their Russians allies at that time and earlier. By all means suggest that Turkey should be more rational and open about these events, but why is it that Mark Mardwell does not speak to the Turks and Kurds in eastern Turkey with historic memories as the victims of massacres? It is an American historian Justin McCarthy in his book Death and Exile in the Ottoman Empire who claims that more Ottoman Muslims died in tne region than Armenians. Is it rational and open of Mark Mardell to ignore the victims and suffering on both sides? Are the Armenains rational and open when they try to label those massacres as 'genocide' of Armenians and ignore the Armenenian responsibility for massacres?
Barry Stocker, Istanbul, Turkey
I believe that nationalism of the second type (the one that you called the prickly nationalism) is becoming more and more popular in the former empires (e.g. Turkey or Russia).
Oksana, Laramie, Wyoming, USA
It's not possible to apologise for every past supposed historical wrong, should the British apologise to the Welsh and Irish for pushing their Celtic ancestors out of England or should Denmark pay reparations to Sweden and Norway for being their Imperial overlords during the Union of Kalmar. We can¿t keep apologising for the past but we also cannot ban discussion about such events. Denial of recent events is even more dangerous (as there may still be people who were alive at that time of the "genocide" or have parents who were there). I wasn¿t there in 1915 but I do know there is a vast supply of documents detailing the expulsion of Armenians, yet Turkey is one of the few countries which continues to deny it, to ban discussion is wrong to deny a historical wrong is even worse.
Daniel, Prague, Czech Republic
I agree with most of this article. people seems to point finger at the wrong doing of other for one reason or another.brit vs french german vs american congolesevs rwandan, japan vs korea vs china and so on. sens of denial when it comes to the negative side of history and of course much publicity for what is seemsto be the proud past. believe me the past will serve as a reference to todays issue. as humans we need to focus on the paresent for a better futur. thank you
muand, swansea wales
IN the first years of the last century Italy was busy gassing ethiopia, we were busy in what was then Persia. In the same way that we dont realistically expect the French to apologise for the aftermath of the risings in 1070, why should an apology be expected? It wouldnt mean anything to apologiser or apologisee. If out of direct living memory, such events are a matter of historical record, and care should be taken to see that that record is as accurate as is possible.
SImon , Nottingham
What is to be gained by Turkey relaxing its law to allow for freedom of speech in regards to the genocide? Everything. It's self-explanatory that free and open discourse among the people is one of the keystones of democracy. What is to be gained by the Turkish government admitting fault, wrong-doing, blah blah blah? A relative nothing. As you so succinctly put it, it creates an environment of "blaming"; I received a card from a friend on Battle of Hastings Day that read "Celebrating 940 years of French ruining the English language!" Why is it such a sensitive issue for Turkey? One can cite latent racism, obstinance, ignorance or out-right belligerence. Yet, I feel that Turkey would be right to refuse to accept responsibility for the massacres since it was "so long ago" (under another regime) AND who are we to call the kettle black? Turkey, however, is wrong for enforcing draconian laws that stifle the very democratic ideals that they will be flooded with if/when it becomes a member of the European Union.
Jeff, Athens, Greece
It's wrong to blame the current Turkish population for what happened during the first World War, however, it's also wrong to deny past injustices. Acceptance of guilt is the first step towards reconciliation. Where would the world have been today had the Germans continued to deny the holocaust committed by the Nazis? Humanity should have a higher place than politics. Officially recognising the Armenian Genocide should be one of the criteria for allowing Turkey into the EU.
Taniel Varoujan, Melbourne, Australia
A comment on Mr. Capar's demand that Turkey acknowledge that something important happened in 1915: an increasing number of Turks, such as myself, do believe that something important happened during WWI between the Armenian and non-Armenian inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire. However, we dispute both the number of dead, based on historical evidence, and more importantly the INTENT to commit genocide, which is a legal requirement, again based on the only information that is available. Turks object to being convicted of a crime without being given the chance to prove their innocence, or even to give their own view on the issue. The recent Turkish position of letting the historians decide is indicative of this desire for dialogue, and yet the Armenian diaspora and the nation of Armenia have rejected this suggestion. The diaspora has even tried to go one step further in France by trying to make it illegal to disagree with their narrow and admittedly biased version of events. !
Eren Alp, Toronto, Canada
Quite understandably, people get frustrated when their history is insulted. After all, history classes at schools, at least in this part of the world, only tell the good things our ancestors have achieved. But the most essential element of humanity is respect, for the opinions of people, their preferences, their beliefs. And that seems to be lacking from present day Turkey, which seems to me like a pampered kid, everyone wants to spank, but is afrain to do so because of political, economic and other interests. I guess the lack of respect leads to human suffering, like the suffering of Armenians, Kurds, Jews, Somalis, etc etc etc
Marios Neoptolemou, Nicosia, Cyprus
Being German I have to bear another "national guilt". It's hard at times but on the whole I think it is the only way to admit the horrible things that were done. Apologies won't bring back the dead but on the other hand, if we Germans would not apologize - what would that be? Admitting a horrible crime like that will help us to avoid it in future. I have to recognize the horrible deeds done in the past to learn from them. Never, never let it happen again! Wasn't just a few years ago that the Roman Catholic church apologized officially for all the horrible crimes done in her name? An apology long waited for. They admitted it. They were guilty in the past. That's their chance - our chance! - to learn and to do everything possible to prevent it in the future.
I for one am a nationalist and believe that Turkey shouldn't be apologising for past mistakes, as you say, of the Ottoman Empire in the same way that we shouldn't be apologising for the slave trade of 200 years ago. Should I be apologising to the Malayans for my fathers actions during the Malay Peninsula actions of the late 50's/early 60's when he was in the navy? Perhaps I should apologise for my grandfathers actions towards the Germans during WWII? Absolutely ridiculous but I'm sure the debate will rage on in various forms for a long time yet.
