Apparently, the gap between the perception of this problem in other countries and the perception in this country is getting deeper and deeper. Although we continue to say that we never did it, we continue with present-day examples about how we can do it
By Cengiz Aktar
April 24, 1915 is the day on which Armenian intellectuals in the Ottoman capital Istanbul were arrested. The April 24 at the same time is the symbol day of Armenism which came to an end in Anatolia. Each year, initiatives to legally recognize the massacres are made in various countries around the world. These attempts continue as modern genocide wars and are always assessed within a victory/defeat mindset.This year, an excessive sensitivity, probably triggered by the murder of journalist Hrant Dink was dominating official and unofficial reactions against these initiatives. The feeling as much as rush to counteract was there as if the death of Hrant would accelarate the approval of the genocide bills. Reactions shown by a Turkey which swings on the top of the nationalist wave are directly affected by this atmosphere of high nervousness. The logic works as follows:
A war already lost:
?The genocide bill was not taken up at the Knesset, therefore nothing happened to Ottoman Armenians?. Or, ?The genocide bill will not pass in the U.S. House of Representatives; thus it would be proved that the genocide did not take place.? However, no one considers by this Aristotelian logic which it could say: ?Twenty countries and 40 federal states in the U.S. have recognized the genocide; therefore, it did take place!? No one notices that while being pleased with the parliamentary decrees that are in favor of Turkey we legitimize those that are against. So who said politicians cannot write history? The former American diplomat Morton Abramowitz who has considerable knowledge about Turkey said to the visiting members of the Turkish Parliament who were lobbying there against the resolution: ?You lost the war of history in the U.S.? Back home a controversy took place whether we lost it or not. But no body dwelled upon the statement made by the late Turgut ?zal period's former ambassador to Turkey. Apparently, the gap between the perception of this problem in other countries and the perception in this country is getting deeper and deeper. Except two or three bewildered, no one in the world says, ?In fact, Armenians have never faced anything worse than Kurds and Turks,? and no one thinks in the way of ?Their boat sank in a boat trip in Trabzon; they were trippled by a stone during a desert safari in Syria; in 1916, they went in big groups on a touristic trip to France and America?. The discussion rather is conducted on ? We wonder if we could please Turkey if we say catalycsm instead of genocide??
?We never do such things':For instance, Israeli Health Minister Ben-Yizri speaking on behalf of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni at the Knesset in March said this issue should be resolved by the parties among themselves while adding, ?Armenians were subjected to mass murders in the final days of the Ottoman administration.? While we keep saying ?nothing had happened? and ?we never do such ugly things,? we place ourselves on the world agenda with the murders of priest Santoro, Hrant Dink and the carnage of Protestant missionaries in Malatya. Although we continue to say that we never did it, we continue with present-day examples about how we can do it. Congratulation messages to the murderers shower the Internet sites since victims presumably cursed our religion and nation, so they paid for it. And despite we love to talk about being the successors of the Ottoman art of intercommunity living that was precisely lost due, inter alia, massacres of Armenians. At the end of the day the international community has no reservations over what took place in these lands starting late 19th century; however, just does not know how to term it.In other words, the bills on the agenda today are simply hampered by the pressures as part of the realpolitik of the governments. The U.S. and Israel are alluding in the direction of their interests not to annoy and antagonize Turkey as their allies.
More tense and inward:
However the gravity of the issue lies in here. As the bills are introduced here and there on the massacres, as cultural and historical events are organized about the Armenism and as this issue remains without solution, Turkey is getting more tense and turning inward. An all abnegator position fed by the education system and by a certain media, is reflected upon any kind of attitudes official or unofficial. The distance between Turkey and the countries recognizing the massacres as genocide is getting bigger and Turkey isolates itself gradually in every aspect. A movie about past genocides, ?Screamers? that was broadcast on BBC, the UN exhibition for the commemoration of the Rwandan genocide, talks about Armenia at the Anatolian Civilizations exhibition held in Italy and every single activity causing the pronounciation of the words ?Turk? and ?Armenian? together gives birth to fierce official reactions in Turkey. For instance, the framework regulation that was finally approved by EU last week after long discussions.
Turkey harshly reacted to the regulation with the thought in mind that it would criminalize the negation of genocide in the EU countries and that would pave the way for recognition of it. In return, Justice Minister Cemil ?i?ek uttered something frivolous, ?We will not abolish the Article 301 then.? The reaction placed Turkey in a spot that as if it is against the spirit of the regulation. However, Turkey should have claimed this law punishing the discrimination of its own citizens and fellow Muslims in the EU countries. In fact, according to the regulation, provocation of hatred and violence against any kind of minorities are defined as crime.Today, Turkey is way behind even the statements of a certain Kamuran G?r?n about the Armenian massacres, and, of course, the approach of Mustafa Kemal Atat?rk. Memory loss is turning to a chronic illness. This is no good. Because the nationalist ore is provoked more and more every passing day and the dialogue is getting paralysed in the long-run.Finally, would it be possible to curb the rise of nationalism in Turkey, as the Bush administration asserted when the bills in the U.S. were not passed? No. To the contrary, a national victory will be won against the U.S. Will not passing the bills, as the Bush administration insisted upon, ease the growing anti-Americanism in Turkey? Of course not. Also, when the act proposed by the leftist Meretz Party member in Israel in the Knesset was rejected, did anti-Semitism in Turkey decrease? Extremely doubtful.
Source: “Turkish Daily News”, 24 April 2007