No Genuine Peace Without Restitution


Team Keghart
Editorial, 13 May 2010


In late April welcome torrent of news and opinion related to the Genocide of Armenians and President Serzh Sargsyan’s pullback from the Armenia-Turkey negotiations, an odd and probably original thought was expressed by an Armenian activist regarding Armenian-Turkish relations. To wit: Before negotiating with Turkey, Armenians should understand the psychology of Turkey and Turks; Armenians should know where Turks and Turkey are “coming from” before we present our list of just demands.

The activist elaborated his suggestion by reminding Armenians that Ottoman Turkey once ruled a large mass of land from Yemen to Yugoslavia [there was no Yugoslavia then, but let that pass], from Mesopotamia to Morocco… Ottoman armies reached the gates of Vienna in the 1680s… Thus, since the demise of the unlamented Ottomans, Turkey feels bereft, left only with Asia Minor and a small slice of Europe west of the Bosporus.


Team Keghart
Editorial, 13 May 2010


In late April welcome torrent of news and opinion related to the Genocide of Armenians and President Serzh Sargsyan’s pullback from the Armenia-Turkey negotiations, an odd and probably original thought was expressed by an Armenian activist regarding Armenian-Turkish relations. To wit: Before negotiating with Turkey, Armenians should understand the psychology of Turkey and Turks; Armenians should know where Turks and Turkey are “coming from” before we present our list of just demands.

The activist elaborated his suggestion by reminding Armenians that Ottoman Turkey once ruled a large mass of land from Yemen to Yugoslavia [there was no Yugoslavia then, but let that pass], from Mesopotamia to Morocco… Ottoman armies reached the gates of Vienna in the 1680s… Thus, since the demise of the unlamented Ottomans, Turkey feels bereft, left only with Asia Minor and a small slice of Europe west of the Bosporus.

 
The activist was historically and geographically accurate, but that’s not where his observation should end. There’s more to the story.

In the Middle Ages Turkish marauders, from Central Asia, conquered by sword what wasn’t theirs. They soaked in blood the people of the Middle East and others around most of the Mediterranean littoral. After oppressing the conquered peoples for five hundred to a thousand years, Turks were driven out by indigenous Greeks, Bulgarians, Arabs and other nations. Turkey didn’t withdraw from these lands willingly. Unrepentant to the last, it withdrew to Asia Minor only when it had run out of options.

Turkey lost its empire long before 1915. The Sick Man of Europe started shrinking in the early 18th century as Russian armies began to push Turks out of Crimea and Ukraine. The shrinkage continued as Greece, Egypt, Bulgaria continued to push back the demonic empire.

Turkey lost the largest chunk of its conquered lands during the First World War because of its misconceived alliance with Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary. The Young Turks entered the war hoping they would regain the lands they had lost and possibly conquer more lands, thanks to German and Austrian largesse. Unluckily for Turkey, it lost the war. But once the war had ended, a defeated Turkey, under Mustafa Kemal, the self-styled “Father of the Turks”, attacked—unprovoked—nascent Armenia, which was already suffering from mass starvation, in addition to other depredations. Bloody Kemal simply wanted to strangle the just-born Armenian republic. In this, he proved himself a rightful successor to Tala’at, Enver and Jemal.

This brings us to our just demands.

When we demand, our assertions need no qualification, let alone apology. We will look into their eyes and in plain language demand that they return what doesn’t belong to them. And until we obtain what’s rightfully ours, there can’t be genuine peace between the Armenian nation and Turkey. The border might open, ambassadors might be exchanged, soccer matches might be held in Yerevan and in Ankara, we might buy cheap consumer goods from Turkey, but the outcome will be a cold peace, a phony peace—like the one between Egypt and Israel.

No Armenian can forget the Genocide; no Armenian heart can abandon captured Ararat, the churches of Ani, Lake Van. If we accept a shambolic peace, if we abandon the lands of our forefather Armenia will be a truncated welfare state dependent on the kindness of strangers. And as our history has taught us well, there’s no future in that.

 
9 comments
  1. Superior editorial! Agree
    Superior editorial! Agree with you 100%. Keep up the good work!

