Archive for the 'Turkish' Category

The factor of history factory in Armenia-Turkey relations

“Who controls the past controls the future;” party slogan states in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, “Who controls the present controls the past.”

While hopes are high that – despite a hostile history – Armenia and Turkey will establish diplomatic relations and that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan may finally be solved, the problem of how to deal with the official Turkish/Azerbaijani factory of history is not being addressed.

Djulfa destruction Dec 2005
Djulfa, Nakhichevan: the worst documented case of history fabrication; Azerbaijani soldiers destroying the largest Armenian medieval cemetery in the world (December 2005) – the site is now a military rifle range

It’s not merely Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s denial of the Armenian Genocide that makes the reconciliation quite difficult, to say the least, but also the official Turkish thesis, with its roots in the Young Turkish movement (that carried out the Armenian Genocide) and formalized by Ataturk, that Turks/Azeris are indigenous to their current homelands and that Armenians, in the best case, are unwelcome immigrants.

While the Turkish fabrication of history can be dismissed as an issue of “internal consumption” – meaning a convenient myth to boost Turkish/Azeri pride in their respective countries (with the dangerous slogan “Happy is the man who can say I am Turk”) – the implications of flip-flopping history are right there in the middle of the current developments in the region. Here is a most recent case.

Turkey’s ceremonial president Abdullah Gul is currently visiting Nakhichevan (or Nakhchivan as Azerbaijan prefers), the region of Azerbaijan which it got from the communist regime in Moscow as another gift at the expense of giving out Armenian lands. Moreover, a treaty that Soviet Armenia was forced to sign from Moscow made Turkey the “guarantor” of Nakhichevan in the 1920s.

Gul is visiting Nakhichevan with other heads of “Turkic-speaking countries” (most of them in Central Asia) to talk about common issues. Sounds like a normal political event, and nothing to protest about, especially since Armenia has no official claims toward Nakhichevan. But read the rest.

As there are no Armenians left in Nakhichevan (thanks to a Soviet Azerbaijani policy of nonviolent ethnic cleansing which attracted little attention at the time) and not a trace of the rich Armenian heritage (the most precious of which, the Djulfa cemetery, was reduced to dust by Azeri soldiers in December 2005 – see the videotape), Armenia has no claims to Nakhichevan and perhaps rightly so. Yet, apparently, the history factory in Nakhichevan is still cooking.

While Armenia restraints itself from claiming its indigenous lands, and particularly Nakhichevan, taken away from it without its consent, Turkey and Azerbaijan must discontinue their unhealthy fabrications of history. Instead…

According to Trend news agency based in Azerbaijan, Turkey’s visiting president has “noted that Nakhchivan, whose name means ‘world view’, is the native and valuable for both Azerbaijan and Turkey.”

Putting the “native” side aside for a moment, the distortion of not just basic history but of linguistics is sickening. Save for the disputed proposal that Nakhichevan comes from the Persian phrase Naqsh-e-Jahan (image of the world), every other explanation of the name of the region has to do with Armenians (see Wikipedia for the several versions), let alone that the word itself has two Armenian parts to it: Nakh (before or first) and ichevan (landing, sanctuary) – referring to Noah’s coming out of the Ark from (another holy Armenian symbol) Mount Ararat – next to Nakhichevan now on Turkish territory.

Ironically, and as almost always in history fabrication, the Azeri/Turkish distortion of “Nakhichevan” is inconsistent. According to an official Azerbaijani news website, there are discussions in Nakhichevan that admit that the word has to do something with Noah (of course after saying that it had to do with a mythical Turkish tribe that lived there thousands of years ago): “The Turkic tribes of nakhch were once considered as having given the name to it. Other sources connect Nakhichevan with the prophet Noah himself, as his name sounds as nukh in Turkic.” Moreover, as an official Nakhichevani publication reads, “There is no other territory on the earth so rich with place-names connected with Noah as Nakhichevan. According to popular belief, Noah is buried in southern part of Nakhichevan, and his sister is buried in the northwest of the city.” Hold on. Did you notice that the language uses (at least its official English translation) the Armenian taboo name of the region: Nakhichevan (as opposed to Turkified Nakchivan)? Maybe there is hope, but not really. Azerbaijan still denies that it didn’t destroy the Djulfa cemetery because, well, it didn’t exist in the first place.

A skeptic would ask what the fuss is about. The answer is that Nakhichevan’s distortion is not the first. The sacred Armenian places of Ani, Van, and Akhtamar in Turkey all have official Turkish explanations to their meanings, while those places existed for hundreds – if not thousands – of more years before Turks colonized the homeland of the Armenians.

More importantly, the changing of toponyms is not done to meet the social demands of Turks/Azeris and in order to make it easier for the locals to pronounce geographic names. Distortion is done to rewrite history in order to control the future. But it’s not the right thing to do. And both Turkey and Azerbaijan embarrass themselves when it comes to legal discussions.

Immediately prior to voting for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007, for example, the Turkish delegation at the United Nations made it clear that its “yes” vote was cast with the understanding that there were no indigenous peoples on Turkey’s territory. If there were indigenous peoples on the territory, the Turkish representative stated, then the declaration didn’t challenge states’ territorial integrity. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, abstained from voting.

The reservation on the UN document came from both countries who claim that there are the indigenous heirs of the lands they occupy and that their main enemy, Armenians (and also Kurds) are not only indigenous but are recent immigrants.

One version of Azerbaijan’s ridiculous inidigenousness claim is written on the website of one Azerbaijani Embassy: “The ancient states of Azerbaijan, which maintained political, economic and cultural ties with Sumer and Akkad and formed part of the wider civilization of Mesopotamia, were governed by dynasties of Turkic descent. The Turkophone peoples that have inhabited the area of Azerbaijan since ancient times were fire-worshippers and adherents of one of the world’s oldest religions – Zoroastrianism.”

Armenians (and to a large extent the Kurds, Assyrians and Pontiac Greeks) have their share of fault in the debate. Constantly repeating their indigenousness in what is now Turkey and Azerbaijan, Armenians have helped create the defensive Turkish/Azeri attitude that they, and not Armenians or others, are the indigenous peoples of the land. But when it comes to fabricating history of their own, there is little blame for Armenia.

As Armenia struggles to defend the victory it won over the Karabakh conflict, most Armenians use the Turko-Persian name for Nagorno-Karabakh (Karabakh meaning black garden, Kara – black in Turkish and bagh – garden in Farsi). While some Armenian nationalists prefer using the indigenous name of the region, Artsakh, many others indirectly admit that diverse history of Nagorno-Karabakh by keeping its Turkified name.

Like Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan must also defend what they see as their rights but not at the expense of unhealthy history fabrications. Moreover, Azeris and Armenians are genetically closer to each other than Azeris and their “brethren” (Uzbeks, Turkmen, etc.) in Central Asia. This means that, physically but not culturally speaking, both are interconnectedly indigenous.

While Turkey ad Azerbaijan must come to terms with history, Armenia must accept that Turks and Azeris are there to stay. All the nations in the region have equal rights to existence, but not so at the unhealthy price of fabricating history.

Turkey: One Story Two Tones

An e-mail I received invites attention to a news items in Turkey’s largest-circulating newspaper with two different versions. While the English translation talks about monentum in Armenian-Turkish relations, the original Turkish has qutite a different tome. Ara Arabyan’s e-mail to a list of Armenian and Turkish scholars/activists, published by his permission, below:

I wrote earlier that I found the Hurriyet story (in English) about Turkey and Armenia being “very close”  to normalizing relations interesting because I had not seen that story elsewhere. When I checked the Turkish version of the same paper for similar news I found only the following in its 22 January 2009 edition (translation/summary follows in green).

The two reports (one in English and the other in Turkish) about the same story are very different in tone. The English one underscores  that the two countries are “very close” to normalizing relations (with no problems mentioned), while the Turkish one emphasizes that Armenia is not backing down on the recognition of the genocide.  Hurriyet is Turkey’s largest mass-circulation daily and is read by tens of millions of people each day. It’s curious why the paper would choose to promote the same story in a more negative tone inside Turkey and in an upbeat tone to English readers.  It is understandable that the politicians of both sides would wish to appear tough on the other side when addressing their home audiences but take a softer and more reasonable stand when talking to each other in private. It is less understandable for mass-circulation media to echo that dichotomy in their reporting.

Regardless, real negotiations are evidently under way and some breakthrough is quite likely in the near future (barring some unexpected development that may bring down the current government in Turkey).

And here is the translation of the Turkish version by Ara:


Speaking at a press conference, [Armenia’s foreign minister] Nalbandyan said that Armenia will accept the formation of an intergovernmental commission [on the events 1915] only if Turkey opens its borders and establishes diplomatic relations with Armenia without any preconditions.

According to the Armenian press, Nalbandyan said at the press conference that ““Turkey is not doing us any favors by normalizing our relations.” He also said at the same press conference: “Yerevan will not make any sacrifices to normalize relations with Ankara.” Nalbandyan continued:

“Armenia will never renounce its policy of seeking recognition for the Armenian Genocide by the international community. The dark pages of history must be turned over but the lessons of the past must never be forgotten. Armenia will never question the reality of the Armenian Genocide.”

‘Agree With Babacan’

The Armenian foreign minister also said that he agrees with his Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, that the two countries are nearing reconciliation. He added however: “The problems can be solved only if Turkey agrees to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey unconditionally.”

