Reconciliation for Turkey and Armenia

Today is "Genocide Remembrance Day "in the Armenian community, a particularly strained time of year for Turkey and Armenia. What's a realistic first step forward toward reconciliation for each of these countries?

Posted by Lauren Keane on April 24, 2009 11:54 AM

Readers’ Responses to Our Question (6)

rlsrd Author Profile Page :

First of all there is no doubt that the genecide took place. Historian after historian has said it happened. Turkey has the gall to take most of the Armenian land and then say they didn't do anything. The US and Israel are letting them avoid the issue. So what has happened. Isreal is upset because now there are more and more Holocost deniers. You reap whet you sow. The US gets snookered. Turkey at the 11th hour says it will not support an accord until the Azerbajian question is resolved. So there you have it trustful Turkey putting the screws to Armenian, the US, and Isreal.

But we have to get a long so here's the deal. Armenia, will cede NK to Azerbadjian even though Azerbadjian doesn't really have a legitimate claim to it. They will then relocate the inhabitants of NK to Armenia because, Turkey will give back. Mt. Ararat, Lake Van and all of the Armenian ancestral land that is now Eastern Turkey.
Sound good and fair.

PMaranci Author Profile Page :

You've left out the Diaspora - which consists primarily of people who actually lived through the Genocide, and their descendents.

I have yet to meet a single Armenian who wants anything more than recognition of the fact that huge numbers of our ancestors and relatives were systematically murdered on a mass scale by the Ottoman Empire. It was genocide. We want Turkey to STOP denying that, and admit the truth.

The last survivors are dying. Their children are getting old. But succeeding generations will not forget.

blund Author Profile Page :

Why should they reconcile? If a group systematically exterminated my ancestors it would take a lot longer then 80-120 years to forgive.

There seems to be clear and convincing evidence the Ottoman rulers slaughtered somewhere between 300,000-1,500,000 Armenians and other Christians between 1915 and 1923 through starvation, lack of water, beatings, shooting, burning and blowing them up under the guise of national security. Does that sound familiar?

To this day the Turks are claiming ignorance of any massacres and defending their national security interest argument. Of course unless you are a Turk or a Muslim the argument is ludicrous, but that's beside the point.

Even an Armenian today can't help but think the Turks hated us so much they butchered us once so why should we believe they won't do it again if given the opportunity. It's not like they have acknowledged the genocide that took place and apologized for it. \

Reconciliation? Maybe in a few hundred years, but not now. There are too many people alive today who had relatives involved.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :


Turkey is always an interesting topic because they are considered a bridge between the West and the Muslim Middle East. In a previous question in the past year or two, I supported the election of the AKP because they represented a successful “moderate” Islamic political organization, thus, for me, there seemed to be a natural inclination (or hope) that moderate Islam could prevail at a time when Islam is in turmoil, and radical Islam seems to be dominating the Muslim world. Clearly, fundamentalist Islam - exported principally by the Saudis - seems to have taken hold in various locations around the world. This movement is totalitarian at its core. Turkey serves as a counter to this revolution. Are democracy and Islam compatible? Turkey could be the country to answer that question.

To get back to this question, I had to conduct a little research to form an opinion since I know almost nothing about Armenia. There is considerable evidence to support the contention that 1-1.5 million people were killed in the second most studied genocide of the twentieth century. The Armenians were the recipients of the brutal mass murder campaign conducted by the Turks. The Turks have never acknowledged the genocide, and their important alliance with the US in NATO has enabled them to avoid the subject. The US has never recognized the genocide of the Armenians because this has been a politically touchy subject with Turkey, and the US values the military relationship (according to the US, there‘s just not enough evidence to support the contention). The last attempt was shelved in Congress because the US needed their bases in Turkey to supply the war effort in Iraq. In addition, if Turkey admitted to the mass premeditated killing, they could be forced to pay reparations (and all that entails legally with which I have no idea).

Turkey expanded their territory at the expense of Armenia during their war in 1920. Armenia lost about 50% of their state because of the war. In addition, Turkey supported Azerbaijan when Armenia went to war over an Armenian ethnic enclave within Azerbaijan after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This further exacerbated their relations. The border between Turkey and Armenia has remained closed since. Armenian Azerbaijanis are Christian, while most of Azerbaijan is Muslim. Apparently the conflict is an ethnic war (religious?). The Azerbaijani Armenians voted to secede from Azerbaijan and become a part of Armenia. That conflict has still not been resolved, but negotiations are in progress.

Reopening the borders and expanding trade between the two countries can help bring about reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, however, full and permanent reconciliation can only be accomplished by Turkey admitting the obvious - they were responsible for up to 1.5 million deaths of Armenians during WWI by a systematic attempt to exterminate the Armenian population. Nothing short of that will bring about true reconciliation. One problem with the Turkish leadership, however, is that genocide apparently is not a big issue for the Islamic government. While heavily criticizing the Israelis for the deaths of about 700 civilians in the Gaza war earlier this year, Turkey hosted al-Bashir of Sudan (last year) who was recently charged by the ICC with crimes against humanity in the deaths of 250,000 Sudanese (Muslims) in the western part of that country.

I don’t expect the Turkish government to admit to genocide anytime soon. They recently recalled an ambassador from Canada because of the genocide issue. In Turkey, the government uses laws ("insulting Turkishness") and intimidation to silence discussion of the issue. Since the AKP came to power, Turkey has moved more toward the east. Prime Minister Erdogan appeared to play to his Islamic base when he slammed Israel, and without a peep from the watchdogs of the secular democracy, the military. Women’s rights appear to be eroding as well. This “experiment” in the mixture of Islam and democracy may well be in for a rough ride?

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

"The truth will set you free."

"What's a realistic first step forward toward reconciliation for each of these countries"?

A joint commission of reconciliation, made of people with the highest moral authority from each country, must agree on what has been, acknowledge it publicly in no uncertain terms, then suggest how best to go about reconciling the two parties to the dispute.

Then, and only then, can the painful process of reconciliation begin, with the participation of all concerned, and for as long as it takes.

gumsoft Author Profile Page :

This is such a hard issue to resolve and unfortunately is ( as usual ) shaped, driven and immensely effected by hard liners on all sides. In Turkey and Armenia the nationalistic groups are dead against any agreement. So is the Armenian Disasphora in USA who are far removed from the daily problems faced in Armenia. They just want revenge and punishment for Turkey nothing else. Then we have the 2 governments and the sensible and realistic populace in the 2 countries that want to resolve their differences as much as possible and open borders, start trade and generally improve the relationship and create a positive environment. I truthfully can not see any solution to the age old problem of the Armenian Genocide issue. Did it happen or didn't it ? what was the scale ? how many died or suffered ? Were they just casualties of a nasty war ? How do you define a genocide ? I say lets be practical and do not get bogged down in these unresolvable issues any more. Lets all work towards better relationship and improves ties and help the peoples of both of these countries in a practical way.

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