Turkish Denialism Of Armenians Continues Even With ExhibitionOrganiz


BRUSSELS, November 18 (Noyan Tapan). The Palace of Fine Arts of
Brussels (Belgium) hosts the exhibition on Turkey entitled “Mothers,
Goddesses and Sultans”, which will last from October 06 2004 to
January 16 2005. According to the Assembly of Armenians of Europe, the
exhibition accounts pieces from the collection of the Topkapi Palace
(Turkey), Louvre, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the museums of
Berlin and the most important museums in Turkey. This exhibition is
organized with the mutual agreement of the prime ministers of Belgium
and Turkey in order to introduce the Belgian and European society
with the cultural values and the history of Turkey and intends to
emphasize the European vocation of Turkey.

The leaflet on the exhibition distributed to the visitors at the
entrance of the Palace of Fine Arts says: “We encounter the peoples,
who have left their traces in Anatolia in the course of 9000 years. The
journey takes us through such renowned cultures as the Hitties, Greek
and Roman antiquity, Byzantium and the Ottomans.” From the first
sight one may find the absence of the Armenians and Armenian culture
in Anatolia very strange, since for centuries the Eastern Anatolia
was the cradle of Armenians and it is also called the Armenian
Plateau[i]. Even during the Ottoman Empire Armenians represented a
sizeable and dynamic part of the ottoman population, particularly in
Istanbul and other urban centre, and their omission in this exhibition
is quite deliberate on the part of the Turkish organizers. But the
most interesting piece of the exhibition is the map of the Ottoman
Empire from 1299 to 1923, without any mention of the Armenians or
Armenian Republic (the first Armenian Republic, 1918 – 1920) and
Greece (independence of Greece recognized by the Ottoman Empire in
1832). No expert or historian would dare to make a single map to
represent such a complex region over for such a long period of time
(1299 – 1923), since the movement of borders has been radical over
the period considered, and at times extremely rapid.

It is very strange to see the name of “Azerbaijan” on the map, while
the names of Armenia and Greece are absent. As reported by Radio
Free Europe, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman called for
Azerbaijan’s (the closest ally of the Republic of Turkey) takeover
of the entire territory of Armenia and removal of the entire Armenian
population from the Caucasus. He went so far as to say, and we quote,
“Within the next 25 years there will exist no state of Armenia in
the South Caucasus.” This inevitably reminds of the intentions of the
perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide. In this context the negationism
of the Armenians is not a simple mistake or lack of professionalism
by the organizers of the exhibition, but has its roots go back into
the beginning of the 20th century – the Armenian Genocide committed by
the Ottoman Empire in 1915. The Armenian Genocide is still denied by
the Republic of Turkey, which also imposes a blockade on the Republic
of Armenia for more than 10 years. Therefore, the radical exclusion
of Armenians from ottoman history is consistent with the genocide
carried out in 1915-1916 and it has been the practice in Turkey since
the establishment of the republic in 1923. The negationism and the
denial of the Armenian Genocide are also reflected in the premeditated
annihilation of Armenian cultural heritage in the territory of the
actual Republic of Turkey.

The Assembly of Armenians of Europe considers such negationist and
revisionist attitude of the Republic of Turkey, aspiring to the EU full
membership unacceptable. We believe that such behaviour destabilizes
the whole region of South Caucasus and impedes the normalization of
Armeno-Turkish relations. Moreover, the extension of this denialist
approach to an exhibition carried out in Belgium, in partnership with
Belgian institutions, is a worrying sign at a moment when Turkey is
pressing to join the European community of values. The Assembly of
Armenians of Europe is sure that this is an attempt of the Turkish
authorities to force their own denialist approach on an unsuspecting
European public.

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