Report: Turkish-Armenians against West's inclusion in 1915 debate

FATIH ŞEMSETTIN IŞIK @semssami
ISTANBUL
Published 29.04.2016 00:08

Both Turks and Armenians are against the West intervening in a solution to the conflict over 1915 events, a recent Public Policy and Democracy Studies report says.

The report, which was co-edited by Aybars Görgülü and Sabiha Şenyücel Gündoğar and titled, "1915 and Beyond: Social Perception in Turkey," includes interviews with 108 participants from both Turkish and Turkish-Armenian communities in eight provinces in May last year.

One of the leading points in the report is the discontent that both communities feel with the West stepping into debates and using of the issue against Turkey.

"Almost every participant said that [the issue] is used by the West as political leverage against Turkey. Having said that, [there is a perception] that the West undermines the debates on the 1915 events with this attitude and it sharpens the debate platform rather than freeing it," the report said.

One participant in the report, said: "The decisions that have been taken in Western parliaments make it difficult for us to talk about this issue and feel for those who suffered. The West instrumentalizes the issue. … I do not want to include myself in the rhetoric of the West."

The report also says that Turkish-Armenian participants also declared their displeasure with this attitude, saying: "Those who say that the West is far away from playing a constructive role express their opinions as saying that ‘third countries use Armenians,' ‘it is used as leverage' and ‘decisions of third-country parliaments do not sound good.' "

Speaking to Daily Sabah at the report's introductory meeting, Gündoğar said both Turkish-Armenians and the Armenian diaspora have no fear of the re-occurrence of 1915-like events, contrary to claims in reports in Western media outlets on each anniversary of the 1915 events.

She also said that the laws in legal systems of several countries in Europe that criminalize the denial of genocide are perceived as outside the freedom of expression.

"Many people who know and study this issue say that this criminalization goes beyond the limits of freedom of expression," she said, adding that it is not strongly supported in Turkey and it is seen as an incomprehensible situation.

The report also indicates that Turkish-Armenians give priority to the opening of the border between Turkey and Armenia, which has been closed for more than 20 years since the beginning of the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, more than to the recognition of the 1915 events as genocide.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's 2014 and 2015 condolence letters are generally acknowledged by society. Erdoğan also released a message on April 24 last week commemorating the lives of Armenians lost in 1915 and offered his condolences to the relatives of those who died during that bitter period of history, which marks the date when some 250 Armenian politicians, intellectuals and community leaders were arrested in Istanbul and deported in 1915.

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