Thursday, February 15, 2007

Armenian resolution in US Congress

Today's Zaman
Turkish Press Review

The debates over recognition of the Armenian "genocide" are again quite heated both in Turkey and abroad, especially following the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink last month. Now there is a resolution pending in the US Congress which if adopted will recognize the 1915 events as genocide. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül went to Washington last week seeking to prevent the passage of the resolution saying, "Turkish-US relations will be shattered if the resolution passes." This week Turkey's chief of general staff is also paying a visit to the US with the same concerns. Turkey's attempts to prevent the Armenian resolution's passage and what will happen if the US adopts this resolution are a matter of controversy.

Milliyet's Hasan Cemal thinks if the US has not lost its mind then it should not adopt the Armenian resolution. He says if the US wants to lose a friend and ally like Turkey in the Middle East, if it wants democracy in Turkey to be harmed, if it wants to help the powers aiming to destabilize Turkey, if it does not care about Turkey's partnership in policies relating to Iran and Iraq, if it does not want the normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations, if it is against the establishment of independent discussion platforms about the Armenian issue in Turkey, then it should pass the Armenian resolution. He recalls Hrant Dink who said: "I am addressing the Diaspora Armenians. They should never ask Turkey or any other country in the world to accept the Armenian genocide. The important thing is Turkey's democratization. Only a democratic country can dare to face its history, talk about its problems and empathize." Cemal urges if the US wants to ignore Dink's message, it can pass the Armenian resolution.

Radikal's Gündüz Aktan says the fact that Congress' decisions are not binding does not reduce the symbolic importance of this decision for Turkey. He also says that the problems between Turkey and the US regarding the Armenian genocide allegations are not the fault of the Congress but the US administration. Aktan comments on how US presidents refer to the 1915 events as genocide without using the word genocide. "It is understandable that the US Congress wants to use the word genocide with the influence of ethnic Armenian voters in a country like the US where politics are more local than any other country in the world," he stresses. Aktan blames the Bush administration for using the wrong method to prevent the passage of the Armenian resolution in the US House of Representatives by saying that Turkey is a strategic ally for the US and relations will be harmed if the resolution passes. "This is not defending Turkey," he asserts. Aktan thinks that the US administration should show the flaws in the draft resolution to Congress. This resolution claims, in reference to US archives, that 1.5 million out of 2 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire faced genocide. "I do not think that there is any document in the US archives showing the population of Armenians as 2 million in the Ottoman Empire. Why doesn't the US administration inform the Congress correctly about this," Aktan says. He asserts Turkey should announce now that, "We will call on the US to use the law if the US adopts this resolution. This scandal should end."

Posta's Mehmet Ali Birand thinks that Turkey can prevent the passage of the resolution if it can take courageous steps other than warning the US about the deterioration of Turkey-US relations. He suggests that Turkey could have unconditional talks with Armenia, establish a commission including historians from both sides, open the Turkey-Armenia border for people's crossing at first, or controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) could be abolished or amended considerably. "We have ignored the genocide allegations for years. We thought they would disappear if we did not deal with them. Armenians have had their claim adopted. Only if we take courageous steps that surprise the world can we be saved from this trap," he asserts.
Mehmet Ali Berand makes lots of sense. The world knows that if Turkey has the truth on its side it does not need to use threats. While the Turkish Republic suffers from amnesia of what happened before 1923 and want to convince that all Turks come from heroic past, the rest of the world has good memory stored in their archives. Turkey by its stance is embarrassing itself. If Turkey feels that the whole world is conspiring against it, then it is time for it to change the way it looks at its past.
Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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