* Sait Çetin
Turkish and Armenian intellectuals will meet in Ankara on April 24 and 25 to discuss the events of 1915 and attempt to improve dialogue between the two nations in an event organized by the Ankara Freedom of Thought Initiative.
“We believe the problem between the two nations will be solved only by dialogue,” Sait Çetin, a writer, human-rights activists and one of the organizers of the forum, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
“Matters that concern us in the first degree are being discussed in the capitals of the world because we cannot manage to talk [about them] ourselves. The sincerity of the West is arguable, and Turkey has an attitude of denial,” Çetin added.
Participants in the forum will talk about the events leading up to the 1915 killings, as well as their political implications. Topics of discussion are set to include “The Armenian issue from a historical perspective,” “From [the Committee of] Union and Progress to Kemalism - official ideological denial and termination of the issue,” “The Turkification of the capital” and “The Armenian issue: How to handle it?”
Writer Temel Demirer underscored the importance of such dialogue in order to ensure a more peaceful future, saying that the official ideology in Turkey has tried to cover history up. “We, as Turkish intellectuals, want to face the truth,” he told the Daily News in an interview.
* Bedros Şirinoğlu
Angered by a Turkish-Armenian representative's failure to emphasize the group's suffering in 1915 during a recent meeting with the prime minister, community members have demanded “civilian” leadership within the community through an online petition.
The intra-communal split stems from a March 26 meeting in Ankara between Bedros Şirinoğlu, president of the Yedikule Surp Prkich Armenian Hospital Foundation, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
During their conversation, Şirinoğlu, who is also a prominent businessman, described the events of 1915 as “a fight between two brothers,” and said Armenians in Turkey have no problems whatsoever.
Furious at the remarks, some members of the Armenian community have started an online petition campaign at bizbaskabirturkiyedeyasiyoruz.blogspot.com, a domain name that means “We are living in another Turkey.” The petition had been signed by 378 individuals as the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review went to press Thursday.
Speaking to the Daily News, Şirinoğlu said he was deeply sorry about the issue. “I do not deny what was experienced, but calling it ‘genocide' does no good to anyone,” he said.
Rakel Dink, the widow of assassinated Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, and other Dink family members are among those who have signed the online petition. Signatories see the petition as a first step on the path toward “civilianizing” the community.
Pakrad Öztukyan, editor at the weekly Agos, where Dink once worked, is among the signatories. “This is the reaction of the Armenian people, a denominational stance and a first step on the path toward civilianization,” he told the Daily News.
* Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey said on Friday that it was returning its ambassador to Washington, a month after he was recalled to protest a U.S. congressional committee labeling as genocide the World War One massacres of Armenians in Turkey.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan also confirmed that he would attend an international nuclear summit hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington on April 12-13, the Reuters reports.
The U.S. House of Representatives committee had approved a non-binding resolution on March 4 calling on President Obama to refer to the killings of as many as 1.5 million Armenian Christians as genocide, prompting Turkey to immediately withdraw its envoy.
* Karen Beckaryan
The probability of ratification of the Armenian-Turkish protocols has reduced, but has not reached zero, President of the European Integration NGO Karen Beckaryan told a press conference today. His predictions about the ratification of the protocols in February-March did not come true.
What can change in the possible establishment of Armenian-Turkish relations in 10 days? Some analysts consider that Sargsyan-Obama-Erdogan meeting in Washington could revitalize the process. Those, who are less optimistic, say it's useless to continue the process, since Turkey obviously shows that it does not intend to ratify the protocols.
Erdogan's statement about expelling the Armenian from Turkey created a negative atmosphere in the process. According to Karen Beckaryan, it was a racist call, and in response to that the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had to urge its citizens to refrain from visiting Turkey.
Karen Beckaryanis is not sure an updated Madrid document exists. Not ruling out the possibility of resumption of war, he attached importance to the involvement of Karabakh in the talks.
* Kiro Manoyan
The Presidents of Armenia and the United States and Turkey's Prime Minister are likely to meet in Washington in April, Head of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau's Hay Dat and Political Affairs Office Kiro Manoyan told a press conference today.
“This is just an opinion, but this was the purpose Obama's belated invitation pursued,” he said.
“Erdogan knows that his refusal to take part in the impending Nuclear Security Summit will bring more pressure on Turkey. Thus, he will go to the US to try to prevent recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Mr. Obama,” he said.
“The U.S. is interested in normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. With ratification of protocols, it will relieve the burden of Woodrow Wilson's Arbitral Award.”
As to Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement, Kiro Manoyan said no progress is expected. “War is possible in two cases: if Azerbaijan is confident of its victory and if Turkey sacrifices Azerbaijan's interests for reconciliation with Armenia. Therefore, the ratification of protocols can raise the possibility of a new war in Karabakh,” he said.
* Hrayr Karapetyan
“The danger of resumption of military actions will always exist unless a final peace treaty is signed,” Chairman of the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Defense, National Security and Internal Affairs Hrayr Karapetyan told a press conference today.
Hrayr Karapetyan said, however, that it's unacceptable for non-authorized people like historians or political scientists to declare to what extent a new war is likely from political and military points of view, since they are completely unaware of the process.
“Should a war with Azerbaijan break out today, the Armenian side will surely win it, and this time the fruits of the victory will be more significant — Armenia will stop being a landlocked country, and Azerbaijan will lose its sovereignty,” Hrayr Karapetyan stated.
Public Radio of Armenia