Mahçup, Amot, Embarassment

Garen Yegparian
Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian


Etyen Mahçupyan’s “Compensation and territory” published May 12, 2015 in the Turkish Daily Sabah is a mass of drivel that constitutes an affront to human decency and intellect. Please, feel free to read it in its entirety. I will just address the most flagrant fallacies.

You might remember that Mahçupyan is an academic who worked at the Armenian newspaper “Agos”, then moved to Gulenist circles, and finally ended up in AKP’s (Erdoghan’s party) orbit, even serving briefly as an advisor to Prime Minister Davutoglu before his conscience finally got in the way and he dared say “Genocide”. Interestingly, his surname describes well the spirit underlying this horrible op-ed piece. While the root word, starting in Arabic means “veiled”, as I have come to understand the word based on conversation and Turkish dictionaries, in practice it means: mousy, diffident, ashamed, embarrassed, timid… you get the idea.

Hopefully, Etyen will see this piece and change his tune some.

“… a deeper perspective might suggest that a deliberate ambiguity is created and the complex psychology of the Armenians lies behind it.”

This strikes me as psychobabble deliberately used to distract the reader from the real and relatively simple principles undegirding any solution to the Armenian Question.

“…it is difficult to believe that the demand for territory has any hope of being realized.”

The flaw in the last sentence is painfully obvious, yet many people make this or similar arguments, all the time.

1- If we don’t pursue a goal we are CERTAIN not to achieve it;

2- No one would have believed, in 1980, the Soviet Union would collapse just a decade, so arguing that territorial/frontier changes have no hope of being realized is vacuous.

“… territory does not change hands on the basis of consent in the world of nation states.”

Really? How then are we to describe the land swap that occurred between Iran and Turkey in 1930’s thanks to which pan-Turkist ideals were served by giving Trueky a direct border with Nakhichevan?

“… as two member countries of the U.N., Turkey and Armenia must respect each other’s territorial integrity.”

Fair enough, but the current border/frontier is ILLEGAL, Mahçupyan should know this well. The LEGAL border/frontier is the one established by President Woodrow Wilson’s Arbitral Award. Even a cursory review of Ara Papian’s massive studies in this field makes it evident.

On the other hand, such a demand has a weak historical basis in that the lands inhabited by Armenians in the past did not belong to them (with the exception of those that constituted individual properties), but to the Ottoman Empire.

Really? Why is the Ottoman Empire the starting point? Why not the Cilician, Pakradouni, Arshagouni, or any other ARMENIAN kingdom or principality? What about the human right of self determination? What about the foundational concept legitimizing nation-states?

“… until the Ottoman Empire collapsed, no soil was regarded as the territory of any ethnic group… Later, “Turks” took possession of those lands… we have to acknowledge that Turkish nationalism’s assertion to be the continuation of the empire is stronger than that of the Armenians, as far as the transitivity between Ottomanism and Turkism is concerned.

I’m happy to see that Mahçupyan at least affirms the CONTINUITY of the two Turkish states—Ottoman and Republican. But once again taking the Ottoman Empire as the definitive starting point constitutes a flawed approach. he should thus at least be able to understand why Ankara is TODAY accountable to the Armenian nation for past misdeeds. Also, it is not any portion of “Anatolia” that is in question, but the Armenian Plateau (or Highlands). This linguistic legerdemain helps confuse the uninformed. Asia Minor, which today’s Turkey occupies much of, is NOT synonymous with Anatolia. Rather, Anatolia and the Armenian Plateau are PARTS OF Asia Minor.

The issue of compensation … we deliberately want to leave it ambiguous as well. Being content with the revival of Armenian heritage in Anatolia as compensation does not seem satisfactory enough or significant enough for the Armenian diaspora in that it is not very clear to what extent Anatolia is their homeland… it would be rather unethical to demand money in return for what was experienced. Who can measure those sorrows and estimate a price for them? Thus, the world of “compensation” is being kept on the agenda. However, it will always remain futile.

Wow, more fatuous Mahçupyanisms! What does “revival of Armenian heritage in Anatolia” mean? The goal is to return their as a nation/people and have all stolen property returned to us. And why is compensation for the property (real and movable) unethical? It is simple:

1- Real estate gets returned to descendants of the original owners

2- Money similarly gets returned to descendants of the original owners

3-The value of expropriated goods, too, gets returned to descendants of the original owners, unless the original goods themselves can be returned.

4- When descendants do not exist, or at least cannot be found, the above three are placed in a trust of some sor,t administered by the Armenian nation (exactly how remains to be determined since it must NOT be a exclusively governmental entity).

From the Armenians’ perspective, the triplet of recognition, compensation and territory constitutes a holy integration.


Recognition is the most important one and the necessary first steps, without which, the next steps are impossible.

TOTALLY FALSE- each one stands on its own set of legal legs

“… from Turkey’s point of view, recognition is not possible before demands for compensation and territory become “realistic,” … no progress has been made on this topic for many years, and this deadlock might continue for centuries…

What a great way to excuse Turkish unwillingness to do the right thing.

Please, anyone who knows this Etyen Mahçupyan guy, please tell him to just be quiet and stop embarasing himself, offending Armenians, and making progress on the Armenian Question more difficult.


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  1. GB said:

    Turkey is fully aware of the location of Armenian Highland, birthplace of modern European civilization!

  2. Arto said:

    Well Garabed, he’s right about one thing. Regarding your four points, no one, including the Armenian Government has yet to put this on the table for the Turks. No one does the right thing willingly.

  3. Vicken Khachadourian said:


    I don’t know Etyen, but I I would not call him “this Etyen Mahcupyan guy”. It’s easy for you to be a better Armenian in sunny Glendale, according to Tashnak party standards, and look down on other Armenians and criticize them for not being as good as you. Etyen called the Genocide by its name, and lost his job. He certainly risked his life, and the lives of his relatives.

    Let me see you go to Turkey, make it as the adviser of the Prime Minister, risk your life like him by calling the Armenian Genocide by its name, and then you’ll earn the right to write this column.

    I find myself agreeing with many of your columns, but this habit of us comparing ourselves with each other to see who’s the better Armenian, and flunking people like Etyen without paying attention to the environment and circumstances they are in has to stop. I would like you to use your column to make that happen.

    They found many ways to criticize Kim Kardashian too, but when she made it to Armenia with her African American husband, I heard them yell at her, “You’re the best Armenian”. Your criticism and insulting phrase towards Etyen is out of line, because it does not take into effect the hatred and insults and threats he puts up with every day in Turkey.

    • Raffi said:

      It’s not fair to attack Garen, Mahçupyan was able to keep it simple by not takng the position and avoiding problems, he is not an idiot, he well knows why Erdogan gave him the position.

  4. ChrissyEk said:

    Actually dear Garen, if you remove the nonsense about Anatolian history starting from Ottoman times, Etyen Mahcupyan makes much more sense than you do. At least the man lives in the same country that the issue is directly relevant to. If any rights will be given to Armenians in their ancestral land, he will enjoy it much more than you. Enjoy the U.S., but remember Istanbul is closer to Van & Erzurum than Los Angeles.