Phil Bodycote, Colchester, England
I am an expat living in Turkey for the past 9 years. I feel that the Armenian question is a debate for historians and should not be used as a weapon in the decisions of whether or not Turkey should be allowed into the EU. Historically not one member of the EU can claim innocence in its past. But we are talking about a relatively new and very proud republic that has achieved enormous change (for the better of all) in its short existence, the current government is also achieving much in modernising and perhaps westernising an astonishingly complex country. I and many of my friends believe Turkey would be better off without joining and that it would be the West that would benefit more than Turkey if it Does.
Steve Traynor, Dalyan Mugla Turkey
Your comment on nationalism stikes the nail on the head. Let me take the argument one step further. All nations have moments in their history that make them feel especially proud. All of them have moments of shame as well. Accepting the latter as historical fact bears certain pre requisites. Democratic depth, elementary tolerance, and social openess are a few but probably do not exhaust the list. (Prickly) nationalism IS the opium of the people (as well as nations).
Yannis Dimarakis, Athens, Greece.
I agree that the question of historical guilt is a very interesting one. But I feel the most important aspect of history is that it is debated, recorded and in cases of genocide that it is at a minimum accepted and acknowledged, in order to show respect to those who lost their lives and their families. The other question I would ask is whether the histories of other entrants to the EU were explored and any areas of genocide highlighted before they joined the EU? If not, why is Turkey's history now in question? I have no issues with debating history, especially where attrocities against humankind have been or may have been committed, this is an essential for us to move forward and work towards creating a better future. But it seems wrong to use such sensitive issues for political gain.
Canan Sadik, Kent, UK
The Ottoman were a major power and empire that almost--just almost--was totally eclipsed within recent memory. Their contribution to World Civilization was immense. The need of the succeeding Turks to portray themselves in a benign light--just punishing rebellious ethnicities of an empire--is necessary for their own sense to saving the Ottomans via a self-defense plea. As an ancient historian I can only say that such cultural delusions are common, from the Assyrians onward. And more recently, I can cite the evidence for the deliberate withholding of water and medication from Boers who were concentrated into camps at a time when there was full knowledge of the risk of epidemics. Or giving smallpox blankets to American Indians by the US. And of course now, the grandchildren of the German camps now have millions of Palestinians behind walls, were access to water, power and food is rationed. Are the Israelis monsters? No, I see no difference. No special dispensation or veniality. I just see it as the stupidity of our specie, especially in a time when avian flu is now mutating in China as I write. Are we evil, do I believe in original sin? Nope, I 'm one of those who believes in what I like to call, original stupidity--the very shortsighted ability of individuals and cultures to do what seems at the moment is in their own best interest.
Jim Sibal, NYC, NY
I think this touches upon the near fanatical patriotism of the US.There's a form of nationalism that borders on fundalmentalism which is extremely dangerous. We now live in a world of censorship, my country right or wrong, where the lessons of the past are never explored or discussed in a rational way. Is there any other country in the world that is more hung up on national symbols and pits one's patriotism against the other? We're slowly creeping towards fascism in the US. I'm sorry this more a cry in the wilderness. The Turks need to atone for their sins and move on. God knows the US needs to confront it's past and atrocities and grow up.
Robert S. Cook, Fresno, CA USA
As a Conservative Southern White American Male, I am familiar with routinely being accused of happenings in the past with which I had absolutely nothing to do. Slavery, sexism, Jim Crow laws, and the Vietnam War are all somehow my fault. Of course I consider this type of labeling to be extremely unjust. That being said, there is a necessity for speaking the truth about what happened in the past. Admitting something happened (and calling it what it was) is not automatically an admission of guilt. And It sould be completely assinine for me to insist that anyone who calls slavery "slavery" be prosecuted because I don't feel guilty for what happened...
Jeremy Spiers, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
I think that it is an act of courage and self-honesty if a country, or representatives of that country's leaders, etc. can admit to acts of inhumanity in the present or past, not necessarily with a lot of guilt, but with a sense of responsibility. This is happening less and less nowadays it seems, especially in my country, where many of the citizens (see for example, writer Richard Flanagan of Tasmania, Australia, who has just published a book about what is happening in Australia at the present with the gradual erosing of human rights in this country) feel that this is no longer the country we could feel relatively happy about that tried to give others a 'fair go' etc. Nowadays, it seems very inhumane acts are sanctioned or hidden.
Toni Keeling, Launceston Australia
In America we have a similar experience. The substance of the history that I refer to here is the Vietnam War, which we lost, and which still divides the US as clearly as it did 40 years ago. The emotional scars to the nation's psyche have not healed. The G-word of Armenians by the Turks is another one of those issues. Just this year the American General who investigated the over 500 documented atrocity cases in the pentagon files went public and asked that the records be unsealed. This whole subject still hurts America and will continue to until we get completely honest about what happened. Each of us has our own peerspective on our own historical life events. Mine happens to be that of a combat soldier who volunteered for active service. While I am proud of the men that I served with (mostly), I am also aware that my country's policy was flawed from the beginning and at best poorly implemented.
John F. Beirne, Williamsport, PA, USA
Considering the large number of Turks and people of Turkish origin living here (particularly in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and my country) we should be working towards more integration and a greater understanding of their culture, not beating them over the head with an issue most of us (including your diarist), clearly have no understanding of.
