14 February 2009

2743) Human Angle By Prof. Dr. Ozer Ozankaya

Over the past 40 years, many Western governments have held the Turkish nation and the Turkish Republic responsible for the bloody Armenian-Turkish conflicts which were incited, particularly by Russia, Britain, France and America, in the East and South Anatolian regions during the final years of the Ottoman State. Further, they have concurred in the presentation of these events as a “genocide carried out by the Turks against the Armenians”. Ignoring the requirements of objectivity and consistency, they have approved parliamentary resolutions to this effect, and even enacted laws punishing those . . who do not defend this position!

Together with the Armenian government, these Western states close their ears to Turkey’s appeals for proposals to examine the issue in a scientific atmosphere according to objective criteria. Objectivity is the leading requirement of international peace and democracy. It is also one of the foundations of the Turkish Republic. As Atatürk warned, “Writing history is just as important as making history. If the writer is not loyal to the history-maker, then the unchangeable truth turns into something surprising for humanity.” With respect to the Armenian genocide allegations, a significant number of French scientists last month stressed that it was wrong for the French Parliament to convert its political views on historical issues into laws and resolutions, and argued that writing history should be left to researchers. This statement is pleasing. As a sociologist, I would like to add my own observations and remarks on the issue - not as rigid assertions, but as suggestions which are open to criticism.

History written and rewritten
The destruction of the Ottoman State was accompanied by much suffering on the part of Ottoman nationals as a result of conflicts of interest among the industrialised Western states in their search for natural resources and markets. The greatest anguish was experienced by the Turkish section of society, which had borne most of the burden of the Ottoman State, but been left out of all progress.

As America’s Professor Justin McCarthy sets out in his research on migration in the region, Ottomans of Turkish origin were cast out of homes which they had occupied in Rumelia (Southeast Europe) for 500 years. Similarly, an attempt was made to form a region deprived of Turkish population in the East, in order artificially to create an Armenia. Armenian gangs, set up and armed with the support of the British, Russians and French, launched an initiative to massacre Turks, including women, the elderly and children, and to force them to flee the region. The majority of the Armenian population could not or did not rebel against these murders. However, although attacks on Turks were successful in the western provinces of the Ottoman State, they did not succeed in the East. The Ottoman State obliged the population of Armenian origin in this region – and this region only – to migrate southward, in order to protect the Turkish population and prevent them from being stabbed in the back while fighting against Russia.

During the War of Independence, Armenians in French military uniform were used to attack Turks in Adana, Maraş and Gaziantep. This made it even more impossible for the Armenians who had been subject to deportation to return to their homelands upon the foundation of the Republic. In short, the Armenian people in Eastern Anatolia lost their opportunity to live in peace together with their Turkish neighbors because they could not or did not refuse to serve as a vehicle for the interests of the Western states. They had been present in the region for over a thousand years. They ended their existence in the region by their own hands.

As of the 1990s, Armenian politicians backed by the political West began to turn the incidents upside down. Making no mention of the attacks on the Turks, they let it be known that the Ottoman State and Turkish nation had carried out a genocide against the Armenians, just as others had sought to annihilate the Jews. The Republic of Turkey had attached great importance to preventing the past from poisoning the present, and chosen not to put the responsibility of the political West for the painful incidents mentioned above onto the international agenda. But this noble policy was regarded as an indication of weakness and used against Turkey as a weapon.

Points To Consider
Slandering a nation is itself a kind of genocide attempt. The inaccuracy of the propaganda has been proven many times. Some of the convincing arguments used to debunk the smear campaign are as follows:

1. The Ottoman State drifted into World War I as a result of the efforts of Enver Pasha and similar state administrators under the control of Germany. The whole Ottoman Army was under the direct command of the German generals who constituted the “German Military Training Council”. Liman von Sanders and Falkenhein are the best-known examples. If the Ottoman State were to commit genocide against Armenian nationals, the German government would have ample opportunity to document it. But no such document has been found in the German archives.

