By Bernhard Bouwman
From NRC Handelsblad (Dutch newspaper)
ROTTERDAM–A diplomatic row has developed between Sweden and Turkey over a brochure in which reference is made to the genocide on Armenia’s during the last phase of the Ottoman Empire.
The brochure–that was published under the aegis of the Swedish Institute–was distributed on a market last week in Izmir. Turkey denies that the genocide on Armenia’s (which according to historians claimed more than a million human lives) took place and calls all publications on it false and malicious.
The Swedish ambassador has already been summoned by the ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara. There it was said that a certain "mistake" had been made in the brochure.
Earlier another Swedish diplomat got a similar message.
Sweden underlines that the brochure does not contain the viewpoint of Stockholm but merely reflects that of the author(s).
But according to a spokesperson of the ministry of Foreign Affairs such publications about the Armenian case are not exactly beneficial to the relationship between both countries.
Sweden is not the first country to reject Turkey’s opinion on the Armenian case. Earlier many Turks were infuriated by France–because the French parliament had underlined in a motion that a genocide had indeed occurred.
On the streets as well this led to such rage that the authorities proceeded to–for instance–guard the French consulate in Istanbul.
Several argumen’s are the cause for a row over the Armenian case.
According to many historians more than a million people died during the slaughter–but Ankara claims a much lower number.
Turkey also finds that many historians don’t pause enough for the atrocities committed by Armenia’s who were fighting for an autonomous Armenian state and therefore wanted to ethnically cleanse North-Eastern Turkey of Turks.
The most important issue–however–is the question of who gave orders for the wholesale massacres.
According to historians the decision to eradicate Armenia’s was made at the highest level in the Ottoman’state–but Ankara dismisses that as a patent historical error.
Despite all the historical discussions there are however some notable signs of thaw in the relationships between Armenia and Turkey–which are heavily loaded with the genocide issue among others.
As such an anthology of Armenian literature was recently published in Turkey. Ankara also mitigated the required visa for Armenian citizens–so that they can now enter Turkey more easily.