Armenian Rebellions and the Ottomans

June 5, 2009

V. Related Articles

Armenian Rebellions and Ottomans

Prof. Dr. Justin McCARTHY

Ottoman Provinces

Conflict between the Turks and the Armenians was not inevitable. The two peoples should have been friends. When World War I began, the Armenians and Turks had been living together for 800 years. The Armenians of Anatolia and Europe had been Ottoman subjects for nearly 400 years. There were problems during those centuries—problems caused especially by those who attacked and ultimately destroyed the Ottoman Empire. Everyone in the Empire suffered, but it was the Turks and other Muslims who suffered most. Judged by all economic and social standards, the Armenians did well under Ottoman rule. By the late nineteenth century, in every Ottoman province the Armenians were better educated and richer than the Muslims. Armenians worked hard, it is true, but their comparative riches were largely due to European and American influence and Ottoman tolerance. European merchants made Ottoman Christians their agents. European merchants gave them their business. European consuls intervened in their behalf. The Armenians benefited from the education given to them, and not to the Turks, by American missionaries.

While the lives of the Armenians as a group were improving, Muslims were living through some of the worst suffering experienced in modern history: In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Bosnians were massacred by Serbs, Russians killed and exiled the Circassians, Abkhazians, and Laz, and Turks were killed and expelled from their homelands by Russians, Bulgarians, Greeks, and Serbs. Yet, in the midst of all this Muslim suffering, the political situation of the Ottoman Armenians constantly improved. First, equal rights for Christians and Jews were guaranteed in law. Equal rights increasingly became a reality, as well. Christians took high places in the government. They became ambassadors, treasury officials, even foreign ministers. In many ways, in fact, the rights of Christians became greater than those of the Muslims, because powerful European states intervened in their behalf. The Europeans demanded and received special treatment for Christians. Muslims had no such advantages.
That was the environment in which Armenians revolted against the Ottoman Empire–hundreds of years of peace, economic superiority, constantly improving political conditions. This would not seem to be a cause for revolution. Yet the nineteenth century saw the beginning of an Armenian revolution that was to culminate in disaster for both. What drove the Armenians and the Turks apart?

Russian Expansion

The Russians

First and foremost, there were the Russians. Regions where Christians and Muslims had been living together in relative peace were torn asunder when the Russians invaded the Caucasian Muslim lands. Most Armenians were probably neutral, but a significant number took the side of the Russians. Armenians served as spies and even provided armed units of soldiers for the Russians. There were significant benefits for the Armenians: The Russians took Erivan Province, today’s Armenian Republic, in 1828. They expelled Turks and gave the Turkish land, tax-free, to Armenians. The Russians knew that if the Turks remained they would always be the enemies of their conquerors, so they replaced them with a friendly population—the Armenians.

The forced exile of the Muslims continued until the first days of World War I: 300,000 Crimean Tatars, 1.2 million Circassians and Abkhazians, 40,000 Laz, 70,000 Turks. The Russians invaded Anatolia in the war of 1877-78, and once again many Armenians joined the Russian side. They served as scouts and spies. Armenians became the “police” in occupied territories, persecuting the Turkish population. The peace treaty of 1878 gave much of Northeastern Anatolia back to the Ottomans. The Armenians who had helped the Russians feared revenge and fled, although the Turks did not, in fact, take any revenge.

Both the Muslims and the Armenians remembered the events of the Russian invasions. Armenians could see that they would be more likely to prosper if the Russians won. Free land, even if stolen from Muslims, was a powerful incentive for Armenian farmers. Rebellious Ottoman Armenians had found a powerful protector in Russia. Rebels also had a base in Russia from which they could organize rebellion and smuggle men and guns into the Ottoman Empire.
The Muslims knew that if the Russians were guardian angels for the Armenians, they were devils for the Muslims. They could see that when the Russians triumphed Muslims lost their lands and their lives. They knew what would happen if the Russians came again. And they could see that Armenians had been on the side of the Russians. Thus did 800 years of peaceful coexistence disintegrate.

The Armenian Revolutionaries

It was not until Russian Armenians brought their nationalist ideology to Eastern Anatolia that Armenian rebellion became a real threat to the Ottoman State.
Although there were others, two parties of nationalists were to lead the Armenian rebellion. The first, the Hunchakian Revolutionary Party, called the Hunchaks, was founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1887 by Armenians from Russia. The second, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, called the Dashnaks, was founded in the Russian Empire, in Tiflis, in 1890. Both were Marxist. Their methods were violent. The Hunchak and Dashnak Party Manifestos called for armed revolution in the Ottoman Empire. Terrorism, including the murder of both Ottoman officials and Armenians who opposed them, was part of the party platforms. Although they were Marxists, both groups made nationalism the most important part of their philosophy of revolution. In this they were much like the nationalist revolutionaries of Bulgaria, Macedonia, or Greece.


Unlike the Greek or Bulgarian revolutionaries, the Armenians had a demographic problem. In Greece, the majority of the population was Greek. In Bulgaria, the majority was Bulgarian. In the lands claimed by the Armenians, however, Armenians were a fairly small minority. The region that was called “Ottoman Armenia,” the “Six Vilâyets” of Sivas, Mamüretülaziz, Diyarbakır, Bitlis, Van, and Erzurum, was only 17% Armenian. It was 78% Muslim. This was to have important consequences for the Armenian revolution, because the only way to
create the “Armenia” the revolutionaries wanted was to expel the Muslims who lived there.
Anyone who doubts the intentions of the revolutionaries need only look at their record—actions such as the murder of one governor of Van Province and attempted murder of another, murders of police chiefs and other officials, the attempted assassination of sultan Abdülhamid II. These were radical nationalists who were at war with the Ottoman State.

Smuggling Routes

Beginning in earnest in the 1890s, the Russian Armenian revolutionaries began to infiltrate the Ottoman Empire. They smuggled rifles, cartridges, dynamite, and fighters across ill-defended borders into Van, Erzurum, and Bitlis provinces along the routes shown on the map. The Ottomans were poorly equipped to fight them. The problem was financial. The Ottomans still suffered from their terrible losses in the 1877-78 War with Russia. They suffered from the Capitulations, from debts, and from predatory European bankers. It must also be admitted that the Ottomans were poor economists. The result was a lack of money to support the new police and military units that were needed to fight the revolutionaries and restrain Kurdish tribes. The number of soldiers and gendarmes in the East was never sufficient, and they were often not paid for months at a time. It was impossible to defeat the rebels with so few resources.

By far the most successful of the revolutionaries were the Dashnaks. Dashnaks from Russia were the leaders of rebellion. They were the organizers and the “enforcers” who turned the Armenians of Anatolia into rebel soldiers. This was not an easy task, because at first most of the Ottoman Armenians had no wish to rebel. They preferred peace and security and disapproved of the atheistic, socialist revolutionaries. A feeling of separatism and even superiority among the Armenians helped the revolutionaries, but the main weapon that turned the Armenians of the East into rebels was terrorism. The prime cause that united the Armenians against their government was fear.

Before the Armenians could be turned into rebels their traditional loyalty to their Church and their Community leaders had to be destroyed. The rebels realized that Armenians felt the most love and respect for their Church, not for the revolution. The Dashnak Party therefore resolved to take effective control of the Church. Most clergymen, however, did not support the atheistic Dashnaks. The Church could only be taken over through violence.

What happened to Armenian clergymen who opposed the Dashnaks? Priests were killed in villages and cities. Their crime? They were loyal Ottoman subjects. The Armenian bishop of Van, Boghos, was murdered by the revolutionaries in his cathedral on Christmas Eve. His crime? He was a loyal Ottoman subject. The Dashnaks attempted to kill the Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul, Malachia Ormanian. His crime? He opposed the revolutionaries. Arsen, the priest in charge of the important Akhtamar Church in Van, the religious center of the Armenians in the Ottoman East, was murdered by Ishkhan, one of the leaders of Van’s Dashnaks. His crime? He opposed the Dashnaks. But there was an additional reason to kill him: The Dashnaks wanted to take over the Armenian education system that was based in Akhtamar. After Father Arsen was killed, the Dashnak Aram Manukian, a man without known religious belief, became head of the Armenian schools. He closed down religious education and began revolutionary education. So-called “religious teachers” spread throughout Van Province, teaching revolution, not religion.

The loyalty of the rebels was to the revolution. Not even their church was safe from their attacks.
The other group that most threatened the power of the rebels was the Armenian merchant class. As a group they favored the government. They wanted peace and order, so that they could do business. They were the traditional secular leaders of the Armenian Community; the rebels wanted to lead the Community themselves, so the merchants had to be silenced. Those who most publicly supported their government, such as Bedros Kapamacıyan, the Mayor of Van, and Armarak, the kaymakam of Gevaş, were assassinated, as were numerous Armenian policemen, at least one Armenian Chief of Police, and Armenian advisors to the Government. Only a very brave Armenian would take the side of the Government.

The Dashnaks looked on the merchants as a source of money. The merchants would never donate to the revolution willingly. They had to be forced to do so. The first reported case of extortion from merchants came in Erzurum in 1895, soon after the Dashnak Party became active in the Ottoman domains. The campaign began in earnest in 1901. In that year the extortion of funds through threats and assassination became the official policy of the Dashnak Party. The campaign was carried out in Russia and the Balkans, as well as in the Ottoman Empire. One prominent Armenian merchant, Isahag Zhamharian, refused to pay and reported the Dashnaks to the police. He was assassinated in the courtyard of an Armenian church. Others who did not pay were also killed. The rest of the merchants then paid.

From 1902 to 1904 the main extortion campaign brought in the equivalent, in today’s money, of more than eight million dollars. And this was only the amount collected by the central Dashnak committee in a short period, almost all from outside the Ottoman Empire. It does not include the amounts extorted from 1895 to 1914 in many areas of the Ottoman Empire. Soon the merchants were paying their taxes to the revolutionaries, not to the government. When the government in Van demanded that the merchants pay their taxes, the merchants pleaded that they had indeed paid taxes, but to the revolutionaries. They said they could only pay the government if the government protected them from the rebels. The same condition prevailed all over Eastern Anatolia, in İzmir, in Cilicia, and elsewhere.

The Armenian common people did not escape the extortions of the rebels. They were forced to feed and house the revolutionaries. British Consul Elliot reported, “They [the Dashnaks] quarter themselves on Christian villages, live on the best to be had, exact contributions to their funds, and make the younger women and girls submit to their will. Those who incur their displeasure are murdered in cold blood.”[1]

The greatest cost to villagers was the forced purchase of guns. The villagers were turned into rebel “soldiers,” whether they wished to be or not. If they were to fight the Turks, they needed weapons. The revolutionaries smuggled weapons from Russia and forced the Armenian villagers to buy. The methods used to force the villagers to buy were very effective, as British consul Seele reported:

“An agent arrived in a certain village and informed a villager that he must buy a Mauser pistol. The villager replied that he had no money, whereupon the agent retorted, “You must sell your oxen.” The wretched villager then proceeded to explain that the sowing season would soon arrive and asked how a Mauser pistol would enable him to plough his fields. For reply the agent proceeded to destroy the poor man’s oxen with his pistol and then departed.”[2]

The rebels had more than military organization in mind when they forced the villagers to buy weapons. The villagers were charged double the normal cost of the weapons. A rifle worth £5 was sold for £10. Both the rebel organization and the rebels themselves did very well from the sales.

It was the peasants who suffered most. The most basic policy of the revolutionaries was a callous exploitation of the lives of Armenians: Kurdish tribes and their villages were attacked by the rebels, knowing that the tribes would take their revenge on innocent Armenian villagers. The revolutionaries escaped and left their fellow Armenians to die.

Even Europeans, friends of the Armenians, could see that the revolutionaries were the cause of the curse that had descended on Eastern Anatolia. Consul Seele wrote in 1911:

From what I have seen in the parts of the country I have visited I have become more convinced than ever of the baneful influence of the Taschnak Committee on the welfare of the Armenians and generally of this part of Turkey. It is impossible to overlook the fact in that in all places where there are no Armenian political organisations or where such organisations are imperfectly developed, the Armenians live in comparative harmony with the Turks and Kurds.[3]

The Englishman rightly saw that the cause of the unrest in the East was the Armenian revolutionaries. If there were no Dashnaks, the Turks and Armenians would have lived together in peace. The Ottoman Government knew this was true. Why did the Government tolerate so much from the rebels? Why did the Government not stamp them out?

The Ottoman failure to effectively oppose the rebels is indeed hard to understand. Imagine a country in which a number of radical revolutionaries, most of them from a foreign country, organize a rebellion. They infiltrate fighters and guns from this foreign country to lead their attack on the government and the people. The radicals openly state they wish to create a state in which the majority of the population will be excluded from rule. They murder and terrorize their own people to force them to join their cause. They murder government officials. They deliberately murder members of the majority in the hope that reprisals will lead other nations to invade. They store thousands of weapons in preparation for revolt. They revolt, are defeated, then revolt again and again. The country that gains most from the rebels’ actions is the country they come from—the country in which they organize, the country in which they have their home base.

What government would tolerate this? Has there ever been a country that would not jail, and probably hang such rebels? Has there ever been a country that would allow them to continue to operate openly? Yes. That country was the Ottoman Empire. In the Ottoman Empire the Armenian rebels operated openly, stored thousands of weapons, murdered Muslims and Armenians, killed governors and other officials, and rebelled again and again. The only one to truly benefit from their actions was Russia—the country in which they organized, the country their leaders came from.

How could this happen? The Ottomans were not cowards. The Ottomans were not fools. They knew what the rebels were doing. The Ottomans tolerated the Armenian revolutionaries because the Ottomans had no choice.

It must be remembered that the very existence of the Ottoman Empire was at stake. Serbia, Bosnia, Romania, Greece, and Bulgaria had already been lost because of European intervention. The Europeans had almost divided the Empire in 1878 and had planned to do so in the 1890s. Only fear that Russia would become too powerful had stopped them. Public opinion in Britain and France could easily change that. Indeed, that was exactly what the Armenian revolutionaries wanted. They wanted the Ottomans to jail and execute Armenian rebels. European newspapers would report that as government persecution of innocent Armenians. They wanted the government to prosecute Armenian revolutionary parties. The European newspapers would report that as denying political freedom to the Armenians. They wanted Muslims to react to Armenian provocations and attacks by killing Armenians. The European newspapers would report only the dead Armenians, not the dead Muslims. Public opinion would force the British and French to cooperate with the Russians and dismember the Empire.

Many politicians in Europe, men such as Gladstone, were as prejudiced against the Turks as were the press and the public. They were simply waiting for the right opportunity to destroy the Ottoman Empire.

The result was that it was nearly impossible for the Ottomans to properly punish the rebels. The Europeans demanded that the Ottomans accept actions from the revolutionaries that the Europeans themselves would never tolerate in their own possessions. When the Dashnaks occupied the Ottoman Bank, Europeans arranged their release. European ambassadors forced the Ottomans to grant amnesty to rebels in Zeytun. They arranged pardons for those who attempted to kill sultan Abdülhamid II. The Russian consuls would not let Ottoman courts try Dashnak rebels, because they were Russian subjects. Many rebels who were successfully tried and convicted were released, because the Europeans demanded and received pardons for them, in essence threatening the sultan if he did not release rebels and murderers. One Russian consul in Van even publicly trained Armenian rebels, acting personally as their weapons instructor.

All the Ottomans could do was try to keep things as quiet as possible. That meant not punishing the rebels as they should have been punished. One can only pity the Ottomans. They knew that if they governed properly the result would be the death of their state.

There were two factors that caused the Ottoman loss in the East in World War I: The first was Enver Paşa’s disastrous attack at Sarıkamış. Enver’s attack on Russia in December of 1914 was in every way a disaster. Of the 95,000 Turkish troops who attacked Russia, 75,000 died. The second factor, the one that concerns us here, was Armenian Revolt.

Desertion Zone

As World War I threatened and the Ottoman Army mobilized, Armenians who should have served their country instead took the side of the Russians. The Ottoman Army reported: “From Armenians with conscription obligations those in towns and villages East of the Hopa-Erzurum-Hınıs-Van line did not comply with the call to enlist but have proceeded East to the border to join the organization in Russia.” The effect of this is obvious: If the young Armenian males of the “zone of desertion” had served in the Army, they would have provided more than 50,000 troops. If they had served, there might never have been a Sarıkamış defeat.
The Armenians from Hopa to Erzurum to Hınıs to Van were not the only Armenians who did not serve. The 10s of thousands of Armenians of Sivas who formed chette bands did not serve. The rebels in Zeytun and elsewhere in Cilicia did not serve. The Armenians who fled to the Greek islands or to Egypt or Cyprus did not serve. More precisely, many of these Armenian young men did serve, but they served in the armies of the Ottomans’ enemies. They did not protect their homeland, they attacked it.

In Eastern Anatolia, Armenians formed bands to fight a guerilla war against their government. Others fled only to return with the Russian Army, serving as scouts and advance units for the Russian invaders. It was those who stayed behind who were the greatest danger to the Ottoman war effort and the greatest danger to the lives of the Muslims of Eastern Anatolia.

It has often been alleged by Armenian nationalists that the Ottoman order to deport Armenians was not caused by Armenian rebellion. As evidence, they note the fact that the law of deportation was published in May of 1915, at approximately the same time that the Armenians seized the City of Van. According to this logic, the Ottomans must have planned the deportation some time before that date, so the rebellion could not have been the cause of the deportations. It is true that the Ottomans began to consider the possibility of deportation a few months before May, 1915. What is not true is that May, 1915 was the start of the Armenian rebellion. It had started long before.

European observers knew long before 1914 that Armenians would join the Russian side in event of war. As early as 1908, British consul Dickson had reported:

The Armenian revolutionaries in Van and Salmas [in Iran] have been informed by their Committee in Tiflis that in the event of war they will side with the Russians against Turkey. Unaided by the Russians, they could mobilize about 3,500 armed sharpshooters to harass the Turks about the frontier, and their lines of communication.[4]

British diplomatic sources reported that in preparation for war, in 1913, the Armenian revolutionary groups met and agreed to coordinate their efforts against the Ottomans. The British reported that this alliance was the result of meetings with “the Russian authorities.” The Dashnak leader (and member of the Ottoman Parliament) Vramian had gone to Tiflis to confer with the Russian authorities. The British also reported that “[The Armenians] have thrown off any pretence of loyalty they may once have shown, and openly welcome the prospect of a Russian occupation of the Armenian Vilayets.” [5]

Even Dashnak leaders admitted the Dashnaks were Russian allies. The Dashnak Hovhannes Katchaznouni, prime minister of the Armenian Republic, stated that the party plan at the beginning of the war was to ally with the Russians.

Since 1910 the revolutionaries had distributed a pamphlet throughout Eastern Anatolia. It demonstrated how Armenian villages were to be organized into regional commands, how Muslim villages were to be attacked, and specifics of guerilla warfare.

Before the war began, Ottoman Army Intelligence reported on Dashnak plans: They would declare their loyalty to the Ottoman State, but increase their arming of their supporters. If war was declared, Armenian soldiers would desert to the Russian Army with their arms. The Armenians would do nothing if the Ottomans began to defeat the Russians. If the Ottomans began to retreat, the Armenians would form armed guerilla bands and attack according to plan. The Ottoman intelligence reports were correct, for that is exactly what happened.


The Russians gave 2.4 million rubles to the Dashnaks to arm the Ottoman Armenians. They began distributing weapons to Armenians in the Caucasus and Iran in September of 1914. In that month, seven months before the Deportations were ordered, Armenian attacks on Ottoman soldiers and officials began. Deserters from the Ottoman Army at first formed into what officials called “bandit gangs.” They attacked conscription officers, tax collectors, gendarmerie outposts, and Muslims on the roads. By December a general revolt had erupted in Van Province. Roads and telegraph lines were cut, gendarmerie outposts attacked, and Muslim villages burned, their inhabitants killed. The revolt soon grew: in December, near the Kotur Pass, which the Ottomans had to hold to defend against Russian invasion from Iran, a large Armenian battle group defeated units of the Ottoman army, killing 400 Ottoman soldiers and forcing the army to retreat to Saray. The attacks were not only in Van: The governor of Erzurum, Tahsin, cabled that he could not hold off the Armenian attacks that were breaking out through the province; soldiers would have to be sent from the front.

By February, reports of attacks began to come in from all over the East—a two-hour battle near Muş, an eight-hour battle in Abaak, 1,000 Armenians attacking near Timar, Armenian chettes raiding in Sivas, Erzurum, Adana, Diyarbakır, Bitlis, and Van provinces. Telegraph lines to the front and from Ottoman cities to the West were cut, repaired, and cut again many times. Supply caravans to the army were attacked, as were columns of wounded soldiers. Units of gendarmerie and soldiers sent to reconnect telegraph lines or protect supply columns themselves came under attack. As an example of the enormity of the problem, in the middle of April an entire division of gendarmerie troops was ordered from Hakkâri to Çatak to battle a major uprising there, but the division could not fight through the Armenian defenses.

