BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
It’s April, the time of year when the Armenian mind turns, even in these COVID-19 pandemic times, ineluctably, inescapably, irrepressibly, irresistibly, unavoidably, etc. to the Genocide; to loss, incalculable, incomprehensible, inestimable, irretrievable, unfathomable, loss; but also to action, to hope for becoming whole again, justice, rebuilding, restoration, struggle, and of course, Turkey.
But aside from recognition of the Genocide and the return of our lands which are pretty straightforward to conceive and achieve, there are reparations. How do we figure out how much Turkey must cough up, to whom, and over what period of time? I want to address that last item with a concept introduced to me a little over a year ago that just won’t leave my head.
Permanent, perpetual reparations.
Ridiculous, you might think, maybe unfair even to a state as vile as Turkey, not to mention impractical. But is it, really?
Consider – how do we appraise, put an ariary, or birr, or cedi, or dinar, or dollar, or t/dram, or euro, or franc, or gourde, or hryvnia, or krone, or kuna, or leu, or manat, or nakfa, or shekel, or ngultrum, or ouguiya, or peso, or pound, or quetzal, or rial, or ruble, or rupee, or shilling, or tala, or vatu, or won, or yen, or yuan, or zloty, or any other once, current, or future currency value on the loss: lives terminated, culture destroyed, stories and lore forgotten, traditions erased, homes razed, orchards stolen, pain endured, psyches shattered, epigenetic effects inflicted across generations, monuments destroyed, livestock taken, bank accounts embezzled, ornaments-jewelry-heirlooms filched (much of it likely melted simply for bullion), medical knowledge erased, foods forgotten, history interrupted, and so much more.
Let’s not forget how all of the above meshed and created what Armenians and Armenia gave to the world. How that all, interacting with immediate neighbors and the world at large (at least through our noted merchant class), produced more, synergistic, unknown and perhaps unknowable, benefits to humanity.
I’m beginning to think there is no way to even come remotely close to EVER properly, thoroughly, equitably accounting for and repaying the losses caused by the murderous Young Turk regime, its predecessors, and its successors.
So what’s the opposite of “ever” in this case? FOREVER!
That’s how long the Turkish government and it’s successors MUST repay the Armenian nation for the losses borne by us because of the Genocide.
No doubt some, even Armenians, might argue that this is “unworkable” or “unrealistic” or “delusional” and… But at this moment, how we achieve this is not important. It’s not important to whom and through what channels and in what form this will come.
Rather, we must agree that permanent, perpetual reparations are what we seek from Ankara. Once we have that national, internal, Armenian consensus: then we can set out in pursuit of permanent, perpetual reparations; then we can figure out our negotiating positions with Turkey to attain permanent, perpetual reparations; then we can embark on the long and undoubtedly complex process of implementing permanent, perpetual reparations.
What do you think?