Editorial: Turkey’s Denial is the Failure of the World’s Major Powers
By Vahagn Avedian

Turkish authorities have raised charges for “insulting the judicial system” against five Turkish journalists who have criticized the banning of a conference about the Armenian Genocide. If convicted they risk prison up to six years. The journalists can, however, consider themselves in good company: Nobel Prize candidate and author Orhan Pamuk is already on trial for “insulting the Turkish identity” by mentioning the Armenian Genocide and the Hrant Dink, editor of a Turkish-Armenian bi-lingual weekly in Istanbul, has already received his six-month prison sentence for the same “crime.”

More than 90 years has passed, Armenians have pleaded annually for recognition, the pile of evidence put forward by researchers and historians has grown constantly, yet Turkey has managed to evade confessing to its violent past and present violations.

Almost everyone, even the Turks, know of the Armenian Genocide and that it has in fact taken place. Some, as Germany and USA, refrain from calling the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians and the ethnic cleansing of 80 percent of the Armenian Highland from its native inhabitants as “genocide,” but have, nevertheless, condemned it as “massacres.” But how can one blame Turkey for its refusal to recognize the Armenian Genocide, when the world powers have since the very beginning of the massacres in 1894 failed to demand an official recognition and a subsequent indemnification? Who is to blame: a criminal who has committed murder and is still free to harass its surroundings or the judicial system and the authorities in charge who remain indifferent to the perpetrator?

Turkey has managed to buy its innocence in over a century: their possession of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles played a vital role in neutralizing the attempts of the major European Powers at the beginning of the 20th century; Kemal Atatürk’s Turkey used East against West during the Cold War era; and now it’s the “war against terrorism” in Middle East and EU candidacy which serves the same purpose. Europe and USA have time after time pointed their finger at Turkey in regard to the “Armenian Question.” But the threat has stopped to just that.

Armenians have always held Turkey responsible for the atrocities against their nation and chastised them for refusing to recognize and apologize for their actions. In pursuing the support of the leading world powers the Armenians have silenced their critic towards France, Russia, Germany, Great Britain and USA for having failed the Armenians time after time with hollow promises. Armenia became their forgotten ally during the World War I, who despite the prevailing situation and while other Transcaucasian peoples were willingly cooperating with Germany and Turkey, stood firm for fighting against the Central Powers, resulting in many more losses during that struggle. Armenia was “the Little Ally” who was sacrificed when the prospect of political and economic profits emerged. The word “Armenia,” frequently mentioned in the Treaty of Sevrés, was suddenly entirely dropped in the subsequent Treaty of Lausanne while Soviet Russia chose to drop its demands concerning Western Armenia and the Armenian genocide in exchange for good relations with Atatürk’s Turkey. Armenians were the same people in regard to whom the Allies, for the first time in history, used the term “crimes against humanity,” when describing the massacres in Ottoman Turkey.

Now, suddenly the “Armenian Genocide” has once more become the tool in world politics. US used it to restrain Turkey when Ankara threatened to accuse USA for the death of many of their Turkmen brothers in northern parts of Iraq, while Europe has off and on used it during the Turkish EU negotiation talks as it has served its interests. But again, it has stopped there. USA still refuses to recognize the “regrettable atrocities against the Armenians” as genocide and EU failed to include an official recognition of the genocide as a pre-condition for the Turkish EU negotiations.

Now five Turkish journalists are facing trial for mentioning the number one taboo word in present Turkey. This is happening today, in year 2005, while Turkey is supposed to display its progressive sides. Yet, the “democratic, freedom loving, and defender of human rights” leaders of the world content themselves with expressing their “regret” for the Turkish behavior. Turkey has resembled itself to a bridge which can connect the Christian Europe with the Moslem Asia. EU should ask itself if this is the kind of bridge which one wants to use for crossing or whether it is still in critical need of reparation and restoration before it can be used.

The fact of the Armenian Genocide is indisputable. The question, however, remains the same as it was in 1920: Is the Armenian Genocide worth recognizing? Will the world redress the Armenian Genocide or will Armenians once more be sacrificed as an expendable pawn on the world chess board?