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Turks and Armenians: Is reconciliation possible?

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  • Hovik
    Well it isn't hard to identify the ethnicity of the author before reading the final line of the article now is it?

    This article has several MAJOR defects, inaccuracies, and missed points. Can anyone identify some of these?

    Leave a comment:

  • Hovik
    started a topic Turks and Armenians: Is reconciliation possible?

    Turks and Armenians: Is reconciliation possible?

    The Globe and Mail, Canada
    July 29 2005

    Turks and Armenians: Is reconciliation possible?

    Special to Globe and Mail Update

    On Oct. 3, Turkey will start accession talks for European Union
    membership. These talks will be long and hard because Ankara will
    have to settle, in addition to far-reaching economic, social and
    political reforms, some difficult questions relating to Cyprus, Kurds
    and the Aegean, as well as Armenian claims of genocide in 1915.

    Of all the issues facing Ankara, the most sensitive is the Armenian
    one. Until recently, the Turkish government has taken a narrow
    perspective, saying this matter should be left to historians to
    settle. This is no longer adequate. Realizing this, Ankara is now
    taking cautious steps that may well bring about Turkish-Armenian
    reconciliation. Ankara should be encouraged in this direction.

    The new element is that Ankara wants to normalize its relations with
    Armenia. It has already opened an air corridor between Istanbul and
    Yerevan, and appears willing to open a border gate for movement of
    goods and people.

    But, in return, Ankara has a number of demands of Yerevan. It wishes
    to see: (1) progress in talks with Azerbaijan over the thorny issue
    of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Azeri territory now under Armenian
    occupation; (2) Armenia's endorsement of a joint historical
    commission to settle the dispute over 1915; (3) suspension of
    "genocide" claims pending the work of the proposed joint commission;
    and (4) recognition of current borders and renouncement of implied
    territorial claims by Armenia.

    The Europeans have given initial support to Turkish Prime Minister
    Recep Tayyip Erdogan's proposal for a joint historical commission,
    but the future of Turkish-Armenian relations is indexed to the issue
    of "genocide" claims. This is an exceedingly sensitive matter
    precisely because it is interwoven with national pride and
    self-identity on both sides.

    Modern Turkish identity, as much as the Armenian one, is the product
    of the same historical circumstances. It is a case of competing
    nationalism: the Turkish nation, led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk,
    capping the successful war of independence (1919-23) with the peace
    treaty at Lausanne that replaced the stillborn Sèvres Treaty that
    promised a Greater Armenia in eastern Turkey (an area heavily
    Kurdish, by the way).

    By contrast, the Armenian nation ended up as a tiny country outside
    Turkish borders, and became a victim of the 1917 Bolshevik
    Revolution. Landlocked, next door to Georgia and Azerbaijan, Armenia
    was, until 1991, a country under Soviet occupation. It needs Turkish
    co-operation to open to the rest of the world. It has one of the
    poorest, stagnant economies in the Caucasus, shut out of the pipeline
    from the Azeri capital of Baku to the Turkish port of Ceyhan as a
    result of its adversarial relations with Ankara and Baku.

    Where does the future of Turkish-Armenian relations lie? The
    initiative remains primarily in Ankara's hands. It is the dominant
    regional power and, as it inches toward full EU membership (expected
    around 2015), it must normalize ties with all of its neighbours. The
    main obstacle is division in Turkey itself. Nationalist extremism is
    not only on the side of Armenians or in Turkey's other neighbours.
    There are, sadly, extremists within Turkey as well, some carrying
    influence in high places. Anti-Turkish camps in the EU only serve to
    strengthen these extremist forces.

    Just weeks ago in Istanbul, there was the case of a cancelled
    alternative conference of academics to discuss the history of Ottoman
    Armenians. The justice minister, a member of the nationalist faction
    of the ruling Justice and Development Party and evidently out of step
    with Mr. Erdogan's open-door policy, harshly criticized this academic
    event, obliging the hosting university to drop it. By his action, the
    minister weakened his government's Armenia policy and provided
    ammunition for Turkey's opponents in Europe and beyond.

    This regressive step conflicts with the ideal of Turkey as a full
    democracy, one that respects freedom of speech. Showing intolerance
    for alternative views, whether by academics on the Armenian question
    or by novelists such as Orhan Pamuk on controversial topics, is
    incompatible with the democratic freedoms and rule of law that
    Turkey, as a future EU member, must embrace.

    As far as the Armenian "genocide" claims go, Turkey must stay the
    course outlined by Mr. Erdogan to face history and promote
    reconciliation. Buried in the tragic history of 1915, there is too
    much suffering for Turks and Armenians alike. The way to
    reconciliation is for both sides to acknowledge that too many lives
    were lost in this war period and that the memory of the dead, whether
    Turk or Armenian, deserves respect. The time for mutual mourning has

    Ozay Mehmet is professor emeritus of international affairs at
    Carleton University in Ottawa.