An Estimate of the Damage a Century Later
Although the research is six-years-old, it’s relevant because Turkey continues to play deaf and dumb to the demands of Armenians. We are talking about the financial loss the Armenian nation suffered as a result of Turkey’s genocide of Armenians in 1915 to 1923. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Genocide of Armenians, four residents of Armenia (Keghart.org contributor David Davidian, Tom Samuelian, Hovhannes Asryan, and Tigran Sahak) plus friends compiled a list of Armenian Genocide losses.
The total figure for the damage, according to the group, was a modest $850 billion. “Modest” when compared with the $250 billion Israel is demanding from seven Arab countries plus Iran for the “dismissal” of their 856,000 Jewish subjects after the 1948 War between Arabs and Israelis. The Armenian group elaborated the bottom line by citing a loss of $3 trillion when irreversible harm and compensatory harm are injected into the calculations.
While collating Armenian Genocide losses, the centenary group was guided by the proposal of the Armenian delegation at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. That group had maintained reversible harm should be reversed and irreversible harm should be compensated. It’s what the Armenian delegation had proposed at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference and it still may point to a way forward.
The charts below provide an updated version of the 1919 claim. Although some losses are clearly irreversible, the line between reversible and irreversible is often a matter of political will. Thus, in the charts below various combinations of reversible and irreversible harm are presented along with rough allocations among parties that caused the harm. These estimates do not attempt to account for the lost creativity of the 20 million Armenian lives that might have been but for the Armenian Genocide.
Failing to deal with the Armenian Genocide fully and fairly at that time has cost humanity dearly. Had justice been done then, wars may have been averted, genocides prevented, and the course of history changed. Further delay causes further harm. Armenians individually have partially recovered after a century, but for humanity the unredressed Armenian Genocide is still a stumbling block to a more peaceful and civilized future.
Restitution ad integrum is the international standard for measuring victims' losses. It means to make the victims 'whole or put them in the position they would have been in but for the wrong, which calls for:
- Reversible harm to be reversed
- Irreversible harm to be compensated
- The 1919 Paris Claim was 19 billion francs (1919 French francs currently worth $2.18/francs = $42.5 billion.) This does not include delay damages
- Delay Damages are calculated using present value and the time value of money and property and include:
- deprivation of access to ancestral homeland for 100 years
- interference with maintenance of cultural heritage
- emotional distress associated with delay in justice, denial of the crime, and witnessing the depredation of one’s nation and homeland.
For a benchmark, the US inflation rate since 1919 has been about twenty fold: 20 x $42.5 billion = 850 billion dollars. This does not include opportunity cost, consequential or expectation damages.
Irreversible Harm includes
- 1919 Paris Claim plus
- the post -1919 destruction of life, real and immovable property
- injuries, disruption of lively hood, and refugee maintenance costs from1919-1923
- destroyed and desecrated cultural heritage
- lost revenues from natural resources and transit rights,
- stolen property, not included in the1919 Paris Claim
- costs of continued discrimination
- oppression and persecution of Armenians in Turkey, as well as
- projected revenues from known natural resources (minerals, hydrocarbons) and
- continued costs to Armenia of blockade and lack of access to the sea.
These are the damages approximately, foreseeably and intentionally caused to the Armenians post-1919 by the failure to fairly and promptly deal with the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide.
Reversible Harm includes restoration of homeland and other rights. Inline with the approach adopted during the 1919 peace negotiations, land and the associated property were deemed in-kind compensation for monetized losses, and vice versa; thus, as reflected in the bar chart above, restoration of homeland and property reduces irreversible harm.
Reversible Harm includes land, property and other rights, such as
- end of denial, right to truth, apology, Genocide education in Turkey
- restoration of Armenian place and cultural site names
- restoration of Church and private property to rightful owners
- Access to the sea
- transport and trade routes
- rights of way for rail lines and highways, pipelines, electric and telecom
- preservation ancestral shrines and cultural heritage
- cultural site access and custodian ship and tourism rights
- mineral and hydrocarbons (on and offshore)
- water resources (including electric generation and agricultural uses)
- arable lands and temperate growing zones
- biodiversity maintained and developed by Armenians
- demilitarized security zones
- Turkey was the perpetrator of the Armenian Genocide along with the Kurds. The Turks are the chief beneficiary and main cause of delay in proper redress of the crime.
- Germany, Turkey's WWI ally, was complicit in the planning and execution of the Armenian Genocide and failed to intervene. Austro-Hungarian Empire was Germany's and Turkey's WWI ally also failed to intervene.
- Russia, Britain, France, Italy and the US, each contributed to the conditions that caused the Armenian Genocide, failed to intervene, and later traded off proper resolution of the Armenian Genocide for their own economic or geopolitical interests at the expense of continued devastation of Armenia and destruction of the Armenian people and culture.
- Israel, along with Britain and the US, have benefited from delaying recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a facilitating factor and leverage in trade, investment, military, and geopolitical deals with Turkey at the expense of the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
- Although Turkey, the Kurds and Germany caused most of the direct harm and/or derived immediate benefits from the Armenian Genocide, while Britain, the S, France and Russia derived collateral benefits, the later delay damages were mostly due to the US, Britain and Israel. The allocation percentages reflect some of this shift in benefits over time.
- While the total cost of reversing the reversible and compensating for the irreversible harm is an staggering $3 trillion, paying in installments over a period of years, it would not amount to more than a miniscule fraction of the annual GDP of any of the perpetrators and beneficiaries of the Armenian Genocide and could be funded for the most part out of future revenue streams.
Keghart.org summary by JT, 10 April 2021