Once careful preparations had been made, Armenians revolted in the City of Van. On April 20, well-armed Armenian units, many wearing military uniforms, took the city and drove Ottoman forces into the citadel. The rebels burned down most of the city, some buildings also being destroyed by the two canons the Ottomans had in the citadel. Troops were sent from the Erzurum and Iranian Fronts, but they were unable to relieve the city. The Russians and Armenians were advancing from the north and the southwest. On May 17 the Ottomans evacuated the citadel. Soldiers and civilians fought their way southwest around Lake Van. Some took to boats on the Lake, but nearly half of these were killed by rebels firing from the shore or when their boats ran aground. Some of the Muslims of Van survived at least for a while, put in the care of American missionaries. Most who did not escape were killed. Villagers were either killed in their homes or collected from surrounding areas and sent into the great massacre at Zeve.

The ensuing suffering of the Muslims and Armenians is well known. It was a history of bloody warfare between peoples in which all died in great numbers. When the Ottomans retook much of the East, the Armenian population fled to Russia. There they starved and died of disease. When the Russians retook Van and Bitlis Provinces, they did not allow the Armenians to return, leaving them to starve in the North. The Russians wanted the land for themselves. It is also well known that Armenians who remained, those in Erzurum Province, massacred Muslims in great numbers at the end of the war.
My purpose here is not to retell that history. I wish to demonstrate that the Ottomans were right in considering the Armenians to be their enemies, if further proof is needed. The map shows proof that the Armenian rebels in fact were agents of Russia.

The Armenians of the Ottoman East rebelled in exactly those areas that were most important to the Russians. The benefit of the rebellion in Van City, the center of Ottoman Administration in the Southeast is obvious. The other sites of rebellion were in reality more important: Rebellion in Erzurum Province cut the Ottoman Army off from supplies and communications. The rebellion was directly in the path of the Russian advance from the North. The Armenians rebelled in the Saray and Başkale regions, at the two major passes that the Russians were to use in their invasion from Iran. The Armenians rebelled in the region near Çatak, at the mountain passes needed for the Ottomans to bring up troops to the Iran frontier, the passes needed for the Ottoman retreat. The Armenians rebelled in great numbers in Sivas Province and in Şebinkarahisar. This would seem to be an odd place for a revolt, a region where the Armenians were outnumbered by the Muslims ten to one, but Sivas was tactically important. It was the railhead from which all supplies and men passed to the Front, basically along one road. It was the prefect site for guerilla action to harass Ottoman supply lines. The Armenians also rebelled in Cilicia, the intended site for a British invasion that would have cut the rail links to the South. It was not the fault of the rebels that the British preferred to attempt the madness at Gallipoli instead of an attack in Cilicia that would surely have been more successful.

All these regions were the very spots a military planner would choose to most damage the Ottoman war effort. It cannot be an accident that they were also the spots chosen by the rebels for their revolt. Anyone can see that the revolts were a disaster for the Army. The disaster was compounded by the fact that the Ottomans were forced to withdraw whole divisions from the Front to battle the Armenian rebels. The war might have been much different if these divisions had been able to fight the Russians, not the rebels. I agree with Field-Marshall Pomiankowski, who was the only real European historian of World War I in the Ottoman Empire, that the Armenian rebellion was the key to the Ottoman defeat in the East.

Only after seven months of Armenian rebellion did the Ottomans order the deportation of Armenians (May 26-30, 1915).

The Ottoman Record

How do we know that this analysis is true? It is, after all, very different than what is usually called the history of the Armenians. We know it is true because it is the product of reasoned historical analysis, not ideology.

To understand this, we must consider the difference between history and ideology, the difference between scientific analysis and nationalist belief, the difference between the proper historian and the ideologue. To the historian what matters is the attempt to find the objective truth. To the nationalist ideologue what matters is the triumph of his cause. A proper historian first searches for evidence, then make up his mind. An ideologue first makes up his mind, then looks for evidence.

A historian looks for historical context. In particular, he judges the reliability of witnesses. He judges if those who gave reports had reason to lie. An ideologue takes evidence wherever he can find it, and may invent the evidence he cannot find. He does not look too closely at the evidence, perhaps because he is afraid of what he will find. As an example, the ideologues contend that the trials of Ottoman leaders after World War I prove that the Turks were guilty of genocide. They do not mention that the so-called trials reached their verdicts when the British controlled Istanbul. They do not mention that the courts were in the hands of the Quisling Damad Ferid Paşa government, which had a long record of lying about its enemies, the Committee of Union and Progress. They do not mention that Damad Ferid would do anything to please the British and keep his job. They do not mention that the British, more honest than their lackeys, admitted that they could not find evidence of any “genocide.” They do not mention that the defendants were not represented by their own lawyers. They do not mention that crimes against Armenians were only a small part of a long list of so-called crimes, everything the judges could invent. The ideologues do not mention that the courts should best be compared to those convened by Josef Stalin. The ideologues do not mention this evidence.

A historian first discovers what actually happened, then tries to explain the reasons. An ideologue forgets the process of discovery. He assumes that what he believes is correct, then constructs a theory to explain it. The work of Dr. Taner Akçam is an example of this. He first accepts completely the beliefs of the Armenian nationalists. He then constructs an elaborate sociological theory, claiming that genocide was the result of Turkish history and the Turkish character. This sort of analysis is like a house built on a foundation of sand. The house looks good, but the first strong wind knocks it down. In this case, the strong wind that destroys the theory is the force of the truth.

A historian knows that one has to look back in history, sometimes far back in history, to find the causes of events. An ideologue does not bother. Again, he may be afraid of what he will find. Reading the Armenian Nationalists one would assume that the Armenian Question began in 1894. Very seldom does one find in their work mention of Armenian alliances with the Russians against the Turks stretching back to the eighteenth century. One never finds recognition that it was the Russians and the Armenians themselves who began to dissolve 700 years of peace between Turks and Armenians. These are important matters for the historian, but they hurt the cause of the ideologue.

The historian studies. The ideologue wages a political war. From the start the Armenian Question has been a political campaign. Materials that have been used to write the long-accepted and false history of the Armenian Question were written as political documents. They were written for political effect. Whether they were articles in the Dashnak newspaper or false documents produced by the British Propaganda Office, they were propaganda, not sources of accurate history. Historians have examined and rejected all these so-called “historical sources.” Yet the same falsehoods continually appear as “proof” that there was an Armenian Genocide. The lies have existed for so long, the lies have been repeated so many times, that those who do not know the real history assume that the lies are true.

It is not only Americans and Europeans who have been fooled. Recently I read a two-volume work written by a Turkish scholar. Much of what appears on the Armenians is absolute nonsense. For example, in 1908 in the City of Van, Ottoman officials discovered an arsenal of Dashnak weapons–2,000 guns, hundreds of thousands of cartridges, 5,000 bombs–all in preparation for an Armenian revolt. Armenians rebels fought Ottoman troops briefly, then fled. This event is described in all the diplomatic literature and books on Van. The author, however, says what occurred was a revolt of 1,000 Turks (!) against the government, and mentions no rebel weapons. How could such a mistake be made? It was because of the source. The author took all information from the Dashnak Party newspaper!

We must affirm a basic principle: Those who take propaganda as their source themselves write propaganda, not history.

Too many scholars, Turks and non-Turks alike, have accepted the lies of groups like the Dashnak Party and not even looked at the internal reports of the Ottomans. Scholars have the right to make mistakes, but scholars also have a duty to look at all sources of information before they write. It is wrong to base writings on political propaganda and to ignore the honest reports of the Ottomans. The first place to look for Ottoman history should be the records of the Ottomans.

Why rely on Ottoman archival accounts to write history? Because they are the sort of solid data that is the basis of all good history. The Ottomans did not write propaganda for today’s media. The reports of Ottoman soldiers and officials were not political documents or public relations exercises. They were secret internal reports in which responsible men relayed what they believed to be true to their government. They might sometimes have been mistaken, but they were never liars. There is no record of deliberate deception in Ottoman documents. Compare this to the dismal history of Armenian Nationalist deceptions: fake statistics on population, fake statements attributed to Mustafa Kemal, fake telegrams of Talat Paşa, fake reports in a Blue Book, misuse of court records and, worst of all, no mention of Turks who were killed by Armenians.

I have been asked to make suggestions as to what Turks can do to correct false history. I hesitate to do so, because Turks already know what has to be done–opposing the lies that are told about their ancestors. You are already doing it. It is a hard fight: The prejudices about Turks stand in your way, and those who oppose you are politically strong, but the truth is on your side. I am very pleased that the Turks, and the Turkish Parliament, are uniting to oppose the lies told about the Turks. The recent agreement between Prime Minister Erdoğan, and Minority Leader Baykal, prove that the Turks are taking action. The attempt by the Tarih Kurumu to debate and discuss with Armenian scholars proves that the Turks are taking action. The many books on this issue now being printed by Turkish scholars prove that the Turks are taking action. Men like Şükrü Elekdağ are fighting for the truth. I and others who have long opposed the lies are glad we are not alone.

In the past, scholars, including myself, have proposed that Turkish and Armenian historians, along with others who study this history, should meet to research and debate the history of the Turks and Armenians. Prime Minister Erdoğan and Dr. Baykal have proposed that all archives be opened to a joint commission on the Armenian Question. This is exactly what should be done. Most important, they have declared that historians should settle this question. They have also shown that Turks have nothing to fear from the truth.

We can only hope that scholarly integrity will triumph over politics and the Armenian Nationalists will join in debate. I am not hopeful they will do so. I recently gave two talks at the University of Minnesota, a center of so-called “Armenian Genocide Studies.” Dr. Taner Akçam teaches there. Dr. Akçam was invited to my lectures, but did not come. In fact, no Armenian came. Instead all notices of the lecture were torn down, so that others would not know I was speaking.

This is not a scholarly approach. It is political. The Armenian Nationalists have decided that they will win their political fight if no one knows there is a scholarly opposition to their ideology. Therefore, Armenian Nationalists will only meet with Turks who first state that Turks committed genocide. These are described in the American and European press as “Turkish scholars.” Readers are left with the impression, a carefully-cultivated impression, that Turkish scholars believe there was a genocide. Readers are left with the impression that it is only the Turkish Government that denies there was a genocide.

We know this is not true. Every year many books and articles are published in Turkey that not only deny the “Armenian Genocide” but document Armenian persecution of Turks. Conferences are held. Mass graves of innocent Turks killed by Armenian Nationalists are found. Museums and monuments are opened to commemorate the Turkish dead. Historians who have seen the Ottoman archival records or read the Turkish books on the Armenian Question do not accept the idea of a genocide. They know that in wartime many Armenians were killed by Turks, and that many Turks were killed by Armenians. They know that this was war, not genocide.

Why do so many in my country and Europe believe that the small group of Turks who accept the Armenian Nationalists beliefs represent Turkish scholarship? Why is it believed that these Turks speak for the real beliefs of Turkish professors? Part of the reason is prejudice. Prejudice against Turks has existed for so long that it easy for people to believe that Turks must have been guilty. Another reason, however, is that few in Europe and America know that real Turkish scholarship on this issue exists
Excellent work on the Armenian Question is now being written in Turkey. As you know, for too long Turks did not study the history of the Turks and Armenians. This has now changed. Anyone who has seen modern Turkish work on the Armenian Question must be impressed. The Tarih Kurumu has taken the lead in this, as it should. I obviously do not believe that Turks should be the only ones who write Turkish history, but Turks should be the main historians of Turkey. It is your country and your history. The problem lies in bringing the excellent history now being written in Turkey and the documents of Turkish history to scholars, politicians, and the public in other countries. The problem is that Turkish historians naturally write in Turkish, and Europeans and Americans do not read Turkish.

Should those who write the history of Turkey read Turkish? Yes, of course they should read Turkish. Should they use the many books on Turkish history written in Turkish? Yes, of course they should do so. Should they understand all sides of an issue, including the Turkish side, before they write? Yes, because that is a scholar’s duty. Do they always do so? No. In particular, most books on the so-called “Armenian Genocide” do not refer to modern Turkish studies. It is no use saying this is wrong. It is no use telling scholars to learn Turkish. They will not or cannot do so. To be fair, there are few places in my own country where Turkish is taught. The only answer is that the Turkish books must be translated into other languages, especially English, which is understood all over the world.

A start has been made. Today there are valuable books, originally in Turkish, that have been translated. These include Esat Uras’ excellent, if now outdated, history, the recent publication on the Armenian Question by the Turkish Parliament, the history written by the Turkish Foreign Office, the late Kâmuran Gürün’s Armenian File, Orel and Yuca’s Talat Paşa Telegrams, and others. The series of Ottoman documents on the Armenian Question, translated and published by the General Staff, the Ottoman Archives, the Tarih Kurumu, and the Foreign Ministry, are perhaps the most valuable of all. But there are so many others that are needed There are too many to list here, but I note that even the memoirs of Kâzim Karabekir and Ahmet Refik have not been translated. All these books should be read by the widest possible audience. They should be translated.

And the translations must include books that seem to be on topics other than the Armenian Question. There are no accurate and detailed military histories of World War I in the Ottoman Empire in any European language. What exists is often wrong, and not only wrong on the Armenians. General histories of World War I, for example, name the wrong generals, move troops to the wrong places, and never seem to understand Ottoman strategy. They seldom mention the one most significant factor in the war—the incredible strength and endurance of Turkish soldiers. Why is this important to the Armenian Question? It is important because the danger from the Armenian rebellion and the reason for the Armenian deportations cannot be understood unless the military situation is understood. The Ottoman sources prove that the Armenian rebellion was an essential part of the Russian military plan. The Ottoman sources prove that the Armenian rebellion was an important part of the Russian victory. The Ottoman sources prove that the Armenian rebels were, in effect, soldiers in the Russian Army.

There is a series of military histories that accurately portray the events of the Ottoman wars and the Turkish War of Independence—the histories published by the Turkish General Staff– many volumes, filled with great detail, many maps, and descriptions of Ottoman plans and actions. These books are based on the reports of the Ottoman soldiers themselves, not only on the reports of the Ottoman enemies. They should be read by every historian of World War I. Yet these books are in Turkish. If they are ever to be used in America and Europe, they must be in English.

And there must be many more accurate and honest books on Turkey for teachers and students in Europe and America. Only by telling the truth to youth can the prejudices against Turks be finally ended. We have made a start. The Istanbul Chambers of Commerce have financed the first detailed book on Turkey for American teachers. Many more books are needed.

Finally, I wish to comment on current politics. Some may feel that I should not do so. I am not a Turk, and this is surely a Turkish problem. Nor am I a political scientist or a politician. I am a historian. I am speaking on this problem because it is basically a historical question. As a historian, I am infuriated when any group, or any country, is ordered to lie about its history. The political problem I am speaking of is the growing cry from Europe that Turkey must admit the “Armenian Genocide” before it can enter the European Union.

I am angry that anyone can believe that accepting a lie about Turkish history will somehow be a benefit to Europe or to Turkey. I know, and I believe you know, that it will make matters much worse.

Today the Armenian Nationalists are proclaiming in the parliaments of Europe and the Congress of the United States that they only want Turkey to admit that genocide occurred, then all will be well. I once spoke to an American official who told me that the Turks should say, “Yes, we did it, sorry,” and then forget it. I asked him if he thought the Turks had committed genocide. He replied that he did not know and did not care. I told him the Turks would never lie like that about their fathers and grandfathers. He told me I was naïve. But he was the one who was naïve, because he believed that the Armenian Nationalists would be satisfied with an apology.

Armenian Claims

The plan of the Armenian Nationalists has not changed in more than 100 years. It is to create an Armenia in Eastern Anatolia and the Southern Caucasus, regardless of the wishes of the people who live there. The Armenian Nationalists have made their plan quite clear. First, the Turkish Republic is to state that there was an “Armenian Genocide” and to apologize for it. Second, the Turks are to pay reparations. Third, an Armenian state is to be created. The Nationalists are very specific on the borders of this state. The map you see is based on the program of the Dashnak Party and the Armenian Republic. It shows what the Armenian Nationalists claim. The map also shows the population of the areas claimed in Turkey and the number of Armenians in the world. If the Armenians were to be given what they claim, and if every Armenian in the world were to come to Eastern Anatolia, their numbers would still be only half of the number of those Turkish citizens who live there now. Of course, the Armenians of California, Massachusetts, and France would never come in great numbers to Eastern Anatolia. The population of the new “Armenia” would be less than one-fourth Armenian at best. Could such a state long exist? Yes, it could exist, but only if the Turks were expelled. That was the policy of the Armenian Nationalists in 1915. It would be their policy tomorrow.

We should be very clear on Armenian claims. Their claims are not based on history, because Armenians have not ruled in Eastern Anatolia for more than 900 years. Their claims are not based on culture: Before the revolutionaries and the Russians destroyed all peace, the Armenians and Turks shared the same culture. Armenians were integrated into the Ottoman system, and most of the Armenians spoke Turkish. They ate the same food as the Turks, shared the same music, and lived in the same sorts of houses. The Armenian claims are surely not based on a belief in democracy: Armenians have not been a majority in Eastern Anatolia for centuries, and they would be a small minority there now. Their claims are based on their nationalist ideology. That ideology is unchanging. It was the same in 1895 and 1915 as it is in 2005. They believe there should be an “Armenia” in Eastern Turkey—no matter the history, no matter the rights of the people who live there.

History teaches that the Armenian Nationalists will not stop their claims if the Turks forget the truth and say there was an Armenian Genocide. They will not cease to claim Erzurum and Van because the Turks have apologized for a crime they did not commit. No. They will increase their efforts. They will say, “The Turks have admitted they did it. Now they must pay for their crimes.” The same critics who now say the Turks should admit genocide will say the Turks should pay reparations. Then they will demand the Turks give Erzurum and Van and Elaziğ and Sivas and Bitlis and Trabzon to Armenia.

I know the Turks will not give in to this pressure. The Turks will not submit, because they know that to do so would simply be wrong. How can it be right to become a member of an organization that demands you lie as the price of admission? Would any honest man join an organization that said, “You can only join us if you first falsely say that your father was a murderer?”

I hope and trust that the European Union will reject the demands of the Armenian Nationalists. I hope they will realize that the Armenian Nationalists are not concerned with what is best for Europe. But whatever the European Union demands, I have faith in the honor of the Turks. What I know of the Turks tells me that they will never falsely say there was an Armenian Genocide. I have faith in the honesty of the Turks. I know that the Turks will resist demands to confess to a crime they did not commit, no matter the price of honesty. I have faith in the integrity of the Turks. I know that the Turks will not lie about this history. I know that the Turks will never say their fathers were murderers. I have that faith in the Turks.


Let the Historian Decide on the So-Called Armenian Gecocide

June 5, 2009

V. Related Articles

Let the Historians decide on the so-called Armenian Genocide

Prof. Dr. Justin McCARTHY *

Throughout the recent debate on the Armenian genocide question, one statement has characterized those who object to politicians’ attempts to write history, “Let the Historians decide.” Few of us have specified who we are referring to in that statement. It is now time to do so.

There is a vast difference between history written to defend one-sided nationalist convictions and real accounts of history. History intends to find that the truth is illusive. Historians know they have prejudices that can affect their judgment. They know they never have all the facts. Yet they always try to find the truth, whatever that may be.

Nationalists who use history have a different set of goals. They use events from the past as weapons in their own nation’s battles. They have a purpose — the triumph of their cause — and they will use anything to succeed in this goal. While a historian tries to collect all the relevant facts and put them together as a coherent picture, the nationalist selects those pieces of history that fit his purpose’ ignoring the others.

Like other men and women, historians have political goals and ideologies, but a true historian acknowledges his errors when the facts do not support his belief. The nationalist apologist never does so. If the facts do not fit his theories the nationalist ignores those facts and looks for other ways to make his case. True historians can make intellectual mistakes. Nationalist apologists commit intellectual crimes.

The Armenian issue has long been plagued with nationalist studies. This has led to an inconsistent history that ignores the time-tested principles of historical research. Yet when the histories of Turks and Armenians are approached with the normal tools of history a logical and consistent account results. “Let the historians decide” is a call for historical study like any other historical study, one that looks at all the facts, studies all the opinions, applies historical principles and comes to logical conclusions.

Historians first ask the most basic question. “Was there an Armenia?” Was there a region within the Ottoman Empire where Armenians were a compact majority that might rightfully demand their own state?

To find the answer, historians look to government statistics for population figures, especially to archival statistics, because governments seldom deliberately lie to themselves. They want to know their populations so they can understand them, watch them, conscript them, and, most importantly to a government, tax them. The Ottomans were no different than any other government in this situation. Like other governments they made mistakes, particularly in under-counting women and children. However, this can be corrected using statistical methods. What results is the most accurate possible picture of the number of Ottoman Armenians. By the beginning of World War I Armenians made up only 17 percent of the area they claimed as ” Ottoman Armenia,” the so called “Six Vilayets.” Judging by population figures, there was no Ottoman Armenia. In fact if all the Armenians in the world had come to Eastern Anatolia, they still would not have been a majority there.

