2501) "Turkey's Secret Archives on 1915 Incidents are Open"

Turkey opened to researchers its most secret archives regarding the incidents of 1915, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Tuesday.

Keeping a record of history is not the business of politicians or parliaments; it should be the business of historians and scholars, Gul told the 11th International Congress on "Social and Economic History of Turkey" held at Ankara's Bilkent University.

"That is our government's stance on the Armenian allegations that constantly remain on the agenda," he said.

Gul said researchers could take advantage of Turkey's most secret archives, adding that Turkey was proud of its history.

Armenia, with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in 1915. The Armenian diaspora has lately increased its organized activities throughout the world for the acknowledgment of their unfounded allegations in regard to the incidents of 1915 as "genocide" by national and local parliaments.

Turkey rejects the claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians along with at least as many Turks died in civil strife that emerged when the Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia.

Turkey also says parliaments and other political institutions are not the appropriate bodies to debate and pass judgment on disputed periods of history. Past events and controversial periods of history should be left to historians for their dispassionate study and evaluation.

However Turkey's efforts to carry a deeper investigation have yet to have a positive outcome. In 2005, Turkey officially proposed to the Armenian government the establishment of a joint historical commission composed of historians and other experts from both sides to study together the events of 1915 and to open the archives of Turkey and Armenia, as well as the archives of all relevant third-party countries and share their findings publicly. Unfortunately, Armenia has not yet responded positively to this initiative and Turkey's proposal remains on the table.

18Jun2008 Hurriyet