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.
THE HOLOCAUST IS A UNIQUE CASE. THE HOLOCAUST IS PHENOMENOGICALLY UNIQUE BY VIRTUE OF THE FACT THAT NEVER BEFORE HAS A STATE SET OUT, AS A MATTER OF INTENTIONAL PRINCIPLE AND ACTUALIZED POLICY, TO ANNIHILATE PHYSICALLY EVERY MAN, WOMAN, CHILD BELONGING TO A SPECIFIC PEOPLE
The Holocaust: The Nazi efforts to remove Jews from Europe were almost always deliberate in their efforts to deprive Jews of life and property.
The Armenian events of 1915: The Ottoman efforts to remove Armenians from the war zones where they were deliberately undermining the Empire’s efforts to defend themselves, was conducted with an intent to preserve life and property.
The Holocaust: There was no counterpart in the Ottoman Empire regarding the Armenians or any other minority, to the Nazis’ murderous ideology of anti-Semitism.
The Armenian events of 1915: There was never an attempt by an Ottoman Government to create a religious or ideological justification for the annihilation or ruination of any of the Empire’s minority groups. There was no history of physical or verbal attacks on the Armenian (or any other minority) community in the Empire that corresponds to the history of anti-Semitic depredations against the Jews in Christian Europe. Even during the World War I, there was no policy against Armenians as such.
The Holocaust: Armenians were not the Jews of the World War I. Jews of Europe were involved in the causes of the World War II and would not have benefited from one side’s victory or the other.
The Armenian events of 1915: The Armenians clearly did.
The Holocaust: The Jews were never a threat to German national security interests either from within or without. There was no state in Europe or elsewhere that attempted to use Jewish communities in Europe for political and military ends.
The Armenian events of 1915: The circumstances of Armenians were totally different.
The Holocaust: Jews had no secessionist aspirations.
The Armenian events of 1915: Many Armenians were involved in armed hostilities against the Ottoman Government. The Armenian militants conducted massacres in the Eastern Anatolia, caused unrest within the Muslim populated areas to advance their agenda and helped (fought in) the invading Russian army.
The Holocaust: Hitler’s goal was genocidal. The Nazis created a large bureaucracy to round up the Jews everywhere they could be found, exploit them economically, murder them and dispose of the corpses. This was all done systemically. Some of the most critical individuals and organizations in German science, technology and government administration were devoted over a period of years to the planning and execution of this effort.
The Armenian events of 1915: The difference between that effort and the relocation of Armenians orchestrated by the Ottomans is obvious. The Ottoman government had no argument with Armenians per se, or the ethnographic characteristics of Armenianism. The Ottoman government had no qualms with the Armenian populations living in Istanbul, Kütahya or Aydın, those living outside the war zone.
The Holocaust: The Nazi program of extermination sent Jews to Auschwitz and other death camps from all corners of Europe with a single purpose: to be murdered upon arrival or within few weeks of arrival. Such plan suggests a perverse metaphysical view, not something framed by political or even strategic expediency.
The Armenian events of 1915: The relocation Law of May 27, 1915 was enacted due to military necessities. The principle of relocation allowed for continued life at journey’s end. Several hundred thousand Armenians survived such journeys. Had the Ottomans intended an Armenian genocide, the manner of relocations, as well as their destinations would have been different. Every measure was taken to ensure the security of the Armenians subjected to relocation. Officials or civilians who disobeyed the instructions of the Government and committed offenses against Armenian convoys were tried by the Military Courts. As a result, 1763 individuals were taken into custody and 67 convicts were sentenced to death.
International law honors the distinction between the Holocaust and the Armenian tragedy.
The Holocaust: The crime of Holocaust was confirmed at Nuremberg Trials.
The Armenian events of 1915: No such verdict of a competent court exists for the 1915 events. The First World War victors exonerated the Malta detainees-144 Ottoman statesmen and officials who were alleged to have been responsible for the maladministration of the Armenian relocation policies. Not a single Turk has ever been found of guilty of what later to be articulated as genocide or its equivalent in a genuine court of law, although the victorious powers of the World War I enjoyed both the incentive and opportunity to do so, if incriminating evidence did exist. The accusations of mass slaughter of Armenians were exhaustively probed, investigated and studied, with the Allied Powers agreeing that the charges could not hold. (Yücel Güçlü, The Holocaust and the Armenian Case in Comparative Perspective,2012 p.103-110)
(ABOUT THE WORDS WHICH ARE CLAIMED THAT ARE SAID BY HITLER: “WHO, AFTER ALL, SPEAKS TODAY OF THE ANNIHILATION OF THE ARMENIANS?” ) THERE IS NO PROOF THAT HITLER EVER MADE SUCH A STATEMENT, NOR DID THE INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL AT NUREMBERG ACCEPT DURING ITS 23 NOVEMBER 1945 SESSION, OR IN ANY OTHER SESSION, THE ABOVE-MENTIONED QUOTATION ALLEGEDLY REFERRED TO HITLER. THE NUREMBERG INVESTIGATION EXPLORED GERMAN DOCUMENTS OF HITLER’S ADDRESS, AS IT WAS CRITICAL PROOF POINT FOR NAZI GERMAN’S WAR AMBITIONS. THE TRIBUNAL EXAMINED AND THEN REJECTED LOUIS LOCHNER’S THIRD-HAND VERSION OF HITLER’S ADDRESS TO COMMANDING GENERALS ON 22 AUGUST 1939. TWO OFFICIAL VERSIONS OF THE SAID ADDRESS AS ENTERED INTO THE TRIBUNAL’S EVIDENCES (US-29/798 PS AND US-30/1014 PS), MAKE NO REFERENCE TO ARMENIANS, NOR TO JEWS. INSTEAD, HITLER’S ADDRESS WAS ANTI-POLISH INVECTIVE.