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Genocide? Turkey’s last Armenian village unmoved

The European Parliament might want Turkey to recognise a 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide, but the people of the last remaining Armenian village in the country have other things on their minds — oranges.

Of all the towns and villages once inhabited by Armenians across eastern Turkey under the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire, only the picturesque village of Vakifli remains, nestled in the foothills of the Musa Mountains overlooking the eastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea and within sight of the Syrian border.

For the influential Armenian diaspora, Musa Mountain is a source of pride as one of the few places where Christian Armenians resisted deportations that killed many thousands.

The European Parliament this week became the latest international body to call on Turkey to recognise the killings as genocide; a political slap in the face for Ankara which is due to start European Union membership talks yesterday.

”Of course it saddens us when the European Parliament makes such a decision,” said Vakifli village headman Berc Kartun ”Isn’t it over yet? … Ninety years have passed and as an Armenian, I think it should be over and done with.” Smoking and playing cards in the plain, white-walled tea-house surrounded by lush orange groves stretching down to the shores of the Mediterranean, other villagers said they were sick of foreigners harping on about genocide.

”Are there any citizens of Turkey who think that way, any Armenians here who think that way?” asked 72-year-old Musa Emekliyan. ”What I am worried about it is what will happen to my oranges, will they sell this year.” RAIN NOT RESOLUTIONS Turkey sees an international campaign led by the Armenian diaspora to blacken its name behind the claims of genocide.

Turkish nationalists also fear the EU’s calls for minority rights are a repeat of Western meddling that ended in war and the break-up of the Ottoman Empire.

With Russian forces advancing across the eastern frontier, in 1915 Istanbul’s Ottoman rulers ordered local Armenians to be sent to Syria and Lebanon, fearing they might side with the Russians. Many were killed or died from deprivation.


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