07 December 2006

1262) Prof. Dr. Türkkaya Ataöv’s talk at the Edinburgh City Council (English Original)

 © Turkkkaya Ataöv Edinburgh, UK, 23 November 2006

Prof. Dr. Türkkaya Ataöv, well-known professor of international relations and Turkey’s prominent expert on the Armenian issue, addressed, on 22 November 2006, a packed audience of more than 150 listeners, including H.E. Mr. Rauf Denktaş, the former President of the TRNC (KKTC), in the conference hall of London University’s SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), also spoke at the Edinburgh City Council the next day, He also offered a long interview to a Turkish radio network in London. . .

Prof. Ataöv, who had prepared an 11-page statement, was later informed that he was expected to talk in Edinburgh for only 15 minutes, utilized the written text for purposes of distribution at the SOAS and the City Council meetings. But he was told, during the flight to Edinburgh that he would be given only 10 minutes. He learned from the usher at the very entrance to the City Council building that he would finally be given 5 minutes, instead. Revising his talk several times to fit into the continuously altered time limits, Prof. Ataöv over-reached the limits, however and took even a longer time to reply the three questions put to him by Counselor Jerry Dawe, who spoke on behalf of the Scottish Liberal Democrat group. The lady was actually the spokesperson of entrenched Armenian views, with total disregard and ignorance of Turkish and other Western publications, documentation and opinions.

The following is the text of Prof. Ataöv’s talk, which was acclaimed by some Scotsmen as a brilliant presentation:

“The academic world may be appalled if a British political body agrees to sit as if it is a chamber of historians or a bench of judges, and ventures to decide on a very controversial issue, still debated, not only between the Armenians and Turks, but also within these two groups, as well as among various Western scholars. A political body, no matter how representative, will do justice to methodology in history-writing by recommending the creation of joint commissions of experts in history and related disciplines, to weigh all evidence and conflicting interpretations, and reach a consensus, at least on some essentials.

“Back in the 1950s, French and German experts sat together, singled out most of the misrepresentations, exaggerations, forgeries and falsifications, and sometimes outright lies, and decided to remove them from the textbooks and future discussions and printed material.

“Those who attempt to challenge an off-balanced approach are frequently labeled as ‘deniers’, as if to revise a traditional interpretation is scholarly impossible. Scholarship is like a building that requires perpetual repair. All theories should be checked for correctness. A joint commission can function authoritatively in the performance of such a task.
“Let us not aspire to attain practical results by inducing representative regional or national bodies to pass premature judgments, even sometimes leading to imprisonments and fines for statements questioning entrenched opinions.

“By the way, the so-called Morgenthau source, printed over and over again, and often referred to as reliable, is only the collective product of the U.S. Ambassador (who did not know any one of the local tongues, not even French – the diplomatic language of the time), and therefore, entirely relied on the slanted information readily provided by his two Armenian advisors/translators (Messrs. Andonian and Shmavonian), the racist but crucial alterations and additions by none other than the U.S. Secretary of State Lansing, and the revising of the popular ghost-writer Hendrick, who was never in Turkey but collected 40% of the royalties throughout. Please, consult Prof. Heath W.Lowry’s criticism of the Morgenthau book.

“Are the decision-makers in this august assembly familiar with all the pertinent sources? Not only Armenian, but also Turkish and Western ones? Or are they merely exposed to one-sided information? Can one indeed assert that my a-few-minutes summary of a summary of a summary of a challenging second view is enough for the proper functioning of the democratic procedure? I hope that the practice of democracy will not be confronted with an accomplished fact, a situation that your forefathers, even as the victors of World War One, avoided in the 1920s. Did not they search the Ottoman archives and also consult the U.S. Government for documents that could be used to indict all or any one of the 144 Ottoman leaders, all the way down from the Prime Minister (Said Halim Pasha), then imprisoned in the Crown Colony of Malta, but failed to find even a single document to support what they were looking for? Are we, or democracy itself, now confronted with the possibility of a generalized and politicized verdict – this time, even without a trial? Can a political body be the ultimate judge, without having studied, neither satisfactorily nor even a bit, the vast published materials of professors Stanford J. Shaw, Justin McCarthy, Heath W. Lowry, Guenther Levy, and others, or the war accounts of prominent Armenians, such as the independent Armenia’s first Prime Minister O. Katchaznouni, former Ottoman MP but later the commander of armed Armenian battalions General G. Pasdermadjian, pronouncements of others like General Antranik, and also Armenian analyses of their own belligerency made by Hacobian, Tourabian and Gurganian? Have you studied at least the works, reports or published books of your own countrymen, such as Captain Norman and man-of-letters Dixon-Johnson? They all differ radically, in terms of offering information, confessions or interpretations, from the traditionally dominant view. Dixon-Johnson’s fair treatment was published in the year 1916 when the British and the Turks were engaged in battle in no less than four fronts.

