Lemmon Says Genocide Recognition not Necessary

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)– At the conference "The Armenian Genocide: Ambassador Henry Morgenthau and the American Response–1914-1923" the United States Ambassador to Armenia Michael Lemmon voiced an opinion that Armenia’s and Turks should aspire for reconciliation.

"Turkey’s democratic evolution will not be complete until Turkey’s scholars–politicians–and even ordinary citizens understand and accept as illegitimate the events that turned the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire–home of the so-called "Loyal Millet," into the ostensibly mono-ethnic state we see today. But such understanding is difficult and simply not possible without dialogue in good faith among scholars of good faith," Lemmon said.

Lemmon discussed the work of Ambassador Morgenthau in Istanbul at the time of the genocide. "Ambassador Morgenthau had the particular responsibility of interpreting those reports and events in light not only of U.S. interests–which would include trying to maintain normal relations with Turkey–but also of U.S. principles," he said. The conference was attended by Henry Morgenthau’s descendants who earlier were received by president Robert Kocharian.

Lemmon said that he does not beleive that the Armenian genocide must be officially recognized and Turkey condemned.

"Here is where I would differ with the many who put so much time and effort into the adoption of statemen’s by politicians and parliamen’s. The process that I have described will not–it seems to me–be best advanced by the issuance of public declarations and the attempt to try contemporary Turks before the court of public opinion for the actions of their forefathers. Reconciliation cannot come about if one of the parties does not recognize that there is anything to feel responsibility–much less remorse–for and the other insists a priori on condemnation. What is needed is a dialogue of civilizations–of peoples…"–the ambassador said.

He also drew a parallel between the events of 1915 and the developmen’s in Kosovo.

"Today we have American diplomats in not dissimilar circumstances in the Balkans trying to measure up to the standard that Ambassador Morgenthau set for us all those years ago," Lemmon noted. He also added that although unlike the 1915 events–the current developmen’s in Kosovo are not a secret for the contemporaries–the international community is still continuing to search for ways of preventing such tragedies. "Kosovo may become a next step in the evolution of a new European or even international order," the ambassador noted.

Armenian President Robert Kocharian met with the grandchildren of Ambassador Morgenthau who were in Yerevan for the occasion as part of an American delegation. .

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