Alexandra Skwara, Vienna, Austria
The continued denial by not only Turkey, but other countries, reflects the clash between nationalism and reality. There's little doubt that Turkey as a nation inflicted a terrible crime on Armenians nearly 100 years ago. But who are we, or any other country, to insist on their remorse and acknowledgement of that crime? Our own history is replete with less than honourable actions, as is the history of nearly every nation in Europe and beyond. It smacks of hypocrisy on the part of all who are pressing for Turkey to recognise their past deeds. We are hobbled enough in scrutinising the current actions of leaders and countries, for example the government of Israel, by past events that provoke shame and awkward silence. I have read articles that name the Turkish massacre of Armenians as the 'first' Holocaust of modern civilization. And it's possible, given the endless and neverending use of the European Holocaust to elicit shame and humiliation from those involved, that the people of Turkey fear the same constant attention directed at them.
alex, studying in Moscow
It would seem that its distasteful to subjugate and kill a lot of people within your own borders but not if they are really, really far away.
Andrew Molloy, Chester, Cheshire
In my opinion we should live in the present and work for the better understanding of the nations, raising old war time stories under any name would offend somebody somewhere, let's work out today's challenges and wish to have a bright future of coexistence and respect. Afghans are one those nations who were extremly oppressed by colinial powers.
Tamim, Kabul Afghanistan
If someone betrays you, kills you and afterall accuses you, what would you feel except anger... Yes, there was a bloodbath in 1915 in Anatolia. The nationalistic aspirations led to the Ottoman Armenians rebel against Istanbul. For this purpose they collaborated with the Ottoman Empire's enemies: Russia and France. I am deeply sorry about the Armenian innocent civilians, women and children. But I think they should be sorry for Turkish women and children killed by them as well! But instead of searching the truth, they engage a misinformation campain. Ask them why are they against setting up a truth commision composed of historians! What is wrong in establishing a commision with historians, academics who will search the truth. The most valued step, I think, would be to set up a commision which will search for the real truth instead of wasting time with arguments which have many political agendas.
haletuna kuterdem, Ankara, Turkey
My father was a soldier in the first world war in Palestine, and he and other soldiers rescued an Armenian priest and his family from the Turks. The Priest gave my father his only possession of any value a Challis for saving their lives. We still have this Challis,my father was of the opinion that the Turks were killing all Christians that they could find and this priest fled his home and village to save his and his family's lives. This does show that there was another side to the British in what was regarded as far off lands in those days.
peter deverell, England
The Turkish government needs to grow up, accept the criticism like most other western governments, and it will all go away except as an interesting academic problem.
Kenzo, Toronto, Canada
People can debate the particulars, but the pain of admitting to the dark side of humanity may be too much for some to bear. I do beleive though it is a positive step for healing and not just in this case, but in all conflicts, inner and outer.
Alex Terzian, Ann Arbor, USA
For an excellent study of the reasons behind Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide see Turkish scholar Taner Akcam¿s new history, ¿A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility¿, reviewed in this week's The New Yorker magazine. Akcams shows that the founders of the modern Turkish Republic were so close to those that committed the acts that admitting to it would be admitting that modern Turkey country was founded by war criminals.
Richard Elliott, Montreal, Canada
I grew up listening to my grand-grandmother's horror stories fleeing from massacres committed by Armenian. She lost two sisters, two brothers, and her father when they were immigrating from Erzurum to Amasya during WWI. They lost all their belongings on the way, and arrived their final destination in starvation. This is all because Armenian militia (backed by the French and Russian Army) attacked women, children and elderly Turks that Turkish soldiers left at home when they went for war fronts in the East, West, North and South. Only a small fraction of Turkish National Archives are posted on the internet and I can trace the real stories of ancestors (via my surname), and the pain and suffering they've gone through under Armenian attacks. I am sorry for the losses that Armenian immigrants on their way to Syria, but otherwise we would be mourning of a wiped out Turkish population in the Eastern Anatolia today. And, it is not only the Armenian who lost thousands of people in this war, but also the Turks. Let the historians speak before using this as a political yoke on modern Turkey.
In my time living in Europe, The USA and parts or Asia, I noted that countries that were once "Great Powers" have a much more "Prickly" form of Nationalism and I think Turkey with it's Ottoman legacy fits into this camp. The roots of the Armenian question and how the Turkish State has dealt with it are complicated by Turkey's need to see it's self as living up to it's historical greatness. The "great power" legacy that Turkey sees itself as part of prohibits any real ability for the Turkey to climb down from it's moral high ground. Put another way, I can imagine the US at some point banning certain types of behavior for "insulting American values" ( think of the flag burning debate) but I have a very hard time imagining a Brazilian or a Canadian law that would prosecute people for offences to the National identity... after all what identity would you insult?... perhaps the character of the football or ice hockey teams? I think it would be invaluable for Mr Mardell to develop this concept of "Wounded National Identity" tied to "Great Power" status and it's role in perpetuating old conficts and creating new ones.
Mike, Minneapolis, USA
It is about time Turkey faces her atrocities towards the Armenian people. I am not saying they should be put through the same insane guilt-trip the world (especially the State of Israel) and even worse German politicians put us Germans still through. But the Turkish government has to admit that the genocide against the Armenian people happened - even if this crime was committed by a predecessor regime - the Osman Empire.
Tom, Berlin, Germany
One distinction of the Armenian situation from other atrocities is that it clearly was a defensive measure gone awry. If the Armenians were not attacking Turks or consorting with Russia in their aspirations for an independent nation, there would have been no order to evacuate them. This is in sharp contrast to the holocaust. Western nations practice imperialism throughout their history with impunity. Turkey is not a Christian nation and politically weaker than the Europe or America; therefore it poses an easy target. Condemning this moderate Muslim country makes it vulnerable to exploitation by fanatical Islam or western hegemony and undermines the influence of the Turkish moderates who want to believe in Europe¿s progressive agenda. What is better for today¿s Armenians, allowing them to relish in their revenge, or helping Turkey develop into a modern country which gives them full protection and equal rights under the law?
deniz kiral, Chicago, USA
Why does Turkey doesn't want to recognize the Armenian Genocide? Because as part of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, they will also have to compensate Armenians with the return of the stolen lands, properties and money. The sum is so large that the Turkish economy may collapse and their federal buget will go bankrupt.
