AZG Armenian Daily #105, 09/06/2005


Turkey

'ARMENIAN ISSUE SHOULD NOT BE POLITICIZED NOR SHOULD IT BE PUT FORWARD AS A
PRECONDITION FOR TURKEY'

Halil Berktay States in a Letter to Publicist Taha Aqyol

When the "Ottoman Armenian at the decline of the Empire" workshop to discuss
Armenian issues at the Bosphorus University of Istanbul on May 25-27 was
postponed and when the organizers yet decided to hold it on May 28, Turkish
publicist Taha Aqyol appealed to the organizers through the pages of
Milliyet presenting his 3 proposals: "1. To issue a statement condemning the
European governments, jural bodies and parliaments that administer
punishment for defining "the events of 1915 not as genocide, 2. To condemn
extreme views of the Armenian Diaspora, 3. To call on the European states to
keep back of taking decision on the matter".

Aqyol wrote that Prof. Halil Berktay replied to his letter stating, "I want
to note that I agree with you in regard to the contents of all 3 issues. I
agree with you insomuch that I have been doing so up to now". After this
extract Aqyol presents Berktay's letter as it was, but adding his prologue
and epilogue to the letter in order to avoid bewilderment.

Here is what Berktay wrote in the letter to Aqyol, "Defining the events of
1915-16 in my reports to Turkish and foreign newspapers I constantly
emphasized that this is solely Turkey's issue. It will get solution if
freely discussed and once out of the shadow of political polarization and
skirmishes. This incident, no matter how we call it, does not occupy any
place in the memory of today's generation. This means that the events of
1915-16 are not a contemporary but historic issue thus it is to be left over
to the science. Therefore there has to be free study and free dispute. They
should be free not only in Turkey but also elsewhere. I am entirely against
any discussions over the issue not only in European institutions but also in
all third states, naturally it refers to USA, France, Switzerland etc.
Moreover, we should underscore that the European Union has never imposed any
precondition on other states commenting on the history of European states".

Aqyol confirms Berktay's views at the end of the letter. "Do you remember
former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari's 'Independent Commission on
Turkey' created within the framework of the European Parliament? He prepared
a powerful report backing Turkey's accession to EU. But before writing the
report Ahtisaari talked to Berktay and inquired about his opinion on the
Armenian cause. Berktay explained them that the Armenian issue should not be
politicized at all and that the report should not put it forward as a
precondition for Turkey. Gila Benmayor touched upon this issue on the pages
of Hurriyet emphasizing that it was Halil Berktay who persuaded members of
the commission".

By Hakob Chakrian