By Philippe Raffi Kalfayan
Facing official commemorations of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2019 and new resolutions or political declarations of third-party countries (France, Italy, Portugal), Turkey adopted an aggressive tone and a denial with tones that were thought to have disappeared. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has outdone all his predecessors in denial and lies. He is known for his unparalleled boldness, especially when he argues with an extraordinary aplomb that the existence of an Armenian diaspora is proof that there has been no genocide. The Armenian Diaspora, of course, exists because of the policy of extermination and forced deportation perpetrated by Ottoman Empire. The successor state, Turkey, does not ignore it. Hence, this declaration may be interpreted as the expression of regret that the Young Turks did not execute their sinister plan “properly.”
Further, Erdogan’s communication on April 24 at the Symposium on Archives’ Development is an unprecedented confession: he justifies the deportation of the whole Armenian Ottomans of Anatolia (1.2 million of men, women and children for 1915-1916 period) as the “most reasonable step” at the time, qualifying all of them as “gangs and theirs supporters,” which allegedly massacred Muslims.
The street commemoration that was to take place in Istanbul, as in previous years, was banned this year by the police. One of the leaders of the Nor Zartonk movement has even been arrested. Now the attitude is back to a harsh denialist discourse and measures aimed at nipping in the bud any hint of public support for the memory of the victims of the genocide or the evocation of the latter. The activists who braved the ban on the commemoration avoided saying the “G” word publicly. The forced alliance with the MHP, the ultranationalist and racist party with which Erdogan formed a coalition government, and the general situation of rights and freedoms in Turkey, could have only led to such a result.
The purpose of this article is to present and analyze the content of the official speeches or media reactions, and to draw conclusions not from the point of view of morality, where Armenians do not have rightly anything to hope for in the current state of Turkey, but on the politico-legal plane where everything is possible and everything remains to be done. It is indeed suggested that the situation thus created should not lead the Armenian government to remain lax, as it has announced, but on the contrary it offers new opportunities to act. The Armenian state must not be content with denouncing “hate speech,” as the Armenian Prime Minister did. The denial and lies discredit the whole of the Turkish Republic in regard of the reality of the genocide of Armenians and the facts of general knowledge that constitute it, regardless of their legal qualification.
The Good Armenians