  2. Without our lands back

     

    Without our lands back genocide recognition means nothing, the Sevres Treaty and Wilson Arbitration Award must be pursued with the utmost vigour by the Armenian Government, instead of paying only lip service to the diaspora.

    1. Mihran is right on

      Mihran is right on. Without our land claims and Ararat back to us as Mark Geragos said in New York, genocide recognition alone is meaningless.

      USA may be the most powerful country, but it’s a chicken when it comes to acknowledging the genocide and being a leader in resolving the matter of restitution in a just manner.

      Armenians should concentrate their efforts on finding the means, legal or otherwise, towards reparations and restitution.

  3. Acknowledgment with Accountability

    Genocide acknowledgment without accountability is hollow and meaningless. Denial is not just the simple negation of an act, it is much more the consequent continuation of the very act itself. Genocide should not only physically destroy a community, it should likewise dictate the prerogative of interpretation in regard to history, culture, territory and memory. Turkey’s hostile blockade of Armenia is a continuation of Turkey’s genocidal policies. Turkey has created conditions causing more than one million people to leave their cultural environment to seek survival elsewhere. That is an act of genocide.
  4. The editorial states
    The editorial states

    "…demand that they return what doesn’t belong to them. And until we obtain what’s rightfully ours…"

    Based on the replies, do you mean all of historic Armenia should come under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Armenia or some portion of historic Armenia?  If so, that’s such an unrealistic request it’s silly .  The wish for such is every Armenian’s desire but Turkey will not do that.  At the present time it would take war and ethnic cleansing for the  Armenian Republic to expand beyond Erzerum.  Most Armenians would not think going to war with Turkey.  At the end of the day, it’s all about force/power and not justice (unfortunately).
    1. Restitution, Not Retribution
      Dear Artashes,

      At this point of the conflict/debate, the wise strategy is not to show all your cards to Turkey–enunciate what you want exactly. Deliberate Armenian diplomatic vagueness is mandatory at this time. In addition, since this is a national demand (not the demand of one political group, organization, government), there will be a variety of demands–some unrealistic. Let’s not tie our hands at this stage by telling the other side how many centimetres of what we want.
    2. But

      Although I do not agree with the policies of Israel towards the Palestinians, I wish to make the following parallel.

      For thousands of years the Jews dreamt of returning to the lands of their ancestors. When the "right" time was there, they achieved their goal albeit by violating the rights of another people and became an almost inalienable part of brute colonialism.

      Our just and rightful claim is not even one hundred years old. Giving up our supreme and sublime goal to return back to our lands is incomprehensible. We, as Armenians have not taken even the most primitive steps to return home. No one can predict for certain what will next evolve in and around Turkey.

      Our goals of course should take into consideration present circumstances and the fact that there are people, human beings living on those lands, but these should not curtail or wipe out our dreams.

      The inhumane treatment of Israel towards the Palestinians should teach us a lesson. A victim can easily fall into the trap of being a victimizer. Absolutely no element of ethnic cleansing should be permitted no matter what future circumstances are. Otherwise how different will we be from the butchers who murdered us, expelled us from our lands and caused this communal post traumatic disorder that we still are suffering from and will continue to suffer until a just resolution?

      None of us are immune to the ravages of the genocide and its impact on us. We should not be ashamed of articulating them. Unlike catharsis, telling about our suffering is considered as part of the statement of the victim in a court of law.

  5. Easier said than done

    Despite my agreement with the content of the editorial I must say  that I do not feel positive about the future  because of the following reasons:

    1. No  major power is interested in supporting Armenians in their quest for justice;

    2. Armenian organizations are more interested in preserving themselves first rather than seriously tackling the Armenian Cause;

    3. Most Armenians living in the west are comfortable with the way things are and do not wish "rocking the boat".

    I wish I were wrong on all counts.

    Zadig

    1. If we don’t fight for our
      If we don’t fight for our rights, who will?
      If we don’t believe in ourselves, who will?
      From 1375 to 1991 there was no state called Armenia.
      For 600 years our forefathers kept the faith.
      We have come a long way since 1375, despite persecution, Genocide, oppression of every hue–Mameluke, Persian,
      Turkish, Soviet.
      Here we are.

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