Nalbandyan also said that he will attend the planned meeting of the Turkish-sponsored Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform.

Turkey’s “Martin Luther King Jr.” Commemorated

(an edited version of this appears on Global Voices Online)

The Biblical flood left Mount Ararat still, but a murdered journalist’s legacy has been moving mountains between Armenia and Turkey, two states separated by holy Ararat and an unholy history. After Hrant Dink’s January 19, 2007 assassination in front of his Istanbul office of Agos, an Armenian weekly he edited, thousands of Turkish citizens came to his funeral chanting, “We are all Hrant Dink; we are all Armenians.” The killing of one of Turkey’s few surviving indigenous Armenian Christian voices by a Turkish ultranationalist has shocked the world, but equally mesmerizing is the ignited hope for peace that lives on two years after Dink’s murder.

Setting the tone of Hrant Dink’s worldwide prominence, Gordon Taylor writes on his blog:

Today is not only Martin Luther King Day, and the day before Barack Obama’s inauguration. It is also the second anniversary of another murder.

With Hrant Dink commemorations around the world, Turkey gets the lion’s share of them. Among many events listed at Blog Kurdistan, one stands out:

18 Ocak’ta saat 15.00’te Galatasaray Meydanı’nda ‘O gün Biz de vurulduk’ temalı bir flashmob etkinliği yapılacak.

There will be a flash mob demonstration with the theme “On that day we were also shot” at 3 p.m. on January 18 in [Istanbul’s] Galatasaray square. (translated by Amy Grupp).

Some photos from the flash mob demonstration are available at a Turkish site.

Cyber commemorations are also taking place. Over 1,700 members of the networking Facebook site, for instance, have posted Hrant Dink’s photo as their profile picture and updated their status to “We are all Hrant Dink,” an event hosted by my blog. Dozens of Turkish blogs have posts commemorating Dink.

Writing in Russian, Armenian journalist-blogger Mark Grigorian remembers Hrant Dink.

Он был одним из тех, кто пытался найти пути и способы примирить армян и турок…”Армяне — врачи турок, — продолжал он, — а турки — врачи армян. Нет других докторов. Диалог — вот единственный рецепт”.

He tried to find ways of reconciling Armenians and Turks… “Armenians are Turks’ doctors,” he continued, “and Turks, Armenians’ doctors. There are no other doctors. Dialogue is the only recipe.”

Himself in exile in London, Grigorian says that Dink’s murder was followed with unparalleled progress in Armenian-Turkish relations: the first visit of the Turkish president to Armenia and an online apology by thousands of Turks to Armenians for their WWI extermination in the Ottoman Empire. Yet:

…проблема так велика, а пропасть между двумя народами так глубока, что сдвиги в сторону сближения вызывают у националистов негативную реакцию, а то и отторжение. Примером этого можно считать опубликованную в одной из турецких газет фотографию, на которой группа мужчин держит плакаты с надписями: “Собакам вход разрешен, евреям и армянам вход воспрещен “.

…the problem is so great, and the division between the two nations so deep, that steps toward coming closer [to each other] bring about negative reactions among nationalists. One example is a [recent] photo published in a Turkish newspaper showing a group of men holding signs reading, “Dogs are allowed; Jews and Armenians are not allowed.”

While nationalism in Turkey is prominent, one Turk has made an unprecedented step toward reconciliation. His letter, posted on my Blogian, explains what he’s done:

When I found out that the properties that I and my brothers inherited from our father wasn’t our own, but properties taken from the murdered Assyrians in 1915 I felt an indescribable feeling of guilt and shame… I have personally apologized to every Assyrian and Armenian I’ve met. But this does not get rid of the crime our ancestors committed. Even if I am personally not responsible for what happened in 1915, I felt as I had to do more than just to apologize. Finally, I came to the decision to give back all properties that I inherited from my forefathers to [an Assyrian organization].

In death, Dink has also opened Armenian eyes. Armenian-American Mark Gavoor, while pondering Dink and Armenian-Turkish relations, says:

I, my family, we… were led to believe that Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] was both a communist and a womanizer.

…It strikes me very odd that many Armenians I knew growing up had a dislike for blacks. When I look back at both the Armenian Genocide and the life work of Martin Luther King, I am struck with one thing. Armenians for the most part focus on our own tragedy, almost exclusively. We can live in this great country and see little irony that we as disposed people live on the lands of disposed American Indians….

Incidentally, the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday in the United States in 2009, celebrated the second Monday of January, coincides with Dink’s second anniversary. Two years ago, right after Dink’s murder, Canada-based Armenian blogger Vahe Balabanian compared the two:

On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King was shot… In 1986, Martin Luther King Day was established as a United States holiday.

Hrant Dink’s story still remains to be written in Turkey…his unwavering trust that we all would manage to live together in peace one day.

It is now Turkey’s turn to demonstrate its greatness by making Hrant Dink Turkey’s Martin Luther King.

Thousands of Turks Apologize to Armenians

While I have received a number of personal letters from individual Turks apologizing for the Genocide, this one is addressed to all Armenians: “My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers and sisters. I apologize to them.”


The thousands of Turkish signatories of the apology statement are not saying sorry for the genocide itself (which they call “the Great Catastrophe,” translating from the Armenian Metz Yeghern). The apology is for the convenient “ignorance” and “denial” about the WWI extermination of Ottoman Empire’s indigenous Armenians for about nine decades. The message, as I see it, is not recognizing a historical fact but recognizing humanity. To recognize genocide means to recognize a victim group’s humanity. The reverse can, apparently, be true as well.


What is also true is that there are thousands of Turks who are willing to risk their lives and comfort in order to break an ancient silence. As one Turkish friend told me, “[i]t’s a bit like putting your name on a ‘wanted’ list.” The “wanted list” is pretty big: over 22,000 signatures on the main website,, by December 24, 2008, and over 3,400 on Facebook  (as of Dec 20) with their real names and photographs (the Facebook event list seems to have since become a private one).


On the other hand, all that Armenians have received for losing a homeland and memory through genocide is a 90-year-late “apology” by a group of people some of whose signatories don’t hide its strategy. One initiator, for instance, has been quoted as suggesting in one Turkish-language newspaper that the apology is a service to the Republic of Turkey in the sense that it will kill genocide recognition by other countries.  Furthermore, earlier this year, in my indigenous politics class, the professor and many students were not satisfied with Australia’s and Canada’s official apology to their indigenous peoples for genocidal policies. So in general, an “apology” is not well received by victim groups.


What is undeniable, nonetheless, is that this apology has full of potential. One would not even imagine such an apology five years ago. One would not imagine that Turkish parliamentarians would discuss the matter, even some of them using the Kurdish term “genocide” to refer to the Armenian extermination.


The apology has also brought out the paradoxical Turkish society. Turkey’s ceremonial president Abdullah Gul has defended the signatories (unlike the “real” Turkish leader, vice president Erdogan). At the same time, though, Gul is suing a nationalist Turkish parliamentarian for saying the president has Armenian roots and that’s why he defends the apology.  This is also the same Gul who has attended a ceremonial killing of Armenian soldiers in Turkey. But this is also the same Gul who visited Armenia this year and wanted to improve relations.


Nevertheless, Turkish media are openly calling Canan Arıtman, the female member of a social-democratic party who suggested Gul is a traitor because of his alleged Armenian origin, a “fascist” and a “racist.” Suggesting that the politician be expelled from her party, one Turkish columnist writing for Sabah says, “Arıtman is racist. What place can racism and questioning ethnic origins have in social democracy, an ideology that has freedom, equality and brotherhood as its fundamental tenets?”


Writing even harsher, a liberal Turkish columnist asks what if all Turks have Armenian origin:


“Arıtman and those like her are the strongest reason we have to apologize to the Armenian community. If these people can readily put into circulation statements that are racist, low and self-aggrandizing, the entire community is responsible for that. We all have a share in this crime. I have questions to ask people who approach this issue reluctantly and who think that it is unnecessary as an agenda item. Have you ever thought about this? Maybe we are all really Armenians. We may all have people in our lineage who were forced to act like Muslim Turks.”


A Zaman columnist says Turks “should thank the racist CHP deputy” for reminding the history of her political party. Apparently that political party is the hereditary of the chauvinist “Union and Progress” that committed the Genocide in 1915.  


Furthermore, some of Arıtman’s colleagues in the parliament have compared her to Hitler: “”It was a similar stance that led German dictator Adolf Hitler to burn thousands of people of Jewish origin. Arıtman sees Armenians as enemies.”  


When was the last time when any media in Turkey was outraged against insulting Armenians? Indeed this is unprecedented and demonstrates the power of the apology – no matte how vague and not-enough it may be.  This maybe the reason why there is so much ultranationalist outrage in Turkey against the apology (even if some self-perceived progressives silently suggest the apology serves Turkey’s national interests). The website of the apology, for instance, was “suspended” according to a message which appeared on it around 1:30 AM standard US eastern time on December 23, 2008. Days ago it was also hacked. Furthermore, a group of nationalists have opened their own website called “I don’t apologize.” Almost 50,000 nationalists have signed it as of December 24. Another counter campaign claims twice as many supporters, although neither websites have received much – if any coverage – in Turkish or other media.


