BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell talks to Armenians in
Luckily the last remaining Armenian village in
The mayor, Berc Kartun, is more interested in talking about how his village's unique status attracts tourists, and the economic benefit of going organic, than discussing how his parents and grandparents died. “We are all rather tired of this question. We should let the historians settle it once and for all so it comes to a stop and you won't be asking our children the same thing.”
My question of course is: “Was it genocide?”
Why is modern-day democratic
Nobody seriously disputes that many thousands of Armenians died in what is now eastern
My first reaction to the programme's request was, “It's obvious”. If
Certainly Martin Amis and Iain Banks wouldn't find themselves on trial for agreeing with the foreigners. Yet in
YOUR HELP PLEASE
One of the things I value most about writing this diary is your comments. Even the rants, re-statements of obvious positions, and questioning of my intelligence, ability and motives interest me. But the majority of comments are both thoughtful and thought-provoking.
They often give me a new perspective and a greater understanding of the stories I am covering. So help me now. I'm not asking for a rehash of the old arguments, but why it is such a sensitive subject for Turks 90 years after the killings took place?
In 1915, because of their ideal tactical position, the Christian villages were able to repulse the Ottoman attackers long enough to appeal to fellow Christians. They were rescued by a French warship and taken to safety, but later made their way home.
The international boundary fluctuated over the years. When the area again became Turkish in 1939, many of the villagers decided to go to
HEART AND SOUL
Inside the single-room cafe men play cards and drink small glasses of tea as the rain lashes the citrus trees outside. When I talk to the mayor of oranges and selling laurel berry soap to tourists they chat noisily among themselves in Armenian. But when I ask about the past, the room falls silent. They stare intently at the mayor as though willing him not to say the wrong thing.
It turns out that one of the men is just back to visit his father-in-law, the oldest man in the village. Canik Capar was once a villager, but he is now a tourist. He says he once had a good job in a bank but was sacked when they found he was an Armenian and a Christian. He re-trained as a teacher in the 1970s but says the government didn't want Armenian teachers in the region at the time. He told me the atmosphere was often tense, and knowing what had happened in the past, he was always worried that things might turn nasty again.
So he left for
“I don't care what they call it, the important thing is they admit what was done.”
And as an EU citizen now, does he think
“Like my [Armenian] patriarch in
Source: BBC Europe diary, 2 November 2006
1. Location of Vakif, the last Armenian village in
2. A French warship, the Guichen, came to the Armenians' rescue