Mouradian: Meeting with Turkish President Gul: Dispatches from Turkey (Part III)

ANKARA, Turkey—Our delegation of nine commentators and journalists from the U.S. (including two Armenians) met with Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Fri., March 19. Also present at the meeting was the Turkish ambassador to the U.S., Namik Tan, who was recalled after the House Foreign Affairs Committee vote on the Armenian Genocide. During most of the 45-minute meeting held at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, the only two issues the president discussed or answered questions about were related to the Armenian Genocide and Iran.

In his introductory remarks, the president of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), M. Rifat Hisarciklioglu, said to the president: “One of the members of the American delegation, Khatchig Mouradian, speaks Turkish with an Istanbul accent, even though he wasn’t born in Turkey.”

After that, Gul was told that the two main topics consistently on the agenda during the delegation’s meeting were the Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s Iran policy. He allocated a considerable amount of time to talk about Turkey’s official policies on those two issues. (We will publish a detailed report on Gul’s remarks later this weekend).

Answering a question by my colleague Emil Sanamyan, Gul said that Turks, Armenians, and others all experienced a great tragedy during World War I. He noted, “Millions of Turks were deported from the Balkans after living there for hundreds of years, and three million of them were killed in the process.”

At the end of the meeting, as photographers took pictures of the delegation, I approached President Gul, who greeted me in Turkish. I told him (also in Turkish): “I learned Turkish because my grandparents and other elderly women who were survivors of the Armenian Genocide used to speak the language. Armenians had nothing to do with the fate of the Turks in the Balkans, nor do they deny what happened to the Turks in the Balkans. Most of those who survived 1915 are dead now. But what do you say to the few survivors who are still alive and waiting for acknowledgment from Turkey?”

Gul insisted that he understands the pain and suffering of all those who were killed during the tragedies.

Minutes later, as I was leaving the hall, he added, “My best regards to the elderly.”

25 Comments on Mouradian: Meeting with Turkish President Gul: Dispatches from Turkey (Part III)

  1. Vartzget gadar Baron Mouradian.

  2. Dashnaks have become extremely arrogant. They always demand something! They have become so complacent with their propaganda BS that they are actually starting to believe it themselves. This piec show how cordial and respectful Turks are.

  3. I have a lot to say to this comment, but let me just say “Why do we have to put up with such hateful commentary in an Armenian publication?”

  4. Dear Ani,

    I couldn’t agree with you more.  Regardless that anyone can speak his or her mind and should be allowed to do so in a democratic paper and environment; however there’s a limit to everything, when the posts from a particular individual becomes redundant, inconstructive, generalizations without also mentioning at least the good as well as not the good of any people or organization; or at least by trying to educate himself towards it, and finally the destructiveness of the posts from that same individual,  what may happen is the spirit of the other commentators will be put down and the intelligent ones may decide to abstain from coming here and commenting altogether.  Perhaps the unintelligent and the destructive poster’s wish is just that.  So yes on this note, I most certainly agree with you.

  5. A good job well done dear Mr. Mouradian.  You asked president Gul a smart question.  I am glad you did.

  6. avatar Papken Hartunian // March 20, 2010 at 10:34 pm // Reply

    “This piec show how cordial and respectful Turks are.”
    Robert, Turks are cruel, brutal, and domineering men.
    See: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unbridged Dictionary of the English Language. ISBN: 0-517-11864-5

  7. avatar shantagizoum // March 21, 2010 at 12:27 am // Reply

    LATEST !!! 
    WAIT  AND SEE!!!

  8. How pathetic!  Gul says he knows what happens and yet still lies.  If this is not a picture of hypocrisy and evil then I don’t know what is.

  9. PS Turks left Greece, for example, in a negotiated exchange of populations between the two countries.  This is not deportation to the desert without food or water, it did not result in the slaughtering of 1.5 million people.  There is “deportation” which really means deportation, and then there is the “deportation” which was the signal to the Nazis of how they should go about their own “deportations” of the Jews and others they deemed unworthy of survival.

