ISTANBUL - Over 300 Armenian professionals, including representatives from the media, nongovernmental organizations, academia and the artistic community, have sent a message to President Abdullah Gül calling on him to recognize the events of 1915 as an act of genocide.
The message said the painful events of 1915 were keeping the people of the two countries apart and that acceptance of the events as genocide was not just a request of the Armenian people but of the whole global community. The message also said relations between Armenia and Turkey would only be normalized by such a recognition.
A group of Turkish intellectuals have also recently started a similar campaign. "We reject ignoring the disaster the Ottoman Armenians faced in 1915 and share in the emotion and pain of our Armenian brothers," the petition states. Already a target of debate and attack, the petition will collect signatures online from New Year's Day.
"More important than Gül’s response is that this letter shows the Armenian people’s attitude towards the issue. This has become an entire social movement," the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaksutyun Bureau’s International Secretariat Director Giro Manoian, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. He said relations between Turks and Armenians would only normalize with the acceptance of the events as genocide.
Brave but insufficient
Stating the Turkish intellectual’s campaign was "brave but insufficient," he said: "I say insufficient because any imposition of genocide acceptance must be made directly by the state."
The oriental studies director from the Republic of Armenia National Academy of Sciences Institute, Professor Ruben Safrastian, said Gül’s response was important. "I hope that President Gül, known for his intellectual leanings, will offer a different answer from those of Turkey’s official statements."
Regarding the Turkish campaign, Safrastian said: "The Turkish people want to know about their past and the genocide matter is a leading issue. Turkish intellectuals, on their way to the European Union, are able to approach these problems objectively."