1833) Turkish Responsibility Regarding the Armenian Problem

The Armenian cause has attracted the attention of many historians, researchers and diplomats who wrote studies and held seminars contradictory in their contents and directions. Those activities went between moderation and extremism. . .

Armenian researchers and those sympathizing with them have presented research that discriminates the Turkish party, based on the events of 1894-1896, 1915-1916 and 1920-1921 . . . The Armenian accused the Turkish dignitaries to follow the policy of national discrimination and send people away from their regions as well as to cause the death of one million and half of the Armenian citizens.

Turkish researchers and those sympathizing with them have answered them saying that other nationalisms, that were supposed to exist before within the Turkish domain, are minorities. This means that massacres are illogical at least in their sizes. Besides the claim of ‘historical right’ is unrealistic regarding the superficies of the territory. Moreover, how can the number of casualties be about hundreds of thousands whereas the approximate number of those in the Ottoman Empire does not reach such a number? How can this be if most of the inhabitants of the regions that the Armenians ask for are of Kurd origin? In Anatolia, for example Armenians could not build a country of their own because they were a minority.

The fact that the international approach regarding an historical issue concerning Turkey has been unable to split off from the one-sided line, which looks through the lens of some Armenian declarations and lectures, is thought provoking, sometimes, as well as causing a new wave of anger that is directed against an entire nation.

After the organization called Vienna Turkish-Armenian meeting (VTA) which was initiated with good intentions by the Turkish history organization ended with the Armenian side’s declaration that “they would be unable to describe the claimed events with the documents”, Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanyan’s statement that “genocide has no aspect to be historically discussed” in a sense symbolized the shallow attitude of the Armenian side which could be an obstacle on the way of the objective hopes of reconciliation tendencies.

On the other hand this also caused comments such as Armenians fear for the historical facts to be found out, therefore they didn’t participate on the discussion table. Similarly despite the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission, which was modestly established by the Turkish and Armenian intellectuals and bureaucrats and despite the fact that the calls with good intentions and messages of common sense frequently came from Turkey, Armenian side repeating that there is nothing to be discussed on a historical issue points out an antipathy of unprofitable peace.

Although the Armenian dream has been accomplished in September 23, 1991 by founding an Armenian country, which joined the organization of the United Nations in the beginning of 1992; however the severe criticisms kept going against the Turkish country, especially during the annual anniversary of the events of April 24, 1915.

It is important to note that some powerful countries prevented the fulfillment of some of the Armenian ambitions because of strategic economical and political interests. For instance, Sevres’s Conference has admitted Armenia as an independent country, in September 1920. Locarno’s Conference, in 1923 had denied the preceding one, whereas Lausanne Conference, held in 1923, admitted Armenia as a Soviet republic. The Armenians asked in 1944 and 1945, to reunite the Turkish Armenia to the Soviet Armenia, but the Soviet Union declared that it has no requirements of its own in Turkey.

In 1965, the Armenians asked that the region of Karabach joined the soviet Armenia, but their effort were in vain. This demand was renewed during the presidency of Nikolai Brejenev, but in vain as well.

The Soviet committee in Armenia has joined the province of Karabach to the Armenian country after this insistence of the Karabach committee. The high soviet assembly in Moscow has considered this step as a rebellion and that it may incite the Islamic minorities to revolt, the fact that threatens the unity of soviet territories. This is why Mikael Gorbatchov rejected any geographical change in the present situation.

Besides the French Senate refused the tentative of a new law that admits the Armenian genocide in the curriculum of social work in February 24, 2000 ( Al Nahar 11, 03, 2000 ).Furthermore, the French Ambassador in Armenia Michel Le Gras invited the Armenians in March 11, 2000 not to hold actual Turkey responsible of the genocide , saying we should neither blame the contemporary Turkey of the crimes of the past, nor should we accuse the new generations of the past mistake (Al Nahar 22, 03, 2000).

What is surprising however is that the Armenian criticism focuses on the Turkish republic without pointing to the responsibility of some powerful countries to criticize the behavior of some Armenian groups.

We would not take part of the arguments around the Armenian case after being dealt with by many studies and books; however, we prefer to point in our discussion to two themes about contemporary history:

I) Comparison between the Ottoman Empire and the Colonized Empires with the people of invaded regions.

II) A possibility of an effort to embrace the Armenians repulse in order to accomplish a new start that overcomes the problems of the past.

First: Comparison between the Ottoman Empire and the Occidental Empires:

History may repeat itself if geography does not change and if challenges and consequences renewed themselves.

Assyrian, Persian, Greek and Roman Empires reaching to the Ottoman Empires are similar in treating with people of the colonized regions. Those populations’ conquerors aimed at colonizing large regions, both economically and strategically rich. They went strongly against every endeavor of liberation being afraid that it expands to other regions as well especially that those empires included various ethnicities, races and religions. What is important is to establish stability and prevent any rebellion in order to profit from the richness of those spaces.

History has registered large massacres, burning of cities, murdering of innocent people, enslaving women and making prisoners fight to death in arenas in order to divert their people’s attention away from economical and social declination.

