Sunday, March 27, 2005
‘The Armenian nationalists have made their plan quite clear. First, the Turkish Republic is to state that there was an “Armenian Genocide” and to apologize for it. Second, the Turks will pay reparations. Third, an Armenian state is to be created,’ says McCarthy
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
Armenian nationalists have not given up their century-old aspirations to carve out land from eastern Anatolia and they would ask for reparations from Turkey if Ankara accepted the false claims that Armenians were subject to genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire, a U.S. expert of Ottoman history argued.
“The plan of the Armenians has not changed in more than 100 years. It wants to create an Armenia in Eastern Anatolia and Southern Caucasus,” Professor Justin McCarthy from Louisville University said in an address to Turkish parliamentarians. “The Armenian nationalists have made their plan quite clear. First, the Turkish Republic is to state that there was an ‘Armenian Genocide’ and to apologize for it. Second, the Turks will have to pay reparations. Third, an Armenian state will be created.”
Turkey rejects genocide charges, saying the Armenians were killed as the Ottoman Empire was trying to quell civil unrest sparked by an Armenian revolt, which claimed the lives of even more Turkish Muslims than Armenians.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan, joined by opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal, called for a joint scholarly investigation of Armenian claims and said Ottoman archives were open to all researchers. Armenia, however, rejected the proposal, saying scholars had nothing new to say on the issue.
As the 90th anniversary of the alleged genocide on April 24, approaches, the Armenian Diaspora is hoping that renewed international sympathy for Armenians would help their efforts to get global recognition for the allegations. What is particularly at stake is a possible U.S. Congress move to uphold the claims.
Several European parliaments have already passed resolutions recognizing the alleged genocide and some conservative politicians have even suggested that Turkish acknowledgement of the charges should be a pre-condition for Turkey’s entry into the European Union.
McCarthy criticized the European pressure on Turkey to recognize the false claims.
“How can it be right to become a member of an organization that demands you lie as the price of admission? Would any honest man join an organization that said, ‘You can only join us if you first falsely say that your father was a murderer’?” McCarthy asked in his Thursday address.
Competing versions of history:
McCarthy who says there was war, not genocide in the beginning of the last century, explained that the Armenian question goes back to the late 1800s, when Russia launched an expansionist campaign in the Caucasus, which resulted in the expulsion of Muslim, mostly Turkish population of the region and their replacement with Armenians, who were more loyal to Russia.
Centuries-old peaceful relations between Turks and Armenians were spoiled after revolutionary Russian Armenians infiltrated from the Russian-held Caucasus into eastern Anatolia to organize a rebellion among Ottoman Armenians with the aim of creating an Armenian state in the region similar to what Greeks and Bulgarians did in the Balkans.
The Armenian case, McCarthy explained, however, was different, since Armenians did not have the demographic superiority over Muslim Turks in eastern Anatolia, which Greeks and Bulgarians did have in the Balkans.
“The only way to create “Armenia” was to expel the Muslims who lived there,” he said.
Thus, when World War I broke out, Armenians sided with the occupying Russians, instead of the Ottoman army and the Armenians who deserted the Ottoman army either formed gangs to fight a guerilla war against the government or joined the Russian army, serving as scouts and advance units for the Russian invaders.
According to McCarthy, Russians provided 2.4 million rubles to the hardliner revolutionary group of Dashnaks to arm Ottoman Armenians in eastern Anatolia. Seven months before the Ottoman government ordered deportation of the Armenian population in the region in May 1915, attacks on Ottoman soldiers and officials started. Armenian deserters from the Ottoman army formed into “bandit gangs,” attacking conscription officers, tax collectors, gendarmerie outposts and Muslims on the roads. By December 1914, a general revolt in the city of Van erupted, whereby inhabitants of the city were killed, villages were burned, gendarmerie outposts were attacked and roads and telegraph lines were cut. By February, attacks spread to all over eastern Anatolia and in April, well-armed Armenian units took the city and drove Ottoman forces into the citadel.
“As an example of the enormity of the problem, in the middle of April an entire division of gendarmerie troops was ordered from Hakkari to Çatak to battle a major uprising there but the division could not break through the Armenian defenses,” McCarthy said. “These all show that Ottomans were right in considering Armenians as their enemies.”