Arab News, Saudi Arabia
March 6 2010
A difficult task
It is a serious matter to accuse any country of genocide, as Turkey
continues to be in relation to the killing of Armenians before and
during World War I.
Genocide is prompted by racial hatred. The Nazis were consumed by
gross anti-Semitism. The Serbs of Bosnia despised their Muslim
neighbors and the Hutus of Rwanda hated the Tutsi people.
The Ottoman Turks never had a policy of racial hatred toward the
Armenians. Indeed, you can visit a cemetery today in the heart of
Istanbul where you will find splendid graves to Armenians who gave
honorable service to the Ottoman Navy and civil service. The Ottoman
Empire certainly discriminated against their non-Muslim minorities but
in that era such discrimination was common throughout Europe.
In the dying days of the Ottoman Empire, when Sultan Mehmed V was
reduced to a figurehead by the `Young Turk’ movement led by Enver
Pasha, Turkey unwisely sided with Germany and Austria and quickly saw
its empire being rolled up by the Allies. Armenian nationalists raised
the standard of rebellion in their heartland in Eastern Turkey around
the city of Van. There was initial killing of Turks and Kurds followed
inevitably by swingeing reprisals, as the Enver government struggled
against military defeat elsewhere. None of this can excuse the
bloodletting that took place. Nor has modern Turkey ever chosen to
point out that many of the massacres of Armenians were carried out by
local Kurds, in part because historically there had always been bad
blood between the two communities.
Horrific though this terrible time was and though the Enver government
was ultimately responsible for what happened, it was almost certainly
not a crime motivated by race hate and therefore not genocide.
Sadly Turkey has been consistently blinkered in its denials, even
sometimes denying that the extensive killings took place. The wealthy
and well-connected members of the Armenian diaspora have done a far
better job of their propaganda against the Turks. The killings
provided a rallying point for a proud and very individual people. A
common salutation among them has been `Next year in Van’.
However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of an
independent Armenia, the need to sustain their national identity in
exile has disappeared. While this tragic period of history will not be
forgotten, it is time it was removed from the modern political agenda.
Under Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has set about normalizing
relations with its Armenian neighbor. It will be a long task, dogged
by suspicions on both sides but it must succeed. Struggling Armenia
desperately needs economic relations with Turkey and Turkey seeks
regional stability as well as new markets.
In this light, the latest vote by the US House of Representatives
Foreign Affairs Committee once again condemning the Turks for an
Armenian genocide is distinctly unhelpful outside interference. The
Armenians and the Turks must resolve their own differences, on their
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress