Sunday, October 28, 2007

Laying memory's ghosts to rest

28 October 2007
Financial Times

Sunday's beatification by the Vatican of 498 "martyrs" killed by anti-clerical militias during the Spanish republic and 1936-39 civil war has resurrected many ghosts at a time when history and memory have returned to haunt Spain.


There are obvious risks in excavating the pain of the past. Yet the selective memory preferred by the Catholic Church and the right is not the answer. Countries and peoples need a shared narrative of their past, even when that means settling painful accounts with history.


Turkey is in a similar bind over Armenia. Attempts by France, and now the US Congress, to characterise the first world war massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as genocide have outraged the government and the Kemalist establishment, and inflamed public opinion.

In calmer circumstances, Turkish politicians and intellectuals will acknowledge the need to come to terms with this blood-soaked chapter in their history - and that Turkey has no hope of ever entering the EU without such a reckoning.

But today's Turks have no knowledge of these horrific events, which have been airbrushed from history, leaving them without the means to make a judgment. There is always a price for suppressing memory.

Copyright The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.

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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