Mouradian: Re-Entering the River: Dispatches from Turkey (Part I)

ANKARA, Turkey (A.W.)—I am in Turkey again.

Let me rephrase that: I am in the Turkey of March 2010. Because, much like Heraclitus’s river, you can’t enter the same Turkey twice.

This is a country that is in constant change—change for the better and change for the worse, depending on when your toes touched the water.

And this makes commentary on Turkey quite difficult and challenging. No matter how many commentaries one reads, or how many times one enters the river, when making predictions about Turkish politics, you might as well flip a coin. It’s anybody’s guess.

There is one statement that can be made quite safely: Turkey is at a crossroads. No matter when you say it, you are probably right. Sometimes I imagine Turkey as a person sitting at a crossroads (with a lot of baggage), while everyone else is flipping coins…

But I digress.

I am a member of a nine-member delegation of U.S. commentators and analysts visiting Turkey at the invitation of TEPAV (Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey). The editor of the Armenian Reporter, Emil Sanamyan, is also part of the delegation. We are scheduled to meet Turkish leaders and politicians in Ankara and Istanbul, and make a trip to Kars/Ani.

Over the next week, I will be reporting and sharing my experiences with the readers of the Armenian Weekly and Asbarez newspapers. My writings will resemble blog posts; the longer and more detailed reports and interviews will be published upon my return.

Now I have to wrestle jetlag and try to recover from a full day up in the air and in airports.

See you tomorrow!

Dr. Khatchig Mouradian

Dr. Khatchig Mouradian

Khatchig Mouradian is the Armenian and Georgian Area Specialist at the Library of Congress and a lecturer in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. He also serves as Co-Principal Investigator of the project on Armenian Genocide Denial at the Global Institute for Advanced Studies, New York University. Mouradian is the author of The Resistance Network: The Armenian Genocide and Humanitarianism in Ottoman Syria, 1915-1918, published in 2021. The book has received the Syrian Studies Association “Honourable Mention 2021.” In 2020, Mouradian was awarded a Humanities War & Peace Initiative Grant from Columbia University. He is the co-editor of a forthcoming book on late-Ottoman history, and the editor of the peer-reviewed journal The Armenian Review.


  1. I am not Armenian, but have lived in Armenia, speak the language well enough, still visit often, and firmly believe in the reality of the Genocide.  Never the less, I also like Turkey and have many Turkish friends.  I hope for smoe balanced and insightful reporting.  Orhan Pamuk, who is unknown in Armenia, is not the only Turk who is honest about the Genocide.  I have met many.  I will be interested in reading whether or not you have any similar experiences.,  I conclude with an aside:  Mr. Pamuks stand was courageous, and it is ironic that even well educated Armenians are in the dark about this.  Can anyone shed any light on why this might be so?

  2. Today from BBC news at
    “Turkey threatens to expel 100,000 Armenians
    Turkey’s prime minister has threatened to deport 100,000 Armenian migrants, amid renewed tensions over Turkish mass killings of Armenians in World War I.”
    He’s not just threatening to send away illegal immigrants, its code to release the paramilitaries to attack and kill Armenians across the country.

  3. Hey Jim, I don’t wouldn’t say many Armenians are uneducated regarding Pamuk. He is now worldly renowned writer and his books are translated in more than 40 languages, one of which is Armenian. I am well aware of it, despite leaving in the U.S., but I have many Armenian friends in Armenia who are also well aware of Pamuk.

  4. Non-Armenian US commentators are constantly going to Turkey and coming back (or staying there) and writing puff pieces, garbage, and lies, or simply not reporting the truth.  I think we are all familiar with the falsehoods spewed out by the NY Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, the Economist, etc.
    How does this trip differ from previous trips? What is the motivation of TEPAV (Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey) in inviting Armenians to Turkey, and what are the motives of Armenians in accepting?  What is to be gained?

  5. Ara Papian correctly states today that “Just as we were saying, Turkey hasn’t changed.”
    So, what are the motives of Armenians in going on this all exclusive paid trip to Turkey and Western Armenia? Self-promotion?
    And, what does accepting such Turkish offers say about the ARF’s commitment to advancing the Armenian Cause?

