Davutoglu Says Let’s ‘Bury our Common Pain’

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu


In a patronizing op-ed piece published on Friday in The Guardian, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu comments on Turkey-Armenia relations, and after expressing support for the April 23 “condolence to Armenians” statement by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the foreign minister says: “Turks and Armenians – we must follow Erdoğan’s lead and bury our common pain.”

“In offering condolences for the 1915 Armenian massacre, Erdoğan has presented the chance for reconciliation. Let’s take it,” adds Davutoglu.

The “common pain” rhetoric is a notion being advanced by official Ankara ahead of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide in a feeble attempt to defray attention from the true crime of the Genocide.

This repackaged denial does not serve the interests of the Turkish government, which attempting to distance itself from the Genocide. But, instead of facing its Ottoman past, the government of Turkey is sounding more denialist and insincere.

Davutoglu, also advances a notion he articulated some years past that any ethnic group that used to live in the Anatolian region—including Armenians—constitute a larger Turkish Diaspora. It seems Turkey’s top diplomat needs to become better versed about the definition of Diaspora.

Below is the text of Davutoglu’s opinion piece from The Guradian.

Turks and Armenians – we must follow Erdoğan’s lead and bury our common pain

BY AHMET DAVUTOGLU
From The Guardian

History is replete with squandered opportunities. The challenge for those in power is to assess in real time the risks of missing these moments. I had a sense back in 2009 when I was traveling to Zurich to sign an agreement with the government of Armenia that we were heading towards such a critical juncture.

The agreement would normalize Turkey-Armenia relations and have a significant and positive impact on the whole of the Caucasus. Some unexpected difficulties threatened to derail the whole process at the last moment, and had I been able to share my thoughts at the time I would have underscored the same principles set out last week by Prime Minister Erdoğan in his historic message on the events of 1915, concerning the relocation of the Ottoman Armenians. With this in mind, I believe we now have the opportunity to recapture the engagement and conciliation that eluded us in 2009.

Relations between Turks and Armenians date back centuries. As the Ottoman Empire expanded, Turks and Armenians interacted in a multitude of ways. Armenians were among the best integrated communities in terms of enriching the social, cultural, economic and political life of the empire, and added untold value to the empire’s development throughout cycles of war and peace.

The influence of Ottoman Armenians in intellectual and artistic circles cannot be overstated. Works of many Ottoman musicians might not have survived had not the Armenian musician Hamparsum Limoncuyan introduced a style of solfége musical teaching. Tatyos Efendi, Bimençe, and Gomitas are all well-known classical Armenian music composers who also made outstanding contributions. Edgar Manas, another Armenian, was one of the composers of the Turkish national anthem.

Ottoman architecture of the 19th century was marked by works commissioned by the Ottoman sultans to Armenian architects, most notably builders of the Balyan family. Well known landmarks of Istanbul, such as the imperial palaces of Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi, are attributed to the Balyans, as are several significant mosques along the Bosphorus. One of my predecessors, Gabriel Noradunkyan, served as foreign minister of the Ottoman Empire from 1912-13 and was a prominent Armenian figure in international affairs.

The power of the Ottoman empire declined continuously in the 19th century. The loss of the Balkan provinces was a striking defeat which resulted in mass atrocities, expulsion and the deportation of Ottoman Muslims. A series of ethnic cleansings in the Balkans pushed millions eastward, transforming the demographic structure of Anatolia and leading to the destabilization and deterioration of communal relations there as well. Approximately 5 million Ottoman citizens were driven away from their ancestral homes in the Balkans, the Caucasus and Anatolia. While much of western history tells of the suffering of the dispossessed and dead Ottoman Christians, the colossal sufferings of Ottoman Muslims remains largely unknown outside of Turkey.

It is an undeniable fact that the Armenians suffered greatly in the same period. The consequences of the relocation of the large part of the Armenian community are unacceptable and inhuman.

What is also true is that the dispute over why and how the Armenian tragedy happened, sadly, continues to distress Turks and Armenians today. Communal and national memories of a pain, suffering, deprivation and monumental loss of life continue to keep the Armenian and Turkish peoples apart. Competing and seemingly irreconcilable narratives on the 1915 events prevent the healing of this trauma. What we share is a “common pain” inherited from our grandparents.

National memories are important. However, could Turkish and Armenian narratives not come closer together, could a “just memory” not emerge? Believing this can happen, Turkey proposed a joint commission composed of Turkish and Armenian historians to study the events of 1915. The findings of the commission, if established, would bring about a better understanding of this tragic period and hopefully help to normalize our relationship.

