June 23 2005
How should Turkey face genocide charges?
23/06/2005 Bianet.org – By Tolga Korkut
Academics urge the government prepare “facing the past” vis-a-vis
“Armenian Genocide” charges in the Ottoman Empire. Macar advises the
state give up denial, while Caglar points to the fact that Turkey
needs to consider international community.
BIA (Istanbul) – As Turkish leaders angrily rebuff the recent German
Parliament decision calling Turkey recognize `Armenian Genocide’ in
1915, political scientists Prof. Baskin Oran of the Ankara University
and Associate Prof. Elcin Macar of the Yildiz Technical University,
are of the opinion that German parliament’s is a political call,
which bears no legal obligation for the Turkish Republic.
According to Turkish academics the main question here is: What does
it mean for the Turkish Republic to take historic responsibility for
the 1915 Armenian expulsion.
However Prof Bakir Caglar of Istanbul University is of the opinion
that `recognition of genocide’ would bring in its wake certain `legal
responsibilities’ for Turkey.
Facing the past
Recalling refusals and threats by the government directed at
academics who urge for an open discussion of the issue, Turkey has to
stop preventing public discussions on the Armenian problem, Macar,
“The state has to give up claiming that such a thing never happened,
embracing this as the official argument, and being a side in the
discussion,’ said Macar. `If you are for leaving the issue to
historians, then you should really leave it to historians. You can’t
`Saying that `we have opened the archives’ means `let us look into
the truth because we don’t know the truth.’ But the Turkish state is
continuing to act as if it knows the truth,’ said Macar.
The German parliament has made the following calls on the German
* The German government should help the Turkish Grand National
Turkish government and the Turkish society to face its past,
* It should help set up a commission of Turkish and Armenian
* It should have the archives, which were sent from Germany to
opened to public,
* It should demand that the canceled Armenian conference takes place,
* It should contribute to the normalization of relations between
Oran: How can members of the `deep state’ in 1915 be defended?
Baskin Oran of Ankara University argues that the `individuals, not
institutions or states, are responsible for the genocide.’
Oran underlined the fact that the Turkish Republic is the state which
demolished the Ottoman Empire: `The Turkish Republic has not taken
upon itself anything of the Ottoman Empire, except for the `Duyun-u
Umumiye, the public debt owed by the Empire to individuals. And it
was normal for the Republic to take that debt upon itself. For,
otherwise it would have remained outside the international system.’
`I don’t understand why the Republic of Turkey, who has crushed the
Ottoman Empire, is now coming into the defense of the `Teskilati
Mahsusa’ (Special Forces) henchmen of the `deep state’ of 1915, and
the deep state itself,’ said Oran. `The Republic of Turkey has no
According to Elcin Macar, Turks may apologize for the deportation of
Armenians in 1915 and express that this was a mistake of their
`If Turkey apologizes, it would be in the form of: `We apologize for
what our ancestors have done,” said Macar.
According to Oran however, the state must first apologize to the
`If the Republic of Turkey is going to apologize, it should first
apologize to the Turkish public,’ said Oran. `For having masked the
issue for all these decades, for not discussing it, and for banning
International law issues
According to Prof. Bakir Caglar of the Political Sciences Department
of Istanbul University, settling accounts with the past isn’t
something that can be done on one’s own. `This can only be possible
through means and groundwork of international law,’ said Caglar.
Caglar said in the face of increasing number of parliament decisions
across Europe the issue gains three dimensions in terms of
* The recognition of the genocide becoming a legal responsibility.
* The issue of insurance: The international companies that assumed
the insurances of Armenian property are still operational. The legal
procedure on the issue is continuing in the United States.
*Property in land: It is certain that real estate belonging to
Armenians were seized. This is a legal problem for Turkey. (TK)
BIA News Centre