Two inferences can be drawn from the relatively small number of Armenians in the Ottoman East: The first is that by themselves, the Armenians of Anatolia would have been no great threat to the Ottoman Empire. Armenian rebels might have disputed civil order but there were too few of them to endanger Ottoman authority. Armenian rebels needed help from outside forces, help that could only be provided by Russia. The second inference is that Armenian nationalists could have created a state that was truly theirs only if they first evicted the Muslims who lived there.

To understand the history of the development of Muslim-Armenian antagonism one must apply historical principles. In applying those principles one can see that the history of Armenians was a history like other histories. Some of that history was naturally unique because of its environment but much of it was strikingly similar to what was seen in other places and times.

1. Most ethnic conflicts develop over a long period. Germans and Poles, Finns and Russians, Hindus and Muslims in the Indian subcontinent, Irish and English, Europeans and Native Americans in North America — all of these ethnic conflicts unfolded over generations, often over centuries.

2. Until very modern times most mass mortality of ethnic groups was the result of warfare in which there were at least two warring sides.

3. When conflict erupted between nationalist revolutionaries and states it was the revolutionaries who began confrontations. Internal peace was in the interest of settled states. Looked at charitably, states often wished for tranquility for the benefits it gave their citizens. With less charity it can be seen that peace made it easier to collect taxes and use armies to fight foreign enemies, not internal foes. World history demonstrates this too well for examples from other regions to be needed here. In the Ottoman Empire, the examples of the rebellions in Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria demonstrate the truth of this.

On these principles, the histories of Turks and Armenians are no different from other histories. Historical principles applied.

The conflict between Turks and Armenians did indeed develop over a long time. The primary impetus for what was to become the Armenian-Muslim conflict lay in Russian imperial expansion. At the time of Ivan the Terrible, circa the sixteenth century, Russians began a policy of expelling Muslims from lands they had conquered. Over the next three hundred years, Muslims, many of them Turks, were killed or driven out of what today is Ukraine, Crimea and the Caucasus. From the 1770s to the 1850s Russian attacks and Russian laws forced more than 400,000 Crimean Tatars to flee their land. In the Caucasus region, 1.2 million Circassians and Abazians were either expelled or killed by Russians. Of that number, one third died as victims of the mass murder of Muslims that has been mostly ignored. The Tatars, Circassians and Abazians came to the Ottoman Empire. Their presence taught Ottoman Muslims what they could expect from a Russian conquest.

Members of the Armenian minority in the Caucasus began to rebel against Muslim rule and to ally themselves with Russian invaders in the 1790s: Armenian armed units joined the Russians, Armenian spies delivered plans to the Russians. In these wars, Muslims were massacred and forced into exile. Armenians in turn migrated into areas previously held by Muslims, such as Karabakh. This was the beginning of the division of the peoples of the southern Caucasus and eastern Anatolia into two conflicting sides — the Russian Empire and Armenians on one side, the Muslim Ottoman Empire on the other. Most Armenians and Muslims undoubtedly wanted nothing to do with this conflict, but the events were to force them to take sides.

The 1827 to 1829 wars between Russians, Persians and Ottomans saw the beginning of a great population exchange in the East that was to last until 1920. When the Russians conquered the Erivan Khanete, today the Armenian Republic, the majority of its population was Muslim. Approximately two thirds, 60,000 of these Muslims were forced out of Erivan by Russians. The Russians went on to invade Anatolia, where large numbers of Armenians took up the Russian cause. At the war’s end, when the Russians left eastern Anatolia 50 to 90,000 Armenians joined them. They took the place of the exiled Muslims in Erivan and else where, joined by 40,000 Armenians from Iran.

The great population exchange had begun, and mutual distrust between Anatolia’s Muslims and the Armenians was the result. The Russians were to invade Anatolia twice more in the nineteenth century, during the Crimean War and the 1877-78 Russo-Turkish War. In both wars significant numbers of Armenians joined the Russians acting as spies and even occupation police.

In Erzurum, for example, British consular officials reported that the Armenian police chief appointed by the Russians and his Armenian force “molested, illtreated, and insulted the Mohammadan population,” and that 6,000 Muslim families had been forced to flee the city. When the Russians left part of their conquest at least 25,000 Armenians joined them, fearing the vengeance of the Muslims. The largest migration though was the forced flight of 70,000 Muslims, mainly Turks, from the lands conquered by the Russians and the exodus of Laz in 1882.

By 1900, approximately 1,400,000 Turkish and Caucasian Muslims had been forced out by Russians. One third of those had died, either murdered or victims of starvation and disease. Between 125,000 and 150,000 Armenians emigrated from Ottoman Anatolia to Erivan and other parts of the Russian southern Caucasus.

This was the toll of Russian imperialism. Not only had one-and-a-half million people been exiled or killed, but ethnic peace had been destroyed.

The Muslims had been taught that their neighbors, the Armenians, with whom they had lived for more than 700 years, might once again become their enemies when the Russians next advanced. The Russians had created the two sides that history teaches were to be expected in conflict and mass murder.

The actions of Armenian rebels exacerbated the growing division and mutual fear between Muslims and Armenians of the Ottoman East.

The main Armenian revolutionary organizations were founded in the 1880s and 1890s in the Russian Empire. They were socialist and nationalist in ideology. Terrorism was their weapon of choice. Revolutionaries openly stated that their plan was the same as that which had worked well against the Ottoman Empire in Bulgaria. In Bulgaria rebels had first massacred innocent Muslim villagers. The Ottoman government, occupied with a war against Serbs in Bosnia, depended on the local Turks to defeat the rebels, which they did, but with great losses of life. European newspapers reported Bulgarians deaths, but never Muslim deaths. Europeans did not consider that the deaths were a result of the rebellion, nor the Turk’s intention. The Russians invaded ostensibly to save the Christians. The result was the death of 260,000 Turks, 17 percent of the Muslim population of Bulgaria, and the expulsion of a further 34 percent of Turks. The Armenian rebels expected to follow the same plan.

The Armenian rebellion began with the organization of guerilla bands made up of Armenians from both the Russian and Ottoman lands. Arms were smuggled in. Guerillas assassinated Ottoman officials, attacked Muslim villages, and used bombs, the nineteenth century’s terrorist’s standard weapon. By 1894 the rebels were ready for open revolution. Revolts broke out in Samsun, Zeytun, Van and elsewhere in 1894 and 1895. As in Bulgaria they began with the murder of innocent civilians. The leader of the Zeytun rebellion said his forces had killed 20,000 Muslims. As in Bulgaria the Muslims retaliated. In Van for example 400 Muslims and 1,700 Armenians died. Further rebellions followed. In Adana in 1909 the Armenian revolt turned out very badly for both the rebels and the innocent when the government lost control and 17,000 to 20,000 died, mostly Armenians. Throughout the revolts and especially in 1894 and 1897 the Armenians deliberately attacked Kurdish tribesmen, knowing that it was from them that great vengeance was not that likely to be expected. Pitched battles between Kurds and Armenians resulted.

But it all went wrong for the Armenian rebels. They had followed the Bulgarian plan, killing Muslims and initiating revenge attacks on Armenians. Their own people had suffered most. Yet the Russians and Europeans they depended upon did not intervene. European politics and internal problems stayed the Russian hand.

What were the Armenian rebels trying to create? When Serbs and Bulgarians rebelled against the Ottoman Empire they claimed lands where the majorities were Serbs or Bulgarians. They expelled Turks and other Muslims from their lands, but these Muslims had not been a majority. This was not true for the Armenians.

The lands they covered were overwhelmingly Muslim in population.

The only way they could create an Armenia was to expel the Muslims. Knowing this history is essential to understanding what was to come during World War I. There had been a long historical period in which two conflicting sides developed.

Russian imperialists and Armenian revolutionaries had begun a struggle that was in no way wanted by the Ottomans. Yet the Ottomans were forced to oppose the plans of both Russians and Armenians, if only to defend the majority of their subjects. History taught the Ottomans that if the Armenians triumphed not only would territory be lost, but mass expulsions and deaths would be the fate of the Muslim majority. This was the one absolutely necessary goal of the Armenian rebellion.

The preview to what was to come in the Great War came in the Russian Revolution of 1905. Harried all over the Empire, the Russians encouraged ethnic conflict in Azerbaijan, fomenting an inter-communal war. Azeri Turks and Armenians battled each other when they should have attacked the Empire that ruled over both. Both Turks and Armenians learned the bitter lesson that the other was the enemy, even though most of them wanted nothing of war and bloodshed. The sides were drawn.

In late 1914, inter-communal conflict began in the Ottoman East with the Armenian rebellion. Anatolian Armenians went to the Russian South Caucasus for training, approximately 8,000 in Kagizman, 6,000 in Igdir and others elsewhere. They returned to join local rebels and revolts erupted all over the East. The Ottoman Government estimated 30,000 rebels in Sivas Vilayeti alone, probably an exaggeration but indicative of the scope of the rebellion. Military objectives were the first to be attacked.

Telegraph lines were cut. Roads through strategic mountain passes were seized. The rebels attacked Ottoman officials, particularly recruiting officers, throughout the East. Outlying Muslim villages were assaulted and the first massacring of Muslims began. The rebels attempted to take cities such as Zeytun, Mus, Sebin Karahisar and Urfa. Ottoman armed forces which were needed at the front were instead forced to defend the interior.

The most successful rebel action was in the city of Van. In March 1915 they seized the city from a weak Ottoman garrison and proceeded to kill all the Muslims who could not escape. Some 3,000 Kurdish villagers from the surrounding region were herded together into the great natural bowl of Zeve, outside the city of Van, and slaughtered. Kurdish tribes in turn took their revenge on any Armenian villagers they found.

Popular opinion today knows of only one set of deportations, more properly called forced migrations, in Anatolia, the deportation of the Armenians. There were in fact many forced migrations. For the Armenians, the worst forced migrations came when they accompanied their own armies in retreat. Starvation and disease killed great numbers of both, far more than fell to enemies’ bullets.

It is true that the Ottomans had obvious reason to fear Armenians, and that forced migration was an age-old tool in Middle Eastern and Balkan conflicts. It is also true that while its troops were fighting the Russians and Armenians, the Ottoman Government could not and did not properly protect the Armenian migrants. Nevertheless, more than 200,000 of the deported Armenians reached Greater Syria and survived Those who see the evil of genocide in the forced migrations of Armenians ignore the survival of so many of those who were deported. They also ignore the fact that the Armenians who were most under Ottoman control, those in Western cities such as Izmir, Istanbul, and Edirne, were neither deported nor molested, presumably because they were not a threat If genocide is to be considered, however, then the murders of Turks and Kurds in 1915 and 1916 must be included in the calculation of blame. The Armenian molestations and massacres in Cilicia, deplored even by their French and British allies, must be judged. And the exile or death of two-thirds of the Turks of Erivan Province, the Armenian Republic, during the war must be remembered.

Historical principles were once again at work. Rebels had begun the action and the result was the creation of two warring sides. After the Armenian deeds in Van and elsewhere, Muslims could only have expected that Armenians were enemies who could kill them. Armenians could only have feared Muslim revenge. Most of these people had no wish for war, but they had been driven to it. It was to be a merciless conflict.

For the next five years, total war raged in the Ottoman East. When the Russians attacked and occupied the East, more than a million Muslims fled as refugees, itself an indication that they expected to die if they remained. They were attacked on the roads by Armenian bands as they fled. When the Russians retreated it was the turn of the Armenians to flee. The Russians attacked and retreated, then attacked again, then finally retreated for good. With each advance came the flight of hundreds of thousands. Two wars were fought in Eastern Anatolia, a war between the armies of Russia and the Ottomans and a war between local Muslims and Armenians. In the war between the armies, civilians and enemy soldiers were sometimes treated with humanity, sometimes not. Little quarter was given in the war between the Armenians and the Muslims, however. That war was fought with all the ferocity of men who fought to defend their families.

Popular opinion today knows of only one set of deportations, more properly called forced migrations, in Anatolia, the deportation of the Armenians. There were in fact many forced migrations. For the Armenians, the worst forced migrations came when they accompanied their own armies in retreat. Starvation and disease killed great numbers of both, far more than fell to enemies’ bullets. This is as should be expected from historical principles; starvation and disease are always the worst killers. It is also a historical principle that refugees suffer most of all.

One of-the many forced migration was the organized expulsion of Armenians from much of Anatolia by the Ottoman government. In light of the history and the events of this war, it is true that the Ottomans had obvious reason to fear the Armenians, and that forced migration was an age-old tool in Middle Eastern and Balkan conflicts. It is also true that while its troops were fighting the Russians and Armenians, the Ottoman Government could not and did not properly protect the Armenian migrants. Nevertheless, more than 200,000 of the deported Armenians reached Greater Syria and survived. (Some estimate that as many as two-thirds of the deportees survived.)

Those who see the evil of genocide in the forced migrations of Armenians ignore the survival of so many of those who were deported. They also ignore the fact that the Armenians who were most under Ottoman control, those in Western cities such as Izmir, Istanbul, and Edirne, were neither deported nor molested, presumably because they were not a threat.

No claim of genocide can rationally stand in the light of these facts. If genocide is to be considered, however, then the murders of Turks and Kurds in 1915 and 1916 must be included in the calculation of blame. The Armenian murder of the innocent civilians of Erzincan, Bayburt, Tercan, Erzurum, and all the villages on the route of the Armenian retreat in 1918 must be taken into account. The Armenian molestations and massacres in Cilicia, deplored even by their French and British allies, must be judged. And the exile or death of two-thirds of the Turks of Erivan Province, the Armenian Republic, during the war must be remembered.

That is the history of the Conflict between the Turks and the Armenians. Only when that history is known can the assertions of those who accuse the Turks be understood.

In examining the claims of Armenian nationalists, first to be considered should be outright lies.

The most well-known of many fabrications on the Armenian Question are the famous “Talat Pasa Telegrams,” in which the Ottoman interior minister and other officials supposedly telegraphed instructions to murder the Armenians. These conclusively have been proven to be forgeries by Sinasi Orel and Sureyya Yuca. However, one can only wonder why they would ever have been taken seriously. A whole people cannot be convicted of genocide on the basis of penciled scribblings on a telegraph pad.

These were not the only examples of words put in Talat Pasa’s mouth. During World War I, the British Propaganda Office and American missionaries published a number of scurrilous works in which Ottoman officials were falsely quoted as ordering hideous deeds.

One of the best examples of invented Ottoman admissions of guilt may be that concocted by the American ambassador Morgenthau. Morgenthau asked his readers to believe that Talat Pasa offhandedly told the ambassador of his plans to eradicate the Armenians. Applying common sense and some knowledge of diplomatic practice helps to evaluate these supposed indiscretions. Can anyone believe that the Ottoman interior minister would actually have done such a thing? He knew that America invariably supported the Armenians, and had always done so. If he felt the need to unburden his soul, who would be the last person to whom he would talk? The American ambassador. Yet to whom does he tell all? The American Ambassador! Talat Pasa was a practical politician. Like all politicians, he undoubtedly violated rules and made errors. But no one has ever alleged that Talat Pasa was an idiot. Perhaps Ambassador Morgenthau knew that the U.S. State Department would never believe his story, because he never reported it at the time to his masters, only writing it later in a popular book.

The use of quotes from Americans is selective. One American ambassador, Morgenthau, is quoted by the Armenian apologists, but another American ambassador, Bristol, is ignored. Why? Because Bristol gave a balanced account and accused Armenians as well as Muslims of crimes.

The most often seen fabrication may be the famous “Hitler Quote.” Hitler supposedly stated, “Who after all is today speaking of the destruction of the Armenians?” to justify his Holocaust. The quote now appears every year in school books, speeches in the American Congress and the French Parliament and most writings in which the Turks are attacked. Professor Heath Lowry has cast serious doubt on the authenticity of the quote. It is likely that Hitler never said it. But there is a more serious question: How can Adolf Hitler be taken as a serious source on Armenian history? Were his other historical pronouncements so reliable that his opinions can be trusted?

Politically, “Hitler” is a magic word that conjures up an all too true image of undisputed evil. He is quoted on the Armenian Question for polemic and political purpose, to tie the Turks to Hitler’s evil. In the modern world nothing defames so well as associating your enemies with Hitler. This is all absurdity, but it is potent absurdity that convinces those who know nothing of the facts. It is also a deliberate distortion of history.

Population has also been a popular field for fabrication. Armenian nationalists had a particular difficulty — they were only a small part of the population of the land they planned to carve from the Ottoman Empire. The answer was false statistics. Figures appeared that claimed that Armenians were the largest group in Eastern Anatolia. These population statistics were supposedly the work of the Armenian Patriarch, but they were actually the work of an Armenian who assumed a French name, Marcel Leart, published them in Paris and pretended they were the Patriarch’s work. Naturally, he greatly exaggerated the number of Armenians and diminished the number of Turks. Once again, the amazing thing is that these were ever taken seriously. Yet they were used after World War I to justify granting Eastern Anatolia to the Armenians and are still routinely quoted today.

The Armenian apologists quote American missionaries as if missionaries would never lie, omitting the numerous proofs that missionaries did indeed lie and avoided mentioning anything that would show Armenians to be less than innocent. The missionaries in Van, for example, reported the deaths of Armenians, but not the fact that those same Armenians had killed all the Muslims they caught in that city.

The main falsification of history by the Armenian apologists lies not in what they say, but in what they do not say. They do not admit that much of the evidence they rely on is tainted because it was produced by the British Propaganda Office in World War I. For example, the Bryce Report, “The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire,” has recently been reproduced by an Armenian organization, with a long introduction that praises its supposed veracity. Nowhere does the reprint state that the report was produced and paid for by British Propaganda as a way to attack its wartime enemies, the Ottomans. Nor does the reprint state that the other Bryce Report, this one on alleged German atrocities, has long been known by historians to be a collection of lies. Nor does the reprint consider that the sources in the report, such as the Dashnak Party, had a tradition of not telling the truth.

The basic historical omission is never citing, never even looking at evidence that might contradict one’s theories. Nationalist apologists refer to English propaganda, missionary reports, statements by Armenian revolutionaries, and the like. They seldom refer to Ottoman documents, hundreds of which have been published in recent years, except perhaps to claim that nothing written by the Ottomans can be trusted although they trust completely the writings of Armenian partisans. These documents indicate that the Ottomans planned no genocide and were at least officially solicitous of the Armenians’ welfare. The fact that these contradict the Armenian sources is all the more reason that they should be consulted. Good history can only be written then both sides of historical arguments are considered.

Worst of all is the most basic omission — the Armenian apologists do not mention the Muslim dead. Any civil war will appear to be a genocide if only the dead of one side are counted. Their writings would be far more accurate, and would tell a very different story, if they included facts such as the deaths of nearly two-thirds of the Muslims of Van Vilayeti, deaths caused by the Russians and Armenians. Histories that strive for accuracy must include all the facts, and the deaths of millions of Muslims is surely a fact that deserves mention.

Those of us who have studied this question for years have seen many approaches come and go. The old assertions, based on the Talat Pasa telegrams and missionary reports, were obviously insufficient, and new ones have appeared.

For a while, Pan-Turanism was advanced as the cause for Turkish actions. It was said that the Turks wished to be rid of the Armenians because the Armenian population blocked the transportation routes to Central Asia. This foundered on the rocks of geography and population. The Anatolian Armenian population was not concentrated on those routes. The Armenian Republic’s Armenians, those in Erivan Province, were on some of those routes. However, when at the end of the war the Ottomans had the chance to occupy Erivan they did not do so, but went immediately on to Baku to protect Azeri Turks from attacks by enough to believe that their chief concern was advancing to Uzbekistan.

Much was made of post-war-courts martial that accused members of the Committee of Union and Progress Government of crimes against the Armenians.

The accusations did not state that the courts were convened by the unelected quisling government of Ferid Pasa who created the courts to curry favor with the allies. The courts returned verdicts of guilty for all sorts of improbable offenses, of which killing Armenians was only one. The courts chose anything, true of false, that would cast aspersion on Ferid’s enemies. The accused could not represent themselves. Can the verdicts of such courts be trusted? Conveniently overlooked were the investigations of the British, who held Istanbul and were in charge of the Ottoman Archives, but who were forced to admit that they could find no evidence of massacres.

A German scholar has decided that the Ottomans reported and killed Armenians so that they would have space in which to settle the Turkish refugees from the Balkan Wars. Those with some knowledge of Ottoman history know that the Balkan refugees were almost all settled in Western Anatolia and Ottoman Europe, not in the East, and that the refugees were all settled before the World War I Armenian troubles began Nationalist apologists first decide that the Turks are guilty, then look for evidence that will show they are correct … The enemy of the nationalist apologists is the truth. They have thrown false telegrams, spurious statistics, sham courts and anything else they could find, but the truth has advanced Campaigns were organized to silence historians. One professor was mercilessly attacked in the press because he advised the Turkish ambassador on responding to questions about the Ottoman Armenians. No one questioned the probity of the American Armenian scholar who became the chief advisor of the president of the Armenian Republic or doubted the veracity of the American Armenian professor whose son became the Armenian Foreign Minister Fewer and fewer historians are willing to write on this history. A very senior and respected scholar of Ottoman history, Bernard Lewis, was brought to court in France for his denial of the Armenian genocide. After a long and successful career, Professor Lewis could afford to confront those who accused him. Could a junior scholar afford to do the same? Applying the principles of history, we can see that what occurred was, in fact a long history of imperialism, nationalist revolt, and ethnic conflict. The result was horrible mortality on all sides. There is an explainable, understandable history of a two-sided conflict. It was not genocide.

