FROM TALAT TO ERDOGAN – THE SAME OLD RACIST GENOCIDAL POLICY
By Edmond Y. Azadian
Ma r 24, 2010
When House Resolution 252 was adopted by the US Foreign Affairs
Committee, and the Swedish Parliament passed the Genocide Resolution,
Turkish leaders realized the domino effect that those political actions
may trigger in the diplomatic world. In fact, Foreign Minister Ahmet
Davutoglu announced that his government would not panic and instead
take measured and calculated responses.
And today although Turkey’s knee-jerk reactions seem to express
confusion, panic and overreaction, they actually are not and Turks,
from the prime minister to the most junior diplomat are reacting in a
calculated and coordinated manner, because they have been expecting
this coming long time ago. And before the genocide issue becomes
an avalanche the Turkish leaders have been resorting to preemptive
We have to see the issues with clear eyes and never allow our emotions
to take over our judgment. Very few statesmen and governments are
motivated by the moral or just aspects of the Armenian Genocide. The
issue has become a convenient political tool to extract concessions
from Turkey, especially when this latter has been waiting at the
gates of Europe, expecting membership in the European Union, against
Many European governments and the European Union itself have
flip-flopped over the years in demanding Genocide Recognition and then
forgetting it until the next opportune time to use it as a condition
against Turkey. We have been on the margins of this political game for
the last 95 years, and perhaps we have to endure it another century
before Turkey comes to terms with its history and justice is restored.
Turkey’s government – and especially Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan – have learned through experience that the best defense is an
offense. Erdogan’s recent threat to deport immigrant Armenians from
Turkey is the thrust of that offensive – in every way – policy. Adding
insult to injury, Erdogan and his cohorts play victim, rather than
perpetrators of Genocide. They are not naive to believe that this
political ploy can have any takers, but they have invested some trust
in its confusing effects. They are convinced that this will bring some
relief from the international pressure or at least temporarily derail
the adoption of Genocide resolutions in many countries’ legislature.
After the American and Swedish moves, similar initiatives have been
taken in Bulgaria and Britain. Regardless of the outcome of these
moves, Turkish leaders foresee the noose tightening around their necks.
On March 16, Erdogan gave an interview to the BBC threatening to expel
"100,000 illegal migrant workers from Armenia. We close our eyes to
their situation, but what am I going to do tomorrow? If necessary,
I will tell them, ‘get out and go to your country.’ They are not my
citizens; I am not obliged to keep them in our country. Too bad that
other people don’t understand our good intentions." Before his "pious"
hypocrisy, Mr. Erdogan has tried to score some points by trying to pit
Armenia against the diaspora, by saying, "Today, Armenia has to take
an important decision and relieve itself from diasporan pressures."
The other point was to intimidate Armenia to compromise its position
on the Karabagh issue.
This deportation threat and actual action has been the core of Turkish
policy towards minorities, from Talat to Tansu Ciller, Ozal and now
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In between, deportations were carried out during
World War II, when the Turkish government imposed the wealth tax on
Jews, Greeks and Armenians, deporting many to Ashkalah labor camps
This policy is not Erdogan’s improvisation. It is also his party’s
policy, advocated publicly by his fellow parliamentarians Sukru
Elekdag, Onoor Oymen and Mrs. Janan Artman, who had accused the prime
minister of being soft on migrant issues, and surprisingly just when
he had blamed previous deportations as "fascistic actions."
Before we come to the impact and reverberations of Erdogan’s blackmail
domestically and worldwide, we better put the record straight.
When former Prime Minister Tansu Ciller had threatened, in her turn,
to deport migrant Armenians, she had given the fantastic figure of
70,000. The fact is that there is a scientific study on the case of
migrant Armenians. According to the Turkish daily Milliyet, Eurasia
Foundation has conducted research, which puts the number of Armenian
migrant workers at 10,000. This research, published a month ago,
shows that 93 percent of the migrants are undocumented. Three percent
renew their visas regularly and 4 percent are married to citizens of
Turkey and are entitled to live in the country legally. Ninety-six
percent of these migrants are women, most of them with professional
degrees but doing menial jobs.
These statistics steal 90 percent of the thunder of Erdogan’s
blackmail, for whatever it’s worth.
The prime minister seems not to be satisfied with his blackmail and he
has resorted to other tactics to confuse the international public, if
there are any naive people left to believe in his forgery of history.
