ANKARA: April 24

April 24
ERDAL SAFAK

Turkish Press
April 27 2009

SABAH – Another April 24 is now finally at hand, but I believe it will
be the calmest one yet, aside from a few unimportant incidents. More
importantly, the possibility of the US recognizing the genocide claims,
which has been hanging like a sword of Damocles each year and turned
into an immediate threat after Barack Obama was elected president,
is off the table, after Turkey and Armenia stated that they agreed
to a road map towards normalized relations.

(A footnote: Where and when was it decided to make April 24 the day
for commemorating the Armenian genocide claims? In Istanbul in March
1919. At that time, a 13-member committee of prominent Armenian figures
in Istanbul was established. The committee adopted April 11 as the
day of ‘Tears and Commemoration of Genocide Victims.’ April 11 on the
old Julian Calendar is April 24 on the Gregorian Calendar. All the
Armenian shops and schools in Istanbul were closed and ceremonies
were held at churches on the first commemoration in 1919. Later,
April 24 activities were spread all over in the world through the
efforts of the diaspora. In short, April 24 was born in Istanbul in
1919, when Ataturk was getting ready to go to Anatolia).

Returning to our main issue, the risk of the US recognizing the
claims has fallen greatly. The issue was even suspended until a
proposed committee of Turkish, Armenian and other historians reaches
a conclusion. This is a very important development. Yes, genocide
claims have been recognized by more than 20 countries so far, but if
the US did so, this would carry more weight. In other words, Turkey
wouldn’t be able to brush this off by a standard reaction such as
recalling its ambassador for a short period of time, and it would
cause irreparable rifts in bilateral relations.

Former Turkish President Ismet Inonu’s prediction in a 1963 letter
to US President Lyndon Johnson of a new world in which Turkey would
take its place could become true. After the sword of Damocles’
removal, a potential danger in Turkish-US relations and one of two
great hurdles to normalized Turkish-Armenian relations (the other
is Nagorno-Karabakh) has been ended, laying the basis for a calm
and healthy discussion of the Armenian claims (more precisely, the
diaspora claims).

All the parties should make good use of this, because unless this
problem is completely solved, normalized Turkish-Armenian relations
will bring nothing but a cold peace. But the two sides need to have
a lively friendship for the Turkish and Armenian peoples and in order
to bring peace and stability to the Caucasus.

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