Grigor Hakobyan, Phoenix, Arizona (USA)
Oscar Wilde once wrote: "Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious." Just look around the world today and you will clearly see this in effect. You really don't need to look too far from Canada to see this happening. This is present in other Turkish laws, example "insult to Turkishness" meaning your not allowed to critize your own goverment or their handeling's of subjects/events. This is the goverments way of dealing with their peoples critics. Repress with fear of reprisal. No Goverment was ever perfect, and no goverment will be. To bring light to the past is the only way to understand history, and if you cannot learn from 200,000 - 2,000,000 murders, why proceed to the future as history has a tendency of repeating itself, Armenian or not! "Our true nationality is mankind." H.G. Wells
Casey Hendriks, Toronto Canada
David Whitman wrote: "Much of Turkish music, architecture, cuisine and art have Armenian roots. If the Turks admit to the Armenian Genocide, they fear to lose a large part of what they believe is Turkish identity" This comment is a perfect example of the condescending westerner attitude that drives Turks like myself into burning rage and prevents the Turkish-Armenian issue from being discussed in a healthy manner. This non-ending desire to degrade, insult and undermine the Turkish culture and history, and employing lies and exaggeration to do so must STOP! Saying that much of Turkish culture is rooted in Armenian culture and that our identity fear is the reason of denial is malicious! FYI Armenians still call many of their musical instruments and dishes by their original Turkish names. Now, how can anyone blame Turks for swaying into "prickly" nationalism?
Ceylan Yuksel, Istanbul, Turkey
When the term genocide was coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1943, the purpose was to describe what had happened to the Armenians in Turkey. So please do not put the word genocide in quotation marks when you refer to the Armenian Genocide.
Alexander Nazarian, Indianapolis, USA
I feel that the main reason that Turkey is rejecting the word ''genocide'' is because of the fact that many sources show that similar number of Turks were slayn by Armenians and Russians in the region during the same period. I grew up in Turkey, and when the subject came up and there were elderly people from the south eastern parts of Turkey in the room; stories were told about the dozens of relatives that were killed and torched in front of their eyes and bodies piled up and and spat on by Armenian rebels used to be their friendly neihgbours not so long ago. The incidents in the period are furthermore not excepted as genocide because most Turks feel that they were stabbed in the back by the Armenians who turned to Russia and France as soon as they saw weakness. Afterall the two people lived side by side in harmony for hundreds of years and the ethnic Armenians had even better social and economic status in the old Ottoman empires eastern anatolia than the poor Turkish farmers. I am in no way denying the claim that a large number of Armenians were brutally slaughtered by the Ottomans but I find it peculiar that the Turkish request to let historians from both countries put their documents on the table and start a debate is firmly blocked by the Armenians.
Rauf Berent, Lund, Sweden
Turkey is proof positive of the George Santayana quote: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Heidi, Washington, DC
As an American, I would compare this to slavery or the treatment of American Indians. Those were certainly morally reproachable and reprehensible acts. But I had nothing to do with them. I like to think that if I had lived during those times that I would have been on the side of right, rallying against the oppressors. As such, I do not feel that expecting modern day people, so far removed from the events themselves, to feel guilt about something they had no part in and no control over is ridiculous. The world should always recognize! the atrocities of the past in an effort to move on to a time in which similar situations do not exist, but no one should be made to feel guilty for the sins of their ancestors.
Nick Hussong, Chicago, United States of America
Turkey should not be allowed to join the EU until it admits and apologizes it committed a genocide, and it pays restitution to the victims, just as Germany did to the Jews.
S.Dastan, Tehran, Iran
I wonder whether acknowledging the wrongs done in the past opens up the question of the way Armenians are treated now. I also wonder if it calls into question a sense of Turkish identiy as a Moslem nation with a secular government. Where would the Armenians fit?
Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA
I don't blame young generation of Turks not knowing the truth about that time. They surely have been raised with the propaganda that the massacre was all Armenians make. I myself was raised in the Soviet Union and up to the breack up of USSR strongly believed that it was the best system in the world. Yet, with all the abilities that Internet has to offer there are thousands ways to dig in to archives and find out the truth on what really happened in 1915. Unless the truth is revealed and accepted the dark past of that era will always hunt Turkey and won't let move on.Laura Kirakosian, USA
To agree with many posters and with the author, I would also cite fierce, proud nationalism as the cause of Turkey's reluctance to admit to what happened between 1914 and 1918. Perhaps Turkey fears that admitting to this will reduce its chances of becoming an EU member. However, I see a much larger problem with admitting a country into the EU which denies key historical facts, detrimental or not to the social and opaque construct that is its nationalistic pride. The persecution of any people by any country should be admitted and researched, NOT to point a finger of blame, but to realize our mistakes, and work towards progress in the future.
Maria Stavropoulos, NYC, USA
I think most countries have something they d like to forget.there are too many to mention. so lets not be too hard on the turks.
ursula foster, gretna, va usa
It's probably best not to take the French position of somewhat needlessly antagonizing the Turkish on this issue. Certainly Turkey committed a campaign to drive out the Armenians in the first 20 years or so of the last century. However, there is plenty of blood to go around. Just before that same time, Belgium and France were killing millions of Central Africans in a quest for ivory and rubber. In some parts of the British Empire and Commonwealth there were bounties being paid for dead natives. Russia was committing pogroms against its Jewish population. The U.S. was crushing the last American Indian resistance to the colonization of the Wild West. Japan was ruthlessly expanding in China and Korea. And within countries that were the victims of Western colonization, there was a tolerance of local/tribal/clan depredations against other local groups.
The truth that nobody wants to admit is that just about all the nations we live in were built and had their borders, religions and ethnicities built by conflict with other nations and peoples. Being an American I am surrounded by the ancestors of people who were forced out of their home countries and ended up coming here. I think that the best we can do is to try to accept that a lot of bad things happened in the past and try to be more civilized in the future.