A recent find of the nationalist is the Teskilat-ı Mahsusa, the secret organization that operated under orders of the Committee of Union and Progress. We are told that the Teskilat must have organized Armenian massacres. The justification for this would astonish any logician:

It is alleged that because a secret organization existed it must have been intended to do evil, including the genocide of the Armenians. As further “proof,” it is noted that officers of the Teskilat were present in areas where Armenians died. Since Teskilat officers were all over Anatolia, this should surprise no one. By this dubious logic Teskilat members must also have been responsible for the deaths of Muslims because they were also present in areas where Muslims died. Does this prove that no Teskilat members killed or even massacred Armenians? It does not. It would be odd if during wartime no members of a large organization had not committed such actions, and they undoubtedly did so. What it in no way proves is that the Teskilat was ordered to commit genocide.

A German scholar has decided that the Ottomans reported and killed Armenians so that they would have space in which to settle the Turkish refugees from the Balkan Wars. For those who do not know Ottoman history, this might seem like a reasonable explanation. Those with some knowledge of Ottoman history know that the Balkan refugees were almost all settled in Western Anatolia and Ottoman Europe, not in the East, and that the refugees were all settled before the World War I Armenian troubles began.

Such assertions are the result of the methods used. Nationalist apologists first decide that the Turks are guilty, then look for evidence that will show they are correct. They are like a man in a closed room fighting against a stronger enemy. As the enemy advances the man picks up a book, a lamp, an ashtray, a chair — whatever he can find — and throws it in the vain hope of stopping the enemy’s advance. But the enemy continues on. Eventually the man runs out of things to throw, and he is beaten. The enemy of the nationalist apologists is the truth. They have thrown false telegrams, spurious statistics, sham courts, and anything else they could find, but the truth has advanced.

Some tactics have been all too successful in reducing the number of scholars who study the Armenian Question. When the fabrications and distortions failed, there were outright threats. When the historians could not be convinced, the next best thing was to silence them. One professor’s house was bombed.

Others were threatened with similar violence. Campaigns were organized to silence historians. One professor was mercilessly attacked in the press because he advised the Turkish ambassador on responding to questions about the Ottoman Armenians. It is worth noting that no one questioned the probity of the American Armenian scholar who became the chief advisor of the president of the Armenian Republic or doubted the veracity of the American Armenian professor whose son became the Armenian foreign minister. No one questioned the objectivity of these scholars or attacked them, nor should they. The only proper question is, “What is the truth!” No matter who pays the bills, no matter the nationality of the author, no matter if he writes to ambassadors, no matter his religion, his voting record, his credit status, or his personal life, his views on history should be closely analyzed and, if true, accepted.

The only question is the truth.

Such attacks have had their intended effect. Fewer and fewer historians are willing to write on this history. A very senior and respected scholar of Ottoman history, Bernard Lewis, was brought to court in France for his denial of the Armenian genocide. After a long and successful career, Professor Lewis could afford to confront those who accused him. He also could afford to hire the lawyers who defended him. Could a junior scholar afford to do the same? Could someone who depended on university rectors, who worry about funding, afford to take up such a dangerous topic? Could someone without Professor Lewis’s financial resources afford the lawyers who defended both his free speech and his good name?

I myself was the target of a campaign, instigated by an Armenian newspaper, that attempted to have me fired from my university. Letters and telephone calls from all over the United States came to the president of my university, demanding my dismissal because I denied the “Armenian Genocide.” We have the tenure system in the United States, a system that guarantees that senior professors cannot be fired for what they teach and write, and my university president defended my rights. But a younger professor might understandably be afraid to write on the Armenians if he knew he faced the sort of ordeal that has been faced by others.

To me, the worst of all is being accused of being the kind of politicized nationalist scholar I so detest. False reasons are invented to explain why I say this — my mother is a Turk, my wife is a Turk, I am paid large sums by the Turkish government. None of these things is true, but it would not affect my writings one bit if they were. The way to challenge a scholar’s work is to read his writings and respond to them with your own scholarship, not to attack his character.

When, despite the best efforts of the nationalist apologists, some still speak out against the distortion of history, the final answer is political: Politicians are enlisted to rewrite history. Parliaments are enlisted to convince their people that there was a genocide. In America, the Armenian nationalists lobby a Congress which refuses to even consider an apology for slavery to demand an apology from Turks for something the Turks did not do.

In France, the Armenia nationalists lobby a Parliament which will not address the horrors perpetrated by the French in Algeria, which they know well took place, to declare there were horrors in Turkey, about which they know almost nothing. The people of many nations are then told that the genocide must have taken place because their representatives have recognized it.

The Turks are accused of “genocide,” but what does that appalling word mean? The most quoted definition is that of the United Nations: actions “committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, radical, or religious group as such.” Raphael Lemkin who invented the word genocide, included cultural, social, economic, and political destruction of groups as genocide. Leo Kuper included as genocide attacks on subgroups that are not ethnic, such as economic classes, collective groups and various social categories. By these standards Turks were indeed guilty of genocide. So were Armenians, Russians, Greeks, Americans, British and almost every people that has ever existed. In World War I in Anatolia there were many such “genocides.” So many groups attacked other groups that the use of the word genocide is meaningless.

Why, then, is such a hollow term used against the Turks? It is used because those who hear the term do not think of the academic definitions. They think of Hitler and of what he did to the Jews. The intent behind the use of the word genocide is not to foster understanding. The intent is to foster a negative image of the Turks by associating them with great evil. The intent is political.

What must be considered by the serious historian is a simple question, “Did the Ottoman Government carry out a plan to exterminate the Armenians?” In answering this question it is important not to copy the Armenian apologists. When they declare that Armenians did no wrong, the answer is not to reply that the Turks did no wrong. The answer must be honest history. What cannot and should not be denied is that many Anatolian Muslims did commit crimes against Armenians. Some of those who committed crimes were Ottoman officials. Actions were taken in revenge, out of hatred or for political reasons. In total war men do evil acts. This again is a sad but real historical principle. The Ottoman government recognized this and tried more than 1,000 Muslims for war crimes, including crimes against Armenians, hanging some criminals.

Applying the principles of history, we can see that what occurred was in fact a long history of imperialism, nationalist revolt and ethnic conflict.

The result was horrible mortality on all sides. There is an explainable, understandable history of a two-sided conflict. It was not genocide. Throughout that history, both sides killed and were killed. It was not genocide.

Much archival evidence shows Ottoman government concern that Armenians survive. Also, it must be said that much evidence shows poor planning, government weakness and in some places criminal acts and negligence. Some officials were murderous, but a sincere effort was made to punish them. It was not genocide.

The majority of those who were deported survived, even though those Armenians were completely at the mercy of the Ottomans. It was not genocide.

The Armenians most under Ottoman control, the Armenian residents of Istanbul, Izmir, Edirne and other regions of greatest governmental power were neither deported not attacked. It was not genocide.

Why are the Turks accused of a hideous crime they did not commit? The answer is both emotional and political. Many Armenians feel in their hearts that Turks were guilty. They have only heard of the deaths of their ancestors, not the deaths of the Turks. They have been told only a small part of a complicated story for so long that they believe it to be unquestionable truth. Their anger is understandable. The beliefs of those in Europe and America who have never heard the truth, which sadly is the majority, are also understandable. It is the actions of those who use the claim of genocide for nationalist political motives that are inexcusable.

Does any rational analyst deny that the ultimate intent of the Armenian nationalists is to first gain “reparations,” then claim Eastern Anatolia as their own?

Finally, what is to be done? As might be expected from all I have said here today, I believe the only answer to false allegations of genocide is to study and proclaim the truths of history. Political actions such as the resolution recently passed by the French Parliament naturally and properly draw corresponding political actions from Turks, but political actions will never convince the world that Turks did not commit genocide. What is needed to convince the world that Turks did not commit genocide? What is needed to convince the world is a great increase in scholarship. Archives must remain open and be easy to use for both Turks and foreigners. Graduate students should be encouraged to study the Armenian question. No student’s advisers should tell him to avoid this subject because it is “too political,” something I have heard in America and, unfortunately, in Turkey as well.

I suggest, as I have suggested before, that the Turkish Republic propose to the Armenian Republic that a joint commission be established, its members selected by scholarly academies in both countries. All archives should be opened to the commission — not only the Ottoman Archives, but the archives of Armenia and of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. (The call is often made for the Turkish Archives to be opened completely. It is time to demand that Armenians do likewise.) I have been told that the Armenians will never agree to this, but how can anyone know unless they try? In any case, refusal to fairly and honestly consider this question would in itself be evidence that the accusations against the Turks are political, not scholarly.

Whether or not such a commission is ever named, the study of the Armenian question must be continued. This is true not only because it is always right to discover accurate history. It is true because honor demands it. Honor is a word that is not often heard today, but a concept of honor is nonetheless sorely needed. I have been told by many that the Turks should adopt a political strategy to deal with the Armenian problem. This strategy would have the Turkish government lie about the past for present political gain.

The government would state that the Ottomans committed genocide, but that modern Turkey cannot be blamed because it is a different government. This, I have been told, would cause the world to think more kindly of the Turks. I do not believe this ultimately would satisfy anyone. I believe that calls for reparations and land would quickly follow such a statement. But that is not the reason to reject such easy political lies. They should be rejected purely because they are wrong. Even if the lies would bring great gains, they should be rejected because they are wrong. I believe the Turks are still men and women of honor. They know that it can never be honorable to accept lies told of their ancestors, no matter the benefits. I also believe that someday, perhaps soon, perhaps far in the future, the truth will be recognized by the world. I believe that the accurate study of history and the honor of the Turks will bring this to pass.


* Professor Justin McCarthy teaches at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.


Etiology of Racism in Europe

June 5, 2009

V. Related Articles

Etiology of Racism in Europe

Gündüz AKTAN*


The Monograph on Racism briefly goes through various reports prepared by international organizations on the contemporary forms of racism. It tries to define racism, racial discrimination and racial prejudice as well as ethnicity and ethnocentrism. It dwells on individual and group psychologies in order to understand the underlying mechanisms which may lead to racism in times of acute stress.

We shall attempt in this study to examine the causes of racism in Europe in a historical perspective As Encyclopaedia Britannica (Macropaedia V.15, pp. 359-366) points out and we summarize in the following paragraphs, not only is racism a recent phenomenon in history and the exception rather than the rule as compared to the universal nature of ethnocentrism, it also seems to occur in some parts of the world and not in other.

The evidence that the Indian caste system is racial in origin and that India is or was a racist society is unconvincing. The basic caste dichotomy between “once-born” and “twice-born” was probably related to the cultural distinction between Aryan conquerors and Oravidian conquered. The latter were probably darker skinned than the former, but it is not established that this physical distinction was the socially significant one.

The Bible contains no positive suggestion that the ancient Semites were racists. The same is true of the Qur’an and the Islamic tradition. Even the devastation brought about by the Arab slave trade in East Africa in the middle of the 19th century does not appear to have been rationalized on racial terms as European slavery was.

Despite narcissistic canons of physical beauty and highly ethnocentric judgments of other cultures East Asian civilizations (Chinese, Japanese etc) do not exhibit what might properly be called racism.

There are a few documented cases of indigenous systems of racism not attributable to contact with Western societies. The most notable one is the racism between Tutti and Hutu in Rwanda and Burundi.

Far and away the most widespread, enduring, and virulent form of racism and the costliest in terms of human suffering has been that which developed in Western Europe and its colonial extensions in Africa, Asia, Australia and the Western Hemisphere. Western racism is of relatively recent origin. In ancient Greece and Rome, the status criteria were cultural and not racial. Slavery was a juridical and economic condition unrelated to racial and ethnic origin. There is no evidence that the blacks who had reached Rome were regarded as inherently inferior.

In the Middle Ages, the religious criterion of membership in the ingroup became paramount. Anti-Semitism was clearly religious and not racial and continued so through the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Wars of Religion.

The Spanish conquest of the New World was more than averagely brutal, and the economic exploitation was thorough. Today, racism, though not totally absent in Spanish America, is’ certainly much less prevalent than in other parts of the continent. Cultural criteria are far more important than physical ones in most of Spanish America even in the heavily Indian countries.

Generally the Portuguese claim that its colonialism in Africa has been nonracial is correct, at least by comparison with the British, Belgian and Dutch. This is not to say that the Portuguese regime in Africa has been any less oppressive and exploitative than the regimes of the other colonial powers, but whereas the latter have frequently applied racial test of discrimination, the Portuguese have been ethnocentric rather than racist.

In Brazil, race relations are quite complex and vary greatly from one region to another. Brazil might be described as a highly racially conscious country but without a well-defined forms of racial discrimination. Such discrimination as exists is usually a subtle combination of racial, ethnic, and social-class factors, with race frequently not the most important one.

The French, like the Portuguese and Spaniards, tended to be more ethnocentric than racist in their colonial policy. It should be noted, however, that in Algeria, the French exhibited considerable racism vis-à-vis the Arabs. The Netherlands and Great Britain were responsible for the growth of the most racist colonial societies that the world has ever known—namely, South Africa, the United States, and Australia.

The anti-Semitic wave that swept Germany in the 1930’s ended in the Holocaust the most heinous manifestation of racism in human history. Although Nazi anti-Semitism grew out of a long tradition of religious intolerance in Europe, Hitler’s theory of the master race gave it a hitherto unknown genocidal virulence.

Religion has also been shown to be related to the amount of prejudice and discrimination. There is an undeniable difference between the more racially tolerant Catholic countries of Europe and their colonial extensions and the more racist Protestant countries. The Catholic Church has frequently taken a more universalistic position and rejected racism, whereas many Protestant denominations, especially the more fundamentalistic and puritanical ones, have often interpreted the Scriptures in a racist fashion.

En view of the above, one could understand the rationale underlying the geographic focus on “North America and Europe” in the resolutions of the Sub-Commission and “developed countries” in the final resolution of the Commission. Consequently, we have to explain in this monograph how and why racism has developed in a specific part of the world where a brilliant civilization has been created. This question becomes all the more relevant in view of the fact that neo-racist manifestations resurfaced almost half a century after the immense sufferings of the 2nd World War and the Holocaust.

At first sight, there seems no reason in Europe for deep frustration, regression and projection such as wars, economic depression, political instability or crisis of security. Indeed, Europe is enjoying one o the longest periods of peace and prosperity in its turbulent history. The economic integration process has already reached an advance stage. Having achieved the Customs Union and the Single Market, EC is heading for the establishment of a common monetary unit, the last phase of an economic union. Europe is already the largest and strongest economic and commercial power in the world. Unemployment is relatively high, but social security and welfare network is quite effective. In the economic field, Europe has high hopes and great ambitions, and justifiably so.

Steps towards political union follow the economic integration with a reasonable time-lag. In addition to goods, services and capital, European citizens circulate freely in the EC rendering borders increasingly porous. Even it the physical borders of the countries remain, as a result of the political union, psychological borders will further fade and eventually disappear. It is true, the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty which envisages political and defense integration has encountered difficulties. But, the slowdown could prove to be only temporary.

Internally, Europe is a remarkable success story. The European balance of power system which led to two suicidal wars in less than half a century seems to be eliminated for good. Historical enmities, fears and suspicions between European nation-states, especially between France and Germany are forgotten, making room for intensive cooperation.

Considering the upheaval created by the unification of Germany roughly a century ago, the reunification of Germany this time has had almost no perceptible effect in and out of Europe.

Externally, Western Europe has won the greatest victory of all times without tiring a shot in the air. The strongest totalitarian state of history crumbled within, removing by itself the lethal threat it represented for Europe. Newly independent States turned into clients emulating European-Western values in terms of political democracy, respect for human rights and free market economy.

Under the circumstances, one expected that Europe should slowly savour the victory. But the resurging racism spoiled the bliss. It also shook the confidence in humanity’s future. Were there a potential danger of racism even in these conditions, we could never enjoy any respite in human affairs.

We should perhaps study more closely the undercurrents of this situation in order to comprehend the incomprehensible and make it intelligible so as to restore a measure of certainty and determinism to life.

The number of foreigners is on the constant increase in Europe. Migration and racism suggest that there is a special correlation between these two phenomena. This would imply that, even if migration does not inevitably produce racism, the former at least contributes to the latter, as the anti-migrant nature of the present racism indicates clearly. (1) European racism is a phenomenon speeded up by the European construction which is in turn sustained by a certain ideal of Europe. The most obscure question is whether “to define Europe” necessitates “to define Europeans”. This question is essential for the analysis of the institutional and ideological aspects of racism. Europe is a historic problem without a pre-determined solution. Migration and racism constitute elements of this problem.

Europe will be not a closed entity (like a federal state or multi-national empire), but an open gathering where various economic-cultural groups encounter. This externally open gathering will not be less closed by some internal borders which are invisible, but impossible to abolish. Not only will political borders of the states exist, but also social borders based on the division of labor between different populations. Migrants from the South and the East will have different status for economic and ideological reasons. Hence a European melting-pot or an unstable hierarchical complex of ethno-social groups is emerging.

Europe will be the place where political problems of the world will be reflected. Among all European nations, Germany will be the one which will face the crisis of the nation-state in the most acute form. Not only because the reconstituting of one nation out of the populations of RFA and RDA is an uncertain enterprise, but also because the Germany of tomorrow, short of an impossible blocking of immigration, will represent in a condensed form almost all ethnic and social conflicts and tensions of the surrounding world. Under these circumstances, the national (and nationalist) tradition of Germany which has been forgotten or ostensibly forgotten resurfaces as the determinant factor of European history(2).

Racism we face is not a variant of the old forms of racism. But it is a new configuration which reflects the characteristics of the social structures and relations of power of the contemporary Europe. For this racism three factors came together:

– existence of a tradition (of racism) or collective memory, partly conscious, partly unconscious, marked by traumatic incidents, impregnated with the history of the culture and institutions, periodically reactivated by historical events which testify to its persistence ;

– existence of a discriminatory social structure, not stable, but fulfilling the necessary functions of economic power structure and at least partially embodied in the organization of the State ;

– finally an institutional crisis involving the State and its ideological foundations, the individual and the institutions, affecting his or her identity, which is deeply disturbed, bringing about an intellectual and moral insecurity at the level of masses.

First of all, we shall look into the situation in which the “tradition” (of racism) has taken root in Europe.

Evolution of European Identity and RacismAlthough nationalism dates back to the middle of the 18th century and at least one hundred years earlier than racism, the evolution of the nation-state had started much before. Nation-state was born to history in Europe. To understand nation-state may help us solve the riddle of racism. Emotional investment of raw and primordial character in the land which the nation inhabited has increased enormously in the course of European history. This has gone hand in hand with the inception and development of private ownership. As a result, the diffused borders of ancient empires have turned into the present day frontiers, which are well-defined and rigidly honored. It is clear that the emotional meaning of one’s country’s borders, unconsciously, is fused with that of one’s own boundaries (3). In other words, State borders which are much better defined in nation-states are unconsciously identified with the boundaries of the individual and the group. This, in turn, contributed to building a more distinct and stronger individual and national identity than had ever been possible in the earlier species of States. European integration which aims at a political union threatens on unconscious plane the psychologically overwhelmingly invested State borders. Emotions released as a result of disinvestment from State borders strengthen national group identity in a compensatory manner, leading some groups to extreme forms of nationalism and even racism.


The individual in the sense of individualism was also born – or after the Classical Greece reborn – to history in Europe. The evolution of the nation—state cannot be dissociated from the evolution of the individual. The individual gradually acquired rights and freedoms which protected him from the arbitrary acts and actions of the political authority. This development helped the evolution of the civil society. Eventually, the people made up of individuals destroyed the mythical and mystical foundations of the political power, increased their participation in and finally took over the governance of their countries. Thus, they became citizens in the constitutional sense. They secularized the religious ethic and morals, legislated laws, designating right and wrong, good and bad for themselves.

As a result of this process, a new type of individual and group identity was created in Europe. This identity enjoyed much greater freedom of choice and action, and much better protected against the political authority. European individuals and nations became stronger, more productive and more creative actors of history.

But this identity is not more secure and stable. On the contrary, it is quite possible that European individual feels more insecure, despite, perhaps precisely because of, all these gains. Historical memory bears the scars of extraordinary violence of the struggle involved in building this individual and group identity. Its creation required a more cohesive, even homogenized cultural (including religious) environment. It took revolutions to establish democracy and respect for human rights. Promotion of economic rights, especially right of ownership of land, acquiescing in the enormous inequalities in wealth and income distribution called for painful adjustments in value scales, especially in religious ones. Coupled with the expanding role of the human intellect at the expense of the faith, these developments reduced the legitimizing, sanctioning and redeeming power of the religion.