  10. Dear Janine,

    I understand your point. However, I have a couple of points to make.

    Population exchanges (or as you call them deportations)  were not exactly escorted trips. There were a lot of violent killings and massacres there as well. Thousands of Greeks (I don’t  have exact numbers but I believe it is as high as 200, 000) lost their lives in the process.

    In addition, I  believe what Gul was referring to is the expulsion of Turks subsequent to the Balkan War of 1912 and not the Greek population exchange which happened in 1923. Large number of Turks did die of hunger during and after their expulsion, in additon to massacres in the Balkans. There were thousands of hungry and homeless  Balkan Turks in the streets of Istanbul. This site made the Turks feel totally humiliated. Some of these Balkan Turks were then settled in the houses of Armenians soon after their rightful owners were sent on to the death marches.

    I agree with your previous e-mail. As one wise man once said denial is the final stage of genocide. So the Armenian Genocide still continues. I commend  Mr. Mouradian courage for his comments to the President. I am looking forward to read his detailed articles when he gets back.

  11. avatar Mehmet Fatih // March 21, 2010 at 10:34 pm // Reply

    I wasn’t going to write, since it proved to be useless in the past many many times; how can I talk in a civilised way if you think I am blood thirsty Turk. Shame on you those who are racists.
    But your ignorance and racism reached a level that is way beyond the imagination of anyone with some sensible history knowledge. You are mixing population exchanges with Turco-Russian war migrations then someone else mixing it with Balkan wars migrations; and without shame someone also writes here how Turks killed Greeks (Christian Crusader Brotherhood), and also totally ignoring what happened to the Musliman peoples of Caucasus who were once the majority; including the capital of Armenia, today, once called Revan.
    Where are those people today – proudly exterminated to open space for a free Armenia, right?
    Is there any other nation on earth, so shamelessly blaiming another nation for exactly what they have done?
    There will be no possible peace between us, unless you acknowledge the people murdered at the hands of Armenians?
    Cheers all,

