Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a condolence message addressing the Armenians because of the 1915 incidents.
This is a first in our history.
Two protocols had been signed in October 2009 to repair relationships with Armenia and to consign the “genocide” claims to historians. The declaration of condolences has a feature of the continuation of the same policy from Turkey’s perspective.
This issue should be handled not through the glasses of domestic policies, but through the perspective of how to solve the deep emotional issues between the two nations.
The perspective dominating the prime minister’s statement is the emphasis that the years of the World War I have been “a difficult period, full of suffering for Turkish, Kurdish, Arab, Armenian and millions of other Ottoman citizens.”
As a matter of fact, the declaration said, “Any conscientious, fair and humanistic approach to these issues requires an understanding of all the suffering endured in this period, without discriminating as to religion or ethnicity.” The sufferings of Armenians are also approached from the same general perspective:
“It is a duty of humanity to acknowledge that Armenians remember the suffering experienced in that period, just like every other citizen of the Ottoman Empire.”
The last sentence of the declaration is as such: “Regardless of their ethnic or religious origins, we pay tribute, with compassion and respect, to all Ottoman citizens who lost their lives in the same period and under similar conditions.”
I find it absolutely correct that the incidents were called “our shared pain” in the statement and a call to a humanistic approach was made.
Domestic policy glasses
Depending on our approach to the topic, we may find shortcomings and extras in the prime minister’s statement. But we should not forget there is a Turkish-Armenian issue that needs to be solved; it has become international. It can only be solved with mutual steps, not all at once.
Since the discourse “Armenians slaughtered us” has been outdated for a long time, the insistence on “genocide” is also obstructing the solution.
Turkey’s putting forward a perspective that both rejects “genocide” and at the same time approaches with understanding of all the sufferings endured in this period will make its words more effective; there are more than a few examples of this.
The declaration is also not one sided; there is also a call to the Armenian nationalists to abandon the road of “deriving enmity from history … constructing hierarchies of pain … using [these incidents] as an excuse for hostility against Turkey … turning this issue into a matter of political conflict.”
You will see; this statement will generate positive effects in favor of Turkey in the world diplomatic community.
Time to heal wounds
Now, Armenia and the diaspora should moderate their discourse and develop other agreeable concepts instead of the “genocide” term which causes the fight.
Following the French Constitutional Council, also the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights dated Dec. 17, 2013 in the Perinçek case has demonstrated that the “genocide” concept cannot be interpreted widely.
In historic research, new perspectives are developing, thus leaving behind the dark well of “Who slaughtered whom?” The clash of Muslims and Armenians who had lived peacefully for centuries has caused horrendous calamities for both sides…
It is high time to heal the wounds.
Now, both sides should use a language with utmost care on “healing the wounds.”