Hated by Turkish ultranationalists, the apology initiative has inspired similar (though low-profile) campaigns in the region. I have received a text that is being circulated among Cypriot Turks and Greeks asking both communities to apologize to each other:


“Initiative for Apologizing for the atrocities committed by ones’ own community

1.     This is an initiative to collect signatures on a document apologizing for the atrocities committed by ones’ own community against the other. Following the initiative of 200 Turkish intellectuals, who found the courage to apologize for the Armenian genocide, we believe it is time for Cypriots to assume responsibility for the crimes allegedly committed in their name and to express regret and condemnation.

2.     The initiative also aims at putting an end to the decades- long practice of concealing the truth about the events, of denying that they ever took place or attempt to justify them. This amounts to a crime of massacre denial which can no longer be tolerated. At the same time each one of us must assume responsibility for the actions we can take as parents, teachers, activists, journalists, politicians to put an end to the decades-long conspiracy of silence about our regrettable past.

3.     We call on all interested persons and organizations to engage in a process of consultation on how best to promote this initiative and to formulate the text to be signed.”


Full of more potential for good than for bad, the Turkish apology is one that surprises many. In fact, it might not have been possible without one person. According to the Irish Times:




Others attribute the initiative to the shock that followed the murder of the Armenian-Turkish editor Hrant Dink. A leading advocate of a more humane debate on the Armenian issue, Dink was gunned down by a nationalist teenager in January 2007.


“When he died, it was as if a veil had been torn from the eyes of the democratic-minded citizens of this country,” says Nil Mutluer, a feminist activist who signed the letter. “People realised there was no time to be lost.”


The road ahead looks hard. The chief organisers of the 1915 massacres continue to be commemorated in street names across the country….”


The road is a hard one, but not unprecedented. Around the globe, there is a global recognition of indigenous rights which have often been repressed through genocidal policies. One such injustice was recently corrected by the country of Nicaragua when it gave title of traditional land to a native nation. A simple apology seems to please many Armenians, though, even it comes froma group of liberal Turks who are ashamed of a 90-year-old campaign to silence and rewrite history.


When I gave my father a print-out of the apology in western Armenian, his initial reaction was: “They took all of our land and memory and all they give us is an apology by a group of small people who don’t even use the word genocide?” To my surprise, he then added, “I accept their apology.”


And earlier this April, when a group of Turkish lobbyists and community organizers denied the Armenian genocide during a commemorative lecture at University of Denver, an Armenian friend of mine (who openly calls himself a nationalist), said to the audience that if a Turk told him “sorry” for the Genocide he would give that Turk a “big, Armenian hug.”


My friend owes 20,000 Turks big, Armenian hugs. Let’s hope the number grows so big that he will never be able to give so many hugs in 90 years.

Armenians Scream CNN Murder of their Genocide

Too short for Armenians and too long for the Turkish government, a two-hour CNN documentary by Christiane Amanpour on genocide includes a 45-second mention of the WWI extermination of Ottoman Empire’s indigenous Armenian population. Premiered on December 4, 2008, Scream Bloody Murder has made many Armenian bloggers angry, leading them to recall Hitler’s rhetoric for impunity, “Who, after all, remembers the Armenians?”

Armenia-based blogger, photographer and designer Arsineh had concerns even before watching the documentary. Writing on Ars Eye View, she says:


I’m preparing to watch the program for myself, but given this much prior information, I have to ask. If you are going to cover the epidemic of genocide, starting with the campaign to criminalize genocide, continue to show the struggle so many have endured to (as you titled your program) “SCREAM BLOODY MURDER” while the world turned a deaf ear only to allow genocide to continue around the world, shouldn’t you be talking about the biggest cover up of genocide, the very one which inspired Lemkin to coin the word, the very one which also inspired Adolf Hitler to follow through with the Holocaust? Afterall, it’s this denial that scares CNN from ever using the word “Genocide” in their reporting on related matters.


She also posts a video question to CNN.

Writing in detail, West of Igdir says a previous CNN press release suggested the coverage of the Armenian Genocide was going to be more intense.


The release specifically mentioned Armenia as one of the cases of genocide it would be examining. This naturally created some excitement that finally a major news organization would be dedicating a program partly to the so often overlooked Armenian Genocide of 1915 and inform a nationwide audience about it.


I had been feeling hopeful about the documentary and might have given it more of a pass on this omition until I saw this interactive map on the section of Scream Bloody Murder section of CNN’s website about the world’s killing fields. It appears that despite the fact when it had first been announced Armenia was prominently mentioned as one of the examples of genocide that would be covered, it was overlooked as being pinpointed on the interactive map as an example of genocide.


Clearly the documentary did not go unnoticed in Turkey, despite the fact it says almost nothing about the Armenian Genocide, as the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet yesterday declared “Genocide feature worrisome.”


Sevana at Life in the Armenian Diaspora is also unhappy.

When will this second class genocide victim status end? I guess CNN is afraid that CNN-Turk will be cut off the air if they include the Armenians… how very, very sad.

Another diasporan voice, Seta’s Armenian Blog posts an action alert by the Armenian National Committee of America to protest CNN’s almost exclusion of the Armenian Genocide.

The full post is available at Global Voices Online.

Armenian Bloggers Hail Power Return

While most people know Samantha Power as an Obama adviser who has called Hillary Clinton a “monster,” many genocide awareness and prevention activists consider the Harvard professor a hope they can believe in. The Associated Press has noticed that Power, who officially resigned from Obama’s campaign during the Democratic primaries, is on US President-elect Obama’s transition team. This news has encouraged several Armenian bloggers who now feel assured that the author of “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide” (2002) will remind President-elect Barack Obama to keep his promise of officially recognizing the WWI Armenian Genocide committed by Ottoman Turks.


Back with Obama, Power has reignited hope among many Armenians. But some have wished for more. Joseph at the ArmenianGenocide forum:

Samantha Power is back on the Obama team and will be working at the State Department. This is good for Armenians, as she will give a direct challenge to Hillary Clinton { Hillary WILL betray us} and will be a honest broker in a institution where honesty and integrity is a very rare commodity. Still, would have loved to have Samantha Power as our Sec. of State.

The full post is available at Voices without Votes.

Former Turkish Ambassador’s Entire Interview

Below is Ara Arabyan’s translation of retired Turkish diplomat Volkan Vural’s interview with Taraf  (Sep 8, 2008), where the former Ambassador says Turkey must apologize to Armenians.

“[Duzel] In response to an invitation by the president of Armenia, President Abdullah Gul went to Yerevan to watch the soccer game [between the Turkish and Armenian national teams].  We have a dispute with Armenia over historical events.  Was not the Armenian president’s invitation to Gul before the resolution of this dispute a political risk for himself?

[Vural] Of course it was a risk.  The decision to invite the Turkish president to the soccer game was not an easy decision for Armenia.  We view the world solely through our own lens.  We must also look at events from the perspective of others.  There is a neurosis about Turkey in Armenia.  Consequently, it is not easy to make any decision related to Turkey.  Politicians may have to pay–indeed have paid–a high price for such decisions.

[Duzel] Who paid such a high price?

[Vural] Former President Levon Ter Petrosyan was ousted from office because he sought a solution to the Karabakh problem and to establish ties with Turkey.  They made him pay the price of establishing ties with Turkey.  Today, even though a major portion of the people of Armenia want relations [with Turkey] to develop and the borders [between the two countries] to open–the Turkey dossier is not so easy to handle as it is thought.

[Duzel] Is it easy to handle the Armenia dossier in Turkey?

[Vural] It is also difficult in Turkey.  However, the reality is that the problem between us and Armenia is not something that can be resolved by historians alone.  That is because this is psychological and political issue rather than a historical matter.  There is a certain psychology, distrust, fear, and terror that the events of the past have created among people.

[Duzel] Do you not think that Armenian and Turkish historians can solve this problem if they discuss the events of the past freely and describe them objectively?

[Vural] A solution to this problem cannot be found via history alone, because a solution requires overcoming the psychological problems this issue has created among people.  A solution requires the creation of a climate of trust in which the two peoples can draw closer with affection and respect and where they can talk to each other with ease.  This is not a situation that historians can overcome.  The Armenian question is a problem that needs to solved by politicians, not historians.  History can only shed light on certain issues and play a role that facilitates a solution.  That is all.

[Duzel] Do you think that any diplomatic steps will be taken in the aftermath of the [Turkish] president’s visit to Armenia?

[Vural] I expect and hope that they will be taken.  This visit may serve as the foundation of a new beginning between Turkey and Armenia.  Diplomatic relations between the two states must be established without delay.

[Duzel] What do you mean by “diplomatic relations”?

[Vural] “Diplomatic relations” means Turkish diplomats are resident in Yerevan and Armenian diplomats are resident in Ankara.  This would mean a normal relationship between the two states, which would mean the opening of borders between them.  The first step in the normalization of relations must be the exchange of representative missions in the two countries.  We have to sign an agreement and say that “we will exchange embassies with each other.”  The opening of the borders is not a necessity just for the Armenians.  I have seen that border gate.

[Duzel] What did you see?

[Vural] I went to the Alican [Margara] border gate [from the Armenian side].  I waved to our soldiers from afar.  This gate is 10 to 15 kilometers away from Yerevan.  Look, we have been in contact with Armenia, which gained independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, since 1991.

[Duzel] How so?

