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Turkish TV interviews Harout Ekmanian on the legal aspects of the Armenian Genocide

  • HYETERT – Harout Ekmanian, a New York attorney practicing public international law was interviewed by Arti TV’s Ezo Özer on April 23rd, 2021 on the 106th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Even though the program was broadcast in Turkish, below are some highlights that Harout Ekmanian graciously shared with HyeTert. ArtiTV is a Turkish channel based in Europe and available on Satellite and on Youtube.

  • “The Turkish justifications for the denial of the Armenian Genocide calling it a “deportation” is cynical, because deportation is a part and parcel of the entire process of genocide. It doesn’t need a genius to figure out that they *deported* masses of civilians to concentration camps with the intent to kill them later. Here, the method of killing is irrelevant to the law. 

  • The term Genocide is coined after the study of the crimes of the Turkish Ottoman government against Armenians by Polish-Jewish legal scholar Raphael Lemkin. Lemkin doesn’t think genocide is a single act, rather it is a process. In the case of the Armenian Genocide, this process continues till now with denial and the latest manifestation of the intent to destroy the Armenian nation in the war against Artsakh by Turkey’s participation and Erdogan’s poems about genocidiares in Baku a few months ago.

  • The crime of genocide is established by two sets of laws in the international law. Both are the same verbatim, and they have the same elements. However, they have different jurisdictional requirements. 
    • One is under the international criminal law, starting from the earliest second world war trials to the International Criminal Tribunals of Yugoslavia and Rwanda, until it was codified in the 1998 Rome Statute. In the international criminal law context genocide and other atrocity crimes give rise to individual criminal responsibility only. This would not be the kind of legal instrument possible to utilize in the context of the Armenian Genocide given the death of all those who planned, ordered, executed, aided and abetted the crime of the Armenian Genocide.
    • The other is under the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, which not only gives rise to individual responsibility, but also State responsibility. Given that the current Republic of Turkey is the heir of the Ottoman Empire based on the principle of continuity of States, the Turkish State can be held responsible for the Armenian genocide under this convention. The temporal jurisdiction could be addressed via a plethora of legal arguments. One of those arguments is the legal principle of continuing crime, given genocide denial and series of recent acts by Turkey in the Nagorno Karabakh war with the intent to destroy the Armenian nation can be considered parts of the genocide that are linked to events starting from 1915. Nevertheless, the Armenian Genocide satisfies all of the elements of the crime and it is solid from merits perspective. Turkish state arguments have always been about jurisdictional issues. It is another way of saying that because slavery wasn’t banned before the 13th amendment of the US constitution, whatever happened before was *not slavery*. 
  • The consequences of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by other countries have been desperate condemnations or temporary freezing of relations by Turkey, which shortly after were resumed with normal pace, even more active than before (e.g. with France several times from 1998 to 2016).
  • Before, energy companies dominated the US economy, while now tech companies are the biggest companies in the US. Tech risks and interests replaced oil and energy in US foreign policy priorities, which makes China and other regions areas of bigger concern that the Middle East. Therefore, US has less to lose now with worsening relations with Turkey than before. It would be difficult for Turkey to blackmail the US with non-cooperation and creatin impediments to the US in the Middle East region like they used to do before. 
  • In previous years, the odds were stacked against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the US presidents, today the odds seem in favor of that.
  • There is no difference between the opposition or power in Turkey when it comes to the Armenian Genocide and the rights of Armenians. The political elite in Turkey is united in their shameful policy of denial. “

Harout Ekmanian is a New York attorney practicing public international law and a graduate of Harvard Law School. The article represents his own views. HyeTert thanks Mr. Ekmanian for sharing his notes with us.

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