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Last Updated: Monday, 6 November 2006, 10:33 GMT
Your comments on historical guilt

Your comments on Europe diary: Historical guilt


I think the Armenian massacre is a touchy Turkish subject for two reasons. 1) It has been denied and denied truths cause guilt and anger by those who deny. 2. Modern Turkey feels itself a different, better, nation and culture than the one that slew the Armenians. I've lived in Turkey and admire the people there greatly.
Marvin McConoughey, Corvallis, Oregon USA

Something that happened nearly 100 years ago is being brought up in order to hinder Turkey's membership of the EC. Armenia refuses to take part in a joint commission of historians, and the archives of the USSR have not been examined. No country has a clean slate, least of all France
Georgina Ízer, Istanbul, Turkey

Much of Turkish music, architecture, cuisine and art have Armenian roots. If the Turks admit to the Armenian Genocide, they fear to lose a large part of what they believe is Turkish identity
David Whitman, Sydney Australia

A strong country accepts its painful past and a weak one denies it.
Georgina Burns, London

There is no question that it was genocide. Don't call it a "massacre". Call it what it is. The Turkish people feel guilty because they have learned the "party line" in their education, but in their hearts they know the truth. Historical guilt exists when the nation has not acknowledged its past.
Annette Gurdjian, Oregon, USA

I believe admitting to guilt would not be the problem as such. There is enough proof that terrible things have been done by one nation against another. I think the problem would rather be that by admitting guilt, one admits that one has been wrong and commited acts that should not be permitted. In the eyes of many, this could weeken the self-created identity "nation". So in the end it all comes down to the fact that the individuals' fear to lose his identity influences the policy making.
fatima, switzerland

You've asked for some insight into the Turkish mind, and I'm more than happy to oblige. Of course Turkey has its own share of fanatics who just want an excuse to "kick people", and they form one of the fiercest (and also one of the most unfocused and badly-led) centers of opposition to the debate of what actually happened in 1915. The cases opened against writers (I believe you actually had Orhan Pamuk's case in mind) were all the doing of these people, and so was the short lived proposal to recognize an "Algerian Genocide". But most people in Turkey simply do not believe that what took place can be classified as a genocide, and we have never seen proof to the contrary. I'm sure you've done a lot of research already, but you might want to remember the number of people who could actually be sentenced for war crimes against the Armenians were but a handful, even with English and American comissions ploughing the country deep for proof. However, the most important thing causing this indignation towards France is the simple injustice of it. In the past few years, Turkey has opened the imperial Ottoman archives to scholars, has allowed the free debate of what happened in 1915, and even though with the usual ups and downs, has adopted a much more liberal approach towards the issue.
Mehmet Cansoy, Istanbul- Turkey

Asking why Turkey finds it difficult to discuss atrocities in 1915 is a legitimate question. But an equally legitimate question is how many Ottoman Muslims died at the hands of Armenians and their Russians allies at that time and earlier. By all means suggest that Turkey should be more rational and open about these events, but why is it that Mark Mardwell does not speak to the Turks and Kurds in eastern Turkey with historic memories as the victims of massacres? It is an American historian Justin McCarthy in his book Death and Exile in the Ottoman Empire who claims that more Ottoman Muslims died in tne region than Armenians. Is it rational and open of Mark Mardell to ignore the victims and suffering on both sides? Are the Armenains rational and open when they try to label those massacres as 'genocide' of Armenians and ignore the Armenenian responsibility for massacres?
Barry Stocker, Istanbul, Turkey

I believe that nationalism of the second type (the one that you called the prickly nationalism) is becoming more and more popular in the former empires (e.g. Turkey or Russia).
Oksana, Laramie, Wyoming, USA

It's not possible to apologise for every past supposed historical wrong, should the British apologise to the Welsh and Irish for pushing their Celtic ancestors out of England or should Denmark pay reparations to Sweden and Norway for being their Imperial overlords during the Union of Kalmar. We can┐t keep apologising for the past but we also cannot ban discussion about such events. Denial of recent events is even more dangerous (as there may still be people who were alive at that time of the "genocide" or have parents who were there). I wasn┐t there in 1915 but I do know there is a vast supply of documents detailing the expulsion of Armenians, yet Turkey is one of the few countries which continues to deny it, to ban discussion is wrong to deny a historical wrong is even worse.
Daniel, Prague, Czech Republic

