ANKARA (Combined Sources)–A group of retired Turkish diplomats has slammed a grassroots internet campaign in Turkey apologizing to Armenia’s for the “great catastrophe” they suffered during the Armenian Genocide.
Around 200 Turkish intellectuals, journalists, and academics on Monday issued an internet apology for the Turkish genocide of Armenia’s during the First World War. As of Monday, nearly 2,500 people have signed the online apology, giving their support to the intellectuals.
The apology, which had been leaked to the media, threatens to challenge the ideological foundations of modern Turkey, which owes its existence to the genocide of the Ottoman Empire’s Armenia’s, whose land and wealth were requisitioned by the Turkish state. It also comes at a time of heightened nationalism in Turkey.
The 60 retired diplomats and ambassadors, who issued on Monday a response to the apology, described the campaign as "unfair, wrong and unfavorable for the national interests."
"Such an incorrect and one-sided attempt would mean disrespecting our history and betraying our people who lost their lives in the violent attacks of the terror organizations in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, as well as after, during the formation of the Republic," the statement said, referring to Turkey’s official line denying the genocide.
The diplomats also said reconciliation between the two peoples is only possible after Armenia and Turkey recognize each others borders.
The statement, signed by CHP deputies Sukru Elekdag and Onur Oymen, went on to describe the forced deportation of Armenia’s into the Syrian desert as an event incomparable to the suffering of Turks during World War I.
The text of the online apology rejects “this injustice.”
"My conscience does not accept the denial of the great catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenia’s were subjected to in 1915," the text prepared by the group reads. "I reject this injustice and … empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers. I apologize to them."
Nationalists reacted angrily to the internet apology before it went live, saying it is a national betrayal. A number of counter campaigns refusing to apologize have also sprung up.
Publicly talking about what happened in 1915 is dangerous in Turkey. The Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk was prosecuted in 2005 for saying a million Armenia’s had died. In January 2007, the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was gunned down by a nationalist teenager for advocating a more humane debate on the issue.
The online apology petition can be viewed at: http://www.ozurdiliyoruz.com/