Erdogan Claims It’s Not Genocide Because Not All Armenians Were Killed

Harut Sassounian

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

Within days of releasing a shrewdly-worded statement on April 23, misleading some into thinking that he was acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan reversed course on a major American TV program, claiming that the 1915 mass killings of Armenians was not genocide.

When asked by veteran reporter Charlie Rose if it would be possible for the Turkish Prime Minister to characterize these killings as genocide, Erdogan became the laughing stock of TV viewers worldwide by declaring: “It would not be possible, because if such a genocide occurred, would there have been any Armenians living in this country [Turkey]?”

It is greatly embarrassing that the leader of a major country like Turkey is clueless about the universally-accepted definition of genocide. Foreign Minister Davutoglu (a former professor) and other learned Turks must have cringed watching their Prime Minister expose his ignorance before millions of TV viewers!

Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1948, defines genocide as “acts committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.”

One does not have to be a genocide scholar to comprehend that it is not necessary to wipe out every single member of a particular group to be accused of committing genocide. Did Hitler manage to kill all German Jews? Would Erdogan dare to go on American Television and make a similarly outrageous remark about the Jewish Holocaust, claiming that it is not genocide because some Jews are living in Germany today? In a fitting response to Erdogan, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian urged him to follow Germany’s example of Holocaust acknowledgment through “recognition, condemnation, and apology.” Nalbandian should have also added ‘restitution’ — an imperative demand — without which the rest are hollow words.

Erdogan should be reminded that only a few days earlier he had called for a joint commission to study the ‘historical facts’. What is the point of asking for a study, if he has already concluded that there was no genocide? The Prime Minister cannot be serious and he definitely is not sincere!

At the end of his interview with Charlie Rose, Erdogan made additional contradictory statements, shifting the blame for the genocide to the Ottomans: “This is not something that happened during the Republic of Turkey. This was during the Ottoman Empire…. If the documents show that our ancestors made a mistake…if the historians can show that, then we would pay whatever consequence of that is.”

While no one in Armenia and Diaspora was fooled by Erdogan’s deceptive statements, the reaction of some Armenians in Turkey was understandably more accommodating. Archbishop Aram Ateshian, Vicar General of the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul, rushed to Ankara with his entourage for a ‘pleasant’ chat with the Turkish Prime Minister and a congenial lunch with Foreign Minister Davutoglu. Abp. Ateshian thanked the Turkish leaders for their expression of “shared pain” in reference to Armenians and Turks who died during World War I.

Such laudatory words are not surprising, given the Armenians’ status in Turkey as hostages of an authoritarian and brutal regime, as journalist Hrant Dink found out by paying with his life for bearing witness to the truth of the Genocide. Some Turkish Armenians, however, have learned to manipulate the country’s oligarchic system for their personal gain. They are willing to go along with Turkish genocide denialism to enrich themselves through covert business deals with government officials and/or secure their leadership positions in the local Armenian community. Indeed, several prominent Turkish-Armenians have suggested that Erdogan be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his April 23rd statement! Two Armenian businessmen have even placed self-deprecating ads in Turkish newspapers thanking the Prime Minister and offering apologies for the Turkish ‘deaths’ during World War One!

At the end of the day, it matters not what Erdogan’s statement or Davutoglu’s op-ed in The Guardian say or don’t say about the Armenian Genocide. The more fundamental question is: are Turkish officials willing to atone for the crimes committed by their ancestors against the Armenian people? What matters most for Armenians is restitution and justice, not empty rhetoric! Erdogan’s words are too little and too late. His statement is simply a clever ploy at damage control given the growing sentiments and calls worldwide to accept responsibility for the Armenian Genocide, and to deflect attention away from the scandals swirling around Turkey and its Prime Minister.

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8 Comments

  1. Vindicated Man said:

    “It’s Not Genocide Because Not All Armenians Were Killed”. Weird logic, to say the least. How can solid people (presidents, ministers, ambassadors, CEOs, etc.) take this man seriously? HOW??? I can’t understand it.

  2. Berge Jololian said:

    Nalbandian should not be afraid or shy away from openly and properly stating: Genocide acknowledgement with accountability. Accountability is for land, reparation and restitution.

    It is not restitution alone. It is not reparation alone. It is with land return.

    For example: Artsakh is land.

    Nakhichevan is land.
    Ararat is land.
    Ani is land.
    Kars is land.
    Artvin is land.
    Ardahan is land.

  3. herayer said:

    ENOUGH OF TRYING TO SOLVE THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE ISSUE TURKEY’S WAY ,TURKISH AND AMERICAN LEADERS SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT YOU CAN NOT FIT A SQUARE IN A TRIANGLE NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY, TURKEY SHOULD ADMIT TO THE GENOCIDE,IT’S LEADER SHOULD VISIT THE GENOCIDE MEMORIAL, GIVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO THE ARMENIANS, TO REBUILD THEIR COUNTRY’S ECONOMY, AND ALLOW THE MILLIONS OF THE DIASPORA ARMENIANS TO COME BACK AND SETTLE IN THEIR HOMELAND THIS IS WHAT GERMANY DID, THEY SHOULD ALSO GIVE SOME LAND BACK. THIS IS WHAT A JUST AND CIVILIZED COUNTRY WOULD DO.THEN HOPEFULLY THE ARMENIAN EMOTIONAL WOUND WOULD HEAL AND OUR MARTYRS WOULD REST IN PEACE

  4. Samvel Jeshmaridian, PhD said:

    You are right, Ghachagh Erdoghan, it was a state terrorism, not a genocide. Ottomans and Turkish tribes are and have always been grand masters in terrorism. I know that You are a freedom-liking cherkez. Why are You taking that big Otto-Turkish sin onto Your shoulders?

  5. Krikor said:

    If Armenians were 2 million back then, today only 70 000 thousand remain in Turkey. That means 97% of Armenians were annihilated in what is called today Turkey. In the holocaust 60% of Jews were exterminated. 10% of Rawandan population and 75% of Tutsi ethnic minority were killed in Rwanda. In North Darfur, the rate is 1.4 deaths per 10,000 people per day, and in West Darfur it is 2.9.
    What worries me is the lack of reaction from Armenians in Armenia proper and around the world. They should have raised hell! He tripped and we let him get away with it.

  6. Robert Boyadjian said:

    erdogan like senior turk officials keep covering the sun with a finger. It will miserably fail.

  7. Dr.Hermon Mihranian said:

    So Erdogan is looking forward to kill All Armenians. Erdogan must open his eyes and finaly recognize the Armenian Genocide if wnts peace in the region.

  8. Krikor said:

    The worse and most painful explanation was penned down in an op-ed by Turkey’s deputy prime minister Emrullah Ishler in the Arabic Asharq Al Awsat newspaper on May 20, 2014. That op-ed is a must read, it says it all.

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