I agree with most of this article. people seems to point finger at the wrong doing of other for one reason or another.brit vs french german vs american congolesevs rwandan, japan vs korea vs china and so on. sens of denial when it comes to the negative side of history and of course much publicity for what is seemsto be the proud past. believe me the past will serve as a reference to todays issue. as humans we need to focus on the paresent for a better futur. thank you
muand, swansea wales

IN the first years of the last century Italy was busy gassing ethiopia, we were busy in what was then Persia. In the same way that we dont realistically expect the French to apologise for the aftermath of the risings in 1070, why should an apology be expected? It wouldnt mean anything to apologiser or apologisee. If out of direct living memory, such events are a matter of historical record, and care should be taken to see that that record is as accurate as is possible.
SImon , Nottingham

What is to be gained by Turkey relaxing its law to allow for freedom of speech in regards to the genocide? Everything. It's self-explanatory that free and open discourse among the people is one of the keystones of democracy. What is to be gained by the Turkish government admitting fault, wrong-doing, blah blah blah? A relative nothing. As you so succinctly put it, it creates an environment of "blaming"; I received a card from a friend on Battle of Hastings Day that read "Celebrating 940 years of French ruining the English language!" Why is it such a sensitive issue for Turkey? One can cite latent racism, obstinance, ignorance or out-right belligerence. Yet, I feel that Turkey would be right to refuse to accept responsibility for the massacres since it was "so long ago" (under another regime) AND who are we to call the kettle black? Turkey, however, is wrong for enforcing draconian laws that stifle the very democratic ideals that they will be flooded with if/when it becomes a member of the European Union.
Jeff, Athens, Greece

It's wrong to blame the current Turkish population for what happened during the first World War, however, it's also wrong to deny past injustices. Acceptance of guilt is the first step towards reconciliation. Where would the world have been today had the Germans continued to deny the holocaust committed by the Nazis? Humanity should have a higher place than politics. Officially recognising the Armenian Genocide should be one of the criteria for allowing Turkey into the EU.
Taniel Varoujan, Melbourne, Australia

A comment on Mr. Capar's demand that Turkey acknowledge that something important happened in 1915: an increasing number of Turks, such as myself, do believe that something important happened during WWI between the Armenian and non-Armenian inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire. However, we dispute both the number of dead, based on historical evidence, and more importantly the INTENT to commit genocide, which is a legal requirement, again based on the only information that is available. Turks object to being convicted of a crime without being given the chance to prove their innocence, or even to give their own view on the issue. The recent Turkish position of letting the historians decide is indicative of this desire for dialogue, and yet the Armenian diaspora and the nation of Armenia have rejected this suggestion. The diaspora has even tried to go one step further in France by trying to make it illegal to disagree with their narrow and admittedly biased version of events. !
Eren Alp, Toronto, Canada

Quite understandably, people get frustrated when their history is insulted. After all, history classes at schools, at least in this part of the world, only tell the good things our ancestors have achieved. But the most essential element of humanity is respect, for the opinions of people, their preferences, their beliefs. And that seems to be lacking from present day Turkey, which seems to me like a pampered kid, everyone wants to spank, but is afrain to do so because of political, economic and other interests. I guess the lack of respect leads to human suffering, like the suffering of Armenians, Kurds, Jews, Somalis, etc etc etc
Marios Neoptolemou, Nicosia, Cyprus

Being German I have to bear another "national guilt". It's hard at times but on the whole I think it is the only way to admit the horrible things that were done. Apologies won't bring back the dead but on the other hand, if we Germans would not apologize - what would that be? Admitting a horrible crime like that will help us to avoid it in future. I have to recognize the horrible deeds done in the past to learn from them. Never, never let it happen again! Wasn't just a few years ago that the Roman Catholic church apologized officially for all the horrible crimes done in her name? An apology long waited for. They admitted it. They were guilty in the past. That's their chance - our chance! - to learn and to do everything possible to prevent it in the future.
Dorothea.schulz@vanruysdael.com, Netherlands

