Sunday, September 07, 2008

Turkey tries to improve relations with Armenia , sort of

According to the Sunday Telegraph, Turkish President Abdullah Gul has visited Armenia. The first ever visit by a Turkish leader to independent Armenia, which given the history between the two nations is important. However, sadly, Turkey seems still unwilling to accept its past.

President Gul said of Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian "He did not mention... the so-called genocide claims"

According to Wikipedia:

"The date of the onset of the genocide is conventionally held to be April 24, 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. Thereafter, the Ottoman military uprooted Armenians from their homes and forced them to march for hundreds of miles, depriving them of food and water, to the desert of what is now Syria. Massacres were indiscriminate of age or gender, with rape and other sexual abuse commonplace."

Between 300,000 and 1.5 million Armenians died during this period. However arguing over numbers is beside the point. It is also beside the point to consider that many Turks also died in the ensuing conflict. There is little evidence that there was a deliberate effort to wipe out Turks by Armenians.

Modern day Turks have little to fear from admitting that the Ottoman Empire discriminated against Armenians, that Armenians sought independence, and the corrupt brutal Ottoman regime co-opted many Turks to expel and execute Armenians. Germans have had to face their role in the most well known genocide of all. Turkey needs to engage internally about this dark period of history, resist nationalist pride, and acknowledge the evil of the past. Precious few alive today are likely to have had any responsibility for it, and it would be a fitting first step before seriously considering secular Turkey's membership in the European Union.

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