Two Faces of Turkey: Veneer of Gentility Masking Ruthlessness

When Turkey’s Foreign Minister met secretly with a group of Armenians in Washington last month, he wooed them with his sly smile and sugar-coated words. This was the fake facade of traditional Turkish diplomacy.

Encouraged by Turkey’s 2007 success in obstructing a reference to the Armenian Genocide in a UN exhibit on Rwanda, the Turkish Ambassador tried to force the UN to cancel last week’s Armenian Genocide symposium.
Last week, Turkey’s UN ambassador in New York revealed the nasty and aggressive face of his government. Upon learning that a symposium on the Armenian Genocide was going to be held at the UN on April 12, he filed a protest with the Secretary General’s office in an attempt to disrupt the event.

Organized by the Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention (ATOP), the event was titled “Toward Preventing Genocide, Nations Acknowledging their Dark History: Psychosocial, Economic and Cultural Perspectives.” Following the screening of Dr. J. Michael Hagopian’s documentary “The River Ran Red,” the attendees heard remarks from filmmaker Carla Garapedian, Dr. Dennis Papazian, Prof. Ervin Staub, and Garen Nazarian, Armenia’s UN ambassador.

Encouraged by Turkey’s 2007 success in obstructing a reference to the Armenian Genocide in a UN exhibit on Rwanda, the Turkish ambassador tried to force the UN to cancel last week’s Armenian Genocide symposium. Fortunately, Armenia’s UN Mission, the official sponsor of the event, stood its ground and the symposium took place as planned, albeit with some minor disturbances.

At the start of the event, two Turkish diplomats entered the meeting room without an invitation, and repeatedly attempted to disrupt the proceedings. They kept on shouting, accusing the speakers of defaming Turkey, and refused to comply with the organizer’s request to submit all comments and questions in writing. As the commotion continued, UN security officers were called in, and the two undiplomatic Turkish diplomats left the hall, inanely shouting, “We are the security, we own the security, and we pay for the security!”

In his introductory remarks, Amb. Nazarian observed that “97 years ago, a state-devised plan unleashed a crime whose magnitude and consequences were unparalleled not only in the history of the Armenian nation but also in the history of the world. The plan of extermination of the Armenians was implemented by the Ottoman Empire’s state machine through all its structures and carried out with exact instructions.”

Prof. Papazian’s remarks were titled “Sovereignty, Nationalism, Racism vs. Humanism and Intellectual Freedom: The Causes and Cures of Genocide.” He expressed his discontent “that the Armenian Genocide is not recognized by the present-day Turkish government as a crime committed by its predecessor government under the dictatorship of the Committee for Union and Progress”; “that the people of Turkey are denied free access to accurate sources because of Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code, which makes it a crime to insult Turkishness”; and “that such [Ottoman] collections as the confiscated properties archives and the military archives are not open to inspection by objective scholars.”

Prof. Staub spoke about “Overcoming Evil: Preventing Genocide and Creating Peaceful Societies.” He stated that “acknowledgement by perpetrators, bystanders, and the world in general of a group’s suffering has great value for both healing and reconciliation.” However, “perpetrators rarely, and only with great difficulty, acknowledge their acts and show regret,” because of “their profound devaluation of the victims, their ideology, and their unacknowledged shame.”

Garapedian explored the “Economic Consequences of Acknowledging the Genocide.” She related that Hagopian had recorded the testimonies of genocide survivors so that their voices would be heard someday at an international tribunal deciding what restitution Turkey would have to pay to heirs of the victims.

Not counting the value of the properties, lands, and other assets confiscated from Armenian victims of the genocide, Garapedian assessed as $15 billion the restitution value of the 1.5 million Armenians who had perished. Her estimate is based on Germany’s $60 billion restitution payment since 1952 for the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Garapedian concluded by suggesting that no state should profit from violating the law and unjustly enrich itself, and asserted that a criminal state should not be allowed to keep the fruits of its crime.

This week, Dr. Ani Kalayjian, the president of ATOP, sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon complaining about the “disruptive, unprofessional, and arrogant behavior” of the two Turkish diplomats. She wondered how the UN could bring peace to the world when it cannot establish order at an event held at its own headquarters.



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 $917 million 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. “You have no right to defame Turkey”.

