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Conference on the Reality of the Armenian Question (15 April 2006, Bilgi University)

Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES, Number 10, Volume 4 - 2006

 .Yö="justify">The Conference on the Reality of Armenian Question was organized by the Independent Social Movement Association (ISM) and Bilgi University ISM Student Club, on 15 April 2006 at the Dolapdere Campus of the University. The Conference, to which President of ASAM Rtd. Ambassador Gündüz Aktan, President of the Turkish Historical Society Prof. Dr. Yusuf Halaço?lu and The Chair of Department of History of Dumlup?nar University Prof. Dr. Aygün Attar participated as speakers, was presided by Efe Özbil, President of the ISM Association.

In the opening speech delivered by Efe Özbil, the aim of the Conference was stipulated as telling the historical realities which had been untold by another conference organized in September 2005 by Bilgi University titled as “The Conference on the Ottoman Armenians in the Period of Disintegration of the Empire”.

By reflecting on the legal aspect of the so-called Armenian genocide, Gündüz Aktan emphasized that it was not the parliaments but competent courts that could decide whether an historical occurrence was genocide or not. He said that the concept of genocide was a legal one and defined genocide in accordance with the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Aktan also mentioned that Armenians refrained from applying The Hague International Court of Justice. He argued that Turkish side could also apply to the ICJ but it was difficult to apply for the side that refused the allegations. He said that the Armenians did a fault by making us remembered the past and added that he was surprised for the exaggeration of this problem. Aktan also said that he was accused of defending the official thesis and argued that what was defended was not the official but the national thesis.

Prof. Dr. Halaço?lu said that Turkey opened its archives and proposed establishment of a joint commission of historians and added that the Armenians refused this offer. He argued that Armenians and Turks lived in Anatolia together since Seljuks and named as the loyal community in the Ottoman Empire as well as provided with significant bureaucratic posts. He emphasized the harmonious relations between two communities.

Halaço?lu also argued that 1915 relocation was realized under the circumstances of World War I and that the Armenians were not relocated with the feelings of hatred; and he touched upon the Armenian revolts. He stipulated that during relocation some Armenians were died as a result of epidemics, hunger, or the attacks of Kurdish tribes and added that those, who treated the Armenians badly, had been punished. He also mentioned that the relocation was not applied to all Armenians but to those who revolted against the Empire. He said that there are historical evidence that many Armenians returned their homes safely after the war.

Halaço?lu also argued that they were not defending the official thesis of the state since Turkey has no official thesis. He repeated his appeal to the Armenian side for jointly studying in the archives of both states. He added that during World War I Armenian bands killed 535.000 Muslims and this issue was generally neglected.

Prof. Dr. Aygün Attar emphasized that the Armenians had cooperated with the Allied powers during World War I. She argued that the Diaspora Armenians succeeded in passing resolutions in the parliaments of some countries recognizing the Armenian allegations due to their ‘Greater Armenia’ dream and added that it was the time for Turkey to react these resolutions.

In the last part of her speech, Prof. Attar showed a documentary on the Armenian occupation of Karabagh and the atrocities committed there. She said that Armenians committed serious massacres there; however, these atrocities did not come to the agenda of Turkey as well as world public opinion.

* Author -
- Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES, Number 10, Volume 4 - 2006
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