ISTANBUL, Turkey (A.W.)—Armenian Weekly editor Khatchig Mouradian’s “Dispatches from Turkey,” a series of five blog posts he wrote during his trips to Istanbul, Ankara, Kars, and Ani in March, have received a significant amount of attention not only in Armenia and the diaspora but also in Turkey.
Mouradian, who was part of a nine-member delegation of U.S. commentators and analysts visiting Turkey at the invitation of TEPAV (Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey), wrote about his conversation with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, the reactions to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement about deporting Armenians from Turkey, and several related issues in his dispatches, which were cited in the mainstream Turkish papers Zaman, Milliyet, and Hurriyet, among others.
In an article in Today’s Zaman titled “Harsh rhetoric heralds gloomy spring for normalization,” which appeared on March 21, an entire section discusses Mouradian’s “Dispatch #2.” This section is reprinted here.
Spirit, hearts and politics
And yet, damage has been done here and there, and the government should make clear whether it wants to make peace with only with citizens of Armenia or the entire Armenian nation, despite the Armenian Diaspora’s actions, which are hampering the normalization process—without forgetting its own Armenian citizens, who are not guests, but people of this country.
Khatchig Mouradian is an Armenian writer who arrived in Turkey on Wednesday as part of a delegation of U.S. commentators and analysts visiting the country at the invitation of the Ankara-based Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV).
In an article posted on the Armenian Weekly website titled “Memleketine Hosgeldin” (Welcome to Your Country), Mouradian said the title was inspired by what a Turkish journalist told him when she learned of his arrival in Turkey.
Recalling Erdogan’s recent remarks, Mouradian argues, “Turkish diplomats and commentators do not view Armenians as a single monolithic block, but as three supposedly homogeneous blocks.”
Mouradian lists those groups: “The Armenians living in Turkey [mainly in Istanbul] comprise the first group. … In Turkey, these Armenians are regarded as ‘our Armenians,’ or the ‘good Armenians,’ as long as they do not speak out about the genocide and the continued discrimination they face. … The citizens of Armenia, the second group, are, according to the dominant rhetoric in Turkey, the ‘neighbors’ (the ‘poor Armenians’), who are under difficult economic conditions and do not mind forgetting the past and moving on, if the Armenian diaspora leaves them alone. The diaspora Armenians, the third group, are the ‘bad Armenians’.”
Mouradian’s arguments are controversial, but this doesn’t change the fact that many hearts have been broken.
On March 29, Milliyet published an article titled “Cankaya’da neler konusuldu?” by Asli Aydintasbas, where the author devotes a section to Mouradian’s conversation with Gul about the Armenian Genocide following the official meeting.
A shorter version (in English) of the same article appeared in Hurriyet Daily News under the title “What was really talked about in Cankaya”? The article begins:
At a meeting with former U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Morton Abromowitz and the Forbes magazine’s Claudia Rosett, whose statements were denied over the weekend by the Presidential Office in Cankaya, and with numerous American commentators, President Abdullah Gul talked about the pain and sorrow felt during the 1915 Armenian events and of Turks living in the Balkans. As leaving, he said “I salute your elderly in the family,” to the Armenian decent journalist Khatchig Mouradian who told the story of his family left Turkey in 1915.
On March 19, in a column by Amberin Zaman in Taraf about Erdogan’s threat to deport Armenians, there was a reference to an earlier trip taken by Mouradian and Zaman to the Der Zor desert. Below is the English translation of the concluding paragraph of the column (the entire column will be published by the Weekly later this week):
I recommend to those who are interested in our history that they go to the Der Zor desert in Syria. You know, the desert to which the Committee of Progress and Union sent hundreds of thousands of Armenians, women, elderly, and children alike. There are other horrible truths that shine as bright as the sun there. There are mass graves that the Armenians claim to belong to their ancestors and bones breaking out of the soil. I saw those bones. I am not in a position to prove whom they belong to. That is not the main issue anyway. The main issue is what those bones mean to millions of Armenians. My Armenian friend Khatchig Mouradian, who was there with me, said that his biggest dream was to one day pray, mourn, with his Turkish friends, for his relatives who died in that desert. I can almost hear the whispers of those tormented souls wandering on Der Zor: “It is you who are distorting the past…”