  12. avatar Soghomon Teylerian, Jr. // March 22, 2010 at 10:09 am // Reply

    To Mehmet: I normally refrain from responding to a Turk. What can a civilized Armenian, or Greek, or Assyrian, whose culture, arts, entrepreneurial mastery, and rich history are world-renowned for millennia, try to say to a representative of nomadic Seljuk tribes that appeared in the Armenian Highlands from the steppes of Central Asia only in 11th century, spreading fire and sword over indigenous peoples inhabiting the land for millennia? A representative whose modern republic was founded only in the 20th century on blood and bones of many civilized nations? What can I say to a brainwashed Turk, whose controversial Article 301 in the Penal Code makes it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish ethnicity, or Turkish government institutions? Prominent French writer Victor Hugo has described the influence of the Turks in the following lines: “Les Turcs ont passé a tout est ruine et deuil.” (The Turks have traversed there, all is ruin and mourning.) Fellow Muslim Arabs used to describe the Turks the following way I one of their songs:
    Three things naught but evil work–
    The locust the vermin, and the Turk.
    How can I talk to a representative of a nation whose ‘civilized’ grandparents burnt and buried Armenians alive, raped virgins in front of their families, stripped Christian pastors in front of their parishioners, organized death marches to the Syrian deserts, burnt people in caves, drowned them in Euphrates river and the Black Sea, and deported the people en masse? And when the natural outrage against these heinous crimes comes out of the Armenian descendents of these victims, a Turk dares to call us ‘racists.’ Moreover, he takes an offense when all civilized nations in the world call them bloodthirsty based on their knowledge on what indescribable tortures Turks performed on Armenians and others. He invited us to have a ‘sensible history knowledge’… Us, Armenians, who are known on ancient maps from the 2nd millennium B.C., like that of Ptolemy, in the records of great historians, travelers, geographers, warriors like Alexander the Great, and philosophers like Xenofonte. Whose own works in these disciplines now adorn leading libraries in Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and the U.S. He dares to charachterize national-liberation movements and uprisings of the indigenous Balkan peoples and Armenians in Western Armenia, who were enslaved by the Ottomans for hundreds of years, as ‘population exchanges,’ ‘Turco-Russian war migrations,’ or ‘Balkan wars migrations.’ I just learnt from a Turk that liberating a nation from a Turkic yoke is considered ‘shameless.’ Wow!
    As for Muslim people of the Caucasus, they are just extensions of Seljuk-Turk invasions, some of whom had settled in the region. Where are these Muslims now? Simple. In a ‘nation’ that’s been created only in the 20th century and stole its name from a historical province in Iran – in Azerbaijan. As for Yerevan, the name of which (to add to your ‘sensible history knowledge’) derives from Erebuni, a city of Armenian state of Urartu, the ruins of which are still preserved in the vicinity of Yerevan. As for Muslims residing in Yerevan, they once, indeed, were above 50% of the population for a couple of decades in the 19th century, but our sensible history knowledge suggests that these provinces were guberbniyas (provinces) of the Russian Empire, and Yerevan (called Erivan,and never ‘Revan’, at the time) was just a provincial city, just like Kars was a city in another Russian province of Kars, now occupied by the Turks. Our sensible history knowledge also suggests that the mainland of Armenians historically were in the Western Armenia (which Turks now call ‘Eastern Anatolia’), and only a smaller part – current Republic of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh) and a province in Georgia – constituted an Eastern Armenia.
    One last thing. The world knows what Turks have done to Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Babylonians, Arabs, and Kurds, and not the other way around. Massive undeniable historical evidence exists in the leading international repositories, archives, and witness accounts. And sooner or later, the Turks will be punished for their crimes against humanity. If you believe in God, you should know that crimes against fellow human beings never go unpunished.

  13. avatar Havshatuni // March 22, 2010 at 2:58 pm // Reply

    If you don’t want to read ranting people this is not the publication for you.  Still, there ought to be some filtering.  Mr Fatih calls for consideration of history and then comes up with an incoherent list of out of context “facts” desigened to elicit sympathy for his chosen ones and prove the guilt of Armenians.  Come on guys, get this goof ball some books.

  14. Hei Mehmet
    First of all you should learn to pronounce names correctly. The capital of Armenia is not Revan, but Yerevan, the old Erebouni of the Urartian empire. Armenians were there since 3000 years and there was never a moajority Muslim population in Yerevan. Perhaps at some point when foreign invaders like your ancesters, who came from Central Asia some 600 years ago and settled in the conquered lands, the demography of the land changed to some extent, but at no point in history was there a “majority of Muslim population in Yerevan” (!!!). Not that I am against Muslims, but this is one of the many lies that Pan-Turkists spread in order to justify their cruelties to Armenians and other nations. 
    By the way, do you know what your own surname means? It means: “invader”. Armenians aren not “shamelessly” blaming the invaders for their barbarities. It is those invaders who shamelessly continue to deny the facts and by their own action make themselves objects of ridicule in the eyes of other nations. 
    Get out of our ancestral lands invader.

  15. “Is there any other nation on earth, so shamelessly blaiming[blaming] another nation for exactly what they have done?”
    Mehmet Fatih, yes, there is only one nation on earth is called the Republic of Turkey. Turks lost their privilege being called a human race after killing millions of human beings under the color of human race. Therefore, if Armenian are racist, which they are not, they cannot be racist against Turks because there is no such human race called Turks. Thus, your accusations against Armenians are baseless.

