It cannot be considered normal for a century old event to take hostage the present and future of two neighbourly and close peoples to such an extent. Today, not many people remember the fact that Armenians and Turks had very close social relations wherever they were, up until the assassinations of the Turkish diplomats by Armenian terrorist organizations and the subsequent genocide propaganda.
In order to reinstate such an affinity, there is a need for a dialogue process, respect for different views and efforts to instil empathy. This is how a path for abridging the Turkish and Armenian discourses on the basis of “a just memory” could emerge.
Believing that this is possible, Turkey proposed the establishment of a joint historical commission composed of Turkish and Armenian historians, and other international experts, to study the events of 1915 in the archives of Turkey, Armenia and third countries. The findings of the commission might bring about a fuller and fairer understanding of this tragic period on both sides and contribute to normalization between Turks and Armenians.
There is a separate need for establishing a constructive discourse in line with the spirit of the age that will eliminate prejudices and dismantle the preconceptions of the culture of conflict with a view to focus on the future.
President Erdoğan’s message of condolences was issued with such conviction on 23 April 2014,during his term as Prime Minister, and it was an important milestone. The message centered on the respect for the lives lost in the events of 1915, prescribed focusing on the future while studying the historical facts on the basis of a just memory, emphasized the importance of staying away from offending narratives and approaching different views with empathy.
IT IS OUR HOPE AND BELIEF THAT THE PEOPLES OF AN ANCIENT AND UNIQUE GEOGRAPHY, WHO SHARE SIMILAR CUSTOMS AND MANNERS WILL BE ABLE TO TALK TO EACH OTHER ABOUT THE PAST WITH MATURITY AND TO REMEMBER TOGETHER THEIR LOSSES IN A DECENT MANNER. AND IT IS WITH THIS HOPE AND BELIEF THAT WE WISH THAT THE ARMENIANS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE CONTEXT OF THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY REST IN PEACE, AND WE CONVEY OUR CONDOLENCES TO THEIR GRANDCHILDREN
Turkey continues with this sincere discourse and takes further steps to give it a further meaning. In this respect, cherishing the memory of the Ottoman Armenians and protecting the Armenian cultural heritage is a primary aim. During the liturgy in memory of the lives lost in 1915 organized by the Armenian Patriarchate of İstanbul on 24 April 2015, the Republic of Turkey, for the first time, was represented at ministerial level. Every year, the President sends messages to the liturgy.
LET ME REITERATE THAT WE ARE COGNISANT OF THE SORROWFUL EVENTS EXPERIENCED IN THE PAST BY THE ARMENIAN COMMUNITY AND THAT I SINCERELY SHARE YOUR PAIN. PLEASE REST ASSURED ALSO THAT OUR HEARTS REMAIN WIDE OPEN TO THE GRANDCHILDREN OF THE OTTOMAN ARMENIANS ALL AROUND THE WORLD.
It is disappointing to see that those steps taken for friendship and normalization have not been reciprocated by Armenia so far.
In the final analysis, the only approach befitting this era would be facilitating ways for reconciliation, putting focus sincerely and humanely on to the future and replacing feelings of hatred and revenge embedded in the minds and hearts of young Armenians with concepts of mutual understanding and empathy.
As of the second half of the 19th century, the support given by some influential Armenian organizations to the policies of Czarist Russia aimed at weakening and dividing the Ottoman Empire was considered to be a major security concern. The separatist actions and revolts of these groups and their armed attacks in the areas with predominant Ottoman Muslim population escalated the threat. During the First World War, Armenian radical groups did not hesitate to join forces with the invading Russian army to create an ethnically homogenous Armenia.
WHILE THE ARF PROGRAM ASPIRED TO FREEDOM AND AUTONOMY WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE EMPIRE, THE HUNCHAK PROGRAM ASPIRED TO THE COMPLETE SEPARATION AND INDEPENDENCE OF TURKISH ARMENIA. CONSEQUENTLY, THESE GROUPS USED DIFFERENT TACTICS TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. FOR EXAMPLE, IN ORDER TO QUICKLY BRING EUROPEAN ATTENTION TO THE ARMENIAN QUESTION, THE HUNCHAKS STAGED MASS DEMONSTRATIONS. THEIR MOST NOTABLE ACTIVITIES WERE THE KUM KAPU DEMONSTRATION OF JULY 27, 1890; THE PLACARDS (YAFTA) INCIDENT IN ANATOLIA IN 1893; AND THE SASSUN REBELLION OF AUGUST 1894 AGAINST THE NOMADIC KURDISH TRIBES AND GOVERNMENT TAX COLLECTORS.