Steven Kraft, San Jose, CA
The reason why Turkish people do not accept it is because they do not believe that it was genocide. If you know that you are not a thieve, would you accept being one? If there is compelling evidence that it happended, why is then international community (including Armenia)is so much against an international team of historians to investigate? After all, would you convict one party on the say so of the other only, without looking at all the evidence? What is that people supporting the Armenian view of point so afraid of?
Yusuf Kaya, Glasgow/UK
Europe's history as we know it is full of genocides. France, Germany, Britain, Serbia, etc. have all been involved in horrible crimes. Forcing Turkey to admit to something which is not yet proven will make Europeans feel better about themselves. Why not allow free debate and go to the Ottoman, Turkish, Armenian and Russian archives? Turkey opened its archives, but why Armenia or Russia haven't? Who is hiding what?
Pelin Cos, England
Historical guilt, whether acknowledged or not, is pretty much an irrelevance. What is important is whether we learn any lessons from the past and looking at world events during the past 100 years it would seem that we have not. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Rwanda, The Balkans Saddam Hussein and today's Iraq, Somalia, Indonesia, Palestine, the list of places where unjustified killings has been done as a result of differing ethnicity, differing views is endless. All it proves is that man is a violent, irrational and unfeeling species.
Dave, London, Ontario
The historical record does not clean the hands of Turks, but it certainly dirties the hands of Armenians sufficiently as to scare them away from taking any part in actual scholarly examination. Turkey is being blackmailed with the denialist tag to accept a denialist claim. Turks and Kurds were massacred too. Will Armenia recognise this?
Levent, Mersin Turkey
The story shared about Canik Capur itself, once villager now tourist, suggests that the situation in Turkey goes beyond questions about historical guilt. Is it any surprise that Armenians want public acknowledgment of the wrongs done against them, when the moral and spiritual significance of the killings is exacerbated by modern day discrimination? What does Turkey have to lose by granting public aknowledgment? As the author indicates, it seems that nationalistic pride has clouded the vision of many countries in this position. A good dose of humility and compassion, from the leadership on down, would be refreshing.
Alec Smith, Wheaton, IL - USA
Well, before France goes pointing fingers at otehrs, it should apologize for colonialism, and algerian "massacres". That is not to say that turkey should not acknowledge whatever happened, but first we have to establish what happened and then have them acknowledge it. I think you will probably find that atrocities were committd on both sides. An objective look into the matter will perhaps yeild a solution that satisfies both parties and nobody should try to influence the proceedings with a stupid law like a France is trying to do.
zafeerah, chicago, USA
How convenient that as Turkey gets closer to becoming a part of the EU, we remember what happened over a century ago. There are far more important issues at hand, in the world today, that are far more pressing than the admittance of guilt to something that happened nearly a century ago. Get over it. What's happened has happened. Every group of people has been persecuted, and all those same groups have done, or will do persecuting of their own. Historical-Guilt is a ridiculous notion, and a digusting one as it is conjured up for political reasons only!!
Ezra, Toronto, Canada
Once reconciliation between Armenians and Turks starts, we will hear more loudly about so many Turkish people who actually endangered their lives to save Armenians. Please understand, the wound for all Armenians is too deep to let it go - will you expect someone with broken legs to run? True reconciliation of two peoples is necessary to heal those wounds. And in this case that should start with honest facing of the past and not denying it.
Mike Arazyan, Toronto, Canada
Why is Europeans so concerned with events of 100 years ago that they legislate and enforce opinion yet are unable to reach any form of consensus on Rawanda/Kosovo/Darfur? Living in the past?
Mike, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Ottoman courts sentenced and punished some of Ottoman citizen by reason violence against some armenians during their leave of Anatolia.They were thinking revenge and this was unacceptable.Ottoman courts sentenced to some turkish people.Because some events was not undercontrol of Ottoman State after Armenian gangs massacres.
Could we even imagine European integration with Germany if Germany refused to accept its responsability in the Shoa? Why should it be different with Turkey?
Pedro Bensaúde, Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal
Turkey needs to address the issue of killings of armenians, but we all need to consider the fact that Russia was trying to advance into the areas populated by armenians, and armenian militia were supporting the idea of the advancement of Russian Imperial Army into Easter Turkey. Armenians were seen as supporters of a powerful enemy state to which Turkey has just lost in two recent wars large portions of territory. It is nonsense to compare this situation to the Nazi Genocide of jewish people.
Alex Dagvi, N.Y. USA
If Turkey would agree with the charge what about the former Armenia territories? What about Kurds?
Eugene, NY, US
Here is a story from Old Dogubeyazit (Beyazid),East Turkey. This was a volatile region around the time of the First World War as it is tucked into the North East of Turkey near Georgia, Armenia and Iran. The story comes from the Kurdish great grandfather of a friend. The town was attacked by Armenians - those who did not escape were killed, except for the above great grandfather who was a baker. He was kept alive to bake bread. News came that the Turkish army was approaching and the order was given for the baker to be taken out and shot. An Armenian who had befriended the baker voluntered, but let him go instead. To me this story indicates that the Armenians also committed atrocities; and also, that simple ideological points of view neglect the many acts of compassion that must have occurred during this time. I would also like to point out that Kurdish culture in this region is (even still)a heavily oral culture. If this type of story is not recorded then a large part of the history of this time will disappear.
The problem with the genocide thesis is it simplifies a complicated picture into the absurd. Armenians killed Turks. Armenians led Russian occupation armies into Ottoman Turkey's eastern provinces. Turkish villagers but more importantly irregular Kurdish militia killed Armenians. Ottoman Turkey's hated and irresponsible triumvirate of Enver, Talat, Jemal pashas gave order for forcible deportation of Armenians to another imperial provice. My family in central Anatolia rescued and harbored many Armenians during the migration. Modern Turkey today denies genocide because of its possible political implications. If all the Armenenians want an apology, it's ready. Can they give the same? And for God's sake, let's take a look at whatever archive material is available. And let the historians decide as to what happened. Finally, bravo to France for having eternally crushed its haute image in the perceptions of Turks.
