SYDNEY, Australia–It was recently reported in Turkish mass media that Armenian-Australians had apologized to Turkey for acts of violence committed in the name of the Armenian people. These reports, based on an interview with Dr Armen Gakavian of Sydney have since been deemed incorrect in a clarification released by Gakavian himself.
As due diligence deman’s, ANC Australia has monitored both the original Turkish media reports and the subsequent clarification by Dr Gakavian to determine that the Turkish reports of an Armenian %u218counter-apology’ are false and that Turkish media has on this occasion deliberately misinformed, misrepresented and misreported in order to deliberately defuse, distort and deny the Armenian Genocide.
ANC Australia takes this opportunity to once again reaffirm that the Armenian-Australian community and Armenia’s throughout the world remain united in their struggle for universal recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Below is Gakavian’s clarification regarding his approach to the so-called “apology” campaign:
Dr Armen Gakavian, Sydney, Australia
February 3, 2009
I refer to media reports about an Armenian counter-apology allegedly being prepared in response to an online petition launched by Turkish intellectuals in December 2008 (see http://www.ozurdiliyoruz.com).
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the situation.
Together with some friends, I have drafted a response to the abovementioned Turkish apology with the intention of circulating it by email for input and advice. This statement is a human’stic response to the human’stic gesture by the Turkish intellectuals and signatories. The response is nothing more than a draft for circulation and discussion, and for possible later presentation as a counter-petition if there is enough interest. As such:
1. The response is currently a personal initiative of mine, with the input of some friends, and there is as yet no "group of Armenian intellectuals" behind the response, as incorrectly reported by Today’s Zaman.
2. There is as yet no decision about producing a counter-apology or about the nature of any potential counter-apology, due to concerns about "relative trivialisation" and the possibility of such a counter-apology being manipulated or misunderstood in the current environment.
On Saturday 31st January, the Turkish Daily Radikal found out about the draft response and I accepted their invitation for an interview. See the interview.
While I am grateful that my responses to the journalist’s questions were mostly produced word-for-word, the Editor’s Introduction gave its own spin to the article, by:
1. Including a large photo of Armenian revolutionaries and related caption;
2. Highlighting my personal apology for crimes committed by Armenia’s; and
In addition, there seemed to be some confusion between my personal apology and the draft response being prepared. However, the two were not connected, and I would like to make some points of clarification need to be made regarding the "apology" aspect of the interview:
1. I did offer a personal renunciation of, and apology for, crimes committed by Armenia’s against innocent Turks. To me, this apology reflects basic human morality. I stand by that apology, which stems from my ethical beliefs and rejection of all forms of violence against innocent civilians.
2. However, I CLEARLY stated in my interview that any crimes committed by Armenia’s "cannot compare to the attempted annihilation of an entire nation ; and one does not negate or trivialize the other."
3. For the record, let me state categorically that I distinguish between, on the one hand, legitimate and heroic acts of resistance and self-defense by Armenian revolutionaries from the 1890s through to the end of the Genocide, and, on the other hand, wanton acts of violence against civilians (recognized by international law as crimes against humanity). It is the latter for which I apologized.
4. The purpose of my apology was to illustrate my following point: "If I were the Turkish state, I would see an apology as an excellent way of restoring the dignity lost through decades of denial."
5. My personal apology had no relation to the draft response to the Turkish apology that is currently being circulated for discussion.
6. I did not apologize on behalf of anyone except myself, nor would I ever consider doing so.