Turkey Will Not Apologize For Armenian Genocide

Roundup: Talking About History

Anthony Browne, The Times (London), 12/15/04

Turkey has reacted angrily to a demand by France that it accept responsibility for a"genocide" against Armenians nearly 80 years ago, which is thought to have influenced the Nazi Holocaust.

Michel Barnier, the French Foreign Minister, insisted that Turkey must officially recognise the 1915 genocide before it joins the European Union.

Historians believe that Turkish authorities orchestrated the killing of 1.5 million Armenian Christians, who were indigenous inhabitants of Turkey, in a brutal attempt to make an ethnically pure nation. However, the Turkish Government has always said that only a small number were killed in spontaneous acts of violence.

M Barnier said:"In the course of the accession negotiations, France will ask for a recognition of the tragedy at the outset of the 20th century. When the time comes, Turkey should face up to the requirement of remembrance. The European project itself is founded on reconciliation."

He said that recognition should not be a precondition for membership talks with Turkey, a step to be decided by EU leaders on Thursday. However, he insisted that Turkey recognise the genocide during the membership talks, which are expected to last ten years:"We have ten years to ask it. The Turks have ten years to think about their response."

He later referred to it as a genocide, the first time the French Government has used that word, having previously preferred tragedy. Many parliaments in Europe have called on Turkey to recognise the slaughter, which is marked by monuments in many European cities.

However, a Turkish government spokesman said:"There was no such genocide, so there is no question of recognising a genocide that did not happen."

One Turkish official said:"They are just trying to make us angry. It is their last chance to cause trouble against us."

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Manny Porter - 11/24/2005

Anthony Browne of the Times shows his bias when he writes, "Historians believe that Turkish authorities orchestrated the killing of 1.5 million Armenian Christians... in a brutal attempt to make an ethnically pure nation." Real historians always examine all sides to a claim, not just one. There are many fact-valuing historians who don't believe these events constituted an extermination policy, or genocide. (And certainly not in numbers that approximate the entire pre-war population of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. After the war, in 1918, the Armenian Patriarch estimated (from an inflated pre-war population figure of 2.1 million) there were 840,000 deaths and 1,260,000 survivors.

If any historian claims 1.5 million Armenians died, then such a historian is out-propagandizing the Armenian Patriarch, so the last word to define such a person would be "historian."

And why did the Armenians die? Famine and disease were the main killers, causes that took the brunt of the lives of 2.5 million Turks. Is there a reason why the Turks wanted to ethnically purify the nation, when the Armenians prospered for centuries as the Loyal Nation, and when the other ethnic groups of the heterogeneous, multi-cultural empire remained intact (like the Jews)? For the answer, Anthony Browne could have searched the archives of his own newspaper. Armenian leader Boghos Nubar wrote, in a January 30, 1919 letter to The Times of London:

"...Ever since the beginning of the war the Armenians fought by the side of the Allies on all fronts... the Armenians have been belligerents de facto."

The rebellious Armenians posed a grave danger to a nation on its knees besieged on all fronts. They needed to be temporarily (at war's end, the relocated Armenians were allowed to return) moved out of the way, a method nations of the period especially employed against peoples presumed to pose a danger. In war time, people die. It's not nice, but to label events as a genocide in the absence of factual proof is not the conscientious step to take.