While demonizing Turkey, Armenian 'genocide' claims also meant to meet demands of Armenian identity, says expert
By Cagri Kosak
The allegations of a so-called Armenian genocide were made not just to paint Turks and Turkey as villains but also to bolster the Armenians’ sense of identity, according to a political scientist who has studied the issue in-depth.
"Allegations of genocide are not simply thrown about to demonize Turks and Turkey, but rather as a means of meeting the demands of Armenian identity," Brendon J. Cannon, an associate professor at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), told Anadolu Agency on Monday.
Cannon, who wrote a book on the subject, said that the Armenian diaspora has built an identity around their claims about the 1915 events, so much so that they see research into these events as a kind of “denial.”
"The Armenian diaspora’s ideological representations of what occurred in 1915 have attained an unquestioning status,” he explained.
“This is extremely problematic and allows for no compromise in their quest to have the events labeled as a ‘genocide’."
Cannon said that the Armenian diaspora avoid any criticism or research on this topic, as they claim the Armenians were “victimized.”
History for historians
History should be left for historians to research, but the Armenian diaspora doesn't want this, he said.
"Armenians have alleged that the archives in Istanbul are off limits to certain scholars. But even assuming that full archival access is granted, not only Istanbul, but in Berlin, Moscow, Boston, and elsewhere, it is difficult to see how scholarship could sway the Armenian diaspora to abandon their cherished position,” he explained.
“The Armenian diaspora has insisted on nothing short of recognition by Turkey — with all the legal, material and moral ramifications that recognition entails. Because their identity demands this, compromise with Turkey will always be viewed as failure and a betrayal of identity," he added.
Cannon's book Legislating Reality and Politicizing History: Contextualizing Armenian Claims of Genocide has been published in English and German, and there are plans for Turkish, French, and Spanish editions.
Turkey's position on the events of 1915 is that deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1915 occurred after some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in casualties.
Ankara does not accept the alleged "genocide," but acknowledges there were casualties on both sides during World War I.
Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as “genocide” but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to tackle the issue.