14 10 2007 - Un interessante articolo tratto dal quotidiano turco Zaman sulla questione armena:
| un punto di vista turco e la lettera di un armeno...
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Zaman Op ed: Putting ourselves in the other man's shoes on the 'Armenian question'
Putting ourselves in the other man’s shoes on the ‘Armenian question’ by
What a fascinating but equally unrewarding subject to write on the “Armenian question” is. Everything you say will touch the sensitive nerves and deep-seated emotions of both the Turks and the Armenians.
Neither side will be content with your line of thinking. It is dangerous water into which few people are willing to wade.
Apparently, from the feedback I received in regards to my Oct. 3 op-ed, “How to close the Armenian dossier with a win-win formula,” it appears that bridging the wide gap in the perceptions of “truth” between most Turks and Armenians remains an uphill struggle and will not be an easy task to accomplish for at least two generations. However, I am convinced that the sooner we begin such a process of rapprochement, the better. Otherwise we will continue to live in a constant state of hostility and mistrust, blaming one another and showing no tolerance for those who attempt to show the other side of the story and strive for a historic reconciliation.
With these thoughts in mind and as part of my efforts to contribute to a better understanding of each other side’s thoughts, feelings and “truths,” let me share below, without attribution, as promised, some excerpts from the letters I received from several Armenian readers:
* Your article will be read by Armenians as a threat, and they will not respond by kowtowing. This may not have been your aim, but that is how it will be taken. Unfortunately I used to think the gap could be filled, and I no longer do. I advocated normalization in the 1990s, and have totally given up on it.
Believe me, Armenians -- with a few notable exceptions -- are not a very vindictive people. In my fathers’ papers are the Ottoman deeds to homes in Arapgir, “Polis,” and Izmir. “Justice” would require homelessness for several families living on the plots of land there -- is it “justice” then?
Turkey is too worried about reparations to think through things clearly. I have a home in California; life has compensated us materially. Survivors’ heirs live mostly in wonderful countries like the US, Canada, France, Australia and the like, enjoy high levels of education, and have been able to preserve the identity if not all of its aspects. And there is an Armenian state with the language and the religion preserved as well, all and all, it is not bad.
It is hard to understand how a country of 73 million and a landmass the size of Texas can see itself as a victim -- especially after its imperial history and maltreatment of subject communities. Victim of what: a few self-defense irregulars? The accusation of counter-genocide is not admissible, nor is the accusation of Armenian support for Russia. My family had aghas in service of the Sultan and remained deeply anti-nationalistic until the genocide.
Let us be clear about this, the Ottomans massacred their citizens. Is Turkey the Ottoman Empire? There are only two answers to this question; each has implications that have to be addressed.
* You demand that the reasons for Turkish measures be removed first, before Turkey takes any step towards normalization. In other words, you ask to drop and give away all assets on the mere hope of Turkish good intentions, which were tried, tested and measured in 1909, 1914, 1921 and ... 1942, 1991 (no need to state the details, since you must be well aware of them). You claim that Turkish recognition of the Armenian Genocide may entail other demands. This sounds to me like a borrower saying, “Yes, I owe you, but if I admit it, I may have to pay you.” The criminal, not his son or grandson, has to pay for his crimes. I would like to believe that Humanity abandoned that approach a long time ago.
You resort, in your denial of the genocide, to Ottoman, German and other states’ archives. May I remind you that Ottoman courts, the Bundestag, State department archives and even Mustafa Kemal Ataturk confirmed that fact? What are these archives you mention?
You also refer to the deaths of 157 (according to the first account by Baku authorities) civilians in Khodjaly. Sir, this number may be incorrect. Still, its circumstances can in no way be matched to the Pogroms committed earlier in Baku and Sumgait.
More importantly, I would have urged you to return to the statements given by the then-president of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ayaz Mutalibov, about the true responsibility for the events of Khodjaly, but I am sure that a person with your status and resources must already be aware of them. This leads me to conclude that you choose to ignore them, which in turn brings me back to the very first point, namely, “good intentions?”
* What we want from Turkey is not money or land -- we do not need them. We do need access and we do need recognition, however, because these two things are the guarantee that the evil of 1915 is truly in the past -- otherwise, it will be Russian or Iranian troops, defense treaties, lobbying in the US and elsewhere, and continuous suspicion.
