The history of the Armenian and Turkish relationship is centuries old. Maybe it can be best characterized by a brutal Turkish Empire that conquered the Armenian lands, and brutally victimized the inhabitants of the land culminating in the 1915 Armenian Genocide, the “Մէծ Եղերն”. A crime of unprecedented scale that was well planned, and brutally executed by the Turkish government of the day. Since then, all successive Turkish Governments have denied the premeditated crime and continued to illegally, and unethically, benefit from the spoils of the crime for over a century.
Hundred years have passed and there are no criminals alive to be tried and punished, and there are no victimized survivors to be vindicated. No doubt that time and successive Turkish governments have erased a lot of hard evidence, but there is ample documented historical evidence, and some archival sources, that can not be denied.
The present reality is that the Turkish government is wasting a lot of its time and money to deny the Armenian Genocide, while still continuing to enjoy the spoils of the crime their ancestors committed. They keep repeating the old and worn-out mantra, with sinister reasoning, “It was not genocide, it was war and Armenians betrayed Turkey, and sided with Russia, and as a consequence, both sides had casualties and suffered during the war”.
For Armenians, there are two realities. First, there is the young and the emerging Republic of Armenia with a fragile cease-fire agreement with Azerbaijan, that could at any time erupt into a full-fledged war. Turkey is supporting Azerbaijan, has closed the border with Armenia, and refusing to establish diplomatic relations, and thus, there could hardly be any meaningful communication between the two Governments.
Second, there is the Armenian Diaspora mostly made of the decedents of the victims of the Armenian Genocide who are engaged anti-Turkish activities like a thorn on the side of Turkey and utilizes every opportunity to vilify Turkey and thus create a negative image of the Turkish people around the world. Their unwavering campaign has managed to make the Armenian Genocide known to the world at large, but without any real progress toward justice for the victims of the Genocide.
Armenians too, keep repeating the old and worn-out mantra that “The Turks are the same murderers and will never change, and they must recognize the Armenian Genocide”. Can a dialogue based on these realities be possible?.
As I said earlier not between the Armenian and Turkish governments till diplomatic relations are established between them. The situation in the Armenian Diaspora(s) is not any better. Diaspora is not a “nation” that could have an official representative body legitimized by the laws of the countries they live in, and empowered through a public vote at the ballot box, that the Turkish Government will recognize and negotiate with. Then dialogue with who?.
Fortunately, dialogue has already been started and is continuing outside of the official governmental circles, between academics, historians, political scientists, journalists, etc., on both sides, and great progress is made during the past decade. Thankfully many Turkish intellectuals have been able to create an awareness in Turkey about their past injustices towards Armenians who lived in Turkey before the Genocide.
The more favorable awareness is created, the more the Turkish government will be obliged to face the reality. Occasionally it has already done so, especially since President Erdogan and his Political Party got in power in Turkey. (See Erdogan’s interview with Chalie Rose on April 27 2014 on PBS)
I think, the time has come for the real patriots, who love their country, their people, and their culture, respect the rights of others to do so, and are brave enough to pursue justice, to come forward in a mutually trusting environment where justice could be pursued fairly. The name of the game is to pursue JUSTICE, and it could be best pursued without vilifying each other and blaming the current Turkish people, and especially the young generation, for the deeds their ancestors committed.
For some this might sound naive, maybe it is, but the failed confrontational mindset of “my way or highway” is not an option anymore. Let us not also dwell on the cliche that “it is easier said than done” although true, it should not be the accepted wisdom that leads us to inaction, and thus, further delay the process to pursue Justice.
Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian