Sunday, April 27, 2014

Reality Check: Talking to Turkey

A friend posted an article on Facebook that included one of the leaked audio recordings (with an English translation appearing on the screen) of Turkish ministerial level discussions of, not to mince words, invading Syria.
Very interesting stuff, but not as interesting as the comment that the poster made.  It noted that the “crazy Tashnags” get criticized every time we advise prudence in dealing with Turkey, rightly pointing to the latter’s recent actions in Kessab as evidence of its ongoing intentions of exterminating Armenians.  Specifically, TARC and the protocols are cited.  But it doesn’t end with those two formal efforts at bogus reconciliation.
Ankara is not home to incompetents.  The Turkish diplomatic corps are good at what they do.  Otherwise, Turkey would not have fared as well as it has.  These same seasoned practitioners put their wiles to good use in duping some among our communities.  These Armenians presumably think they are very clever and helping promote our cause by agreeing to meet, usually in secret, with Turks who come calling from Ankara.  Meanwhile, all they’re doing in reality is undercutting our open, largely consensual, advocacy efforts because the Turks use those meetings to argue, “Hey, we’re meeting with the Armenians and we’re making progress,” to the very same people we’re lobbying!
Plus, it’s not as though the ARF is opposed to interfacing with Turkey.  We’re just not fond of playing the fool.  We worked with the Committee of Union and Progress, pre-Genocide.  We negotiated with them during the life of the first Republic.  In the late 1970s, we started meeting, along with the other two parties, with Turkish representatives before the 1980 coup changed the regime in Ankara.  You will recall that in recent months, the ARF was even formally present in Turkey, though that was largely a Kurdish-based interaction.
Hopefully, Turgut Ozal’s threats of invading the Republic of Armenia in the 1990s and Kessab today will jolt our na├»ve compatriots out of their kumbaya stupor.  We must continue to organize.  We must continue to strengthen ourselves politically in the Diaspora.  We must continue to strengthen both Armenian republics, not just militarily, diplomatically, and economically, but internal-politically (i.e. weed out corruption and enhance citizen engagement in public life).  We must continue the barely-started process of relearning the Turks—government and civic-society level.  We must engage with Turks and Turkey cautiously, astutely, and always openly to disallow gamesmanship and misrepresentation of what transpires when we interact with them.

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