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ARMENIA AND TURKEY:WHAT’S NEXT AFTER 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE?

Ara Harutyunyan

ns in Ottoman Empire era but refuses to use the G word. More that 20 countries officialy recognized the events of 1915 as a ''genocide''

Armenians commemorated the victims of the tragedy all over the world. What’s coming next? Is there any chance for Armenian and Turkish people for reconciliation? Turkologist Tigran Petrosyan thinks the countries will continue the process of reconciliation both in politics and between civil societies of two countries.

‘’The process of reconciliation between the societies, non-governmental organizations or between media outlets will continue, parallelly the process of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide will continue. So after the 100th anniversary we will have two processes; the continuing recognition of the events of 1915 as a ‘’genocide’’ around the globe and the dialogue between Turks and Armenians’’, says the expert.

In 2009 Armenia’s and Turkey’s presidents Serzh Sargsyan and Abdullah Gul started to negotiate. This period of Turkish-Armenian relations is also known as ‘’football diplomacy’’. Gul was the first ever Turkish modern leader to visit Armenia for a football World Cup qualifier. Then the protocols were entered to the parliaments of Turkey and Armenia considering reopening of the border. The border between the two countries was closed after Armenian-Azerbaijani war over Nagorno Karabakh in early 1990’s. The protocols still aren’t accepted by the parliaments yet but still this is considered to be a big success in reconciliation efforts of the countries. Petrosyan doesn’t expect anything this serious to happen in the near future.

‘’I think we cannot expect opening of the borders or establishment of diplomatic relations in near future’’, he says.

Turkish journalist from ‘’Birgun’’ daily newspaper Onur Erem says that over the years more and more people in Turkish society realize the fact of the Genocide.

‘’Academics, journalists and politicians are talking about the Genocide more than ever, by using the word ‘’genocide’’. For example, my aunt told me that on 24th of April, in the public high school which my cousin attended, the history teacher said “I was thinking differently about the Armenian issue in the past. But in the last years, I've read the books which are recently being published and realized that it's a genocide”. I wouldn't be able to imagine such a teacher 10 years ago’’.

Erem also thinks that normalization is not going to happen soon. The journalist says the process of normalization should start from reforming the education system because there is nothing written in the Turkish schoolbooks of history about the events of 1915. According to Erem, The ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) led by Prsident Rejep Tayip Erdogan is not ready for this. He says they are afraid to lose the votes of nationalist voters.

‘’Their only motivation is to stay in power so they can't take such a risk. When we look at the alternatives, we see that the two biggest opposition parties who fought with AKP in many major points, signed the protest decision against European Parliament's decision on the Genocide’’, says Erem reffering to the European Parliament’s Resolution urging Turkey to “to come to terms with its past, to recognize the Armenian Genocide and thus to pave the way for a genuine reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples.”

In Turkey only Kurdish party openly recognizes and accepts the genocide but it is uncertain whether they can pass the 10 percent threshold in the upcoming elections in June.