THE GENOCIDE OF THE OTTOMAN ARMENIANS IS PART OF A COMMON HISTORY OF TURKS AND ARMENIANS–AND WE WILL NOT ACHIEVE THE CONFIDENCE AND RECONCILIATION OF OUR ARMENIAN NEIGHBORS UNLESS TURKISH SOCIETY AND THE TURKISH STATE OF TODAY ARE ABLE AND WILLING TO UNDERSTAND THE TREMENDOUS SUFFERINGS INFLICTED ON ARMENIANS–FIRST BY COMMITTING–AND SECONDLY BY DENYING THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE.
BRUSSELS (Armenpress)–Chairman of the Frankfurt-based Turkish-German Association–Union Against Genocide Ali Ertem–sent a protest letter on behalf of his organization to the President of the European Parliament Pat Cox in response to the European Parliament’s refusal to allow a photo exhibit of the Armenian Genocide–citing political sensitivity.
In cooperation with the Swedish Armenian National Association–photographer Jonas Sjstedt had arranged for an Armenian Genocide photo exhibit to be on display May 26 to 30 at European Parliament in Brussels.
The following are excerpts from his letter to EP President Cox in response to European Parliament Mediator Mary Banotti’s rejection letter to photographer Sjstedt:
"Mrs. Banotti’s fear that an exhibition on an 88 year old historic event of the final stage of Ottoman-Turkish history might arouse "serious political objections," is not understandable for us–since the European Parliament has from 1987 demanded–on various occasions–and as a pre-condition to Turkey’s access to the EU–that the Republic of Turkey acknowledge the genocide committed in 1915 and 1916 against the Armenian citizens of the then Ottoman Empire. Should not the European Parliament rather fear to loose its credibility after making such controversial decisions?
Mrs. Banotti obviously made her decision without familiarizing herself to the details of the exhibition proposed by Mr. Sjostedt. But we are [familiar].
We are residents of Germany of Turkish origin; some of us are also citizens of Turkey. It is our conviction that every nation should be in full possession of knowledge about its history–including state crimes. We do not agree with Turkey’s official point of view denying the genocidal character of the death-marches and massacres committed against the Ottoman Armenia’s–and we share the conviction expressed in EP resolutions and statemen’s of 2000 and 2001–that the affirmation of the Armenian genocide is an integral and important part of improved relations between Armenia and Turkey–and furthermore an important step in the democratization process of our homeland.
For these reasons–in March 2002 we sponsored an exhibition of the Center for Information and Documentation on Armenia (Berlin)–which was displayed in Cologne and Frankfurt. The reaction of many visitors of Turkish and Kurdish origin were positive–and we felt that our decision to display this exhibition as part of our educational efforts was correct. The genocide of the Ottoman Armenia’s is part of a common history of Turks and Armenia’s–and we will not achieve the confidence and reconciliation of our Armenian neighbors unless Turkish society and the Turkish state of today are able and willing to understand the tremendous sufferings inflicted on Armenia’s–first by committing–and secondly by denying the crime of genocide.
Of course–as members of Turkey’s largest Diaspora in Europe we hope to receive support–encouragement and understanding from the institutions of the EU. Until recently–Turkish citizens who publicly mentioned the genocide of the Ottoman Armenia’s were persecuted. You certainly will understand–sir–our profound disappointment when we learned about Mrs. Banotti’s decision. It comes not only as an offense to the worldwide Armenian community–but also as a blow to us Turks interested in actual reconciliation.
We still hope that this entirely unwise decision can be revised. Hence we appeal to you to utilize your authority to permit "our" exhibition on the premises of the EP.
If–by the way–Europe points to Turkey as a country which perpetrated the "Armenian genocide," three fingers of this hand point back to Europe. During and after WWI most of the leading European countries of today as well as at that time were involved–in one way or another–in the tragedy of the Armenia’s and bear responsibility for not having prevented or at least pursued this crime. Therefore this exhibition would find a very correct place on EP’s premises. The genocide of 1.5 million Ottoman Armenia’s is also part of European history.
We are looking forward to hear from you soon."