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Erdogan's Adviser Bagis Sends Letter To U.S. Legislators

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  • Erdogan's Adviser Bagis Sends Letter To U.S. Legislators

    Erdogan's Adviser Bagis Sends Letter To U.S. Legislators

    Turkish Press
    July 17 2005

    ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's foreign policy
    adviser Egemen Bagis has sent a letter to members of the U.S. House
    of Representatives.

    In his letter, Bagis stressed that good relations with the United
    States constituted as a basic principle of Turkey's foreign policy.

    Noting that as allies and partners, Turkey and the United States had a
    long-standing and robust strategic cooperation on regional and global
    issues, Bagis wrote, "our cooperation is driven by our shared vision
    and by our joint interests, based on deep-rooted common values."

    Bagis indicated, "given the current regional and global challenges,
    Turkish-US relations are more important than ever. Our relations are
    based on strong foundations and we are mutually determined against
    multi-dimensional threats."

    The letter continues, "as Chairman of the Turkish-U.S. Inter
    Parliamentarian Friendship Caucus of the Turkish Grand National
    Assembly, it is my duty to uphold the strong ties between our
    countries. Similarly, it is my responsibility to act against threats
    that may hurt our relations, disrupt our friendly ties and that may
    unnecessarily enrage the Turkish public opinion against our good
    ally, the USA. It is with this sense of duty that I am addressing
    this letter to you on a matter which is of great sensitivity to the
    Turkish people and of importance to our relations."

    "We understand some members of the U.S. Congress have submitted
    two similar draft resolutions. (H. Res. 316 introduced on June 14,
    2005 and H. Res. 195 introduced on June 29, 2005) This has caused
    great disappointment and concern in Turkey. The draft resolutions as
    they stand contain misinformation, baseless allegations, and false
    accusations against my country," wrote Bagis in his letter.


    Bagis indicated, "it also misrepresents a controversial chapter
    of Turkish-Armenian relations at a time when our government, led by
    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is taking positive steps towards
    our neighbor Armenia. Tragic events of 1915 were triggered by a
    terrible political miscalculation of the Armenian citizens of the
    Ottoman Empire. Encouraged by the Czarist Russia's imperial policy of
    capturing Anatolia and reaching the warm waters of the Mediterranean,
    Ottoman Armenians allowed themselves to serve as the fifth column
    of Russia in Turkey. As a result they rebelled against the central
    government, triggered a civil war and paid a terrible price."


    Bagis went on saying, "the events of 1915 cannot be labeled as
    'genocide'. Primarily, such a liberal usage of this terrible word is
    an insult to Holocaust, which is the gravest crime against humanity.
    Turkey has always maintained that parliaments and other political
    fora are the most inappropriate venues to discuss and pass judgments
    on controversial historic periods. History is a discipline that
    should be left to the historians. In order to shed light on this
    controversial historic issue, the Turkish Government has opened
    all its archives to researchers. Furthermore, Prime Minister Recep
    Tayyip Erdogan has proposed the establishment of a study group of
    Turkish and Armenian historians to work study together on the events
    of 1915. The proposal not only covers the archives of Turkey and
    Armenia but also requires unbiased research in the archives of all
    relevant countries, including Russia. Then the plan is to share the
    conclusions with the international public. Prime Minister Erdogan's
    proposal was much appreciated and supported by President Bush."

    "Genocide is the most vicious crime against humanity. Accusing a
    nation with genocide is a very serious act. Any such act comes with a
    responsibility to prove such an accusation and rest it on historical
    facts and international legality. We do not wish the U.S. Congress
    running a judgment based on one-sided allegations," stated Bagis.


    Bagis went on saying, "Turks and Armenians have lived in peace for
    over eight centuries in Anatolia. The Armenian community, dispersed
    throughout the Ottoman territories lived as loyal and, in certain
    aspects, as privileged citizens of the Ottoman Empire. They served
    as ministers, generals, ambassadors, governors, commercial envoys and
    in similar other capacities. They were not subject to discrimination
    in any shape or form."