    Obviously this kind of remark is laughing in the face of Truth, as well as objective, moral and human reality as the purpose of this symposium was to make meaning and preventing similar inhuman violence by first learning the causes and equipping morally and courageous bystanders to take action to prevent reoccurrence.
    Simply put, it’s about Right and Wrong !

    We urge your good office to stop once and for all this kind of disguised behavior.

    Armenian American Association for the Study of Stress and Genocide.

  2. This news account is an excellent example of the continued duplicity of our friends in Ankara; which has become the hallmark of Turkish policies towards Armenians. Extend the veneer of an olive branch and then reel it in with a hard line
    -same old story denial.
    Harout, your reporting and editorials are providing a critical service to the community. I , for one, would appreciate continued updates on the Turkish government’s attempt to reach out to elements of our community. It should be obvious to even casual participant in Armenian life, that this would only serve a divisive objective….either within our community or between Armenia and the diaspora.
    I pray for the day when we reconcile with the Turkish nation. The continued denying of justice fuels the continued grieving in our community and creates a cloud of frustration. It is also inconsistent with our faith to harbor the hatred and anger that this denial generates. What is most discouraging about the Turkish government’s approach is the lack of integrity of their positions. I think most Armenians understand the dilemma of the Turks. When you have invested decades in a denial to your people, the world and our people, the solution is much more complicated than a simple acknowledgement or apology. The stolen property and territory along with the incredible chronology of legislation to “legalize’ the confiscation is a major issues for them. One apology leads to an unraveling of 97 years of revisionism.
    Despite the walls, there must be dialogue…. not stunts but with integrity. Until the Turks display respect( perhaps not agreement but at least respect) , our community should be careful. These are trying times, but our responses should be strong but respectful, not driven by anger or hatred.
    After all this must be very frustrating for the Turks. i am sure that most of those that deny the genocide had no idea that 3rd and 4th generations after the tragedy would continue the quest for justice with resolve.

  3. A huge percentage of Turks in general, and a higher percentage still in their government and powerful institutions hate us and want us if not dead, destroyed as a culture. Shahan Natalie said this 100 years ago.

    Why does this surprise anyone?

    Of course the government will send out some to pretend to befriend and engage and others to defame and kill

    You can make book on it. This is what Nazis do.

    • With all due respect, what makes you think “A huge percentage of Turks in general, and a higher percentage still in their government and powerful institutions hate us and want us if not dead, destroyed as a culture”? I believe you see a bunch of extreme Turkish nationalists(which is an extremely small amount compared to whole by the way) and make assumptions like the one above. I don’t think people will even have time to hate anyone since they are busy dealing with their own lives.

  4. “Veneer of Gentility Masking Ruthlessness”

    A title that beautifully describes Turkish psyche not only today; but Turkish psyche throughout the reign of Ottoman empire, aftermath of its fall and formation of Turkish republic to deceive the world who witnessed the genocide committed.

    There are; and have been many examples of barbaric acts against humanity around the world, but none of the perpetrators were as cunning as Turks.

    Armenians not only became victim to a genocider, but fell victim to the worst genocider in the world who not only has not faced its crimes, yet continues to endure its victims to witness its unhuman and shrewd acts 97 years on!

  5. Stepan

    “”After all this must be very frustrating for the Turks”
    No it is not frustrating for Turks at least the majority of Turks. They will hear what the American president said about Armenians on TV. If you go out and ask people in the street, Most Turks will have missed what the guy in USA already said.
    In reality, You aren’t an important part of their life.Most of the claims mentioned here have no chance in a competent court room. I believe that some people turn up with new stories every other days is because they want to keep the wheel spinning although the engine of the car was dead long time ago

    • Hey Turk, If the engine is dead why are you on here anyway? Why would you care? Also why does the Turkish regime currently pay millions for Armenian genocide denial? Why would they if the engine is dead?..Why do they go berserk every time a country recognizes the reality the Armenian Genocide?

      Don’t fool yourself. Its not dead. In fact after nearly 100 years its more in motion then ever. More countries, more parliaments and more laws are erected against its denial. More education systems adopt its as a mandatory teaching.. This will never end. No Armenian will forget what happened to their grand parents and what happened to their property and wealth…… Its only a matter of time..

    • John the Turk,

      Thank you for proudly carrying our saints’ name John (Hovhannes in Armenian).

      Do you belong to those non-frustrated Turks as well? Your comment seems to come from someone who is frustrated.

