Turkish Commentator Admits Turkey's Defeat on Genocide
Harut Sassounian Commentary 2005 February
At a great personal risk, one of the most prominent Turkish commentators, Mehmet Ali Birand, openly admitted last week that Turkey has been defeated in its campaign to deny the facts of the Armenian Genocide.
In a commentary titled "We've already missed the train," published in the Feb. 5th issue of the Turkish Daily News, Birand quoted Yusuf Halacoglu, the Chairman of the Turkish Historical Foundation, as saying that the Turkish government's efforts on "the publication of documents, books and movies" to deny the Armenian Genocide have not had the intended result.
Halacoglu described such Turkish efforts as "propaganda." Birand conceded that the Genocide is gaining international acceptance. Birand suggested that the Turks counter-attack by resorting to political blackmail. He and Halacoglu think that the Turkish government should now use its extensive political muscle to pressure other countries into denying the Armenian Genocide. They believe that the best course of action is to commission "a study" by the United Nations.
Birand and the Chairman of the Turkish historical society do not seem to realize that Turkey has been unsuccessfully bullying everyone around the world for almost 90 years on the issue of the Armenian Genocide. They are also ignoring the fact that a panel of UN experts, after spending more than a dozen years to study and argue this subject, issued a report in 1985, classifying the Armenian case as an example of genocide. The UN body reached this decision despite "the evidence" presented by the Turkish government, and despite intense political pressure brought to bear on the UN experts and their governments.
Here are some excerpts from Birand's eye-opening article: "It's time that we accept the fact that Armenian claims alleging that they suffered a genocide have begun to gain acceptance, especially in the Western world.
"The Armenians have been diligent with respect to their goal for the last 75 years. They have published thousands of books and articles. They set up departments at universities and convinced the international front. Yet, in the long run, they won international recognition in spite of the fact that their data were insufficient and did not reflect the truth.
"We all know Yusuf HalaГoglu. He has served as chairman of the Turkish Historical Foundation for the last 11 years. He appeared on 'Manset' [Birand's TV program] last Friday and reiterated the reality of the current situation, heeding a vital warning. 'We can no longer overcome this situation with propaganda via the publication of documents, books and movies. We should continue our efforts on such fronts; yet, we have to start taking strides that will generate interest. We should take political as well as historical strides.
"His suggestion, just as retired ambassador Yalim Eralp had said, is that Turkey take hold of the reins and urge that the United Nations set up an investigative committee.
"It is vital at this juncture that a person who is a leading scholar on the topic take a stand and shout out: 'We are strong, but this is the responsibility of the politicians. Technical research is insufficient.'
"State officials must wake up, develop a strategy and realize that we cannot get anywhere by 'leaving the work to the historians.' It's time to get the United Nations in on the action and discover new horizons that will have an impact on the international arena." At the end of his column, Birand quoted Halacoglu's following thoughts: "The 1915 Deportation Law and the official Turkish thesis advocating that the final word on this law be left up to historians and the thesis that has been a part of various administrations to date don't seem too plausible.
Letting historians interpret the issue leads to nothing. We have failed as a society to construct a proper policy towards such a sensitive issue, and this has led to problems on the international front."
Using Halacoglu's words as his cover, Birand dares to point out that Turkish society may one day see the Armenian Genocide in a completely different light: "We have made a decision on a certain front and believe that it will remain the ultimate reality. Yet, sometimes to the contrary, the translation of certain events also changes. What was known as 'displacement' in the past can be viewed as 'genocide' in general public opinion. It's time we open up such topics to general discussion."