Akcam: Beyond Roadmaps and Protocols: Obstacles and Opportunities in Turkey’s Path to Peace with Armenians

This article was written explicitly for an American audience in late spring 2009. When I penned it, there was no sign on the horizon of a rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey. I haven’t changed anything in the article, since recent developments are only a confirmation of what I had suggested last spring.

A huge poster of Ataturk hanging from a building. (Photo by Mujgan Arpat)

The purpose of this article was to give a general overview of the Armenian-Turkish conflict and to show where the opportunities lay for a chance. In order to do this, I followed two different objectives: (1) to establish a framework for conceiving the recent developments in Turkey and (2) to explain to an American audience that the U.S. is one of the major powers—if not the only one—that can change the parameters of this frozen conflict. My hope is that this article will contribute to our understanding and evaluation of ongoing developments in Turkey.

From the outset, I would like to clearly state my argument: It is a good thing for the Turkish-Armenian problem to be solved. We have to present convincing arguments that show why allowing this conflict to fester is in no one’s interest.

I would like to emphasize this point because I know that another position on this says, “There might be a problem out there but we can live with this problem. Solving this conflict is not crucial for us, and we even can get some benefits by its being dragged out.” The argument goes this way: We know the position of all the parties and we know the difficulties lying in front of a solution. For us [the U.S.], Turkey is an important ally and strategic partner in the Middle East. U.S. national security interests forbid making Turkey angry or pushing it on any issue it refuses to make concessions on. For the sake of our national interest, therefore, we cannot make any changes and we have to live with this problem unless Turkey changes its policy. If Turkey moves ahead for a solution on this issue, we will salute this, but as long as Turkey doesn’t change its policy, we cannot do much and we have to accept living with this problem.

So, knowing this argument, my starting assumption is that it is important for Turkey, Armenia, and for the region that this problem be solved. It should be in nobody’s interest that this problem continues to be dragged out. The Turkish-Armenian conflict is an important stumbling block for peace, democracy, and therefore security in the region. There is a strong interrelation between solving this problem and establishing stabile, tranquil relations in the Middle East. If this is so, we have to see what has to be changed. The parameters of the conflict are known; the position of the parties is also well known. Let’s look more closely at where there is something we can change.

Akcam: Unfortunately, I have observed that the following mindset is still prevalent in the U.S.: “There is an Islamic threat in Turkey, a threat of Shariat rule of law. The Islamists have taken over in Turkey and it is their administration that is in power. This government is foreign to the modern and secularist values of the West and wants to push Turkey away from the West. The republic and western values that Ataturk established are under attack. The Turkish Army is the true and trustworthy friend of the West, and by protecting secularism and Western values, it is trying to keep Turkey a part of the West…”

I will discuss the issue by putting Turkey in the center. I will lay out some points that show what should or can change in Turkey to make a solution possible.

There are four major actors that can change the parameters and contribute to the solution directly: Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the international community, most of all the United States. Assessing all these actors and their positions from a short-term perspective, I cannot say I am very optimistic. I am not expecting any positive short-term development in the conflict. A change towards a solution can only be introduced if the parties (or at least one of the parties) are ready to change their conventional policy on the issue.

On the other hand, we are now experiencing a fortunate conjuncture of domestic and international conditions that can be characterized as “historic.” These conditions include the democratization process in Turkey; recent developments in the Caucasus, and especially the convergence of Russian and American interests in opening the Turkish-Armenian border; the Nabucco pipeline agreements; and finally, the new American administration and its policy toward Iraq and especially the Kurds. If the actors who wish to resolve the Turkish-Armenian conflict carry out their responsibilities with seriousness and courage, many of the obstacles to a resolution will be removed.

Up until now, we have had the following picture: Turkey denies the fact of the genocide and rejects any acknowledgment and responsibility for it. At the same time, Turkey is an important ally and strategic partner of the U.S., and the U.S. has come to believe that Turkey’s confronting its history and the United States’ national security were mutually exclusive propositions. In order to promote regional security and maintain good relations with Turkey’s ruling military and civil bureaucracy, the U.S. followed the latter’s wishes and backed off of the Armenian issue. U.S. policy is based on the premise that unless Turkey moves ahead on this policy on its own, the U.S. has to accept the fact of denial and live with this problem.

The Turkish military and civil bureaucracy, meanwhile, rest upon the mindset that views honestly confronting history as something that is not compatible with maintaining its national security. Turning the events of 1915 into a taboo was directly a result of viewing them as a national security problem. In 2007, for example, a Turkish court sentenced the Istanbul Armenian publisher Arat Dink, the son of murdered journalist Hrant Dink, to a year in prison for calling the events of 1915 genocide. “Talk about genocide,” said the court, is not protected speech, as it “unfavorably affects national security and national interest.”

The same justification underlies extrajudicial acts of terror, such as the political assassinations planned and partly implemented by the anti-Armenian criminal enterprise known as Ergenekon. In January 2009, a government probe of an Ergenekon suspect turned up a hit list of five so-called “traitors to national security.” The individuals targeted for assassination included Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and Hrant Dink, who was shot down in January 2007. My name was also on that list.

The same mentality is what fed their treatment of the Kurdish problem. Any steps towards a solution that gave civil and democratic rights to the Kurds were viewed as a threat to security and therefore avoided.

Kurdish demonstrators. (Photo by Mujgan Arpat)

I refer to this mind set above as “conventional” thinking, and as long as the U.S. and Turkey consider “facing history” and “national security” as mutually exclusive. or consider facing history as a threat to national security, there will be no solution possible in the Turkish-Armenian conflict. This policy is a product of a Cold War mentality.

Here is the counter-argument: Facing history cannot solely be the “moral” argument. Pitting national interest against facing history is just plain wrong. In fact, any security policy in the Middle East that excludes morality cannot ultimately be a policy that will work; eventually it will undermine national security.

We have to understand that one of the main problems in the region is the insecurity felt by different groups towards each other as a result of events that have occurred in history. When you make the persistent denial of these pain-filled acts a part of your security policy, this brings with it insecurity for the other. This is what we call the security dilemma: What one does to enhance one’s own security causes a reaction that, in the end, can make one even less secure.

The existing sense of mistrust engendered by the denial is one of the main causes of instability and is an obstacle to the creation of security in the region. For this reason, any security concept, any policies of realpolitik in and for Turkey and the Middle East, that ignores morality and forgets to address historic wrongdoings is doomed to fail in the end.

If one knows Turkey and the Middle East, one would easily recognize that history and historical injustices are not dead issues, divorced from the past; the past is the present in the Middle East. Therefore, facing history is a very real issue, and for realpolitik to be successful in the region, acknowledging historic wrongdoings must be integrated into a policy of national security.

