Thursday, February 08, 2007

EP report says Dink’s approach more effective than Armenian diaspora

Today's Zaman

The European Parliament reiterated its determination to keep up the pressure on Turkey regarding freedom of expression and the Armenian question in a report on slain Turkish journalist of Armenian origin Hrant Dink.

The five-page document, prepared by Joost Lagendijk, co-chairman of the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission, and obtained by Today’s Zaman, reports on the funeral and debates in the wake of the Jan. 19 assassination that led to one of the largest demonstrations in İstanbul’s history.

The report was presented to President of the Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering at the beginning of February. Lagendijk, who attended the funeral and represented the EP, argues that though the killer was caught shortly after the crime, many questions surrounding the murder remain unanswered.

The report praises Dink’s attitude toward the events of 1915 and underlines the fact that he tried to avoid the word “genocide.” The report also says that his approach was more effective than the Armenian diaspora’s way of dealing with history. “Hrant firmly believed that the past can only be addressed and understood where there are prospects of future relations. Armenia’s painful history exercised his mind no less than the Armenian diaspora. But he took a different, and perhaps more effective, approach to the debate on the Armenian genocide of 1915 than is customary in Turkey. In his speeches and writings, he tried to avoid the term ‘genocide.’ He informed his readers and listeners, describing the events of 1915, but left the definition to them and invited them to find the appropriate term.”

The funeral was a historic event for Istanbul, the report argues, and adds that the sheer dimension of the masses who gathered to pay their respects and protest the murder was utterly unexpected.

“The funeral of Hrant Dink turned into one of the largest-ever mass demonstrations in the city of Istanbul. Although it was expected that thousands would come to pay their last respects to Hrant Dink, not even the greatest of optimists could have foreseen the vast sea of more than a hundred thousand people,” stated the report.
Dink was a very well-known figure in the EP, in particular among the Green group. He had attended several conferences organized by the EP. The report strongly calls for continued support to the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, the paper Dink worked at as editor-in-chief, and believes its closing down would be a great loss for Turkey. The report concludes by highlighting the fact that Dink’s murder has put two important issues in the spotlight: freedom of expression and the Armenian question. The report wants to “ensure that these two issues are high on our agenda in the coming months and years.”

The European Parliament officially recognized the Armenian genocide in 1987 and claims Turkey should recognize it for possible EU membership.

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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