Friday, September 4, 2009

Dodging the "G" Word

. Friday, September 4, 2009

AFoE links to this BBC report indicating a possible thaw in relations between Turkey and Armenia:

They are to hold six weeks of domestic consultations on the move after which their parliaments will vote on it, their foreign ministries announced.

Negotiations on the mending of ties have been brokered by Switzerland.

The two countries remain deeply divided over the fate Armenians suffered under Turkish Ottoman rule.

Turkey has resisted widespread calls for it to recognise the mass killing of Armenians during World War I as an act of genocide.

Interestingly, an impetus for this has been soccer: the two nations are in the same World Cup qualifying group, and are playing next month in Turkey. The Armenian president has plans to attend.

The Turkish-Armenian border has been closed for more than 15 years and the two sides have been in some state of conflict since Armenia gained its independence in 1991. The controversy goes much further back than that, of course, and Turkey's refusal to acknowledge the genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire -- in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed -- has made peaceful relations between the two basically impossible. In fact, that genocide inspired the first use of the phrase "crime against humanity".

The U.S. has not formally acknowledged the genocide either, since that would involve alienating a chief Middle East ally when it already has so few. But most of the rest of the OECD has declared the "events of 1915" (as Turkey calls them) to be a genocide, as have other countries, international organizations, and over half of the individual U.S. states.

The lack of universal international condemnation was encouragement to Hitler, who said 70 years ago (on the eve of the invasion of Poland) that he would not hesitate to murder without mercy, and had no fear of retribution because "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" This quote marks the entrance to the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. (image above).

So it is a good sign that Turkey and Armenia are moving towards re-establishing normal relations and re-opening the border. But it will be even better when an honest accounting of the 1915 genocide is taken so that real reconciliation can take place.

For further reading on U.S./Turkey relations, and why Turkey is the most anti-American country on earth, see this report at e-IR. The nut: many Turks dislike American support for Kurds, and are scared of American imperialist instincts in the Middle East.


Dodging the "G" Word




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