Mahchupyan’s Appointment: A New Step in Genocide Denial Policy?

Etienne Mahchupyan


BY ALINE OZINIAN
From CivilNet

Turkish Sabah newspaper, which has come to be considered in recent years as the mouthpiece of the ruling Justice and Development Party, announced the appointment of Etienne Mahchupyan as Chief Advisor to Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on October 25. Sabah “adorned” the news of the appointment with the fact that after Erdogan’s “constructive” April 24 message this was yet another important step, this time taken by Davutoglu, toward the “normalization” of relations between Turkey and Armenia (the term used in Armenia-Turkey protocols), by appointing an Armenian as his Chief Advisor.

This appointment was regarded in Turkish press as an important step which would assist Davutoglu in his policy on minorities and the improvement of Turkey-Armenia relations. At the same time, Mahcupyan denies the Armenian-Turkish orientation of his appointment, giving a wider role to his activities. Mahcupyan said that it was a compelling proposal which he gladly accepted. In the meantime, Turkish media is emphasizing his Armenian roots, underscoring that the AKP managed to bring even an Armenian to the position of chief advisor to the Prime Minister.

Who is Etienne Mahchupyan?
Mahchupyan’s acquaintance with Davutoglu has an old, intellectual past. They met when Davutoglu was a scholar, and those meetings continued even after Davutoglu became Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mahchupyan was part of the “Council of Wise Men” which was created by the government to find a solution to the Kurdish question.

After graduating from Turkey’s prestigious Bogazici and Ankara universities, Mahchupyan also lectured at those universities. He was engaged in his own business until 1996 and worked as consultant for other companies. In 1996 he ended his entrepreneurial life and made the foray into politics, writing columns mainly in the democratic and left democratic-oriented media.

Mahcupyan is also the author of numerous scientific papers, monographs and books mainly about the issues of Turkey’s democratization and Western orientation, liberal democracy, army-state relations, religion and democratization, Turkish-Kurdish relations and so on.

Since 2001, Mahcupyan worked for the Gulenist Islamic-conservative daily Zaman, putting forward the idea that the Islamists have the greatest potential for the creation of a new Turkey.

Mahcupyan was also one of Hrant Dink’s best friends. In addition to being political comrades, they also spent their free time together travelling, making bets at the racetrack and passionately discussing anything related to football. Their possible nomination as AKP deputies was even discussed at the time.

Mahchupyan, who had frequently been writing for Agos, assumed the post of Editor-in-Chief following Hrant’s murder.

Mahchupyan as AKP defender
In 2010, resigning as Editor-in-Chief of Agos, Mahchupyan went to work again in Zaman. In the early years of AKP in power, some Democrats and Liberals, not sharing the party’s conservative and Islamic position, continued to support the party’s policies. Mahcupyan who was considered an intellectual with left Democratic views, was among them.

The party’s slow and reluctant steps towards Turkey’s democratization, which included finding a resolution to the Turkish-Kurdish conflict, caused the above mentioned political forces to stop supporting the government. Immediately afterward, followers of the Gulen movement also pulled back from pro-government positions.

But working for the Gulenist newspaper, Mahchupyan sided with Erdogan and defended the AKP position during the Gulen-Erdogan conflict of about a year ago. This surprised the readers of the scholar, who was highly regarded by the Gulenists.

As an appreciation of his new political views, he received an invitation to collaborate from Aksam, the most pro-government newspaper, which he accepted.

Recently, Mahcupyan even defended Erdogan during the “Sorry, I’ve even been called an Armenian” crisis. Shortly after that, in an interview Mahchupyan linked Erdogan’s conduct to his father’s. No matter how strongly Mahchupyan’s sharp turn and unconditional welcoming of all AKP steps were criticized by the Armenian community and Democratic circles, he kept insisting, that the AKP was a chance to destroy Kemalism and militarism and to create a “New Turkey” where Armenians should also be actively involved.

