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INTERVIEW WITH OSKANIAN (I)

Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
12 December 2006 - ?KSAREN
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!Şà0="justify">Nursun Erel’s interview with Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian in “The New Anatolian” newspaper published in Ankara ran on December the 4th 2006. This interview which set forth Armenia’s stance on and policy towards Turkey in a detailed manner was not met with much interest in the Turkish press. We shall convey to our readers the statements of the Minister deemed most significant alongside certain explanatory remarks and comments.

Oskanian, as done in almost all of his recent speeches on this subject, reiterated that Turkey’s recognition of the “genocide”  was not a precondition for the normalization of relations between the two countries. Subsequently, however, Oskanian added that recognition of the Armenian “genocide” was a moral obligation of every Armenian. Stating that both sides should not set forth preconditions, Oskanian expressed how they are pursuing recognition whilst Turkey is pursuing denialism. In other words, Oskanian proposed that Turkey opens its border with Armenia, that Armenia continues to  propagate  genocide allegations and that in return Turkey defends itself by stating that no genocide took place. Peace and understanding between both countries can only be established through the cessation  of reciprocal accusations and animosity. This does not translate into forgetting certain historical events. There are certain episodes in history related to the Armenians the Turks do not want to be forgotten as well. However, with nearly a century having passed since the occurrence of these incidents, they should be viewed as issues to be analyzed by historians and other experts. The problem posed in this regard should be settled between both countries. Yet it is seen that Oskanian desires the genocide dispute to continue unabated.

Approximately two weeks ago, in a speech delivered at the Budget and Planning Commission of the Turkish Parliament, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül stated that Turkey may defer this problem to international arbitration. However, no official response was issued by the Armenians on this important matter. In his response to a question posed by Nursun Erel on this issue, Oskanian expressed how they shall never discuss this matter for there has never been a case they needed to prove by resorting to court and added that the issue at hand was not of a legal but of a political nature.

In the first instance it should be mentioned that Oskanian is approaching this matter in an emotional rather than rational manner. As is the case with the great majority of Armenians, due subjugating themselves to brainwashing over the past sixty years, Oskanian also believes beyond doubt that genocide took place and therefore feels this is not a matter up for debate. However, due to their demand that Turkey recognizes the “genocide”, they may be obliged to debate this issue after all. To preclude such an eventuality, the Armenians have been endeavoring for other states to recognize the “genocide” with the ultimate hope that this may pressure Turkey to succumb to recognition as well. However, as Oskanian recently  stated, as the number of states recognizing genocide allegations increases, Turkey’s resistance to pressure in this regard continues to rise. As such, Armenian reluctance to discuss this matter with Turkey is not reasonable. Furthermore, the unwillingness on the part of Armenia to discuss the “genocide” issue -one of the major impediments to the establishment of normal relations between the two countries-  is detrimental to their own interests. However, the extreme emotional sensitivity on the part of the Armenians precludes them from acting in a sound manner.
(To be continued...)

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