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.
Genocide denotes a clearly defined crime in international law. It is clearly described in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. Events that took place before the implementation date of the said Convention do not fall within its jurisdiction.
THE COURT CONSIDERS THAT ... THE CONVENTION IS NOT RETROACTIVE. THE COURT THUS CONCLUDES THAT THE SUBSTANTIVE PROVISIONS OF THE CONVENTION DO NOT IMPOSE UPON A STATE OBLIGATIONS IN RELATION TO ACTS SAID TO HAVE OCCURRED BEFORE THAT STATE BECAME BOUND BY THE CONVENTION.
Furthermore, for any case to qualify as genocide, the existence of specific conditions stipulated in the 1948 Genocide Convention should be proved unequivocally with direct evidence. Defining the events of 1915 on the basis of preconceptions and opinions is simply disregarding the law. This is neither understandable nor acceptable.
FOR THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE TO BE MADE OUT, IT IS NOT SUFFICIENT FOR THE MEMBERS OF A PARTICULAR GROUP TO BE TARGETED BECAUSE THEY BELONG TO THAT GROUP, BUT THE ACTS IN QUESTION MUST AT THE SAME TIME BE PERPETRATED WITH INTENT TO DESTROY THE GROUP AS SUCH IN WHOLE OR IN PART (DOLUS SPECIALIS). GENOCIDE IS THEREFORE A VERY NARROW LEGAL CONCEPT WHICH, MOREOVER, IS DIFFICULT TO PROVE. THE COURT IS NOT SATISFIED THAT THE “GENERAL CONSENSUS” TO WHICH THE SWISS COURTS REFERRED AS A BASIS FOR THE APPLICANT’S CONVICTION CAN BE RELIED ON IN RELATION TO THESE VERY SPECIFIC POINTS OF LAW.
THERE IS NO JUDGMENT OF A COMPETENT COURT MAKING AN ASSESSMENT OF GENOCIDE WITH REGARD TO THE EVENTS OF 1915.
Only a competent international court could make an assessment of genocide. As genocide is a serious claim, the owner of such a claim should prove its existence with concrete evidence specifically regarding the presence of an intent. As in the case of the Holocaust and the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica, only an international court with expertise could assess the existence of this crime. In this regard, defining the events of 1915 as genocide is against the law.
The events of 1915 can in no way be compared to the Holocaust. Holocaust is a distinct case both legally and historically.
IN THIS CONNECTION, A CLEAR DISTINCTION CAN BE MADE BETWEEN THE PRESENT CASE AND CASES CONCERNING DENIAL OF CRIMES RELATING TO THE HOLOCAUST ( ...)THEIR DENIAL CONCERNED CRIMES PERPETRATED BY THE NAZI REGIME (....) HAD RESULTED IN CONVICTIONS WITH A CLEAR LEGAL BASIS(...) THE HISTORICAL FACTS CHALLENGED BY THE APPLICANTS IN THOSE CASES HAD BEEN FOUND BY AN INTERNATIONAL COURT TO BE CLEARLY ESTABLISHED.(...) THE COURT SHARES THE OPINION OF THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT, ACCORDING TO WHICH THE DENIAL OF THE HOLOCAUST IS TODAY THE MAIN DRIVING FORCE OF ANTI-SEMITISM. IN FACT, IT JUDGES THAT THIS IS STILL A CURRENT PHENOMENON, AND AGAINST WHICH THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY MUST BE FIRM AND VIGILANT. ONE CANNOT AFFIRM THAT THE DISMISSAL OF THE DESCRIPTION OF “GENOCIDE” FOR THE TRAGIC EVENTS THAT OCCURRED IN 1915 AND THE FOLLOWING YEARS MIGHT HAVE THE SAME REPERCUSSIONS.