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Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

It’s finally happened. About two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with two people, Aybars Görgülü and Sabiha Gündoğar, from a Turkish think tank, TESEV. They were part of a larger group including two Armenians who were in the LA area for a working visit.

It was a pleasant enough experience, though given our history, there is always some background tension. The encounter was just about half an hour long, so we couldn’t go into much depth. They had no problems naming 1915 as Genocide. When they asked me why I met with them and what I wanted, I replied that it was necessary to get acquainted. I want our territories back and reparations. Genocide recognition would be good, too, but that’s less important for me than the other two, and more THEIR problem than ours, since it’s their society that will remain messed up for as long as it’s built on denial. This seemed to surprise them a bit, but, as I said, we didn’t have much time to discuss deeply, especially since we were also getting acquainted.

One unsurprising, but still somewhat disquieting, element was the facial resemblance I saw between my aunt and Sabiha. This of course speaks to the real roots of most Turks. They are us…

Perhaps more important than the minimal content of our discussion was the fact that it happened. We certainly need more such encounters, especially with decent folk who know what needs to be done, even though they may not now be in a position to do much about it. After all, no long term project, especially one involving national liberation and “ceding” of territories can occur without much preparation.

But there is a very fine and difficult line we will have to walk. These types of encounters will grow in number and deepen in profundity. But the difficulty related to them is that there are government functionaries, particularly in Ankara and Washington, who are tabulating every one of these meetings then abusing, misrepresenting, and twisting their relevance to argue that Armeno-Turkish “dialogue” is occurring and that “reconciliation” is therefore on the way, so any other discussion of Armenian demands is not necessary. I say poppycock!

This distorted, despicable, and yes, even demented agenda is one I want no part of. Dialogue is a normal human function and should not be fetishized by murderous regimes or superpowers. Reconciliation is utterly irrelevant to us. In the Armeno-Turkish case, at best it is an incidental outcome, a fringe benefit, of our getting Wilsonian Armenia, reparations, recognition, and some kind of special arrangement for other historically Armenian lands.

I look forward to future meetings with other Turks who are prepared to and are taking risks with their own lives to do the right thing, for us and for themselves. Unfortunately, for the time being, this cannot include government officials since that part of Turkish society is still too far removed from decency. However, as we build relationships, some of the right thinking people will eventually make it into government. This is a generational process and will require much wisdom, patience, and caution. If you find yourself in such a situation, consult with others, as I did. Then cautiously meet, discuss, and report out on your experience.

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One Comment;

  1. GeorgeMardig said:

    All Turks are not equal, we should encourage discent Turks that want to do right to a wrong done of their ancestors, it’s not a shame to admit and correct, Japan did it, germany did, America did, to front a merky past is the act of courageous people.

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