Astarjian: The Peddlers of Ankara

In his very recent press conference—which he held after a round of meetings with the Washington establishment, the Armenian president and foreign minister, and other participants in the Nuclear Proliferation Conference—he behaved like Hoja Nessretin who, pretending to be a businessman, bought a goat for a certain price at one end of the bazaar and sold it for the same price at the other end.

When asked the rationale behind it, he said, “El beni alis veriste gorsun” (Let people see me doing business).

This is precisely what Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his boss Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two peddlers of fake merchandise, did in the bazaars of Washington. They bought and sold political ribbons by the mile—ribbons extending from Armenia to Azerbaijan, to Iran to Pakistan to Iraq, to Palestine and Israel, and to the Silk Trail, leading them in the company of the West to their origins: resource-rich Central Asia. And America in its naiveté is buying what they are selling.

Erdogan and Davutoglu, desperate to find a solution to the “Armenian Problem,” have now decided to bring the fight to us, “the Ottoman Diasporans” (a Turkish characterization). They are hoping to find some Armenians or Armenian organizations that are receptive to their way of thinking and to their plans for Armenia. They may be lucky and find some who makes gestures and compromises on some issues, but never on the issue of the genocide.

They are launching this new strategy knowing full well that their maneuvers in shaping up the debate is dead on arrival. They know the position of the “Bad Armenians.” They know our role in blocking the outcome of the deceitful Turkish-Armenian protocols. They know our work in exposing past and present Turkish atrocities. They know that we will pursue genocide recognition until they confess to the crime committed by their fathers, and grandfathers. And they know that we will not give up an inch of our confiscated land of Western Armenia, which was proscribed by President Woodrow Wilson.

The peddlers’ recent political offensive against the Bad Armenians has boomeranged. It has crystallized Armenian thinking, and united us. The divide and conquer tactic has not worked, and is doomed to fail.

The diaspora’s cry echoed in Armenia and they responded favorably. Now Davutoglu and Erdogan, acting like Davut Pasha and Recep Pasha of the Ottoman era, had better realize that there are no Good, Bad, or So-So Armenians. There are only Bad Armenians.

Davutoglu must find another way to peddle his ribbons. Perhaps he should color them red, blue, and orange.

Whether the United States accepts the genocide as genocide does not change reality—that what the Ottoman Turks committed was genocide, and what the Erdogan-Davutoglu government claims as the “continuation of the Ottoman Empire” is guilty of covering up the first-degree murder of an entire nation, a crime indeed. Turkey cannot claim selective inheritance of its Ottoman past; they must accept the bad with the good.

A few hours ago, I watched a TV interview with Erdogan conducted by Christiane Amanpour on CNN. The man sat there telling lie after lie, distorting facts about every topic, including their obvious decision to U-turn their state ship towards home, the Islamic berth.

Erdogan said, and I am paraphrasing, that previous Turkish governments had ignored their neighbors, but we are now paying attention to our neighborhood. We are on good terms with our neighbors to the south, the east, the west, and the north.

Oh what a lie! How has he had good relationship with Armenia? By blocking passage of goods to the landlocked people of Armenia? By forcing a protocol down Armenia’s throat? By supporting the aggressions of Azerbaijan in Karabagh and with pogroms in Sumgait?

He said that Turkey has lived in peace and harmony with all its neighbors. To prove his good intentions towards Armenians, he said he has tolerated the presence of tens of thousand of illegal Armenians working and living in Turkey. He said he showed his benevolence toward Turkish Armenians (“Of course these are our citizens, with whom we have no problems”) by ordering the renovation of the Akhtamar Church in Van. (That may be partly true. Ramzy Kartal, a Kurdish parliamentarian, who represented Van in the Turkish Parliament, told me that Akhtamar was in his district, and that he had done everything to preserve it). Erdogan did not mention that the renovations were to attract tourists and to appear tolerant of Christian symbols.

Anticipating the next question, he displayed a masked face when Amanpour asked him about the Armenian Genocide. He said his country never committed atrocities in its history. Oh what a lie! They are doing it right now to our friends and partners in destiny—the Kurds, in Anatolia. They have killed and maimed, and raped, and displaced some three million men, women, and children from their villages—three million who have found refuge in strange places like Western Turkish cities and Istanbul, not the deserts of Der Zor. They have done it not only to us, but to the Muslim Arabs, the Christian Assyrians, and other minorities as well. If they hadn’t committed atrocities “in history,” then why did Sherif Hussein of Hejaz revolt against them? Didn’t Baghdad revolt? Didn’t Damascus revolt? Didn’t Cairo revolt?

He knows he is lying. He knows he is blowing dust in the eyes of his audience. And yet he continues to peddle his fake merchandise in the souks (markets) of the world.

