Like many other peoples living in the Middle East, the Turkish people have endured many difficulties. Turks have witnessed the loss of a huge empire and sustained millions of casualties during the World War I.
However, whenever the Turks commemorate their losses, they never forget to pay tribute to the losses incurred to other parties involved in the conflict. The Turkish nation took care to pay tribute to Anzacs, British and French on the anniversary of Gallipoli campaign. It commemorated the memory of lost lives of the Turkish-Armenian civil war during the ceremony held in the Armenian Patriarchate.
The Armenian incident is one shameful page in the history of a horrible war. It was a time when Turks and the Armenians sustained heavy losses and brothers killed brothers. Many people died in that war, all of them were Ottomans. Armenians, Turks, Kurds and Greeks, the citizens of the same state, had turned against each other. In the mass graves discovered, bodies of Armenians and Turks were found huddled together. It is horrible; it is shocking, because it was a war. Every time the memories of a war are dug up, murders and deaths come to the surface. For this reason, no one attempts to ask for an account for the horrible wars that went down in history. Otherwise, there would be no NATO or European Union today. Or the Japanese wouldn’t be able to live in the US, nor the Algerians in France or the Jews in Germany.
Nevertheless, various circles constantly bring up the Armenian incident of 1915. Some are doing it with honest intentions of revealing historical facts while the majority, in a fashion that can be denied by no one, does it for certain political goals. Volkan Bozkir, the EU Minister of Turkey, explains this point very eloquently during his visit to the Armenian Church:
“If our 1,000 years old relationship is kept prisoner to a single word called ‘genocide,’ then our future together will continue to be harmed. In this respect, we are against using this historical incident as a political leverage. We urge third parties to stop interfering. We believe that we are not going to allow these third parties, which are not even able to point to Armenia on a map and who don’t have any historical links to our Armenian brothers and sisters, to have a say over our history.”
He is right; but even if Turkey doesn’t allow it, the comments of the pope and the decision of the European Parliament, herald a new wave of pressure coming toward Turkey. Therefore, Turkey, instead of ignoring the comments and opinions of third parties and institutions, would be better off following a different route.
What happened in 1915, wasn’t a Turk-Armenian war, it was the WWI. Both sides sustained great losses, and both sides suffered greatly. But there is no point digging up the past. As some countries try to do exactly that, Turkey should choose the route of winning Armenia over.
It is of paramount importance that both sides work to scale up the high-level negotiations and lift restrictions of using passports and visas for travel between the countries. Turks have lived with Armenians for centuries. Armenians should therefore, be able to come to Turkey, settle in Turkey, continue their trade, religious practices and art. This will help Armenia get richer too and Turkey will only be more pleased to see a more prosperous and happier Armenia.
However, to make this possible, it is essential that Turkey cease to propose the issue of Nagorno-Karabagh as a prerequisite of negotiations. Politics is brutal, selfish and self-centered; it solely focuses on its own. Our bond with Armenia should be based on love, not politics. That’s what our union of 1,000 years requires. Nothing will be unsolvable as long as friendship and love prevail. The issues of lands should be saved for later. Starting the negotiations with land issues, without inspiring confidence and love in hearts first, would only appear selfish and prevent Turkey from painting a reliable image. Making Nagorno-Karabagh an unconditional prerequisite, and leaving it as an insolvable dilemma, will not help. As long as this attitude continues, the solution of Armenia issue will become harder and continue to be used as leverage by third parties against Turkey.
The fact that the Turkish government reopened churches like Akdamar after 95 years, that it returned the goods of the foundations, and granted new rights to our Armenian citizens as a part of minority rights, are surely good news. However, it is important that these churches are kept open at all times and that our Armenian brothers and sisters are resettled around those churches and that they are welcomed back in Turkey, their own homeland.
Our Armenian brothers and sisters should remember that, just like it is the case for every country in the world, there are people of hate in Turkey, albeit a few. However, it is in our power to prevent these people from inflicting damage, despite their efforts to harm this union like they did by using soccer politics in the past. We should not forget that the ones spewing hatred against Armenians are lunatics that have no love for anyone and that live in a sort of hell created by themselves. It is crucial that their words or actions are not taken seriously. Friendship is a feat only people of love can attain.
If we build our relationship with Armenia on pure love, that is completely purged of political agendas, no matter how much the third parties try to use this as a political leverage, it will be to no avail. This is what has to be done to bring some love and fresh air to the Middle East.
Maybe this friendship will teach those, who turn a blind eye to the violent genocides taking place in the world today, but try to use the 1915 Armenian incident as leverage, a good lesson.