  16. avatar Berge Jololian // March 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm // Reply

    It is NOT the job of Armenians to “reform” Turkey, as desirable as that may be.  We are not their psychiatrists or their nannies.
    Genocide denial is not just the simple negation of an act; it is much more the consequent continuation of the very act itself.  Genocide should not only physically destroy a community; it should likewise dictate the prerogative of interpretation in regard to history, culture, territory and memory; as the victims, Armenians never existed.
    The Turkish have not only murdered humans, destroyed an ancient culture and civilization, and rewritten history, Turkey continues to legitimize the act as well as the racist ideology that led to the act.  This includes the legitimization of any and all stereotyping of the Armenian people as a dangerous enemy, as a deadly bogeyman in the closet.
    Denial is the final step in the completion of a mass extermination – and the first step towards the next genocide.

  17. by your own logic the japanese and germans lost the right to be called human after the rape of nanking and the holocaust. Blaming people for the crimes of their forefathers is the act of a savage. What happened years ago was disgusting and wrong, but if we follow your own logic everyone who has ever comitted genocide (the romans, who wiped out carthage, the japanese, who slaughtered chinese, the germans, who tried to annihalate jews gypsies and slavs, the Americans who slaughtered the natives, the spanish who exterminated the mayans and aztecs) deserve to be annihalated as well. What of what Armenians have done in Azerbaijan where both have committed crimes?

    The only thing seperating you from those turks who wronged the armenians is power. If you were in the same place you’d be as monstrous. By treating a whole race as a monolith you risk becoming monstrous. If anyone risks being savage it is people like you.

  18. so the fact that there are turks who have protested anti armenian treatment like the assassination iof hrant dink means nothing? You are called racist because you ARE racist. You want to punish a whole group for something done years ago. For “civilized people” you guys on this column sure are bloodthirsty

    • Ryan, punishment for the crime of genocide is not subject to time and place limitations. And modern-day Turkey is the successor-state of the Ottoman Empire. Where is racism here? And who will compensate the loss of 2 mln innocent civilians, their ancestral lands, their properties, their schools, churches, and monasteries, their pastures and villages, their bank accounts and insurance indemnities? Why a demand for justice is racist? Because Turkey wants to get away with mass murder of a particular ethnic group, doesn’t she?

    • Ryan,

      Turks are not a race but an ethnic group. No one wants or is interested in punishing the whole group. All Armenians ask your country is to acknowledge Armenian genocide and return what your country and people stole from Armenians which includes churches, cultural sites, properties, land, and monetary compensation for annihilating 1.5 million Armenians and destroying their culture.

      ”so the fact that there are turks who have protested anti armenian treatment like the assassination iof Hrant Dink means nothing?”

      It does mean a lot to us and many Armenians thanked and continue to thank whose honorable Turks. But, we also remember the hate speech in Taksim square not too long ago. Armenians are Bastards. We will descend in Yerevan on night etc.

      And please refrain from comparing the uncompilable i.e. Germans with Turks with regard to how these two societies handled the genocides committed by their governments.

  19. The fact is, today’s Turks are not the same Turks of history, who built an empire and respected those they conquered because it was the subject peoples who did all the work to create wealth, knowledge and culture for their warrior conquerers. Those early Turks understood, very deeply, how much of what they had came from the Armenians, the Greeks and others who had lived in Anatolia for thousands of years before their arrival. It was only the deep racism of the Young Turks, many of whom had no ties to Anatolia at all or even to anything Turkish, that allowed such hatred to develop and flourish as state policy. Of course, they were imposters who used a divide and conquer strategy to steal the empire from its original inhabitants.

