Sassounian: Desperate Turkish Tactics to Woo Diaspora on Eve of April 24

The Turkish government has been receiving a succession of bad news in recent weeks. Its persistent policy of denying the Armenian Genocide suffered serious setbacks when the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Swedish Parliament, and Catalonia’s Regional Parliament in Spain adopted resolutions acknowledging the Armenian Genocide last month.

Turkish denialists are terrified by these official acknowledgments on the eve of the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. They are even more alarmed by the fact that the parliaments of Bulgaria, Israel, Serbia, Spain, and Great Britain are about to consider similar resolutions in April.

The Turkish leadership was under the mistaken impression that the protocols signed with Armenia six months ago would end any further action on the Armenian Genocide by the international community. In fact, Turkey had viewed these protocols as a last ditch effort to stem the tide of such acknowledgments in the future. Its devious strategy almost worked, as the genocide resolutions in both Sweden and the U.S. Congress were adopted by a mere one vote majority. The opponents of these resolutions specifically cited the “reconciliation” between Armenia and Turkey as their reason for voting against them.

Alarmed by these developments and distracted by serious internal problems, the Turkish government has initiated, perhaps a little too late, a series of actions, hoping to prevent further defeats on the Armenian Genocide issue.

These actions range from using harsh, bullying tactics against countries that dare to acknowledge the genocide, and a soft approach to mislead the international community into thinking that the Turkish government is being more accommodating towards Armenians.

Among the Turkish bullying tactics against countries acknowledging the genocide are recalling the Turkish ambassador, canceling military contracts, and boycotting the purchase of consumer goods.

Last week, Turkish officials added a new twist, threatening to sue the more than 20 countries that have already acknowledged the Armenian Genocide. This is one of the many bluffs Turkish leaders have used from time to time to discourage additional countries from acknowledging the genocide. I truly hope that Turkey carries out this threat, as it would create worldwide publicity for the mass crimes committed against the Armenians. Any fair-minded non-Turkish court would immediately dismiss such a frivolous lawsuit.

Turkey’s more clever tactics—using soft gloves at the advice of western public relations agents—include:

—Renovating a couple of historic Armenian churches, while thousands of others are converted to mosques, stables, and residences, or are simply ruined.

— “Graciously” allowing religious services to be performed once a year for a limited number of people and for a limited duration (determined by Turkish authorities) at the 10th-century Holy Cross Armenian Church on Akhtamar Island, on Lake Van. This world-famous house of worship is officially designated as a touristic site, not a church.

—Reviewing the possibility of lifting the ban on the children of refugees from Armenia to attend private Armenian schools in Istanbul.

—Holding a “show” meeting last week between Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and the head of Istanbul’s Sourp Prgich Armenian hospital, Bedros Shirinoglu, who was wrongly named as the leader of Turkey’s Armenian community. This meeting was more akin to a slave being summoned by his master. Afterwards, Shirinoglu dutifully told the Turkish media that “1915” was nothing more than a feud between two loving friends, instigated by third parties. He said that his grandfather was among the victims, but so were many Turks! Shirinoglu blamed himself and asked for Erdogan’s forgiveness for the latter’s threat to deport 100,000 Armenian refugees, saying that the inflated figure was his own fault, not the prime minister’s.

—Finally, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu came up last week with a new ploy to divide the Armenian Diaspora, after having limited success in his attempt to split the diaspora from Armenia with the protocols. Davutoglu announced that Turkish authorities would initiate “dialogue” with “reasonable Diaspora Armenians” (meaning Armenians who do not mind selling out the Armenian Cause for their own ego and personal gain). The foreign minister said that contacts would be established with Armenian “intellectuals, universities, and civil societies.”

Clearly, Turkish officials are resorting to all possible means, including the continued exploitation of the defunct protocols, to discourage additional countries from acknowledging the genocide.

Armenia and the diaspora must remain vigilant and united, especially in the weeks leading up to the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in order not to fall victim to Turkish machinations, inducements, and entrapments.

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. Thank you Mr. Sassounian for the article.

    I agree whole heartedly that Armenians should remain united and hit Turkey and anyone that tries to stop us with one BIG fist instead of millions of small fists…

    Only by united we will defeat the enemy and get our Armenia back as well as get the Armenian Genocide recognized.

    I will be among those who will fight till the end…

    God Bless us and hope that April 24th will be the day that many more countries recognize and pass as the day of the first Genocide of the 20th Century…


  2. Thank you Harut for telling it as it is! We know that ‘knowing the truth, set us free’

    I believe 24 April 2010 will send the loudest message ever! Cowards can run but can’t hide! And their time for running is coming to an end!