2. The Ottoman State, which signed the Mondros Ceasefire Agreement, surrendered the entire administration to the British, French and Italian occupiers. The war criminals were delivered to the courts and exiled to Malta. However, although the states which had won the war seized all the archives of the Ottoman state, they found no proof to indicate that genocide had been implemented against the Armenians, and they were able to make no such allegation. If any proof had been found in the British, French, Russian and Italian archives up until now, it would have been declared to the whole world many times over.

3. During the period of the Ceasefire and the Turkish War of Independence, the American administration assigned General Mosley and General Harbord to research the Armenian allegations. They stated that there had been no genocide - only “mutual killings” - and noted that Turks had suffered the greater losses during the clashes. They did not pass judgement as to who started the killings: had it been the Turks, one doubts whether they would have remained silent.

4. Prior to the 1877 Ottoman-Russian War, Britain, on account of its own colonialist interests, was opposed to any attack to be launched by Russia on the Ottoman State on the pretext of protecting the Armenians from oppression. Britain assigned a Royalty captain to observe the situation on the spot. According to Captain Peebody’s report, ‘Five Hundred Miles on Horseback in Asia Minor’, the Armenians were not subject to pressure. Indeed, he found them to be the most prosperous and richest section of society. However he noted that they might not be entirely loyal to the Ottoman State.

5. We know that the Armenians attacked their Turkish neighbors in French uniforms in the Adana-Maraş region. Subsequently, French Prime Minister Clemenceau did not refrain from arguing that the Armenians had nobody to blame but themselves.

6. The allegations of Armenian genocide were never voiced during the time of Atatürk. Turkey received a special invitation to join the League of Nations, and not a word was said about the allegations.

7. Had the Armenians been subjected to genocide in Turkey, the hundreds of Jews who escaped from Nazi Germany, like the German scientists, artists and intellectuals who revolted against the regime, would not have wanted to live in Atatürk’s Turkey rather than the US, Switzerland or Canada. They would not have felt that they could live in a fully free atmosphere in Turkey.

8. The Ottoman state had regarded the Armenians as its ‘Teb’a-i sadıka’ – or most loyal citizens. For many generations, the palace architects (such as the Balyan family) had been chosen from among the Armenians, and Armenians had been appointed to the highest official positions. The Armenians had become very close to the Turks in every aspect of culture. They printed books in Turkish using the Armenian alphabet and widely spoke Turkish even in their homes.

9. Even today, Armenians living in many countries throughout the world frequently speak Turkish in their homes and among themselves. If they had been obliged to emigrate due to genocide in Anatolia, which was their homeland for thousands of years, they would scarcely want to continue speaking Turkish.

Turkish “Encouragement”?
The best strategy which any nation can follow is to possess a contemporary culture. A democratic administration, freedom in philosophy, science and arts, an economy based on advanced industry and technology, and a developed written language provide a nation with the greatest possible security. However, following World War II, Turkish politicians failed to pursue the enlightening revolutions which Atatürk had begun. They sought easy ways of staying in power and served selfish interests, leaving the vast rural population largely uneducated, and weakening the Republic. In these circumstances, the political West, which has yet to condemn colonialism, renewed its attacks on the Turkish Republic and the Turkish nation, so as to prevent the Atatürk model from becoming an example for the Islamic world and the exploited nations, and to reduce Turkey to the level of a colony once again. This was done sometimes under the guide of assistance; sometimes with the aid of ignorant and/or self-seeking writers and academics, Turkish or foreign. The Armenian genocide allegations have to be seen in this context.

In order to end the Armenian slanders and prevent their use as blackmail for the achievement of political and economic goals vis-a-vis Turkey, Turkish governments must express the above-mentioned facts with a loud voice, and make quite clear that the behaviour of governments which put this issue before their parliaments, raise it on international platforms or enact laws infringing the freedom of thought and forbidding any questioning of the genocide allegations will be regarded as hostile and will meet with an appropriate response.

At the same time, it follows from the above observation that Turkey needs strong, democratic governments conscious of their accountability to the nation. Officials outside and inside the country should be appointed not on partisan lines but among people who are capable of safeguarding the nation’s interests. And academics and intellectuals should lend their support within an understanding of democratic citizenship.

(DIPLOMAT- February 2006 - Ankara)/ TurkishForum


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