The groups that call the 1915 events in Turkey “genocide” filled Istanbul Taksim Square on April 24, along with Armenians who came from abroad to remember millions of Armenians who lost their lives and suffered untold agony on this land. Only five or six years ago, it was unthinkable that such an observance could be held in Turkey. These developments encourage optimism, but even as democratic and forward-looking Turkish faces were displayed in Istanbul, we also noticed that the Turkish Foreign Ministry was still repeating the clichés of the last 98 years that we all know so well, Al-Monitor writes.
The Foreign Ministry criticized the April 24 statement of US President Barack Obama with a tone bordering on condemnation: “We find this statement that ignores historic realities troubling in all its aspects, and regret it.” What led to this critical tone was Obama’s saying that the Armenians were mercilessly massacred and forced on a death march in the last days of the Ottoman Empire.
On one hand, Turkey has erased a yearslong taboo and is now debating 1915 freely as never before. In addition to the April 24 observances, people are openly expressing their views by referring to 1915 as “genocide” in print and visual media.
But on the other hand, looking at the official reactions of the Turkish government, you can’t find the slightest change. Why? Why is Turkey trying to keep the world from debating an issue that is freely discussed in Turkey itself? Why was Obama’s statement received with such a stiff reaction, even though there was no mention of genocide? Why is Turkey, while taking serious steps to solve major questions such as the Kurdish issue, still repeating its century-old clichés on the Armenian issue?
All these appear to be part of Turkey’s strategy for 2015. While Armenia and the Armenian diaspora promote 2015 as a milestone for global recognition of genocide, the Turkish state, mobilized by defensive instincts, continues denying everything, just as it has been doing all these years.
Keeping all this in mind and rereading Turkey’s reaction to Obama’s message, it could be understood that Turkey’s message was not for today, but rather forward looking. It appears that Turkey, by reacting strongly today, was trying to ensure that the US president will not mention genocide in 2015, accoridng to Al-Monitor.
Why is Turkey so worried by the use of this word? Because Ankara thinks that there could be legal ramifications of the US and European countries recognizing genocide.
“The Turkish government, fearing future sanctions, is continuing with the policy of denial, and this will not change before 2015. Whether Turkey will develop humane and rational policies once the fear of 2015 is past remains to be seen.”