I for one am a nationalist and believe that Turkey shouldn't be apologising for past mistakes, as you say, of the Ottoman Empire in the same way that we shouldn't be apologising for the slave trade of 200 years ago. Should I be apologising to the Malayans for my fathers actions during the Malay Peninsula actions of the late 50's/early 60's when he was in the navy? Perhaps I should apologise for my grandfathers actions towards the Germans during WWII? Absolutely ridiculous but I'm sure the debate will rage on in various forms for a long time yet.
Phil Bodycote, Colchester, England

I am an expat living in Turkey for the past 9 years. I feel that the Armenian question is a debate for historians and should not be used as a weapon in the decisions of whether or not Turkey should be allowed into the EU. Historically not one member of the EU can claim innocence in its past. But we are talking about a relatively new and very proud republic that has achieved enormous change (for the better of all) in its short existence, the current government is also achieving much in modernising and perhaps westernising an astonishingly complex country. I and many of my friends believe Turkey would be better off without joining and that it would be the West that would benefit more than Turkey if it Does.
Steve Traynor, Dalyan Mugla Turkey

Your comment on nationalism stikes the nail on the head. Let me take the argument one step further. All nations have moments in their history that make them feel especially proud. All of them have moments of shame as well. Accepting the latter as historical fact bears certain pre requisites. Democratic depth, elementary tolerance, and social openess are a few but probably do not exhaust the list. (Prickly) nationalism IS the opium of the people (as well as nations).
Yannis Dimarakis, Athens, Greece.

I agree that the question of historical guilt is a very interesting one. But I feel the most important aspect of history is that it is debated, recorded and in cases of genocide that it is at a minimum accepted and acknowledged, in order to show respect to those who lost their lives and their families. The other question I would ask is whether the histories of other entrants to the EU were explored and any areas of genocide highlighted before they joined the EU? If not, why is Turkey's history now in question? I have no issues with debating history, especially where attrocities against humankind have been or may have been committed, this is an essential for us to move forward and work towards creating a better future. But it seems wrong to use such sensitive issues for political gain.
Canan Sadik, Kent, UK

The Ottoman were a major power and empire that almost--just almost--was totally eclipsed within recent memory. Their contribution to World Civilization was immense. The need of the succeeding Turks to portray themselves in a benign light--just punishing rebellious ethnicities of an empire--is necessary for their own sense to saving the Ottomans via a self-defense plea. As an ancient historian I can only say that such cultural delusions are common, from the Assyrians onward. And more recently, I can cite the evidence for the deliberate withholding of water and medication from Boers who were concentrated into camps at a time when there was full knowledge of the risk of epidemics. Or giving smallpox blankets to American Indians by the US. And of course now, the grandchildren of the German camps now have millions of Palestinians behind walls, were access to water, power and food is rationed. Are the Israelis monsters? No, I see no difference. No special dispensation or veniality. I just see it as the stupidity of our specie, especially in a time when avian flu is now mutating in China as I write. Are we evil, do I believe in original sin? Nope, I 'm one of those who believes in what I like to call, original stupidity--the very shortsighted ability of individuals and cultures to do what seems at the moment is in their own best interest.
Jim Sibal, NYC, NY

I think this touches upon the near fanatical patriotism of the US.There's a form of nationalism that borders on fundalmentalism which is extremely dangerous. We now live in a world of censorship, my country right or wrong, where the lessons of the past are never explored or discussed in a rational way. Is there any other country in the world that is more hung up on national symbols and pits one's patriotism against the other? We're slowly creeping towards fascism in the US. I'm sorry this more a cry in the wilderness. The Turks need to atone for their sins and move on. God knows the US needs to confront it's past and atrocities and grow up.
Robert S. Cook, Fresno, CA USA

As a Conservative Southern White American Male, I am familiar with routinely being accused of happenings in the past with which I had absolutely nothing to do. Slavery, sexism, Jim Crow laws, and the Vietnam War are all somehow my fault. Of course I consider this type of labeling to be extremely unjust. That being said, there is a necessity for speaking the truth about what happened in the past. Admitting something happened (and calling it what it was) is not automatically an admission of guilt. And It sould be completely assinine for me to insist that anyone who calls slavery "slavery" be prosecuted because I don't feel guilty for what happened...
Jeremy Spiers, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

