Tag Archives: Armenia

Whatever Happened To Those Armenians?

It is fast approaching a hundred years since the infamous slaughter of Armenians
by forces of the Ottoman Empire, but the people of Turkey refuse to acknowledge any responsibility for the murder of thousands of humans under horrifying conditions. Members of Turkey’s Parliament expressed dismay at the possibility the United States Congress would pass a resolution against the Armenian “genocide” that occurred so very long ago. According to Turkish Parliament Foreign Affairs head, Murat Mercan, to pass such a resolution is an attempt to impose “inappropriate pressure on Turkey.” He warned Americans, “there will be an overwhelming public reaction and outcry.”

Turkish reaction to a Congressional resolution borders on the ludicrous. Congress passes dozens of resolutions each day and most probably there is always someone who doesn’t like a particular resolution. How can any Congressional resolution impose “pressure” on Turkey? Few, if any Americans, even knows if a resolution has been passed and to insist that President Obama intervene comes across as an attempt by Turkey to impose “pressure on the United States.” Let’s have an agreement–we won’t pay any attention to your resolutions and you ignore ours.

Consequence Of Israel Bunker Mentality

The people and government of Israel increasingly have adopted a “bunker mentality” in which their nation retreats within on the assumption the outside world is against Jews and will never cease to demonstrate its hostility. A bunker mentality serves the purpose of reinforcing ideas that we the people of Israel are always correct in blaming outside forces for the problems of the Middle East. Turkey used to be the most important ally Israel possessed in the region, but the disastrous assault in Gaza last year infuriated Turkish leaders and resulted in a growing chilliness toward their former ally. As further evidence, the Turkish military cancelled a joint air exercise with Israel. This decision follows recent signing of treaties by Turkey with Syria and Armenia.

Perhaps, the five million people of Israel can pursue their lives without regard to world opinion. Perhaps, attempting to work cooperatively with others might alter the anti-Israel sentiment that increasing grows in the world. Down in the bunker it gets dark and lonely. How about coming out and testing the waters of peace?

Good News–Turkey And Armenia Talking!

For nearly a hundred years Armenians and Turks have argued about numerous issues and although the two nations did have diplomatic relations for a while they ceased ten years ago. Swiss, Turkish, and Armenian Foreign Ministries have just announced that Turkey and Armenia are prepared to enter into negotiations which could lead towards the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations. At the core of their disagreement is the issue of whether or not Turkish forces engaged in a genocide against Armenians in 1915.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton played a behind the scene role in urging both sides to enter into negotiations. Hopefully, the people of Israel can learn from the decision to enter into legitimate negotiations that even conflict which has endured for generations can still lead to compromise. The past is over, today we have the opportunity to recast the future. Try it Prime Minister Netanyahu, you might find success.

Turkey-Armenia Begin To Talk

Diplomats from Turkey and Armenia have been meeting in Switzerland in an effort to end decades of anger and hate. In a move welcomed by the United States, “the two parties have achieved tangible progress and understanding in this process and they have agreed on a comprehensive framework for the realization of their bilateral relations in a mutually satisfactory manner. In this context, a road-map has been identified.” The two nations do not have diplomatic relations so issuing such a communication reflects a sincere desire on the part of both to get down to the reality of living in the same world and not allowing pain of the past to get in the way of future growth and development. If Israel and Germany can have warm and supportive relations there is no reason why Armenia and Turkey can not heal wounds of the past.

Even as Turkey joined in the announcement, its government recalled the ambassador from Canada because Canada believes Armenians were killed in a manner that suggests genocide. It is time for Turkey to cease getting upset because other nations do not agree with their interpretation of the “incidents” that we believe was mass murder.

Armenian-Turkish Academics Gather For Peace

History has been both a factor to either divide or to unite people, and for a hundred years contrasting views as to what happened to Armenians early in the 20th century has made impossible relations between Armenians and Turks. A group of historians and social scientists from both nations are meeting to discuss the possibility if they can agree on a common explanation whether or not Armenians were subject to a genocide early in the twentieth century. Ironically, the rapprochement between the peoples began when the Turkish president witnessed a football match with an Armenian leader. The academics were brought together by the German Institute for International Cooperation and their task is examining historical materials in the search to uncover an explanation of events which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians.

Turkish law makes it illegal to use words such as “genocide” when referring to the deaths of Armenians so the task of this group is terribly important. The academics are finally coming together aside from political pressure and functioning as historians and social scientists who are trying to uncover the truth. The outcome of their efforts will be published in Armenian, Turkish, and English versions.

Ergil Neyzi Adanir said it clearly, “we are two peoples who have lived together for centuries,” and he raised valid questions of why has their historic relationship ended in hatred and bitter anger and how can academics undo the divisions that were created in the past.

