VICTOR NADEIN-RAEVSKY: ERDOGAN'S ADDRESS ON ARMENIAN GENOCIDE CONTAINS NEW STATEMENTS THAT WERE PREVIOUSLY INCONCEIVABLE

by David Stepanyan

Tuesday, April 29, 00:19

On the threshold of the 100th mourning anniversary of the Armenian
Genocide in the Ottoman Empire, the process of international
recognition of the Genocide seems to be losing momentum. Do you agree
with such an assessment?

24 states of the world have officially recognized the Armenian
Genocide at the level of Parliaments and Governments. Turkey
seeks to join the EU, and the latter ranks the requirement of
Ankara's recognition of the Armenian Genocide among several dozens
of conditions for Turkey's EU membership. Actually, this requirement
is not vividly reflected in the documents and is restricted to verbal
statements of European officials. So, the issue of Armenian Genocide
is always in the spare magazine of Europeans. In the United States
the Armenian Genocide recognition issue has not gone further than
the Senate Committee so far. Nevertheless, if the Senate adopts a
relevant resolution, it will be of great significance to the whole
process of the Genocide recognition. This is what Turks fear so much
especially given President Obama's rather harsh statements on April
24. The international community drew a line under the issue of the
Armenian Genocide culprits long ago, but Turks did not. The fact of
the Genocide was confirmed by the Ottoman leadership's decrees and
by Istanbul's court martial of 1919. In those years the Young Turks
annihilated not only Armenians, but also Greeks, Assyrians and to a
smaller extent Jews who were comparatively fewer in Turkey. Turkey
set up commissions to nationalize the "abandoned property" of the
Armenians, Greeks and Jews whom the Turks exterminated or deported. And
all the Turkish statements that only 300 thsd Armenians allegedly
died in Turkey sound too awkward and absurd. Turkey itself does not
officially recognize the fact of the Armenian Genocide yet.

What about the public? Does the Turkish Prime Minister's recent
address reflect the public sentiments?

One can observe an idea of repentance in the Turkish society. Even the
leadership has changed its stance. Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign
Minister Davutoglu speak of "mass atrocities" and even apologize
for that. This is already a step forward. Some 20 years ago Turkey
propagandized hatred against Armenians. Some scientists are already
speaking of the crime of the Genocide openly though some Turks cannot
utter that term yet. This process is going on in a rather complicated
manner, because several generations were brought up on hatred against
Armenians. Therefore, the changes in the public consciousness are a
fact that has become possible after the Justice and Development Party
(AKP) came to power. It is the AKP that started speaking of the rights
of national minorities, first of all, Kurds. All we can do is hope
that the national courage of Turkey will prevail and clear the way for
future relations with Armenia. After all, this crime clears the way
for similar crimes as long as the Genocide remains unrecognized. I
am convinced that Turkey should recognize the Armenian Genocide,
because it will determine its future role in the world. It appears
that Erdogan's recent address contains new statements that were
previously inconceivable.

Is this issue used in Turkey's domestic policy?

It is used partially. There is a serious aspect concerning the
discrepancies between Recep Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen. Even Nursists
turned their back on the latter following his statements on Turkey's
stance on Israel, for instance, condemnation of the Freedom Flotilla
campaign. It is noteworthy that Gulen avoids making any statements
on the Genocide of Armenians. At least, he has never used the term
Genocide. Nevertheless, Gulen's supporters have faced a wave of
criticism after the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a
resolution condemning the Genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey. In
Turkey they began to slam Gulen and his supporters for contributing
to the resolution along with the Armenian lobby in the Congress. It
must be admitted that Gulen bears no relation to that. However,
the Armenian factor was used in the domestic political fights in
Turkey. Incidentally, in Turkey they began digging into Gulen's roots
to find any Armenian traces there. Earlier, they absurdly claimed
that Gulen had Donme roots.

So, one should not expect any tangible progress in Turkey's policy
on recognition of the Armenian Genocide, even if the power is changed
in the country‚?¶

One shouldn't yet. Nevertheless, condemnation of the atrocities at
the legislative level is not impossible. What scares Turkey most
is the property restitution issue that will inevitable emerge if
Ankara recognizes the fact of the Genocide of Armenians. It's no
secret that the Armenians in Ottoman Turkey possessed huge property
even for that period of time. Therefore, Turkey avoids the property
claims by Armenians not to face huge financial problems.