Mahchupyan’s appointment as a new step in Genocide denial policy
Today the appointment of an Armenian to the position of Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister is important indeed, regardless of whether that Armenian considers himself an Armenian or not, whether he emphasizes his ethnicity or Turkish citizenship, whether he highlights the honest coverage and acceptance of historical issues of ethnic background or Turkey’s democratization, or their coherence. It is hard to expect that even such a talented intellectual as Mahchupyan will be prudent enough to avoid becoming an instrument in Turkey’s anti-Armenian policy and will resign from the “high-ranking” position of Chief Advisor.

Although Mahchupyan stressed that the offer of Chief Advisor did not clarify the possible areas of activity, it is obvious for everyone that Turkey took this step on the threshold of 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in order to demonstrate to the world its generosity and lack of problems with the Armenians. But AKP’s trick for the international community is not even perceived inside Turkey by its own electorate and the supporters of those parties who portray themselves to be democratic, who consider bestowing a high-ranking office to an Armenian as treason.

It is possible that the government will explain Mahchupyan’s appointment to their supporters by the numerous examples of Armenians holding high-ranking offices in the Ottoman Empire. This tradition was continued by the Young Turks, a factor, which did not hinder them from implementing the Armenian Genocide.

What we are witnessing is neither a development nor an attempt at dialogue, but rather the next step in a pointless diplomatic game with the Armenians, in which Armenia is unfortunately involved.

The invitation to participate in the commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide issued personally to Erdogan and resembling a wedding invitation was presented by the Armenian side as the next “brilliant” diplomatic solution, followed by trivial “proud and victorious” statement: “The ball is in the opponent’s field.” However, it is time to realize that the point of the game is not constantly sending the ball to the opponent’s field but scoring a goal.

The same logic implies that the Armenian blow has ricocheted. Mahchupyan’s appointment is one of the more important steps taken by Turkey as it prepares for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Another blow, which can’t be discounted in the near future, might be the candidacy of Armenian Margar Esayan as Member of Parliament.

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15 Comments

  1. Diran said:

    I want to express my appreciation for this penetrating and valuable appraisal of the true significance of Mahcupyan’s selection. One thing should not be left out: Any time now Strasbourg is due to announce its final decision on the Switzerland vs. Perincek case. By ostentatiously picking an ethnic Armenian at this moment, Davutoglu is signaling Strasbourg that everything is getting better in Turkey and that it should render a decision favorable to Turkey rather than upset the apple cart at this point. An adverse decision would greatly complicate Turkey’s strategy for 2015.

  2. Norin said:

    A good article but in short this imbecile is nothing but an Armenian Uncle Tom. Whether its Gulen he worked with or AKP, the fact is that Turkey as a state participated in Hrant Dink’s death either directly or indirectly. Yet as a friend of Dink accepting this position makes him nothing but a lowlife sniveling coward. It’s obvious that his role is only to serve as decoration for Turkey. Sadly this is yet another pathetic example of an age old Armenian psychosis of appeasing the odar at the expense of fellow Armenians and the expense of Armenian national aspirations. Despite his supposed intellectual prowess, this Armenian Uncle Tom’s actions are poignantly similar to the grotesque villager’s mentality that still pervades the minds of our leadership in the Diaspora.

  3. GB said:

    I will never trust, that foxy man, Davood Oghloo’s inner intention toward Armenian Nation!

  4. raf said:

    It is more than obvious that this is just another cheap ploy by Turkey and it does not surprise me at all. We will see more and more of this sort of fake moves. As for Europe, I don’t think they need this to justify their policy of silence towards the denial. Sadly, we Armenians will never realize that the only way to get the respect of the international community is by building a strong Armenia. By sitting in diaspora and shouting in front of Turkish embassies we will never see justice. We need to go back and build our homeland. A strong and wealthy Armenia which possesses one of the most advanced armies in the region will get force the recognition on Turkey and not beg for it.

  5. Diran said:

    Today, the Armenian diaspora’s political authority is creating a new foundation. It is disregarding Turkish society’s pluralistic nature and trying to homogenize it by pushing it behind the state.

    We should not forget that this is how former unionists (İttihatçılar) viewed the Armenians, and it was due to this kind of view that genocide occurred. It is disgraceful that Armenians are sticking to a mentality that led to their own destruction.

