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Taner Akcam on eve of 100th anniversary of Armenian Genocide does not expect change in Turkey’s policy

For the demolition of the wall of the Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide and the Armenian issue, the importance of the activities of the Turkish intellectuals inside the country is especially immense. Like other Turkish intellectuals Taner Akcam was the first who voiced about the crime which in the early 20th century had been perpetrated against the Armenians by the Young Turk government. So far, in his various statements he calls on Turkey to face the historical reality and to recognize the Armenian Genocide. “Armenpress” held a conversation with the Turkish historian Taner Akcam on the improvement of the Armenian-Turkish relations, the possible changes in Turkey’s denial policy on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and the factors contributing to it.

– One of Hrant Dink’s books was titled so: “Two close people, two far neighbors”. What do you think, what may make the ice melt in the existing Armenian-Turkish relations?
– Only two important factors: First, the growth of the civil resistance in Turkey.  Second, the growth of the positive pressure of the western countries and the Armenian diaspora in particular. In my opinion, the Turkish civil initiatives and joint work of the diaspora is the very factor that will change the policy of Turkey. The Turkish government is mostly afraid of this cooperation. If the Turkish opposition and the Armenian diaspora unite, the government will remain under serious pressure.
– On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide how may Turkey’s denial policy change?
– I do not expect major changes in Turkey’s policy. I would like to be mistaken. I think the Turkish Government, pretending that some things change, without making any changes, expects to avoid that period. That is why, it may take some cosmetic steps, and these steps may bring forward the following logic: “here, we did, what else do you want?” For  the change it is necessary  that Azerbaijan, without the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, gives permission to Turkey,  and it seems very complicated.
– Can the awakening of Turkey’s social consciousness contribute to increasing pressure on the state in the issue of the Armenian Genocide recognition?
– The Armenian Genocide will gradually become a significant topic for the Turkish civil society. The people already have a wish to know and to learn what really happened. I attach high importance to the pressures on the government from inside of Turkey. I can say that the more the civil society puts forward the claim to recognize the genocide, the more the government will feel itself under a strong pressure.
– Mr. Akcam, we heard You are writing a new book on Armenians. What plans do You have for nearest future?
– Currently I am working over different projects. I am working over a book on the February-May trials of Trabzon’s Yozgat of 1919. Also, the English language version of “The Spirit of the Laws” will be published on May 2015.
Interview by Araks Kasyan

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