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    Turkey offers diaspora $20 mln to open up Armenian archives in US

    Hurriyet English with wires
    20.05.2008 - 10:08 | Son Güncelleme:

    Turkey offered to give $20 million aid to the classification and opening of the Armenian archives in the U.S. city of Boston, which he said, included "very important" documents regarding the incidents of 1915, a high level Turkish official told Hurriyet daily. Head of Turkey's state-funded Turkish Historical Society (TTK) Yusuf Halacoglu said the Armenians do not want to have the archives opened because such efforts will start a real debate over the genocide claims. Nabi Sensoy, the Turkish Ambassador in Washington D.C., also reiterated Turkey's willigness to open its archives. (UPDATED)

    Halacoglu said that the Armenian archives in Boston included very important documents regarding both the 500,000 Armenians who currently live in Turkey, and the 1915 incidents.     

    "The (Armenians) had said 'We don't have money to categorize the archives, and therefore we cannot open them'. I frankly told them 'We can give you the money needed and open the archives'. But they did not respond to my offer," Hurriyet was quoted Haracoglu as saying on Tuesday.
                          
    Armenia, with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in 1915. The Armenian diaspora has lately increased its organized activities throughout the world for the acknowledgment of their unfounded allegations in regard to the incidents of 1915 as "genocide" by national and local parliaments.

    Turkey rejects the claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians along with at least as many Turks died in civil strife that emerged when the Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia. Ankara's attempts to resolve the issue has not so far get a concrete response from Yerevan.

    Halacoglu said he also presented his proposal to two Armenian historians, Ara Sarfian and Hilmar Kaiser, adding he heard no word back, and noted that the opening of the archives in Boston would launch a real debate on the issue. "This would directly open a debate over the genocide claims. Armenians are aware of this and therefore they are doing their best not to sit at the table," he added.

    Turkey is of the view that parliaments and other political institutions are not the appropriate forums to debate and pass judgment on disputed periods of history. Past events and controversial periods of history should be left to historians for their dispassionate study and evaluation.

    In 2005, Turkey officially proposed the establishment of a joint commission comprised of historians and other experts from both sides to study the events of 1915, utilizing not only Turkish and Armenian archives, but also those of relevant third-party countries and to share their findings with the public. Armenia has not responded positively to this initiative, as yet.   

    AVOID ANIMOSITY

    Sensoy called on Armenians not to raise children with animosity, in his speech at a meeting hosted by the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies on "the Future of Turkey-U.S. Strategic Partnership", the Anatolian Agency reported on Tuesday.

    "We should not raise our children with animosity. I grew up together with many Turkish citizens of Armenian descent. It was one of our Armenian neighbors who cried and mourned most when I lost my father. Enmity does not lead us anywhere," he said.

    Sensoy reminded that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had called on Armenians to form a joint committee of historians to unveil the truth.

    "Turkey opened its archives. Armenians should do the same. We expect politicians in the United States and in other countries to let historians deal with past events," Sensoy said.

    Sensoy denied accusations that Turkey imposed an economic embargo on Armenia, saying Turkey was the fifth biggest economic partner of Armenia and number of weekly flights between Turkey and Armenia reached four.

    Sensoy also said the draft resolution submitted to the U.S. Congress on the incidents of 1915 brought Turkey-U.S. relations to 'brink of a disaster'. "We are pleased with leaving those days behind as a result of resolute attitude of the U.S. administration and congressmen," he added.

    A report on an Armenian bill regarding the incidents of 1915 was adopted last year by the Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. House of Representatives.

     

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