I think that it is an act of courage and self-honesty if a country, or representatives of that country's leaders, etc. can admit to acts of inhumanity in the present or past, not necessarily with a lot of guilt, but with a sense of responsibility. This is happening less and less nowadays it seems, especially in my country, where many of the citizens (see for example, writer Richard Flanagan of Tasmania, Australia, who has just published a book about what is happening in Australia at the present with the gradual erosing of human rights in this country) feel that this is no longer the country we could feel relatively happy about that tried to give others a 'fair go' etc. Nowadays, it seems very inhumane acts are sanctioned or hidden.
Toni Keeling, Launceston Australia

In America we have a similar experience. The substance of the history that I refer to here is the Vietnam War, which we lost, and which still divides the US as clearly as it did 40 years ago. The emotional scars to the nation's psyche have not healed. The G-word of Armenians by the Turks is another one of those issues. Just this year the American General who investigated the over 500 documented atrocity cases in the pentagon files went public and asked that the records be unsealed. This whole subject still hurts America and will continue to until we get completely honest about what happened. Each of us has our own peerspective on our own historical life events. Mine happens to be that of a combat soldier who volunteered for active service. While I am proud of the men that I served with (mostly), I am also aware that my country's policy was flawed from the beginning and at best poorly implemented.
John F. Beirne, Williamsport, PA, USA

Considering the large number of Turks and people of Turkish origin living here (particularly in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and my country) we should be working towards more integration and a greater understanding of their culture, not beating them over the head with an issue most of us (including your diarist), clearly have no understanding of.
Alexandra Skwara, Vienna, Austria

The continued denial by not only Turkey, but other countries, reflects the clash between nationalism and reality. There's little doubt that Turkey as a nation inflicted a terrible crime on Armenians nearly 100 years ago. But who are we, or any other country, to insist on their remorse and acknowledgement of that crime? Our own history is replete with less than honourable actions, as is the history of nearly every nation in Europe and beyond. It smacks of hypocrisy on the part of all who are pressing for Turkey to recognise their past deeds. We are hobbled enough in scrutinising the current actions of leaders and countries, for example the government of Israel, by past events that provoke shame and awkward silence. I have read articles that name the Turkish massacre of Armenians as the 'first' Holocaust of modern civilization. And it's possible, given the endless and neverending use of the European Holocaust to elicit shame and humiliation from those involved, that the people of Turkey fear the same constant attention directed at them.
alex, studying in Moscow

It would seem that its distasteful to subjugate and kill a lot of people within your own borders but not if they are really, really far away.
Andrew Molloy, Chester, Cheshire

In my opinion we should live in the present and work for the better understanding of the nations, raising old war time stories under any name would offend somebody somewhere, let's work out today's challenges and wish to have a bright future of coexistence and respect. Afghans are one those nations who were extremly oppressed by colinial powers.
Tamim, Kabul Afghanistan

If someone betrays you, kills you and afterall accuses you, what would you feel except anger... Yes, there was a bloodbath in 1915 in Anatolia. The nationalistic aspirations led to the Ottoman Armenians rebel against Istanbul. For this purpose they collaborated with the Ottoman Empire's enemies: Russia and France. I am deeply sorry about the Armenian innocent civilians, women and children. But I think they should be sorry for Turkish women and children killed by them as well! But instead of searching the truth, they engage a misinformation campain. Ask them why are they against setting up a truth commision composed of historians! What is wrong in establishing a commision with historians, academics who will search the truth. The most valued step, I think, would be to set up a commision which will search for the real truth instead of wasting time with arguments which have many political agendas.
haletuna kuterdem, Ankara, Turkey

My father was a soldier in the first world war in Palestine, and he and other soldiers rescued an Armenian priest and his family from the Turks. The Priest gave my father his only possession of any value a Challis for saving their lives. We still have this Challis,my father was of the opinion that the Turks were killing all Christians that they could find and this priest fled his home and village to save his and his family's lives. This does show that there was another side to the British in what was regarded as far off lands in those days.
peter deverell, England

Atrocities are a despicable part of the human condition. The fact that this becomes a dispute of countries is our desperate clinging to individual national identities, when in reality we are guilty of these dark tendencies as a race, regardless of perceived borders and nationalities. Politics and nationalism are an awful, fetid excuse for turning our backs on the plight of other human beings. Therein lies our shared eternal shame.
Michael Ringstr°m, Dane living in Helsinki, Finland