In order to be able to make some suggestions for solving this conflict, we first have to create a model that can help us understand the main political problems in Turkey. My central concept in this regard is confined to the term “continuity.” The underlying problem is that there is a basic conflict in Turkey, a power struggle between the military and civil bureaucracy on the one side, and the majority of Turkish society on the other. The conflict has been going on for a long time and is related to the character of the regime in Turkey. The foundation of this conflict was formed during the late Ottoman Empire and transferred to the newly created Turkish Republic.

Since its inception, Turkey has been administered not by its elected government representatives but by a military and civilian bureaucracy, which was not elected, rather self-appointed. This came about because Turkey was established after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after World War I through the efforts of the armed forces and bureaucracy. Therefore, the military and the bureaucracy in Ankara consider themselves the true inheritors and owners of Turkey.

At its inception in 1923, the Turkish Republic was governed through a one-party system. This changed in 1946, when multi-party elections were allowed; however, elected officials in Turkey have never been free to govern. By enacting coups d’état every 10 years or so, the military created the systemic conditions that gave them control over the legal, political, and administrative bodies of government.

Today, Turkey’s governmental system is filled with institutions whose role is to ensure the permanence of military control. In particular, as a result of the constitution that was drafted after the 1980 coup, the system guarantees the military’s control over every organ of government, while making the military itself completely immune from outside control.

Today, the military exerts a patriarchal control over the administrative, political, and legal system, while no aspect of the military, including military expenses, is subject to civilian oversight. The regime of military control in Turkey exists in no other democratic country. I have to add that until the 1990’s, the U.S. and the European Union were the main supporters of these military coups and military democracy in Turkey.

Akcam: Today, the military exerts a patriarchal control over the administrative, political, and legal system, while no aspect of the military, including military expenses, is subject to civilian oversight. (Photo by Mujgan Arpat)

For reasons that I will not go into here, the founding members of the Turkish Republic, the military and civil bureaucracy, formed the country as if in opposition to the rich ethnic and cultural mosaic of Turkish society. The founders perceived the plurality of society at that time as a problem for the continuity and security of the state. The founding philosophy of the state rested on the existence of a state-society axis, and was based on difference and the belief that the state needed to be protected from society. In this way, founding legends were created, and these legends turned into very strong taboos. Questioning these taboos was made punishable under the criminal code. There were five very important taboo subjects that made up the main principles in the formation of the Turkish Republic:

(1) There are no Kurds in Turkey. Those people called Kurds are actually Turks who happen to live in the mountains. In order to punish anyone who might question this taboo, Articles 125 and 175 of the Turkish Criminal Code were enacted.

(2) Turks are a blended nation, and Turkish society does not contain different classes. Anyone who discusses different classes or speaks of class warfare is a communist and should therefore be punished. Articles 141 and 142 of the Turkish Criminal Code were enacted to punish anyone guilty of this.

(3) Turkey is a secular society where Western values are supreme. Islamic values and lifestyle cannot be praised and are indefensible. Article 13 of the Turkish Criminal Code was enacted to punish anyone who disputed this.

(4) The Armenian Genocide never happened. It is a complete lie. Until the year 2000 there were no specific articles in the criminal code to punish anyone questioning this because, frankly, no one ever seriously did question it.

(5) The Turkish Armed Forces constitute the guardianship of these five taboos, and no one may ever question their position and control over the regime.

Not only did the armed forces and bureaucracy shape the republic around these founding principles, but they also created a system that would not allow the elected parties even the appearance of running the country. They created a national security concept constructed on these principles. This national security concept, in which no elected government had any say, was nevertheless placed before each and every elected official as “the real constitution” or “red book,” if you will. And it was made explicitly clear that the country was going to be administered according to the principles contained within it. In line with this security concept, anyone that put forth a point of view questioning the subjects of the five taboos was defined as a threat to national security. This is the origin of the national security concept related to the Armenian Genocide that I mentioned above.

The concept of continuity also explains the roots of the Armenian-Turkish conflict and how the genocide became a taboo in Turkey. Most of the cadres who founded the republic were members of the Union and Progress Party (CUP), which was behind the 1915 genocide. After organizing several congresses in Anatolia, these cadres formed the People’s Party in 1923. They then announced the formation of the republic in the same year and later, as the Republican People’s Party (CHP), ruled the country as a single party until 1945. The so-called multi-party regime that came into being after 1945 was a continuation of what had prevailed before. During this period, the parties that ruled Turkey were groups that had spun off from the CHP, the sole party in power from 1923-45. With the victory of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2002, we saw for the first time a crack in this control of the regime, and the crumbling of the dominance of the military-civilian bureaucratic elite.

We could approach the history of the Turkish Republic as a series of rebellions against the state by those segments of society targeted and defined in the five taboos. The coups of 1960, 1971, 1980, and 1997 were all examples of the military interfering with the state in order to suppress opposition and the advances made by those segments. All of the issues that are considered problematic in Turkey today—the Kurds, Cyprus, the conflict between religion and secularism, the Armenian Genocide—arise from nothing other than the questioning of the fundamental pillars of the state as defined by the military.

When the targets of these taboo subjects began confronting the military-bureaucratic regime, those taboos began to fade. One would think that the various targets of these taboos would join together and try to force the state to lift these prohibitions, thereby expanding their social and political liberties. On the contrary, all throughout the history of the republic, the military-bureaucratic elite followed a set strategy of making sure that when it fought to defend one taboo, it persuaded the targets of the other taboos to join their side. This strategy has been successful for the most part, and today in Turkey there is a serious sense of insecurity amongst different groups within society. Today, many groups are struggling with the issue of confronting and trusting one another. These bases of mistrust include: the confrontation between religion and secularism and its subsets; the confrontation between the Alewite and Sunni sects; the ethnic confrontation between the Turks and Kurds; and a general confrontati
on of society with its history.

In each and every one of these areas of confrontation there is a very deep well of suspicion. Alewites and secularists see the freedom to “live according to religious values,” as expressed in the freedom to veil, as a threat of religious rule under the Shariat. There is both a very serious cultural confrontation going on, as well as a process of defining those who do not share your values as the “other.” The main argument used in defining this other states that not only are the beliefs of the other wrong, but the other harbors a secret agenda. The other can jump up and down yelling, “No I don’t have any ulterior motives,” but it does not matter: Society remains unconvinced and instead believes that it sees through the other and understands the other’s true motives. This is what I define as the sense of suspicion and insecurity that pervades relationships.

The same issue occurs in the other confrontations. In each and every one of these cases, one side remains highly skeptical of the other and is convinced of secret agendas and undeclared motivations. An increasing sense of insecurity characterizes what has descended upon the militarist elite. This is why the Ergenekon investigations carry so much historical importance. An example of this can be seen in the new knowledge that apparently all of the organizations and actions that were depicted as threats of pending Islamic Shariat rule in the 1990’s in Turkey was organized by the military elite. The existing suspicion and mistrust between the different social groups was fed by another reality—that each of these group were not only victims but also supporters of the military when it came to suppressing the other taboo groups. This has made an honest dealing with history very difficult.