    Historically, the Seljuks and Ottomans sat on the subject peoples like an octopus, but allowed – in fact, encouraged, them to flourish because that was good for the empire and everyone living in it. The CUP was just the opposite…it sat on society like a blood sucking parasite, pulling out all the life-giving essence and then killing the victim. It seems that Gul’s mindset has been formed, like that of most modern Turks, by an evil, hateful philosophy that elevates Turks artificially and reduces everyone else to a lower level status, no matter how much they contributed to Turkish culture, civilization and life over the last thousand years. It’s hard to imagine in the modern age, yet it is a racist caste system that grew out of the CUP’s genocidal, racist mentality, and fed by those who came after them. Unfortunately, while many of today’s ‘Turks’ are not even truly Turkish at all, many have been infected with this nasty credo and continue the CUP legacy, either because they feel obligated to or because they are forced. Clearly, they have been brainwashed. It is almost like the artificial Soviet mentality that tried to create a new identity out of many disparate peoples. It never truly worked. Turkey is yet another example, and this time, even Muslims are not safe….the Kurds – both inside and outside of Turkey – are suffering immeasurably from daily attacks by the Turkish army. So, the racism isn’t religious based or solely Armenian focused….it is directed towards all those who will not submit to the old CUP mantra of Turks-first.

    • Karekin,

      I’d like to denounce some of your arguments, one by one:

      “The fact is, today’s Turks are not the same Turks of history” –If they’re not the same Turks, then what prevents them to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia, lift the economic blockade of Armenia, open the borders between the two countries, stop providing the diplomatic and military support to AzerBEYjan, and recognize the crimes of their predecessor Turks?

      “Those early Turks understood, very deeply, how much of what they had came from the Armenians, the Greeks and others who had lived in Anatolia for thousands of years before their arrival.” –Those early Turks used the civilizational skills and achievements of the native inhabitants of Asia Minor. The toponym ‘Anatolia’ (Anadolu) is the newest Turkish invention in the best Turkish traditions to Turkify everything that never belonged to them. Throughout history the region was known as Eastern Asia Minor. Their ‘arrival’?! You suggest that the natives: Byzantine Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, and others—were impatiently waiting for the ‘arrival’ of Seljuk Turks and Mongols just to be subjugated by them? It was a sheer invasion of nomadic warrior tribes of the Seljuks and the Mongols from the steppes some 3000 miles away into the territories inhabited by sedentary, nobler, and more civilized peoples.

      “It was only the deep racism of the Young Turks, many of whom had no ties to Anatolia at all or even to anything Turkish, that allowed such hatred to develop and flourish as state policy.” –‘Damned Sultan’, as the Europeans called him, Abdulhamid II was not a Young Turk. Yet, it was during his reign when up to 300,000 Armenians were savagely slaughtered in what has become known in history as Hamidian Massacres of 1894-1896. It was the Sultan’s forces that mass murdered some 30,000 Armenians of Adana in 1909. In 1922, when Young Turks were no longer in power, who ordered burning the Greeks and the Armenians alive in Smyrna?

      “Historically, the Seljuks and Ottomans sat on the subject peoples like an octopus, but allowed – in fact, encouraged, them to flourish because that was good for the empire and everyone living in it.” –I guess we have a different understanding of ‘encouragement to flourish’. The subjugation of the native peoples into voiceless millets cannot be termed as ‘encouragement to flourish’. There was ethnic discrimination in gendarmerie, courts, dress code, and residential preferences, limitations in practicing religion, inequality in paying taxes, other cases showing the supremacy of the Muslims. Add to this the constant pillages, marauding, and abductions in the Armenian villages by the Muslim bands, and even the right for first night for Kurdish chieftains, and one that has ears and eyes will come to no other conclusion that the situation of the Western Armenians was a classical case of the oppressed under a colonizer.

      “It seems that Gul’s mindset has been formed [and] grown out of the CUP’s genocidal, racist mentality, and fed by those who came after them.” –Gul’s mindset has been formed and grown out of the Ottoman mentality, not the CUP’s mentality. I can’t imagine that just ten years of the CUP’s rule (from 1908 until 1918) could have left greater influence on modern-day Turkish rulers than centuries of the Ottoman rule.

      “Unfortunately, many of today’s Turks have been infected with this nasty credo and continue the CUP legacy”. — Many of today’s Turks have been infected with the Kemalist credo of Turkish ‘supremacy’. CUP legacy has nothing to do with it.

