June 30 2012

Emerging Democracy in Turkey Lacks Dialogue Between Sects

By: Murat Belge posted on Friday, Jun 29, 2012

Regarding Turkey, Armenians - both inside Armenia and in the diaspora
community - have two fundamental perspectives. The first of these
perspectives, characterized by a vengeful attitude, is becoming
increasingly crystallized. I don't blame them for thinking this way,
given the catastrophe that they had gone through, as well as the
Turkish state's official policy of denying the issue. I am not in a
position to preach to these people to give up this attitude.

Even though this attitude is popular in the Armenian community,
another perspective on the issue is gaining strength. There is still a
segment of the Armenian population that feels vengeful, but ultimately
believes in solving the issue through dialogue. This group does not
seek to punish each and every Turk over the historic atrocity. In a
world where no single society is free from past sins - even though the
significance of each sin may profoundly differ - these people believe
that historical hostilities and conflicts can be settled through

The second camp believes new friendships can bury past hostilities,
should conflicting groups deliberate over their differences. I believe
that those who employ this kind of mentality will shape the future of
the world. However, this group does not represent the majority.

In between these two different approaches to the issue, there is a
silent majority who, when asked, prefers the revenge camp. This stems
from a conformist attitude. Throughout their lives these people have
been taught that a vengeful attitude is the more secure position.
Urging for revenge and blood is always more appreciated than calling
for friendship and love.

Those seeking dialogue watch Turkey carefully, observing and
appreciating a transformation process that is currently taking place
in the country. Indeed, they know of Hrant Dink and support his
position. They are aware that the policies of the supposedly Islamist
Justice and Development Party are far better than those of the
orthodox Turkish politicians.

However, there has not been much progress beyond this. Since Turkey is
not taking the necessary steps, what are we doing to strengthen the
hand of those supporting the dialogue?

When we meet with our peers we inform them about Turkey's transition.
An unprecedented democratization process occurred in Turkey, but there
are still serious and inter-connected problems. The common solution
for these problems is more democratization. It is not possible to
think that Turkey can solve the Kurdish problem without solving the
Armenian one, or vice versa. For example, unless the quality of life
for Turkey's Alawites improves, Turkey's other problems will also
remain unsolved.

However, a heavy historical burden and other negative factors are
hindering change. The forces aligned against democratization are also
relatively strong. Therefore, the democratization process is very slow
and fragile, and it will not progress further without coercion.

My Armenian friends are aware of this process and they agree with what
I say, since they also think within the same paradigm. Yet, how are
they going to advocate a peaceful solution when Turkey cannot take a
few positive steps? What shall they say to those in the other camp?
How long should they ask for patience from them? They are already met
with statements like, `You asked us to wait and we did. What happened?
Did Turkey take any positive, forward steps to solving this issue?'

When things go off the rails, I would suggest using Aliyev to solve
the issue. However, even then, I think that Aliyev is also used as an
excuse to stall the process.

About this Article

Murat Belge writes that while the majority of Armenians quietly wish
for revenge against Turkey, there are some who seek friendship, even
though Turkey has given them little reason for optimism. Turkey's
Armenian problem will only be solved with further democratization, he
says, and he encourages those favoring dialogue to practice just that.
Publisher: Taraf (Turkey)
Original Title:
No Solution But Progress in Armenian Issue
Author: Murat Belge
Published on: Sunday, Jun 24, 2012
Translated On: Friday, Jun 29, 2012
Translator: Ceren Kenar