The electoral success of the AKP constitutes an historic opportunity: Now, maybe for the first time in Turkish history, an elected government with strong support from the people is trying to push the military and bureaucracy out of the political sphere and diminish their political power over the judicial-administrative system.

After the AKP’s coming to power, the continuity which was an essential component of the ruling elite is changing and headed towards a breakdown. This breakdown translates into the possibility for new answers, new resolutions to Turkish-Armenian tensions. In other words, the answers will come in direct ratio to the breakdown of this continuity.

We could hold long discussions about the significance of the AKP but, in a nutshell, this party is a product of Turkish modernization. The AKP is like the closing of a pair of scissors on the modernization process of Turkey. For many historical reasons, the engine of Turkish modernization was the military and bureaucracy, and the process was based on keeping out Islamic cultural and political values. Islam and modernization were like the blades of a pair of scissors that separated as the scissors opened.

Turkish modernization did not just banish Islamic cultural and legal codes and Islam’s political representatives from the administration (the Ulema class being first and foremost), but it also rid the country of the Christian bourgeoisie (already excluded from the military and bureaucracy). Both during the era of the Union and Progress Party and the republic, a new Turkish bourgeoisie class was created for whom the military-bureaucracy operated as a central core. For this reason, the bourgeois class feels a direct connection with the military and bureaucracy, and has always supported it. This is one of the main reasons why Turkey hasn’t experienced strong democratization moves in the in the decades leading up to the 1990’s.

In contrast, the AKP represents a whole new middle and upper middle class that developed and thrived without relying on state resources. It is a class that represents a different kind of modernization, a modernization that is quite outside what the military-bureaucracy envisioned. It is a new modern class that has conservative Islamic values at its core. The AKP tried very hard to compromise with the military-bureaucracy, a group that sees itself as the true standard bearer for the regime and its real foundation, but it did not happen. For this reason, the AKP understood that a policy of compromise with the military-bureaucracy under an existing constitutional-legal and institutional framework could not work and would necessitate the loss of power for the AKP. After some experience in this regard, the AKP has understood that the only way to remain in power, the only security they have, is to engage in a process of reform and the expansion of civil liberties, targeted towards EU membership. This, in summary, d
escribes the power play that is currently ongoing.

The dominant perception in certain circles in the West and also in the U.S. regarding the character of the AKP must fundamentally change. Unfortunately, I have observed that the following mindset is still prevalent in the U.S.: “There is an Islamic threat in Turkey, a threat of Shariat rule of law. The Islamists have taken over in Turkey and it is their administration that is in power. This government is foreign to the modern and secularist values of the West and wants to push Turkey away from the West. The republic and western values that Ataturk established are under attack. The Turkish Army is the true and trustworthy friend of the West, and by protecting secularism and Western values, it is trying to keep Turkey a part of the West…” Such arguments are unfortunately much too common. The Middle East Forum think-thank, and the individuals Frank Gaffney Jr., Michael Rubin, Soner Cagaptay, and Zeyno Baran [these names were not included in my original version], have been disseminating these views in the U.S. These are the “Turkish militarists” in the U.S. and are an enemy to democracy in Turkey. They simply want the militaristic democracy that was established during the Cold War period to continue.

The AKP as a governing party has been involved in a very powerful struggle with the military and bureaucratic elite on the founding legend of the republic. We are seeing a fundamental change in this area, as each of the taboos are gradually being lifted, one after the other.

The points of contention between the AKP and the military and bureaucratic elites are well known. Cyprus is one; seeking a solution to the Kurdish conflict is another; and a third is to push the military outside of civilian politics. The investigation against a criminal network within the military and bureaucracy, which is known as Ergenekon, is the symbol of this power struggle. For the sake of argument, I am describing the parties in a very simplistic way. Of course, as in every power struggle, other actors also play a role. Continuous compromises have been made between these parties, and their positions change. For example, there are certain circles within the military and bureaucracy that generally agree for a change and support the governing party in its fight against the traditional role of military and bureaucracy within the society.

The AKP may have a different position than the military and bureaucracy on the Armenian-Turkish conflict, particularly on the question of opening the border between Turkey and Armenia, and recognizing a historic wrongdoing. Of the many examples I could present to support this statement, I will focus on two: (1) Mazlum-Der, the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed People, is an organization with very close ties to the AKP administration. Mazlum-Der has pushed for an official apology to the Armenians for what happened in 1915, as well as to Kurds for all that has occurred during the Republican era. (2) In May 2009, Prime Minister Erdogan broke a huge taboo when he said, “This mindset has seemingly not changed. It has been the same for many years in this country. They have chased members of different ethnicities out of this country. What have we gained? This was the result of a fascist mentality.”

Potentially, the AKP is in the best position to make progress in this area. It has the potential to open the door for confronting history, if it feels that civil liberties are strengthened enough and positive steps have been taken towards resolving the Kurdish issue.

The Ergenekon investigations and arrests are a major blow against those who were working towards a non-solution in the Turkish-Armenian conflict. One could say that Ergenekon was an extension of the Union and Progress Party to the present day. It represents the political mindset that made genocide possible in the past, the mindset that organized the deportation of the Christians from Anatolia, a mindset that Erdogan referred to as fascist. For this reason, it is fair to say that the judicial strikes against Ergenekon have dealt a serious blow to the political forces that would have attempted to prevent a softening of relations between Turks and Armenians.

With the Ergenekon investigations and the steps being taken towards strengthening civil liberties in Turkey, the country is moving towards shaking off the guardianship and control of political life by the military and bureaucracy, and moving towards normal democracy. These steps truly carry the potential for opening a door to a detente in the Turkish-Armenian relationship.

It is important to note that the political position in Turkey, which is focused on an anti-Armenian and anti-genocide recognition platform and which gained momentum after 2000, has been instigated primarily by the Ergenekon organization. Ergenekon revolved around Turkish-Armenian tensions and hostility towards Armenians, and the subject of the events of 1915 constituted its political core. In order to grow as a movement and gather public support, it did so by inciting the Turkish population and nourishing anti-Armenian sentiments. Ergenekon was behind the Article 301 criminal prosecutions of Orhan Pamuk, Hrant Dink, myself, and other intellectuals. They were the ones who tried to stop the 2005 conference of historians in Istanbul; who formed Talat Pasha committees and organized marches in Talat Pasha’s name in Europe; and memorialized other Unionists executed for murder in 1919. In other words, Turkish-Armenian tensions formed the basis for the political work of Ergenekon. Imprisoning this group would not only eliminate serious opposition to detente with the Armenians, it will allow detente to gather support. I argue that the obstacle to the solution of the Turkish-Armenian problem is not resistance from Turkish society.

