Turkey Is Taking The Right Approach In Forcefully Opposing The “Genocide” Label PDF Print E-mail

I believe that Turkey is taking the right approach is opposing Genocide resolutions wherever and whenever they appear, whether in the US or elsewhere. The April 24, 2010 Obama statement was disappointing but at least the President did not use the word “Genocide”. This is certainly a victory of sorts.

Various arguments have been advanced in the press and elsewhere which take the position that Turkey should give up its opposition and admit to “genocide”.

For the reasons explained below, I strongly disagree with these arguments and am convinced that Turkey's forceful policy in opposing “genocide” resolutions is the right one.

Turkey should continue its adamant opposition to admitting to any form of “genocide” in connection with the 1915 events. Failure to do so could result in dangerous and risky developments for Turkey such as further criminalization of Armenian genocide denial, and even demands for reparations.

Here are some of the reasons that have been suggested as to why Turkey has been urged to admit to “genocide” (and why I think these are totally wrong):

1. Argument 1 : Turkish genocide diplomacy is failing; many countries have already recognized the Armenian genocide and Turkey is fighting a losing battle.


a.     Why this is wrong: In fact, Turkey’s genocide diplomacy is making great strides. The extremely close vote in the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs (23-22) (and in the Swedish Parliament, 131-130)  and the fact that the Obama  April 24, 2010 statement did not use the word “genocide” are indicative of Turkey’s increasing effectiveness in lobbying this issue.

2.     Argument 2: The 1915 as genocide does not single out Turkey, the contention being that academic “genocide” studies have focused on many different events throughout history, not just the allegations against Turkey; for example,  allegations of “genocide” in Cambodia, Rwanda and of the Native Americans in Spanish America.

a.     Why this is wrong: The plain fact that the Holocaust and the events in Armenia are increasingly being linked together by the proponents of the Armenian Genocide resolutions, and Turkey is clearly being singled out for special and intensive focus. The differences between these two events are not clearly being pointed out, and Armenia and the Holocaust are routinely considered and memorialized together.

3.     Argument 3: International genocide resolutions do not throw into question wider political issues concerning Turkey and Armenia, such as the current Turkish-Armenian border .

a.     Why this is wrong: To the extent that the Armenian genocide claims undermine Turkey, such claims also undermine Turkey’s efforts at rapprochement with Armenia, including with respect to resolving border issues. The “genocide” issue belongs in the historical commission set up by the Turkey-Armenia protocols.

4.     Argument 4: International genocide resolutions do not pave the way for compensation and restitution claims against the Turkish State; the point made here is that apparently not a single genocide-related claim has successfully been brought against Turkey anywhere in the world.

a.     Why this is wrong: It is perfectly clear from the rhetoric of the pro-“Genocide” lobby that the characterization of the events in 1915 as “genocide” is merely seen as a  first step, and that criminalizing the denial of the Armenian genocide (a clear and blatant interference with the right of freedom of speech and expression) and reparations are the ultimate goal. Suppose I were to deny the fact that Cortes committed genocide against the native Indians in America as a result of the disastrous spread of disease, would that be a proper basis for criminal charge of “genocide” denial? Of course not – freedom of speech is sacred and people should be able to express themselves on any matter, especially on the interpretation of history. Suppression of speech is the first step to tyranny.

b.     Why this is wrong, continued: The fact that apparently no law suit for reparations from Turkey for the events in Armenia has succeeded so far does not mean that such a law suit could not be successful, especially if Turkey has been officially labeled (by the US House of Representatives for example) as a State (and a people, by the way) that committed “genocide”.  If the Genocide Resolution is adopted in Congress (even if that resolution is technically “non-binding”), that might lead to a situation where Turkey might find itself as a defendant in a number of legal cases in the US, which would be a horrific (and undeserved) situation for Turkey.

5.     Argument 5: International “genocide” resolutions do not undermine Turkish prestige and honor.

a.     Why this is wrong: In my view, Turkey’s prestige and the honor, and the honor and prestige of Turks throughout the world are on the line. It is plainly unfair and inappropriate to label and stigmatize an entire people as guilty of the crime of “genocide” with respect to events that took place almost 100 years ago, prior to the modern Turkish republic.

Turkey must continue to devote its energies to this issue and push back forcefully on any attempt to paste the “genocide” label on Turkey and the Turkish people.

April 24 has passed, but there will be future April 24th’s, and the opposition will continue its efforts. So Turkey must also continue to defend itself effectively against these unfortunate and inappropriate labels.

Originally appeared on www.turkishny.com on April 25th 2010