ARMENIANS and TURKS Part 4

Armenian and Turkish governments are currently in the process of normalizing their diplomatic relations. Some Armenians both in Armenia and Diaspora(s) are blaming the Armenian government for negotiating without Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Medz Yeghern, and the territorial demands.

The times are very volatile. We are still at war with Azerbaijan and there is no time for partisan politics. It is time to unite behind the current government of Armenia that was elected less than a year ago in a fair and free election. (Maybe we should learn from Ukraine where the Ukrainians are supporting their government to stop the brutal attacks of invading the Russian army that is killing thousands of soldiers, and civilians, and causing mass destruction to the country).

Vladimir Putin’s large-scale invasion of Ukrain most probably will embolden the corrupt dictator of Azerbaijan to be even more aggressive which will lead to more border clashes and deaths and thus make the negotiations even more difficult.

But the negotiations for peace must go on not only with Turkey and Azerbaijan but also with other neighbors as well. Needless to say, we are destined to live in the region, and peace with our neighbors is a necessity not only for us but for everyone in the region as well.

It is also time for Armenian intellectuals to “step up to the plate” so to speak, to help create a positive atmosphere where partisan politics will subside at least till there is a more favorable political condition not only in Armenia but also in the whole region as well.

I wrote 3-part “Monologues” titled ARMENIANS and TURKS dated Jan. 14 – 18 – 20 – 2016 that covered the issues that were as relevant then as they are today but I think then the timing and the circumstances were more favorable for us than they are now.

Here is in part (with a few modifications) what I wrote over 6 years ago.

From Part 1 dated Jan. 14, 2016

The history of the Armenian and Turkish relationship is centuries old. The brutal Ottoman Empire conquered the Armenian lands, and viciously killed and victimized the Armenian inhabitants of the land which culminated in the 1915 Armenian Genocide “Մէծ Եղեռն”. (Meds Yeghern).

Over a hundred years have passed and there are no criminals alive to be tried and punished, and there are no victims and victimized survivors to be vindicated. No doubt that time and successive Turkish governments have erased a lot of hard evidence, but still there must be ample documented historical evidence, and some archival sources, that can not be denied that Armenians lived on that land for centuries, but since 1915, hardly any Armenian lives on those lands.

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 and Turkey is supporting Azerbaijan. (It did happen — twice. In April 2016, and during the 44-day war in 2020)

As for Diaspora(s), they are not a “nation” that could have an official representative body legitimized by the law, and empowered through a public vote of confidence at the ballot box, that the Turkish Government could recognize and negotiate with.

I think the time has come for both Turkish and Armenian patriots who love their country, their people, and their culture, to come together, and be brave enough to pursue Justice 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 accepted as the “conventional wisdom” that leads us to do nothing, and thus, further, delay the process to pursue Justice.

From Part 2 dated Jan. 18, 2016

It is time that we the Diaspora Armenians start to find ways and means to help create a positive atmosphere where justice can be pursued. First, maybe we too must start looking for ways and means for possible dialogue with those ethnic Turks, who live in the same country as we do, and share the same values as citizens of the same country to create a new and positive atmosphere. We must be able to do so without us feeling victims, and without them feeling guilty, for the crimes committed by their ancestors four generations ago.

I know it is a big challenge but the third and fourth post-Meds Yeghern generations can, and must do it. They are highly educated and successful professionals, lawyers, doctors, businessmen, academics, etc, and the time has come for them not only to demand justice but to pursue Justice and pursue it with persistence.

This is the legacy of our Martyrs and our surviving victims, our grandparents and parents who were our greatest post-Meds Yeghern generation, the living victims, deportees, unfortunate eyewitnesses, who not only survived as strangers and refugees in foreign lands but also kept their identity and “recreated” the old country the (airgeer) “Էրկիր” with authentic traditions that they tried to pass on to their children and grandchildren in challenging times. We all owe them great gratitude. THANK YOU TO ALL.

From part 3 dated Jan. 20, 2016

It seems that there are no legal means under our disposal to pursue territorial claims based on Sevre Treaty. Despite all the conferences, books, documentaries, and arbitration theories, so far, there seems to be no clear legal opinion that Sevre Treaty is a viable court case. To some this might sound unpatriotic, maybe it is, but daydreaming on false hopes, ignorance, and demagoguery, is not patriotism either.

It is time that we face the reality and concentrate all our effort and pursue Justice for our victims not only within the territory of the Sevre Treaty but within all the previous Ottoman territories where Armenians lived.

It is important to remember that the victims were the citizens of the Ottoman Empire with distinctly Christian culture and traditions, that is no more. They were human beings children, parents grandparents, that had dreams that were cut short, and no amount of compensation can erase their memory and sufferings from our hearts and conscience.

It is time to start the process of forming an impartial commission made of human rights jurists, judges, academics, etc, to study and make recommendations for a fair and just settlement. What is needed is an honest try to do justice that has been denied for over a hundred years.

At the same time, it is important that we in Diaspora(s) start a process of face-to-face dialogue with mutual respect and understanding, between the third and fourth generations of Turks who have committed no crime, and the third and fourth generations of Armenians who are not victims. Especially for those of us, who are citizens of the same country, educated in similar institutions, and share similar values.

I am not naive enough to believe that any of this could happen fast. There is too much mistrust and hatred to overcome. But, as the saying goes, every journey starts with a first step, and as a first step, let us stop our futile negative and confrontational activities in the Diaspora(s) and disparage the Turks, all Turks, on every occasion that arises.

Zohrab Baibo Sarkissian (Jan. 20. 2016)

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