BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
So Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan issued a statement on the eve of April 24th. You’ve read it by now. It’s being described as “historic” and is. It is historically hollow. The ANCA statement described it as “denialism repackaged”; sums it up quite well as you’ll see from the paragraph by paragraph descriptions of the statement I give.
The onslaught of obfuscation has begun. We shall have seen a hundred years worth of this balderdash compressed into one, by the time April 24, 2015 rolls around.
But the headlines used by the media (see accompanying table) are more interesting. Most referred to “killings,” “massacre,” or “genocide” in their titles when reporting the news. None of these words appear in Erdogan’s statement. I got a chuckle out of this since it’s unavoidable. When reporting the “news” of a statement, the media have to give it some context. Thank you Erdogan effendi for providing us this publicity. This may be one of the few times when the Turkish media reported more accurately than the others, because they only mentioned “condolences” and “shared pain” in their titles—both terms that the Turkish PM used. One of the Turkish sources even had a Genocide era deportation picture showing to accompany the news. It seemed to take a while for the U.S. media to pick up on the story, though that might have been because of time differences. But the Boston Globe didn’t have anything about it even when I looked a second time (this is all as of April 23).
Also interesting is the choice of languages into which this statement was, unofficially, translated. Although it seems strange that something is labeled “unofficial” when it appears on the prime minister’s website. English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and Armenian appear. Isn’t it interesting that these are the languages used where we have the strongest presence, the most advocacy? No Eastern European, African, or East Asian languages were included. It’s obvious why this was done—as a sop to the people and governments of those countries where our voice has been heard the loudest. I am surprised Farsi and Italian weren’t included. It is very interesting that both Mesrobian and Soviet orthographies are used and billed respectively as “Western” and “Eastern” Armenian, and, counted as two separate languages by the Turks! I see that as another manifestation of their divide-and-conquer polices as relates to the three “types” of Armenians perceived by Turkish officials—good (those living in Turkey), bad (the Diaspora), and poor (those living in the Republic of Armenia).
Let’s move on to the blow by blow. You might want to have a copy of the statement handy to see what I refer to in my terse description of each paragraph.
Paragraph 1- repeats the theme of “it’s history” and, implicitly, too old to bother with
Paragraph 2- trivializes the Genocide by equating to other events; also, a sop to Arabs and Kurds
Paragraph 3- trivializes the Genocide by equating to other events
Paragraph 4- trivializes the Genocide by equating to other events
Paragraph 5- trivializes the Genocide by equating to other events
Paragraph 6- trivializes the Genocide by equating to other events
Paragraph 7- touts Turkey’s purported reforms
Paragraph 8- whines about people allegedly abusing Turkey’s purported reforms
Paragraph 9- repeats the theme of “it’s history” and, implicitly, too old to bother with
Paragraph 10- touts Turkey’s purported reforms
Paragraph 11- portrays Turkey as a victim
Paragraph 12- trivializes the Genocide by equating to other events
Paragraph 13- trivializes the Genocide by equating to other events
Paragraph 14- plays to “why can’t we all just get along” sensibilities
Paragraph 15- plays to “why can’t we all just get along” sensibilities
Paragraph 16- re-proposes “historical commission”; implies current scholars are chopped liver
Paragraph 17- touts the (pseudo-, post-cleansing-) “opening” of the Ottoman archives
Paragraph 18- platitudes
Paragraph 19- platitudes
Paragraph 20- trivializes the Genocide by equating to other events
You can see there’s nothing substantively new in Erdogan’s statement. The only novelty is in the fact that the Turkish Prime Minister has felt compelled to issue such a statement, proof that pressure works and the 100th anniversary Turkish propaganda has commenced.
We should studiously ignore this statement and keep up the pressure. Let’s plug away at our adversary. Eventually, real progress will begin on the government level as it has on the civil-society front in Turkey. I’m betting that’s going to take another generation.