In the United States, neither the Armenian Diaspora nor other interested groups have appreciated the significance of the investigations and the steps being taken to expand civil liberties; they do not seem to have caught on to the direct relationship between the Ergenekon investigations and the expanding of civil liberties and improvement in Turkish-Armenian relations. If you want to find a resolution to the tensions between Turks and Armenians, you need to have a thorough understanding of the Ergenekon investigations, and the actions being taken to create a stronger civil society. The future of Turkish-Armenian relations will be directly affected by the Ergenekon prosecutions and their aftermath, along with the steps being taken to expand civil liberties, and particularly the amount of support given by the U.S. and Europe. Simply put, there is a direct connection between ending the military’s domination of civil politics in Turkey and the improvement of Turkish-Armenian relations. Until Turkey moves away from a militaristic democracy and towards a civil and normal democratic regime, we will not see any improvement in Turkish-Armenian relations.

Nevertheless, the AKP faces challenges to solving the conflict. While it is tackling the issues of the Kurds, Cyprus, Ergenekon investigations, and civil liberties, the party is unlikely to add the Armenian issue on top of everything else, and it is much more reluctant regarding the Armenian issue. It will be just one battle too many. In order to gain ground on the other issues, the AKP has not hesitated to compromise with the military on the Armenian issue. The AKP is unlikely to take on the Armenian issue without very firm support from the outside. Unless pressure is exerted from the outside, the AKP cannot engage the military and bureaucracy in a separate battle on the Turkish-Armenian issue. It is just one battle too many. In addition:

(1) The AKP gains much of its support, particularly in central and western Anatolia, from a conservative-nationalist base. A radical move on the issue of the Armenians would most definitely elicit a strong negative response from this base, whose roots extend back to the high-ranking notables of the 1910’s and 1920’s in Anatolia. That class may or may not have directly engaged in the genocide, but the tragedy translated into significant economic gains for them.

(2) There are some conservative-nationalists within the AKP. One should not forget that the person who, in 2005, stated that intellectuals like me are “traitors who stab the nation in the back” is none other than the current assistant prime minister of Turkey. So, a radical move on the Armenian issue could cause the AKP to lose some of its base to the MHP (Turkish nationalistic party).

(3) Azerbaijan sits outside the country as a powerful source of influence, and ties the hands of the administration. Emerging from its war with Armenia from 1991-94 over Nagorno-Karabagh, which remains unresolved, Azerbaijan demands Turkey’s influence in finding a solution that is in its favor. This is an issue of regional politics in the Caucasus.

We can understand the current position of the AKP from this background: Despite being the party capable of softening Turkish-Armenian tensions and compromising, the AKP has continued the traditional policies of the military-bureaucracy. The AKP has always followed a strategy that aimed to observe the historically significant date of April 24th as minimally as possible, and to stonewall—play for time. The central core of this policy lies in sparing no effort to prevent the U.S. from recognizing the genocide (as was done this past year) and making promises that it does not intend to keep (like opening the border). Likewise, it makes proposals, as in the formation of a “historical commission,” which they themselves have never taken seriously. The central aim of both policies is to gain time, and under these conditions, unless some external force comes in to push things along, the Armenian issue will remain unresolved.


As I said at the beginning, many factors are currently at play that offer an opportunity for historic change and the resolution of Turkish-Armenian tensions: the democratization process in Turkey, the new American administration, the new energy pipeline agreements known as Nabucco, and Russia and America getting closer on the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border.

In order to get past these tensions, the boundaries of the military regime need to be narrowed, and those of political life expanded, in a process of democratization. As long as the military continues to maneuver beyond the barracks, maintaining their patriarchal stranglehold over political, legal, and administrative areas, continuity will prevail and conventional thinking (i.e., considering the facing of history as a security threat) will continue to dominate political life. In short, progress will not be made on Turkish-Armenian issues.

In order to see this change in Turkey, the AKP must feel as if it has some breathing room in its political fight with the military. This is only possible if the AKP can get strong support from outside of the country on those issues, and then feel comfortable in concentrating its attention on the Armenian issue. So my central argument is that only positive support and constructive pressure from the outside can bring movement on this problem.

Steps towards solving the “Kurdish Question” may serve as a model for the acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide. My dear Friend Hrant Dink called the genocide “a well 1,915 meters deep.” It resembles the “death wells” of the Kurds whose burial pits are now being unearthed. In the Kurdish issue, the government has developed a “roadmap” that can be summarized as the establishment (realization) of five major steps of reconciliation. These are:

(1) Acknowledging the truth.

(2) Acknowledging any unjust actions toward others and showing repentance.

(3) Apologizing; expressing and receiving forgiveness for those unjust actions.

(4) Restitution; attempting to restore that which has been damaged or destroyed, and seeking justice wherever we have the power to act or to influence those in authority to act.

(5) The establishment of peace.

In our case, these steps means that all the nonsense about Kurds being Mountain Turks has been dropped. The existence of Kurds is now acknowledged. Restrictions on the Kurdish language have been lifted. There is now a state television channel devoted to Kurdish broadcasts. The prime minister recently visited Diyarbakir and acknowledged the wrong actions of governments in the past. And the process of retributive and restorative justice has been started. Those burial pits, the death wells of Kurdish citizens, are being opened up one by one; their remains are being removed and the security officers believed to be responsible for the deaths are being arrested. The trials are almost ready to begin. The government is planning an amnestia (without calling it an amnesty) to get those fighters in the mountains to be reintegrated into civil life. All these steps have helped to create an atmosphere of trust which lays the ground for peace, stability, and democracy in the region.

As we see, the government has been following the path of “acknowledging the truth”: facing history and acknowledging wrong doings in the past, and rectifying historic injustices in the form of retributive and restorative justice. Do we need anything else in the case of the Armenians?

Recommendations: What the Turkish government should do

The following points are well known by all the parties, and we have some other lists or roadmaps out there. (For example, the Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers have developed several different lists and roadmaps on how to normalize relations between the two countries. The problem is not a lack of ideas or imagination, but rather one of will! We need a government that has the will to change the existing policy.)

(1) Separation of history and current relations with Armenia. Turkey must open the border without any conditions. The EU supports this also. A candidate for EU membership cannot have closed borders. At the same time, there should be no connection between the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict and Turkey’s diplomatic relations with Armenia. There will be great support for the opening of the border in Turkey. I am from Kars and have personally spoken with all the political parties in the region. Even the radical nationalists are in favor of opening the border. Azerbaijan’s demands on Turkey have no real base of support within Turkey. Keeping the border closed is not due to domestic pressure, just the opposite.

(2) Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code must be rescinded, along with some other restrictions in the code. Human rights organizations and NGO’s have a detailed list of all the articles that should be changed. This penal code is still a big problem for the freedom of speech in Turkey, and has been used by the nationalist media and justice system as a weapon against Turkish intellectuals.

(3) Confidence-building measures can be taken, and include changing public perception of the “other” (i.e., the Armenians). Reviving Armenian life and culture in Anatoli—by restoring Armenian churches and buildings, for example—a can be an effective method of doing this.