The main characteristic of this process of identity-building (and identity maintenance) was and is the generation of much greater unwanted and un-integrated self- and object representations, because of regression in times of stress and crises which were not infrequent. Therefore, projection, displacement and externalization mechanisms have overdeveloped as a means of restoring homeostasis or reducing anxiety in the European psyche.

The ethnic groups which for one reason or another did not partake of the same process and tailed to create similar identity structures were unconsciously perceived as potential dangers to this identity-building process. The presence of these ethnic groups in the midst of European societies apparently reminded them by way of example of the fatal dangers of failure in identity-building. This is also true of today’s European societies. Guest workers, refugees, and asylum seekers who immigrate in these societies do not have the same or similar identities as Europeans. This difference engenders anxiety in European individual.

Nevertheless, the presence of other ethnic groups in Europe which are different from the identity-building point of view, served and is still serving – or perhaps put to use by – European societies as suitable targets of externalization onto which they project their unwanted parts. This enhances the stability and security of the European identity.

Ethnic, religious and minority groups, dominated by Europeans in Europe or in other parts of the world during colonization failed to resist massive projections sustained for long periods and gave in by introjecting them. Once overloaded with European’s unwanted parts, their identity structures broke down and self-hatred installed (4). Naturally, they craved for a stronger identity, that of the European. They were converted to Christianity. Or they simply apostatized. They rejected their own identities. They wanted to merge into the dominant society. They emulated all the values of the Europeans etc.

The denial by the target groups of their own identity and their aspiring to the European identity brought about, not what was sought for, but catastrophe. The return of the projected material to the European was felt as psychological annihilation of his identity. The European had then two options, in the depth of the crisis, either to expel or to exterminate the target group.

As a result, homogenizing forces in Europe have over centuries created within well—delineated territories (homelands, fatherlands or motherlands) religiously, culturally, socially and politically cohesive societies.

Western Jews were expelled from England in 1290, from France in 1394 and from Spain in 1492. It is true, the Jews were not considered as a race, but as a religious community. Nevertheless, psychological mechanisms at work in Spain for almost two centuries which eventually ended up in expelling the Jews offered many similarities with the later patterns of racism. Massive projections onto Jews have been operated in times of particular stress such as wars, famines, epidemics etc. Jews have been beaten, killed and compelled to live in segregated quarters. Forced conversions have been frequently resorted to. Once converted, however, their problem has worsened. The unwanted parts of the Christian, which had been projected onto the Jew, came back through the Jew’s conversion (boomerang effect). Then the Inquisition was established to judge whether the conversion of the Jew was genuine or not, i.e. whether he carried the unwanted parts of the Christian in which case ‘he was subjected to torture in order to exorcise him of “his” evil parts. Eventually, the expulsion eliminated for good the boomerang effect of conversions which had become a vital threat to the identity of the Christian.

Jews even after conversion were not allowed to hold public offices on the basis of “limpieza de sangre” (purity of blood), which foreshadowed one of the most important aspects of racism.

The Muslims were expelled from Spain in 1502 and Moriscos (converts to Christianity from Islam) in 1609. Thus, “reconquista” of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims was achieved.

The Church as the main homogenizing force in Europe dealt effectively with heresies. After having eliminated Arianism, Crusades were organized as of 1208 to eradicate the Cathars in Southern France. The Crusades to the Holy places which had been launched in 1097 and lasted two centuries created “us and them” in Europe. Ottoman advances in the Balkans and European responses imprinted on the identity of Europeans through chosen glories and traumas the differentiation between “Christian Europe” and the Muslim encroachment. Crusades served as an occasion for vast stereotyping against Muslims, Arabs and Turks whose effects are still perceptible.

We think it is a valid question whether the same homogenizing forces are at work once again, this time, against the followers of another monotheist religion, namely Muslim migrant workers in Europe.

Religion and Racism

Racism developed in Western Europe and its colonial extensions in Africa, Asia, Australia and Northern America. Since in all these parts of the world, Christianity was the predominant religion, it would be interesting to look into this very important aspect of the culture to see whether it had anything to do with racism.

In the Holy Book, doctrine and liturgy of Christianity there is no trace of racism. On the contrary, racism is an anathema to a religion based on a profound love of God and on love between human beings. Indeed, from the religious point of view, it is an enigma that racism has developed in Christian societies.

To Mr. Turgut Özal, the late President of Turkey, the Jewish problem is the key for understanding the role of religions in racism. In his book “Turkey in Europe”, he says “it is of the utmost importance that we understand objectively the roots of the Jewish problem for the salvation of a world which is being rapidly westernized.

“The Christian perceives himself in the image of God. Historically, this identification with God through Christ crucified for the sins of mankind requires an exceptionally strict ethic which renders it very difficult to house in the soul some vital natural instincts and impulses together with God. Is it because of the need to tackle the evil which is embodied in everything negated by this ethic that Jewry, together with other groups, was unconsciously used as a target of projection, and hence subjected to segregation, inquisition, and genocide? Let me point out in this context that Islam, on the other hand, sanctities natural instincts provided that their activities be regulated and their abuse prohibited. Historically this aspect of Islam has been sarcastically criticized. Nevertheless, Muslims had little need for a projection mechanism.

“One may say that the Holocaust took place at a time when the grip of religion on natural instincts has been greatly relaxed following the vast secularizing effects of the Enlightenment. This is obviously true. But there might be two connected processes here.

Firstly, despite the tact that the religion which in the beginning determined the ethics lost ground, ethical behavior patterns mostly survived, although they have been emptied of religious content. Paralleling this social process, the individual felt, on a psychological level, unconscious guilt more deeply the more he moved away from ethical premises in his behavior. In other words, cultural continuity provided the inner need for sanctions in case of breach despite apparent rationalization of the ethics. The only way out was the culturally well-established projection mechanism.

“During the era of the Enlightenment, which is characterized together with Christianity as the basis of Western civilization, the outburst of reason did not only destroy the irrational elements in the religion, but partly the religion itself. Deism, even atheism, as by-products implied a return to pre-Christian conditions with an emphasis on Mother Nature. Is it because of this excessive “desacralization” that the sacrificial cycle of primitive religion has been revived (this time not only for lower-class heretics such as “witches” who had already been subjected to inquisition, but for intellectual elites also) as a result of which hostility was generated towards target groups in the form of persecution and ultimately genocide along with the increase in wars between nation states?

“I do not defend the superiority of one civilization over another. All I try to do is to point out the social cost involved in what is called progress.” (5)

Considering that Western Europe roughly comprises a Latin Mediterranean and another north-western mostly “Germanic” parts (in historical sense), one should perhaps look for an answer why the latter was more apt to racism despite the tact that both parts have undergone the same or similar individual and national identity-building processes.

Le Monde of 26 December 1992, in its editorial column refers to the racist and xenophobiac wave of the last autumn in Germany, questions whether these were only a fit of high fever without a future. It says that “although many wished to believe it, the reality was less innocent, Demonstrations, no matter how spectacular and impressive, did not lead to calling into question the relations with… “the other” which remains fixed in the soul, These demonstrations rather reflected in this country impregnated with Lutheranism, the need of public redemption of a nation which feels sinful,”

It is beyond the scope of this monograph to expound the relationship between Protestantism and the increased feelings of sin. It would perhaps be enough to point out the concepts of strict ethic, “call” and predestination as main characteristics of this creed.

“Combined with the harsh doctrines of the absolute transcendentality of God and the corruption of everything pertaining to the flesh (in Protestantism), the inner isolation of the individual contains, .. the entirety negative attitude.. to all the sensuous and emotional elements in culture and in religion.. “(6) (T]he Catholic ethic (on the other hand) was an ethic of intentions. Quite realistically the (Catholic) Church recognized that man was not an absolutely clearly defined unity to be judged one way or the other, but that his moral Ute was normally subject to conflicting motives and his action contradictory. ’Of course, it required as an ideal a change of life in principle. But it weakened just this requirement by “the sacrament of absolution..”(7) The (Catholic) priest dispensed atonement, hope of grace, certainty of forgiveness and thereby granted release from that tremendous tension to which the Calvinist was doomed… The God of Calvinism demanded of his believers not single good works, but a life of good works.. There was no place for the very human Catholic cycle of sin, repentance, atonement, release, followed by renewed sin.” (8)

One should study whether the extreme requirements of Protestantism which were humanly almost impossible to fulfill increased the feeling of sin and the need to externalize it onto suitable targets both inside and outside the society.

Another topic of investigation could be the relationship between the strict Protestant (and Calvinist) ethic and the intrusive modes of childrearing including especially excessive cleaning, deliberate and systematic corporal or psychological punishment (as against hitting with rage) and breaking the will of the pupil in education etc.

North-Western European societies are usually extremely orderly, clean and well-regulated. This can be partly explained with the needs of modern technology, public or personal hygiene, aesthetic requirements of architecture and city-planning or safety and security of traffic etc. Nevertheless, compulsive traits of this kind of orderliness do not escape the notice. An American novelist who lived in Germany for 13 years writes in an article about three “insignificant” personal incidents to point out the potential danger. He concludes, “if Germans get this orderly, even, more anal than usual, it’s time to worry. When they start into their orderly mode, watch out, because what is first or foremost not in order are all these foreigners, and when Germans start looking for the causes of their societal problems, the scapegoats have the unfortunate fate of turning into lamp shades and medical experiments.” (9)

Compulsive attitudes of excessive orderliness and perfectionism have little to do with the reasonable and logical requirements of order. Compulsive people feel bound to comply with the “rules” under the censure of primitive super-ego, and hate those who are “disorderly”, “dirty”, “untidy” etc. Moreover, compulsive character is rigid, intolerant and conventional, especially in face of relaxed, casual, carefree and unconformable foreigners. (10)

Development of Nationalism, Ethnocentrism and Racism in Germany

Are there other particular causes of racism in Germany? “(In West German society) the trend-setters and go-getters … scrambled after the war to leave behind their German identity. People so Europeanized themselves as to become quite unrecognizable as traditional home-spun Germans.

“Call it a case of almost self-hatred, engendered by the chilling realization of what had been perpetrated in Germany’s name under Hitler’s rule. With freedom handed back to a numbed populace, escape from “Germanness” and the affectations of a culture of “World Citizens” seemed to many the most tempting route to redemption from the past.

“The bills for so much self-alienation are now falling due. Suddenly, Germans are looking at themselves and wondering once more about their identity.” (11)

The denial and rejection of national identity can never be without cost. A universal identity cannot substitute for the national one. A universal identity can make sense only if it is supplementary to a well-founded national identity. En the post-Second World War era, Germany became a fully democratic country and buried the Nazi identity in history. Powerful human rights circles in the country have taken on the task to defend respect for human rights in the world. Most probably, these circles split oft this undesirable past from their identity and project onto those who are supposed to commit human rights violations in other countries.

With new generations and especially with the reunification, German people might have felt the need to reconstruct the German identity, this time on the basis of democracy and respect for human rights. The search for a new German identity was bound to draw on the historical experience of German nationalism which had been culturally handed down by one generation to another. Therefore, one should look into the history of German nationalism in order to see whether it has “anything to do with neo-racism.

British and French forms of nationalism grew from pre-existing bureaucratic structures (States). For “Germany” on the eve of the French Revolution, the over three hundred and fifty separate petty sovereignties which then comprised the nearly defunct Holy Roman Empire prevented any “natural growth” of the idea of nationalism.

In the Napoleonic Wars, the Germans were “humiliated” by the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire (1806), and the later defeat of Prussia (1807). (13) Historians have long known that the conversion of the intellectuals, from European cosmopolitanism or parochial particularism to nationalism, clustered around the years, 1805-7, a time in which Germany was being assaulted by French arms. It had happened before, sometimes with disastrous consequences, as in the Thirty Years War, but the assaults had never resulted in the actual political death of the Holy German Empire. Although the First Reich was, in reality, more fiction than fact, on unconscious levels it symbolized permanence, stability and immortality: it had, after all, been in existence … for a thousand years. Although the German nationalists did not give much conscious allegiance to it, its dissolution could only have been understood as a death episode. The ardour with which the studies in Old German were pursued helped overcome the spiritual depression. Because the nationalists identified with Prussia, her reduction in size after the “humiliating” defeat of Jena, was experienced as amputations: “By the Peace of Tilsit”, wrote Jahn, “Prussia lost some of her limbs.” (14) The struggle for Germany was an oedipal -and sibling-conflict on a monumental scale, “(M)other Germany had been “penetrated” by the French (who) were understood, partly consciously, partly unconsciously, as Teutonic brothers. The French were “the other branches of the race” wrote Fichte. The French were the hated sibling-rivals who had by violence and military occupation achieved fusion with and sexual possession of the German “mother” …”

Such oedipal fantasies – and primitive splitting of maternal images into “good” and “bad” self objects are reflected in the extraordinary preoccupation of the German nationalists with the theme of purity. As Arndt wrote:

The Germany are not bastardized by alien peoples, they have not become mongers. They have preserved their original purity ‘more than many other people. . . Tacitus saw … how important was for the future greatness and majesty of the German people that they were pure and resembled only themselves, that they were not mongrels.

Fichte believed that the nation should exist “without admixture of or corruption by, any alien element”, and he spoke repeatedly of an “original German stock”. (15).

The fact that the idea of a German nation was an artificially constructed is suggested by many factors, not the least of which was the extraordinary energies devoted to proving it had an objective reality. One way was to insist that the nation was an organic entity. It was not the product of reasoned choice, history, social contract, or rational constitution making, but … was imagined to be a natural, organic body pre-existent in nature, “What binds all members into a whole” wrote Görres, “is the law of nature which takes precedence before all artificial contracts.” Fichte wrote “People and fatherland … tar transcend the State” which was dead anyway in the politico-legal person of the Holy Roman Empire.

The title of Arndt’s 1813 poem “Where is the German Fatherland?” reflects not simply a rhetorical device used for poetic impact, but an anxiety-producing contusion. Reflective of the insecurity Arndt felt in identifying with a “nation” which had no political reality was his taking twice as much space to tell his audience where the German fatherland isn’t, as he took in telling them where it is. (16)

The uncertain existence of the German nation meant that Germandom had to be defined in negative terms by projecting onto the French all the negative qualities the Germans despised in themselves. They prepared long-lists of the negative qualities of all Frenchmen, so that the Germans might vent their rage against a split-oft part of themselves, a feared and despised external object. The French were : “Incapable of eternal ideas, of deep enthusiasm, of blissful ecstasy and human longing, for which they even lack words ; making fun of the holiest and highest of mankind (presumably the Germans) for the sake of wittiness”: Apparently the Germanic virtues – most of which – . . . were emotional – were the opposite of these negative French characteristics

Because the nation was not yet a political unit, since it was transcendent, organic, and defined in negative terms, and because it was, therefore, an artificially constructed (entity) … the only way the nationalist could actually be certain of its existence was to feel it, (17)

The only concrete example ever offered by the German nationalists to prove the existence of the German nation is the German language.., as the bearer and proof of Germanic kultur.(18)

German nationalists were interested in language … because of the clear connection it had to their own childhoods. The obvious equation is: maternal group fantasy of the German nation the German mother tongue mother. As Jahn wrote in 1807: “Every man has a mother; a mother tongue is enough for him. Mother love is the first translator of speech; the mother tongue is the open door to the heart, memory and reason.” Modern psychology has demonstrated how profoundly language mastery among children, ages 2 to 4, is contingent upon an intimate, loving interchange between mother and child, The German nationalists’ obsession with language, with German as the only Ursprache (original language) left in Europe, was an effort to recapture a maternal intimacy earlier experienced. For the original German nationalists – and perhaps for all nationalists – the issue is always an issue of a particular kind-maternal love. (19)

Whenever individuals in groups experience high stress levels, either in fantasy or in reality, the individuals tend to regress to very early levels of childhood ideation. The German nationalists in the Napoleonic period were involved in nothing less than a regressive fusion with the preoedipal mother. (20) We know that, in fantasy, groups are often understood as mothers. When the Germans set out to createa fantasy about their own group (nation), they were, in effect, creating a fantasy which, by definition, would be maternal. Since belonging to, and merging with, maternal groups can be tremendously anxiety producing (because they are, in part, experiences that awaken incest tears), the German nationalists defended against them by euphemistically labeling “mother” Germany
“the fatherland”. (21) .

Because of the particular conditions, such as the absence of a unified state structure and clear-cut borders, German nationalism put overwhelming emphasis on nation, not as a politically objective reality, but as “natural”, “organic body” “pre-existent in nature” and “subject to laws of nature”. This definition of nation based mainly on biological concepts was already very close to racism. As a result, purity of the race and the original or unadulterated character of the German language became rallying points of nationalism. Now, the question is whether the foreigners, not only with their different manners and ways of life, but also with their creole German are disturbing the obsessive and perfectionist purity of German language.

Germany achieved unification roughly halt a century after the emergence of German nationalism. Having defeated the Austria Hungarian Empire and France it became the dominant power in Europe at the Berlin Conference of 1878.

It is beyond the scope of this study to speculate as to whether the particular brand of German nationalism led to the 1st World War. The enormous stress created by the war and post-war conditions helped the Nazi regime to come to power. This regime displayed the most malignant forms of racism which culminated into the Holocaust.

Unlike during the Napoleonic wars, Germany was not invaded by the allied countries at the end of the 1st World War. Nevertheless, the conditions of the Versailles Treaty were not only humiliating, but also not conducive to a recovery from the post war problems. War debts caused a hyper-inflation. The Great Crash had its adverse impact on the economy, Unemployment rose. Ideological polarization and political instability ensued.

The depressive mood created by the trauma of the defeat seemed primarily responsible for the rise of Nazism. Contrary to the situation following the Napoleonic wars, at this time the defeated Germany was a major power in Europe with a unitary state structure and a large “fatherland” with well-established borders. Its fledgling ethnocentrism of the early nationalist era had become the main bastion of the Bismarkian Germany. Therefore, the defeat of the First World War was a free tall from the very heights of this ethnocentrism. The regression was equally profound.

Analysis of Racist Theories

Some other factors had contributed to the depth of regression as well.

The 19th century was swayed by racist theories. German nationalism with conceptual roots of biological nature must have been particularly vulnerable to these theories. Therefore, the response of Germany to the trauma of the 1st World War was in the form of a deep regression from an overgrown ethnocentrism down to the level of a nationalism which had been largely impregnated with racist theories.

In his “The Aryan Myth”, Leon Poliakov presents us with the very serious problem created by the scientism of the 17th and 18th century, In their efforts to apply newly discovered empirical methods to the human world, scientists and thinkers made heroic and dangerous generalizations on the basis of such discrete morphological and physiological facts as skin color, shape of the skull, and so forth. In such a manner, Poliakov says, was a rudimentary racism sewn into the very fabric of that scientific revolution which so many have seen as being a primary characteristic of the Enlightenment. The generalizations which were made at this time served, as a rule, to place European man at the very pinnacle of human grandeur and achievement. So-called “lesser breeds”, such as Negroes and Jews, tended more and more to be viewed not as being merely somehow different from the Europeans, but rather, as being virtually separate species…. The overall effect of this was, as Poliakov points out, to strip man of his divinity. From the so—called “Age of Reason” on, man was, for many, part of the natural world, a fact to be studied, classified and, on occasion, controlled and condemned, much as nature acts to deal with species too grossly ineffectual or too unfit to survive.(22)

The Mosaic Law had emphasized the fundamental distinction between man, as having been made in the image of God, and all other forms of life on earth. . . Somewhat crude “science” of the Enlightenment had begun a process by virtue of which man came to be seen as not in any way divine, but rather as a peculiarly hairless ape, gratuitously endowed with a trifle more gray matter than his arboreal relatives. (23)

The particular Mythus of race was itself a product of that reaction to the astringent world of reasoned scientism referred to as Romanticism. Romanticism’s world was one of visions, some of them nightmarish to be sure, but a world to be tapped by intuition, imagination and emotion. With illusions damaged or destroyed, men sought refuge from the harsh light of reason in the comforting twilight of feeling and imagination… Despite their rebellion against reason, the romantics generally did not seek to restore a lost dignity to mankind as a whole… (T)he assumption was that each people had something of this quality in it,. .With Fichte and such devotees of lost Aryan India as Schlegel, the romantic dream… became directed towards that hoary search for origins. The dream of return, part of a dangerous longing for the maternal, according to Poliakov, eventually assumed the form of a search for racial origins. An extremely unfortunate tendency to confuse language with racial groups was responsible for the concretization of the Aryan Myth. (24)

“(T)his scientific racism, while a rebellion against the Judeo Christian tradition, contained those elements necessary for the establishment of a new religion, the religion of nature,.. While it is true that, between 1850 and the First World War, these phenomena were well-represented throughout the Western World, it is also true that they were more heavily represented in Germany.. The National Socialists were the inheritors of this legacy and the religion of nature informed the thought and actions of Hitler, and the others in the movement. Nazi ideologist persistently claimed that their movement was rooted in health—giving “principles of nature”, and thus adherence to it and to its purposes put one in conformity with natural laws. The Judeo-Christian tradition, was being replaced by a new religiosity, one in which a putatively biological approach had been fused with mysticism. The actions of “natural men”-actions undertaken in conformity with so-called “laws of life”., would be self-justifying, and pernicious and soulless representatives of the Mosaic Code could be exterminated without a qualm, since, after all, these subcreatures existed at the very lowest level of existence. It was thus that Himmler could declare that the “struggle” with the Jews was a “natural one”.. The new “life-course” (Lebensweg) proffered by the National Socialist Weltanschauung posited an organic approach in which magic-infused mystery and the natural world had been brought together in inviolable synthesis. (25)

Poliakov in the Aryan Myth offers an explanation for the tendency to attempt to identify man with nature. Psychoanalysis, he says, describes the source of this “dream” as follows:

It (psychoanalysis) relates that dream to the urge to recover the euphoria which characterizes the most archaic state before individuation- the stage of “primitive narcissism”, when as we are told by those who investigate these obscure beginnings, human beings feel that they are at one with the surrounding universe, and each individual feels himself to be organically the Whole as though he were god in a pan theistic sense. Thus the childish paradise of total happiness is in the final analysis that of the preconscious life in the womb, before the ‘fall’ into the world. (26)

If an in-group regresses in the face of extraordinary stress to such primitive level as complete maternal fusion, everything in daily life, every adult activity, be it sexual or not, engenderspervasive feelings of guilt. They have to split off and project all parts of self- and object representations, which are unconsciously linked with the sense of guilt and punishment, onto the outgroup. The purpose of this projection is to create an extreme cohesion in the ingroup that a maternal fusion requires. For if it is impure, maternal fusion becomes extremely dangerous. So long as the ingroup remains at such primitive level of regression, the process of projection has to be very active. When the outgroup is overloaded with the unwanted parts of the ingroup, the symbiosis between the ingroup and outgroup becomes dangerously complete. Psychologically speaking, the outgroup becomes identical with the ingroup. Then the ingroup has two alternatives: to expel or to exterminate the outgroup in order to save itself from the feelings of guilt or sin.

