Prime Message in Favor of Recognition: Erdogan’s outcry underscores the pain of truth

Prime Message in Favor of Recognition: Erdogan’s outcry underscores the pain of truth

While Turkey attempts to gag the U.S. Congress from passing the “Armenian Genocide Resolution”, the republic might do better to muzzle its prime minister, who is making a remarkable case for why Turkey ought to be held accountable for its blood-soaked past.

This week Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to deport some 100,000 Armenians from Turkey, who he says are living there illegally. The threat was leveled after Sweden passed a resolution recognizing the Genocide, less than three weeks after the US Congress House Foreign Affairs Committee narrowly (23-22) approved HR252, a similar resolution that now faces the unlikely chance of making it to a vote of the full assembly.

“There are 170,000 Armenians living in my country, and only 70,000 of them are my citizens, however, we shut our eyes to the remaining 100,000 Armenians. And if there is a need in the future, I will tell those 100,000 Armenians to leave for their country,” Erdogan said in a BBC radio interview on Tuesday.

“. . . leave for their country.”

The words are especially bitter for contemporary Armenians, descendants of those who had the good fortune of being deported – rather than shot, raped, disemboweled, decapitated, starved, drowned, dismembered – from the land they held, and that Erdogan now calls “my country”.

Nor was it enough that the PM threatened eviction of illegals. He also went on a tear against the Armenian Diaspora.

“The problems connected with relations with Armenia occur not because of us, but rather because of the Armenian side. Armenia must make an important decision. Armenia ought to get rid of the Diaspora mortgage,” Erdogan said.

Interesting choice of phrase, “mortgage”. It speaks of real estate and of property liable to be taken. In short, a summary of what the Ottoman Turks did to the Armenians.

It speaks of obligations ceasing at death. Of which there was plenty, 1.5 million Armenians from 1915-23.

The very reason that there is an Armenian Diaspora is because of horror at the hands of Ottoman Turks that historic science acknowledges, yet Turkey disavows.

Erdogan continued his rant two days later following the Swedes’ vote.

“I should underline that this country’s soldier is bigger than history and that this country’s history is as clean and clear as the sun. No country’s parliament can tarnish it,” Erdoğan said during a public address on March 18.

What is “bigger than history”? Perhaps the ability to re-write it? Which is a privilege granted Erdogan and his government, should the U.S., unlike the 23 countries that have acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, continue its complicity with Turkey in the burial of truth.

What purpose – other than cruelty and a show of might – would be served by expelling Armenians from Turkey? They are there, in part, because of economic hardship Armenia experiences due to borders closed for nearly two decades (shut by Turkey in its solidarity with Muslim cousin Azerbaijan over the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh).

The premier’s lash could not have been better news for Armenia, as his outrage underscores what Hyestancis and multiple millions more Diaspora have been trying to tell the world for 95 years – Turkey denies its past and is willing to inflict further harm on innocents.

While it courts the European Union for membership, and threatens the United States with closing off strategic Middle East access, let it not go unnoticed that official Turkey’s character – shunning the light of truth -- is revealed in the ill-conceived words of its government leader.

“There is no genocide in our civilization. Our civilization is the civilization of love, tolerance and brotherhood,” Erdoğan said in his March 18 address. “Those who stay in the past can never reach a bright future.”

And those who deny their past for the sake of a “bright future” are hardly entitled to claim “tolerance and brotherhood”.