On The Modern Tendencies In The "Armenian Policy" Of Turkey

Ruben Melkonyan


Turkish political machinery periodically adjusts its “Armenian policy”
but its essence still remains the same. The ongoing developments come
to prove that Turkey tries to use in regard to Armenia and Armeniacy
new tactical methods.

Struggle against the international recognition of the Armenian
Genocide It is not a secret that there is an organization in
Turkey which elaborates and implements the policy directed against
the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. However,
it should be stated that the unvaried policy, which has lasted for
decades, has not always been efficient, which makes Turkish political
machinery enter some amendments into its activity.

But this does not mean that Turkey is going to abandon its old methods
of struggle against the international recognition of the Genocide
and those methods are used, though with less intensity. Every year in
the period prior to April 24 the delegations of Turkish diplomats are
sent to different countries purposing to prevent the usage of terms
or acceptance of formulations undesirable for Turkey; high-ranking
Turkish officials, diplomats make blackmail or sometimes even rude
statements addressed to other states. Alongside, Turkey allots serious
financial means to different hireling historians who publish books,
articles and etc. denying the Armenian Genocide.

Recently Turkey, taking into consideration the processes in the world
and in the country, has been tending alongside with the old “crude”
method to elaborate and implement more delicate and flexible policy,
which is very often “concealed” by the “pro-Armenian” events. At
the same time let us state that some kind of shift is taking place
in the consciousness of some individuals in the Turkish society
concerning the fact of the Armenian Genocide, which, however,
is tried to be directed and coordinated by the Turkish political
machinery in the advantageous way. In particular, “We apologize”
initiative, which was started at the end of 2008 by a group of
representatives of Turkish intelligentsia, raised hell. It stated:
“My conscience does not accept indifference and denial of the Mets
Eghern, which was perpetrated in regard to the Ottoman Armenians in
1915. I disclaim this injustice and apologize”. This initiative has
also transformed into the Internet drive for signatures, which over
the short term included about 30 thousand people. Of course this
was an unprecedented event for Turkey but, however, after a time it
was politicized and even today it still remains (not so explicitly)
in the arsenal of the Turkish political machinery. In particular,
alongside with a broad resonance on this event the Turkish Foreign
Ministry began presenting to the parliaments of different countries
the argumentations on inexpediency of the resolutions on the Armenian
Genocide, referring to the fact that in Turkey a movement on facing
a history had been initiated and adopting of resolutions may impede it.

Of course most of the people who signed the resolution are sincere in
their intentions and they share the pain of the Armenians but, at the
same time, other circumstances should also be mentioned. First of all
one of the main organizers of “We apologize” initiative, the Turkish
essayist Baskin Oran in response to the allegation in his address
stated: “The authorities of Turkey must pray for our initiative, as due
to it the adoption of the resolutions on the Genocide has stopped all
over the world”. Another representative of intelligentsia Yavuz Bingol
who has also joined the initiative, removed the brackets stating: “We
did not use the word “genocide” in the text, and I will never recognize
that a genocide was perpetrated in 1915. This event was arranged to
remove this issue from the international agenda. I joined it to put
an end in this issue and I apologized. It is not hard to apologize”.

Another important issue is that those who apologized are vigorous
opponents of any kind of compensations and even in public statements
they state that there can be no financial or territorial compensation
for 1915. At most Turkey may apologize and thus “the issue must
be settled”.

The aforementioned developments fall within the programmes of the
Turkish authorities and that is why such events take place without any
obstacles and this cannot be a casual in the country where even the
most innocuous protest action can be severely suppressed. It means
that all this is taking place by approbation of the authorities and
is directed by them; it is not a mere chance that the oppositional
initiators of those events have rather good connections in the
higher echelons of the power. With the help of such initiatives the
Turkish authorities also release a tension present in some strata
of the society, which is conditioned by the disagreement with the
state approach on this issue. And the most important is that on the
international arena the image of Turkey is changing and all this is
done mostly with the help of the “court oppositionists”.