  3. Armenians will NEVER give up on the recognition of the genocide.
    Let’s  give them as much rope as they need to hang themselves in public.  and in the precess force them to reveal their true face in their full ugliness year after year after year..

  4. Gites che Joe.. sirts enqan khovana when iranq kaghen irants.. inch lav klini..

    kverchananq drantsits…

    HAPPY EASTER everyone.. God Bless you all


  5. I think whatever they do, tactic or not, is good. At least some of the churches are being renovated. At least refugees won’t have to worry no more about where they’ll send their children to study. At least 10th Century Holy Cross Armenian Church will be back in use even if it’s for once a year for now. People will benefit from these acts, it is something.

  6. SG
    “At least some of the churches are being renovated”
    Armenians should follow this pattern too, the ancient Churches in Armenia are not in much different situation than those in Turkey. I still wonder why the Armenian government wouldn’t did some restoration and renovation works on those beautiful churches and let them to turn to ruins day after day.

  7. Resosman,
    You mean to say that Turks have been following the pattern of renovating Armenian churches and monasteries immediately after Armenians have been wiped out from their ancestral lands in Turkey in 1915-1921? Didn’t know that… Or they just started the process fearing wider genocide recognition? I wonder what you think might have happened to nearly 3000 churches in the Armenian provinces of the Ottoman Empire? Was there a massive, unknown in modern history, grandiose earthquake covering all vast areas of central-eastern and eastern parts of Turkey or it might have been part of a Turkish government-ordered destruction of all remaining cultural, religious, and educational remnants of the Armenian civilization?
    Yeah, and please save your health worrying about the state of churches in Armenia. Everything will be done in time simply because we know and the world knows that we are a nation of builders, not destroyers…

  8. To LakeVan;
    Which part of my words you don’t understand, I really wonder.  Look around this forum and find my other posts then you might understand what I mean. I have traveled to Armenia more than 20 times, and I have seen some of the churches in really bad condition.  If you don’t believe me, as I said look around this forum, and find many and many similar comments made by your own fellow Armenians.
    My comment was a sincere one, and I really would like to see many ancient monuments, temples – though I’m anti-religious person –  churches, mosques renovated and preserved for the next generations.
    My comment was about the today’s condition of the churches in Armenia, please read it.  I don’t represent the Turkish government here. If you would like to talk to someone from the Government, talk to Mr. Erdogan.

  9. Hye, a Turkey, desparately, is continuing its policy of ongoing PLOYS… one after another, endlessly…  causing delays, distractions –  but never facing their guilt of the Turkish Genocide of the Christian Armenian nation 1915-1923, still into today, 2010.
    Only a total removal of the Ottoman mentality from  their leaderships can bring about true democracy in Turkey, one who admits their guilt of the slaughters, tortures, women/children forced into churches then set afire, bandido, the victims feet beaten bloody, then burst, then death… and all the vile horrendous
    means devised by the Ottoman hordes who came down from the Asian
    mountains to claim lands – chose the Armenian lands as their own – eliminating the Armenians from their own lands of nearly 4,000 years!
    Turks, incapable of truths are still in the Ottoman mode (and it seems they are proud of this, too).

  10. Resoman, Armenians understand Turkish mentality and behavioral characteristics more than anyone else in the world given centuries of oppression and massacres. So, don’t you try to apply your Turksih tactics to my response. I understood what you meant to say, and you, I hope, grasped what I meant to say. So, don’t even think of trying to fool Armenians around: ain’t gonna work. We know your traits, ethos, and habits wa-a-a-y too well.
    Your radical neurotic prime-minister represents your nation, so, if you wish, talk to your own chief executive about rubbish that he utters about Armenians, showing to the world how Turks haven’t advanced  a iota to be open-minded and liberal.

  11. Resoman,

    I have commented in the past about this….

    I understand that ARmenian has churches and monuments and other ancient structures that are in need of fixing.. However, even though my heart bleeds to see them on our country decaying away, I can’t say that I hurt more when I read that Turkey is INTENTIONALLY destroying our churches and disrespecting our heritage by turning them into animal shelters…

    No matter how hurtful it is to know that the ARmenian govt instead of feeding their mafia stomachs with money, greed and selling our country to others, spend that much time, effort and money renovating these monuments, I know for a fact that everything in ARmenia will get renovated in the near future.. no matter how long it takes for us to throw out this mafia we call our govt.. until that happens, if we want this project to begin in Armenia we need to have wealthy individual finance that otherwise, the govt won’t do anything about it.. not if we have Sarkissian, Nalbandian and their mafio on the throne.. it is sad but it is the reality… so blaming ARmenia for not owning these churches is not going to help your cause.. we know we will fix our own sooner or later.. we need to worry about the structures in Turkey.. they are the ones that need the most help now……


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