By the way, Israel does not recognize the Armenian Genocide‚?¶

The position of official Israel, which does not recognize the
Armenian Genocide, is not only unfair but also illogical and far from
humanity. The key reason of Tel Aviv's such behavior is unwillingness
to lose "monopoly" of the only nation that officially suffered from the
genocide - Holocaust. Here the campaign that started in Turkey long
ago also played its part. I mean the campaign during which some mass
media and writers were trying to prove that those who organized the
genocide - members of the "Unification and progress" party were the
Jews who adopted Islam. Nevertheless, Israeli scientists recognize
the Armenian Genocide. Taking into consideration the fact that the
historical and political science is strong in Israel, it would be
simply funny, if not profanation. I think that the Israeli residents
are twisting round at the political level trying to restore relations
with Turkey that does not recognize the Armenian Genocide. This is
unworthy of the nation, which was hit by Holocaust. In a certain sense
in the political bargain with Ankara the Western countries are trying
to use the Armenian Genocide issue. In 1995 our State Duma adopted
a statement calling this crime - the genocide.

The year 2015 will mark the 100th mourning anniversary of the Armenian
Genocide. Do you think any progress will be registered in the process
of its international recognition?

I am confident that more attention will be drawn at the Armenian
Genocide recognition problem in the world in 2015. We may expect the
relevant steps from many states that do not depend on the political
relations with Turkey. However, only the key countries of the world,
which think they are the masters of the world, may finally settle
this issue, for instance, the USA, although the recent events have
demonstrated that not all the countries are ready to be vulnerable
to the USA. Today Russia does not have another choice. Meanwhile,
the Armenian Genocide has horrible consequences. I mean Hitler's words
and other genocide actions, for instance in Africa and Cambodia. Only
the timely taken measures against display of Nazism may stop such
brutalities. For instance, young men in Ukraine, whose fathers and
grandfathers were fighting Nazism during the Great Patriotic War, were
dinned into head that Stepan Bandera is their leader. As a result,
these grass-green young men are in fact destroying Ukraine under the
nazi slogans of the "Right sector". The Americans do not want to see
that. It is just a real politic for them and nothing else.

The impact of Islamism, particularly, the impact of Turkey in Russia's
North Caucasus is one of the trump cards of Turkish diplomats in the
talks with Moscow. What is the situation like today?

At present, in its policy regarding Turkey Russia has been actively
using the Muslim factor. In 2013, in Petersburg a big sector

of "Nurjullar" sect (250 people) and another one - 120 people were
revealed. Both were headed by Turks, although Azerbaijanis and ethnic
Central Asia residents, etc. were within the sect. All these people
are being programmed not at harmless forms of Islamism. For this
reason, the activity of this sect is forbidden in Russia and even
the books by Said Nursi are also forbidden. As for the Caucasus,
here there are many propagandists and various Muslim movements, first
of all, Wahabi and Salafis, have been trying to infatuate the hearts
of the young people. The authorities do not take enough measures to
stop dissemination of such sects in Russia, although policemen have
become rather active for the last period of time when suppressing
terrorism. I'd say that traditional Islam is a serious obstacle on
the way of dissemination of such radical movements. Big funds should
be invested in the economy of North Caucasus to employ young people
and hinder their joining radical sects. Islamist movements are being
disseminated not only in the Caucasus but also in the Volga region,
Bashkiria and Tatarstan, although the Turkish vocational schools were
shut down here several years ago.

Would you specify the final goal?

The final goal of dissemination of the Islamist movements in Russia is
creation of the new elite oriented not at the Russians and Russia but
at Turkey. In Turkey they have already created such an elite, and we
see what it has resulted in. The conflict between Gul and Erdogan is
the conflict between the new elite brought up in the vocational schools
and universities created by the Hizmet and the authorities. All these
missionaries have been striving to split Russia through capturing the
hearts of young Muslims. They want to split the multi-national state,
which would make it possible to separate Russian Muslims from the rest
of the country. This is categorically inadmissible to us. Neighboring
Azerbaijan has found itself in rather a difficult situation resulting
from the Turkey-sponsored Muslim currents. Turkey's pressure has even
forced Baku to fire Gulen's Hizmet movement-friendly minister. The
movement is based on the Sunni Islam, while Shia Islam is a traditional
religion in Azerbaijan. Groups of Wahabi and Salafis are also a
major threat to the traditional Shia Islam. All this constitutes
threat to the incumbent authorities and the public in Baku. That is
why Azerbaijan tries by all means possible to avoid differentiating
nationality and religion and to keep integrity. They have even created
a range of myths to that end. One of the myths, for instance, says
that Azerbaijanis are just about to be the most ancient nation in the
world. Scientifically, all this looks quite silly, indeed. All these
efforts result from phobias and aspirations to create a nation from
nothing. However, this young country that has borrowed from Iran even
its name has no other way out.

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From: Baghdasarian