Abdullah Gul

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AZG Armenian Daily #175, 30/09/2005

Turkish FM's letter


Turkey's foreign minister Abdullah Gul sent a letter to the organizers of the September 24-25 closed-door conference on Armenian issue. Bellow we present the minister's letter extracted from Turkish Daily News September 26 issue:

The last years of the Ottoman Empire are subject to discussion and research in academic circles, with increased interest. Nearly every day new documents from that era emerge and new books, articles and research papers are published. Yet it is not possible to say that all data and documents related to those times have been properly analyzed. With the aim of helping redress this shortcoming, our government is in the process of taking important steps to enable the Ottoman archives to serve researchers under modern conditions. Our archives have begun to serve scientists through documents converted to a digital medium since 2003. Within this context many researchers, coming from 75 different countries, have completed their research in the Ottoman archives. These activities are ongoing. We want not only our own archives but at the same time all other archives that will shed light on the history of the day to be opened in an organized fashion that will serve all researchers. We believe that deeper research into that era will bring new historical facts to light and will facilitate an improvement in relations between countries and peoples. Thus, we have proposed to the government of Armenia the establishment of a historical commission between our two countries that will research joint Turkish-Armenian history and which will make its findings public. We hope to reach a conclusion on this subject.

The history of Turkish-Armenian relations is one of a coexistence and common life of almost 1,000 years. During the course of this period, the Turkish and Armenian peoples have contributed to each other's culture, prosperity and security. We should not ignore this reality when we examine the tragic period when the Ottoman Empire was crumbling and the Turks and Armenians were suffering deeply, like all other peoples of the empire.

It is a fact that in some chapters of history, or even today, some societies cannot tolerate one other's language, religion, identity or even very existence. It is an unfortunate reality that such intolerance can turn into deep-rooted and destructive ideologies or prejudices that become ingrained in the social subconscious. Some serious and very dangerous trends, from xenophobia to racism and from anti-Semitism to attitudes against Muslims, are present and are on the rise today, even in societies that represent the highest level of contemporary civilization.

It is a source of pleasure that such a psychology does not exist between the Turks and Armenians. This also constitutes a major advantage for the future of relations between the two peoples.

Another issue I want to draw your attention to is that many studies carried out so far on the theme of "Ottoman-Armenians during the Breakup of the Empire," particularly outside Turkey, have been conducted with political motivations in a manner inconsistent with scientific ethics and objectivity. Regretfully, humanitarian issues have been sacrificed to political designs, and double standards have been applied in determining and presenting human suffering. There have been attempts to impose subjective, non-legal and artificial claims upon Turkey and the Turkish people, with political motivations. Furthermore, there have been situations in which some foreign circles could not even tolerate scientific skepticism. Young generations from all nations must know and draw lessons from the facts that during the last years of the Ottoman Empire the imperialist-colonial powers ruthlessly exploited peoples' ethno-religious sensitivities for their own interests and that some elements, knowingly or unknowingly, became instruments to these provocations. I hope your conference will be a contribution to raising awareness on this issue as well.

The Turkish people are at peace with themselves and with their history. The approaches of our government and our people towards our past, including Turkish-Armenian relations, constitute an indication of our confidence in ourselves and our future.

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