Offering condolences to the descendants of Ottoman Armenians with compassion and respect is a duty of humanity. An almost century-long confrontation has proved that we cannot solve the problem unless we start listening to and understanding each other. We must also learn to respect, without comparing sufferings and without categorizing them.

Addressing my ambassadors few years ago, I called for a change to Turkey’s “concept of diaspora”. I told them that all diasporas with roots in Anatolia – including the Armenian diaspora – are our diaspora too, and should be treated as such with open arms. Though many of our diplomats still mourned their friends and colleagues taken by terrorists from Asala (the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia), I am proud to say that they welcomed these instructions with enthusiasm and without any wish for revenge. They knew that we would better cherish the memories of the dead if we could bury hatred altogether.

Everybody can become partners in this, and for our own part we see clearly that unless justice is done for others it will not be done for us.

I appeal to everyone to seize this moment, and to join us to reconstruct a better future for Turkish-Armenian relations. The statement by Prime Minister Erdoğan is an unprecedented and courageous step taken in this direction. I believe now is the time to invest in this relationship. But we can only succeed if this endeavor is embraced by a wider constituency intent on reconciliation. Turkey stands ready.

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23 Comments

  1. Hratch said:

    Before we jump to conclusions and reject it completely, let’s first realize that our efforts in the last one hundred years has done very little to advance our cause. In fact, we are worst than ever before. Armenia’s economy is in shambles and can not sustain its own population. The diaspora is surely and slowly assimilating away. If we keep the current status quo, we’re sure to destroy what little is left. By entering into dialog and opening up the channels, at least we’ll finally have a chance to explain our side. If things don’t go to our liking, we can always revert to our current position. There is no sense in continuing on with our confrontational posture. The world is too disconnected from events that occurred a hundred years ago. The present geopolitical structure will never allow the re-opening of such past injustices. Countries can not afford to condemn others while they have skeletons in their own closets. We can honor the dead by concluding this dark chapter in our history. We might not get everything that we demand, but at least we can start building for a better and brighter future. It is easy to be suspicious and distrust the opponent, but that is not the way things are settled. The willingness to first listen and study the opponents positions before making a decision is the more smart way to ensure a fair outcome.

  2. rita said:

    omg, shared pain?! my great-grandparents were all orphans, please show me one turkish person whose family suffered so much pain in the hands of an armenian. the turks had an army, they controlled the entireottoman empire, were the ill conceived dashnaks such a threat?

  3. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    Davut Oglu
    Your grandfathers pushed forcefully Armenians
    To starve and sigh in Der Zor desert
    But my grandfather was government man
    He went to work and never seen again…
    He was honest man…did not carry gun…
    His bones are still there in Diyarbakir (Dikranagerd) your confiscated land

    Because you carry your grandfathers’ Y- chromosome
    Which can never sigh…
    And I and my offspring will remember our genocide …Whichever way you deny…!
    If you are a real honest guy
    Go by yourself and collect the bones from Der Zor desert
    and prepare new remembrance site
    Arrange memorial statues in each city and every site in so-called Turkey;
    Where people lost their lives…
    (That places were never was your ancestries fathers’ lands…)
    For us to come and lacrimate putting some roses
    on our innocent uncanned Genocided Skulls and Artful Hands..
    Those who build for you palaces and minarets…

    Then we will accept your of apology
    Please don’t cheat us anymore…
    We had enough of your racial tricks
    and cyanosed tongues…!!!

    Sylva~MD~Poetry
    written instantly
    May 2, 2014

  4. The Truth said:

    Nothing new comes out of the mouth of the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu &Co.
    Bury the truth on Armenian Genocide is what Turkish denialist government is trying ever since its establishment in 1923!

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu knows better than everybody else that without the Turkish lead Armenian Genocide todays so called modern Turkey in its current border and wealth wouldn’t exist at all- Therefore it is clear that all what they want is to silence the calls and fights for Justice!

  5. Kevin said:

    Bury this m*****f****r alive to feel the “common pain” so he shuts the fuck up forever.

  6. John K said:

    How about Turkish government seizing the moment, acknowledging the obvious (the GENOCIDE), opening the borders, paying reparations and by doing so, burying the pain…

  7. Vindicated Man said:

    I don’t really need their apologies, friendship, or anything else. I want something that belongs to every one of us. They must honor Woodrow Wilson’s Arbitral Award. And move the border to the west, to coincide with the de jure border. I’m looking at the bigger thing, which is our captured land. This is the single, most important reason why Turks prefer to make these evasive speeches.

