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Kronik

Engelsk version af dagens kronik

Man kan have meget forskellige fortolkninger af historiske begivenheder, og det er historikernes opgave at komme til en konklusion, ikke politikernes. Præsident Erdogans tilbud om en fælles kommission af tyrkiske og armenske historikere og eksperter, som Armenien aldrig har svaret på, står stadig ved magt, skriver dagens kronikør - her i en engelsk verison

“The greatest injustice that has visited on both history and to any two nations is to set aside their precious rich centuries of shared history and to begin instead with traumatic events like war and conflict, or to reconstruct the previous centuries by making traumatic events the centre of everything. The ’unjust memory’ created around the events of 1915 constitutes the most important example of the phenomenon as it mortgages the shared past and future of the Turks and Armenians”. (Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu, former Foreign Minister and current Prime Minister, 2014) Turks and Armenians shared the same land, lived side by side peacefully, cherished each other’s culture and identity and as a matter of fact developed a common culture over centuries. They breathed the same air, ate the same crop from the same land, drank the drops of same water of the same well. They as peoples of a common history have also shared the same pain that history posed upon them. They lived together in good and bad times. Both nations went through a terrible war time and suffered so much. The First World War witnessed millions of Ottoman Muslims dying not only in combat, but because of famine, epidemics, banditry, local unrest etc. The Armenians under the Ottoman rule were not exempt from these war conditions. On the contrary, the separatist activities and revolts of militarized and nationalist Armenian groups, supported by the Czarist Russia aiming at weakening and dividing the Ottoman country, and who actually joined the invading Russian army, further deteriorated the situation for the Ottoman army in defence and of the Muslim civilians who were under attack of the Armenian militants.

Because of this situation, the Ottoman administration decided to relocate the Armenian population residing in or near the war zone to the southern provinces away from the supply routes and army transport lines on the way of the advancing Russian army. This war time measure of the Ottomans under invasion from all sides by Britain, France, Italy, Greece and Russia resulted in immense sufferings of Armenian civilians. In addition to previously listed natural causes of death, some have become victims in the hands of local groups seeking revenge and some unruly officials. As a matter of fact the war caused millions of human losses on each side, alas despite the hundred years after the World War I, the tragic consequences of the War still remain to be relevant today as a matter of historical controversy between Turks and Armenians.
But, the Republic of Turkey was not established on the basis of a narrative of being an enemy to those against whom the Independence War was fought. Just like the Turkish nationalism was not formulated on the basis of hatred of ‘the others’. History should not be a tool to feed hatred, but something that can be learned from. The human suffering, on all sides, has to be acknowledged in order for dark pages of history not to repeat. The statement of the Turkish President (then Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last year on 23rd April, is the acknowledgement at highest official level: “It is our hope and belief that the peoples of an ancient and unique geography, who share similar customs and manners will be able to talk to each other about the past with maturity and to remember together their losses in decent manner. And it is with this hope and belief that we wish that the Armenians who lost their lives in the context of the early twentieth century rest in peace, and we convey our condolences to their grandchildren”.
 
This policy is developed, despite the painful memories of our Muslim ancestors which, for obvious reasons, were not brought about by the then invading powers, by Christian missionaries (such as
those Danish nuns who helped the Christian Armenians during the war time) or by the Western news coverage. This policy is developed, despite the loss of lives of more than 30 of my own colleagues and their families in the hands of the terrorists claiming to promote the “Armenian cause”. This policy is developed on account of ‘just memory’. This policy is developed, on account of shared values and heritage. This policy is developed, on account of demanding good neighbourly relations with Armenia.
 
This policy stems from an understanding that we might have diverging interpretation of events that took place during a particular period of our common history. It is the job of historians to search and come to a conclusion about this disputed period of history. Not of politicians who can be under the influence of lobbies, or media or some narrative that just feeds the basic human feeling of compassion. Shouting higher does not make one more just and repeating a falsehood until everyone starts believing it does not make it a reality. So far, there has not been any original document that could prove Armenians being subjected to ‘genocide’, and all documents that were shown as evidence were proved by prominent international historians to be forged or fabricated. On the contrary, many documents and events substantiate the opposite. It is clear that more should be done by historians through comprehensive scholarly studies.
 
Based on this rational, President Erdoğan sent a letter to the (then) Armenian President Robert Kocharian in April 2005, proposing the establishment of a joint commission consisting of historians and other experts to study the events of 1915 - not only in the archives of Turkey, Armenia, but also in the archives of all relevant third countries and to share the findings with the international public. This call, not responded by the Armenian side, still remains valid.
 
Before a commonly accepted and accurate understanding of history is reached about this period, allegations and accusations of the 1915 events being ’genocide’ that is to say “... acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group…” (Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide-1948), is not only unfair, but also will not go beyond being a slander. We, both the Turks and the Armenians, should not fall into this trap, let alone the third parties. We, the Turks and the Armenians, the Danish, the Kurdish, the American, the British, the French, the Russian, the Greek…; we, the diplomats, the historians, the politicians, the journalists, the teachers…; we, the people of good will for all regardless of their ethnicity or religion, owe this to our future generations.