Armenian Diaspora is Egoist
View: Sedat LACINER

Journal of Turkish Weekly
June 1 2005

Armenian people is one of the ancient tribes. They created a great
civilization and contributed to the humanity and other civilizations
a lot. They established kingdoms and states as well. However as they
settled mainly on the crossroads of the civilizations, religions,
sects, races and great kingdoms, they could not maintain their
independence. As a result they have generally lived under the other
nations' sovereignty. Iranian Empire, Byzantium Empire, Russian
Empire, Arab Kingdoms, Seljuk and Ottoman Empires and Soviet
'Empire'. They enjoyed great freedom under Seljuk and Ottoman Empires
however many Armenians were tortured and deported by the Byzantium
Emperors dueto the religious disputes. Most of the time, they could
not become soldiers or governors. In short the main problem for the
Armenian peoples was lack of a state. When the French Revolution
triggered the nationalist movements in the world, the Armenians were
not ready for such a radical change:

The Ottoman Armenians were enjoying a great religious freedom and
they were among the most wealthiest class in the empire. Many
Armenian bankers, businessmen, doctors and intellectuals were very
close to the Palace. The Ottoman Armenians in the towns and rural
areas were mostly bankers, businessman or craftsmen. The Armenians
with the Ottoman Greeks dominated the Ottoman export and import.
Moreover the Ottoman Armenian population was not majority in any
region. About 1 million Armenians were scattered around the huge
Ottoman territories. In another word the Ottoman Armenians were not
ready for a separatist nationalist revolt. They were actually happy
with the existing system. The Church in particular had great
privileges before the Ottoman State and a great power over the
Armenian citizens.

Under these circumstances, the Armenian nationalism was developed in
diaspora: In Switzerland and Georgia. Tashnak and Hnchak 'parties'
were established in Tbilisi and Geneva. The leading Armenians were
very young and inexperienced in politics. They had no enough power
and financial support to struggle against the Empires. Apart from
these, the young Armenian idealists set a formidable task for the
Armenian nationalism:

To unite all Armenians in the Ottoman, Russian, Iranian Empires and
other Armenians in the region under a separate Armenian State. So,
they needed foreign assistance, and the great imperial powers were
very eager to 'undermine' the Ottoman Empire.

The British, French and Russian Empires gave a great encouragement to
the Tashnaks (ultra-nationalist Armenians) and other Armenian groups.
However they did not fully keep their promises and when they reached
agreements with the Istanbul Government the Armenian nationalists
failed. Furthermore the Armenian nationalists were encouraged but not
fully supported when needed. Another problem was that the Ottoman
Armenians did not strongly join the Armenian nationalists. Many
Armenians in the Ottoman towns were against the Armenian militants.
Therefore the first target to be destroyed was seen as the Ottoman
Armenian leaders. Many Armenian leaders were murdered by the Tashnak
and other Armenian militants. They accused all Armenian opposition of
being traitor. The Armenian terrorism killed more Armenians than the
Muslims in the beginning of the 20th Century. The Armenian
businessmen were threatened and forced to give 'tax' to the illegal
Armenian groups. The Tashnak militants transferred a huge amount of
weapons, provided by Russia and Britain, to the Ottoman towns. They
were preparing a war and revolt against the Istanbul Government. They
organized many terrorist attacks against the politicians and
institutions. In 1876 the Armenian militants attacked the Ottoman
Bank and exploded bombs before the bank. They further organized an
assassination against the Sultan (Head of State) II. Abdulhamid.

When the First World War erupted, the Armenian extremists saw the war
as an opportunity and the co-operation between the Armenians and
Allied States increased. The Russian, British and French Empires who
were in war against the Ottoman Empire, Germany and Austrian Empire,
considered the Christian minorities as a tool against the Ottomans.
Thus the Armenian nationalists were encouraged for more terrorist
attacks, revolts and weapon transfers to Anatolia. The Van Revolt was
one of the most vivid examples for the Armenian Revolts. The Tashnaks
in the Van Revolt aimed to 'clean the region from the Muslims'.
Thousands of Muslims were killed or forced to leave the region. At
the end the Armenians declared their independence in Van province and
then handled the city to the Russian occupying forces.

