Language and Genocide

I came across this Turkish newspaper article that talks about the possibility of normalizing Turkey’s relations with Armenia. Throughout the article, the author refers to “allegations of genocide” “made by the diaspora” as an obstacle to normalization. Of course, it would be impossible to ever write about “genocide” in a Turkish newspaper, so the use of the word “allegations” isn’t surprising. What’s more interesting is that the writer makes a point of distinguishing between the citizens of Armenia and the Armenian diaspora, and goes on to blame most of the problems on the diaspora. My first reaction was that this was just a way to justify normalizing relations without having to acknowledge the genocide; Turkey effectively saying that  the problem’s not Armenia, just those deluded and annoying members of the diaspora. However, there is some validity here.

I’m sure that genocide recognition is something all Armenians would like to see. However, insistance on symbolic recognition of something that happened almost a century ago, while incredibly important, is a luxury of Armenians living in the U.S. and Europe. Armenians in Armenia have more pressing needs resulting from living in a developing country. If better economic relations with Turkey help alleviate some day-to-day concerns, then that might be more important to Armenians than diplomatic acknowledgement of the genocide.

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Published in: on April 1, 2009 at 9:05 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. I had a few dealings with the government of Armenia in my previous career, and I’d say your assessment is right: the historical issue is a major priority for many Armenians in the diaspora, particularly in Europe and North America; those in Armenia, government and people, have more current concerns, and the history is lower on their list of priorities. Which is not to say the issue doesn’t matter at all. But normalization with Turkey would offer immediate and significant benefits, and those I met in Armenia seemed more interested in those.


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