Nuri Yalcin, Istanbul
As a Turk living abroad, I never felt guilt or shame on what happened about 100 years ago. I judged the events as an unfortunate twist in the difficult war time conditions. Ottoman Empire was made up of many nations and ethnic groups and religions and these people lived in harmony for many centuries side by side. Turks in general are very tolerant towards other nations and cultures and proved this through their actions throughout their history. Just one small example is our Turkish Gypsy and Jewish minorities who were invited to live in the Ottoman Empire when they were escaping from the Spanish prosecution in the 16th century. These people still speak some form of Spanish amongst themselves today.
How such nation could be blamed for genocide? When the imperialism attacked Ottoman Empire from almost every front during World War I and provoked the Armenians and other ethnic minorities against Turks, Turks had to defend the country and their lives. It was unfortunate that many people from all sites lost their lives and suffered to great extent. Just another thing; my surname means "Hero". This surname was given to my great grandfather by his villagers because he and his brothers had fought against the Armenian militia who attacked their village and killed many of its residents. I regret that during war times horrible side of human nature comes out and terrible things occur. I wish the wars never happen. I'd like to finish quoting our great leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk "Peace at home, peace at world!".
Hakan Kahraman, England
For the Western countries i want remind them that they have their own sins which are much darker than that of Turkish.So stop pointing a finger on other countries on a ground of 'Human rights' violations (be it past or present), since it is you who are historically wrong doers and who thought political elits to follow your foot steps( like in Africa).
Salem, Asmara, Eritrea
The problem has to do with the Turkish identity. At the contrary of all other European states, Turkey and turkishness are vaguely lost in time and place. Turkey is something in between the Ottoman Empire and the Byzantine Empire, and its people swing violently between those extremes. If Turkey was 100% European they would acknowledge the massacres and dump the guilt into the Ottomans. But the problem is that Turkey was built over Ottomaness, namely anti-Christianism, by being against the surrounding Christian states. And by considering themselves successors of the Ottomans instead of successors of the Byzantines they have brought this problem into themselves.
David Rulloda, Swindon, UK
Ottoman Empire and Turkey had a past of tolerance and acceptance for the minorities and those who suffer under oppression. Ottoman Empire had accepted Jews to Ottoman soils who had been exiled from Spain in 1492. And this time Turkey had accepted fleeing Jews (Jewish scientists and scholars) from Nazi Germany and Austria during Second World War. Another anecdote, during WW II, Turkish ambassadors in Europe had saved thousands of Turkish-Jews from the trains in Marseille in France by risking their own lives. Otherwise, those Turkish-Jews would have been sent to the concentration camps like French-Jews in the Second World War. France's government had sent 70.000 French Jews to Nazi concentration camps during Second World War. In the same period, during WWII, besides France, sadly many European countries had been putting all their own Jewish citizens into the trains for sending them to the concentration camps. In short, Turkey's 'portrait' in the West is far smaller than the actual frame. So many of us in Turkey wonder when we are going to take Turkey's story back from the orientalists. I really wonder.
Kaan Kolber, Istanbul, Turkey
Growing up in Turkey one is thought to be a ¿Proud Turk¿ and to have a strong Turkish nationalistic identity. We were totally ignorant about the Armenian Genocide. I only found out about it after traveling abroad and I was shocked that Ottoman Turks were capable of such an act. As I have looked into the late history of the Ottoman Turkish period around 1900s, I can see the Turkish point of view of "the war and being attacked by the Allies during WWI", along with the Armenian point of view of being "victims of a systematic Ottoman Genocide" and I can conclude that even if the truth is somewhere in the middle, there can still be reconciliation and peace between these two neighbors.
Sukru Murat, Izmir, Turkey
Turkey, will never say that the genocide happened because this will cause them to give back the money and territory they took. With all the interest and inflation, the government will be bankrupt and the whole country will crumble. Turkey will have to take money and be in debt for like the next 1000 years. This is why they will never accept it.
Samuel Aleksanian, montreal, Canada
Criticism of Turkey serves no purpose other than to demean its people - who are no more responsible for the Armenian holocaust than you or I. This dust up damages a laudable effort by a democratic Islamic country to position itself westward. A focus on the benefits accession will bring to Turks and the EU is much more worthy of discussion. The sins of the fathers should not be visited on the great grandsons.
Bill Wood, Houston USA
The matter of the Armenian massacres should be ¿studied¿ and appropriately 'recognized' as a black mark in history. This it is the only way we can better understand how not to repeat such tragedies of history. BUT 'recognition' also must extend to the tragic massacres of the Turks during the same period. The world should know exactly what happened to a community of peoples who lived peacefully side by side for hundreds of years and what exactly caused this tragic sequence of killings. I submit, however, that pursuit of the ¿truth¿ will not reflect favorably towards the Armenian case or the current 'bastions of morality' that aided and abated them, namely France, England and Russia.
Why are the Armenian Archives still shut to independent historians. Why also does the 'West' not insist on Armenia participating in an open international fact finding mission in order to clearly establish the 'facts'. There seems to be plenty of bloodied hands and souls to go around. The real tragedy is that innocent Armenian and Turkish men, women and children were lead into a no win mutual massacre by the likes of France, England and Russia. These countries used the situation to further their own political interests in the area at any cost to the Turks and Armenians. Are these countries prepared to stand up and take some responsibility for inciting the Armenian militia to go on their murderous campaigns and thereby seal the fate of their own country men? I wont hold my breath for a truthful response.