[Vural] For example, I am the first Turkish ambassador who visited Armenia.  At that time I was [Turkish] ambassador to Moscow.  This was the time when Armenia was on its way to becoming independent.  Shnork Kalustian, then the Armenian patriarch in Turkey, had died during his visit to Yerevan.  I sent a message to the Armenian president.  I wrote in my message that “taking an interest in the funeral of the patriarch, who is our citizen, and facilitating the return of his remains to Turkey is my duty” and that “I am prepared to contribute in every way, including attending any ceremonies that may be held.”

[Duzel] Did you do this in consultation with Ankara?

[Vural] No, I did it at my own initiative, because the patriarch was a Turkish citizen.  He was the spiritual leader of one of our religious minorities.  There was no relationship whatsoever between Armenia and Turkey.  At that time, Armenia was one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union.  As Turkish ambassador to Moscow, it fell within my purview like the other Soviet republics.  [Kalustyan’s] funeral rites were conducted in the Armenian church in Moscow.  I attended that ceremony to the astonishment of the Armenians who were there.  They were really taken aback by the presence of a Turkish ambassador at a funeral ceremony in an Armenian church.  This was my first contact with Armenia as ambassador.

[Duzel] Did these contacts with Armenia continue?  If they did, how did they go?

[Vural] The contacts continued.  They invited me to Armenia on a winter day.  Ter Petrosyan was president.  Armenia was in dramatic conditions.  It was suffering tremendous deprivations, including the lack of any electricity.  I had a long and very useful meeting with President Ter Petrosyan about ways of developing Turkish-Armenian relations and dissipating hostility between the two nations.  Ter Petrosyan shared my views.

[Duzel] What did Ter Petrosyan, who is the leader of the main opposition party today, tell you

[Vural] He said:  “I cannot forget the agony of the past, but I do not want to be stuck in the past.  As a responsible statesman, I have to think about the future of my grandchildren.  I sincerely want the development of relations with Turkey.”  At that time, Turkey was perturbed by developments such as Armenia’s new constitution and declaration of independence.

[Duzel] Do certain expressions in the Armenian constitution and its declaration of independence still annoy Turkey?

[Vural] They still annoy Turkey.  However, Ter Petrosyan gave me the impression that these issues can be overcome and I conveyed this situation to Ankara in a lengthy report.  Subsequently, republics seceding from the Soviet Union declared their independence.  At that point, I returned to Ankara and all this information was evaluated.

[Duzel] Yes.

[Vural] During those meetings, it was decided that Turkey should recognize the independence of all the republics and that it should establish diplomatic ties with all of them except Armenia.  Unfortunately, Turkey did not establish diplomatic ties with Armenia.  This is a period that I have always seen as “lost years” for Turkey and that I have found most regrettable.   This is the year 1991 and immediately after that.  By 1993, matters were completely out of control, and Armenia occupied Nagorno Karabakh.

[Duzel] Had diplomatic relations with Armenia been established then, what would be happening now?  Would the Armenian question have been resolved?

[Vural] There would still be an Armenian question in Turkey, but Turkey would be a country that has normalized its relations with Armenia.  Both sides would have benefited from this normalization.  In other words, we would have had a different evolution and a different game, and this would have had an effect on the Diaspora Armenians.  However, we could not create this equilibrium like a great power.  I also think that this normalization would have helped to improve ties between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  The occupation of Nagorno Karabakh could perhaps be prevented.  However, we did not pay the necessary attention to Ter Petrosyan then; we failed to help him and to seize the moment.  Later, Ter Petrosyan was ousted and [Robert] Kocharian became president.  Kocharian pursued radical policies of Armenian nationalism.  Had we helped Ter Petrosyan to alleviate the deprivations in his country, nationalism in Armenia might not have been so rabid.

[Duzel] At that time [Turgut] Ozal was president and [Suleyman] Demirel was prime minister of a True Path Party-Social Democratic People’s Party coalition.  Who opposed the establishment of diplomatic ties with Armenia?  Was it the bureaucrats or the politicians?

[Vural] Many people within the bureaucracy of the Foreign Ministry opposed this.  Ozal was very upset that this opportunity was missed.  The [Armenian] declaration of independence naturally made many references to western Armenia–that is Turkish soil–and pledged efforts to win recognition for the genocide.  That gave the impression that Armenia has territorial claims on Turkey.  All these could have been overcome with the establishment of diplomatic relations.  I already had prepared some proposals to change the declaration of independence.  However, there was opposition to this at the time.

[Duzel] Why was there opposition?

[Vural] I see that as a lack of courage.  I reported my meeting with Ter Petrosyan but [ellipsis].  Had we established diplomatic relations, Turkey would not be in the tight corner it is now across the world over the Armenian question.  It would not have been so easy to condemn a Turkey that maintains very good relations with Armenia.  We should not be too preoccupied with the matter of genocide on this issue.

[Duzel] So what must we do?

[Vural] We are an important country of this region.  Peace and stability in this region is to our advantage.  From a wider perspective, the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia are very important in terms of the interests of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.  When I say “we should not be too preoccupied with allegations of genocide,” I mean the following:  Allegations of genocide have become a vehicle of survival for the Diaspora.  The allegation of genocide has become an industry; it has created its own people, entrepreneurs, politicians, artists, and money mechanisms.

[Duzel] Has not Turkey become too obsessed with genocide by not establishing relations with Armenia?

[Vural] In effect, yes.  The development of relations between Turkey and Armenia would not entirely push aside allegations of genocide but [ellipsis].  Ter Petrosyan once pointed at the Alican border gate and told me:  “Look, if this gate is opened, people will see and know each other; they will commingle with each other.  We will end up buying many things we need from you.  This will help the resolution of the problems of the past.”  However, we have a strange reticence.  We are a country with too many red lines and taboos.  We are told that “Armenia is hostile to us” and that “it has territorial claims on Turkey.”  It is time to distinguish between rhetoric and the realities of life.

[Duzel] What are the realities of life?

[Vural] People may say, demand, and dream certain things rhetorically.  They may dream about a very large Armenia.  There is no limit to dreaming.  However, the realities are evident.  Can Armenia take any land from Turkey?  Which sensible person can contemplate that?  The number of soldiers in our armed forces is as big as the entire population of Armenia.  We must have more confidence in ourselves.

[Duzel] The man in the street may harbor fears or may be made to harbor fears, but how do you explain the phobias and red lines of military and civilian bureaucrats who know the realities?

[Vural] This is Turkey.  The Foreign Ministry is cautious, as expected.  Acting with extreme caution is a rule of that profession, but no problem can be solved without taking any risks.  This also partly reflects a desire to avoid the risk of being criticized by the Turkish public.  The entire problem is this:  There is a certain circumstance and you can either become the slave of that circumstance or find ways of changing it.  We became a slave of the circumstances.

[Duzel] Turkey became a slave of the Armenian question.

[Vural] Yes.  We should have sought another equation to solve this issue, but the risk was not taken out of fears of making mistakes and facing criticism at home.  As a result, we reduced ourselves to the point of doing nothing.

[Duzel] As diplomatic relations develop with Armenia, will the events of the past be discussed?

[Vural] They will be discussed inevitably.  In my opinion, this is not an impediment blocking the normalization of relations.  The term “genocide” is a descriptor that was created long after our historic events.  However, this descriptor has become largely banal today.  Every inhuman act is termed “genocide” at some point.  There is little doubt that the events we went through had very painful and tragic aspects.  There is also little doubt that the Armenians see them as a tremendous act of injustice against them.  It is fact that they think that they were forcefully uprooted from the places where they were born and raised.  You cannot erase those sentiments.  You cannot tell them not to think this way.  Nonetheless, you can tell them:  “Yes, these events occurred, but we cannot spend our lives on those events.  We have another life ahead of us.  Let us build that life together in friendship.”

[Duzel] Does Armenia really expect only this little from Turkey in connection with history?  Is it enough to say these to them to establish peace?

[Vural] The Armenians will of course stir up the issue of genocide.  They will seek ways of doing that.  There will always be movements to make the entire world accept this position.  In the meantime, the establishment of a “joint history commmission” between the two countries may, at first glance, be a good step forward, but I think that Armenia is not in a position to make a significant contribution with respect to history.  In my opinion, the problem is not in history.  I do not share the assumption that the historical facts are not known.  The facts are known.  Very many things are known.  The whole problem is how these known facts are perceived, what marks they have left, and how those marks can affect the future.

[Duzel] I did not understand.

[Vural] An Armenian may sincerely think that what happened to his nation was genocide.  We may think otherwise.  If we get stuck on this, we cannot get anywhere.  Arguing that “the historians should clarify this to us” means giving too much importance to historians.  Every historian has a different interpretation of every event.  The problem revolves around how the psychological problem will be overcome.  Ter Petrosyan told me:  “Let us put that issue to one side.  Let us look at the future.  It is obvious that we will not reach an agreement on this issue.  We should allow the two peoples to commingle by other means.  Let us bypass the genocide issue this way.”  I also think that this is what needs to be done.  There is no point in delving too much into this issue.

[Duzel] There is a very large Armenian Diaspora, mainly in the United States and France.  Will they not insist on the recognition of the genocide?

[Vural] Of course they will.  However, if relations between Turkey and Armenia improve, the Diaspora cannot have its present influence.  This is because the people of Armenia will see the concrete benefits of good neighborly ties.  When the borders open, trade will grow and they will become rich.