The Armenian nationalist 'adventure' ended with a disaster and a
tragedy which cost 500.000 Muslim and more than 110.000 Armenian
lives. Most of the Armenians in the Eastern and Central Anatolia were
relocated, and many Armenians died due to the war circumstances.

The Armenians had rioted against the Government in many towns and
attacked their Muslim neighbors with the French, Russian and British
encouragement. However the occupiers did not keep their promises and
with the end of the war the Armenians could not return their homes.
Many immigrated to the European and North American states. The cost
of the revolt was very high for the Armenian nationalism.
Nevertheless they could establish a tiny state in Caucasus under the
Tashnak rule. It is unfortunate that the Tashnaks could not learn
anything from the Ottoman Armenian experience and they started a
'revenge campaign' (NEMESIS) against the newly-established Turkish
State. As a matter of fact that the last thing Independent Armenia
needed was a 'revenge conflict' with the Turks. Armenia was a
'country of dead' at that time. Armenian population was suffering
from famine and epidemic diseases, and more than 200.000 Armenians
died under these circumstances in the Tashnaks' Independent Armenia.
However the Armenian 'leaders' did not focus on the economic
development, social and cultural problems and political relations
with the neighboring countries while the newly Turkey's Government
sole dealt with the political and economic problems. The Armenian
terrorists killed many former Ottoman ministers. But the Tashnak
attacks not only killed the Turkish targets but also ended the
independence of Armenia. Armenia lost its independence and became a
Soviet Republic under Moscow rule.

Armenians once more had to immigrate to the West (Second
Relocation).They suffered a lot from lack of an independent state.
They had no reasonable leader who could lead them under the realistic
and pragmatic principles instead of purely na´ve emotional

Under the lack of leadership, Armenians were exposed the great powers
national interests and extremist Armenians unrealistic radicalism.
Moscow, Washington, Paris and London with the radical Armenian
irredentists abused the Armenian issue.

Armenia gained its independence in 1991 after the decades when the
Soviet Empire collapsed. It is unfortunate that the Diaspora
Armenians and Tashnaks just focused on their own interests instead of
saving the newly-established Armenia. Tashnaks played a crucial role
in declaring war against the Azerbaijanis.

The Diaspora encouraged more wars to capture the so-called 'lost
territories' in Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. While the other
former republics tried to decrease their dependency on Russia,
Armenia more and more became a 'Russian orbit' in the region. When
Russia lost its military bases in Azerbaijan and Georgia, Armenians
invited the Russians to their country.

The new Armenian nationalists and Diaspora saw Turkey the most deadly
enemy, though Turkey was one of the first states who recognized
Armenian independence. Actually Turkey considered Armenian State as
an opportunity to normalize the Turkish-Armenian relations. However
Armenian Diaspora seriously reluctant in normalizing the relations
because it established the Armenian identity on anti-Turkishness. The
1915 Legacy and anti-Turkish accusations have been the only uniting
factor in the diaspora. They feared that if Turkey and Armenia
normalized the relations, the assimilation of the Armenians in the
West could be accelerated. The Church and the political parties used
the Turkish-Armenian problems in cementing the non-homogenous
Armenian society. Moreover anti-Turkish Armenian Case was financial
and prestige source for many Armenians and Diaspora institutions. In
another word the Diaspora Armenian abused the problem with Turks for
their personal and institutional interest at the cost of Armenia.
Their priority was not State of Armenia but the Diaspora. They knew
that the land-locked and relatively poor Armenia had to solve its
disputes with Turkey in order to survive. However they sacrificed
Armenian state once again as they did in 1918.

To conclude, the foremost priority for the whole Armenians must to
protect and survive the young Armenia, instead of strengthening the
Armenian diaspora. Armenia should not be part of the adventurous
games of its Diaspora and Russia.

Revised edition
Dr. Sedat LACINER: Director, International Strategic Research
Organization (ISRO)

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