ON TURKISH SOIL, PRESIDENT STANDS BY POSITION AND RAISES THE POLITICAL ISSUE OF GENOCIDE
By Seto Boyadjian, Esq.

www.asbarez.com/index.html?showarticle=41370 _4/10/2009_1
Friday, April 10, 2009

In politics only the possible is achievable, because politics is the
art of the possible.

As such, our expectations should be grounded on that which is
possible. Our expectations of President Obama for his recognition of
the Armenian Genocide fall within that realm of possibilities.

There are many factors in support of this claim. It's true we can
conjure up the absence of the use of the word "genocide" during
the President's recent visit to Turkey as a negation of that
possibility. It is also true that, while in Turkey, the President
missed an excellent opportunity to fulfill his pledge for recognition.

We may lament the loss of this opportunity, yet at the same time we
have to ask ourselves about the realism of our expectation of its
happening on Turkish soil.

But when we place the form and substance of Obama's Turkish visit
in its true context, we will be able to assess the unprecedented
achievement that the President's bold conduct provided to the
Armenian Cause.

Simply put, while in Turkey President Obama's expressed statements
and maintained position elevated the Armenian Genocide recognition
issue to a political level as opposed to Turkish efforts of confining
it to the historical context.

The fact of the matter is that on two official occasions, the
President, with his distinctive style, referred to the Armenian
Genocide in political terms.

At a press conference in the Cankaya palace, President Obama,
with Turkish President Abdullah Gul at his side, in a marked and
perhaps even prearranged manner, fielded the first question in the
press conference to Christy Parsons, a reporter from his hometown
newspaper, "The Chicago Tribune." And the question was about Obama's
acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide and whether he has now changed
his position on the issue.

The President answered unwaveringly, "Well, my views are on the record
and I have not changed views."

Let's look at the portents of this statement--in Turkey itself, at the
presidential palace and in the presence of the Turkish president--the
American President confirmed that what happened against the Armenian
people is genocide.

The President was just as bold in his speech to the Turkish
parliament. In his message to Turkey's parliamentarians and members of
government, the first political issue that Obama raised was about the
historical past (that is, the Armenian Genocide) and the normalization
of Turkey-Armenia relations. In the written text of the speech, four
paragraphs are devoted to this issue compared to the three paragraphs
for the next Israel-Palestine issue.

The President's message was very clear. He said: "History, unresolved,
can be a heavy weight. Each country must work through its past. And
reckoning with the past can help us seize a better future. I know
there are strong views in this chamber about the terrible events of
1915. While there has been a good deal of commentary about my views,
this is really about how the Turkish and Armenian people deal with the
past. And the best way forward for the Turkish and Armenian people
is a process that works through the past in a way that is honest,
open and constructive."

Thus, inside the Turkish National Assembly a "foreigner" for the
first time confirms the "terrible events of 1915" and urges the
Turkish people and its leaders to overcome the past through "honest,
open and constructive" ways. In doing so, President Obama impressed
that this is not about his and U.S. position regarding the fact of
the Armenian Genocide, rather this is about the attitude of Turkey
and its people in overcoming that issue.

In other words, beyond the recognition of the Armenian Genocide,
the issue lies in its resolution. In this respect, while in Turkey,
President Obama, without uttering the word "genocide", transported
the Armenian Genocide issue into its proper political context.

Naturally, despite all this, it is our expectation that President Obama
issue in the coming days his presidential statement acknowledging
the Armenian Genocide. So far, we do not detect any signs negating
our expectation. On the contrary, all factors indicate that on this
issue the final word lies in the White House.

For instance, in spite of heavy pressures from influential pro-Turkish
American circles, the Departments of State and Defense--in contrast
to their blatant opposition in the near past--now do not dare
express their opposition to the process of genocide recognition. Both
Departments, when asked to comment on the issue, suffice by pointing
that this issue lies within the jurisdiction of the White House.

And the White House so far is signaling that the President has not
changed his position.