If one can feel pride in the actions of their ancestors, one can very well learn to feel shame of guilt for their doings. To be able to do both shows good character. Both Turkey and Armenia need to openly discuss what happened - let it be known widely what happened and how both nations were to blame, if that is the case. Only then can the truth come out. For reference, see (I think) John Stuart Mill's thoughts on free speech and the marketplace of ideas.
Abhi K. Jain, Washington, DC, USA

Let's not forget that this is yet another stage in the systematic campaign waged by Armenians in their efforts to carve territory from and have damages paid by Turkey: Armenian terrorists assassinated or maimed many Turkish diplomats in the '70s and '80s (taking the cue from the Palestinians) in an effort to raise awareness on their claims using terrorist tactics. Now they have carried their campaign to a political platform. They know very well that although it is true there were many deaths in those years from both sides, it was not a genocide or even an attempt at it. It was a relocation campaign which went awfully wrong and caused deaths of scores of thousands of people of both Turkish and Armenian origin.
Mustafa Eric, Toronto, Canada

Europe should accept responsibility for Kosovo and Rwanda before it inteferes with Turkish and Armenian history and also sort out the mess theyve created in Afghanistan and Iraq. Us Turks as a nation are muture enough to sort out our own problems within our own time.
Osman Celikden, Milton Keynes, UK

My grandfather lost his wife and children during genocide in 1915. He was a genocide survivor and he told us the horrors of that time. Armenian genocide is an undeniable fact of history and Turkey considering itself as a developed and democratic country has to admit it sooner or later. The documnted proofs are everywhere and most of all in Turkish archives. Unpunished crimes led to new ones as Hitler told comfortably in 1939, "After all, who remembers today the extermination of the Armenians?"
Ani Mouradian, Vancouver, Canada

I do not think that it is a good idea to make light of historical guilt because the present-day citizens of the guilty country did not take an active part in the genocide, oppression or subjagation of entire peoples. Should you feel bad about what the Britons did in Kenya? Yes! You should. Because you are reaping the economic and social benefits of colonization every day when you wake up and go to work. You have your job and your status because someone in your country 10, 20, 100, years ago destroyed an African's or Indian's ability to make a living independent from foreign taxes and regualations.
Jennifer Diaz, San Francisco, California, USA

History is what big powers made of. "The Armenian issue" was manipulated by France, Russia and Britain to serve their causes during WWI, and is still being manipulated for domestic or foreign ineterests. That is exactly what hinders the relations between Turkey and Armenia from growing. History should be investigated by historians and the result should be respected by all.
Raşit , Ankara

Being a German born in the sixties I know what it is like being held responsible for the atrocities committed by my country under the NAZI-regime. In school we were taught, not to forget our past, which I absolutely agree with. What I do not agree with is, that this undoubted guilt is used by others to pressure Germany to "be silent" when breaches of human rights ("Guantanamo bay", "Palestine", ...) are commited now. Another point: Yes, I agree, Turkey has to admit the atrocities on Armenians, whether you call it genocide or not. Turkey has to become more democratic, but give them some good will as well. Don't push them in a corner. If the Allied had done that after WW2 Germany would probably not be the democratic state it is today.
Dieter Kybelksties, Milton Keynes, UK

The Turkish government needs to grow up, accept the criticism like most other western governments, and it will all go away except as an interesting academic problem.
Kenzo, Toronto, Canada

People can debate the particulars, but the pain of admitting to the dark side of humanity may be too much for some to bear. I do beleive though it is a positive step for healing and not just in this case, but in all conflicts, inner and outer.
Alex Terzian, Ann Arbor, USA

For an excellent study of the reasons behind Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide see Turkish scholar Taner Akcam┐s new history, ┐A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility┐, reviewed in this week's The New Yorker magazine. Akcams shows that the founders of the modern Turkish Republic were so close to those that committed the acts that admitting to it would be admitting that modern Turkey country was founded by war criminals.
Richard Elliott, Montreal, Canada