[Duzel] Could Turkey acknowledge that the Ittihadists perpetrated a great massacre of the Armenians?

[Vural] That would be hard.  I think that we painted ourselves into a corner.  Initially, we acted as if nothing like this happened.  Now we are saying that “yes, some things happened but they were reciprocal.”  I do not know where these discussions may go tomorrow, but I think certain psychological steps may be taken on this issue.

[Duzel] What can be done?

[Vural] What would I do if I was in a position of authority?  I would say:  “All Armenians and members other minorities who lived within the current borders of Turkey at the time of the Ottoman Empire and who were subjected to deportation in one way or another–even if this deportation was to other regions of the Empire–will be admitted to Turkish citizenship automatically if they request it.”  I do not know how many people would take up this offer, but, at a minimum, people who were driven out of their villages, towns, or cities by force would have been told:  “The republic is granting you and people of your ancestry the right to return and to become citizens of this country.”  People who apply would be granted this right.

[Duzel] So what would happen to the properties and assets the Armenians left behind during the deportation?

[Vural] These can be discussed.  A fund may be established.  The return of the properties and providing a full accounting for them is now very difficult, but a symbolic reparation is possible.  What matters is that we show that we are not insensitive in the face of a painful situation, that we empathize with the situation, and that we are considering certain ways of compensation as a humanitarian responsibility.  I would actually apologize.  It is quite debatable under what conditions but [ellipsis].  Regardless, if someone is forced to leave this country [ellipsis].  I do not mean this only for Armenians.  I also mean it with respect to people who left after the 6-7 September [1955] incidents.  I mean it with respect to our Greek citizens.

[Duzel] When you say “apologize,” what form of apology do you have in mind?

[Vural] These events are unbecoming for Turkey.  We do not approve them.  The people who were forced to leave this country have our sympathy.  We see them as our brothers.  If they wish, we are prepared to admit them to Turkish citizenship.

[Duzel] And we apologize for the pain we have caused them.

[Vural] Yes. For the pain [ellipsis].  Yes.  These are the best steps that can be taken.  This is what a state like ours should do.”

Dialogue: Football Style

– Harut Sassounian’s weekly commentary has an interesting account in the last paragraph.


Armenia Lost the Soccer Match, But Gained International Prestige


By Harut Sassounian

Publisher, The California Courier

Sep 11, 2008


I witnessed history in the making last week when the Turkish President, at the invitation of the Armenian President, paid his first ever visit to Armenia to watch the soccer match between the national teams of their respective countries – a qualifying game for the 2010 World Cup finals.


Before the match, some Armenians had been predicting with great nationalistic fervor an outright victory for Armenia , while others were certain that the game would end in a draw, in keeping with the atmosphere of political reconciliation. Armenians frowned upon this writer when he suggested that the powerful Turkish team would most probably win and that the practice of state mandated outcomes for soccer games had ceased with the demise of the Soviet Union . As I had anticipated, the Armenian team lost 2-0 in a lackluster game against the more powerful, but overly cautious Turkish team.


When the Turkish President’s jet arrived at Yerevan ’s Zvartnots Airport last Saturday, he was greeted with proper state protocol and hundreds of protesters. Later on, as he arrived at the Presidential Palace for a meeting with the Armenian President, there were more protests, not against him or his visit, but the Turkish state’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. There were lengthy debates in both the Turkish and the Armenian press about the appropriateness of such protests.


I believe it would have been highly surprising if the head of the Turkish state that continues to deny the Armenian Genocide had visited Armenia without a single Armenian reminding him that there is an on-going injustice and unresolved issues between the two countries. In the absence of such protests, the Turkish President would have drawn the wrong conclusion that Armenians in Armenia had no problems with Turkey and that the Genocide issue is only raised by the Diaspora, particularly since it was reported that the Genocide was not discussed at all between the two presidents. To draw Pres. Gul’s attention to this important issue, ARF members unfurled a giant unsanctioned banner during the soccer match that called for: “Recognition and Reparations.”


Many Armenians were unhappy that the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA) had just decided to remove the sketch of Mount Ararat from the FFA logo on the Armenian soccer players’ uniforms. They viewed this removal as an undesirable attempt to appease Turkey . Some members of the Armenian Parliament were so irate that they pledged to raise their objection in Parliament and possibly take legal action against the FFA.


Nevertheless, the soccer match provided a unique opportunity for Pres. Sargsyan and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian to meet with their Turkish counterparts in Yerevan to discuss the Artsakh (Karabagh) conflict, possible diplomatic relations between the two countries, the blockade of Armenia by Turkey , and the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform – a new Turkish initiative. The two foreign ministers, after huddling long past midnight, decided to continue their discussions later this month while attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York City . Meanwhile, Pres. Gul invited his Armenian counterpart to come to Istanbul on Oct. 14, 2009 to watch with him the return match between the two national soccer teams.


It is not known how much progress was registered in last Saturday’s discussions. Both sides made optimistic statements at the conclusion of their meetings. Several observations could be made, however, regarding recent developments in the region:

— Both Armenia and Turkey have come under intense diplomatic pressure from the United States , Europe and Russia to resolve their long-standing problems which would enable these foreign powers to secure their energy supplies from the Caspian Sea region and engage in the transfer of goods by rail across now closed borders.

— The Georgian-Ossetian-Russian conflict has raised Armenia ’s geopolitical significance in the region at the expense of Georgia and Azerbaijan .

— Turkish officials no longer seem to be setting the resolution of the Artsakh conflict as a pre-condition to establishing relations with Armenia .

— Since Pres. Gul was strongly urged by his domestic opponents, hardliners within his own administration as well as Azerbaijani officials not to go to Armenia, imagine how much more pressure he would have to endure should he decide to establish diplomatic relations with Yerevan and open the closed border with Armenia in the near future!


Finally, one concrete attempt at historical reconciliation between a very special Turk and a very special Armenian already succeeded. Milliyet’s journalist Hasan Cemal, the grandson of one of the three masterminds of the Armenian Genocide, Jemal Pasha, had a very touching meeting earlier this week in Yerevan with the grandson of his grandfather’s Armenian assassin in Tbilisi in 1922. A few days ago, Hasan Cemal visited the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan and placed a wreath in memory of the Armenian victims!

Turkish Columnist on the Armenian Issue

Turks cannot be without Armenians, Armenians cannot be without Turks!

By Ayse Hur – Taraf Newspaper, September 1, 2008 (translated from Turkish by the Zoryan Institute; published by Ayse Hur’s permission)

While waiting for President Gul to make a decision on whether to attend the Yerevan soccer game on September 6, I tried to assemble all the facts, and I wonder if you agree with them. We still could not agree on how to define the events that befell on the Armenians 93 years ago. In the 85-year history of our Republic, we found only four Armenians deserving to enter the Parliament. We were unable to see any Armenians in the public and military sectors. We tried to erase the names and memories of Armenian settlements and locations, Armenian authors, artists, architects and statesmen. We converted Armenian cultural institutions and churches into mosques, military buildings, and if not feasible to do so, into animal stables, and if that did not work, we demolished them. We ruined the Armenian businessmen in 1942 with the Capital Tax, and then on 6-7 September 1955 with wholesale plunder. We repossessed the Armenian charitable foundation buildings in 1974. At last we succeeded in reducing the Armenian population of Turkey to 70,000.

Terminology Wounds

We filled the school history books with definitions of the Armenian enemies. We forced Armenian students to write compositions derogatory to the Armenians. We witnessed government ministers, religious and intellectual leaders, soccer fans and historic society presidents using derogatory terms such as “from Armenian seed,” “Armenian bastards,” “unfortunately Armenian.”  We also witnessed the secret investigation of converted or crypto Armenians since the 1930s to the 1980s.  We saw persons are set free with suspended sentences after sending death threats to the Armenian religious leaders or community newspapers. We saw the most peaceful leader of the Armenian community shot to death from behind, as well as the murderers protected by the state at various levels. We observed the numerous lame excuses brought forward by a country of 70 million people in order not to open borders with a tiny country of 3 million.

Definition of an Event

As we conduct ourselves in such a manner toward a minority and toward a tiny country, do we really think that the world would believe our version of the 1915 events? Forget the world, can we believe ourselves? In my opinion, the word “genocide” is not only a legal term defining the 1915 events, but is also an all-encompassing definition of our behavior toward the Armenian minority, their culture, history, state, diaspora, our denial, exclusion, hatred and animosity toward the Armenians. The level of civilization in a society should be seriously questioned if there is complete indifference or lack of empathy to other people’s griefs. Therefore, I see a lot more benefits than strategic advantages in President Gul’s acceptance of Yerevan’s invitation, including the possible unlocking of 90 years of barriers.

Children of These Lands

The historic Armenian kingdoms stretching from Cilicia to Caucasus were quite advantageous as far as rivers are concerned, but quite the contrary geopolitically. These lands were repeatedly the scene of endless battles and occupation in wars between Rome, its successor Byzantium and Persians and Arabs, resulting in Armenians being massacred, prosecuted and deported. The Cilician Armenian kingdom did achieve its golden age during the 10th and 11th centuries, partially with the support of the Crusaders, maintaining continuous independence for more than three centuries. Although this last kingdom ended in 1375, the Catholicosate of the Armenian Apostolic Church continued to exist in these lands until 1441. After the fall of the kingdom, although some Armenians chose to stay in these lands, others settled in Italy, Russia, Syria and France.

