Focusing on the future

Tomorrow, the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs will vote on resolution 106, the resolution that asks the US president to take into account the ‘Armenian genocide’ in US foreign policy. The papers here in Turkey are full of it. Politicians suggest countermeasures to be taken against the US if the resolution is adopted. Turkey might for example cut logistic support for US troops in Iraq.
What you don’t read about in the newspapers is the opinion of Armenians in Turkey. How do they look at all these developments? These days I’ve been thinking about a talk I had some time ago with some young Armenian men and women in Istanbul. They were not pleased with the attempts of Armenians in, for example, France and the US to have the events at the beginning of the last century acknowledged as ‘genocide’. Some of them even said that Armenians in the diaspora are not even real Armenians. Armenians are people who live on the ground they originated from, in present-day Armenia or in present-day Turkey. Armenians, they say, have lived with Turks and other people on this soil for centuries. And even though the position of Armenians in Turkey has not been easy over the past century, things are very slowly changing for the better. Armenians are not, like before, trying to hide their background, but feel more proud of their identity. Turkish society is also open to that, as was shown at the beginning of this year in demonstrations after the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, when big crowds of Turks shouted ‘We are all Armenians’ on the streets. This living together in unity with respect for each other’s background is a process focused on the future, and that is what young Armenians want. Yes, they want more openness about what happened about a hundred years ago, but that’s different to making political games over it.

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