The British The Economist magazine published an article entitled ‘A time to heal,’, in which it calls on Turkey to stop arguing about using the word ‘genocide’ and mend fences with Armenia.
Armenian News – NEWS.am presents the abridged version of the article:
“NOTHING inflames the present like the past. When Pope Francis said on April 12th that the “first genocide” of the 20th century was of the Armenians in 1915, Turkey angrily recalled its ambassador to the Vatican. Far from being resolved, the argument over exactly what to call the death of as many as 1m-1.5m Armenian citizens of the Ottoman empire still spreads hatred. This fight does nothing for Turks and Armenians—nor for the century-old memory of the victims.
At issue is not the terrible fate that befell the Armenians of eastern Anatolia, in massacres, forced labour and death marches towards the Syrian desert. It is whether to use the word “genocide”.
By treating the dispute as a matter of vital national interest, the Turkish government is falling into a nationalistic trap. Instead it should admit past sins. Like other European powers, including Britain, Germany and Russia, it has plenty to acknowledge. Turkey has in the past mistreated, deported or killed not only Armenians but also Assyrians, Greeks and Kurds.
Today’s Turkish government can also boast of improvements in its treatment of minorities. As Turkey’s president and founder of the Islamist Justice and Development (AK) party that forms its government, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has distanced himself from the narrow secular nationalism of Kemal Ataturk, modern Turkey’s founder. He is tantalisingly close to making peace with the Kurds, the country’s biggest minority, a goal that has eluded all his predecessors. And last year he bravely offered condolences, if not an apology, to the grandchildren of the Armenian victims of 1915.
Yet of late, Mr Erdogan has taken on an angrier, more nationalistic, Islamist and autocratic tone. This is making it harder for him not just to get on with his neighbours but also to preserve Turkey’s pro-Western credentials as a bulwark of NATO and prospective member of the European Union. That is why Turkish twitchiness over what happened in 1915 is so counter-productive. Better would be to try, once again, to repair relations with the Armenians.
For ordinary Armenians, the most promising idea for marking the 100th anniversary of the terrible events of 1915 would be to regain direct access to their sacred mountain of Ararat and to their ancient capital of Ani, both of which are now blocked off in Turkey. For Turkey, too, the best memorial would be improved relations with Armenia.”