(4) Using tourism as an effective method to overcome the barriers between both societies. (Poland’s engagement with Jewish victims of the Holocaust during the World War II can serve as a model.)

(5) Mobilizing the cultural dynamic of both religions in different forms. Remembering the deaths and commemorating the victims by organizing different religious ceremonies, such as Mevlut in Islam.

(6) Genocide recognition can be likened to a violently shaken Coca-Cola can. The first thing is to develop a strategy that lets the gas escape before fully opening the can. This means that Turkish society needs to be prepared to accept the reality of the Armenian Genocide. You can extend the solution over a period of time, and by utilizing different steps. This does not mean temporizing or procrastinating. Instead, allow public discussion in the media, make it easier for critical intellectuals to address the subject.

(7) Regarding historians’ commissions: If two parties have problems on certain issues, there is nothing wrong with establishing certain commissions to work towards solving those problems. It is a common experience that we have from similar conflicts around the world. It would not be a bad idea to establish different commissions between Turkey and Armenia to work to overcome certain problems and foster good neighborly relations between the countries. However, I am ambivalent regarding the idea of a historians’ commission. Even though there is no serious proposal from the Turkish government, they want to have a commission with a sort of legal, judicial power to decide whether or not 1915 should be called a genocide. I would like to be clear that any commission with the power to decide what we should call the events of 1915 cannot work and has no chance of succeeding, for the simple reason that the result is known beforehand. Historians can verify the facts, but they cannot have the authority to give a legal jud
gment on the issue. The problem is not one of historians, but rather of politicians. Secondly, what we are missing in this conflict is not the lack of a legal decision.

(8) The term “genocide,” in my opinion, is not the source of the problem. It is a distraction, a complete red herring. I strongly argue that the term “crime” is the source of the problem, because in order to decide whether or not 1915 can be called a genocide, one must first establish that what occurred in 1915 was a crime. Without establishing a crime, you cannot discuss what sort of crime, which label is adequate to apply to 1915. We are not yet at this point. The conflict is not about which label to apply. The Turkish government categorically declines to accept that what happened in 1915 is a crime. There is no presupposition that what happened in 1915 was any type of crime. Turkish denial maintains that the state had the right to relocate its own people. If some of the deportees perished, that was a tragedy, not a crime. Therefore, no moral or legal condemnation is necessary. What we are missing in Turkey is the moral dimension.

(9) The available documents in the Ottoman archives in Istanbul, as well as those in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, etc., which provide ample evidence of genocide, are well known. There is no need for such a commission to look into these materials. However, to allocate funds to make some new materials (which haven’t been brought to light) available for scholars or to allow critical scholars unimpeded access to certain archives, such as the Turkish General Stuff Archive in Ankara or ATASE (which is still closed to scholars), and to publish such materials is an important idea. Similarly, allocating funds for the research and publication of special topics, such as the population and demographic figures, would also be very important. These special topics, however, can be organized without a historians’ commission and can be solved by cooperation between different universities and institutes. What we are missing is the lack of funding.

(10) I would prefer that a special commission be established with the aim of enlightening the Turkish public, rather than a judicial or legal organ that decides on the question of whether or not it is genocide. The main goal of such a commission would be to get the public ready to learn the truth about the events of 1915. This commission’s task could be formulated as the “normalization of the discourse on 1915.” Different public activities can be imagined, such as publications, public meetings, conferences, live TV discussions, etc. The main goal would be to prepare the public.

Recommendations: What the U.S. should do
In spite of the popularity of President Barack Obama, which has slightly improved the image of the U.S. in Turkey, there is still very strong resentment against the U.S. because of its policies during the Cold War years. Right or wrong, the vast majority of people believe that the U.S. was behind the military coup d’états of 1960, 1971, 1980, and 1997. It is strongly believed that the U.S. supported the anti-democratic, authoritarian military regimes in Turkey. The 2003 invasion of Iraq and the Bush Administration’s policies also contributed tremendously to the already negative image of the U.S. in Turkey.

The U.S. did indeed shape its policy in the region according to the necessities of Cold War. The character of the regime in Turkey was not important to the U.S. in the first place; to keep Turkey as a stable partner and as NATO’s stronghold and bastion in the region against the USSR was the key element of this policy. It policy entailed doing whatever was necessary to keep the military-bureaucratic elite happy. One of these policies related to the Armenian Genocide. The U.S. accepted the policy of avoiding history due to security concerns in the region. The U.S. was against the democratization process in Turkey until recently.

(1) My suggestion is that the U.S. should make very clear that it has abandoned this Cold War-era mentality and its support of anti-democratic forces in Turkey. Furthermore, I would like to suggest the idea of a general apology by the U.S. government to the people of Turkey for its Cold War policies, as it would dramatically improve the image of the U.S. in Turkey. The form and content of such an apology, of course, can be discussed. It could be in the form of acknowledgment that the U.S. was “not sensitive enough” to the democratic process in Turkey and contributed to its image as a supporter of a dictatorial regime, even if this was not the intention, etc.

(2) The U.S. should make clear in every instance that it is behind the democratization of Turkey. This could be in the form of giving unequivocal support to the AKP for narrowing the influence of the military. This hasn’t been done clearly enough. For example, the EU made it very clear in different instances that it saluted the attempt to push the military out of the political life. But there has been no clear political sign from the U.S.

(3) The U.S. should provide strong assistance to the acceleration and deepening of the Ergenekon investigation by opening certain files on Ergenekon activities in the U.S. There is a strong link between the anti-Armenian campaigns here in the U.S. and certain military-bureaucratic circles such as Ergenekon. If the U.S. reveals the anti-Armenian network in the U.S. and their connection with Ergenekon, it would change the atmosphere between Turks and Armenians here tremendously because the public, including the Armenian Diaspora and the Turks, would understand that there is a very strong relation between Turkey’s democratization and eliminating anti-Armenianism. The parties are not much aware of the strong link between anti-Armenian campaigns (including the denial of the genocide) and Ergenekon.

(4) If information is available, the U.S. could reveal Ergenekon activities in Azerbaijan, which could strengthen the hand of the Turkish government against Azerbaijani pressure.

(5) The U.S. should change its policy towards the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the security concept towards Turkey. A good analogy is the French concept of “Bon pour l’Orient!” translated as “It is good enough for the East!” During the 19th century, this concept legitimized French colonialism and provided justification for the humiliating treatment of the eastern countries they colonized and the acts committed there. The U.S. has to rid itself of this classic colonial patronization that dominated the Cold War period. If democracy is good for the U.S., then the same should be demanded of Turkey.

(6) The U.S. should support initiatives in both Turkish and Armenian civil societies that encourage open and constructive dialogue. More contacts, more meetings, more getting together, more knowing each other, will all help the process.

(7) The U.S. can exert pressure on the Turkish government to open the public sphere for more open discussion by critical scholars and support projects that help enlighten and educate the Turkish public.