I grew up listening to my grand-grandmother's horror stories fleeing from massacres committed by Armenian. She lost two sisters, two brothers, and her father when they were immigrating from Erzurum to Amasya during WWI. They lost all their belongings on the way, and arrived their final destination in starvation. This is all because Armenian militia (backed by the French and Russian Army) attacked women, children and elderly Turks that Turkish soldiers left at home when they went for war fronts in the East, West, North and South. Only a small fraction of Turkish National Archives are posted on the internet and I can trace the real stories of ancestors (via my surname), and the pain and suffering they've gone through under Armenian attacks. I am sorry for the losses that Armenian immigrants on their way to Syria, but otherwise we would be mourning of a wiped out Turkish population in the Eastern Anatolia today. And, it is not only the Armenian who lost thousands of people in this war, but also the Turks. Let the historians speak before using this as a political yoke on modern Turkey.
Koray, England

In my time living in Europe, The USA and parts or Asia, I noted that countries that were once "Great Powers" have a much more "Prickly" form of Nationalism and I think Turkey with it's Ottoman legacy fits into this camp. The roots of the Armenian question and how the Turkish State has dealt with it are complicated by Turkey's need to see it's self as living up to it's historical greatness. The "great power" legacy that Turkey sees itself as part of prohibits any real ability for the Turkey to climb down from it's moral high ground. Put another way, I can imagine the US at some point banning certain types of behavior for "insulting American values" ( think of the flag burning debate) but I have a very hard time imagining a Brazilian or a Canadian law that would prosecute people for offences to the National identity... after all what identity would you insult?... perhaps the character of the football or ice hockey teams? I think it would be invaluable for Mr Mardell to develop this concept of "Wounded National Identity" tied to "Great Power" status and it's role in perpetuating old conficts and creating new ones.
Mike, Minneapolis, USA

It is about time Turkey faces her atrocities towards the Armenian people. I am not saying they should be put through the same insane guilt-trip the world (especially the State of Israel) and even worse German politicians put us Germans still through. But the Turkish government has to admit that the genocide against the Armenian people happened - even if this crime was committed by a predecessor regime - the Osman Empire.
Tom, Berlin, Germany

One distinction of the Armenian situation from other atrocities is that it clearly was a defensive measure gone awry. If the Armenians were not attacking Turks or consorting with Russia in their aspirations for an independent nation, there would have been no order to evacuate them. This is in sharp contrast to the holocaust. Western nations practice imperialism throughout their history with impunity. Turkey is not a Christian nation and politically weaker than the Europe or America; therefore it poses an easy target. Condemning this moderate Muslim country makes it vulnerable to exploitation by fanatical Islam or western hegemony and undermines the influence of the Turkish moderates who want to believe in Europe┐s progressive agenda. What is better for today┐s Armenians, allowing them to relish in their revenge, or helping Turkey develop into a modern country which gives them full protection and equal rights under the law?
deniz kiral, Chicago, USA

Why does Turkey doesn't want to recognize the Armenian Genocide? Because as part of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, they will also have to compensate Armenians with the return of the stolen lands, properties and money. The sum is so large that the Turkish economy may collapse and their federal buget will go bankrupt.
Grigor Hakobyan, Phoenix, Arizona (USA)

Oscar Wilde once wrote: "Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious." Just look around the world today and you will clearly see this in effect. You really don't need to look too far from Canada to see this happening. This is present in other Turkish laws, example "insult to Turkishness" meaning your not allowed to critize your own goverment or their handeling's of subjects/events. This is the goverments way of dealing with their peoples critics. Repress with fear of reprisal. No Goverment was ever perfect, and no goverment will be. To bring light to the past is the only way to understand history, and if you cannot learn from 200,000 - 2,000,000 murders, why proceed to the future as history has a tendency of repeating itself, Armenian or not! "Our true nationality is mankind." H.G. Wells
Casey Hendriks, Toronto Canada

David Whitman wrote: "Much of Turkish music, architecture, cuisine and art have Armenian roots. If the Turks admit to the Armenian Genocide, they fear to lose a large part of what they believe is Turkish identity" This comment is a perfect example of the condescending westerner attitude that drives Turks like myself into burning rage and prevents the Turkish-Armenian issue from being discussed in a healthy manner. This non-ending desire to degrade, insult and undermine the Turkish culture and history, and employing lies and exaggeration to do so must STOP! Saying that much of Turkish culture is rooted in Armenian culture and that our identity fear is the reason of denial is malicious! FYI Armenians still call many of their musical instruments and dishes by their original Turkish names. Now, how can anyone blame Turks for swaying into "prickly" nationalism?
Ceylan Yuksel, Istanbul, Turkey