Bob Ozdemir, Sydney Australia
I don¿t know if what happened was indeed genocide. But past crimes collectively committed by nations appear to be never a simple matter. As some comments pointed out, territorial and monetary compensation are certainly always part of the real issue. You might wonder why the Australian government has been using all kinds of excuses to not to officially say 'Sorry' to the indigenous people for the wrong doings of the past governments. You might also want to ask why no US governments have ever admitted that systematic annihilation of Indian populations (from 20 millions to less than 0.3 millions today) was genocide, let alone to admit at least some killings were intentional. You might also be puzzled by why, even today, majority of Japanese support their Prime Minister to visit their war dead shrines where 14 top Japanese WWII war criminals were rested.
Michael Lee, Sydney, Australia
I am ready to accept - as I am sure many other Turks would, however painful it may turn out be - whatever title/description will be seen appropriate for this matter as long as it is the result of a comprehensive study, one that is undertaken by an independent group that is formed by HISTORIANS from number of countries that have no direct interest in the matter and it is reached by closer inspection of both Armenian and Russian archives as well as the Ottoman¿s. This has not taken place yet so the question is: why not? In a court of law, before convicting someone with a crime, prosecutors would need to examine all evidence ¿ solid, sound, indisputable evidence. Experts and scientists would be involved to back up any eye witness evidence given before reaching a conclusion. This should be no different. No one denies that many unfortunate deaths had occurred during the war and Armenians have indeed suffered great losses as did Turks. My point is, until the genocide claim is proven by methods I mentioned before, it is a case of ¿what my grandfather said¿ against what ¿your grandfather said¿.
Huma, London, England
It seems to me that this issue is tied up very closely with the lionisation of Mustafa Kemal 'Attaturk' within the Turkish state. Attaturk is acknowledged as the figurehead and driving engine behind the modernisation and industrialisation of Turkey. As part of this process, Attaturk pushed through many brilliant reforms that have helped develop Turkey into the exceedingly promising state it is today. On on the other hand, Attaturk presided over some processes that are regarded in this day and age as heavy handed at best, and utterly inhuman at worst - and I think quite rightly in some cases. Somewhere along the line, perhaps because of their chronological closeness or perhaps because Attaturk himself chose to downplay the conditions of the Armenian Turks, admission of the Armenian genocide and attacks on Attaturk and his efforts as head of state are conflated in the public (and certainly government) psyche in Turkey, and therein lies a problem, I think.
The killings and forced deportations of so many Armenians nearly a century ago at the fall of the Ottoman Empire isn't, I would say, perceived as being that much different from an attempt to undermine the very nature and culture of modern Turkey, and nor will it be until the Turkish government and other state organisations start to roll back the cult of Attaturk as a personality, and/or until they manage to distance themselves and Attaturk, and the dynamic and thriving modern-day Turkey, from the Armenian genocide. If they can do these things, then an 'official' admission of the Armenian genocide can perhaps happen without a perceived 'weakening' of modern Turkish political systems and culture.
Varian , Leeds, Britain
According to the supporters of the genocide story everything begins and end in 1915 deportations. What happened before or after? Do we forget the formation of Armenian gangs,the Ottoman Bank incident, attemp to murder Abdülhamit, the Adana upraising, Zaytun affair, the Van occupation, Armenians in Russian or in French uniforms, the inability of the British to try and convict the exiled Malta group of Ottoman politicians and commanders of genocide just after the WW1. How about what happened during the Dardanelles and Sarkamish campaigns? How about the murdered Republic of Turkey diplomats? Do you remember thousands of Azeris living in camps and forcefully occupied Azeri land? How many Muslim or non Armenian villages remaining in Armenia today? What happened to them? Is forced relocation legal? As late as 1960's India relocated Chinese origin Indians. Americans did the same to Japanese Americans during the WW2. How about Tatar relocations? If we are so mean and cruel how come thousands of Republic of Armenia citizens are earning a living in Turkey illegally? Why ignore works by professional historians or the smear campaign against the Western writers that support the Turkish view? How about the material in Armenian archieves? Why are they kept secret? It is a very complex matter to be resolved by the historians.
dundar aytar, istanbul, turkey
The difficulty here lies in the fact that the request to the Turks to accept genocide take the last 20 years of an ongoing series of wars between 1820 and WW1 between Russia and the Ottomans. The Russians and the Armenians on the Russian side systematically massacred and removed masses of Turkic and Muslim populaces from the Caucauses and eastern Anatolia either into the Russian hinterlands or into central and southern Anatolia starting around 1820 and forward. The complexity of the Eastern Anatolian geography was that of any given 5 villages 2 might have been Turkish, two Armenian, and one Kurdish. The Ottoman mass deportation and the incredibly large number of deaths it caused would certainly qualify as a massacre/genocide. However, to start this history's tract in 1914-1915 is like starting WW2's tract in 1943 and condemmning the Americans and the Allies of terrible acts of inhumanity for the mass bombing of German industrial cities without discussing the bombing of London and other English cities by the Luftwaffe. The voices and stories of the dead Turkic/Muslim voices are never heard in this particular scenario. A joint Russian/Armenian/Turkish review and acceptance of the terrible horrors these great peoples commmitted onto each other's civilians over that span of time would be the only way to remember all who sufferred and to improve relations between Turks and Armenians.
David, Los Angeles, CA, USA
The definitive historical analysis of the Armenian case has been conclusively demostrated and adopted by the world's leading authority on the topic. The International Association of Genocide Scholars. One hundred thirty six of the leading historians on the topic signed a letter in 2005 addressed to the Prime Minister of Turkey, urging him to do the right thing and recognize the genocide. Reopening of the file under the pretext of an impartial analysis and debate of historians is only a delay tactic and one of obfuscation adopted only by deniers of historical fact. Furthermore, Raphael Lemkin, the jurist who invented the legal term of genocide and was the major figure to advance the concept within a UN resolution, clearly and unequivocally says so in his own words that he had the Armenian and the Jewish cases in mind when he created the legal term as evidenced in the film documentary by Andrew Goldberg, "The Armenian Genocide".
