Beyond 1915: Mutual hopes and reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia
by The Editorial Board
Apr 17, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by The Editorial Board
Apr 17, 2015 12:00 am
On Wednesday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution which states that "the tragic events that took place in 1915-1917 against the Armenians in the territory of the Ottoman Empire represent a genocide." While the Armenian government praised the Parliament's efforts to promote human rights, Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a written statement to reiterate that "we do not take seriously those who adopted this resolution by mutilating history and law." Considering that the debate will presumably remain at the top of the world's political agenda for the next couple of weeks, we would like to call on the governments of Turkey and Armenia, along with the international community, to revive the hope of former Ottoman nations for reconciliation and to promote peace and stability in the region through open dialogue.
In recent years, the Turkish government developed a positively constructive approach to the 1915 events and called for open dialogue regarding the allegations. From the mid-2000s onwards, the public has engaged in a healthy debate about the human cost of World War I. In 2007, the previously abandoned Armenian church on the island of Akdamar re-entered service following a two-year, $1 million restoration project financed by the Ministry of Culture. Last year, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offered his condolences to the Armenian people and called for open dialogue and cooperation between Turkey and Armenia. These efforts, which would have been unthinkable just a decade ago, not only reflected the country's eagerness to build stronger ties with a Caucasian nation but also demonstrated its government's commitment to celebrating the nation's ethnic, religious and cultural diversity by healing old wounds. The country's efforts, however, have been met with nothing more than the petty politicization and greedy exploitation of human suffering.
For decades, the Armenian diaspora in the United States and elsewhere have approached the genocide debate as a means to inflict damage on Turkey's reputation and fuel hatred between the people of Turkey and Armenia. Surely enough, third parties including the U.S. and European Union did not hesitate to facilitate the diaspora's political agenda with no regard for the repercussions of their actions on Turkey's relations with Armenia and, perhaps more importantly, themselves. Instead of promoting rapprochement between the two nations to build a brighter future together, the international community adopted a supposedly punitive approach to use the issue as leverage in their dealings with Turkey. Most recently, the Armenian government bowed to pressures from the genocide industry to withdraw from open dialogue with their Turkish counterparts. The 1915 events have been so carelessly integrated into the diaspora's political agenda that, at this point, the ongoing debate bears striking semblance to the Eurovision song context, where the distribution of votes reflects affinity with participating countries rather than the quality of artists' performances.
Now more than ever, the people of Turkey and Armenia must defend their hopes for peace and reconciliation to honor the memory of generations of Turks and Armenians who lived peacefully for centuries. We hereby call on President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia to act responsibly and lead his nation to a brighter future by working with Turkey and preventing the genocide industry from hijacking dreams of reconciliation, which both nations eagerly await. In light of the most recent developments, the Turkish authorities must not have second thoughts about efforts to rekindle historical ties and promote peace and stability in the Caucasus. We thus call on President Erdoğan and the rest of Turkey's political leadership to maintain their commitment to continue pursuing closer ties with Armenia. Finally, the international community must reconsider their current approach and remember that they, too, stand to benefit from promoting stronger ties between Turkey and Armenia in a troubled region.