Birth of Nationalism

After 1453, the country of Armenia was split between the Ottoman Empire and the Persian Safavid Empire. The Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror invited the Armenians living in Cilicia, Western Anatolia and Bulgaria to his capital city, and established a policy combining assimilation with recognition of an Armenian millet – “community” in the Empire. Starting from the 17th century, Armenian merchant communities started to appear in various parts of the world. The first nationalist ideologies started to take root at this phase. Armenian dictionaries, literature, history books started to appear, mostly through the efforts of Catholic Mkhitarist religious organizations. The first Armenian printing house and newspaper was established in Madras, India in 1794. Unfortunately, the awakening of Armenian nationalism within the Ottoman Empire had tragic consequences. The failure of implementation of reforms in Anatolia brought clashes between the Armenians and the Ottoman government, resulting in the 1894-1895 Sasun-Urfa and 1909 Adana massacres.

Abandonment of Ottoman Identity

The proclamation of the 1908 Constitutional government in the Ottoman Empire was greeted with enthusiasm by all minorities and the non-Muslims; however, once the non-Muslims realized that the governing Ittihat Terakki Party would continue the Sultan Abdulhamid’s policies of Pan-Islamism and even replace it with a Pan-Turkism, they started moving toward independent nation-state ideals, following European trends. During a Samatya-Istanbul mass meeting before the Balkan Wars, the Finance Minister Cavit Bey stated that “Even if our Armenian citizens have complaints about our government, they are always ready to help the fatherland. I assure you, Armenians cannot be without the Turks, Armenians are the true blood brother of the Turks;” however, the 1912 Balkan War, which started with slogans of “We Ottomans will terrorize the whole world,” “Long live the Army, long live our War,” “Ottomans all the way to the Danube,” “Sofia will be ours, Philippopolis will be ours,” resulted in huge land and people losses and the Ittihat Terakki leaders, mostly originating from the Balkan territories, went into a shock. The participation of a few Caucasian Armenians in the ranks of Bulgarian and Serbian armies started to ring the alarm bells for the Armenians.

The Ottoman Armenians were encouraged by the support and promises of protection by Russia, as well as the weakened state of the Ottoman government after the Balkan War. In a rare state of unity, the Dashnak and Hnchag leaders of the Armenian community sent a letter to the Sadrazam – Prime Minister, demanding the arrest and punishment of the officials and civilians involved in the massacre and plunder of the Armenians in the Eastern Provinces. In the end, on January 8, 1914, the Ittihat Terakki government relented to implement a reform plan for the Eastern Provinces, under pressure from the European powers. Although this reform plan was much needed, it had become a mechanism of manipulating the Ottomans and aligning the interest of the individual European States.

The complete breakdown came about six months later. The Central Committee of the Ittihat Terakki Party sent Bahadin Shakir, Omer Naci and Hilmi Bey to the 8th World Congress of the Tashnag Party in Erzurum, on August 14, 1914. They tried to convince the Armenians to side with the Ottomans against the Russians in the event of a possible conflict, promising Armenian independence. The Armenians refused, sensing positive international sentiment on their side. The Armenian leaders, swollen with nationalistic ideas under the Europeans’ influence, had a plan similar to the one that would shape the nationalistic goals of Mustafa Kemal five years later – to sever the ties with the dilapidated, weakened Ottoman Empire and to found a nation-state.

Zeytun and Van Events

The Ittihat Terakki leaders who had given up on the Ottoman multinational ideology and had adopted the Turkish nationalism principles, had finally realized that there is no hope of getting the Armenians’ support; in fact, they completely understood that the Armenians would pose a big problem for them. Therefore, they started looking for pretexts to force them to leave their lands. The events of Zeytun (Suleymanli district of Kahraman Marash province) happened at this time. According to the Ottoman sources, about 60 draft dodgers had arrived in Zeytun on August 30, 1914, and along with 500-600 other Armenian youngsters, had barricaded themselves in the most secure building in the region, at the St. Mary Monastery. The army had ordered the arrest of these Armenians by Major Hursit Bey, who organized attacks by four army units, two cavalry units and two cannons. The battle of the uneven forces, which lasted all day on March 25, 1915, resulted in 37 dead and 100 wounded by the Armenians, and 8 dead (including the Major) plus 26 wounded by the Turkish army. The Armenian mayor of Zeytun, Sergeant Nazaret was also among the dead and his corpse was brought to Marash to be exhibited.

The Van events followed immediately thereafter. Although the cruel conduct of the young and inexperienced Van Governor, Cevdet Bey, is widely accepted by even the Turkish sources as a trigger for the Armenian revolt in Van, the Armenians helped the surrender of the Van Fort to the Russians in March 1915. These two events initiated the activation of a long prepared Ittihat Terakki plan. First, a large group of Armenian intellectuals from Istanbul were arrested and sent to Ayas and Chankiri, then others followed and eventually the entire Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire was driven toward the Syrian Desert.

We will not go into the details but we can categorically state that these politically initiated deportations were not limited to the Armenians in the “war zone” or only in the Eastern Provinces, but covered all regions of the Ottoman Empire. Contrary to Turkish allegations, there were also deportations from Istanbul and Izmir. Not only nationalistic Armenians were deported, but also all loyal Ottoman subjects. Not only able bodied Armenians were deported, but also newborn babies, the sick and elderly in their deathbeds. Not only the Gregorian-Apostolic Armenians were deported, but also the Catholics and the Protestants. In some regions, the Armenians were given 15 days notice prior to the deportations; in most regions, they were deported immediately, without even being allowed to carry anything other than what they were wearing on themselves.

The toll of these deportations over a period of 17 months was immense. Even Talat Pasha, the architect of the deportations, admitted in his memoirs, “The essentially militaristic prevention project had become a tragedy in the hands of officials with no conscience and no character.” (Talat Pasha Memoirs, published by Alpay Kabacali, Istanbul, Turkiye Is Bankasi Cultural Publications, 2006, p. 72). Acording to the War Crimes Committee formed by the Ottoman Interior Ministry after the war under the direction of Mustafa Arif Deymer, the number of Armenian victims was 800,000 (Vakit newspaper, March 15, 1919). The Army Chief of Staff indicated in a 1928 document that “The Eastern Provinces of Anatolia lost 500,000 Moslems during the war; another 800,000 Armenians and 200,000 Greeks died due to massacres and deportations.” (Hikmet Bayur, Turk Inkilap Tarihi, v. 3, part 4, Ankara, Turk Tarih Kurumu Yayinlari, 1991, page 787). The semi official “state historian,” diplomat Kamuran Gurun significantly discounted these numbers by stating, “Therefore, no matter how we estimate, the number of Armenians that lost their lives due to various reasons does not exceed 300,000.” (Ermeni Dosyasi, page 27).

Formation of Diaspora

The Armenian survivors of the deportations eventually travelled to all four corners of the world. At present there are communities with a population of 2 million in Russia, 800,000 in the USA, 320,000 in Georgia, 350,000 in France, 150,000 in Ukraine, 110,000 in Lebanon, 100,000 in Iran, 80,000 in Syria, 60,000 in Argentina, 60,000 in Turkey, 100,000 in Canada and 60,000 in Australia. There are also smaller communities ranging from 3,000 to 25,000 in England, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Brazil, Sweden, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Holland, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Venezuela, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia and Switzerland. (There are claims of Armenian communities in 60 or even 85 countries). It is estimated that about 5 to 6 million Armenians live in the Diaspora.

In Turkey, the term Armenian Diaspora is automatically and negatively defined as “hated for Turks” or “confrontation.” The word Diaspora is made up of the Greek roots speiro – distributed seeds, and dia – from head to head. The word was first used to describe the Jews driven from Babylon as they were dispersed all over the world, as well as the Greeks’ various colonies. At present, all communities that had to leave their fatherland due to conditions related to war, famine, torture, economics, etc. are defined as “diaspora communities.” It is said that in the future, diasporas will become “a force without a state,” as the history, area and population of diaspora people will be greater than nation-states.  There are more than 150 diaspora groups in the USA alone, and some political scientists have re-named the EU as DiasEuropa.

Regardless of their origins, all diaspora groups have some common characteristics. First of all, they keep memories of the fatherland alive, they create myths around the home and the old country, and they pass these along to the next generation. Secondly, they have a mistrust that their new adopted country will truly accept them, they feel discriminated against, they still feel strong ties toward their first country and therefore, they condition the next generation to return to their home country once the conditions are right. Third, they do their utmost helping the home country. Lastly, in order to keep their ethnic identity until it is time to return to their home country, they organize and maintain events of cultural, historic and artistic heritage. The Armenian Diaspora fully displays all these common traits. It is obvious how much effort is spent by the Armenian Diaspora in maintaining their identity when faced with forces of globalization, which is even wiping out nation-states.

