Politics 14:22 17/06/2021 Region

Foreign Policy: Turkey will never recognize the Armenian Genocide

After the US recognition of the Armenian genocide, the big question facing Armenia and Armenians is where to go next, columnists of the Foreign Policy journal Hans Gutbrod, a professor at Ilia State University in Tbilisi and David Wood, a professor at Seton Hall University write in an article published on Monday.  

The authors remind that more than 30 governments recognize the deportations and massacres perpetrated by Ottoman authorities in 1915 as genocide, and there are discussions about how Armenia—and other societies that have experienced trauma—can and should continue to commemorate the past in an ethical manner.

In their words, some suggest Armenia should push for further genocide recognition in other countries, with the goal of eventually compelling Turkey—which has long been resistant to the move—to follow suit. But although such an approach is understandably attractive, it may be a strategic mistake in the long term. For Yerevan and the diaspora to better advance the interests of the Armenian people, it must refocus its diplomacy from lobbying the wider international community to transforming relations with the Turkish state and, more importantly, Turkish society.

It is noted that improved relations with Turkey are likely to increase the well-being of Armenians. Rapprochement with Ankara may also allow Yerevan to address its near-total dependence on Russia, thereby promoting greater regional stability. And Turkey would also benefit, especially through increased trade.

"To achieve more effective, mutually beneficial relations, both the Armenian and Turkish governments should work to reframe the Armenian genocide—and the wider suffering that accompanied the downfall of the Ottoman Empire—as a shared history. This is an inevitably long, emotionally strenuous process. For Armenia, it means shifting toward a diplomacy that invites Turkish society to engage—whether through exhibitions, travel, or academic and cultural exchange," the authors stress adding: "It goes without saying the Turkish government won’t be recognizing the Armenian genocide anytime soon. But a reframed history has a reasonable chance of success of resonating with the Turkish public. The little polling available, conducted by the Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies in Istanbul, suggests only 9 percent of Turkish citizens believe Turkey “should apologize” for its actions against the Armenians and “should admit that what happened was a genocide.” 

It is noted that the potential willingness by nearly 55 percent of the Turkish people—and lack of objection by around 80 percent—to explore their troubled past represents a clear opening for it to be reframed inclusively. But how can this be done? One approach may be to focus on individual experiences rather than collective castigations.

"Focusing on individual actions would reduce hateful narratives of the “other,” which have arguably stymied reconciliation efforts between Armenians and Turks. Genocide recognition sometimes mingles with anti-Turkish sentiment, which does little to shift attitudes in Turkey itself. As Armenian-American historian Ronald Suny wrote, “essentializing the other as irremediably evil leads to the endless repetition of the debilitating conflicts and deceptions of the last century,” the authors conclude.



Source Panorama.am
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