Thursday, October 05, 2006

EU-Turkey & the Armenian Genocide-Part III

Written by Dr Harry Hagopian
Wednesday, 26 October 2005
(Previous) Audere est Facere!
Calls on Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide;
considers this recognition to be a pre-requisite for
accession to the European Union; European Parliament
Resolution (28 September 2005).

III. Could things be shuffling forward at long last in

Image A letter from the International Association of
Genocide Scholars, published in the International
Herald Tribune (France) on 23 September 2005,
re-affirmed the well-established facts of genocide.
The letter underscored 'that it is not just Armenians
who are affirming the Armenian Genocide but it is the
overwhelming opinion of scholars who study genocide:
hundreds of independent scholars, who have no
affiliations with governments, and whose work spans
many countries and nationalities and the course of
decades'. It added unequivocally, 'We believe that it
is clearly in the interest of the Turkish people and
their future as proud and equal participants in
international, democratic discourse to acknowledge the
responsibility of a previous government for the
genocide of the Armenian people, just as the German
government and people have done in the case of the
Holocaust'. Rebutting the claims of those historians
who deny the genocide, the letter had harsh words
toward Turkey. It said, 'We would also note that
scholars who advise your government and who are
affiliated in other ways with your state controlled
institutions are not impartial. Such so-called
"scholars" work to serve the agenda of historical and
moral obfuscation when they advise you and the Turkish
parliament on how to deny the Armenian Genocide'.

With the incontrovertible evidence in the German and
Austrian archives of WWI (allies of Turkey) confirming
the genocide committed against Armenians, as much as
in the archives of the US (neutral at the time, with
no axe to grind) and Britain (with the HMSO Blue Book
written by the British historian Arnold Toynbee in
1916 ), it is time for Turkey to halt its tiresome
denial and thereby pave the way not only for a cleaner
EU-bound slate but also for improved relations with
Armenia and for stability in the Caucasus region.
Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is admittedly a
moral imperative, but it also helps improve state
relations, and carries with it the weight of
geopolitical and democratic considerations. Just like
the recent spate of resolutions from various EU
Parliaments, and following the two Resolutions of 15th
September by the US House International Relations
Committee (H.Res.316 and H.Con.Res.195), it is high
time to stop the brusque manifestations of a misplaced
ideological nationalism that spells denial. Turkey
must not only legislate reforms and submit them to the
EU as evidence of progress, but it should also
implement them on the ground. Legislation =
implementation. Otherwise, criminal justice and
judicial systems would remain steeped in decades of
nationalist ideology, reinforced by an authoritarian
constitution, and could betray any reformist
government's best intentions.

In a Commentary entitled Turkey's missed appointment
by Pierre Lellouche, Chairman of NATO Parliamentary
Assembly, and published in the French Liberation
newspaper on 26th September, Lellouche wrote, "The
European public, especially in France, expected -
again rightly - a gesture from Turkey in connection
with the Armenian genocide of 1915 and relations with
independent Armenia. Turkey can indeed say that such a
gesture is not mentioned - and I regret the fact - in
the conditions expressly set by the European Council.
But we cannot build the future on a denial of history
and a negotiation of past crimes, even if they were
committed by previous generations and under a
different political regime, in this instance the
Ottoman Empire. There is no point in evading
responsibilities towards History: better to
acknowledge, to mend and to be reconciled. Germany
fully realised this following 1945 and that is what
made possible its involvement, with equal rights, in
European building".

Indeed, a powerful challenge was put forward by
Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian at an
International Conference on the 90th Anniversary of
the Armenian Genocide in Yerevan on 21st April.
Entitled Ultimate Crime, Ultimate Challenge, his
closing address included the following set of
Armenians were one of the largest minorities of the
Ottoman Empire. Where did they go? Is it possible that
all our grandmothers and grandfathers colluded and
created stories? Where are the descendants of the
Armenians who built the hundreds of churches and
monasteries whose ruins still stand in Turkey? Is US
Ambassador Henry Morgenthau's account of the
atrocities that he witnessed a lie? Why was a military
tribunal convened at the end of WWI, and why did it
find Ottoman Turkish leaders guilty of ordering the
mass murder of Armenians? How does one explain the
thousands and thousands of pages in the official
records of a dozen countries documenting the plans to
exterminate the Armenian population of the Ottoman
Empire? If it wasn't genocide and they were simply
'war time deportations' of so-called rebellious
Armenian populations near the eastern border with the
Russian Empire, as Turkish apologists sometimes claim,
why were the homes of Armenians in the Western cities
looted and burned? Why were the Armenians of the
seacoast towns of Smyrna and Constantinople deported?
Boatloads of people were dumped in the sea - is that
what deportation is all about? Could rounding up
scores of intellectuals on a single night and killing
them be anything but premeditation ?

In a study entitled Eight Stages of Genocide by
Gregory H Stanton, Vice-President of the
International Association of Genocide Scholars and
President of Genocide Watch, originally written in
1996 at the US Department of State and presented in
1998 at the Yale University Center for International
and Area Studies, he wrote that "denial is the eighth
stage that always follows a genocide" whereby the
perpetrators deny that they committed any crimes, and
often blame what happened on the victims. Once Turkey
assumes its responsibility to recognise the genocide,
we could perhaps witness the beginning of a fresh dawn
for Armenians and Turks alike, and perhaps also a
narrowing of the huge gap that separates our EU
political institutions from our day-to-day realities.

In an article entitled Turkey's Memory Lapse: Armenian
Genocide Plagues Ankara 90 Years On in the German
Spiegel International (Online) on 25th April, Bernhard
Zand wrote:
Confronted with more and more Armenia resolutions in
European parliaments, opinion is growing among some
that Ankara's position on the Armenian issue could
ultimately endanger its prospects for EU membership.
Although there is no formal requirement that Ankara
recognise the murder of the Armenians as "genocide,"
politicians including French Foreign Minister Michel
Barnier have made clear comments in that direction. "I
believe that when the time comes, Turkey should come
to terms with its past, be reconciled with its own
history and recognise this tragedy," he said. "This is
an issue that we will raise during the negotiation
process. We will have about 10 years to do so and the
Turks will have about 10 years to ponder their
answer." Recently, Germany's conservative Christian
Democratic Union, filed a resolution on the
Turkey-Armenia issue in its own parliament, the
Bundestag, where it will be discussed this week and
voted on in June.

Many of the accomplices to the Ottoman war crimes
nevertheless fared well in the Turkish Republic,
founded in 1923. Surprisingly, Atatürk himself, spoke
with such openness about the crimes that his comments
could be enough to land him behind bars today. In
1920, in parliament, he condemned the genocide of the
Armenians as an "abomination of the past" and pledged
to dole out severe punishments to the culprits.

As Harut Sassounian opined in a Commentary entitled
Armenians should Squeeze Concessions Out of Turkey
During EU Negotiations in the California Courier on
13th October, "The interest of Armenians requires
that, on the EU issue, Turkey remain a bridesmaid, as
long as it refuses to pay the dowry to become a

Once recognition by Turkey of this human rights
travesty occurs, and the sacrifices of well over one
million Armenian men, women and children during the
period 1915-1923 are marked with closure, we could
underline with conviction the maxim audere est facere
- to dare is to do - in the sense that we dared
together to overcome the physical, psychological and
historical traumas of a painful and stolen past.

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