  8. gary said:

    MR. DAVUTOGLU SAY WE WHERE WRONG WE COMMET THIS CRIME FORGIVE US THEN IKNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT FULL OF SHIT.

  9. K.M. Greg sarkissian said:

    Nothing is changed since March 28, 2010. whem i first responded tp his Excellency Mr. Ahmet Davutoglu . i have to simply repeat what i wrote then .

    Your Excellency Mr. Ahmet Davutoglu:

    You are right to want to normalize relations not only with Armenia, but also Armenians in the diaspora, and you will find that most Armenians also want to normalize relations, but without any preconditions.

    You are right that Diaspora Armenians are not one category. Four generations removed from 1915, they are integrated in their adopted countries and some are totally assimilated. They see themselves as American, Argentinean, French, Iranian, Lebanese, Russian, or Syrian. There are some who have married Muslims and converted to Islam. They are all quite different from each other, depending on where they live.

    They all share a common history and an unshakeable trauma, however, resulting from the crime of genocide committed by the Ottoman Turks in 1915. This has created a very strong collective sense of responsibility in them to pursue justice. If the “prominent names who participated in the funeral after the death of Hrant Dink” in 2007 were touched when Turkish people embraced Hrant Dink, it is because those Turks carrying placards saying “We all are Armenians” were in fact acknowledging that their countrymen who had killed Hrant Dink displayed the same mentality as that of the Young Turks in 1915.

    I am sure that the Armenian people worldwide would embrace the whole nation of Turkey, if the government of Turkey acknowledged the responsibility of its predecessor, the Ottoman government, in the planned annihilation of its Armenian citizens, expressed a sincere apology, and made appropriate efforts at atonement. That would build trust between the parties and allow peace to prevail.

    “We need to show empathy in order to understand what Armenians lived through and what they felt, but they need to show respect to our memory. … 1915 may be the year of the deportations [tehcir] but, at the same time, it is the year of Canakkale [Battle of Gallipoli].” This is very misguided, because while Armenians were not the cause of Canakkale, the Ottoman government was the cause of the annihilation of their Armenian citizens. One can understand the trauma of Turkish soldiers fighting for their country’s existence, but how is this comparable to the atrocities committed against unarmed Armenian civilians? Should we equate the pain and suffering of the Jews and others resulting from the Holocaust to the pain of the Germans who were killed by the Allies during World War II, which was started by their government?

    You state, “The issue has a psychological dimension. It has a legal dimension. And a political and historical dimension.” For Turks, they are embodied in the loss of a massive amount of the territory of the empire, the expulsion of the Muslims from the Balkans, the intervention of the Europeans in Ottoman internal affairs, and the existential struggle for the existence of the country. For Armenians, they are embodied in the massacres of 1894-96, when some 200,000 Armenians were slaughtered; then in the Adana massacres in 1909, when 15,000 to 30,000 Armenians were killed; followed by the deportations and murders of 1915-22, when some 1.5 million Armenians were annihilated. This mistreatment continued after the establishment of the Turkish republic with the destruction of Armenian cultural monuments and churches, the confiscation of church assets, the forced assimilation and name changes, the Varlik Vergisi of 1942, the assassination of Hrant Dink in 2007, when the police had their picture taken proudly with Ogun Samast and holding the Turkish flag as if they were part of a great patriotic event. These all display a deep and persistent hostility towards the Armenians and other non-Turkish minorities in your country, for which no one in Turkey has ever been called to account, and this impunity has only encouraged further acts of hostility and political violence. Most recently, on March 17, 2010, the threat of your own prime minister, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to deport Armenians from Turkey reveals the extent of political violence in the Turkish psyche and a complete disrespect for human rights.

    The people of the world are becoming increasingly aware of the phenomenon of genocide every day. These are people with a strong commitment to universal human rights. They demand that their governments intervene to prevent injustices, such as in Darfur. They understand that to be able to prevent genocide from recurring, they have to stop being accomplices in the denial of genocide. That is why places like Catalonia, Sweden, and the United States House Foreign Relations Committee still pass resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Because forgetting and impunity for violence encourage further violence.