(8) Finally, and most importantly, the U.S. should stop imprisoning itself and leave its own officials free to use the word genocide. There is nothing wrong in acknowledging the truth.

Taner Akcam

Taner Akcam

Taner Akcam is the Robert Aram, Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marion Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University.


  1. The term “conflict” implies an equal fault from both sides. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not quit sure how one race deciding to exterminate another defenseless race off of their ancestral homeland and then continuing that mass murder through threats, denial economic blockade etc. constitutes a “conflict”. Turkey is a criminal state and one should make no mistake. It should be acknowledged as such an treated as such. This article also forgot to mention the biggest Turkish flaw and that is the “master race” mentality that still permeates Turkish  society. This mentality is the core of all it’s criminal activities ie: It’s “right” to deport. It’s “right” to murder.  It’s “right ” to lie, steal, violate and oppress it minorities. Last, Turkey will not change from within. Being the ultra opportunist that it is, the only time Turkey will change is when the “opportunity” to come to terms with it criminal past, to be democratic, to respect all it’s minorities is greater to do so. This pressure only comes from the outside not from within, when it has no choice but to do it. When the rest of the world unites and says this type of behavior is no longer acceptable that is when Turkey will change.

  2. As we have seen and observed recently US pressure on Turkey is has been minimal,  not only because of national interest or security but unfortunately at this time  main  obstacles believe to be the Israel lobbies which has further complicated the whole issue.  

  3. – The United States of America has always used Turkey for its own psycho-political purposes against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and now, the USA is trying to use Turkey against Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran;
    – The conflict is between Turkey and Russia, not Turkey and Armenia;
    – A more severe and serious conflict is between Kurds and Turks inside the Republic of Turkey.

  4. Although I agree with the bulk of what our Anatolian brother says in the article, there is a pink elephant in the room everyone has ignored. There is a demographic bubble of Turkish youth in the urban centers that are a hybrid kind of Turk. Islamic and ultra nationalist, a kind of hyper-ottoman cadre of the future where european norms will be shed for nationalist-traditionalist ones. They are young and without direction but that will change. Turkey will go from the ataturk quote of ‘peace at home, peace abroad’ to which way to baku, yerevan, tabriz, kirkuk, batumi and salonika.  If you think the ottoman empire was bad, wait till mid century, nothing will stop the blood lust of Turks. There are ways to stop this from happening but Western Civilization/liberal democracy has run out of steam for self preservation.

  5.     Taner Akcam is a good sociologist who understands Turkiys Society and Government and Political Parties goal…It is unlikly that AKP , now in power will go to extreme Islam due to certain restrains in legal and military pressure and maybe AKP itself accepted moderate Islam. However, as Taner Akcam mentions in its recommendion some form of retributive and restitution for Kurds…but he did not go to mention these issue on Armenian case.

  6. So, should we understand, no homework for Armenian side?
    From this article, I gather that the ball is at the Turkish / Armenian /US court.
    It is very unusual for an international ‘conflict’ that one side is completely free of responsibilities; as nothing is black and white in real-life.
    And if that was the case, why the Armenian Government signed a protocol with Turkey? Why did Armenia accept some responsibilities, action items for herself for this road?
    Mr.Akcam’s this article might be reflecting not the democratic will of Armenians, but the view of a certain  political fundamentalists in Armenia who does not like normalization of relationship between 2 countries… As Mr.Akcam frequently is hosted by certain Armenian diaspora organizations in USA, it seems to me that he is paying his dues now, to block this roadmap…

  7. He makes very broad and sweeping statements without suppport, generalizations without backup, and with a very judgemental tone, devoid of scientific objectivity.

    There are so many holes, it is not worth a complete review.  He manages to fill pages here without a single mention of armed Armenian rebellions, attrocities and terroist acts committed by the revolutionaries, their unpunished crimes, their Greater Armenia plans and ambitions still alive today.  No mention of Dashnak and Hinchak who carry the real responsibility for the tragedy that Armenians suffered. 

    He mocks how everything related to this topic is made into a matter of Turkish national security and a false taboo, while right here average Armenians discuss if and when they recover Greater Armenia what to do the with the hords of Muslim majority there!  He claims Turks are made paranoid for self serving reasosn alone while his masters have clearly taken position against the protocols because it implies recognition of Turkey’s borders amng other things.

    He stubbornly ignores how Armenia’s reversal of their invasion of Azerbeycan and a postive development there could help reconciliation more than anythign else and AKP or any other government can not possibly go further without a real gain on this fundemental and strategic issue.  According to Taner, there is no releationship.  Instead his advice is more outside pressure, which is sure way to create a deeper backlash and confirm the worst conspiracy theories afoot.

    He seems to be oblivious to the concept and model of a nation state when it comes to Turkey.  A model Turks were the last to adopt.  A war that they fought against the colonial and imperial powers defined the country, not ethnicity or religion.  A complete opposite of Armenia and Greece for example.  He studiously ignores how the trauma of the WWI and the Independence War defined the regime and the role of military in it.  He ignores the fact that ALL regimes are unique, shaped by their unique path in history and culture.  By its very nature every new regime bad-mouths the previous one, so did Ataturk and his friends.  They needed to contrast.  Turkey today stands as proof that they mostly did right.

    What is the responsibility of Armenians in all this?  Apparently none. 

  8. Please give me a break! What is he talking about that is worth listening in this long, repetitive essay?
    Everything is changing, except Mr. Akcam, himself, which he apparently has the same opinions he had 30 years ago.
    He seems not to get over his Soviet-strong leftist interpretation of the dynamics in Turkey.
    Talk to some different people than the ones in your usual circle Mr Akcam to have a better understanding of Turkey. You fool no one when you voice someone else’s opinions.

  9. Hye, John, you have shown the Turk as the Turk is , from the Ottomans down to the present day,  in all the actions of the Turkish leaderships as well.  Are Turks going to admit to their own citizens that they have lied in all their denials of the Armenian Genocide?  The only way is for the Turkish government to be replaced as was the Nazi government of Germany after WWII… The current leaderships make agreements/break agreements; make alliances/break alliances, and more.  Not many of the civilized nations of the world, today, acts in this errotic behavior.   It is as if watching an
    immature adult acting as an immature teenager – who has yet to mature and behave as a civilized and dependable reliable adult.   Not today, Turkey acts as a spoiled brat, too, a bully.  Manooshag

  10. Mr. Taner Akcam is morally derived and truthfully explains us in detail all the malignant problems that befouls Turkey for what it has been a 100 years, and the fact that it hasn’t changed since then.

