Taner Akcam: The Turk Who Insists Turkey Acknowledge the Armenian Massacre

Historians in the News

Levon Sevunts, in the Montreal Gazette (June 26, 2004):

It's sometimes hard to explain to non-Armenian friends the need to recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish government.

"Why don't you let it go?" I often hear. "Get on with your life. It happened 90 years ago, for God's sake."

But for Turkish historian Taner Akcam, the need to recognize and learn from the Armenian genocide is as acute now as it was when the modern Turkish Republic was founded 80 years ago, particularly in Turkey itself.

Akcam, a controversial historian at home whose views have made him the target of death threats, argues that Turkey is approaching a second crucial stage in its nation-building process and if it doesn't learn from past mistakes, it is bound to repeat them.

Akcam contends the collapse of the Soviet Union and the U.S. invasion of Iraq have reawakened the Eastern Question, the redrawing of the political map of the Middle East at the expense of the Ottoman Empire and now the Turkish Republic.

Equally dangerous, Akcam argues, is the reawakening of revanchist ideas among Turkey's military-bureaucratic elites. Coupled together, these tendencies could lead to another calamity, he warns.

From Empire to Republic is certain to create controversy, especially in Turkey, where discussions of the Armenian genocide are still taboo. But what makes Akcam's book stand out among other works on the subject - apart from the fact that the author is a Turk - is that it is the first serious scholarly attempt to understand the genocide from the perspective of the perpetrator, rather than the victim.

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Arnold Shcherban - 7/14/2004

No wonder Turkey does not admit its guilt for the Armenian genocide of 1915.
As a member of NATO and close ally of the NATO's chief
country - USA, Turkey can easily maintain a straight
face about it as long, as the Chief maintains a straight
face about its war crimes in South-East Asia, Central
America, Mid-East and in other regions of the world.