There is hope in the shameful comedy of the official Turkish opening of an ancient Armenian church as a museum.  Turkish newspapers are speaking out… with a surprisingly courageous and progressive voice. 

As I mentioned earlier, the Today’s Zaman has started referring to the name of the island where the church is situated on with the proper and historical name – Akhtamar.  The Turkish Daily News has published a powerful column – that makes a reference to cultural genocide of Armenian heritage in Turkey – and a reporting about the opening.

Saturday’s issue of The Turkish Daily New, for example, gives some details of the opening ceremony that nobody heard before:

A small demonstration by nationalists in Van preceded the ceremony. Everyone acted as if it had not occurred. Some Turkish officials appeared distressed when dignitaries from Armenia, which Turkey does not have diplomatic relations with, entered the church wearing small Armenian flags. There were a few strange looks when some of the Armenian guests crossed themselves at the end of the ceremony, placed dozens of candles from Armenia in various parts of the church and lit incense. And when the regional governor offered his remarks, his lack of a word of welcome to the Armenian Minister of Culture Gagik Gürciyan and Turkey’s Armenian Mesrop Mutafyan, was lost on no one. And the fact that none from the Armenian delegation were asked to speak at the ceremony was bit of silence that rang in everyone’s ears.


A column from the same newspaper’s Friday issue by Cengiz Çandar (that I encountered through made points that if they were made by Armenian authors the latter would be libeled “nationalists.”

I see hope in the Turkish newspapers.  I see more hope in Turkey overall when I found out that Taner Akcam has been acquitted of “insulting Turkishness” charges.”