  6. John the Turk
    I think that it is correct that , in the context of the whole, the Armenian issues are not a dominant matter in the daily lives of Turks. Issues come and go and people tune in and out… just like in any society their priority is living their own lives.
    My comment was more geared towards the government and its obvious frustration with an issue that simply will not go away. Why? because it represents the truth. Let’s be honest… if the genocide and its residual impact was not real… how do you explain its momentum gain over the years. Logic would dictate that a falsehood would fade as new generations inherit the banner.
    This is not the case with our experience. We know the horror of the expulsion of our grandparents and it is clear that it is our responsibility to pursue justice. It’s a very personal matter as well as a collective national one. There are very very things that share both attributes. It explains the endless sustainability of our pursuit. Generally the Turks do not understand this, but have seen the result. The policy of removing Christians and letting assimilation take care of the rest has failed.
    One day soon the Turkish nation will come to terms with the genocide… just as all revisionism slowly fades. When they do and justice is served, the truth will help Turkish society move forward and perhaps reconciliation will be in the cards.
    More and more Turks are coming to terms with their history. Will you join them and help your people.

  7. I wrote only yesterday on another thread here on AW.Here goes again.
    ArmAlenians (us9 we must prepare file and Lodge it at ICJ and other instances our claim FOR BLOOD MONEY.This has precedent(the jewish one=)Also small but important since two very important insurance companies were involved thaose of New York life and AXA.Both paid to surviving heirs for their parents grandparents death.Death????
    Nay murder.For the insurance companies it was clear that those people were murdered,otherwise they would not have paid for NATURAL DEATHS…
    One more thing.
    Land,property riches ,monasteries churches hospitals schools not.Latter few , the U.S. Govt. is ¨sftly¨¨ pressing great Turkey to oblige and RETURN TO LAWFULL OWNERS…
    But you ought to know how many of those 1000 churches are left INTACT<.
    Just a few and those, naturally no problem for Denialist great turkey.
    They will return them Yavash yavash means BY AND BY toikish style…
    What else is there to pursue?
    Indeed Real estate, properties .These are at present POPULATED MAINLY BY K U R D S.Do you understand ?
    Though under Toikish sorry Turkish Flag. but some 14/16 million k u r d s on them.Hard to dislodge them to Balck sea or Mediterranea,So again the Game of Yavash yavash goes on ..this time over with the kurds…
    But We Armenians are overpatient. Have waited so long.Indeed all was not WAIT!!! WE recuperated from an ENORMOUS B L O W , the Genocide.My granfather and oldest uncle put on Death March perished in deserts who knows wehre. But some of us lived and like dear
    Dr. Henry Astarjian( REad him on this AW page the Armenian Pheonix….
    Oh by the way BTW talkling of Dr. Astarjian he knows how to contact the k u r d s i Europe(their Parliament or council) we must come to terms with latter in order when great Turkey the Paper Tiger by and by begins to fold over we can then come to terms iwth the great turkey effendis..
    Otherwise just by talk we cannot manage to get anything from them After all
    their general 35 or more yrs ago when the ¨crazy Armenian youngm en had taken to ¨(violent acts of Correction) uttered and I quote
    ¨¨Armenians want land ? come and take it¨ that has been repeated just lately by yet another Turk of the prominence again..
    We must work ahead like I have outline in my articles…read me… in…….click on user Subscrib.articles PLEASE!!!
    Re organize Armenian diasporas to become Li Irav partner with RA.

  8. Mr. Palanjian
    ¨Armenians want land ? come and take it”
    Whoever said this it is absolutely correct.This is how the land is given or taken

  9. John the Turk, don’t get too comfy. You may get caught with your pants down.

    Most Turks are woefully misinformed about their own history and are fed propaganda regarding ‘brutal and aggressive Armenians.’ They don’t understand why Armenians are still fighting for justice for a crime that happened almost a century ago because they are denied a true picture of their history and the Ottoman and Young Turk legacy.

    Educate yourself and answer this: Should Turkey pay for her crime against the Armenians or should she be allowed to get away with murder? Its a simple question.

  10. “john the turk” pen name is in and of itself an affront. How can a normal Muslim Turk use the name of one of the most important Christian saints (John The Baptist)? It’s like a Christian Armenian to use a pen name “Mohammed the Armenian” or “Ali the Armenian”. How would this sound for Muslims, if not weird and somewhat abusive? Hey, yahya the turk, have you no sanctity at all?

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