Self-denial of the Target Group and Racism

Another aspect of the problem is the attitude of the outgroup towards the projections of the ingroup.

It is interesting to note that the emergence of racism in Europe was coincided with or followed the emancipation of Jews in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Having been profoundly frustrated with the long discrimination and persecution, emancipated Jews tended in great numbers to dejudaize in the prevailing atmosphere of the Enlightenment and to get assimilated into European societies.

The striving middle-class Jews had tried to prove that they were not “little”, “ghetto” Eastern European Jews, made out as abasive, constricted, uncivil, uncultured, alien, grandiosely and egocentrically given to magical—religious.. The secular Jew, craving assimilation, tended to repudiate in considerable measure his/her Jewish identity and heritage. Thus, with Jewish identity maimed the secular Jew had little inner protection from the noxious psychic implants injected by way of threat and deriding definitions of Jews coming from the host society.(27)

Until their emancipation in Western and Central Europe during the eighteenth century, Jews were in groups that were assigned by the larger society a corporate character with obligations, rights, economic functions, and many restraints. With emancipation, individuation and self-actualization became dizzying possibilities… Excited by “the impossible abundance of the new” (Kafka, 1920); governed by ambition, a drive for self-fulfillment, and a gritty determination to reach the apparently newly available goals ; exulting that their unique talents were giving rise to one of those rare cultural flowerings of history; attempting to dissociate themselves from Yiddish culture -— “tearing asunder the chain of generations” Kafka remarked; having ceded their own tongue, culture, and the knowledge of their past –thus lacking the power to be in charge of their self-delineation; unsupported by their erstwhile institutions and customs –and therefore standing naked in any current crisis; often subject to terror, identification with the terrorizer, and self hatred, a psychological sequence that in turn made them know shame because of the perennial yen to convert; seeking status and an identity in the host society only to find themselves, whatever their attainments, ambivalently regarded when not disregarded; and enduring chronically the worry that sanctuary would forever elude them. In the air was the foreboding that they and their descendants would be hunted down, cankered, and killed (ct. Appelfeld, 1980). They had surrendered their past, and there was to be no future. .. In his diary Kafka comments that since the inspiration for their creativity derived from a uniquely Jewish despair, the creation could not be part of German culture because the problem was not really German. Kafka’s Metamorphosis depicted that the Jew’s own definition of himself reflected the appraisal by the host people: he was a bug, vermin, a pollutant, sub-human, an embarrassment in the host’s home. (28)

Despite some similarities between the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and the Holocaust, there are some important qualitative and quantitative differences. Unlike the forced conversions in the Spain of the 14th and 15th centuries, the Jews of the XIXth and the early XXth centuries chose to merge with the Christians by themselves. By doing so, they have abandoned the last and most important bastion of their identity, the religion. The disappearance of the borders between the Jewish and the Christian identities brought back to the Christian psyche the centuries old unwanted parts which had been projected onto the Jews. The unwanted parts thus returned to the Christian must have been reprojected onto the Jews in greater volume and mass, dangerously destabilizing inter-ethnic relations which were further exacerbated in the aftermath of the First World War, and led to the Holocaust. What had happened in two centuries in Spain was condensed into two decade in Germany which tact greatly enhanced the density of the violence.

Another, perhaps, more important reason why the Holocaust was incomparably more savage was that the level of regression of the ingroup was much deeper in the second case. The discourse of the genocide was no longer religious, but biological, blood-based and nature-oriented. This layer represents in humanity’s evolution more primitive, pre-culture, even primordial phase much earlier than monotheist religions. Expulsion of Jews from Spain, on the other hand, was the result of a basically religious conflict with racist overtones.

Halt a century has elapsed since the 2nd World War. Germans, probably like all groups attaining a strong identity, form(ed) it initially in a binary, narcissistic, contempt-laden, competitive, anxiety discharging fashion marked by excessive projections and introjections in relation to another group cf. Klein, 1932, 1948; Jacobson, 1964; Friedlander, 1978; Stein, 1980). The challenge for a maturing group is to go beyond this early developmental stage, to realize that the negatively regarded outside group possesses some virtues and the native group is subject to detects ascribed to the other; in short that the two groups possess a common humanity.

Nevertheless, Germans had to confront, after the 1st World War, yet another devastating trauma in the 2nd World War which impeded this maturing process. In the aftermath of this war they regressed almost to the pre-national stage, i.e, European cosmopolitan nationalism of the early XIXth century. They repudiated their German identity in favour of a Europeanized or universal identity. This coincided with the European integration which mobilized efforts to build up a new European identity, it necessary, at the (partial) cost of national identities. At this juncture, ultra right centripetal forces emerged in Germany as in some other EC member countries. They presently strive to reinforce the German national identity. It is evident that the return of the national identity cannot be dissociated from the historical experience of nationalism which has been intimately mingled with racism. In other words, German nationalism comes back once again together with the symptoms of racism. The search for the national identity which has been repudiated because of its connection with humiliating events cannot be achieved without feeling the pains of the narcissistic wounds that these events have caused. Narcissistic wounds, in turn, trigger defensive mechanisms especially in the form of ethnocentrism. But ethnocentrism or its regressed form, i.e. racism had brought about these catastrophes in the first place, hence the reason why panicky tears of all Europeans accompany the resurgent racism.

Neo-Racism in Europe and European Integration

Since racist incidents do not occur only in Germany, but in other West European countries, albeit on smaller scale, one should look into the causes of racism in other parts of Europe which do not entirely share the same historical experience with Germany in terms of nationalism and identity-building.

Racism with reference only to the past cannot explain the causes and the structures of new racism. As we have pointed out earlier, presently, there is no visible stress generating situation. On the contrary, the EC Europe is living a prosperous and peaceful period. It has already become the largest economic and commercial entity in the’ world and is moving fairly successfully towards political union. What is causing regression and projection in Europeans is not easy to understand.

In Europe there is an institutional discrimination based on the structure of employment. Private sectors in Europe reduce the cost of labor by importing one part of manpower from peripherical regions of the world where there has been no trade union rights as’ those enjoyed by European workers for more than a century. Apparently, the EC officially maintains this differential system which constitutes “ethnicisation” of the hierarchy and the inequities in the labor force. The “subjective” counterpart of this situation is the institutionalization of racist and cultural prejudices between the dominant and the dominated segments. (29)

Migrant workers had been massively recruited and employed in certain jobs. Now they seem to have settled in Europe for good. Family reunifications have been realized. The second, in some cases, the third generation started to enter the labor market. Just at this moment, they have to face rising unemployment created by a technology which reduced the need for unskilled labor. This unemployment does not only affect the guest workers. Rapid technological change impairs the job security of all workers, and necessitates recurrent training for frequent change of profession together with all its inconveniences. The consequent competition between “national” and “foreign” workers in the manpower market also contributes to racism.

Foreign workers deprived of the protective umbrella of their own states and enjoying only restricted rights are also racially despised and treated as sub-humans. Indignation and contempt they feel induce them to embrace more closely their traditions and religion in a defensive mood. Host people naturally sense this defiant reaction and react, in turn, with increased racism. As a result, both sides engage in an escalation in their respective attitudes.

In this context, the effect on the host people of the crisis the State undergoes comes into the picture. The contemporary form of racism is not a simple relationship with the “other” based on a perverted perception of cultural or social difference. It is a relationship with the “other” mediated by the intervention of the State. Or more clearly (this is basically an unconscious dimension) it is a conflictual relationship with the State which is experienced in a deviated manner, by means of “projection” onto the other.

In this light, one can explain the slogan of “national preference” raised by the French extreme right. This preference is both a fantasy and an institution within which citizens perceive their special relationship of dependence on the State. None of us can totally escape this situation, especially it we are less privileged, discriminated against, treated as subjects by the administration, school, political machinery etc.

The State in Western Europe established a correlation between the rights of the citizen and nationality on the one hand, individual and collective social rights, on the other. As a result, only the nationals of a State enjoy full social rights. The question of what is presently the State in Europe is essential in understanding racism. The State in Europe is neither national, nor supranational, and this ambiguity is growing instead of diminishing. In the distribution of power between national States and Community institutions, it seems, there is competition. But in reality this is a process in which the State is disintegrating. Its powers and responsibilities are shrinking. It is striking that in the construction of Europe there is no real social dimension, except in rhetoric: the European State as social State is sought neither by market forces, nor by national governments.

As a result, there is the State with all its administrative practices, repressive capacity and arbitration role between interests (including between the national interests and those of the classes) while there is no State in the real sense of the word. In many respects, it looks like a situation we are used to seeing in the Third World. Thus all the conditions come together to produce a collective sentiment of identity crisis. Although one may say that individuals, especially those who are deprived and distanced from political power, fear the State, but they tear more from its disintegration and disappearance.

In the European space of today, there are individuals who are citizens and others who are subjects (without political rights). But the former are the citizens of an unexisting – or disappearing
– State while the latter cannot be maintained in a situation of “no rights”. This untenable situation which contributes to racism will last so long as the question of what the people are in Europe is not answered.

The State ‘in the psyche of the individual and the group represents both paternal and maternal characteristics. Generally speaking, the State which protects the population against foreign enemies and maintains law and order is paternal. The State that provides jobs, education and health services and ensures social security and justice is perceived as maternal. On the other hand, the individual and the group selves are identified with the State as the sovereign power representing the nation and the country. Volkan finds closer to modern psychoanalytic stand the view that the State itself represents in the long run an idealized self.(30) Therefore, the disintegration of the state, be it real or imaginary, is felt as the disintegration of the identity.

But the erosion of the State identity is a long-running process. The phenomenon of globalization in the world economy gradually reduced the efficiency of economic policy instruments of the nation-state. Parities of national currencies are floating. Interest rates can hardly be determined nationally. Halt of the world output is produced by multinational companies which make investment decisions in place of the governments. Employment in a given country is becoming increasingly dependent on the high productivity, discipline and low real wages of the labor force, for international investment prefers only the countries with such labor force. Full employment has become an obsolete objective.

Despite noises of protests against protectionist pressures or measures, tariffs of industrial goods have gone down from an average of 40 % in the 1950’s to 6% now. The volume of trade has increased annually twice as high as the output, thus becoming the engine of economic growth. Countries which have adapted their economies to trade liberalization and competition become successful. But structural adjustment required by international competition leads to the phasing out of obsolete or inefficient industries or lines of production and to massive lay-offs.

The neo-classical economic policies based on the “smaller state” and “non-interventionism” together with the reduced scope and efficiency of government economic policies are perceived by the people, especially by those who suffer unemployment and insecurity, as the gradual disappearance of the State, or rather the maternal and protective aspects of the State.

EC countries like other countries in similar situation have to face these challenges of the modern world. So, there is nothing special with this for Europe, except that European workers have to compete with foreign workers in their own countries as well. But this argument should be qualified in view of the tact that the division of labor in the manpower market is effected on ethnic lines, e.g. unskilled jobs left mostly for foreign workers.

Racism cannot be reduced to competition between national and foreign workers in times of economic stagnation and unemployment. Otherwise, it would be difficult to explain why there is no racism in other countries in similar or even worse situation. Moreover, national workers could vent their grievances against foreigners in more peaceful ways than beating, killing and burning them. Let us not forget that racist incidents are not perpetrated by workers who are supposed Co face the competition of foreigners. (31)

In the EC Europe, we have all these phenomena and something else. As we have pointed out, Europe is heading for a political union through economic integration. Integration is achieved through a process of transferring State powers and prerogatives to Brussels. As a result, the Community institutions have acquired many attributes of the State as a supranational authority. Nevertheless, Brussels has not yet become the source of the new European identity replacing the identities of the nation-states or embracing them. Allegiance of individuals is still directed towards their States. Thus a tension emerged between the center becoming depositary of State power without primary allegiance of the peoples, and nation-states being deprived of power but retaining the source of national identity.

Any integration into a broader entity presupposes a parallel disintegration into smaller entities; This is what is happening in Europe for the last. 35 years on real or imaginary plane. The importance of historical regions and the long forgotten identities of ethnic groups are on the constant rise. They claim to be the building blocks of the new European architecture. In other words, not only the state disappears in Europe, but the national unity is consciously or unconsciously perceived as disintegrating into regions and ethnic minorities.

As we have said, the disintegration of the nation-state is psychologically identified with the disintegration of the individual identity and felt as an extremely painful process. It is true that, at first sight, there is no trauma which can cause regression in European peoples and trigger projection mechanisms against outgroups. There has been no suicidal war like the First World War> nor can we talk about the disintegration of the State in the sense of the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. On the contrary, Europe is marching triumphantly towards the age-old dream of politico-economic union, becoming one of the most powerful entities in the world. Yet the process of integration-cum disintegration brings about a regression as profound as only a disastrous trauma can do.

Ultra-right parties or movements emerged as a reaction to this process and started defending the integrity and the unity of the country. These forces seemed to be more against foreigners than separatist tendencies of the ethnic groups. They regard foreigners as a real threat to their national existence. At first sight, this may look bizarre. But, in democracy, respect for human rights and freedoms may discourage attacks against ethnic groups. The hatred one feels towards disintegrating forces can be displaced onto foreigners. By asking tar their expulsion, one unconsciously aims at cleansing the ethnic groups of separatist intentions and thus restoring the lost cohesion to the country. In this respect, racism of the extreme right, but also of the majorities in EC countries, may be a response, though deflected and distorted, to the disintegration of the nation-state, by putting the blame on foreigners for spoiling the purity, it not the unity of the nation.

Racial Violence of’ the Lowest Segment of the Society

As the UN report puts it, the manifestations of xenophobia, rejection or latent conflict are the expression of an existential discontent and have spread throughout the country and into all social strata, threatening to leap across the barrier into genuine, aggressive and assertive racism at any moment. We have tried to explain above society-wide racism and its causes in Europe.

Although a noticeable number of people from the higher strata also express racist feelings about foreigners, such as “repulsive like bugs”, “littering everywhere”, “soiling our country”, racial violence in many European countries, especially in Germany, is generally manifested by the lower strata of the society. These strata consist mainly of unemployed, dropout, rejected and marginalized young people in a highly competitive and compulsive society. Apparently, in the absence of an ethnic group such as Jews who could serve as target for externalization, European peoples in general, Germans in particular, redirected some of their projections at the lowest strata of their societies.

In a country where a universal or Europeanized identity has replaced a historically crippled national identity, and the State as maternal entity (especially for this group) is disappearing, it is understandable, if not acceptable, for the lowest segment of the the State (their parents) as responsible for this situation might also be displaced onto the outgroup in a regressive racist manner. It is always easier to displace one’s anger at one’s parents onto the members of an outgroup, i.e. migrant workers. .

In this process, the racists project onto the foreigners all the accusations their compulsive societies make towards them. They say not us but foreigners are dirty, disorderly, lazy, ugly, lustful etc.. Nevertheless, by projecting these qualifications onto foreigners, they don’t try to become any cleaner, orderly, hardworking etc. They keep these negative character traits which now constitute their identity as a result of the projections onto them by the society and introjection by them. Instead, they put emphasis on racist and ultra-nationalist concepts as forces binding them to the society while maintaining their identity.

Declining Inter-European Hostility and Racism

A major objective of the European integration was to eliminate hostilities between the European nation-states which brought about suicidal wars. Franco-German enmity which played such an important part in German nationalism and in the subsequent wars seems to fade away and make room for intensive cooperation within the EC. The same development is observed in other member countries’ relations with Germany, and in the relations between themselves. It is quite possible that these historical feelings of hostility between European nations which have been gradually released by the process of European integration might be greatly displaced onto the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It is also possible that, especially after the tall of Communism, these rejected or redundant feelings of hatred might be externalized onto countries where human rights violations are committed. Perhaps, it is not a coincidence after all that most immigrants are from the latter group of countries. Hence, foreigners in Europe might be facing racism which partly draws on the displaced hostility onto their countries of origin or vice versa.

Especially after the collapse of the Soviet “enemy” which served as a stabilizing factor for the European identity by receiving projections, the unconscious need for new enemies must be deeply felt. The tall of Communism has different effects on different parts or the world. For example, the ideological terrorism in Turkey turned into ethnic terrorism as soon as the bells of doom rang for the Communist ideology in the Soviet Union. Likewise, European nations in the process of integration may now be withdrawing their hostile projections from the Soviet Union as the embodiment of the anti-national Communist ideology, and reprojecting them onto groups with growing extreme nationalism or fundamentalism, among them, Muslim ones. (33)

The Middle-East conflict has kindled for half a century profound sentiments of hostility not only between the Muslims and the Jews, but between the former and the Christian West. Terrorism resorted to by the weaker party has increased the resentment and damaged the image of the Arab in the West. Religious fundamentalism partly as a reaction to the West, partly as a response to the disappearance of the ideological alternative to the West, has further widened the gap of mutual misunderstandings.

It is a gimmick of history that at this moment the majority of the foreigners living in Europe are Muslims, followers of another monotheistic religion who replaced the Jews that had been exterminated only 50 years ago. These foreigners, moreover, concentrated in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Great-Britain, countries where there have always existed traditional forms of racism, though in varying degrees. Therefore, there is now an intensifying interaction and overlapping between the projections made onto Muslim groups in Europe and onto the Muslim fundamentalist enemy image developing with respect to their countries.

Because of these developments, migrant workers in Europe display an increasingly profound attachment to their nationalism, cultural traditions and faith. We observe that Europeans in general and Germans in particular can respond less and less emphatically to this basically regressive defense of the foreigners. Indeed, their response is becoming equally, if not more, regressive, i.e. racism. All of us have to keep in mind that assimilation of an ethnic group is an abysmal trap that Europe has fallen several times in the past. Since expulsion or extermination is out of the question in the contemporary world, the only exit is to develop empathy towards foreigners. Empathy, in turn, calls for the withdrawal of one’s projections of one’s unwanted parts and sharing the humanity of others.