Thus, on the occasion of the Canaccale victory, meaning the Galipoli
campaign of 1915, when Mustafa Kemal scored a victory against the
all-powerful Allies, under most mysterious conditions, Erdogan has
made the following statements: "Armenians in the Ottoman Empire
never faced a genocidal government policy, and on the contrary,
they themselves plotted to exterminate Turks…there is no genocide
in our civilization. Our civilization is the civilization of love,
tolerance and brotherhood."
One can easily surmise that the expulsion of migrant Armenians
symbolizes "love, tolerance and brotherhood."
We notice here that Erdogan turns the tables shamelessly,
without thinking that even the most naive listener can judge for
himself/herself whether an unarmed minority could commit genocide
against the mighty Ottomans who had all the guns in their hand. And had
Armenians killed the Turks, today they would be living in modern-day
Turkey, on their ancestral lands.
Of all people, Deputy Secretary of State Philip Gordon has come to
Erdogan’s rescue by endorsing or minimizing this latter’s preposterous
Erdogan’s aggressive comments have triggered a variety of reactions
in Turkey, some supportive, but most critical to the extent that the
prime minister has resorted to the antiquated ruse of blaming the
media that he was misunderstood.
One of his supporters, not surprisingly, is Defense Minister Vecdi
Gonul. This statesman had bragged in Belgium last year about the
benefit that Turkey enjoyed by deporting Armenians and Greeks during
World War I, concluding in a rhetorical question that "would we
have today’s unified Turkey, had we not deported the minorities at
Mr. Gonul has tried to reinterpret the prime minister’s statement
and then he has gotten into a mishmash of history where he maintains
that Armenians and Turks have lived together "harmoniously," for
a thousand years and then the Russians helped Armenians to occupy
Anatolia and exterminate the Turks. It seems that Turkish leaders
have forgotten at what stage a statesman can become a laughing stock
in the diplomatic community.
But there are sober heads even in Erdogan’s party itself, who have
distanced themselves from the prime minister’s threats. For example,
Nejeeb Taylan, a member of the Justice and Progress Party, and member
of the Foreign Relation Committee has said: "It is a controversial
statement, suitable for political exploitation. Armenia’s situation
is obvious. Many families are sustained by the salaries earned and
sent to Armenia. Deportation can create serious problems. For example,
if Germany treated Turkish migrant workers the same way we would fall
in a difficult situation. I don’t understand why our prime minister
has made that statement."
The Kurdish representative in parliament, Akin Birdal, representing
the Peace and Democracy party, has said that this blackmail raises
the question whether we are returning to 1915.
Newspaper columnist Cenguiz Candar went as far as asking the prime
minister to apologize to the Armenians, to which Erdogan quipped,
"I don’t need to learn humanity from a newsman."
Even pro-Erdogan columnists have criticized his statement. One of them
is Shaheen Alpayn who says he was surprised by the prime minister’s
speech, because he really believed that the present administration
would do what it meant by reducing to zero Turkey’s problems with its
neighbors. The conclusion, in the article, is a sober one, if only
self serving. However, it is important to quote it here to see the
boomerang that Erdogan’s blackmail has created in the Turkish public.
Mr. Alpayn concludes his article:
"Sooner or later, free and civilized Turkey will come face to face
with the tragedy that Ottoman Armenians experienced. That is why the
question always will rise – if there was no intent of extermination,
no genocide, didn’t hundreds of thousands of Armenians die of murder,
starvation and disease? Weren’t they expelled from their own lands?
Neither the Turkish people, nor the Republic of Turkey are responsible
for this calamity. The responsible people were the Ittihadists who
destroyed the Ottoman Empire."
Reviewing all the reactions one can see that the prime minister’s
threat has failed to serve its intended purpose. It rather blew to
his face. Even the Turkish youth have raised their voices portraying
Erdogan in Talat’s image. In an announcement in the name of Turkish
youth, Jeren Kenar has stated: "For 95 years the same government
reflex is an action, extending from Talat to Erdogan."
Addressing his comments to the government, he asks a rhetorically,
"Are you the apologists for Talat and Enver Pashas? We refuse to be
their grandchildren. We want to be the grandchildren of those Turks
who protected Armenians and saved them from massacres."
Although Erdogan’s arrogant statement angered Armenians around the
world, it ironically contributed to Turkey’s domestic discourse,
which eventually will force Turkish leaders to face history’s verdict.