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Articles

THE ARMENIAN QUESTION AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
28 March 2006 - ?KSAREN
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!ŞåĞ p face="Verdana" size="2">The freedom of expression is a fundamental right inherent in the constitutions of all democratic countries including that of Turkey. Democracy can not exist without freedom of expression. With the exception of insult, freedom of expression can not be restricted.

Nonetheless, in Turkey as well as in America- referred to as the cradle of democracy- the desire to directly and indirectly restrict freedom of expression whilst debating the Armenian Question is manifest. Freedom of expression is generally restricted by governments or local authorities. However, with respect to the Armenian Question, those granting support to the freedom of expression are official authorities whereas those who are imposing restrictions are Armenian and Turkish private persons and institutions.

In the last few months four incidents pertaining to this matter have been witnessed.

Firstly, in the conference held at Bilgi University last September, despite persistent demands and requests, Turkish scholars countering genocide claims were not invited and were, in fact, not even allowed to attend the audience as listeners.

Secondly, the Armenian scholars invited to attend the conference held at the University of Istanbul between the 15th and 17th of March, with two exception, did not participate. On the other hand, Turkish scholars who support the Armenian thesis have not participated in these conferences without even providing for an excuse. In doing so, they have precluded all views from being voiced on this subject.

Thirdly, Armenian circles in America launched a large campaign to prevent the broadcasting of a panel discussion in American TV station PBS where both Turkish and Armenian views were expressed.

Fourthly, the conference to be held by retired ambassadors Gündüz Aktan and Ömer Engin Lütem at the University of South California on the 26th of March was cancelled due to threats from fanatic Armenians.

Despite having taken place on separate dates and locations, these four events bear the same characteristic: the expression of a single view, or in other words, the restriction of the freedom of expression.

Apart from those voiced by Turkey, no criticisms have been directed towards people, who are creating these obstacles. This attitude is causing fanatic Armenians to become more aggressive and irreconcilable. This is not contributing to an amicable solution to the Armenian Question; in fact in consequence it continues to aggravate the dispute.

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