Taide’s Weblog

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How Turkey tries to write Other People’s History

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“History, unresolved, can be a heavy weight”, U.S. president Obama said in a statement on Armenian Remembrance Day.

In Memory of Armenian Genocide 1915, Aleppo, Syria

In Memory of Armenian Genocide 1915, Aleppo, Syria

Which is true. A heavy weight on the Armenians, who have reason to wonder about their Turkish neighbours who are in denial. On the Turks themselves – suppression of memory is more complicated than acknowledging the facts, and suggests a lack of national self-confidence. A weight on the European Union’s relations with Turkey – and therefore again, mainly on Turkey.

Turkey isn’t addressing its problem – it tries to dump it on others. On the victims themselves, for example. According to the BBC, Ankara accuses Barack Obama of failing to honour those Turks killed by Armenians at the time. President Gul: “Everyone’s pain must be shared”.

This is how:

When the German federal state of Brandenburg included the Armenian genocide in its schoolbooks – apparently in a pretty small paragraph -, Turkish consul general talked with the authorities there, and made Brandenburg (295 Turkish students there at the time around 2003) retract the paragraph, according to Die Zeit. And in summer 2004, also according to Die Zeit, Beast on the Moon, a drama centered around the trauma of genocide, had to be cancelled in Karlsruhe.

It’s Turkey’s problem and Turkey’s shame – but they prefer to get on other peoples’ nerves, rather than either keeping cool, or addressing their problem.

There are many reasons for potential critics to remain silent. America fears the loss of air bases in Turkey. Germany, allied with the Osmanian Empire during world war one, was complicit in the Armenian genocide and isn’t really keen on shedding too much light on it now. Israel doesn’t acknowledge the notion of genocide in the Armenian context, either.

A few weeks ago, Turkish prime minister Erdogan suggested that Israeli president Peres had spoken very loud in his defence of Israel’s Gaza invasion “due to the guilt you feel” (according to a youtube translation). Maybe next time, Israel’s president should tell him that Erdogan’s hypocrisy hurts his pride.

Sometimes, Turkish politicians speak in a pretty loud voice, too. And different from president Peres, they don’t even listen.


3 Responses

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  1. […] Given Turkey’s own history, this was a smashing pitch from a man living in a glass house. Chinese people commit genocide, Israel’s president Shimon Peres is concealing his guilt, but Turkish and Armenian people have always lived harmoniously together? […]

  2. […] Turkey’s new policy – if it really is one -, but Syria’s Armenians will watch Ankara’s moral plateau boots with astonishment, if not with disgust. If the 2009 Gaza War is a reason to lock Israel out of the […]

  3. […] to avoid misunderstandings -, there is “genocide” in the Gaza territory. If there is any nation that never committed one, it is, for sure, Turkey itself. “After all, a Muslim can never commit genocide.”  […]

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