British Foreign Policy, the Katyn Massacre (1940) and the Armenian Genocide (1915)

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By Anush Melkonian

LONDON — David Miller, former British ambassador to Armenia, was one of the speakers at the London School of Economics screening on March 5 of “The Blue Book,” a British documentary about the ongoing Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide. The film and discussion drew an audience of over 100 students and staff.
Miller was clearly disturbed by the documentary by Gagik Karageuzian and the levels at which denial still runs deep in modern day Turkey. He engaged the Blue Book issue (a 1916 British parliamentary publication which the Turkish government falsely calls a forgery) and summarized Turkish tactics on Armenian-related issues, including the Turkish stance on the recently signed Protocols between Yerevan and Ankara, as bullying.
Miller went on to state that he did not think the British Foreign Office would recognize the Armenian Genocide on its own initiative. This was not due to a lack of evidence because, as he suggested, the Foreign Office knew very well about the Armenian Genocide from its own archives. He saw the British non-recognition as part of the sad fact that Great Britain had a record of appeasing dictatorships and powerful states in its national interests.
Miller then gave an example of what he meant. In 1940 more than 20,000 Polish prisoners of war and civilians were murdered in cold blood at Katyn forest by Soviet troops on the orders of Joseph Stalin. The Soviets hid these killings, and then blamed the Germans who discovered the corpses in 1943. The British (and Americans), who knew the truth about the Katyn massacre as early as 1940, remained silent about it.
It was not until 1990, when the Russian government itself recognized these mass executions by Soviet troops that the British Foreign Office also spoke up.
So, when did the speaker think the Foreign Office might recognize the Armenian Genocide? Only “when Turkey recognizes it” was the blunt response.
The screening of “The Blue Book” at the London School of Economics was organized by the LSE SU Society Armenian Society.

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