(1) cf. Les frontieres de la democratie (Chapter 10), Etienne Balibar, La Decouverte, 1992 Paris p. 170.
(2) Ibid, p. 177.
(3) Enemies and Allies, Vamik Volkan, Jason Aronson Inc, 1988 Northvale, New Jersey, London, p. 128.
(4) La Hairie de Soi, Theodor Lessing, berg international, Paris, 1990.
(5) Turkey in Europe and Europe in Turkey, Turgut Özal, K. Rüstem & Brother, London, 1991, pp. 106-108.
(6) The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York 1958, p. 105.
(7) Ibid, p. 116
(8) ibid, p. 117
(9) Germany : The Descendants are Plain Dangerous, Michael Peterson, international Herald Tribune, 8 January 1993.
(10) Compulsive personalities tend to project their strongly repressed desires for dirt or rejected anality and anal aggression onto others who have no compulsive anxieties.
(11) A Storm Over Asylum, Thomas Kielinger, the European, 11 October 1991.
(12) German Nationalism, David R. Beisel, the Journal of Psychohistory, Summer, 1980, Vol. 8, No. 1, p. 3.
(13) Ibid, p. 5.
(14) Ibid, p. 13.
(15) Ibid, p. 14.
(16) Ibid, p. 7.
(17) Ibid, p. 6.
(18) Ibid, p. 7.
(19) Ibid, p. 9.
(20) Ibid, p. 11.
(21) Ibid, p. 9.
(22) Psychohistory and the National Socialist Revolution in Symbolism, Robert A. Pois, The Journal of Psychohistory,. Winter 1979/80, Vol. 7, No. 3, p. 309.
(23) Ibid, p. 310.
(24) Ibid, p. 312.
(25) Ibid, p. 314.
(26) Ibid, p. 315.
(27) The Late Conceptualization of the Self in Psychoanalysis: The German Language and Jewish Identity, Stanley Rosenman, The Journal of Psychohistory, Summer 1983, Vol.11, No.1, pp. 13—14.
(28) Ibid, pp. 16-17.
(29) Balibar, p. 183.
(30) Op. cit. Volkan, p. 131.
(31) It is important to distinguish racism from other conflicts. In the resolutions of the Sub-Commission, we are given to understand that racism is directed against “indigenous peoples, migrant workers, other minority and vulnerable groups”. However, if these groups involved in a conflict with majorities over political power, economic resources or land, we could not always talk about racism when we refer to the treatment given by the majority to the target group. For instance, two ethnic groups may wage an atrocious war over a territory and commit all kinds of crimes including ethnic cleansing. Mutual hatred thus generated looks very much like racial hatred. Nevertheless, in this case there is “real” reason for hatred, for mutual violence is bound to breed mutual hatred. The ideal form of racism, however, pre-supposes the “innocence” of the target group in terms of the absence of a conflict over a tangible asset with the rest of the society. In its purest form, victims even do not tight back. Their very existence or presence seems to be the only cause of racist attacks.

Although target groups do not constitute a “‘real” threat to the society, racists genuinely perceive them as threat and try to rationalize their racial hatred and related violence. Historically, Jews have been accused of committing deicide, ritual child murder, poisoning wells, etc. Presently, as in the past, members of the target group are despised as ugly, smelly, lustful, dirty, disorderly, noisy, lazy, sinister, criminal, terrorists etc… In the new forms of racism, “invasion” of foreigners and the resulting economic cost and job loss for the host country peoples are added to the list to explain racist incidents. The alleged causes of racism do not look very convincing, and normally should not justify racist violence of such disproportionate nature. In view of the tact that cause—effect relationship in racist arguments is greatly missing, pseudo—causation underlying racial hatred and violence appears one of the essential features or racism.
(32) Günter Grass : New Germany’s Mr. Gloom, International Herald Tribune, 31 December 1992 – 1 January 1993.
(33) Turkey After the Collapse of Soviet Empire Psychopolitical Observations, Abdulkadir Cevik, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Ankara Medical School, Conference paper in Charlottesville – USA on 6 August 1992.


* Retired Ambassador.

The Psychological Dimension of the Armenian Problem (The Unnoticed Side) (English Summary of the Turkish Article)

June 5, 2009

IV. Armenian Question in a Psychological Context

The Psychological Dimension of the Armenian Problem (the unnoticed side) (summary of the Turkish Article)

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Erol GÖKA*

This article will explain the unnoticed psychological dimension of the Armenian problem in order to facilitate the study of the subject.

Armenians are claiming that they have been victims of a genocide. As oppose to this, the Turks are stating that there is no “genocide” as the result of a premeditated policy. During World War I, a civil war had occurred as the Armenians collaborated with the enemy and fought against state forces. The displacement policy has been adopted as a measure to overcome that situation.

The Armenians at present are full of hatred towards the Turks. After World War I, they have murdered the leaders of the Union and Progress Party and much later on assassinated Turkish diplomats during the years 1970 and 1980.

Besides terrorism, the main activity of the Armenian diaspora is concentrated on the recognition of the Armenian “genocide”. The recent increase of the Western countries’ recognition of that “genocide” is due to the activities financially supported by the diaspora Armenians. Every decision that has been adopted on that subject causes great tension between the concerned country and Turkey, also negatively affecting Turkey-Armenia relations. On the other hand, the claims on compensation and territorial demands could cause dangerous tensions between the two countries.

Caucasia’s jeo-stratejic and geo-economic importance plays a great role for putting forward the Armenian issue on today’s agenda. Apart from this, there is the psychological dimension of the issue that has been unnoticed until now.

The Jewish holocaust constitutes the frame of this issue. This holocaust has caused for generations a victimization and a sense of guilt among Western Christian countries and especially among the Germans. Some try to take advantage of victimization since it is accepted to be a positive condition by the public opinion. This pseudo-victimization should be prevented, otherwise the parliaments and the international law courts of justice will be full of “genocide” claims.

Under the victimisation psychology lies the “excuse psychology”. To claim that Hitler learned to commit genocide from the Turks is equivalent to saying that “We do not do such things, we have learned this from the Turks”. That kind of thoughts leads to excuse himself and to get rid of his own sins. In such a situation it is the real victims who will suffer. The Israelis who support the Armenian “genocide” could be a good example in this case.

Saying that Hitler is not a first degree culprit, supports the thesis that Armenians founded the first Christian state. This is in fact the Western Christian conscience which takes advantage of the Armenians to absolve himself.

The Armenian diaspora is in a real identity crises and is trying to cure this by a victimization psychology and by hostility towards the Turks. The second and the following generations of the diaspora Armenians have never seen Turkey. Consequently their hostility is based on imagination rather than reality thus this leads to deeper feelings of enmity. The first Armenian generation who had suffered is not so deeply opposed to Turks.

The Turks and the Armenians should realize that by emphasizing their respective negativeness, they are kept in constant conflicting status.


*Head of Psychiatry Clinic at Numune Education and Research Hospital, member of ASAM.

Turkish Armenian Issue: Victimization and Large-Group Identity

June 5, 2009

IV. Armenian Question in a Psychological Context

Turkish-Armenian issue: Victimization and Large-Group identity

F. Sevinç GÖRAL*


Psychology and psychoanalysis have gradually become involved in the politics, international relations and interpretations of macro events during the last two decades. Their contribution to understanding the large groups’ conflicts has been recognized as useful tool to handle the long term conflicts between two nations. This article examines the psychological dynamics operating within the Turkish- Armenian issue. It was planned to accomplish this aim by two separate papers, former of which focuses on the psychological mechanisms determining the Armenian side’s attitudes and political actions. Effects of victimization psychology and large group identity are emphasized as important factors for the skeleton of Armenians’ group behavior. It is concluded that there are psychological processes influencing what seems to be the reality in politics, for this reason politics should include more non-traditional methods of conflict resolution.

Key words: Psychoanalysis, political psychology, large group identity, victimization, Turkish-Armenian relations


There are some important underlying and occult phenomena, which are affecting and operating in the events, the perceptions, the behaviors, the emotions, the relationships, the politics and even the world, but cannot be named or comprehended easily. Yet, some questions can not be answered without understanding these phenomena. For example, why the members of the some societies identify and describe themselves through their large-group identity, such as being a member of a community, a group or a nation, whereas some communities do not show this characteristic? Why some groups can easily come together and become a united whole around an ideology, a leader or a phenomenon, but others show the same reflex only in the war or other threat situations? How the social or political events, which are occurred ages and generations ago, can influence and arouse the emotions of members as vivid as the event has been happen to themselves, whereas the same individuals show insensitivity toward the pains of other human beings from the other groups and be cruel toward them? How some groups could accept and conform to the constructed and given realities and belief systems, which might be distorting the reality as well, without any questioning? Why a between-group conflict cannot be easily resolved and maintains its strength throughout years despite huge amount of political, economic, military or judicial precautions and protections? Even it has been resolved, how come it reappears lively again as if it was there all the time without any indication?

These kinds of questions have become important research areas for social sciences. International relations, politics and sociology tried to examine similar questions by means of the macro theories or models. Yet there has been no integrated theory that involves all the answers of these questions come out from these social sciences. However, the world has increasingly become a conflict laden place and these conflicts can not be worked out without considering the answers of these questions. Political psychology which is a newly emerging and developing discipline and some other parts of psychology have become increasingly more involving to these research questions. This article aimed to understand the Turkish-Armenian issue, which is a crucial matter in dispute in Turkey, by means of examining the psychological dynamics. It was proposed that this point of view provides a beneficial perspective, which can contribute to the policies or the strategies for both Turkish and Armenian sides and international powers.

Contribution of Psychology and Psychoanalysis to the understanding of International Conflicts

Most of the social sciences, especially politics, sociology, history and anthropology, have been worked on different aspects of conflicts, battles or wars. They have studied on inter-group conflicts and their consecutive results such as immigrations, poverty, and formation of sub-cultural structures within the society… etc.

Politics and international relations have failed in the predictions and the provisions for the future, particularly in the issues of the collapse of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), racism and resulting Holocaust phenomena, and the establishment of international, supranational political unions like European Union during the last 50-60 years.[1] Last years’ publications of international relations suggested that realist approach, which emphasize the macro- level analysis in international relations and state is the primary and rational actor in the international relations, became to loose its power. These publications proposed a new interdisciplinary approach that in both macro and micro level analyses are integrated to each other and the macro events are seen as they are multidimensional and reciprocal rather than understood by linear deterministic processes.[2] While there was an evolution from linear, cause-effect type of understanding of international relations to reciprocal, mutual, multi dimensional and multidisciplinary comprehension of macro events in international relations, there emerged a similar change in psychology and psychoanalysis, which are more micro level disciplines examining the intra-psychic processes. In the last 30 years, researches on the different aspects of ethnic groups, in-group and out-group relations, group-leader relations… etc. has become accumulated in psychology. Also the build up knowledge on group relations have begun to be used in the conflict resolution practices. For example, some social psychology theories brought new premises that emphasize the mutuality principle and human factor in international relations against the propositions of realists. According to these theories, international conflicts come out from the psychosocial processes of the collective needs and the fears of the groups, rather then from the rational decision making processes of the macro level actors through their objective evaluations. International conflict is a phenomenon operating via social processes rather then a result of a disagreement between two or more states. In other words, international conflict does not arise from the damage resulting from administration of the physical or political force onto other side; rather it comes from a multilayered process, which is based on repetitive reciprocal interactions between two sides. In addition, international conflicts should not be formulated as the sequence of actions in which both actors consecutively respond to each other in a cause-effect relationship. Besides this interactive nature, they have usually self-induced characteristics and provoked by in-group processes as well.[3]

Consequently, it could be proposed that psychology and psychoanalysis can be beneficial and be used for the understanding of the international conflicts, that international conflicts have the impression that are operating in the international level of action at first.[4] By considering the risk of trapping into reductionism and “psychologism”, psychological and psychoanalytical examination of political events and international conflicts could have a considerable contribution to the understanding of international and inter-group conflicts.

Effect of Victimization in the Turkish-Armenian issue

Some long term problems of traumatized individuals are based on and originated from their cognitions about themselves, other people and the world. These individuals usually see themselves as a weak person and a victim who is mistreated. They perceive the others and the outer world as powerful, oppressive, cruel and enemy. These perceptions, beliefs and cognitions result in a change in the construction of self identity which has weaker connection with the reality. As a result of these changes in cognitive processes, the individual mostly experiences interpersonal difficulties and problems. This phenomenon is named as ‘victimization’, in that the individuals perceive the self as helpless/victim and the others as offender. Most of the traumatic events related to the victimization phenomena particularly involve intentional and human made events like wars, torture, terrorism related events, physical or sexual abuse.

By means of group identity theory and group psychology perspectives, victimization phenomenon can be a beneficial conceptual metaphor used in order to understand the political events emerged in international relations. Psychology of victimization, which is an important operating mechanism within many ethnic, religion related, cultural, economic or political conflicts, has an impact on Turkish-Armenian relations as a maintaining factor for the disputes and conflicts. In international relations platform, there are some situations in which one side takes the role of victim[5] and the relationship between two sides is begin to be perceived by others through victim-offender duality. The common examples of these situations might be that one nation state might show defensive reflexes for the separatists or there might be conflict laden relations between the marginal or the minority group and the state. In both examples, it is quite easy to see the powerless side, which is usually the marginal group or minority group, as victim, especially if the state uses coercive power for the aim of deterrence.

Many experiences of mistreatments and excessive use of power have been witnessed throughout the history. In these experiences one group uses unfair, cruel and excessive power over other group and there is a shared judgment about victimization within both supranational and international arenas. Dropping the atomic bombs upon Japan by United States of America, biased political sanctions and unequal power uses during the ethnic conflicts in the Balkans and the Caucasus, the genocide of Muslims in Kosovo, and the genocide of Jews in Europe by Nazis could be the examples of these experiences. The common reality shared by these experiences is the excessive use of power that damaged side is victimized, which is recognized in international level of judgment.

There is also other side of the coin that victimization has the unseen side, which is the excusing phenomenon. This is operating within idealized western notions of human rights and justice as a substratum. The modern western societies generally are perceived to have a tendency of excusing the weak, damaged, suppressed part and making positive discrimination. The origin of this tendency is related to the primitive motivation for the projection of the bad parts onto other in order to be purified from the one’s sins. By projecting one’s bad and unwanted qualities onto the other, one can maintain the identity intact and purified. The modernization process of the West involves the projection of the aggressive parts onto “others”, who is usually the “barbarian” Orient.

Assoc. Prof. Erol Göka emphasized the psychological factors in the Armenian question and mentioned about the psychological climate for genocide in the groups and nations. He states that “the Holocaust practice in Europe toward Jews by Germans forms the main frame of this psychological atmosphere. Within the frame of the Holocaust, a new ideological and psychological atmosphere and what sociologists called “human rights age” that almost giving high premium for victim and reinforcing the role of victim emerged after the Second World War.”[6] He suggested that this condition of increasingly accepted state of being the victim among the Western societies is being abused by Armenians. They try to take advantage by giving extra weight to their originally rightful pains. Göka emphasized the excessive excusing psychology of Western civilization, which is responsible for the two world wars, as the main underlying mechanism of this victimization psychology. He evaluated that the thesis of Armenian Diaspora, which states that “Hitler learned genocide from Turks”, is actually a mechanism of purification in the Western/Christian consciousness.[7] It is noticeable that Judaism has a strengthening and widening structure, which is nourished and reinforced by victimization, in the world. It was also suggested that the Holocaust provided the Jews to gain positive discrimination form Western societies. The Judaism gets stronger by benefiting this situation.

The same relationship between the Holocaust and the construction of Jewish identity has been attempted to be used in the construction of Armenian identity.[8] After the signing of Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in United Nations in 9th October 1948, Armenians began to depict insistently that the Armenian relocation in 1915 was also genocide. At the same period, Armenian Diaspora living in the western countries, like USA, England, France, Germany, have begun to realize that the important parts of Armenian identity, such as language, life style, cultural characteristics, folklore, and community traits, begin to dissolve within the host land culture, thus they become to be assimilated. The Armenian Church, Hinchak and Tashnak parties and other Armenian aid associations, which were experiencing survival anxieties due to the dissolution of Armenian identity, used the assertion of this genocide thesis as a shelter to resist for annihilation. This thesis provided them a balanced formula for keeping the group identity alive without preventing them from joining with the host land. Armenian Diaspora members usually do not have an idea of returning to their homeland due to Republic of Armenia’s economical and political difficulties and shortages in natural resources, in socio-cultural structure and in social life aspects. Thus the mental representation of genocide operates as a mental homeland, which emotionally supplies the construction of a shared Armenian identity and plays a role in the transmission of this identity to the next generations. [9]

Psychology of victimization, an important element of Armenian identity, has roots in the Armenian mythology. Armenians believe that they come from Noah’s lineage and become to be a nation. According to their belief, the tribe, who can survive from the great Noah Flood by means of climbing to the Mountain of Ararat, was their ancestors. This is why they claim for the Ararat, as if it belongs to Armenians as a sacred land. This assertion is reinforced by Armenian Church. Based on this thesis, Armenians describe themselves as “chosen nation” due to this collective belief. Mental representations of their identity consist of this core belief that their nation has been tested by various tests throughout history and they have overcome all difficulties and could have survived. Now it could be understandable why the Armenian Church tries to make a connection between the Noah Flood and the Relocation of Armenians in 1915. There is an intention of strengthening the image of “victim nation” who has survived despite great catastrophic events.[10] This analogy which is consciously and intentionally emphasized by Armenian Church lead to the perception that the Relocation has had the intention to extinct their race, like the great flood which removed all other races from earth’s surface. Thus their large group identity and mental representations related to this identity provides a psychological base for and reinforces their insistence of genocide thesis.

An important component and the axis of the group existence of Armenian identity is the shared set of beliefs that are based on being a victimized group. The great traumatic events that they are believed to have been experiencing since the formation of their community differentiates Armenians from other nations or groups. They are the nation who has been tested throughout the history and resuscitated again right on the time when they have been ceased to exist. In addition to that they had been the victimized side all the time in history. All these elements of images and belief codes are the integral part of Armenian identity. Besides, the Armenian Diaspora and the governors try to hold these images alive and perceive them to be an opportunity for benefiting in international relations. Geopolitical, demographic, economic, political and military statuses of the Republic of Armenia are also reinforcing this victimization perception. Republic of Armenia is a landlocked state which is deprived of rich natural resources. It also surrounded by neighbors with whom they have distant relations that could create security problems and threat perception. In the west, there is Turkey with larger amount of population, richer natural resources and stronger economy. In the east, there is Azerbaijan, which has a sea coast and relatively rich resources, but with whom there is increased tension due to the war about Nagorno Karabagh. In the north, there is Georgia with whom there are no good and stable relations except for their narrow economic relation and it separates Armenia from Russia, which is historically and culturally closer to Armenia and supports it in economic and political areas. In the south, there is north border of Iran, where the most of the population is consisted of Azerbaijanis. Consequently, four sides of it are surrounded by neighbors with insecure relations that create a disadvantageous position which promotes both victimization and excusing psychology. Being surrounded by these neighbors, which share the same kinship and bloodlines that Armenia have been involved in the ethnic enmity toward them in the past, intensify the perception of misery and victimization psychology in Armenian group behavior. They also reinforce the psychology of excusing and attitudes of premium giving to the victimization in the west. Especially its relationship with Russia, which can be defined by an analogy of clinging and dependent relationship between father and son, is legitimized by this state of being wrapped up. It is seen that religious and historical bonds between two states result in Russia to give privileged position to Armenia among other states which have took their independence by separating from USSR in the Caucasus. From this base, Russia uses its power over Armenia in order to consolidate its operative effect in economic, political and military areas in the Caucasus.[11]

In summary, the “identity” stands out as an important factor in the problem between Armenia and Turkey. The psychology of victimization, which has been constituted the identity of the “victim” or identity of suppressed nation and created the perception of the group in need of protection, influences the international relations regarding the Turkish- Armenian issue. The group reflexes operating in Armenian identity base on the perennial enmity of Turks. Turks and Turkey constitute the essential “other” for Armenian side to project their aggressive parts and maintain the identity of wretchedness. Armenia seeks legitimization for this phenomenon in juridical and political areas of international relations.

Role of Large-Group identity in the Turkish-Armenian issue

Large group identity is constructed by the mental codes, which are acquired through internalization mechanism within the development and socialization processes of an individual by the members of the group. They are the mental representations help to make adjustments in the relationships with the social world. Large group identity is intermixed with the individual’s personal identity. Because this large group identity is “ego syntonic”, which means that the beliefs, thoughts, emotions, behaviors and attitudes pertaining to large group identity are compatible with the person’s own mental world, the individual does not aware of its existence unless there is an evident threat to this identity. Yet, it underlies and determines the mental activities, attitudes and behaviors of an individual as much as the personal identity actually. In his tent model[12], Vamik D. Volkan defined large group identity with an image of a tent canvas covering different individuals of the same group, who might not see and meet with other members any time. This canvas covers on top of the personal clothes of the individual, which represents the personal identity. It brings people together by creating the we-ness in the group and draws the borders of the group by defining the in-group and out-group. This border protects group from outer dangers. Group leader functions the pole of the tent, which keeps the tent upright position and determines its direction. When the canvas or the pole of the tent is threatened, the shared we-ness within the group increases, which will eventually create the awareness of being a member of that large-group. Large group identity becomes to be even more important than the personal identity in the threatening dangerous situations.

The characteristics of the threatening event for the large group are important determinants of how the group will react to this event. The danger can be a real danger that could threaten the group existence. Or the event can be just ‘perceived’ to be threatening to the group, yet it may not be dangerous in reality. The important thing here is the sharing of this perception by the group members, as the amplifier of we-ness.

1915 Armenian Relocation has been an important traumatic event especially for the innocent Armenians who have not been involved in the rebellion actions. Because, besides these people faced with the risk of being killed due to war context, they fought with poverty, starvation, epidemic diseases caused by the immigration as well. Survivors have experienced traumatic events or witnessed such events throughout the way to their new place into be exiled. As a matter of fact, this was not difficult to expect that this relocation, all by itself, was a great traumatic event that will strengthen and magnify the large group identity of Armenians.

