Turkish History Institution President- Armenians Committed Genocide

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Zaman, Turkey
Dec 24 2004

The so-called Armenian Genocide allegation backed by France seems to be the issue which will trouble Turkey most during the negotiation process for full membership to the European Union (EU).

Turkey has stayed on the defensive against these allegations until now, but Turkish History Foundation President Professor Yusuf Halacoglu proposes to take action instead of remaining silent. "Turkey should not avoid an open discussion on Armenian claims of genocide." said Halacoglu. He emphasized that many studies had been conducted in the archives of several countries, and mostly in that of the Ottoman Empire, but they have not turned up a single document or record mentioning genocide. Halacoglu asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to found a commission which includes social scientists in order to conduct research regarding the so-called genocide claims. Halacoglu says that if Turkey undertakes this study, the opposition will retreat. Halacoglu argues that contrary to the claims of genocide, in fact Armenians killed 519,000 Ottomans and said that names, birthplaces, and the fathers' names of those murdered by Armenians were kept on record in one of the archives.

Professor Halacoglu wants Turkey to take precautionary measures without any anxiety. As this issue will be repeatedly raised in the EU membership negotiations, Turkey should deal with it now. Halacoglu stresses: "Our state should tell the EU that we should handle this issue on a level on which our historians and social scientists can discuss it. We should also establish a commission to report on what we find."

The professor signified that the claims that 1.2 million were killed are inconsistent as according to official documents and records the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire was only 1.5 million. Halacoglu notes that the Western sources also show the same number and says, "The US archives give the numbers for Armenian migrants who fled to other countries after the Lousanne Treaty in 1925 as 1,299,000 for those who migrated to countries other than Turkey, Greece and Armenia. According to Turkish population censuses, there were 281,000 Armenians living in Turkey. If we add these we already have 1,681,000 Armenians. If we include 60,000 in Greek camps and 25,000 who emigrated to the US, we have a total of 1,760,000. Taking into account population increase this corresponds to the Ottoman Empire's figures. So how, then, can it be claimed that 1,200,000 Armenians were killed."

Professor Halacoglu calculates the loss of life by Armenian emigrants in 1915 as 80,000, who died mostly of diseases and attacks from bandit groups. Pointing out that diseases were spread all around the world at that time, Halacoglu says: "The Ottoman army's lost 400,000 through diseases in the World War I while the US lost 500,000, and Italy 278,000 in 1918. Similarly many European countries lost hundreds of thousands during the World War I." He refers to records in Ottoman archives including warnings to travel in groups for security, and the spending of large amount of money for drugs and food despite the war conditions as clear indicators of Ottoman good will.

'We will open 7 mass graves in 2005'

Professor Halacoglu announced that the Turkish History Institution will open mass graves in spots they have identified based on archive documents to prove that the Armenians committed massacres in Anatolia. He noted that they have already begun excavation studies and reminded that they most recently opened a mass grave of 336 dead in the village Derecik near Kars in northeastern Anatolia. Saying that they have identified about 100 mass graves in 20 different places, Halacoglu says, "We have, for example, identified that Armenians committed genocides in 21 villages in the Igdir region alone. There are also regions of Cukurova, Erzurum, Ardahan, Kars, Bitlis, and Mus. We will conduct excavation studies in 6 or 7 regions because Armenians will make some important claims because of their so-called 90th anniversary. That's why we are trying to unearth what really happened."

Erdal ªen

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