      “So, the [Turkish] racism isn’t religious based or solely Armenian focused; it is directed towards all those who will not submit to the old CUP mantra of Turks-first.” –The old CUP mantra of Turks-first was followed by the Kemalist mantra of Turks-first; and before the CUP it was preceded by the Ottoman mantra of Turks-first. This is what originally uncivilized nomads thought of themselves throughout all times. Singling out the CUP years out of much lengthier periods of the Turkish history is a tacit attempt at putting all the blame on the Ittihadists. Whereas several historical instances clearly demonstrate that the mistreatment of the Asia Minor Christian natives was an ongoing Turkish policy.

  20. Thank you for the thoughtful replies. I would like to get a few things out of the way.

    1.) I’m caucasian American. I have known Turkish people in high school, but I am not Turkish myself.

    2.) I’m not trying to deny the Armenian Genocide or say Turkey didn’t do wrong. It did. Even the two turks I did know in high school (both were pretty decent) believed that what happened was an act of war rather than genocide. I’m well aware that Turkey has problem owning up to the past. However, Japan also has problems owning up to the past, as does Israel and to a lesser extent my home country of America (the Native american Genocide actually inspired Hitler. Hitler actually borrowed the term final solution from an indian hating us general yet you don’t hear many talking about that sordid episode of North A) I was replying to a specific comment that said “they lost the right to be human.” By that logic every group that has ever committed mass genocide should be considered subhuman. THAT is what I was arguing. Not that there was moral equivalency, but that many groups throughout history have committed crimes against humans. By the logic of people like
    Papken Hartunian the Japanese (who still deny the Rape of Nanking) deserve to be called only animals.
    Some of the earlier comments were “they have lost the right to be human because of what happened.” or “how can I, a cultured person, talk to a savage.” I am all for Turkey being forced to acknowledge the sins of the past. But there are a few armenians (Soghomon Teylerian, Jr.Papken Hartunian) who go beyond the reasonable demand for compensation and into full on “the turks are animals” hatred.

    • Ryan, if you happen to encounter those two Turks again, do please try to put in their brainwashed heads that the war was between Ottoman Turkey, as a Central Power, on the one hand, and the Allied Powers, on the other. But never between Ottoman Turkey and her Armenian citizens. What was done to the Ottoman Armenians was a classical case of a deliberate mass physical annihilation of a particular ethnic group by THEIR OWN government. I hope those “pretty decent” Turks will appreciate the difference if they’re free from a psychological guilt complex that makes most Turks to deny the obvious. As for other groups who throughout history have committed crimes against humans, many such groups handled their guilt by offering apologies, or reparations, or both. Russian government apologized for Stalin purges. German Chancellor kneeled before the Warsaw Jewish monument and Germany until now pays reparations. The Rape of Nanking was not genocide, it is otherwise called Nanking Massacre that occurred during a Sino-Japanese War. And you’re incorrect: the Japanese government has admitted to the acts of killing of a large number of noncombatants, looting and other violence committed by the Imperial Japanese Army after the fall of Nanking. The US government has admitted to the acts of mistreatment of the American Indian and has provided the Native Indians with all the civil rights and reparations for the loss of property.

      Soghomon Teylerian did not “go beyond the reasonable demand for compensation”. He avenged his slaughtered relatives and his nation by the Turks and was acquitted by the court.

      P.S. “Armenians” is an ethnonym, Ryan, and must be written in a capital letter A. For the future.

  21. I was talking about the poster on this forum. I can sympathize with the original guy, but feel that painting all turks with the same brush.

    And I opposed the idea that “all turks are subhuman animals.” And it still took years for many nations to acknowledge their crimes. As such, I feel that saying every turk is evil is both ignorant and stupid. I’m all for Turkey owning up to the past, but there is a difference between reasonable justice and base revenge. Those who demand recognition and compensation money want justice. those who call for genocide and paint all turks as animals are not.

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