Armenia Between Second Genocide and Deliverance


In anticipation of adverse publicity against Turkey, its government has gone to great lengths, every year, on the eve of April 24, to soften its image before the world.

We should be reminded that on April 24, 2015 — the centennial of the Armenian Genocide — the Turkish government celebrated the centennial of the Gallipoli Campaign, a dubious victory against the Allies awarded to Mustapha Kemal by the German generals during World War I.

We wish Turkey’s efforts did not yield dividends, but the truth is different. Given Turkey’s political stature on the world scene, many centers of power support Turkey, regardless of the moral implications of that choice.

This year is no different, particularly in light of political developments which see the US administration dropping major hints to Ankara that President Joseph Biden may use the magical term “genocide” in the traditional US comment on the anniversary.

Indeed, Turkey’s presidential office organized a symposium on April 20 to discuss the issue in three different panels. Among the participants in the first panel is President Erdogan’s advisor, Seyit Sertçelik, a Genocide denier.

Of course, the goal of the three panels is not to arrive at the truth about the Genocide, because the monopoly of that truth rests with President Erdogan, who challenges Armenians to come up with “one single document” to prove that Turkey has ever committed a genocide. Therefore, what remains for the panelists to do is to manufacture historic facts to justify Mr. Erdogan’s historic truth.

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In addition to these antics, Turkey has invested other resources to forestall recognition by the US president through expensive lobbying groups and a tireless media campaign.

One of the reasons for Turkey’s haste in mending fences with Israel is to continue receiving the services of Israeli lobbying groups in the US, which have traditionally supported Turkey’s drive to avert any recognition by the US government.

Since the issue has such fundamental consequences for Turkey, we should not be surprised if Ankara comes up with an alluring last-minute offer or concession to Washington that the administration cannot afford to turn it down. We need to keep our fingers crossed yet be realistic.

In addition to its traditional tools, this year Turkey has resorted to a new measure, that of threatening Armenia with another genocide.

Turkey’s actions in the recent Karabakh war, its continued concentration of troops on Armenia’s border and it’s demand for a piece of Armenian territory — Syunik —amount to a new genocide. And it asks that as a reward for undoing its criminal blockade of Armenia, Ankara receive absolution for the genocide.

Last year in Baku, Erdogan’s invocation of Enver Pasha, one member of the triumvirate that planned and executed the Armenian Genocide, marked the culmination of the threats that Ankara regularly directs at Armenia. To laud the original butcher while rejoicing over winning a war of aggression against Armenians connected the historic dots from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey and its little brother, the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Erdogan is not the only Turkish leader who has threatened Armenia, though he may be the boldest one. Many other Turkish leaders in the past threatened Armenia and Armenians in one form or another.

In 1992, during the first Karabakh war, Turgut Ozel, then Turkey’s prime minister, suggested a Cyprus-style blitzkrieg against Armenia. On other occasions, he asked the rhetorical question, “What if we drop a bomb over Yerevan during one of our war games?”

In an indirect reference, Ozel warned Armenians if 1915 was not lesson enough for them! Again and again, Turkey practices a roundabout logic of “we committed no genocide” while adding “they should have learned their lesson.”

President Suleyman Demirel had characterized Armenia as a “thorn” in its geographical position between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Thus, in 1993, former President Bulent Ecevit suggested the notorious land swap, then advocated by CIA shill Paul Goble, of Meghri with the Lachin corridor.

Another confession was made in Brussels on the sidelines of a NATO meeting by the former chief of staff of the Turkish armed forces, Gen. Ilker Basbug. He had bragged about his country by openly asking the rhetorical question if Turkey could enjoy such a unified state “had we not expelled the Greeks and Armenians from Turkey.”

It was not enough that Turkey took over historic Armenia, expelling and murdering its people, its leaders continue their hateful policy of threats and now genocide.

President Erdogan’s spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, had tried to convince President Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that since the term genocide did not exist in 1915, therefore neither could the act. However, even at that period, US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, a witness to the events, had come closest in defining the Turkish government’s actions. Indeed, in July 1915, Morgenthau had cabled Washington that “race murder” was underway — “a systematic attempt to uproot peaceful Armenian populations and to bring destruction and destitution upon them.”

Mr. Kalin had also argued that there was no court verdict in the Armenian case. Winston Churchill writes, “the clearance of the race from Asia Minor was about as complete as such an act, on a scale so great, could well be.  … There is no reasonable doubt that this crime was planned and executed for political reasons. The opportunity presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race…” (The World Crisis (vol. 5) by Winston Churchill).

Addressing succinctly the issue of the court verdict, the late eminent genocide scholar, Dr. Vahakn Dadrian, wrote, “The Tribunal’s key indictment and key verdict … were published in the Ottoman government’s gazette, the Takvimi Vekayi, numbers 3540 and 3604, respectively. It needs to be emphasized here that all the verdicts of this military tribunal were just like in the case of the Nuremberg Tribunal, nearly entirely predicated upon official Turkish documents.”

In view of overwhelming legal and historical documents, the denialist Turkish government can only resort to threats and distortions. Turkey’s refuge in these maneuvers indicates the enormity of the consequences of Genocide recognition by the international community. Most analysts and statesmen in Armenia’s political ghetto underestimate the significance of that recognition, and the danger of the country falling into the Turkish trap and undermining the historical and political value of the case for short-term economic gains.

To say that there is no morality in politics is nothing new. Any government will venture to recognize the Armenian Genocide only if that recognition coincides with its own interests. That is why no more than 30 counties have recognized our Genocide. Over time, we have witnessed the Israeli government using the Genocide issue for its own political ends. Every time that government intends to extract some concession from Turkey, the media begin to report that one of the subcommittees of the Israeli Knesset is considering the issue. The Armenians get excited and the Turks get alarmed, but Ankara somehow reaches out to the Israeli government and the issue never makes it to the Knesset floor for a full vote. This is the traditional game of politics and we should not be disappointed.

The New York Times, which had published 145 stories and commentaries in 1915 about the Genocide, moralized after the House and Senate subsequently voted in 2019 to recognize the Armenian Genocide. We all recognize the political background that had brought the legislative branch of the US government to pass the appropriate resolutions.

Following the adoption of the House resolution, the Times wrote, “The House of Representatives did the right thing last week, but it gets no credit for courage. Lawmakers acted only because opposition to Turkey had suddenly become popular. Its recent invasion of Kurdish Syria provoked bipartisan patronage in Washington. … The victims of 1915 deserve better than to be memorialized merely as a symbolic rebuke to the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

Although matching legislative anger with the Genocide resolution is the natural course of politics, Erdogan deserved the rebuke anyway, because for so long as he had been using the cover of NATO and US patronage to engage in self-serving adventures around the world. That is why in addition to the passage of the resolution, sanctions were used to contain Turkish misbehavior.

President Biden’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide could not have come at a better time. Gloom and doom mark the mood in Armenia following the 44-day war. Many remains of the 5,000 casualties are being brought home gradually. The trauma of defeat is oppressive and the disillusionment with Armenia’s strategic ally, Russia, is at an all-time high.

Biden’s recognition will complement the actions taken by the legislative branch of the US government. It will also draw red lines around Turkey, which is openly threatening Armenia’s borders.

It will serve as a ray of hope in this darkest hour of Armenia’s history. It will mean a deliverance which will emancipate Armenians all over the world from this historic trauma.

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