Policies of the Turkish Republic

Even though we cannot decide today how to define the 1915 events as “deportation,” “massacres,” “murders,” “destruction” or “genocide,”  it was not that difficult to talk about these events just when they happened. But after the 1920s it became increasingly impossible to open this subject. Certain people got annoyed when this subject came up. Who were these people? Falih Rifki Atay, who stood by Mustafa Kemal throughout his life, states in his Cankaya book that all those Ottoman officials that the Allies started to investigate and prosecute for the Armenian deportations and war crimes took up arms and joined Kemal’s resistance forces. In fact, “National War Heroes” such as Yenibahceli Sukru, Nail, Deli Halit, Kucuk Kazim, Ipsiz Recep, Dayi Mesut, Kara Aslan, Kel Oglan, Giritli Sevki, Cerkez Ethem, Serezli Parti Pehlivan, Topal Osman, Yahya Kahya are all organizers of Armenian massacres.

What is more, Ottoman officials involved with the Armenian deportations such as Deportation and Immigration General Director Sukru Kaya, Bitlis and Aleppo Member of Parliament Mustafa Abdulhalik Renda, Public Health General Inspector Tevfik Rustu Aras (in charge of mass burial of Armenians), Security Director Ahmet Esta Uras, Van Gendarmerie Commander Kazim Ozalp, Ittihat Terakki Party Aegean Inspector Celal Bayar, have all moved on to hold government posts in the new Turkish Republic, such as member of parliament, governor, minister, security director, speaker of parliament and president. Obviously it is unrealistic to expect these officials to freely talk about or admit to the “1915 events.”

Mustafa Kemal’s Attitude

What was Mustafa Kemal’s opinion about these events, who was also a member of the Ittihat Terakki Party but was pushed to the sidelines by Enver Pasha in the leadership struggle? It is a well accepted fact that Mustafa Kemal himself was not involved in the Armenian deportations. But it is uncertain what he “really” thought about these events. When he was asked about the Armenian massacres by American General Harbord in Sivas in September 1919, he responded that the Armenian massacres and deportations were the action and responsibility of a small committee that controlled the government, and that he himself “criticized and blamed” them. (Rauf Orbay, Rauf Orbay Memoirs, Yakin Tarihimiz Dergisi, v. 3, page 179). In his April 24, 1920 dated speech in the Parliament, he named the 1915 actions against the Armenians as “a shameful act in the past.” (Ataturk’un TBMM Acik ve Gizli Oturumlarindaki Konusmalari, V.1, Ankara Kultur Bakanligi Yayinlari, 1991, page 59).

After General Kazim Karabekir’s 15th Army defeated the Armenians and took back Kars, and after the Armenians gave up all their land claims with the Gumru Treaty dated December 3, 1920, his interpretation about these events changed.  In an interview dated February 21, 1921 to a reporter of Public Ledger – Philadelphia, his response is clear: “World opinion which is indifferent to Great Britain’s wartime and peace time actions in Ireland, cannot find any valid accusation against us for our decisions about the Armenians. Contrary to allegations against us, the deportees have survived and most of them would have returned to their homes, if the Allies had not started another war with us.” (Ataturk’un Milli Dis Politikasi 1919-1923, C.1, Ankara, Kultur Bakanligi Yayinlari, 1981, page 273).

Bury the Past

As we know, the toughest negotiations for the Turkish delegation at the Lausanne Peace Conference were about the subject of trial and prosecution of the officials accused of the Armenian deportations. In fact, the re-opening of this subject was undesirable not only for the Turks, but also for the Allies, who could have been held indirectly responsible. More importantly, the interests of Great Britain and the new Soviet Union coincided in having a strong Turkey acting as a barrier in between. Throughout the discussions, the Armenian deportations were defined as a blot against civilization, their pain and suffering were continuously brought forward but in the end, it was decided to forgive all war crimes committed between August 1, 1914 and November 20, 1922 in a desire to bury the past. What is worse, a whole series of legislation followed preventing the Armenians from returning to their homes.

It was not only the Kemalist elite and government circles who desired to bury the past, but also the Turkish merchant bourgeoisie, which enriched itself on Armenian properties and possessions, many Turks and Moslems who plundered the abandoned Armenian homes or seized Armenian boys and girls, as well as people who moved into the void left over by Armenian craftsmen, tradesmen and businessmen. Therefore, a consensus was formed first to forget about the wrongful actions against the Armenians, and then, to forget about the Armenians themselves.

The Crisis of “The Forty Days on Musa Dagh”

But within ten years, an incident made obvious that the victims’ memory would be different than the perpetrators’ memory. The alarming incident was the news that Prague born Jewish intellectual Franz Werfel’s book, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh (Belge Yayinlari, Istanbul, 2007), would be made into a US movie. Werfel’s novel described the resistance and rescue of a group of 5,000 Armenians near Antakya during the 1915 deportations, who went up the mountain of Musa Dagh under the leadership of Gabriel Bagratyan and fought the Ottoman army until rescued by a passing French warship.

The novel had created real interest when first published in March, 1933 in Vienna, but Turkey did not realize the impact until nine months later. In response to Turkish government and media pressure, Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels prohibited the publication of the book in Germany. However, the book had already become the favourite bedside novel in every German Jewish household. Turkey started to really panic when the book broke all records in the US by selling 35,000 copies in two weeks and when the Viennese publisher convinced Werfel to sell the movie rights for 20,000 dollars to the movie giant MGM. Led by the newspapers Cumhuriyet and Ulus, the media kept printing reports that MGM was a “Jewish company” and that there was an “Armenian-Jewish conspiracy.” In a few days, the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate Council members were forced to give a statement denouncing these developments. A group of Armenians gathered on December 15, 1935 at the Istanbul Pangalti Armenian Church and burnt copies of the book “full of false accusations against the Turkish nation,” while singing the Turkish National Anthem (Rifat N. Bali, Musa’nin Evlatlari Cumhuriyet’in Yurttaslari, Iletisim Yayinlari, Istanbul, 2003, Page 109-140).

When MGM announced in 1936 that they had decided not to pursue going into movie production of this book, Turkey appeared to have won the first “lobby” victory. But this incident made the Turkish statesmen suspicious, defensive and apprehensive toward international opinion, because they started thinking that they would be held accountable if not too careful.

The Yerevan Monument

While the minorities in Turkey were being harassed and weakened by the 1942 Wealth Tax and the 6-7 September 1955 plunder incidents, the Armenian Diaspora communities worldwide started gathering strength economically and politically. Another development was the relationship between Armenia and the Diaspora.  The Tashnags driven out of Soviet Armenia in 1921 had attempted to prevent the influence of Soviet Armenia over the Diaspora Armenians and as a result, most Diaspora communities, especially in Lebanon, Iran and Greece, had become extremely nationalistic in the 1950s. Combined with the worldwide trend of emerging independence movements, the Armenian nationalists in various countries also adopted a new model.

Due to intense pressure by Armenians both within Armenia and outside, the Soviet regime in 1965 allowed for the first time the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1915 events. The mass meetings brought together hundreds of thousands in Yerevan. On April 24, 1967 a Memorial Monument for Genocide – Medz Yeghern – was opened. Prominent Armenian participants in the ceremony included all Armenian Communist Party leaders, the Armenian Catholicos and Patriarchs, World Astronomical Society Chairman Viktor Hampartsumyan, Soviet Atomic Energy Committee Chairman Antranig Bedrosyan and MIG Warplane Company Chief Designer Artem Mikoyan. The spontaneous gathering of 100,000 people outside the State Academy Theatre during the ceremony, with chants of “We want back our lands, our fatherland,” and protests of the Ittihat Terakki Party, surprised and alarmed the Armenian Communist government, and they had to rely on the Armenian Catholicos to calm down the masses. The protests lasted all day in Yerevan, expanding to most side streets. On the same day, hundreds of Armenian university students in Moscow marched on to the Turkish Embassy and lowered its flag (Haig Sarkissian, “50th anniversary of the Turkish Genocide as Observed in Yerevan,” Armenian Review 19, no. 4, Winter 1966, pages 23-28).

Turkish Reaction

The Hurriyet newspaper reported on April 9, 1965: “The April 24 Armenian massacre commemorations organized all over the world with encouragement of the Greeks are being condemned by tens of thousands of our Armenian citizens living in Istanbul. These commemorations appear to be a conspiracy by the Cyprus Foreign Minister Kiprianou and unfortunately, some Armenian groups have unknowingly become instruments of his work. The Turkish Armenians have forgotten the past and at present enjoy a completely happy and peaceful life.”

The interesting aspect of this news item was the attempt to use the Turkish hatred for the Greeks due to the Cyprus issue to mobilize the masses against the new Armenian nationalism. This was a logical tactic because without the benefit of Cyprus as a catalyst, the Turks could not be brought to hate the Armenians, as the Turkish people could not understand the reasons for the Armenian nationalism after decades of conscious attempts to make them forget about the Armenians and their causes. Realizing the extent of the potential threats to the Turkish Armenian community, Armenian leaders including The Armenian Catholic Bishop Bogos Kirecyan, community leader Dr. Garabed Arman, former Senator Berc Turan, Armenian Patriarch Shnork Kalusdyan and Nubar Gulbenkyan – son of Calouste Gulbenkyan, also known as Mr. Five Percent of British American oil companies, decided to have a joint declaration pledging their allegiance and loyalty to the Turkish government. After this declaration, Milliyet newspaper chief editor Refii Cevat Ulunay wrote: “As stated by Ahmet Refik Altinay in his book, the issue is two massacres by two parties, by Ittihat Terakki and by the Tashnags. Nobody, not even historians needs to re-open these issues.” (Rifat Bali, Turk Basininda ve Turk-Ermeni Toplumunda Ermeni Kiyiminin 50th Yildonumunun Yansimalari, Toplumsal Tarih, Mart 2007, No. 159, Page 62-65).

