Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hamparian: A True Path to Armenian-Turkish Peace and Progress

It’s time for a new American approach to the Armenian Genocide, one that is as simple as it is sound: progress and peace based upon truth and justice.
American policy on the Armenian Genocide can be both principled and practical. For, in properly commemorating this crime, standing up to its denial, and seeking its just resolution, we will be bringing our policies as a government into alignment with our principles as a nation, to the benefit of both U.S. interests and American values.
Years of futile U.S. efforts to appease Turkey have failed to end Ankara’s blockade of Armenia and have only hardened Ankara’s denial of truth and obstruction of justice for this crime. In fact, it was only moments after Turkey and Armenia signed the Ankara-inspired protocols back in 2009 that the Turkish government, rather than moving toward recognition of this crime, reversed course by brazenly adding new demands regarding Nagorno-Karabagh. Ankara proudly declared it would continue enforcing its illegal blockade of Armenia, and then, in an open affront to its U.S. ally, actually escalated its international campaign of Armenian Genocide denial. Turkey, having secured the Armenian Foreign Minister’s signature on this document, has, for the past four years, used it non-stop as its weapon of choice in a relentless campaign to derail international progress toward a just resolution of this still unpunished genocide.
To the extent that there is, today, constructive discourse on this subject within a small but growing segment of Turkish civil society, the credit belongs to the international campaign for truth, empowered by independent scholarship and driven by Armenian calls for justice. Allies of Ankara, including those in Washington, are now shamelessly seeking to take credit for this new awareness and activism, but only because they failed to bully Armenians into silence and to bury this epic injustice. These apologists, sadly, remain part of the problem, not the solution.
Turkey’s obstruction of justice has, over the course of nearly a century, allowed Ankara to consolidate its hold on the genocidal gains of its crimes against the Armenian people, blocking the return to the Armenian nation of key elements—indispensable elements—of viability that long sustained the Armenian people on their ancient homeland. This denial poisons Armenian-Turkish relations, fosters wave after wave of anti-Armenian intolerance within Turkey, threatens Armenia’s and Artsakh’s security, and, of course, fuels regional tensions.
We must reject Ankara’s false choice that, when it comes to the Armenian Genocide, protecting U.S. interests means compromising American values. The future of this region—its sustainable stability over the long-term—cannot be built upon a foundation of lies. Justice is good geopolitics.
It’s time for the Obama-Biden Administration to reject Ankara’s gag-rule and proudly reaffirm our government’s record of having recognized the Armenian Genocide. Sadly, under foreign pressure, President Obama has failed to reflect, much less reinforce, America’s standing acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide as a crime of genocide. Our current president’s retreat is regrettable on many levels and certainly must be reversed, but it does not detract from the fact that, dating back to the time of President Woodrow Wilson, the U.S. government has officially condemned Turkey’s intentional campaign to destroy its Armenian and other indigenous Christian populations. Since Raphael Lemkin coined the term “genocide” and President Harry Truman became the first head of state to sign the Genocide Convention, the United States has, on several occasions, formally recognized the Armenian Genocide as a crime of genocide:
–The U.S. government’s May 28, 1951 written statement to the International Court of Justice regarding the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in which the “Turkish massacres of Armenians” is cited as an “outstanding examples of the crime of genocide.”
–President Ronald Reagan’s April 22, 1981 Proclamation number 4838, in which he stated, in part, “like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians, which followed it—and like too many other persecutions of too many other people—the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.”
–House Joint Resolution 148 adopted on April 8, 1975, which designated April 24, 1975 as “National Day of Remembrance of Man’s Inhumanity to Man,” citing “all the victims of genocide, especially those of Armenian ancestry who succumbed to the genocide perpetrated in 1915.”
–House Joint Resolution 247 adopted on Sept. 10, 1984, which designated April 24, 1985 as the “National Day of Remembrance of Man’s Inhumanity to Man,” citing “all the victims of genocide, especially the one and one-half million people of Armenian ancestry who were the victims of the genocide perpetrated in Turkey between 1915 and 1923.”
–The adoption, by the House of Representatives on June 5, 1996, of an amendment to House Bill 3540 (the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1997) to reduce aid to Turkey by $3 million (an estimate of its payment of lobbying fees in the United States) until the Turkish government acknowledged the Armenian Genocide and took steps to honor the memory of its victims.
President Obama himself entered office having stated that his “firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence.” He affirmed his U.S. Senate record of “calling for Turkey’s acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide,” and, as we all know, pledged publicly that “as president I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”
After years of failed efforts to appease Ankara, it’s time for President Obama to honor his words, and for our government to live up to America’s promise of truth and justice.
It’s time to stop outsourcing our nation’s Armenian Genocide policy to Turkey and, in the interest of both regional stability and our core values as a nation, to reclaim American leadership in support of a truthful and just resolution of this crime.

No comments:

Post a Comment