KRIKORIAN–SANBERK PARTICIPATE IN TURKISH CONFERENCE– DISCUSS ARMENO-TURKISH ISSUES
WASHINGTON– "Turkey will never ever recognize the [Armenian] Genocide for the simple reason that it didn’t happen," explained Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) member Ozdem Sanberk during a discussion session at the 22nd annual Assembly of Turkish American Association (ATAA) convention held last week in Washington–DC. Also participating in the convention and the discussion group was TARC member and Armenian Assembly of America chairman Van Z. Krikorian.
The two members of the so-called commission participated at the ATAA convention to provide an overview of TARC–which was formed in July of this year–sending shock waves and eliciting protest in the Armenian American community–as well as–in Armenia and other communities around the world.
In his opening remarks to convention attendees–Sanberk–who is a career diplomat in Turkey with a long record of Genocide denial activities–sought to diminish the gravity of the Armenian experience during the Genocide perpetrated by Ottoman Turkey explaining that–"Armenian and Greek refugees from Anatolia to Greece–Lebanon and other corners of the collapsing empire kept the story of their suffering alive as a kind of culture. They did not want to forget these sufferings which they went through. Rather–they sought to forge an identity from these painful experiences. They became victims of their own pain. Meanwhile–Muslim subjects of the Ottoman [empire]–fleeing from Crete or Bulgaria–Macedonian–Albania or Greece to Anatolia wanted to leave their past behind and to build a new life."
In discussing the various aspects of activity undertaken by the commission–the two members seemed to agree that Turkey’s responsibility and accountability in the Armenian Genocide would not be an issue of discussion or a point of departure for "reconciliation." Krikorian maintained that political efforts of Genocide affirmation have no place within the context of the commission discussions. To an audience question on the how reconciliation is possible as long as "Armenia’s promote genocide and ethnic cleansing ideas around the world" and in the US–Krikorian said–"I understood the question to be referring to efforts at genocide reaffirmation–our efforts here in the United States–our efforts in Europe–efforts around the world. And I want to disassociate the two." To the same question–Sanberk added–"…we must get ourselves accustomed to talk a little more about reconciliation–affection–love–solidarity…these are words that must be in our agenda."
It is important to note that last month the European Union omitted the recognition of the Armenian Genocide in a report documenting progress in Turkey’s accession into the EU–citing TARC and their statemen’s as a motivator in this move.
Responding to a question on a planned Genocide museum in Washington–Sanberk explained–"As far as I am concerned–of course–this is not the way forward…We have always defended the thesis that this is not the way for us…but this is their decision and we will always have our own view–which we will always express."