“But if one has not seen even the covers of these books, not even glanced over the many rolls of films, incorporating hundreds of reliable Ottoman documents, presented by us to the leading British research centers, associated institutes and government offices, can ultimate decision be rested only on one set of arguments?

“I am sure that will consult your conscience, your sense of fair play, in good will and accumulated wisdom, and decide that only groups of experts can have the required knowledge, documentation and mandate to pass balanced and much more dependable opinions. Let us pay our debt, not only to some Armenian views, but also to the Turkish ones, including the latter’s documentation, witnesses, and of course, the Turkish dead.

“Your guiding beacon will be whether or not your decision reflects ‘the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth’. Please, bear in mind that you yourselves will be judged in the future by your own judgment. So, help you God!

“I thank you for your attention.”

This was the end of Prof. Ataöv’s introductory talk, every word of which he pronounced.

Counselor Jerry Dawe, the spokesperson of the Scottish Liberal Democrat group, posed three questions to Prof. Ataöv, all asked and replied one by one. He inquired the speaker’s opinion (1) on the statement of the International Association of Genocide Studies, which asserted that this case was decided upon and subsequent research could not alter the verdict, (2) on the acceptance of several Ottoman parliamentarians and the Turkish courts, in the 1920s, of Turkey’s guilt, and (3) on the concurrence of the Germans and Austrians who had been then the allies of the Ottomans.

Prof. Ataöv’s improvisatory replies, for which there is no written record, were as long as his initial presentation. They were nevertheless cut short by the presiding Chairperson, presumably on the basis that the point was already “understood”. Having been made on the occasion and with no verbatim record, his comments may only be very much summarized here. He said that he does not know who these genocide spokesmen were but that he had met others, probably like them, who strikes him for their prejudiced opinions and their lack of requisite attention to documents that refuted their beliefs. He emphasized that the question was not what happened to some Armenian, and for that matter, to some Turkish or Muslim families, but what was the official policy of the Ottoman Government towards the Armenians. He added that the answer to this crucial question could be found in the Ottoman archives- just as the British position on any issue ought to be searched, first and foremost, in the archives of this country.

These genocide experts had not utilized the Ottoman archives. It is true that Germany and Austria were then Ottoman allies, he said, but this status would not qualify individuals to be objective narrators. Moreover, the well-known British ‘Blue Book’ quotes, he added, two German sources in that massive compendium but fails to quote another German source, called “Germania”, which states that the Armenians had killed 150,000 Muslims. He stated: “I made a proper reference to this German source in one of my recent books on the issue, printed in New York. I shall be glad to give you a copy, along with other publications, including that by Katchaznouni.” Of some statements in the Ottoman Parliament and the verdicts of the Istanbul court, Prof. Ataöv reminded that these pronouncements could not be judged apart from the heavy weight of the defeat of the country and the occupation of the capital, in fact the legislative and the court buildings being under the actual siege of bayoneted British soldiers. Therefore, such pronouncements could not be treated as concrete evidence.

Talking to Mrs. Dawe after the session, Prof. Ataöv invited her to a much longer debate on the subject, to which the counselor replied: “History is a slanted story, you know!” A Scottish by-stander remarked: “That’s exactly what she has been doing…”

Kindly provided by Sukru Server Aya


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