Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Can Turkey be Held Responsible for the 1915 Genocide?

Article in European Journal of International Law

State Identity, Continuity, and Responsibility: The Ottoman Empire, the
Republic of Turkey and the Armenian Genocide

By Vahagn Avedian
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, Lund University


By studying the continuity between the Ottoman Empire and its succeeding
Turkish Republic, this article aims to address one crucial aspect of the
denial of the Armenian genocide by the Turkish state, namely the issue of
state responsibility.

There are psychological barriers in Turkey which have largely suppressed the
memories of possible wrongdoings during World War I and the ensuing
'Independence War'. However, the barrier that is created by the issue of
state responsibility is identified here as the fundamental obstacle for
genocide recognition by the Turkish state. This article aims to apply some
of the existing legal principles and theories of international law in order
to test their applicability to the two Turkish states and the issue of
internationally wrongful acts committed during World War I and the ensuing

In addition to the Turkish Republic bearing the identity of the Ottoman
Empire, this article suggests that the Republic not only failed to stop
doing the wrongful acts of its predecessor, but it also continued the very
internationally wrongful acts committed by the Young Turk government.

Thus, the insurgent National Movement, which later became the Republic, made
itself responsible for not only its own wrongful acts but also those of its
predecessor, including the act of genocide committed in 1915-1916.
The issue of possible liability has ever since the creation of the Republic
formed the denialist policy which is Turkey's to this day.

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