    You say, “If intellectuals and politicians fulfill the parts that fall on their shoulders, a new and possibly a more rooted period of peace stretches before us.” We heartily agree. Therefore, please give your intellectuals the freedom to talk openly about the historical facts surrounding 1915. Do not prosecute them when they speak about these events as genocide. Do not call them “traitors trying to stab the nation from the back” when they organize conferences as they did in Istanbul in 2005. Do not let them be killed like Hrant Dink.

    Most Armenians can distinguish between the Turkey of 1915 and that of today. No one holds any Turk living today responsible for the crime of genocide committed by the Ottomans. Yet, they do hold your country and your government responsible for the act of denial, which itself is considered the continuation of the crime of genocide.

    “Defending our national honor” will occur when your own countrymen are allowed to learn about their history without risk of persecution. This would empower them with the knowledge to find a new language for dialogue. That is the most important psychological barrier to overcome. When your country is able to accept the fact that there was a planned annihilation of the Armenians in 1915, not only will you find “Armenian communities with which you will be able to start a dialogue,” but you would be able to win the hearts and the minds of the people of your neighboring country, the Republic of Armenia, and Armenians worldwide would become ambassadors of goodwill for Turkey and its people.

    Respectfully yours,
    K. M. Greg Sarkissian
    glas@sprynet.com

  10. Garo Yeghichian said:

    Mr. Davoudoglu still trying for a Commssion to understand each other for a crystal clear Armenian Genocide.The entire world knows why Turks they trying for establishment of a commission.
    THEY (ERDOGAN DAVOUDOGHLU AND GUL )MUST STOP THIS DREAM, BECAUSE ALREADY THEY DID RUN LAST.THEY MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THE SHORT CUT IS TO RECOGNISE THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE AND BE READY FOR COMPONSATION.

  11. Seraphim said:

    Very sweet and mellifluous sounding words. Shared common pain ? This kind of language is disarming and deceiving. It is understood that in general a killer is suffering on the same level as the killed. The inference being that there is pain for both the victim and victimizer. With that kind of reasoning the victim will never obtain justice. Our legal system is suffused with that doctrine, it is a ripple effect of the human rights doctrine where the human rights of the criminal are paramount and above the category of crime he or she is accused of. First human rights rights, then the rest. It is a pity , a great disappointment that Armenians , all over including our present government, are not able to answer Turkish negationism in a more militant and assertive manner . Erdogan condolences are merely a window dressing , he does not mean it, nor the Turks mean it. Now we have davotoglous orchestra plying the same theme in another cadenza. We see with amusement the patriarchs reaction to erdogans epiphany, the patriarch can not be blamed, he is based in Constnatinople, a prisoner in a gilded cage, what else can he say.

  12. GeorgeMardig said:

    Only words are not enough, what’s in the offer, Recognition, Reparation, Compensation, Restituion?

  13. Michael Tavikian said:

    Davutoglu Says:
    Approximately 5 million Ottoman citizens were driven away from their ancestral homes in the Balkans, the Caucasus and Anatolia. While much of western history tells of the suffering of the dispossessed and dead Ottoman Christians, the colossal sufferings of Ottoman Muslims remains largely unknown outside of Turkey.”
    Answer to Davutoglu’s historical excuses, for Denied of the Armenian Genocide:
    The reason why “5 million Ottoman citizens were driven away from their ancestral homes in the Balkans, the Caucasus and Anatolia.”
    Because…..
    Notions of national homogeneity which held sway in most of the incipient nation states in the Balkans, and which were often enforced by violent means, caused Muslims to be considered undesirable or hostile minorities that the nationalist regimes sought to get rid of. The immigration had far-reaching social and political consequences for the Ottoman Empire and Turkey.
    The Ottoman Empire started in what is now Turkey .
    The devshirme system
    Non-Muslims in parts of the empire had to hand over some of their children as a tax under the devshirme (‘gathering’) system introduced in the 14th century. Conquered Christian communities, especially in the Balkans, had to surrender twenty percent of their male children to the state. To the horror of their parents, and Western commentators, these children were converted to Islam and served as slaves.
    At first the rule of the Ottoman Sultans was insecure. To consolidate their Empire the Ottoman Sultans formed groups of fanatical fighters – the orders of the Janissaries, a crack infantry group of slaves and Christian converts to Islam.
    One of the main consequences of this massive absorption of Muslim refugees was that the once multi-ethnic empire was increasingly transformed into a country of Muslims. While Muslims made up 60 per cent of the Ottoman Empire’s total population in 1821, their share had increased to 80 per cent in 1914 due to the continuing flow of migrants and the loss of Christian-populated areas. Between 1821 and 1922, some 5.3 million Muslims migrated to the Empire. It is estimated that in 1923, the year the republic of Turkey was founded, about 25 per cent of the population came from immigrant families.
    In the last phase of its existence, the Ottoman Empire itself took up a policy of national (at first predominantly religious) homogenization. The Young Turk Revolution of 1908 ultimately paved the way for Turkish nationalism. Non-Muslims began to feel its exclusiveness, especially Armenians, who until then had been considered the most loyal minority group. As a consequence, Turkish leadership claims and non-Muslim autonomy claims were increasingly at odds. In the second half of the 19th century, the Ottoman regimes were able to ensure the Empire’s cohesion only by violent means. Following the devastating Balkan Wars, radical Turkification measures were taken up, which were particularly felt in economic, education and settlement policy. The conflict finally escalated – “in the interplay between forced assimilation from above, resistance from below” and, in response to the resistance, increased repression – in the Armenian massacres of 1895/1896 and 1909. In the First World War, almost the entire Armenian population in Asia Minor was wiped out or expelled, while the Greek Orthodox population of the coastal areas had already been deported or killed before the war. Often, Muslim refugees, who had themselves been victims of forced displacement, also participated in the attacks on Christian villages. Their role in the expulsions in Asia Minor (1914–1922) has not yet been studied systematically. A victim-perpetrator relationship, however, is frequently established. It has been shown, for example, that the majority of the leadership cadres of the Young Turks were descended from former refugees or their offspring. The former Caucasus and Balkan refugees appear to have played a significant role in the Ottoman paramilitary Special Organization (Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa), which was used as a death squad against non-Muslims during the one-party dictatorship of the Young Turks, but also in the lower cadres of the Young Turk Party:

  14. ohannes boghossian said:

    Mr.daoutoglu you must be real con artiste or dreamer can you tell me what are you trying too bury
    Ottoman Empire or your grandfathers crime.
    Mr.Daoutoglu or ready you bury western Armenians 3500 years of civilizations and history or ready you took me from my homeland from my roots from my cit’s villages and made me homeless you made my father homeless you made my son homeless you will make my grand son homeless the all western Armenians are homeless
    Mr. Daoutoglu there is any thing ales left too bury yes there is the Armenian Genocide and you are
    doing great job Mr.com artist Armenians they will never ever forget the Genocide not today not tomorrow
    not for ever

  15. GB said:

    Davood Davood Davood Oghloo….how about if you bury your own head!!!

  16. Sarkis Shahinian said:

    Here we go: the second phase of a most powerful empathy-charm approach, long thought and launched on December 13, 2013, in Yerevan. It will become not easier to make to understand to the World public opinion, that the murder of a Nation will never be mourned without a clear assumption of today’s Turkey – the only heir of the Ittihad Regime, as clearly admitted by Minister Davutoglu himself in this article – of the full responsibility of the Armenian Genocide. Having told this, it seems one more time, that Armenia and Diaspora Armenians are rather “reacting” than “acting” against this strategy. This may not produce positive fruits.

  17. Alex Postallian said:

    When the monkey looking turk,makes a turn-a -around,turn a deaf ear.If it took them a hundred years to live the BIG LIE…A monkey never changes its spots,so to speak.a jerky turkey,never tells the truth…MONGOLS…

  18. John Ahmaranian said:

    Common pain?
    Did you suffer the death of 1,500,000 people?
    Did thousands of your people walk hungry and sick toward the Syrian desert to die?
    Did you loose 8OO mosques like the Armenians who lost 800 churches?
    Did a hurricane destroy hundred of Armenian villages?

    Common pain? Is it common? A wolf kills an eats thousands and thousands of sheep and goes to
    farmers to show his condolence and express his common pain ! Only a hypocrite Turk will have such a conscience.

  19. Murad said:

    Mr Eshaguglu : Lets meet on on one . I will be extremely happy to bury & take care of your pain …Any Armenian Genocide Deniar …..I love to help you & enlighten ….re humanity & Justice

  20. Baron's said:

    Mr. Erdogan, Mr Davouotglu
    why don’t you both take a break from your heavy schedules and go fly a kite….

  21. helen takessian said:

    the only thing being buried here is the truth. pain of the murderers are far different from the pain of the innocent dead being murdered. the pain of the looters is different from those whose real estate.wealth culture and all the rest are taken. The creater of all the universe put armenians here on earth centered in the garden of eden Evil people are against the creater of all that existswhen they destroy what allah/god has chosen

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