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Articles

THE ARMENIAN ARCHIVES

mer Engin LTEM, Retired Ambassador
23 March 2007 - ERAREN
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!Jellspacing="0" ceTHE ARMENIAN ARCHIVES!="justify">Lraper, the bulletin issued by the Armenian Patriarchate, reported that the Chairman of the Turkish Historical Society, Prof. Yusuf Halacoglu expressed the view that to be able conduct historical studies, the Armenian Patriarchate archives were also required. He is quoted as saying “We ought to conduct our research there; why do they hesitate to make their archives readily available?” In response Patriarch Mesrop II stated that the archives of the Patriarchate were transferred to the newly formed Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1916 by government order and was further quoted as saying “I sincerely hope that the archives in question can someday be made available.”  However, alongside expressing his sorrow, could not the reverend Patriarch have requested the above mentioned archives from the Patriarchate of Jerusalem on the basis that they essentially belong to the Patriarchate of Istanbul?

n the basis that they essentially belong to the Patriarchate of Istanbul?

With this in mind we would like to take this opportunity to inform our readers that the Armenian archives pose a serious hindrance to conducting research on the Armenian issue.

While the official Armenian line maintains that the Armenian archives are readily available, this is seemingly so only on the surface. The truth of the matter presents itself in the policy of trying to dissuade those who would strive to research less than desirable topics. It is with pertinence to the above mentioned issue that we remind our readers of the arrest of Yektan Türky?lmaz which took place two years ago. Yektan Türky?lmaz was a doctorate student and researcher fluent in Armenian from Duke University; the arrest took place as he prepared to leave the country after having examined the Armenian archives. It was a hard-nosed letter from Senator Bob Dole to President Kocharian that secured Yektan Türky?lmaz’s release (those that would like more information on this event can find further reading at www.eraren.org by accessing The Review of Armenian Studies, Vol.3, No. 9, 2005, pp. 20-22).

In terms of providing material on general Armenian history and especially the activities of Armenian gangs in Anatolia; the Dashnak Party archives located in Boston are of prime importance. However, due to the fact that these archives are privately maintained they are not publicly accessible and require special permission to be accessed. To our knowledge no Turkish researcher has been able to view these archives till this date.

The documents of Bogos Nubar Pasa- the representative of the Ottoman Armenians at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference- are of great importance to researching the subject of the territorial claims advanced by the Armenians against the Ottoman Empire. These documents are currently located in Paris as part of the “Bibliothèque arménienne Nubar” private library administrated by Raymond Kevorkian. Research conducted by Turks at this library is unheard of.

In short and in contrast to the claim that the Armenian archives are readily available for research, the truth is that explicit permission is required to view the Diaspora’s archives and the archives of the Patriarchate of Istanbul are not located on its premises which effectively makes researching Armenian sources impossible. However, access to these sources is especially important today due to the increasing number of Turkish researchers fluent in Armenian.

We do not believe that any Turkish researchers will in the near future be allowed to freely benefit from the Armenian National Archives or the Archives in the possession of the Diaspora. However, in closing we express our belief that the Patriarchate of Istanbul has ownership rights over the archives currently stored at the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and reiterate our suggestion to have a request placed for their return.

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