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Semih İDİZ
16 February 2007 - Turkish Daily News
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!áH€ ="justify">I do not know what Mr.Gül told his interlocutors at the US Congress recently while in Washington. But if I were him, all of this and much more is what I would have said.  The following commentary appeared in my column in daily Milliyet a few days ago. I am translating it here due to popular demand. Many of my Turkish readers, some influential people among them, said this would be a good idea. So here goes:

  I put myself in the place of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül the other day and wondered what I would have said in the U.S. Congress when pro-Armenian congressmen put Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan's article in the Los Angeles Times – in which he bemoans how Turkey lost an opportunity for dialogue with Armenia after Hrant Dink's murder – in front of me.

  I decided that what I would have said is probably something like the following.

  “Gentlemen, you are referring to lost opportunities. Just look at the real world and see what is happening there. While you are taxing me here over things that happened a century ago, a very important agreement is being signed at this very moment in Tbilisi for a railway project that will join Europe and the Far East. Armenia, however, is not part of this project. You tried to prevent this project by adopting certain bills against it in this House. So what happened?

  “In the same way Caspian oil reaches the world today through Turkey, the route by which it is does so also bypasses Armenia. You tried hard to prevent that project too, but failed. To understand how bad these developments are for Armenia, you should follow the Armenian media rather than the Los Angeles Times.

  “In the meantime, while the Armenians of America, from who you clearly expect to reap political benefits, are living comfortably here in the United States, anything up to 70,000 Armenians from Armenia find themselves having to work in Turkey – where they meet no trouble – in order to scrape a minimum standard of living.

  “In the meantime do not forget that recent opinion polls conducted by Armenian institutions show that genocide recognition is the last thing on the minds of average Armenians in Armenia. In other words, Armenia today is living under great economic difficulties and suffering the adverse effects of being cut off and isolated from the world.

  “It is clear that as long as its government continues to rely fruitlessly on you and refuses to come to a common understanding with Turkey on how to proceed in developing bilateral ties, this adverse situation will continue.

  “On the other hand, the tens of thousands who attended the funeral of the murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink should have shown you that there are scores of people in Turkey who are prepared to look on the events of 1915 from a position of empathy.

  “Besides, are not those names you never drop from your lips – names such as Elif ?afak, Orhan Pamuk, Halik Berktay, Taner Akçam, Murat Belge and Hasan Cemal to mention just a few – themselves Turkish after all?

  “What advantage do you hope to reap, therefore, from playing into the hands of ultra-nationalist diaspora Dashnaks, which in turn agitates the worst ultra-nationalist elements in Turkey and makes matters worse than they already are?

  “Besides, does the ‘American way of life' that you are all so proud of not require as a minimum standard of decency that one listen to all the sides in a dispute? This being the case, what could be more reasonable that Turkey's request that a commission of historians, from Turkey and Armenia as well as other countries, look into the events of 1915 in order to come to a common understanding?

  “If you insist, on the other hand, that ‘history has spoken on this topic,' and not all historians would agree with you, then are we to throw the views of important historians such as Bernard Lewis – who are also admired in this country where they have received many awards – into the garbage can?

  “On the other hand do you not see that Armenia's refusal to accept a commission of historians, wanting instead a political commission, hint at a specific agenda beyond the moral one of genocide recognition?

  “Given all that I have said here, are you sure you have properly assessed the consequences of the step you are about to take – concerning the Armenian resolution in Congress – which is bound not only to strain Turkish-U.S. relations, but also Turkish-Armenian relations further.”

  I am not the foreign minister and do not know what Mr. Gül told his interlocutors at the U.S. Congress recently while in Washington. But if I were him, all of this and much more is what I would have said.

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