The difference between the German and Turkish cases is that the current government of Turkey is complicit in the denialist agenda and is engaged in an active campaign of denial, teaching lies in its school network and dedicating huge budgets to publications masquerading as historical research. Can you imagine a Germany in the EU whose government denies the Shoah? or a France, whose government denies the actions of the Vichy regime? Or an Italy whose prime minister denies its fascist legacy? Any regime engaged in such activity would be unacceptable in a Europe based on values of human rights. National guilt has nothing to do with it. The only way people and countries can move on is by accepting the truth about themselves.
Viken Attarian, Montreal, CANADA
What bothers me is the analysis that this is all about Turkey's nationalism. I see it as actually adopting the worst possible aspect of nationalism--simplification. In your discussion in what would happen in Britain you suggest people would be enraged, just because they are prickly about their country. But in the 19th century, when it was found out that there was exploitation in the Congo, there was an outcry by the public. The issue becomes not whether Britain should be responsible for what happened in the past, but whether it was really fully responsible in the past--and that the only people who want to point this out need to have nationalistic motives. Sometimes nationalism becomes involved, but used in defense not of admitting some type of fault in their government, but in defense against people who stereotype their culture and country and wish them to be seen as the bad guys. Calling something "genocide" politicizes something by inserting implications of motives, its more than a choice of words, its a demand to demonize one party over the other.
In Turkey and in Armenia there are a lot of politics involved. As much as many Turks want in their nationalism to look eternally like the good guys, some Armenians in their nationalism want Turks to look eternally like the bad guys. The defensive nation isn't always at fault for nationalistic sentiment. Similarly, there are a lot of people who want to blame every foundation of Western culture and British culture during their imperialistic era, and tear down any remnants of that culture that remains, as if it can't be defended. People shouldn't be surprised when it is defended.
Brian Shapiro, Encino, California, USA
If anyone needs to apologize, Armenians need to do so to Turks and Azerbaijanis, then the Britain, France, Russia, and the US should apologize to Armenians, Azeris, and Turks.
Ayla, Istanbul, Turkey
All I know is this. I am Armenian and I have no home. Believe what you may, but I live my life everyday with the knowledge that I must be where I am for some reason. Surely, there must have been a reason why my great-grandparents were killed in their homeland, why my grandparents were exiled into foreign lands, why my parents and I were born on foreing soil, why I now live what seems like lightyears away from my homeland..which I've heard about, and seen pictures of, but have never been to. Say what you may, say what you must in order to feel proud. I know it's not your sin, I know it wasn't you who commited the crime. But, why can't you empathize with me just once? Why can't we share our stories with each other? Why can't we accept the past and listen to each others stories? I(and all the Armenians) can pour our hearts out, and you(and all the Turks) can share with us your pain. We are not that different after all. You are all invited to watch my animated film titled "Ara's Flight" [on the web] It's not a film about guilt, just empathy for the dead (and the living). peace
Hagop Kaneboughazian, California USA
For the memory of my grandparents in Sevas Turkey, my father's first wife, and 4 daughters and the entire family living on a ranch were totally murdrered as were their neighbors....this genocide has given every Armenian descendant a living scar in their hearts that needs to be recognized. Turkish history books do not recognize the plunder of the Armenians, and killing the professionals before the common citizen. The genocide is not in any of their own history books. No wonder they are in denial.
margo Darderian, east amherst Ny. 14051
As a Turk, I do not ignore the 1915 Armenian Genocide in any way. Yet it angers me greatly to see countries such as Germany and France be so judgmental of Turkey's past without analyzing their own. The European Union is putting in great effort to make Turkey look like a scapegoat with its historical past concerning the Ottoman Empire because they are hesitant to admit a predominantly muslim nation into the EU. Placing Turkey in a corner of shame is no solution.
Deniz T , Chicago, USA
First of all, I do not deny that there were killings...the exact figures?? Well don't think anybody knows. My grandmothers family fled from erzurum for armenians/french/russians. However, my family is not starting a arguement over and over again, about the killings by armenians. I personally do not blame the armenians living today, for what their ancestors did to us, why do they keep blaming turkey? Why is europe so eager, to accept as if it's a fact, that there was a genocide?
Nees, Rotterdam, The netherlands
I believe that one day Turkey will grow up and man up to its mistakes just like every other country has. But, until it mans up to its wrong doings it can never progress to its future and will always remain a young scared boy who just says "I didnt do it" to everything.
Gevork, Los Angeles, California
When I was a child, I happened to listen to one of the few remaining eye-witnesses of the cruel murders and rapes committed by the Armenian gangs in my town and how the Turks defended themselves against them. If people are concerned with the historical facts, shouldn't they explore more before they come to a conclusion that an entire nation is guilty? Why don't you study the archives and documents of the 'other'? Is it ethical,moral or scientific to blame a nation without listening to them? OR HAS BIAS REPLACED WESTERN VALUES AND ETHICS?
nejat , istanbul, turkey
Quite frankly, after more than 91 years, we Armenians are somewhat sick and tired of having to prove and justify events which have been fully documented both at the time and afterwards. Isn't the killing of over half a race sufficient to be labelled Genocide, a term which the world media appears much less shy in using for any mass murder nowadays from Sudan to Rwanda or Bosnia, but from which Armenians are wantonly excluded? Please stop playing with words.
Armen Kouyoumdjian, Viña del Mar CHILE
I am Turkish and my BEST FRIEND is Armenian. We both acknowledge that there was killing on both ends. Why does this have to be so complicated? We need to put this 100 year old debate aside, and focus on mending the wounds.
, Vancouver, B.C.
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