Besides, industrial revolution took place in the eighteenth century, the fact that led to the birth of empires:
1) France colonized North Africa, Black Africa and Indochina.
2) England colonized regions in Asia and black Africa.
3) Germany invaded occidental and oriental Europe as well as North Africa in the second war.
4) Russia invaded Afghanistan and Chichane.
5) United states invaded Vietnam and Iraq.

Based on those examples we note the following:
- The revolution of 1 million martyrs; some considered Algeria as a part of France without taking into consideration religion, language, race, patrimony and geography.
- The French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier’s latest statement has been carried in the issue of Le Figaro of 09 May 2005. The newspaper describes the conflict which France has fallen into due to the fact that it passé d a law describing the events of 1915 as genocide through completely one sided information. As a matter of fact, in his reply to the Algerian President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika who accused France of committing genocide against the Algerian people during its dominance over Algeria and who called France” to admit its responsibility for the Setif massacre of 1945”. Barnier reportedly suggested the historians of both sides should work together for the solution of the problem! Thus “politics” indicated that the circumstances work contrarily, history may be referred to as the only saver for France as well when the necessity arouse.
- More than 40 million casualties in Europe were the result of Nazi invasion in addition to the total destruction of buildings industries and means of transportation.
- Vietnamese war led to more than 2 million casualties under air raids and napalm bombs.
- More than 1 million Iraqi vanished after the Anglo-American blocs and during Iraqi war in spite of these facts, bombing stopped leaving space for a new beginning.
- An intimate relation started between Germany and both France and Poland and other European countries ‘Marché Commun’ was established paving the way to European Union. Both parties even overcame the Nazi massacres against the Jews in the campus of concentration. Cooperation took the place of hatred which led to mutual prosperity.
- The same kind of cooperation occurred between the United States and Vietnam. Problems were definitely solved. Both parties collaborated among themselves in order to create a better tomorrow.
Why does not a similar approach occur between both Turkish and Armenian people?
Every powerful country has committed its own mistakes; however, those having good intentions accomplish a positive shock emphasizing that passivity is death whereas dialogue is the key for a continual collaboration.

For every event, however unjust it can be, has its own justification in the mind of the actual authority. Finally, those powerful populations or large empires of firm central authority shall throw a stone on the Turkish country if they consider that they themselves do not have any sins.

Second : A project of a Turkish initiative:

We sympathize with people of colonized countries and minorities in their struggle against powerful empires; however for every stage its own weapon:
-Resistance when needed.
-Dialogue for a just peace.

Those people’s destiny is to hang on to keep their own patrimony and to defend its sovereignty. This is not enough; courage in a positive dialogue equals that in war. It is no doubt that annual criticism may lose its content because of its repetition. World quickly changed after the ending of the cold war. The role of the axes is over. Means of transportation and communication (internet) had progressed and the world has become cosmopolitan. Focus is concentrated on technical evolution and economical and social prosperity. On the one hand, powerful countries do not care about past sufferings of other ex-colonized countries if they dot not find any economical richness in them, for example Armenia. Economical factor is the crucial motivator between the countries. People’s sufferings should be present only in their patrimony.
On the other hand, Turkey, that powerful country in its economy army strategic situation, and presence in the Middle East and Europe, has tried to apply with cleverness the slogan of Moustafa Kemal ‘peace in Turkey, peace in the world ’. It has become a candidate to accede to the European Union in the near future. It was invited to participate in the conference of Arabic Summit of Khartoum, in March 2006, in spite its rapprochement with Israel. Moreover although it was an ally to the United States and member of NATO., it did not participate in Iraqi war.

Finally, Turkey’s importance is also displayed by its resistance against fanatic terrorism and its accomplishment of a balance among the various conflicting powers in the area.
We realize that a proper solution for the conflict between both the Turkish and Armenian populations may be difficult to find with lack of good intentions. However, in politics everything could be possible.

General Charles de Gaulle succeeded in solving the Algerian problem. Chancellor Conrad Adenauer succeeded in overcoming many years of German-French conflict and made a typical agreement with the president Charles de Gaulle, that was accomplished by the signing of a friendship contract in January 1963. Besides president Anouar Sadate visited Jerusalem on November 19,1977 after a partial victory in the war of October 6, 1973 paving the way to the agreement of Camp David 1978-1979 and reaching economical and diplomatic relations between them. This is how vehemence between those 2 countries became a memory of the past with their both good will.

Courageous initiative usually comes from the powerful party in order to succeed. Therefore, why does not Ankara invite Yerevan or representatives of the Armenian Diaspora for a meeting in Paris, Geneva or Arabic capital in order to discuss sincerely their conflicting issues for all. Direct dialogue seems to be the only solution to enclose definitely this permanent conflict.
It is inadmissible that the mediatic campaign against Turkey continues considering it as the first enemy whereas at the same time Turkish citizens of Armenian origin are granted various rights. Thousands of Armenians go to Turkey every year for touristic and economical purposes. One should follow the example of those various countries that were antagonistic regarding each other in wars and other different crises, but eventually overcame their tragedies and united in order to accomplish stability and prosperity.

If the Armenian party does not cooperate with the Turkish invitation its real intentions would be displayed.
Crying about the past is of no use. One would become a victim of his own sufferings, whereas the world changes quickly from the obstacle of introversion to spaciousness of the third millennium.

Prof.Dr.Emile MAAKAROUN, July 2007



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