ISTANBUL (Armenian Weekly)—Archbishop Aram Atesyan, the General Vicar of the Armenian Patriarch in Turkey, sent a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slamming the German Parliament’s June 2 adoption of an Armenian Genocide resolution, saying that the Bundestag’s decision “about the events happened during the tragic times of World War I caused regret in our nation.”
“[I]t is unacceptable that a parliament, which was formed by the votes of German citizens and has the duty of establishing laws for the peace, prosperity, and security of their nation, expressed its opinion, though it has no right to do so. It is unacceptable that this parliament legalized its decision on behalf of the entire German nation and considers itself a judge,” Atesyan wrote in his letter, which made no reference to the Armenian Genocide as such.
In his letter, shared on the Armenian Patriarchate’s Facebook page, Atesyan criticizes the use of the “tragedy that traumatized the Armenian nation” in international politics and claimed that such resolutions cause “sorrow and pain.” “Unfortunately, this historical pain of the Armenian nation is considered as a tool for accusing and punishing Turkish state and nation. And because of this ugly mentality, sub- and supra-identities of Turkish Armenians are harmed. The ones who are willing to see the truth can realize how Armenian nation has been abused by imperialist powers,” reads a part of the letter, which concludes with prayers to God to bestow “health, success, and happiness” on Erdogan.
In response to Atesyan’s letter, the Turkish-Armenian Weekly Agos wrote a critical letter to the Archbishop, condemning his praise of Erdogan, despite the President’s gross violation of human rights, anti-Armenian and racist policies, and denial of the Armenian Genocide.
“You define the systematic and almost complete annihilation of a people by the decision of the state itself as ‘the events happened during the tragic times of World War I’; this is an affront to the ancestors, victims and the survivors in the eyes of the society to which you also belong,” reads a part of the letter, which goes on to claim that the Archbishop lacks a “dignified attitude” and that he does not represent the entire Armenian community.
The letter specifically criticizes the Archbishop’s claim that the Patriarchate “will continue to pray for the fellowship of Turkey and Armenia” as unjustifiable, considering Erdogan’s continued threats against Armenian citizens
The letter also criticizes Atesyan’s claim that “the role of German Reich is slid over by a few sentences” in the German Armenian Genocide resolution, stating that 80 percent of the resolution, which declares German Reich as an accomplice to the genocide, consists of Germany’s confrontation with its own history.
Below is Agos’s letter to Atesyan in its entirety:
Dear Mr. Archbishop,
We have read your letter about the Armenian Genocide resolution of Bundestag, which is addressed to the President and signed on behalf of “Turkish Armenians Society,” with sorrow, anger and shame. Please regard this letter as the voice of those members of that society who disagree with the content and style of your letter.
You define the systematic and almost complete annihilation of a people by the decision of the state itself as “the events happened during the tragic times of World War I;” this is an affront to the ancestors, victims and the survivors in the eyes of the society to which you also belong.
The society that you defined as “Christian-Armenian Turkish citizens who perform their obligations to the state perfectly, got over the delusion of seeing themselves different from the other citizens and know how to protect their rights when necessary” doesn’t have a homogeneous structure; rather, it consists of individuals who have their own independent feelings, opinions, and firm acknowledgment of truth. The thing is, Armenians are not the ones who see themselves different from other citizens. After 1915, whenever the political atmosphere gets intense, Armenians become subjected to discriminatory, fascist, and obviously threatening discourses and threats, especially in times of 1942 Wealth Tax and [the] Sept. 6-7 plunders. And on Jan. 19, 2007, they witnessed the assassination of Hrant Dink, one of the most precious figures who devoted himself to the peace between and in two peoples.
You said, “We, as the Patriarchate, will continue to pray for the fellowship of Turkey and Armenia”; how could you justify this statement of yours, given the fact that your addressee President Erdogan threatened the citizens of Armenia to send them back to Armenia two days ago? Doesn’t it trouble your conscience? Let us remind you those statements of the president, in case you have forgotten: “Currently, there are almost 100.000 Armenians in my country. Almost half of them are Turkish citizens. However, the other half are citizens of Armenia and we can send them back to Armenia, like Europe did.”
You said that you are aware of the fact that “some people are not happy with your stable attitude that you maintain by abiding the traditional way.” Honestly, we are having difficulty in understanding how forelock-tugging can be considered as an attitude.
The Armenian Genocide, as a crime against humanity, is a concern of the whole humanity. You said that you pray for the good of two peoples. The common future of those peoples would be possible only when an honorable reconciliation is achieved, because then, there won’t be this kind of oppression that caused you to deny even your own history.
Dear Mr. Archbishop,
Since you said that “the role of German Reich is slid over by a few sentences,” we see that you have failed to comprehend the content of the resolution. Almost 80% of this resolution, which declares German Reich as the accomplice to the genocide, consists of Germany’s confrontation with its own history.
Let us continue: you said, “using this tragedy that traumatized the Armenian nation in international politics causes sorrow and pain.” Indeed, the oppression that led you to write this letter causes sorrow and pain. Also, the sub- and supra-identities of the Armenian society in Turkey is not harmed by this resolution, but by your words. Above all, your words on “abuse of Armenian nation by imperialist powers” are recorded as an example to the denialist discourse; not by the ones who will take advantage of your usage of the official state discourse, but by your own people. In the near future, we will see who will appreciate your discourse with “enthusiastic applause.”
On this occasion, borrowing your style in your letter, we once again express our sorrow, uprising, and anger, and pray to God for you; may God bestow sense, intelligence, and comprehension on you.
We also pray to God for giving you a dignified attitude, which you obviously lack, since you said that “you pray to God for making the state dignitaries, who work for the good of people, succeed in their services” in a time when tens of people are being killed every day in a civil war.