  6. Kevork and in extension ARA.Papian,
    I don’t wish to sound sarcastic,but …let  us say,rather I like to say that I kid…
    Perhaps they wish to have  another go-like the previous ones(…) that thought Young Turks declarations as  to “brotherhood<Liberty and Freedom  etc., to find out  if the New Generation ‘Young Turks”  have changed..
    Now seriously, it may be so for very few limited count ones..but  even -if more  than few-How can they be considered-as a whole- upgraded,emancipated and standing up against  their present day Militay Junta9s and/or governmen ts-here hint  is to Great Turkey.Or perhaps tagging along with Emericans  they have the wrong notion that  previously referred to Junta et al   are als emancipated Pamuks, or the ultra  nationlists.
    Wanna  have another try? or is it  what  Kevork  mentions up above/
    Sometiems  our dear Young editors/politicians totally set aside the realities-do not follow  day to day developments (see above 100,000) and such “Chantage-like” references..or even read harut Sassounian like authors-spokesmen…
    Whatever..hope  they enjoy turkish lokums -baklavas ,thus making  their  hosts  happy,commenting  on these niceties as well. However, if  other motives  have   prompted  the to be there ..such as reporting  of a SUDDEN CHANGE  IN great Turkey’s stance twards  the “protocols,like just  having decided  to sign  them or ..even soften up  a little w/rgd to Genocide REcognition(with some provisions  .you know  turkish style ..piano paino,”yavash  avash’…then Let  us wait  and see as a Brit  would say…
    Hama Haigagani SIRO,

  7. We all need to ask, how many generations of Armenians lived with and under Turkish rule, and lived quite well under the protection of the sultans, for a very long time?  During 1000 years of living side by side, how many intermarried along the way?  How many changed identities and became the other?  As much as some of today’s diasporan Armenians have distain for anything they see as being ‘Turkish’, the truth is that their grandparents and all who came before them for many generations, were as much a part of the fabric of Turkish society as those few who were truly Turkish.  It has been said that the Armenians were more Turkish (probably meaning, ‘Anatolian’), than anyone else in the Ottoman empire.  For hundreds and hundreds of years, Armenians contributed significantly to Ottoman society, and were a valued component of it, as well as to the Seljuk empire that came before. Who do you think built all those amazing Seljuk structures?  Not Seljuks, that’s for sure.  In that sense and many others, Turks and Armenians are deeply intertwined, despite the hostility that developed as a result of 1915 and the creation myths/lies that underlie today’s republic of Turkey.  Turkey is truly home for most diasporan Armenians, one that most have never visited.  Perhaps a blanket invitation is in order, to reacquaint Armenians with their historic roots there?  The ball is truly in Turkey’s court to make a positive and significant move, and I suspect this is on the way, despite all the sidetracking. Truth will win and see the light of day, even in Turkey, and everyone will be better as a result. Turkey will achieve a new status in the world and Armenians will feel more comfortable than ever visiting the lands of their ancestors. No one can change the past, but everyone can have a hand in changing the future. Khatchig’s visit is part of that transformation, I believe.

  8. Belated response to Armen.  Thanks for your response.  I freely admit that I have not inquired widely about Orhan Pamuk in Armenia.  Perhaps I had bad luck with my sampling.  I happen to personally feel that what Orhan Pamuk did was very very important and hope that it can be widely appreciated among Armenians, who apparently do have some friends in Turkey.

  9. I have Orhan Pamuks book. Read most of it. We Armenians have always known that it was a minority that comited the atrocities. We are grateful to the minority that helped us escape sure death; They risked much to help us survive. It is politically incorrect to mention that in the Turkey of today. Those who speak up for the Armenians, risk much. Just my father risked his life and that of his family to help Jews escape from Romanian concentration camps, he never mentioned it until decades after we emigrated to the US. Why, because there are still anti semites around who would harm us if they could. We are a traumatized population of formerly Ottoman citizens, who need to understand the continuing hatred and denial on the part of those who run Turkey. A few monuments to the righteous Turks is a long time coming. But first Turkey has to change, much like Germany has. The victimizer has to show contrition and make amends, before the victim can regain his composure and relax enough to see past the “yatagan”. I am a second generation  Armenian from Kaisery, as much as I feel animosity towards the present Turkish government, I have more in common with Turkey than I have towards Armenia. I am an Ottoman subject yearning to return from exile, but will not do so until I am sure of having equal rights with the common Turk. I will not accept second class citizenship and the terror that Armenians experience there even today. 

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