As we approach the 104th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Armenian communities and organizations worldwide are working towards a number of events and demonstrations. In many aspects, these commemorative events have proved themselves to be memorable and the worldwide support, impressive, including the ensuing coverage from the international press. Despite this, we still face a number of hurdles and obstacles, not only for universal recognition of the genocide but also, fair reparations. In this article, I will list but a few.
Turkey’s Membership in NATO
NATO has 24 military bases in Turkey. Turkey joined NATO with the support of the US government on February 18, 1952. These military bases became NATO’s eastern anchor and the main concentration for its controversial Missile Defense System.
For the past several years, the focus of our efforts and activity has been on the Committee for Foreign Affairs in the House of Representatives. In the Committee, we have been successful in passing resolutions, but sadly due to the resistance of the White House, the State Department, the Defense Department and the unrelenting Turkish lobby, the resolutions never made it to the House floor for a vote.
We need to find a way to unravel the “shady agreements” and “unfounded commitments” made by the US and other NATO members with Turkey to keep those military bases in Turkey. Turkey has been successful in blackmailing and threatening to close the bases, but we know they never will because of the significant economic rewards. We also need to start approaching members of the Armed Services and Budget Committees; these bases costs US taxpayers billions of dollars.
The Anti-Defamation League’s Perplexing Opposition to Recognition Efforts
It has been deeply disturbing and disappointing that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), with the support of the Israeli government, has been lobbying Congress against recognition of the Armenian Genocide. It is a mystery as to why, even though certain members of the ADL have been openly critical of the group’s position.
My personal view is that Jewish lobbies worldwide and the Israeli government want to keep the Holocaust on the forefront and keep it the only race that suffered a calamity and avoid any kind of comparison or competition with the Armenian Genocide. Obviously this is absurd and irrational. We have never denied or questioned the Holocaust. The Israeli government should cease lobbying against our recognition efforts. Israel’s position is shameful, two-faced and immoral. There is no rational justification for it. Period.
Ensuring Lasting Support for the ANCA
It is remarkable that the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), both Eastern and Western regions, have achieved some of our goals and objectives with the limited financial support they receive. They have performed admirably and have established themselves as highly influential voices in the US.
But lobbying in the US is ferocious, ugly and dirty, and the hard reality is that it requires funding. Over the years, Turkey and Azerbaijan have been successful in purchasing the allegiance of corrupt members and ex-members of Congress to work and act against Armenian causes and interests, and portray misleading images of Turkey and Azerbaijan. It is crucial that the Armenian-American community and the Diaspora provide much stronger financial support to ANCA offices in the US, so that they will be in position to counter the aggressive lobbying efforts of Turkish and Azeri pawns. This is not an easy task, but it is one of high priority.
Unity on Artsakh
Since 1994, the OSCE Minsk group has miserably failed to find a peaceful resolution for lasting peace and recognizing Artsakh’s fundamental right to self-determination. The result has been unending meetings with little to show for them. As the ANCA recently stated, the “Madrid Principles” are deeply flawed and cannot be the basis for further negotiations; they must be set aside.
It has been encouraging so far to witness the unwavering support of Armenia’s government to Artsakh’s right to decide its destiny. We must all be united in this—absolute unity. Armenia and Artsakh require the Diaspora’s help and support in not giving up an inch. Soon, high level meetings are sure to take place. We must stand firm.
Pursuing Justice Through the Armenian Legal Center
Established in September of 2016, the objective of the Armenian Center for Justice and Human Rights (ALC) has been clear and straightforward: reparations. This is a difficult, arduous and costly task, but it must be undertaken. Germany admitted to atrocities committed by the Nazis and continues to pay billions to Israel and Jewish organizations for reparations.
Armenians, however, have not received a dime from the Turkish state (the body descended of the Ottoman Turkish Empire), neither for the loss of life, nor for the looting and confiscating of property and suffering endured by survivors on foreign shores. The ALC must be vigorously active in its pursuit of justice and reparations. It needs the best legal minds and lawyers. And it needs the support of all Armenians, including the Government of Armenia.