    Etyen Mahcupyan, from “The Armenian genocide and disgrace”, Today’s Zaman, March 19, 2010

    • 26th said:

      Look, he’s sold his soul but nonetheless there is some truth in what Mahcupyan is saying. With this quote you’re trying to make him out to be an apostate and show how unclean all his words are but you’ve elided how little he has actually rhetorically deviated from the cause of recognition.

      Yes, of course people like Mahcupyan and Esayan are first-rate collaborators. But you’re getting played if you learn nothing from the circumstances of their collaboration and cannot see any opportunities to play them back. This article does not offer any serious analysis of what could motivate people like Mahcupyan, Esayan, and of course Dink, who for some reason is beyond scrutiny because of his bravery and nobleness and because seriously looking at his views is would somehow be seen as besmirching his martyrdom.

      First-rule of seeking justice is to know your enemy. The diaspora has proven unforgivably neglectful of this.

      • Diran said:

        There may be a great deal of truth in what M has said, but apparently that depends on the day of the week and his audience and, as you, say Saying that he has “sold his soul” is much worse than calling him an “apostate”. Why should he deviate “a little” from the cause of recognition? How does he judge when it’s right to make that little exception? The statement that “Armenians are sticking to a mentality that led to their own destruction” is totally repugnant and shows incredible arrogance. No “diasporan political authority or foundation” is behind my outrage at the century of denialism pumped out by the Turkish state, nor do I think it explains the unanimous demand for justice and truth that Armenians across the world feel. The idea that this conviction is somehow manufactured is a shot in the arm to people like the present foreign minister of Turkey, Mr. Cavutoglu, who has just announced that it is totally impossible that Turkey will ever recognize the Genocide. I wonder how Etyen Mahcupyan feels now and whether he might have second thoughts about having placed his intellectual prowess at the service of a state which is ready to bury, once and for all, the reality of what Turkey did to the Armenian people and the costs they are still paying.

  6. Diran said:

    Correction of the first two lines of my previous post: There may be a great deal of truth in what M has said, but apparently that depends on the day of the week and his audience. Saying that he has “sold his soul” is much worse than calling him an “apostate”.

  7. Artziv said:

    Why don’t you get your heads out of the sand. It should be very clear to all of you who runs Turkey’s military and who was behind the genocide. Unless the Turks free themselves from the military there will be no resolution to our issues. As far as Erodogan’s offensive statements, I’d tout it him knowing the crowd he’s playing to very well. But that crowd is also what’s going to break the deep state, and the cryto Turks that run the military.

    • Adnan Bey Efendi said:

      Ardziv, the Secular military has completely lost control of Turkey’s politics and it has been neutered by the AKP party, back in the days when the Gulen Movement were buddies. Now the AKP has more power over the army, judiciary, and media, kind of like Vladimir Putin’s Russia. You should stay updated with the news bro.

  8. Azat said:

    “In this picture, Turkey is standing in the most fragile place and it is avoiding facing its past by employing a strategy of denial that it has turned into a state policy. The state, which asserts that history should not be held captive by politics, has turned not only the Armenian issue but even its own establishment’s history into a state matter. With this stance Turkey is not just denying the genocide but it is essentially denying history, the past and the things that happened.”

    “The Armenian genocide and disgrace”, Today’s Zaman, March 19, 2010

    • Diran said:

      Mahcupyan is very careful to put exactly the same number of eggs in two different baskets so that it is often difficult to know what he means. But “Armenians are sticking to a mentality that led to their own destruction” is completely clear and inexcusable, offering the false parity between perpetrator and victim. This could have come straight from the mouth of any Ittihad leader. “Armenians”? Which Armenians? All, some, a few? No, this is simply racial stereotyping. Is it to be accepted in this case only because the speaker is one of a handful of Armenian intellectuals left in Turkey?

  9. Edward Demian said:

    Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh might learn a valuable diplomatic lesson frm Mahchupians appointment. How many Muslims in our parliaments?

  10. Hay Ouzh said:

    New Turkish trick, when you cannot deny the Genocide with Turkish (thuggish) mouth, you could deny it in “Armenian” mouth. A sold out, turkified mouth of a person who could spit on the blood and memory of millions of Armenian Genocide martyrs…. Many traitors were in the past, here’s one more..

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