IT'S HIGH TIME NORWAY AND OTHER COUNTRIES RECOGNIZE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE: EXPERT ON NANSEN

11:44, 1 April, 2015

YEREVAN, APRIL 1, ARMENPRESS: The Norwegian historian and expert on
Nansen Carl Emil Vogt is strictly distressed by the position of his
country on the Armenian Genocide. Armenpress presents an exclusive
interview with Carl Emil Vogt, the biographer of the great humanist
Fridtjof Nansen, where he touches upon the position of Norway on the
Armenian Genocide, the heritage, left by Nansen and the necessity of
international recognition on the Armenian Genocide centennial.

- Dear Mr. Vogt, taking into account Fridtjof Nansen's activities
aimed to protect the violated rights of Armenian people which found
refuge in foreign countries due to Armenian Genocide, how would you
assess Norway's nowadays position on the Armenian Genocide?

- While for instance Norway's Scandinavian neighbor Sweden officially
recognizes the Armenian Genocide, Norway does not. The hesitance to
call the Genocide by its correct name has of course to do with Norway's
membership in NATO. Turkey is therefore an ally, and as the Turkish
government is very active in preventing the use of the word Genocide
globally, Norway avoids the term. I myself deliberately used the term
in the exhibition Transit at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo in 2011,
an exhibition to celebrate Fridtjof Nansen's 150th anniversary. The
Turkish ambassador to Norway protested formally to the Director of
the Nobel Institute. The protest was never answered.

While Sweden is not a NATO country, it is however true that several
NATO countries formally recognize the Genocide.

- Norway gave a birth to such a great humanist as Nansen. Don't
you think that Norway commits a sin before Nansen's memory denying
Armenian Genocide?

- It is true that Norway has taken up the position favored by many
countries that the term should not be used. I do think
this is a very deplorable and tragic mistake.

- You have done many researches on Nansen and his activities. What
events will you highlight regarding the Armenian refuges?

- Nansen was a true friend of the Armenian people. From very early on,
he was aware of the mass killings of Christians, Armenians and Greeks
in particular, in the Ottoman Empire. As the League of Nations' High
Commissioner for Refugees he saw the sufferings of the Armenians. But
it was really as head of an expert commission of the League of Nations
to Soviet Armenia in 1925 that Nansen became a dedicated friend of
the Armenian cause. He saw villages destroyed during the genocide and
was told horrible stories of what had happened. This made a great
impression on Nansen and changed him forever. For the rest of his
lifetime he fought the Armenian struggle.

- As a scholar how will you contribute to raising awareness about
the Armenian Genocide for future generations?

- When approached by people who wonders if they should use the term
"genocide", I encourage them to do so. I tell them that this is not
controversial, but a fact only denied by Turkish authorities. I use
the term whenever I have the opportunity. I will also try and promote
knowledge about the Armenian Genocide as a scholar.

- What is your call to Norwegian people, to Turkey and to international
community ahead of the 100th anniversary of the biggest crime against
humanity?

- It is about time that Norway and other countries officially recognize
the Armenian Genocide. It is already done by France, Canada, Sweden,
Poland, Lithuania and many other countries. Norway, Fridtjof Nansen's
country, should follow. Turkey should acknowledge historical facts
and stop persecuting people who only express their opinion on the
matter. Turkey should fully commit to basic human rights like the
freedom of expression.

- Are you planning to visit Armenia in future?

- I visited Armenia in 1999 and was impressed that Nansen's memory is
still alive among ordinary Armenians. Armenia is a beautiful country
with a rich and interesting culture, and I would love to go back. The
memory of the sight of the distant Mount Ararat from Yerevan is always
with me.

Interview by Araks Kasyan

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