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Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
21 March 2006 - ?KSAREN
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!Şåp Ğ face="Verdana" size="2">The "New Approaches to Turko – Armenian Relations" conference held in the Cemil Birsel hall at the University of Istanbul between the 15th and 17th of March was attended by 14 foreign and 54 Turkish scientists each of whom submitted a communique. This international conference was the largest of its kind to take place in Turkey. Also it should be noted that a conference hosted by Turkey on this subject matter of this scope does not have an international precedent.
A striking aspect of the conference was that all views, including those that support the genocide claim were given equal breadth. The Armenian Diaspora adamantly refrains from organizing conferences that offer counter views to those maintained by Armenian scientists and Turkish scientists who support the Armenian thesis. In stark contrast the unbiased and equitable conference hosted by the University of Istanbul shined like a star in the scientific community.
15 scientists had been invited from the Diaspora and Armenia but only 7 replied positively to the invitation; 5 of these, however, abstained from the conference having been influenced by a boycott campaign that was initiated in Armenia. Thus only two Diaspora Armenians were in attendance at the conference: Bugos Levon Zekian and Ara Sarafyan. They voiced their views in support of the Armenian thesis but did not go any further than reiteration and also did not introduce any new research or findings. On the other hand it should be noted that some Turkish participants drew the full attention of the audience by providing such innovation.
The absenteeism of Turkish researchers who support the Armenian thesis despite having been invited proved once again that they were not ready to engage in serious academic discourse. In truth apart from one or two of them there were none who had researched the historical aspect of the Armenian issue due to the fact that they tackle the issue in respect to human rights and its sociological and ethical aspects under the premise of genocide. Plainly they had nothing to add to this conference and so it seems they chose to not come at all rather than be present and have nothing to say.
The Turkish scientists present were ready to hold an open forum on all the aspects of the Armenian issue but the choice of abstinence made by the Armenian corner and their Turkish sympathizers made it apparent that they were not ready to meet on such even ground. This has shifted the scientific initiative to the Turkish scientific community, and in this respect the Conference on Turko – Armenian relations held at the University of Istanbul can be referenced as a mile stone in this field.

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