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May 5, 2005

ACNIS Discusses Turkey’s Potential Role
in View of Regional Security and Cooperation

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) today convened a specialized policy roundtable on “Turkey: New Face with a New Role, or New Image with an Old Role?” The meeting brought together academic circles, policy analysts, media and NGO communities to view Armenia’s neighborhood policy, geopolitical developments, and points of reference for possible cooperation and security in the region in the context of Armenia’s changing environment and national interests. It particularly focused on the new role of an important actor in the region, Turkey.

ACNIS research coordinator Stiopa Safarian greeted the invited guests and public participants with opening remarks. “Armenia’s relations with Turkey are complicated and undefined. What can we expect of Turkey, a country which aspires to be democratic and become a new member of the European Union: transformation to good behavior or chaos, understanding of historical sin or new manifestations of constant denial, threats and security challenges? We expect your active participation on this and other actual issues,” he underlined.

Artak Shakarian, Turkish analyst of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the National Academy of Sciences, delivered a paper on “The Pre-Genocidal Processes in Ottoman Turkey: Mass Deportations as a Means to Oversee the Subject Peoples.” He overviewed Ottoman Turkey’s policy toward subject peoples and particularly toward Armenians in the early period which aimed at their estrangement in and deportation from their homeland. “The Ottoman rulers’ continuous massacres and predetermined mass deportations of Christian elements reached their culmination point in 1915,” Shakarian said. In his opinion, the Young Turks took advantage of World War One, resting assured that nobody would pay attention to the killing of the Armenians and their homeland in the overall turmoil.

The focal points of Tatevik Manoukian’s address were the latest developments regarding the approaches toward the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. In the Turkish media the much-referenced courts martial of the Young Turks, which started in April 1919, were the first attempt to recognize the Armenian Genocide, though in its aftermath the Kemalist regime, which later came to power, adopted and pursued a policy of denial. The young scholar from the same department of the Academy of Sciences was convinced that Turkey’s desired accession to the European Union and the active processes toward recognition of the Armenian Genocide promoted Turkish society’s awareness that resulted in some real assessments in that country. “Nevertheless, the predominant thinking in Turkey is the following: nothing happened, the Armenians and the Turks lived in peace for ages. Whatever happened during WWI was the inevitable consequence of the war. And the new generation is not responsible for whatever happened,” concluded Manoukian.

Haik Demoyan, lecturer of history at Yerevan State University, reflected on “The Prospects of Armenian-Turkish Relations in the Context of Turkey’s European Integration.” At the beginning of the establishment of Armenian-Turkish relations in the early 1990s, Turkey applied a militant policy toward Armenia which was followed by deployment and concentration of forces, considerable military assistance to a third country, the economic blockade, and so on. In the historian’s vision, Turkey was afraid of the Armenian “tsunami” even then, as the newly independent Armenia was perceived as a serious threat in realization of the Armenian cause. “We have provided the critical minimum which is necessary for the internationalization of the Armenian Genocide and need now to take new steps of a different caliber,” said Demoyan, adding that one of such measures is the restoration of Western Armenians to their historical patrimony and the rebuilding of Armenian churches, culture and other values.

The formal interventions were followed by contributions by Professor Rouben Safrastian, head of the Turkish Department at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Sciences; Yerjanik Abgarian of “Armat” Center; Emma Begijanian, analyst of Middle East Affairs; Professor Babken Haroutiunian, chairholder in Armenian History at Yerevan State University; Rozalia Gabrielian of the Slavonic University; analyst Aram Ananian of the “Mitk” Analytical Center; Avetik Ishkhanian of the Armenian Helsinki Committee; ACNIS analyst Hovsep Khurshudian; Tamar Gevorgian of United Labor Party; and several others.

Founded in 1994 by Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi K. Hovannisian and supported by a global network of contributors, ACNIS serves as a link between innovative scholarship and the public policy challenges facing Armenia and the Armenian people in the post-Soviet world. It also aspires to be a catalyst for creative, strategic thinking and a wider understanding of the new global environment. In 2005, the Center focuses primarily on civic education, conflict resolution, and applied research on critical domestic and foreign policy issues for the state and the nation.

For further information on the Center and its activities, call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; e-mail root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am

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