    John, I agree with your analysis and I must add that the rest of the world; meaning the most powerful nations in the world, (U.S., England, Russia, France) must change their ways of playing real polytik in the world for them to gain economically and more power to themselves, but forgetting their stand for morality, righteousness and ethics.  If the powerful nations of today truly want peace in the world; then they cannot deny Genocides of the past by being silent and siding with a denyalist government such as Turkey; because it will come to haunt them, proof is today’s Sudan’s barbarity against the Darfurians and their acts of mimicking Turkey.  For Turkey has shown them how to play around and dodge the Armenian Genocide by filling the pockets of U.S.’s congressmen, and forever shutting the mouths of the martyrs and their heirs from gaining even as little as acceptance of their miseries throughout 94 years since the Genocide.  The shame lies to the superpowers of today, and not just Turkey or Sudan; but the US, England, Russia, France who cease to act morally and ethically in the world.  They are therefore punishing the memory of the martyrs from the Genocide and their heirs; yet rewarding the countries that committed Genocides and continue to deny it, such as Turkey and Sudan.

  11. Dear Taner,
    Thanks for this article containing your clear vision as to what may be a way forward.  I am aware of your profound knowledge of the Armenian Question and the way Turkish society works. I found many of your points very insightful, not least when comparing them with what Hrant Dink said in his time. I also appreciate that this forum  gives me a chance to write to you directly.
    Your approach is (rightfully) global,  so let us consider some more recent global events:
    Nobody held the hands of hundreds of millions of East Europeans when Communism crumbled. Needless to say that nobody apologized to them for Cold War policies. Most of these people now live the EU.
    Nobody held the hands of the whole German nation earlier, when Willi Brandt knelt down at the memorial in the Warsaw Ghetto. Now, against many odds, Germany is unified again.  It is the largest country in the EU.
    Why does the World, and Armenians as some of those mostly affected,  owe Turkey the good will to be patient?
    You postulate that Turkey is a factor which has serious weight in world politics, but avoid commenting on the futility of this weight. You also do not mention its counterweight;  several years ago Jewish scholars came up with a (almost forgotten) study that Turkey’s GDP is on par with the cummulative Republic of Armenia and Diaspora equivalent of GDP.  Otherwise the Armenian Question would have been conveniently  long forgotten by now, wouldn’t it? Waiting for the right moment for things to happen in Turkey reminds me of a famous piece of Samuel Beckett – how long to wait: 5, 10 years, one generation, another century? I think this was the souce of misunderstandings between Hrant and some members of the Diaspora.
    You would say, we can do only things that can be done. If I agree with you, I would be putting myself in the “realpolitik overrules morality” camp. You say in your article that this cannot be a lasting solution. Godot has to come soon and I am not convinced the Turkish intelligencia sees the problem in this way.  And while they have a steep and slippery hill to climb, I have all members of my family but one, still unburried in the killing fields around  Sebinkarahisar. This was some 500-600km from the Russian positions, at a time when the fastest means of mass military transport was the horse.  This should be easy to grasp by anyone in present day Turkey.

  12. To Seervart:
    The U.S., England, Russia, and France have all committed genocide. They know the value of genocide. They have gained economically and geopolitically from genocide and other crimes against humanity. Sudan raped, murdered and enslaved 2 million Christians and Animists in southern Sudan before the Darfur crisis. In the next two years they will go back to killing and forced Islamization in the south. Genocide will never be stopped. turks have contempt for Armenians and have but one desire: to continue the Armenian genocide.
    To Mehmet:
    Taner Akcam’s reason for being is to truely democratize and pacify the blood lust of the turkish people. The Germans were an aggressive murderous bunch for well over 2,000 years. Now they have been pacified. Akcam is only using the Armenian genocide issue for the good of the turkish people not the Armenian. He is against restoration of Armenian existence on the Armenian Plateau. Without complete justice there can not be peace.
    To Murat:
    Apparently you have not received the latest turkish propaganda memo. Your diatribe is so 1980’s. The evidence is overwhelming that their was no rebellion 1915 and there was no attempt in 1915 for recreating  Greater Armenia. I know you truely believe your kemalist masters, but seriously, every excuse turks have made for the ethnic cleansing and mass murder of the Armenian people from their ancestral patrimony just does not holdwater with all the evidence, especially the German and Austrian political intelligence done in turkey during world war one. The Germans and Austrians made it clear that what was going on in turkey in 1915 was ‘race extermination’ and that rebellions were made up to facilitate the Armenian genocide.
    Greater Armenia will be Armenian inhabited again, as well as Lesser Armenia, Commagene and Cilicia. As for those illegally occupy Armenian lands… I, as a pan turanist, think the best option is  relocation…

  13. “Taner Akcam’s reason for being is to truely democratize and pacify the blood lust of the turkish people. The Germans were an aggressive murderous bunch for well over 2,000 years.”

    I am curious,; do some of you folks get together in open fields in the middle of the night and dance around a big burning cross dressed in white coats with long white cones on your heads?

    Taner is a relic of 70s, a rusty socialist still fighting long dead ideals and models.

  14. Herif,
     We all know you have your playbook on how to handle Akcam, socialist, relic, dead ideas etc very Reaganesque-kemalist 80’s. But you Murat, your rhetorical constructs are bipolar at best.  Referencing the kkk about mentioning historic German barbarity shows how the enemies of truth go about their business. Taking things out of context, lies sprinkled with truth, out and out lies etc..
              The rhetorical constructs/sophistry used by turks to deny the truth is I believe a mental illness because whatever the deniers of genocide cite is a manifestation of pure delirium. Compared to turks throughout history the kkk is a benevolent peaceful male bonding group. Trust me Murat nothing you have to say about the Armenian genocide or Armenian history holds water. Every Armenian genocide denial factoid is absolute intellectual fantasy. Your only way to fight back is to not use reason but  using hit and run tactics of attacking the messenger and some how (ludicrous in your last post) demonize the ideas when, in fact there is no basis in fact. So Murat become an intelligent participant. If you have ideas without vitriol then present them, if not then go away.

