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Armenians on the offensive

Turkish Daily News reports that Armenians in Germany and the US are on the offensive for recognition of the “so-called” Armenian genocide while Turkey’s efforts to respond seems trivial. Full article is as below.

Armenians all over the world are on the offensive against Turkey in a bid to make the so-called Armenian genocide recognized globally. While Armenians in the state of Maryland in the United States have been pressing hard in the state Senate for recognition of the genocide allegations, Armenians in Germany are working hard to create public opinion conducive for the recognition of claims. It is noted that recently there is real activism in Turkey for serious efforts to refute Armenian allegations of genocide, but they seem trivial vis-a-vis Armenian endeavors.

The chairman of the Armenian Research Foundation, Ambassador Omer Luten, speaking at a conference in Dortmund, Germany, stated that there was a concerted effort in Germany by Armenians to influence Parliament to decide in favor of them, the Anatolia news agency reported. Luten stressed that Armenians were provoked by Russia during World War I in its campaign to invade Eastern Turkey.

Retired ambassador and historian Bilal Simsir, known for his studies on the Armenian dispute, said Turkey made a mistake by believing that the Armenian issue was solved once and for all in the Lausanne Treaty. Speaking at Atilim University in Ankara yesterday, Simsir said the real element of the Armenian issue was the European and American desire to put Ottoman Armenians under their protection during the late 19th and early 20th century. He indicated that the Berlin Treaty in 1878 committed itself to carving out an independent Armenian state in the eastern part of the Ottoman Empire. Running out of patience, the Armenians started their armed terrorist activities in 1890 and staged an abortive assassination attempt on Ottoman Emperor Abdulhamid II, said Simsir. He remarked that many studies on the Armenian issue dated the beginning of the problem as 1915 with the deportation but forgot to mention Armenian gangs’ terrorist activities starting in the 1890s. Simsir said the British wanted to try the Turkish government in 1921, and added that Brits gave up their efforts simply because they could not find credible evidence of genocide.

Maryland in the recognition row

The State of Maryland is discussing whether to accept the “so-called” Armenian genocide. Lawmakers in Maryland are being asked to take sides in a dispute over events that happened 80 years ago on the other side of the world.

A resolution approved on a 34 to 10 roll call Monday night in the state Senate would establish April 24 as “Maryland Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and thereafter.”

The proposal now goes to the House of Delegates, where the House Ways and Means Committee was waiting to see what the Senate did before considering the resolution. The resolution refers to the death of as many as 1.5 million Armenians during World War I when Armenia was ruled by the Ottoman Empire, which became the modern state of Turkey.

It has stirred passions on both sides of a longstanding international debate. Maryland senators and delegates have been flooded with e-mails and letters discussing the resolution. Turkish Ambassador to the United States Baki Ilkin traveled to Annapolis earlier this session urging lawmakers to defeat the resolution.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell also weighed in, warning that passage of the resolution might “undermine the very progress toward improved Turkish-Armenian relations that we all want to see.”

For many Maryland senators and delegates, the issue is not so much what happened in Eastern Anatolia in 1915 and several years thereafter but whether the state legislature should be involved in international affairs. “It’s not unusual,” Delegate John Hurson, the Democrat house majority leader, said Monday. “We’ve done it with the Irish famine. We’ve done it with apartheid in South Africa.” Hurson said he is inclined to vote for the resolution if it reaches the house for debate.

Another delegate, Dan Morhaim, solicited Powell’s opinion after wondering if this was an issue the legislature should address. He will not make up his mind until the resolution reaches the house and he hears the arguments on both sides.

But because of Powell’s letter, “I’m increasingly leaning toward not voting,” he said. That would be the same as a “no” vote. Powell wrote in a March 9 letter that he shares the views of previous administrations that opposed similar federal resolutions.

“The international community has a responsibility to recognize this history and ensure that it not be repeated,” Powell wrote. “Despite the best intentions, legislation is not the best way to do this.” Hurson scoffed at the notion that a resolution passed by the Maryland Legislature would interfere with diplomatic efforts to improve relations between Turkey and Armenia. “If the Maryland Legislature can create an international incident, I’m Tom Thumb,” he said.

The Maryland resolution is part of a worldwide effort by Armenians to gather support for their claim that 1.5 million Armenians were killed or died in forced marches by the Ottoman Empire during its war with Russia. Armenians claim it was ethnic cleansing that amounts to an international crime. Turkey puts the death toll at no more than 500,000 and says the deaths were the unfortunate but unavoidable result of war.

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