Young Armenians split over "genocide" issue

Young Armenians split over genocide issue

Young Armenian liberals think the actions and attitudes of Tashnaks, known for their radical stance against Turkey, damage Armenia, the Turkish Daily News (TDN) wrote on Wednesday.

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The Tashnaks have set ‘genocide’ as precondition for the development of bilateral relations between Turkey and Armenia.

To what degree Armenians' claims of genocide should be a determining factor in Turkish – Armenian relations remains an open debate in Yerevan, the TDN reported, citing discussions between young Armenians, both radicals and liberals.

Unless the 1915 incidents are recognized as "genocide" the Armenian nation would not favor a dialogue with Turkey, according to Isxhan Saxatelyan, a radical member of the Armenian Revolutionary Dashnaksutyun Bureau.

Armenia, with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in 1915. Turkey rejects the claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians along with at least as many Turks died in civil strife that emerged when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia.

In 2005, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan took a first step towards resolving the issue by proposing a joint commission of historians launch an investigation and publish their conclusions, but the proposal was rejected by Yerevan.

However Aren Manukyan, a liberal Armenian Manukyan disagreed. “I am an Armenian too. And ‘genocide' definitely gives me as much pain than it gives them. Tashnaks should give up using the issue of ‘genocide' for their own benefit. They have no right to exploit such a sensitive issue," he said.

Manukyan was critical of the strongly nationalist party the Tashnaks' current stance.

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“Tashnaks do not want the borders between Armenia and Turkey to be opened because if they are opened they would let loose the chance to exploit this country – both mentally and materially. They are simply afraid of losing their comfort.”

Turkey has turned toward Armenia because it is seeking regional dialogue after witnessing the most recent developments in the Caucasus, Saxatelyan said.

“But there is one thing that Turkey forgets as it is searching for a dialogue: Borders between Armenia and Turkey were closed unilaterally by Turkey,” he said.

Turkey constantly sets various conditions related to the issues of “genocide,” Nagorno-Karabagh and the diaspora and asks Armenia to comply with them, said Saxatelyan, adding Armenia would not back off on any of these issues.

"If Gul had not come, no such demonstration would have taken place. As the world's attention focused on us, we wanted to take the ball and remind the world once again about the issue of genocide," he said regarding the demonstration Tashnaks held during Gul's arrival to Yerevan.

Manukyan disagreed with Saxatelyan, saying the Tashnaks' demonstrations did not reflect Armenian citizens' general attitude. Even many of those who voted for the Tashnak party have decided to end their support, he said.

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“They organized a demonstration simply for the sake of organizing a demonstration. Their purpose is just to cause tension. Indeed, holding demonstrations have become the life and soul of the Tashnak party,” he said.

Manukyan says Armenia should never set recognition of “genocide” as a condition for Turkish-Armenian relations to develop.

He said historical documents on the “genocide” do exist in libraries in various parts of the world, but disagreed with the idea that a commission of Turkish and Armenian historians should conduct collaborative studies on the issue.

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“All archives in different parts of the world can be opened to Turkish researchers. If they want, they can peruse all of them. And we can help them in any way possible. If that happens, they will see the facts. In fact, they are already aware of that,” said Manukyan.

Gul paid last week a landmark visit to Yerevan after Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan invited him to watch a 2010 World Cup qualifying match between the two countries' national teams.

Turkey is among the first countries that recognized Armenia when it declared its independency in the early 1990s.

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However there are no diplomatic relations between the two countries, as Armenia presses the international community to admit the so-called "genocide" claims instead of accepting Turkey's call to investigate the allegations, and its invasion of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory despite U.N. Security Council resolutions on the issue.

The border between the two countries has remained closed since 1993, when Turkey protested Armenia's occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, a close Turkish ally.

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Photo: AP


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