  15. The latest violations of elementary norms of democratic behaviour by all the organs and institutions of the Turkish state – this time against Kurdish democratic parties – is proof once again that it is incapable of reform from within and must be abolished from without, as the Nazi state was.
    Mr Akcam’s analysis, a masterly distillation of his two great works (A Shameful Act, and From Empire to Republic), do not withstand the evidence and, at the end of the day amount to wishful thinking.
    Let’s be clear about this: The Kurdish democratic movement, including the top leadership of the PKK, declare a ceasefire for the nth time, lay down their arms and leave the mountains and hand themselves over to the Turkish authorities only for the Deep State to conspire a terrorist attack against its own soldiers with a view to sabotaging the peace initiative of the Kurdish democratic movement with the Turkish ruling party – AKP- and provoking armed struggle again. Then the “Constitutional Court” in Ankara declares the Kurdish Democratic Society Party, which has been vocal and instrumental in bringing about the peace initiative, ceasefire and the dialogue, illegal! All this happening just before major local and national elections in Turkey where the ruling “reformist” AKP party, headed by Erdoghan and Gul,  are seen by many to be very vulnerable and worried about losing big time in Kurdish areas, where people are supporting the Kurdish Democratic Society Party in their droves.So the Deep State does its usual terrorist trick, the judiciary throws in its bit while the AKP ruling party/government is coordinating the attack behind the scenes – or at best wrings its hands with pleasure at the abolition of a major minority democratic party in the middle of a Deep State provoked almost civil war situation!Conclusion: there is no capacity or inclination for reform or dialogue from within Turkey, as the ideology and culture are deeply racist and Turkish ultra-nationalist. Indeed the situation is hardly different from Nazi Germany which had to be destroyed from without, by the combined efforts of the civilised world – the Allies – before German society itself and all its neighbouring peoples and countries could be rid of the poison of Nazi racist militarism and foundations of a democratic German state could be laid – only on the total ruins of the racist-militarist Nazi state.The denial of the Armenian Genocide by the same racist state and its continued deep hostility towards and hatred of the Armenian people and the Republic of Armenia are parts and parcel of the same problem, as are the continued occupation of Cyprus and saber-rattling with Greece in the Aegean – to mention but a few of the problems caused by Turkey.The Turkish state, therefore, including its “reformist” AKP government, are clearly incapable of effecting any real reforms, despite their pretences and Mr Taner Akcam’s good intentions and wishful thinking; unfortunately for him, the evidence simply is not there. If anything the Deep State, were it to develop biological or chemical weapons, not to mention nuclear ones, soon could actually cause a serious threat to all its European neighbours – Bulgaria, Greece and even Russia. It must be destroyed and abolished by the civilised world before that tragic stage is reached which will additionally lay the foundations for a truly democratic society in Turkey itself for the benefit of all the peoples living in Turkey.

  16. You are right Dino as that’s what Turks wish to do.  They want to continue their stupid idiotic sick and warped dreams of pan-turanism but they will not do away with Armenia, that will not happen.  Instead as you have already mentioned; we shall have back Greater Armenia, Lesser Armenia and «Աստուծոյ կամքով ԾՈՎԻՑ ԾՈՎ ՀԱՅԱՍՏԱՆ մեր երկիրը դրախդավայր»:

  17. ‘ I, as a pan turanist, think the best option is  relocation…”

    You mean Tehcir?   You are confusing it with deportation probably.  Then again there is so little you get right.

  18. What if no one person has all the right or wrong answers? What if we mute the noise in our minds and listen to our hearts? What if we consider some of the points raised by Mr. Akcam? What if we consider the opposite viewpoints? What if the very point of the article is to just consider with open minds and open hearts? What if the discussions are around round tables as opposed to square ones? What if it’s not about choosing sides but choosing truth? God Bless!

  19.     In my view people like Taner Akcam and Orham Pamuk(and others) should be viewed as positive role model in Turkey. They have brought honor to Turkey as Turks contributing to the greater society… be it academics or journalism. Forgetting our Armenian perspective, there work is a good thing for Turkey.The fact that they have not been received in an appropriate manner illustrates how far Turkey has to go. As Armenians, we need to encourage this type of civil society emerging inTurkey. We have much to learn as Armenians(especially in the diaspora) have had little contact with Turks for many years. We are neighbors and always will be. It is in our mutual interest to learn from each other. The objectives of our sacred Armenian Cause will nor be achieved without a meaningful engagement with Turkish society…civil, political, cultural, academic, etc. This must be our motivation and as the anger in our hearts subsides… perhaps, just perhaps, we may make a few friends. Our cause will be best served with commitment and a pure heart.

  20. Murat:
    I do mean relocation, albeit temporary. A sunni turkish state in the desert region of Konya. About 11,000 square miles will suffice. Living an authentic turkish life in yurts. Preparation for a new life in turkmenistan and kazakhstan. As to what I get right, it’s all of the time, the proof of that is you have not refuted anything I have written. If you try, I have all the answers to explain turkish sophistry. You need to go back to turkish propaganda class for some retraining. You are a bit rusty in the rhetorical baloney of genocide denial. Every turkish construct against the Armenian genocide or Armenian history is pure fiction. Laughable in fact once deconstructed / analysed. The turkish ethos seeks to destroy everything Armenian. It is part of what I call turkic identity crisis. The turks who spend time fighting Armenians are actually the children of Armenians. The Ergenekon group is an excellent example. Many of the leaders are of Armenian descent. Abdul Hamid II’s mother was Armenian. He orchestrated the mass murder and forced conversions of 500,000 Armenians during his reign. So Murat, I would probably venture you are a child of an Armenian! So embrace your non-turkishness Murat and end your contempt of Armenians and contempt of all things Armenian. But then what will you do with yourself?

  21. We must thank Dino for explaing here exactly what Ottomans have faced 100  years ago and why they were forced to take the measures they took against the Armenians who were bent on total ethnic cleansing of all Turks from most of Anatolia.  I mean, just imagine his kind a century ago, and one now gets a picture of what Ottomans faced.

    Dino thinks being a Turk is a matter of DNA or ethnic trait.  That is exactky how Hitler thought too.  He has no clue as usual, about the difference between Turk and Turkic.  People of  Turkey represent a mixture of multitude of ethnicities, some Turkic, many not.  There is no ethnic defintion.  Whoever calls himself a Turk is a Turk in our book.  There is no doubt many have Armenian blood, Kurdish, Greek, Arab, Persian, and many others also.  Anyone born there and embraces the flag is a Turk.  Most nationalistic Turk I ever met was an Armenian.  If anything, language is the common bond.   I doubt if any of this is penetrating.

    I am grateful though about lands around Konya Dino deemed good enough for Turks.  It would be awfully crowded with 75M, but at least he did not propose gas chambers and ovens.  Maybe it waqs implied.  I am also sure Dino does not know that Konya comes from Iconium!  So even that seems to be an incomplete solution!

  22. barbarian,
    I really dont have the time to deconstruct all your fantasies. But I will say this, I use terms precisely, although you wish to interpret them as you want. I am a turkish citizen and I speak turkish fluently. I know every square inch of so called turkey, it’s history, geography and ethnic make up.   Ten’s of millions of Anatolians would not dare call themselves turks. I attended a family and friends get together yesterday I brought you up about your “everyone is a turk” and you were  laughed down. 30 bolsahyes laughing to tears.   Yours is only a fantasy of kemalist bigots who run a barbarian state. 
    I’m glad you think the way you think. barbarians love to underestimate Armenians. It’s that chip on their shoulder of thinking they are superior. As for Konya, you dont know my entire land distribution program, naturally, but the city of Konya would not be within the temporary turkic homeland. No city would be included. You are a nomadic tent people. Yurts murat, yurts! You came to Anatolia with nothing and you will leave with nothing.
     The temporary turkic homeland would not just include 30 million turks of anatolia but the turks of Azerbaijan, turkified kurds and the turks of all of southwest asia. Alevi turkish speaking Anatolians, Alevi Kurds pro Armenian sunni kurds and other sunni’s who have rendered assistance may stay in their homes across anatolia and thrace. 

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