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Viennese Armenian-Turkish Platform Press Release

I. Press Release
11.1.2005

Viennese Armenian-Turkish Platform – VAT

The Viennese Armenian-Turkish Platform (VAT; see more detailed information on the Platform below) deeply regrets to announce that she will not carry through her starting initiative "The First Viennese Armenian-Turkish Round Table" (FVATR Vienna 2005) originally planned for spring 2005. The reason is that the Armenian partner has not provided us with the necessary confirmation as agreed in August 2004.

In case of any response from the Armenian side
in the near future, VAT
hopes to realise the Round Table at a later
time. On the other hand, the
Turkish partner accepted already to participate
in the dialogue, in which
each part was supposed to present 180 documents
on the year 1915 showing
their understanding of this delicate matter.

In July 2004, the first 100 documents each from
the Armenian and Turkish
side were exchanged to get the dialogue started.
This exchange on neutral
ground was the closest contact of Turkish and
Armenian scientists in the
past 90 years. Although VAT deeply regrets the
dialogue not taking place
as planned, VAT will continue to serve as a
platform for researchers from
all involved parties, in order to face mutual
and common history.

As VAT we expect from the international
community – especially from
Armenia and Turkey- to seriously and
systematically get involved with the
Armenian Question concerning all of us.
Primarily the researchers should
get involved with the Armenian Question and both
sides should enjoy the
same rights in the dialogue. The concept of VAT
can be taken as an example
for the mutual dialogue in that sense.


Viennese Armenian-Turkish Platform – VAT

VAT was founded by four Austrian historians as a
neutral platform serving
as an intermediary as well as a platform for
Turkish and Armenian
researchers scientifically investigating the
Armenian-Turkish Question.
One of the founders is of Turkish origin,
another of Armenian origin.

Founding members:

Univ. Prof. Dr. Wolfditer BIHL
Dr. Artem OHANDJANIAN
Kerstin TOMENENDAL, M.A.
Dr. Inanç ATILGAN

VAT is a private scientific initiative. Its
distinctiveness lies in its
difference from the dialogue processes which
have tried to "solve"
the
Question within the past 90 years. Thus, VAT
offers both sides a platform
on neutral ground on equal terms. Also, both
sides have the right to
discuss whether the incidents of the year 1915
may be called a genocide
or
not.

VAT has no political agenda. Its sole purpose is
to offer a strictly
scientifical platform aiming at publishing the
scientific results of the
dialogue process.

The first Dialogue Iniative of VAT (2004-2005)

Following the above mentioned principles, "The
First Viennese Armenian
Turkish Round Table" would have layed the corner
stone for the envisaged
dialogue process dealing with the incidents of
1915.

History of the first initiative of VAT:

  • The basis for entering the dialogue
    process was that each party
    would accept the rules of VAT and nominate two
    academicians from renowned
    scientific. Thus, VAT contacted the Turkish
    Historical Society (TTK) and
    the Armenian Academy of Sciences (AAS). These
    two institutions nominated
    as their representatives:

  • Prof. Dr. Yusuf Halaçoglu (President of
    the Turkish Historical
    Society)

  • Prof. Dr. Hikmet Özdemir (President of
    the Department of Armenian
    Studies)

  • Prof. Dr. Lavrenti Barseghian (Director
    of the Museum of Genocide
    in Erivan)

  • Prof. Dr. Ashot Melkonian (Director of
    the Department of History
    in the Armenian Academy of Sciences).

  • Both sides officially informed VAT of
    their participation. The
    first official exchange of 100 historical
    documents from each side in
    various languages and from various archives took
    place in July 2004, the
    VAT acting as intermediary sending the Armenian
    documents to the Turkish
    partner and vice versa. VAT asked for additional
    80 documents from both
    sides. These 360 documents all together should
    have been the basis for
    the
    dialogue process.

  • Due to untimely reports in Turkish,
    Armenian and international
    media without consent of the VAT, Dr.
    Ohandjanian, one of the founders
    of
    VAT, withdrew from his position in August 2004.
    Referring to this new
    situation, VAT informed both sides and asked
    them to confirm their
    participation within the VAT. Thus, the Turkish
    partner officially
    confirmed his participation whilst the Armenians
    have not responded yet.

  • Through Dr. Ohandjanian VAT came to know
    that the Armenian part
    had had problems with reading the unpublished
    Ottoman documents which were
    presented from the Turkish side. VAT informed
    TTK about this problem. TTK
    offered a transcript of the Ottoman source in
    Latin letters so that the
    dialogue could be realized within the scheduled
    timetable. VAT informed
    AAS about this offer. An answer from AAS is
    still pending.

  • Due to the fact that the Armenian
    partner has not officially
    confirmed his participation although having been
    asked to respond by
    September 30 2004, and thus the second exchange
    of documents has not taken
    place yet, VAT considers itself not able to
    organize the "FVATR Vienna
    2005" as planned.

What was planned for the "FVATR":

  • VAT would have organized the meeting
    without public audience only
    discussing the exchanged documents. The
    chairperson of the meeting would
    have been Prof. Bihl. Dr. Inanç Atilgan who is
    of Turkish origin, would
    not have taken part in the discussion in order
    to not throw any doubt on
    the objectiveness of VAT. This precautionary
    measure had become necessary
    because of the withdrawal of Dr. Artem
    Ohandjanian who is of Armenian
    descent.

  • The meeting would have been taped, all
    results would have been
    published.

  • As a result of the meeting a "common
    handbook" would
    have been
    published giving both sides the opportunity of
    equally presenting their
    views on a very sensitive episode of history.

Prof. Dr. Wolfdieter Bihl
Kerstin Tomenendal, M.A.
Dr. Inanç Atilgan
Vienna 11.1.2005

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