Turkey has full confidence in historic facts regarding 1915 events - ambassador (VIDEO)
Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 23
By Aygun Badalova, Elena Kosolapova
Modern Turkey today is taking a very different approach to the events that happened in 1915, Turkish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Ismail Alper Coskun told Trend on "This week in focus" program episode.
"We want to focus on the true nature of what happened in 1915," he said. "And if you look at what Turkey is trying to do, we are actually counter to what we used to do in the past."
The European parliament adopted a resolution on Apr. 15, according to which, Armenia and Turkey should use the "100th anniversary" of the "Armenian genocide" to restore the diplomatic relations, open borders and pave the way for economic integration.
Coskun said that despite the European parliament made its decision, one really needs to focus on the true nature of what happened in 1915.
"One can't take a look simply at events of 1915 and focus on what happened to the Armenians, but instead look at a much more broader context," he said.
Armenia and the Armenian lobby claim that Turkey's predecessor, the Ottoman Empire allegedly carried out "genocide" against the Armenians living in Anatolia in 1915. Turkey in turn has always denied "the genocide" took place. While strengthening the efforts to promote the "genocide" in the world, Armenians have achieved its recognition by the parliaments of some countries.
"The statements made by our current president while he was still the prime minister, and the current prime minister, show that Turkey pays its deepest respect to the emotions and the sufferings of Armenians at that time," the ambassador said.
However, the ambassador believes that to understand what happened in 1915, it is needed to go back, probably to the middle of 19th century and try to understand what was happening to the Ottoman Empire, what the other major actors of the time were trying to do, how nationalist tendencies came into play and how the Ottoman Empire was being dismembered.
Coskun believes that it is also important to look at what role Armenians played in the Ottoman Empire during those events.
"If the Armenians, the Armenian diaspora, Armenia, Erevan want to focus on what happened in 1915, if they want to understand what decision was taken, how it was implemented, it is possible to go down to the roots of all of these questions," he said. "But that cannot be done by saying that the Ottomans committed genocide."
The ambassador noted that matter is extremely complex.
"If to take such an approach, you're narrowing down thousands years of intervention between Armenians, Turks and Kurds," he said.
Coming back to the decision made by the European Parliament, Coskun said it is making a similar mistake. The ambassador believes the parliament is taking a one-sided approach to historical facts that are much more complex.
"That is why we've reacted very strongly to that decision," he said. "When you look at the nature of the decision, they make references to the 1948 Convention on Genocide, and that take that as a basis for the conclusion, which is - Turkey should recognize "the genocide". But any international law student, even in his primary year, would recognize the fact that the decision on genocide can only be taken only through a court decision."
The ambassador said there are a lot of legal aspects that one can talk about as well as political ones.
Coskun said that Turkey's position was to make an appeal to the international community and to the Armenians for them to understand that their emotions are not in monopoly when it comes to the suffering that took place at the time of the 1915 events.
"This is a 100th anniversary of those events, but it is, at the same time, politicized," he said. "That has been the Armenian approach to this matter, which is why they're going towards political bodies all over the world, try to pressure Turkey by reaching out to parliamentarians and politicians all over the world to have them make these decisions and to put pressure on Turkey.",
"What is the objective? I think we need to take a step back. Armenians need to take a step back. We need to decide what we're trying to achieve. If the idea is to pressure Turkey, to make Turks feel humiliated or to make us angry, we could be angry a little bit here and there, but we have full confidence in historic facts," Coskun said.
The ambassador said that the traditional Turkish hospitality that is often heard about, is actually a way of saying that the country's doors are open to everyone.
Meanwhile, the Armenians are trying to achieve a different goal, according to the ambassador, which is that Turks are guilty, and need to accept it.
"Suffering can not be focused simply on the Armenians at that time," he said. "We respect that, we can't get down the roots of what happened, how it happened, who was guilty. But in doing so, we also need to look into the activities of the Armenian communities at the time. So, the issue is very complex."
The ambassador said that it is very sad to see a body such as the European parliament not recognizing the complexity of the matter.
"I think we would have been fine if the European Parliament had made a call saying this is an issue that is still a topic of academic political and legal debate," he said.
"It is obvious that Armenians have certain emotions, Turks have their own views," the ambassador said, adding that the parties need to talk about the disagreements and arguments. "They need to find a way to focus on this," he said. "We may not agree on everything, but we talk about it to help heal whatever the wounds are.
He further said that considering such an allegation as genocide, one really needs to know what to talk about.
"You need to have your facts straight," Coskun said.
At the same time, the ambassador said that in Turkey there's a huge debate going on regarding the topic.
"You will easily find very many people willing to talk about this matter," he said. "But I am proud that Turkey has this debate. It is very good for Turkey to have multiple voices and that is how I think we will find the right balance as to how the world approaches this matter."
"We look at what government and state structures are trying to do, trying to facilitate this debate, but Armenians also need to become part of this debate," Coskun said, adding that Armenia has a one-sided approach to the issue, unlike Turkey.
"We're challenging that, and we're inviting them to the table, to talk about it," he said. "I think the first question we really need to sit down and understand all together is the objective. Are you trying to punish Turkey? Are the parliaments the right place to make historical judgements? We need to look into all this."
The ambassador underlined that Turkey will continue to explain to the international community that what Armenians are doing is unfair.
According to Coskun, what needs to be done is to sit down and debate what happened in 1915, not just make politically motivated decisions.
"We will continue to appeal to historians because at the end of the day we're talking about a historical context that needs to be examined, based on historic facts," he said. "We should together make an effort if we want to help our future generations, both Armenian and Turkish to have a future in which they will not see each other as enemies. Let's sit down, focus on this matter, look at historical facts and try to move to the next step. Not forgetting, not denying, but looking at the full complexity of the issue."
"What is happening today is that everyone tells Turkey to keep it quiet and accept the allegations," Coskun said. "Nobody can pressure Turkey into doing this, at any cost."
Further speaking, the ambassador said that if one looks at the statements of Armenian officials in the beginning of the year, it is clear that the country is trying to change its borders.
"The Armenian president says that young Armenians have re-taken Nagorno Karabakh, and it is up to the next generations to re-take their territories in Anatolia," he said. "Where is international community there?
"What about when the president of a country, with which the European Union has relations, with which many civilized countries have relations, where is the decision to ask Armenia act in accordance with good neighborly relations with Azerbaijan, while it continues its occupation? What is the objective here? If the objective is to bring sustainable peace, sustainable prosperity to the South Caucasus this is not the right way."