Shock of ASALA

All of Turkey was shocked when Gourgen Yanikian, an elderly Armenian rug merchant who had immigrated from Turkey to the US, assassinated the Turkish Consul in Los Angeles and his assistant in 1973. Although the killings were not political, they inspired future activities of ASALA (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia), which lasted from 1975 to 1985. This organization, which was probably founded in 1972, in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon in cooperation with PLO and PFLP terror groups, had the objective of publicizing the years of Turkish silence and denial of Armenians’ demands and it chose a ruthless method of assassinating Turkish diplomats starting from 1975 in 35 different operations against Turkish embassies and Turkish Air Lines offices. Although it received clandestine support both from Western and Eastern Bloc countries, France withdrew its support in 1983 when French citizens were hurt in the ASALA attack on Turkish Airline offices at the Paris Orly Airport. ASALA wound down when its leader, Agop Agopyan, was murdered and world opinion also turned against it in 1985; however, it achieved its objective of bringing the Armenian Genocide issue to international attention. But it also left a deep mark in Turkish public opinion, with increased hatred of the Western countries as enemies supporting ASALA. In fact, it reinforced the idea that Ittihat Terakki had been right in eliminating the dangerous Armenians.

Another result of the ASALA activities was that the Turkish Foreign Ministry staff, known as the most level headed and experienced public sector employees in Turkey, converted to become the most reactionary and vengeful, as the issue became revenge for personal attacks on its members.

Parliamentary Decisions

Starting from the 1980s, many countries with active Armenian diaspora communities started commemorating April 24 as Genocide Memorial Day, which increased the Turkish paranoia in looking for Armenians behind every negative international decision. Turkey felt cornered when, one by one, many parliaments started recognizing the Armenian Genocide. In such an atmosphere, the Soviet Union broke up and Armenia declared independence on August 25, 1990. Turkey recognized Armenia after one and a half years, on December 16, 1991, but without any active diplomatic relations as the existence of Armenia seemed to be the reincarnation of ghosts which were supposed to be buried. The borders were kept closed, apart from a few short exceptions, in order to prevent any potential warming up relations between the two people. The reasons for not opening the borders were given as Armenia’s non recognition of the 1920 Gumru Treaty, Armenia’s mention of the Genocide in the 11th clause of the 1990 dated constitution, and the existence of Mount Ararat on the state coat of arms. Although Armenian government leaders repeatedly stated that they had no objections to the Gumru Treaty and no land claims, they could not convince the Turkish leaders. In 1992, the Armenian lobby in the US succeeded in limiting US aid to Azerbaijan by amending the Freedom Support Act. This further incensed the Turkish nationalists who regarded the Azeris as their blood brothers. The growing influence of the Armenian lobby within the US Congress and the media increased the Turkish hatred toward the Armenians. The Nagorno-Karabagh issue aggravated the situation even more. But what is Turkey’s involvement with this issue, you may ask? None, except for the ties with brotherly Azeris.

The Nagorno-Karabagh Issue

The Nagorno-Karabagh region, with an area of 4.400 square kilometers, came under Russian control at 1828. At that time the Azeri population was slightly more than the Armenians, but soon after the Armenians started to surpass the Azeris. Especially after 1915, when some Armenian groups deported from the Ottoman Empire also settled here, the Armenian population increased to 80-85 % of the total. A meeting of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia Communist Party leaders was convened on December 1, 1920 to decide the fate of Nagorno-Karabagh. Despite the Azeri leader Nerimanov’s objections, it was decided to annex Karabagh to Armenia. This decision was relayed to Lenin and Stalin by the Russian Caucasus representative Orkhonokidze, and this decision was also published in the December 4, 1920 Pravda state newspaper as a confirmation by Stalin. Based on the Moscow Treaty between Soviet Russia and Turkey a few months later, the region of Nakhichevan was annexed to Azerbaijan as an autonomous region. When the Armenian Tashnags started a revolt in Armenia’s Zangezur region a month later, the Russians divided Zangezur between Armenia and Azerbaijan and in addition, gave Karabagh to Azerbaijan. Zangezur is today Armenia’s border to Iran, the only friendly neighbour, and Azeris still complain that they have lost half of Zangezur because of the Russians.

The Armenian communist leaders and intellectuals gradually started to vocalize their historic arguments and rights on Karabagh and Nakhichevan after 1965. This was also a test of Soviet Russia’s abilities to resolve issues related to nationalism.

The Soviet Supreme Communist Party did not interfere in the arguments between Armenia and Azerbaijan until 1967. But when an Armenian boy was murdered by an Azeri in Karabagh in August 1967, followed by non-punishment of the murderer by the Azeri authorities, the Armenians revolted. The situation could only be calmed down by the Soviet Army moving in. This was followed by the overly enthusiastic greetings in Baku for the Turkish Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel during 19-29 September 1967. These two events were interpreted by the Armenians as signs of negative change in the Soviet Russia and Azerbaijan foreign policies. Azeri historian Ziya Punyatov’s statement that “Karabagh Armenians were originally Azeri Christians who had first became Georgians in the 11th century and then had become Armenians,” created more controversy. This was followed by various Turkish writers claiming that the Soviet Union intended to create a new Israel in Armenia. It became obvious that the Soviets could not resolve nationalistic issues (R.H. Dekmejian, “Soviet-Turkish Relations and Politics in the Armenia SSR,” Soviet Studies 19, no. 4 April, 1968, pages 510-525).

The Armenian leaders were disappointed as these issues were shelved and frozen for the next few decades. When the Eastern Block was about to break down during the years 1987-1991, armed conflicts between Armenians and Azeris resulted in numerous deaths and the seriousness of the situation became apparent. The Azeris murdered Armenians in Sumgait and Baku, while the Armenians committed murders in Khojali. As Armenia occupied Nagorno-Karabagh starting from 1989, nearly 200,000 Azeris became refugees, still living in subhuman conditions in camps in Azerbaijan.

The EU has tried to resolve the situation by using the Minsk Group organization to put pressure on the Armenians. Meanwhile, Turkey, which faces similar ethnic conflict situations, has refused to enter into diplomatic relations with Armenia until this 200-year old conflict is resolved. But many people think that Turkey could facilitate and mediate if it agrees to start relations with Armenia.

The Creation of the “Alleged” Terminology

If we leave the Nagorno-Karabagh issue and return to the taboo subject of the historical Armenian Question,  Taner Akçam’s 1992 book was the first time that the official denial policy could be questioned (Turk Ulusal Kimligi ve Ermeni Sorunu, Iletisim Yayinlari, Istanbul). Although this book did not sell in large numbers, Taner Akçam and subsequent historians and researchers provided documentation that the main objective of the deportations was “to destroy the Armenian ethnic existence,” regardless of the disputed number of victims. According to them, there was a crime of “genocide” and as per international law the numbers were not an issue in proving the crime of genocide. The Turkish state countered that since the term “genocide” was first used in 1944, it could not be used to describe the 1915-1917 events. They also created a strange new terminology defined as “the alleged Armenian genocide,” so that it became impossible to refer to this subject without adding the term “alleged” to the words Armenian genocide.

History Falsification

Next came the revision of numbers. Kamuran Gurun’s number of 300,000 got reduced to 100,000, then to 6,000, and eventually the thesis became that it was the Armenians who had committed genocide against the Turks. When these arguments were based on evidence from massacres committed by Armenians in the Erzurum region returning with the Russian armies in 1916, or by Armenians in the Antep region returning with the French armies in 1919, the masses found them believable without understanding the cause-effect or chronological sequence of events. Next came many monuments erected in various parts of Turkey, in memory of Turks genocidally massacred by the Armenians.

As per Article No. 305 of the Turkish Penal Code, it is a crime to state that “a genocide of Armenians occurred during the First World War.” A conference titled “Ottoman Armenians during the last years of the Ottoman Empire: Responsibility and Democracy Issues,” was organized by Bosphorus University on May 25, 2005, but had to be cancelled after the Justice Minister Cemil Cicek declared that this conference was tantamount to “stabbing Turks in the back.” These examples proved the emptiness of official statements such as “Let us leave the Armenian issue to the historians.” Hrant Dink’s murder also demonstrated the deadly consequences of getting involved with this issue. When and how will we be able to open the 90-year old rusty lock on this issue?

Armenia: Politics Banned in Stadium Amid Turkish Visit

Political signs of any kind – including banners about the Armenian Genocide – will not be allowed in Yerevan’s largest soccer stadium this Saturday where Armenia and Turkey will play for the first time.  Armenia Liberty quotes the chair of Armenia’s Football Federation as saying, “Only football-related placards will be allowed there. A victory for Armenia would send a much stronger message that a few banners.”

Armenia’s nationalist Dashnaktsutyun (ARF) party, in the meantime, has started protesting Turkish president Abdulla Gul’s anticipated visit to Yerevan to watch the game with his Armenian counterpart. 

While Turkey officially denies the Armenian genocide, blockades Armenia and has taken a partisan side in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, many are encouraged by the recent positive developments in the Armenian-Turkish dialogue.

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