I really cannot understand how Turkey can, on the one hand, dismiss Armenia as unworthy of diplomatic relation yet expect it to participate in a historical commission on demand. The days of Middle East-type bully tactics are gone but not necessarily in Turkey today. To think Turkey is aspiring to join the EU, it just does not add up yet. Hopefully matters will improve as Turkey continues to align with Europe.
Without the pressure generated by the Armenian diaspora Turkey had no incentive to examine the treatment of Armenians. Even now it resists every step of the way. Internal legislation within Turkey reveals the Turkish mindset regarding self-examination. Any concession so far on this matter has been a reaction to events rather than a sincere or genuine interest in the truth.
Constant attempts to paint the Armenian experience at the hands of Turks as being the same as that of the Turks at the hands of Armenians do the Turks no credit. The fact is that what occurred was an attempt to exterminate the Armenians in “Turkish” lands. This was the intention, whether you call it genocide or not. Turkey undoubtedly carries a far greater burden as a result of the events of 1915. Also telling is the fact that 3,000 years of Armenian presence in Anatolia is constantly censored from the historical narrative.
* Internationally, a greater regard is given to the position of Armenia and its unconditional call for diplomatic relations with Turkey. I think Turkey will eventually have to climb down on its many conditions as a result of events beyond its control.
There will be many more “external factors” as time goes on. Turkey’s policy and Armenia’s weakness leave us no other choice. There was an offer from Armenia to normalize during the Levon Ter-Petrosyan years, and your country declined it. A relative of mine, Mr. Jirair Libaridian, was sent to Turkey over 30 times and came back empty-handed.
The bottom line: if we have the blockade, then you must have the diplomatic headaches of genocide recognition -- the two are absolutely linked. If you want Armenian activity concerning the recognition to lessen, you need to remove the blockade.
Bear in mind that the Armenian lobby in America will not give up until there is clear recognition, followed by laws that limit Turkish access to the US. Laws can be made requiring that Turkish officers in US academies be certified to not have served in Cyprus or been involved with paramilitaries. In other words, attempts to punish Armenia for the bill will make things a lot worse for Turkey in America. Even if Turkey carries this round, we will keep coming back until we win.
Concerning motives -- I would like remind you that we just had one of the most moderate Armenians in the world get killed not too long ago. I feel like I am taking a risk even discussing this with you, no matter how honestly and frankly. I feel a lot safer lobbying the US government. Mr. Dink was the best of Christians because he loved his enemies. I had written Etyen Mahçupyan asking him, Dink, and all the remaining Armenians in Turkey to leave, and that was about two years ago.
My family is from Arapgir -- very few survived. I want a memorial for their murder, not revenge. If Turkey continues to confuse the issue, it will be at loggerheads with Armenians for ever -- and it is not a bet Turkey should feel permanently comfortable about.
Also, the threats of war do not sit well with your allies and are likely to provoke a severe Russian response -- remember Shapashnikov’s statements in Dushanbe. Forget about it: There will be no withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh, and both Turkey and Azerbaijan -- and, behind them -- their supporters in London (BP), have to get used to that.
Armenia considers the security of Karabakh pivotal to its own security. The outcome of any future conflict with Azerbaijan will determine whether Armenia will continue to exist or disappear at the hands of Turks. I do not think the outcome will necessarily be your foregone conclusion. The risk to the billions invested by the West will undoubtedly bear down on any military decision by Azerbaijan. Money can be a double-edged sword. Also, I do not believe Georgia has any interest whatsoever in allowing Armenia to disappear to the Turks for it will be next.
* It is very much in Armenia’s interest to diversify access to the world. Yes, access through Turkey will be important but not critical as confirmed by Armenia’s recent growth. Turkey’s hostility and Georgia’s improving infrastructure will not be lost to Armenia.
Russia does not need a border to help Armenia. It will do it by opening a front with Azerbaijan, which it accuses of supporting the Chechens. As for the Iranian Azeris, I am afraid they are Iranians before they are Azeris. You have been eating the fruit of the tree planted by Ziya Gökalp -- and it shows.
I received a long stream of letters, some very frank and constructive, some full of anger and hostility. I have responded to them individually as much as possible and to the best of my abilities. In order to help each other see the other side of the coin, the Armenian letters have been faithfully reflected in the foregoing paragraphs with no comments.
Let’s hope that a similar attitude will also prevail on the side of our Armenian friends, colleagues and neighbors, rather than establishing permanent Turkey-bashing.
* Mehmet Öðütçü is a former Turkish and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) diplomat currently residing in London. He can be contacted at email@example.com