When the term genocide was coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1943, the purpose was to describe what had happened to the Armenians in Turkey. So please do not put the word genocide in quotation marks when you refer to the Armenian Genocide.
Alexander Nazarian, Indianapolis, USA

I feel that the main reason that Turkey is rejecting the word ''genocide'' is because of the fact that many sources show that similar number of Turks were slayn by Armenians and Russians in the region during the same period. I grew up in Turkey, and when the subject came up and there were elderly people from the south eastern parts of Turkey in the room; stories were told about the dozens of relatives that were killed and torched in front of their eyes and bodies piled up and and spat on by Armenian rebels used to be their friendly neihgbours not so long ago. The incidents in the period are furthermore not excepted as genocide because most Turks feel that they were stabbed in the back by the Armenians who turned to Russia and France as soon as they saw weakness. Afterall the two people lived side by side in harmony for hundreds of years and the ethnic Armenians had even better social and economic status in the old Ottoman empires eastern anatolia than the poor Turkish farmers. I am in no way denying the claim that a large number of Armenians were brutally slaughtered by the Ottomans but I find it peculiar that the Turkish request to let historians from both countries put their documents on the table and start a debate is firmly blocked by the Armenians.
Rauf Berent, Lund, Sweden

Turkey is proof positive of the George Santayana quote: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Heidi, Washington, DC

As an American, I would compare this to slavery or the treatment of American Indians. Those were certainly morally reproachable and reprehensible acts. But I had nothing to do with them. I like to think that if I had lived during those times that I would have been on the side of right, rallying against the oppressors. As such, I do not feel that expecting modern day people, so far removed from the events themselves, to feel guilt about something they had no part in and no control over is ridiculous. The world should always recognize! the atrocities of the past in an effort to move on to a time in which similar situations do not exist, but no one should be made to feel guilty for the sins of their ancestors.
Nick Hussong, Chicago, United States of America

Turkey should not be allowed to join the EU until it admits and apologizes it committed a genocide, and it pays restitution to the victims, just as Germany did to the Jews.
S.Dastan, Tehran, Iran

I wonder whether acknowledging the wrongs done in the past opens up the question of the way Armenians are treated now. I also wonder if it calls into question a sense of Turkish identiy as a Moslem nation with a secular government. Where would the Armenians fit?
Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA

I don't blame young generation of Turks not knowing the truth about that time. They surely have been raised with the propaganda that the massacre was all Armenians make. I myself was raised in the Soviet Union and up to the breack up of USSR strongly believed that it was the best system in the world. Yet, with all the abilities that Internet has to offer there are thousands ways to dig in to archives and find out the truth on what really happened in 1915. Unless the truth is revealed and accepted the dark past of that era will always hunt Turkey and won't let move on.Laura Kirakosian, USA
,

To agree with many posters and with the author, I would also cite fierce, proud nationalism as the cause of Turkey's reluctance to admit to what happened between 1914 and 1918. Perhaps Turkey fears that admitting to this will reduce its chances of becoming an EU member. However, I see a much larger problem with admitting a country into the EU which denies key historical facts, detrimental or not to the social and opaque construct that is its nationalistic pride. The persecution of any people by any country should be admitted and researched, NOT to point a finger of blame, but to realize our mistakes, and work towards progress in the future.
Maria Stavropoulos, NYC, USA

I think most countries have something they d like to forget.there are too many to mention. so lets not be too hard on the turks.
ursula foster, gretna, va usa

It's probably best not to take the French position of somewhat needlessly antagonizing the Turkish on this issue. Certainly Turkey committed a campaign to drive out the Armenians in the first 20 years or so of the last century. However, there is plenty of blood to go around. Just before that same time, Belgium and France were killing millions of Central Africans in a quest for ivory and rubber. In some parts of the British Empire and Commonwealth there were bounties being paid for dead natives. Russia was committing pogroms against its Jewish population. The U.S. was crushing the last American Indian resistance to the colonization of the Wild West. Japan was ruthlessly expanding in China and Korea. And within countries that were the victims of Western colonization, there was a tolerance of local/tribal/clan depredations against other local groups. The truth that nobody wants to admit is that just about all the nations we live in were built and had their borders, religions and ethnicities built by conflict with other nations and peoples. Being an American I am surrounded by the ancestors of people who were forced out of their home countries and ended up coming here. I think that the best we can do is to try to accept that a lot of bad things happened in the past and try to be more civilized in the future.
Steven Kraft, San Jose, CA