While speaking about the changes taking place in definite strata
of Turkish society in regard to the issue of the Armenian Genocide,
different events arranged in the memory of the victims on April 24
in different towns in Turkey should also be mentioned. They are of
course remarkable and important, but it should also be taken into
consideration that the number of their participants in Turkey which
has a population of 75 million is almost unnoticed. E.g. on the event
on April 24, 2011 only 300 people gather on the central square Taksim
in Istanbul and during the conversation with one of the organizers he
said that there could have been about 2000 people but for the fear,
i.e. this is the maximum number. It should also be mentioned the
majority of the participants are people with the leftist or centrist
political views for whom not the national issues but the violation
of human rights or other general formulations make the point.

So comparing the facts, we can mention that today in Turkey the change
of the consciousness in regard to the Armenian Genocide is taking place
not in the broad strata of the society but in a small group of people,
which does not make a serious picture in a sense of percentage. All
these come to prove that Turkey is seriously preparing to the 100th
anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and the high-ranking
officials openly speak about that.

At the same time it should be mentioned that the Armenian party can
also win some dividends from the initiated process. E.g. alongside with
the process of “changes” in Turkey a serious leakage of information can
be observed, books and facts, which has been concealed, are published
now. Our purpose is to take advantage of them through filtering.

In the struggle against the international recognition of the Armenian
Genocide today the issue of driving a wedge between Armenia and
Diaspora is acquiring an important place on the political agenda in
Turkey. In particular Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu
charged his ambassadors in different countries to work closely with
the Armenian organizations of Diaspora, even to be present at the
anti-Turkish events and try to promote Turkish theses, and, which is
the most important, to attempt to drive a wedge between Armenia and
Diaspora. Alongside with the behind-the-scenes measures Turkey also
implements public actions and the latest of them was the statement
of Erdogan at the spring session of PACE that Armenia was afraid of
Diaspora and that was the reason it implemented such a tough policy
in regard to Turkey. By the way, such statements of Erdogan are not a
new phenomenon: previously he stated that Armenia was a hostage of the
Diaspora. Applying the methods of disinformation Turkey attempts to
create artificial problems and barriers between Armenia and Diaspora.

But it is sad that disinformation or lie from the Turkish press is very
often simply translated and appears in the Armenian mass media without
any filtration and in fact we fall in the Turkish information trap.

“Stable growth” of Armenophobia in Turkey There are numerous facts
witnessing growing anti-Armenian moods, and it is natural that
those moods play a determining role in the political processes
too. According to the result of the recent public opinion polls, 73%
of population of Turkey thinks extremely badly about Armenians. Despite
the aforementioned superficial changes, today chauvinist hysteria,
which can be observed in different spheres of public and political
life, predominates in Turkey.

On April 24, 2011 in one of the military units stationed nearby
Sasun province, the Armenian soldier Sevak Balikcin was killed. At
once the official viewpoint that Sevak was killed by recklessness
by other soldier was spread. But according to the other sources the
Turk soldier who killed the Armenian was a member of the youth wing
of radical nationalist group “Grey Wolves”, and most probably Sevak
was another victim of pan-Turkists.

The upcoming parliamentary elections in Turkey make political figures
toughen chauvinist rhetoric directed to increasing their authority
among the electorate. In this very context the fact that none of the
political party included candidates of the Armenian origin in its
lists should be considered. Let us remind that the possibility of
including Armenian candidates in those lists had been a subject for
discussion for quite a long time but a high level of Armenophobia
in Turkish society made the political powers abstain from the step,
which would directly affect their authority during the elections.

Recently the monument, which was placed in Kars and symbolized the
so-called Armenian-Turkish friendship, has appeared in the spotlight
of international mass media and political figures. The prime-minister
Erdogan called this monument awful during his electoral campaign and
ordered to dismantle it. It should be mentioned that before this
scandalous statement this monument was not widely known, and the
prime-minister, bringing fame to it, made it a tool of political
technologies. Criticizing the monument symbolizing the so-called
Armenian-Turkish friendship Erdogan satisfied the chauvinist moods
of the Azerbaijanis living in Kars region. The point is that on the
eve of the parliamentary elections the ruling Justice and Development
party fights for attracting electorate of the Nationalist Movement
party, i.e. it has to include in its campaign obviously chauvinist
shades. It can be stated that the chauvinist shade to the JDP campaign
was attached by the ballyhoo caused by this monument.

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