While emphatically denying the genocide, he contradicted himself when he said: “We are of the opinion that this matter belongs to the historians. We have opened our archives and everyone is invited to look and see for himself. Whatever these investigative committees say we will accept.” He did not mention how incriminating documents have already vanished from the archives.

So, it is with this mental frame and political credibility that the duo Turkish peddlers are trying to convert us, the Bad Armenians, into Good Armenians—in an attempt to continue the denial of the genocide and blocking America’s acceptance of the genocide as genocide.

Davutoglu, in case it hasn’t sunk in yet, I want you to know that the 10 million of us in the Armenian Diaspora, and Armenia, and Karabagh are “bad.”

As the Turkish saying goes, “Anliana sivrisineg saz, anlamiana davul zurna az.”

Dr. Henry Astarjian

Dr. Henry Astarjian

Dr. Henry Astarjian was born in Kirkuk, Iraq. In 1958, he graduated from the Royal College of Medicine and went on to serve as an army medical officer in Iraqi Kurdistan. He continued his medical education in Scotland and England. In 1966, he emigrated to the U.S. In 1992, he served as a New Hampshire delegate to the Republication National Convention in Houston, Texas. For three years Astarjian addressed the Kurdish Parliament in Exile in Brussels, defending Armenian rights to Western Armenia. For three consecutive years, he addressed the American Kurds in California and Maryland. He is the author of The Struggle for Kirkuk, published by Preager and Preager International Securities.
Dr. Henry Astarjian

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  1. Is it not abundantly clear to us Armenians that the Turks are freinds with no one? And they never have been nor ever will be? And that their very gene pool isn’t made up of justice, firendship, mutuality, reconition or truth? But rather opportunity, confiscation, deception,murder and theft? Just look at their history. Even when or if they ever come to terms with the Armenian mass murders,  land and wealth theft, it will be done because there will and must be some greater gain in it somehow someway. That is who they are. This point of view must always be used when dealing with Turks. Otherwise be prepared to be on the short end of deception and maybe worse. Lets wisen up for a change.

  2. To: Dr. Astarjian

    Thank you for the clear picture.

    My grandpa told many a Hoja joke and I enjoyed this one as well. The sad thing is that the peddlers are wasting our precious time and they need to stop exchanging 4 quaters for a $ and instead should own up to their crimes! Quick!
    The last statement? davul zurna is all I make out..sorry!

  3. ‘The sad thing is that the peddlers are wasting our precious time…’
    Maybe that’s their intent, to spin our wheels, then boast about what they try to do and look good to others.  Armenians can be very gullible or perhps we thrive on hope.  My comment isn’t meant to be critical but if we were more like the Jews, i.e. more hard line in a positive way, we might benefit more, not to overlook or underestimate strides made thusfar; it’s the second/third generation of Armenians pursuing these issues, while our numbers are diminishing(others know it and can wait it out) it means more work for fewer people doing it.

  4. Gary, the saying means if someone is able to understand something then he’ll get it anyway but for someone who is unable to see the point of view, no matter how clear and open it might be stated, he just won’t get it.
    John, you’re being prejudice. Please find and get in contact with Armenians who live in Turkey before you make another generalization about Turks. Although, you and Mr. Astarjian are right on one point: Turkey has never been a country with great relationships with its neighbors.  Most Turks believe they have no friends other than other Turkic nations. This attitude has to change and is changing slowly, believe it or not. I remember passages in my textbooks in middle+high school labeling most neighbors as enemies and I’m only 22 so it was not a long time ago. Those passages have been revised recently and this government, surprisingly this one, is following a different path with Turkey’s neighbors. Do I trust them 100%? No. Are they sincere with everything they do? I’m so sure they are not. After all this is politics and it’s not an honest game. However, sincere or not I support the goods they do. Maybe they renovated that historical church to attract tourists but hey, so what? At least that church got renovated. Same goes for the relationships too. They might not be extremely successful with what they do but in my humble opinion, it beats the paranoid and hostile attitude.
    I find Mr. Astarjian’s articles very enlightening. He, very well, spots out what Turkey is missing and doing wrong. On the other hand, he lacks to explain the conditions in Turkey. I mean, if this country was mature enough to “not claim selective inheritance of its Ottoman past”, then we wouldn’t be at this point today, would we? Many generations had been raised believing their history is nothing but glorious. Now, it’s time their mountains to turn into rocks which will, unfortunately, take some time.

  5. Dr. Astarjian:
    Thank you for your fiery articles.  Keep on hitting on the head of those big and innate liars.  Sooner or later the truth will prevail, thank  God.
    One of those “bad” armenians

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