    The letter continued, "towards the end of the 19th century, the 'Great
    Powers' of the time began regarding the Armenians as an important tool
    of manipulation against the Ottomans. Their aim was to accelerate the
    destruction of the Ottoman Empire. These powers promised the Armenians
    a state in Eastern Anatolia where paradoxically the Armenian citizens
    were only a minority. As a result of the provocations of 'Great
    Powers', various Armenian bands began to organize from the 1880s and
    onwards. These armed militia staged rebellions in various provinces
    and launched an ethnic cleansing campaign. They were trying to force
    mass immigration of the local population and to alter the demographic
    structure these regions. Their methods were massacres and harassment
    of the Turks and other Muslims. The start of World War I and the
    entry of the Ottoman state into the War against the Allied Powers
    was seen as a great opportunity by the extremist Armenians. They
    revolted and collaborated with the invading Russian army and
    other foreign forces. As a fifth column of the Russian occupation,
    Armenian bandits attacked the Ottoman troops and disrupted the supply
    routes. Under these circumstances, the Ottoman government informed
    the Armenian Patriarch, Armenian Members of Parliament and other
    prominent Armenians that if these activities were to continue, the
    government would have to take defensive measures. Armenian activities,
    however, continued unabated. In the face of these enormous internal
    and external threats, the Ottoman Government, in May 1915 resorted
    to a defensive internal security measure, which any country facing
    a similar situation would take. Again, the Ottoman government was
    facing an armed rebellion by its own citizens who happened to be
    members of a certain ethnic group and they were collaborating with
    a foreign belligerent. The Ottoman government adopted the Relocation
    Law to transfer its Armenian citizens living in the war zone to the
    southern territories of the Empire. The Armenian citizens had been
    informed well advance about this decision and their transfer started
    after necessary preparations. Meanwhile, Armenian citizens living
    outside the war zone were excluded from this resettlement process.
    Thus, some 200,000 Armenian citizens living in Istanbul, Edirne,
    Kutahya, Aydin and Izmir were not affected. The law in question
    envisaged every precaution to ensure the security of the Armenian
    citizens during the transfer, first and foremost, the safety of their
    lives and protection of their assets. The Ottoman central government
    instructed the local authorities to take the necessary security and
    other measures for the orderly relocation of the Armenian citizens."

    "Relevant documents about these circulars are available in the Ottoman
    archives. Despite these measures, war conditions, and local ethnic
    animosities prompted attacks against the Armenian convoys during the
    transfer process. Due to the limitations of the ongoing World War I,
    lack of food supplies and other relief material, as well as harsh
    climate and epidemics took their toll on the population. The relocation
    was suspended in November 1915. In early 1916 it was brought to an
    end. After the war the Ottoman Government issued a decree, allowing
    the previously relocated Armenian citizens return to their places of
    origin. According to a report prepared by the Armenian Patriarchate,
    -and this document is the U.S. archives- 644,900 Armenians returned
    to their places of origin, as a result. In the meantime, some 1,390
    people were tried in Ottoman courts for attacking the Armenian convoys
    and for related criminal acts. Many were convicted, some with death
    penalty. At this point, we need to ask: If the Ottoman government had
    intended to annihilate its Armenian citizens, why would it prosecute
    civilians and officials for mistreatment of Armenian convoys and why
    would it later allow the Armenians to return to their towns?"

    "According to 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of
    the Crime of Genocide only a competent tribunal can determine whether
    genocide is committed or not. As underlined by the same Convention,
    the tribunal in charge is either the tribunal of the State in the
    territories of which the act was committed or an international penal
    tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to those Contracting
    Parties which have accepted its jurisdiction. 1948 UN Convention does
    not grant any competence to national or international parliaments
    for the recognition or affirmation of the crime of genocide. Since
    so far Armenian genocide claims have never been ascertained in any
    competent court ruling it would be highly erroneous to talk about an
    international recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide. Again,
    the abovementioned attributions to the UN documents are a poor attempt
    to add some air of legitimacy to the unfounded, biased and one-sided
    allegations. Again, if a tragedy took place in Eastern Anatolia in
    1915, it was due to a tragic political miscalculation by a certain
    ethnic group against the central government. The result was a civil
    war which should be analyzed by historians and not by legislators,"
    wrote Bagis.

    Bagis added, "I hope my letter will create another opportunity for
    you to reexamine the content of the draft resolution H. Res. 316 from
    a wider perspective. That perspective is the Turkish-US relations.
    The adoption of these resolutions would not facilitate our efforts
    to improve Turkish-Armenian relations since the Armenian Government
    and Diaspora will feel further encouraged in pursing the policy of
    making political gains on this disputed period of history."
    [url][/url] - [COLOR="Red"]Armenian[/COLOR] [COLOR="Blue"]Genealogy[/COLOR] [COLOR="Orange"]Forum[/COLOR]