Soccer Diplomacy Between Turkey And Armenia

A hundred years of hate and conflict separate people in Turkey and Armenia, but the cold winds of anger may have been blown away because two leaders sat down in a stadium to watch a soccer match between teams from their nations. Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Turkish President Gul enjoyed a friendly afternoon at a soccer match and began the process of peace and reconciliation between their nations. Both men are committed that future generations will not have to live in fear and hate because they intend to find a way to achieve peace between the two peoples. “I believe my visit has demolished a psychological barrier in the Caucasus,” said President Gul. Both men promised to work together to normalize relations between their nations.

The leaders avoided any discussion of the genocide committed against Armenians a hundred years ago and focused on issues of today. Ironically, Turkey was among the first nations to recognize the independent nation of Armenia, but the legacy of the genocide proved too strong for a reciprocal feeling.

Perhaps, it is time for a commission of scholars from both nations to develop educational materials that deal with the genocide just as German educators have created numerous educational lessons for teaching about the Holocaust. If German and French educators can jointly work on new versions of the origin of World War I, certainly Armenian and Turkish educators can work on their past relationships.

Turkey And Armenia Seek Good Relations

The animosity between Turkey and Armenia is rooted in events of the past, particularly the genocide committed against Armenian people in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Turkey has relied on the process of historical denial to confront a terrible event in its past, but President Abdullah Gul has decided it is time to reach out to the Armenians. Neither nation has diplomatic relations with the other, but Gul will go to Yerevan in hopes of beginning the process of normalization of relations. Armenian President Serge Sarkisian’s invitation to Gul to watch a football game on Saturday was a gesture of good will that is being reciprocated.

Recent Russian moves in the Caucasus may be a factor that has made even more important the need for Armenia and Turkey to come closer together. Both leaders undoubtedly will discuss maters other than football players and hopefully, the visit is a first step in resolving ancient angers and disputes. The presence of a powerful Russia in the Caucasus region increases the need for other nations to work in a collaborative manner.

Turkey To Amend Law Forbidding Insulting Turkey

Turkey is preparing to amend the notorious Article 301 law which makes it illegal to insult or denigrate the Turkish nation and can land those who do so in jail for up to three years. Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said his government would shortly be submitting an amendment to Article 301 to end the current ban on making insulting remarks about Turkey. His comment came shortly after the European Union issued its annual report which raised questions about Article 301. “It is not acceptable that writers, journalists, academics, and others… are prosecuted for simply expressing a critical, but completely non violent opinion.”

Article 3012 has been used to prosecute writers and journalists who have made statements about the genocide against Armenians. Ending this type of restriction on free speech will assist Turkey in moving forward regarding dealing with its past history.

China Protests Dalai Lama Medal Award

China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi summoned US Ambassador Clark Randt to make an official protest against the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama. Geoge Bush is the first sitting president to meet the exiled Tibetan leader. Jiechi argued talking with or giving awards to the Dalai Lama is interference in the internal affairs of China. He regards the Dalai Lama as a “secessionist” who uses religion to mask his political goals.

The Dalai Lama is more than a Tibetan because his exile has made him an international figure who has become involved in dealing with human rights issues throughout the world. Most probably, he will never return to his beloved Tibet and neither will the people of that country soon gain their independence. For many people, the caring and love and lack of anger so characteristic of the Dalai Lama is an inspiration.

I am somewhat confused about the Bush visit even though I think it was a wonderful gesture. President Bush has been complaining for weeks about the Democratic Party insulting our dear ally and friend, Turkey, by passing the Armenian genocide resolution, but he believes it is OK to insult China. Is the president once again demonstrating the incoherence of his foreign policy?

Turkish Political Leaders Angry At American Jews

The vote by members of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee underlined the failure of Turkish political leaders to influence American Jewish politicians. Seven of eight Jews on the committee voted in favor of the resolution including Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor serving in Congress. Turkish politicians had hoped he would oppose the resolution particularly after his statement: “We have to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people and to condemn the historic nightmare through the use of the word ‘genocide’ against the risks that it would cause young men and women in the uniform of the United States armed forces to pay an even higher price (in Iraq and Afghanistan) than they are currently paying.” Turkish politicians were shocked when Lantos voted for the resolution. According to Egeman Bagis, advisor to Prime Minister Erdogan, “we have seen that his understanding of history is changing in time.”

Many American Jews, including Tom Lantos, believe anything less than support for Armenians is, in effect, a denial of what the Holocaust has taught humanity about remaining silent in the presence of evil. The resolution is aimed at the Ottoman empire, not the nation of Turkey. Frankly, the reaction of Turks to the resolution surprises many Americans. The American Congress voted an apology for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II in order to recognize an injustice. That vote, in no way, was meant to insult contemporary Americans, it simply recognized a past act of evil. Congress has voted an apology for slavery, that resolution did not blame or castigate contemporary Americans for what happened in the past. It is insulting to American Jews for Turkish political leaders to threaten action against Israel for the votes of American Jewish congressmen. Americans expect their representatives to vote based on their conscience, not what is good or bad for Israel or what pleases Turkey. The bullying behavior of Turkish politicians will only damage their own country because it is alienating millions of Americans. How would Turkish people react if American politicians made threats to members of their parliament if they didn’t vote in a manner pleasing to America?