Sunday, November 11, 2007

Turkey's new envoy says genocide bill impedes reconciliation

Los Angeles Daily News, CA
By Bridget Johnson, Staff Writer

U.S. lawmakers should not fixate on the Armenian Genocide bill, which is an insult to many Turks and a roadblock to reconciliation between Turkey and the Armenian community, the new Turkish consul general in Los Angeles said.
Reconciliation is based on acknowledgement of the past and not on forgetting it. If the consul thinks the recognition of the genocide is an insult to Turks how about the insult of its denial by Turkey to Armenians?
In a recent interview with the Daily News, R. Hakan Tekin said his country strongly objects to the Armenian Genocide legislation that passed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs last month, which labels as genocide the killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

The committee's 27-21 vote has raised ire in Turkey and was slammed by some U.S. lawmakers and commentators for the potential harm it might do to U.S. relations with Turkey, a longtime strategic ally of America and NATO partner.

Turkey briefly pulled its U.S. ambassador, Nabi Sensoy, back to Ankara after the vote.

"It certainly had an effect on our bilateral relations," Tekin said of the bill, which was shelved late last month under increasing political pressure.

"It's about our history and it's about, in our opinion, a misreading of our history... To many of us, it's even insulting. ...
It is a deliberate misreading of history by Turkey in order to protect a false sense of nationalism.
"We don't know now where it will end," Tekin said Wednesday at the Wilshire Boulevard consulate.

Turkey severed military ties with France after that country's lower house passed a bill last year making it a crime to deny the Armenian killings were genocide.
But the trade with France increased since.
Tekin, who assumed the consul general post six months ago, said lawmakers should not "legislate history." He noted that in 2005 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked Armenian President Robert Kocharian to form a joint commission of historians to study the disputed 1915 events, a proposal that has not been accepted.
This is a fallacy, Kocharian had responded that diplomatic relations has to be established first. How can a discussion take place under condition of blockade on the premise that Armenia and its Diaspora should abandon the pursuit of the recognition of the Armenian genocide?
"We are not scared of our history, and we are not trying to hide anything," Tekin said. "And if this commission is established, we will accept whatever result it reaches. ... It is (time for) the Armenian side to make a move."

Tekin believes it is the size and influence of the U.S. Armenian community that has kept the issue alive.
It is more the influence of Turkey hiding behind the apron of its NATO alliance and its blackmail of the US which has derailed the pursuit of justice by a large citizenry of the USA.
"Why are the Armenian events of 1915 brought to the Congress of the U.S.?" he asked. "Because there is a strong Armenian voting bloc in the country.
It is brought up by US citizens in order to feel that their adopted country reflects their history as recorded in its archives.
"Why is not, for instance, the massacres in Kenya carried out by the then-British imperial government not brought to the Congress? Because there are no Kenyan voters here.
If enough Americans of Kenyan decent get organized and there is sufficient evidence in the US archives that is also possible and it is their right to do so.
"When you politicize history, you pick and choose and you lose objectivity, and then you are prone to the pressures of narrow group interests."
Truth is never subject to politics. This is a lesson Turkey must understand by discarding its PCA 301 which penalizes any discussion on the Armenian genocide under the pretext of insulting Turkishness. Turkey has no lesson to give here to Americans.
Tekin also said Armenians in Armenia appear less focused on the past than the Armenian Diaspora.
Most Armenians are against having an open border with Turkey as long as the latter refuses to recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide, according to a new U.S.-funded opinion poll. Here.
"It doesn't seem that for the Armenians of Armenia proper, it carries that much priority ... because Armenia now has much more serious problems for day-to-day life," he said.

Unfortunately, he said, continued lobbying by Armenian groups in the U.S. on claims that the Turks slaughtered more than 1 million Armenians from 1915 to 1918 hurts chances at reconciliation.

"And that's really sad, in my opinion, because both countries, Turkey and Armenia, have a lot to gain to improve their relations, to establish normal relations in our region," he said. "We need that."
Turkey has a lot to gain by isolating Armenia in order to achieve its long held goal of depopulating it so that it can establish its long sought Turanic empire with the Asian Turkic speaking nations. That was the aim of the genocide and it has not changed so far because Turkey has not recognized it and therefore Armenia does not feel safe having the second largest army of NATO as its neighbour.
When asked about the potential of the resolution to revive hostilities between the two communities, Tekin brought up the history of assassinations of Turkish diplomats in Los Angeles: Consul General Mehmet Baydar and his deputy, Bahadir Demir, slain in 1973 by Gourgen Yanikian at a Santa Barbara hotel; and Consul General Kemal Arikan, shot to death by Harry Sassounian and a second gunman in Westwood in 1982.

A group calling itself Justice Commandos for the Armenian Genocide claimed responsibility at the time for Arikan's slaying.

"(It) has been ignored by many people here that two of my predecessors ... have been killed by Armenian terrorists here in Los Angeles, and nobody speaks about that," Tekin said. Black-and-white portraits of the three slain men adorn the wall outside the door to Tekin's office.

The consul general now receives special protection from the State Department, Tekin said.
Tekin must be happy that Armenians have chosen the rout of democracy and should revise its own policy of denial.
Still, Tekin said Turks and Armenians have a lot in common: They are bonded not only by a border, but by cultural similarities as well.
So Turkey must act accordingly by recognizing the genocide so that the process of reconciliation begins in earnest.
"In a thousand years, maybe we had this trouble period of 20 years, 15 years, and the result here is a hostility," he said. "In Turkey, we don't preach hatred toward Armenia."
Armenians in Turkey have been smothered by the love of the Ottoman Turks to the point that they lost their nationhood in Turkey. Present day Turkey still continues the genocide by its denial. With such demonstrated love there is no room left for hatred.
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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