The reason why Turkish people do not accept it is because they do not believe that it was genocide. If you know that you are not a thieve, would you accept being one? If there is compelling evidence that it happended, why is then international community (including Armenia)is so much against an international team of historians to investigate? After all, would you convict one party on the say so of the other only, without looking at all the evidence? What is that people supporting the Armenian view of point so afraid of?
Yusuf Kaya, Glasgow/UK

Europe's history as we know it is full of genocides. France, Germany, Britain, Serbia, etc. have all been involved in horrible crimes. Forcing Turkey to admit to something which is not yet proven will make Europeans feel better about themselves. Why not allow free debate and go to the Ottoman, Turkish, Armenian and Russian archives? Turkey opened its archives, but why Armenia or Russia haven't? Who is hiding what?
Pelin Cos, England

Historical guilt, whether acknowledged or not, is pretty much an irrelevance. What is important is whether we learn any lessons from the past and looking at world events during the past 100 years it would seem that we have not. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Rwanda, The Balkans Saddam Hussein and today's Iraq, Somalia, Indonesia, Palestine, the list of places where unjustified killings has been done as a result of differing ethnicity, differing views is endless. All it proves is that man is a violent, irrational and unfeeling species.
Dave, London, Ontario

The historical record does not clean the hands of Turks, but it certainly dirties the hands of Armenians sufficiently as to scare them away from taking any part in actual scholarly examination. Turkey is being blackmailed with the denialist tag to accept a denialist claim. Turks and Kurds were massacred too. Will Armenia recognise this?
Levent, Mersin Turkey

The story shared about Canik Capur itself, once villager now tourist, suggests that the situation in Turkey goes beyond questions about historical guilt. Is it any surprise that Armenians want public acknowledgment of the wrongs done against them, when the moral and spiritual significance of the killings is exacerbated by modern day discrimination? What does Turkey have to lose by granting public aknowledgment? As the author indicates, it seems that nationalistic pride has clouded the vision of many countries in this position. A good dose of humility and compassion, from the leadership on down, would be refreshing.
Alec Smith, Wheaton, IL - USA

Well, before France goes pointing fingers at otehrs, it should apologize for colonialism, and algerian "massacres". That is not to say that turkey should not acknowledge whatever happened, but first we have to establish what happened and then have them acknowledge it. I think you will probably find that atrocities were committd on both sides. An objective look into the matter will perhaps yeild a solution that satisfies both parties and nobody should try to influence the proceedings with a stupid law like a France is trying to do.
zafeerah, chicago, USA

How convenient that as Turkey gets closer to becoming a part of the EU, we remember what happened over a century ago. There are far more important issues at hand, in the world today, that are far more pressing than the admittance of guilt to something that happened nearly a century ago. Get over it. What's happened has happened. Every group of people has been persecuted, and all those same groups have done, or will do persecuting of their own. Historical-Guilt is a ridiculous notion, and a digusting one as it is conjured up for political reasons only!!
Ezra, Toronto, Canada

Once reconciliation between Armenians and Turks starts, we will hear more loudly about so many Turkish people who actually endangered their lives to save Armenians. Please understand, the wound for all Armenians is too deep to let it go - will you expect someone with broken legs to run? True reconciliation of two peoples is necessary to heal those wounds. And in this case that should start with honest facing of the past and not denying it.
Mike Arazyan, Toronto, Canada

Why is Europeans so concerned with events of 100 years ago that they legislate and enforce opinion yet are unable to reach any form of consensus on Rawanda/Kosovo/Darfur? Living in the past?
Mike, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Ottoman courts sentenced and punished some of Ottoman citizen by reason violence against some armenians during their leave of Anatolia.They were thinking revenge and this was unacceptable.Ottoman courts sentenced to some turkish people.Because some events was not undercontrol of Ottoman State after Armenian gangs massacres.
Serhan, Turkey

Could we even imagine European integration with Germany if Germany refused to accept its responsability in the Shoa? Why should it be different with Turkey?
Pedro Bensa˙de, Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal




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