Trauma has great impact in the human mind and psychology. The perception of the event, beside its characteristics in reality, determines its degree of influence. In order for the human mind to resolve the effects of trauma, it needs processing the disturbing information like a digest process of the food that is required for the organism to absorb it. The existing mental structures are broken down into pieces by the trauma. The reconstruction of these shaken belief system and schemas of the individual is the main object to be achieved. The individual needs to live and complete his or her grief by means of accepting his or her loss and grief in order achieve a new set of beliefs and reconstructed identity. In order complete the grief process, the lost object should be retained in the past as memories, should not carried into the present issues.

Societal traumas also result in similar consequences for the large group identity, like the effects of loss and trauma to the personal identity. If the members of the group perceive themselves as weak, helpless, damaged and victim, the group carries the past traumatic event into the present as a “chosen trauma”. This event is transmitted throughout the generations and tried to keep alive.[13] “Transgenerational transmission is when an older person unconsciously externalizes his traumatized self onto a developing child’s personality. A child then becomes a reservoir for the unwanted, troublesome parts of an older generation. Because the elders have influence on a child, the child absorbs their wishes and expectations and is driven to act on them. It becomes the child’s task to mourn, to reverse the humiliation and feelings of helplessness pertaining to the trauma of his forebears.”[14] The transmission of the trauma-related affective and cognitive material to the child does not have to be occurred intentionally and verbally. The mental images are delivered through non- verbal communication or while transmitting family history by stories, fairy tales, songs… etc. unconsciously. The messages such as “you mourn for my pain instead of me”, “I was humiliated, you reversed this for me”, “be assertive and protect yourself and your rights instead of me”, “idealize our victimization”, “take revenge of violence against me”, “repair our trauma”[15] are given to the next generations.

The group leader can exacerbate and inflame the chosen trauma during the generational transmission. The easiest way to mobilize and direct a group in a desired way is to create a perception that there is threat outside and to enhance we-ness in the group. The group identity, which has been sleeping for a while, can be mobilized and enlivened by means of making the group to remember the past trauma or loss again. The trauma or loss, for which the grief process could not have completed by the group in the past, can be very potent tool to manage the group. Even if there is a great time lag between the traumatic event and the present, the trauma can be re-experienced by the group as vivid as if it is happened to them. “Time collapse” occurs that the past collapses onto the present and affective responses given by the group nearly as powerful as the time that traumatic event has been experienced.[16] Especially in the times of stress, the group regresses to a lower level of functioning that the emotional and other mental processes shared by the group becomes more primitive thus more easy to control by leaders or other political actors. These vigorous emotions experienced within the group are used with the intention of social mobilization.

From this point of view, 1915 Armenian Relocation is functioning as “chosen trauma” for the Armenians. It is an important source of we-ness and group identity especially for the Armenian Diasporas. This historical event occupies great place in the Armenian policies. Great part of Armenian Diaspora’s activities is constituted by the struggle for the recognition of this event as “Armenian genocide”. These can show that although the event has been occurred at least four generations ago, the Relocation has great impact on Armenians today and influences the group emotionally. Although third and fourth generations have not experienced the relocation, they show greater enmity toward Turkish people than the first generation Armenians. Also they are more radical about and insist more harshly on the “Armenian genocide” then the preceding generations. These observations are enough to state that there is psychological processes operating behind the reality in Turkish- Armenian issue. Armenian policies try to reinforce the transgenerational transmission and time collapse for the 1915 Relocation by means of the disinformation procedures, which can take place through media and national education devices in order to make the society homogeneous enough to control the group in a desired direction. These kinds of psychological processes and mechanisms can be used as a manipulation device in the international relations by macro actors as well. For example, Armenian side’s thesis and demands from Turkey have been stated by different authorities who are against the Turkey’s membership to the European Union. The demands for the acceptance of “Armenian genocide” have been put in front of Turkish side as an obstacle for starting of the negotiations. This historical issue is tried to be used as a political tool in international relations.

There is a research, which has results supporting the abovementioned opinions, has been conducted by Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) in Turkey and Armenia.[17] Some examples of the results can be revealed that Armenians stated their information resources about Turks and Turkey are press/media, history books, and old generations/family seniors in sequence.[18] The rate of giving erroneous answers for the Turkey’s characteristics like religious structure or political system has been found to be increasing by increasing the education level of the Armenians.[19] These results indicated that government ideology and perspective may distort the information given to the Armenians about Turkey by disinformation mechanisms.

The careful examination of research results revealed that Armenians were more prejudiced in their responses then the Turks. For example, while many Turks have answered the questions measuring their level of knowledge about Armenians by the response of “I don’t know” generally, Armenians generally and consistently have given negative responses for the same questions about Turks.[20] This shows that Turkish side was more neutral toward Armenians, whereas Armenians were more biased in their responses; hence Armenian side uses more projective mechanisms then Turkish side.[21] Similarly, for the questions measuring the attitudes of two sides about each other, while variety of the answers of Turkish side is broad, Armenians gave stereotypically negative answers, thus variety of their responses is small and restricted negatively. This indicated that Armenians are more homogeneous group then Turks in terms of their attitudes about them. When they were asked to report their expectations about other side’s attitudes about themselves, Armenians expected that Turks have more negative attitudes about themselves then in reality, thus their expectations were negatively biased. On the contrary, to lesser extend, Turks expected that Armenians have more positive attitudes about Turks then in reality, thus their expectations were positively biased.[22] In the questions tried to assess the mental representations of Armenians and Turks about each other, two- thirds of the answers of Armenians consisted of negative adjectives, such as “enemy, barbarian, bloodthirsty, murderer, wild…”. Whereas one-thirds of Turks’ responses involved negative adjectives, like “egoist, self-centered, prejudiced, enemy…”. Remainder two-thirds of Turks’ responses contained definitions such as “good people, endeavoring, a friendly nation, very clever, human, Christian, Armenian…”[23]

According to a result revealing “transgenerational transmission”, while 18-29 age of Armenians were the group which define the Turks with the most negative terms, 30-44 age group defined the Turks with average and more positive terms.[24] Similarly, in the question of “would you purchase the Turkish products?”, the younger the age group, the higher the rate of response of “no”.[25] These results show that there is higher rate of enmity and prejudice toward Turks in the third generation then the first and second generations. Consequently, unresolved trauma and mourning of the first generation of Armenians after the 1915 Relocation is transmitted to the third generation through grandfather/ grandmother and grandchild relationships. And these can be evidence that Armenian policy, which was transformed toward policies that promote the enmity against Turks and demands of the recognition of “Armenian genocide” especially after 1950’s, uses mass communication for disinformation about Turkish side and pumping the Turkish enmity among Armenians.


The main object of this paper, which tries to understand the psychological dynamics of Turkish-Armenian issue, is to examine the psychological dynamics operating within the policies and group identity of Armenian side rather then Turkish side. In order for a broad and comprehensive evaluation of the issue, psychological factors affecting the Turkish side should also be taken into account, because transactional, reciprocal and interactive processes take place in international system, like in all other systems. Thus the analysis, which does not take two sides into account, will be incomplete to understand the whole. In addition, it would be non-sense to state that all the factors affecting the Turkish side are de facto. Some characteristics related to the group identity of Turkish side have maintaining effect for the Armenian-Turkish issue as well. These characteristics and related psychological dynamics should be explored in another paper, which will complete this review.

The main argument in this paper is that the reality in international relations can be biased by many psychological mechanisms. There are some ancient psychological mechanisms and dynamics behind the demands of “Armenian genocide” recognition, not the reality.

These psychological mechanisms operating behind the conflictive structure of Turkish- Armenian relations provide important tools for archeological digging up for the etiology of the problem. Full comprehension of this problem, which is seen as affecting the international relations as well, can be possible only by means of taking human factor into account. Rather then reality, humans’, groups’, or nations’ “perceived” reality make strong influence on the policies. In international system, where macro actors’ manipulations have important effects basically, the human factor may cause unexpected effects occasionally, and sometimes these psychological backgrounds and resources can be used and controlled by the macro actors in direction with their benefits. The victimization psychology and group identity, which have become fully developed fifty years ago, operating in the Armenian group psychology, function as a manipulation tool in the political maneuvers of these international actors intentionally or unconsciously.

Turkey needs to develop the more efficient way and more skillful ability to deal with Armenian side’s projections of threat and enmity in order to get a better position in the political circumstances related to the Turkish- Armenian issue. This cannot be achieved through reactive and polarizing policies. On the other hand, it cannot be realized by excusing and accepting approaches as well. Understanding of this issue should get rid off from the duality of either accepting or rejecting the “Armenian genocide” hypothesis. The new policy style should be reframed around the awareness that there are important psychological mechanisms operating within the Turkish-Armenian issue and they have potential to distort the reality. The other part of this new policy should contain various methods of influencing the actors and making them to accept this point of view inside and outside of Turkey.


* Clinical Psychologist, MA, ASAM Political Psychology Specialist, e-mail:
[1] F. Sevinç Göral, “Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkilerde Siyaset Psikolojisi”, Stratejik Analiz, Vol 5, Iss. 59, March 2005, ss.77-82.
[2] Valarie M. Hudson and Christopher S. Vore, “Dış Politika Analizinin Dünü, Bugünü ve Yarını”, Erol Göka and Işık Kuşçu (in ed.), Uluslararası İlişkilerin Psikolojisi, ASAM Yayınları, Ankara, 2002.
[3] Herbert Kelman and Ronald Fisher, “Conflict Analysis and Resolution”, David Sears, Leonie Huddy and Robert Jervis (in ed.), Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology, Oxford University Press, New York, 2003, pp. 316- 320.
[4] Vamık D. Volkan, “Uluslararası İlişkilerde Psikanaliz ve Psikanalizde Uluslararası İlişkiler 1: Psikanaliz ve Diplomasi Arası İşbirliğinde Engeller”, (Translation: F. Sevinç Göral), Stratejik Analiz, Vol 6, Iss. 62, June 2005, ss. 52-57.
[5] Nuri Bilgin, Siyaset ve İnsan, Bağlam Yayınları, İstanbul, 1997, pp. 92- 98.
[6] Erol Göka, “Ermeni Sorunu’nun (Gözden Kaçan) Psikolojik Boyutu”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, Cilt 1, (Mart, 2001), p. 131.
[7] Erol Göka, “Ermeni Diasporasının Psikolojisi”, Ermeni Araştırmaları 1. Türkiye Kongresi Bildirileri, Vol. 3, ASAM Yayınları, Ankara, 20-21 Nisan 2002, p. 43.
[8] İbrahim Kaya, “The Holocoust and Armenian Case: Highlighting the Main Differences”, Armenian Studies, A Quarterly Journal of History, Politics and International Relations, Vol. 4, pp. 274- 295.
[9] Haluk Özdemir, “Diaspora Ararat’ı Ararken: Ermeni Kimliği ve Soykırım İddiaları”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, Vol. 4, Iss. 14- 15, pp. 75- 97; Laçiner, “Ermeni…, pp. 13- 25; Erol Göka, “Ermeni Diasporasının …, pp. 39- 46; Erol Göka, “Ermeni Sorununun…, pp. 128- 136; Ömer E. Lütem, Ermeni Sorunu, Seminar presented in CESS, 21 Temmuz 2005.
[10] Sedat Laçiner, “Ermeni Sorunu’nun Temel Unsurları Olarak Ermeni Kimlik Bunalımı ve Güç Politikaları”, Ermeni Araştırmaları 1. Türkiye Kongresi Bildirileri, Vol. 3, ASAM Yayınları, Ankara, 20-21 April 2002, p. 20.
[11] Sedat Laçiner, Türk Ermeni İlişkileri, Kaknüs Yayınları, İstanbul, 2004, pp. 237- 246.
[12] Vamık D. Volkan, Kanbağı Etnik Gururdan Etnik Teröre, Bağlam Yayınları, İstanbul, 1999, p. 40.
[13] Vamık D. Volkan, Politik Psikoloji, Ankara Üniversitesi Yayınları, Ankara, 1993, p. 70.
[14] Vamık D. Volkan, Bloodlines: From Ethnic Pride to Ethnic Terrorism, Westview Press, Colorado, 1997, p. 43.
[15] Vamık D. Volkan, “Psychoanalysis and History”, Psychoanalytic View 2:History of the Person, History of the World Symposia, 24- 26 April 2004, İstanbul.
[16] Vamık Volkan gave the example of time collapse that Milosevic and his followers showed around the bones of Lazar, who is a Serbian prince, has been killed in Kosovo War in 1389 by the Ottomans. Milosevic have dug and get the bones of Lazar out of the grave in the 600th anniversary of this war. The bones have been carried from village to village and city to city throughout the country. This was the beginning of the process causing the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia Herzegovina. For more detailed examination, look at Volkan, Kanbağı…, pp. 65-100. In addition, it is known that monuments, literature, film and cinema industry can be used to maintain feelings of we-ness and group identity alive and powerful for certain purposes by using chosen traumas.
[17] Frehat Kentel ve Gevorg Poghosyan, Ermenistan ve Türkiye Vatandaşları Karşılıklı Algılama Projesi, Erivan, İstanbul, 2005, TESEVweb site,
[18] Kentel ve Poghosyan, Ermenistan… p. 18.
[19] Kentel ve Poghosyan, Ermenistan… pp. 11-12.
[20] Kentel ve Poghosyan, Ermenistan… pp. 16-18.
[21] Projection: It is one of the defense mechanisms that human beings use during the early development. The infant projects unwanted negative mental representations, which are not integrated into a whole object yet, to outside in order to get rid of the destructiveness of his/ her aggressive impulses and to survive. He/she experiences them as they come from outside. Human projects its own destructiveness and badness to outside and creates an illusive perception that “the bad and evil is he / she / it, not me”. The projection has important functions in the construction and development of being a nation as well. The group needs to project its bad parts onto other and to create an enemy outside in order to set the feelings of we-ness, to gathering around shared and idealized issues. For more detailed information, look at, Erol Göka, F. Sevinç Göral and F. Volkan Yüksel, “Birbirimize Ne Yapıyoruz? İnsan İlişkilerini Kavramanın Bir Aracı Olarak Yansıtmalı Özdeşim”, Avrasya Dosyası, Vol 10, No. 1, Spring 2004, pp. 279-314.
[22] Kentel ve Poghosyan, Ermenistan… p. 27.
[23] Kentel ve Poghosyan, Ermenistan… pp. 28-29
[24] Kentel ve Poghosyan, Ermenistan… p. 29.
[25] Kentel ve Poghosyan, Ermenistan… p. 33.

Azerbaijani Lands under Armenian Occupation

June 5, 2009


Resolution of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on the Karabagh Problem

June 5, 2009

III. Problems of Turkey and Azerbaijan with Armenia

2. Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1416 (2005)

The conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region dealt with by the OSCE Minsk Conference

1. The Parliamentary Assembly regrets that, more than a decade after the armed hostilities started, the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region remains unsolved. Hundreds of thousands of people are still displaced and live in miserable conditions. Considerable parts of the territory of Azerbaijan are still occupied by Armenian forces, and separatist forces are still in control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

2. The Assembly expresses its concern that the military action, and the widespread ethnic hostilities which preceded it, led to large-scale ethnic expulsion and the creation of mono-ethnic areas which resemble the terrible concept of ethnic cleansing. The Assembly reaffirms that independence and secession of a regional territory from a state may only be achieved through a lawful and peaceful process based on the democratic support of the inhabitants of such territory and not in the wake of an armed conflict leading to ethnic expulsion and the de facto annexation of such territory to another state. The Assembly reiterates that the occupation of foreign territory by a member state constitutes a grave violation of that state’s obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and reaffirms the right of displaced persons from the area of conflict to return to their homes safely and with dignity.

3.The Assembly recalls Resolutions 822 (1993), 853 (1993), 874 (1993) and 884 (1993) of the United Nations Security Council and urges the parties concerned to comply with them, in particular by refraining from any armed hostilities and by withdrawing military forces from any occupied territories. The Assembly also aligns itself with the demand expressed in Resolution 853 of the United Nations Security Council and thus urges all member states to refrain from the supply of any weapons and munitions which might lead to an intensification of the conflict or the continued occupation of territory.

4. The Assembly recalls that both Armenia and Azerbaijan committed themselves upon their accession to the Council of Europe in January 2001 to use only peaceful means for settling the conflict, by refraining from any threat of using force against their neighbours. At the same time, Armenia committed itself to use its considerable influence over Nagorno-Karabakh to foster a solution to the conflict. The Assembly urges both governments to comply with these commitments and refrain from using armed forces against each other and from propagating military action.

5. The Assembly recalls that the Council of Ministers of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) agreed in Helsinki in March 1992 to hold a conference in Minsk in order to provide a forum for negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, the former Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Russian Federation, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America agreed at that time to participate in this conference. The Assembly calls on these states to step up their efforts to achieve the peaceful resolution of the conflict and invites their national delegations to the Assembly to report annually to the Assembly on the action of their government in this respect. For this purpose, the Assembly asks its Bureau to create an ad hoc committee comprising, inter alia, the heads of these national delegations.

6. The Assembly pays tribute to the tireless efforts of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, in particular for having achieved a ceasefire in May 1994 and having constantly monitored the observance of this ceasefire since then. The Assembly calls on the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to take immediate steps to conduct speedy negotiations for the conclusion of a political agreement on the cessation of the armed conflict. The implementation of this agreement will eliminate major consequences of the conflict for all parties and permit the convening of the Minsk Conference. The Assembly calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to make use of the OSCE Minsk Process and to put forward to each other, via the Minsk Group, their constructive proposals for the peaceful settlement of the conflict in accordance with the relevant norms and principles of international law.

7. The Assembly recalls that Armenia and Azerbaijan are signatory parties to the Charter of the United Nations and, in accordance with Article 93, paragraph 1 of the Charter, ipso facto parties to the statute of the International Court of Justice. Therefore, the Assembly suggests that if the negotiations under the auspices of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group fail, Armenia and Azerbaijan should consider using the International Court of Justice in accordance with Article 36, paragraph 1 of its statute.

8. The Assembly calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to foster political reconciliation among themselves by stepping up bilateral inter-parliamentary co-operation within the Assembly as well as in other forums such as the meetings of the speakers of the parliaments of the Caucasian Four. It recommends that both delegations should meet during each part-session of the Assembly to review progress on such reconciliation.

9. The Assembly calls on the Government of Azerbaijan to establish contact, without preconditions, with the political representatives of both communities from the Nagorno-Karabakh region regarding the future status of the region. It is prepared to provide facilities for such contacts in Strasbourg, recalling that it did so in the form of a hearing on previous occasions with Armenian participation.

10. Recalling its Recommendation 1570 (2002) on the situation of refugees and displaced persons in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, the Assembly calls on all member and Observer states to provide humanitarian aid and assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people displaced as a consequence of the armed hostilities and the expulsion of ethnic Armenians from Azerbaijan and ethnic Azerbaijanis from Armenia.

11. The Assembly condemns any expression of hatred portrayed in the media of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Assembly calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to foster reconciliation and to restore confidence and mutual understanding among their peoples through schools, universities and the media. Without such reconciliation, hatred and mistrust will prevent stability in the region and may lead to new violence. Any sustainable settlement must be preceded by and embedded in such a reconciliation process.

12. The Assembly calls on the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to draw up an action plan for support to Armenia and Azerbaijan targeted at mutual reconciliation processes, and to take this resolution into account in deciding on action concerning Armenia and Azerbaijan.

13. The Assembly calls on the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe to assist locally elected representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan in establishing mutual contacts and interregional co-operation.

14. The Assembly resolves to analyse the conflict-settlement mechanisms existing within the Council of Europe, in particular the European Convention for the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes, in order to provide its member states with better mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of bilateral conflicts as well as internal disputes involving local or regional territorial communities or authorities which may endanger human rights, stability and peace.

15. The Assembly resolves to continue monitoring on a regular basis the evolution of this conflict towards its peaceful resolution and decides to reconsider this issue at its first part-session in 2006.

United Nations Security Council Resolutions on the Karabagh Problem

June 5, 2009

III. Problems of Turkey and Azerbaijan with Armenia

1. United Nations Security Council Resolutions on the Karabagh Problem

RESOLUTION 822 (1993)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 3205th meeting, on 30 April 1993
The Security Council,

Recalling the statements of the President of the Security Council of 29 January 1993 (S/25199) and of 6 April 1993 (S/25539) concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General dated 14 April 1993 (S/25600),

Expressing its serious concern at the deterioration of the relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan,

Noting with alarm the escalation in armed hostilities and, in particular, the latest invasion of the Kelbadjar district of the Republic of Azerbaijan by local Armenian forces,

Concerned that this situation endangers peace and security in the region,

Expressing grave concern at the displacement of a large number of civilians and the humanitarian emergency in the region, in particular in the Kelbadjar district,

Reaffirming the respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States in the region,

Reaffirming also the inviolability of international borders and the inadmissibility of the use of force for the acquisition of territory,

Expressing its support for the peace process being pursued within the framework of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and deeply concerned at the distruptive effect that the escalation in armed hostilities can have on that process,

1.Demands the immediate cessation of all hostilities and hostile acts with a view to establishing a durable cease-fire, as well as immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from the Kelbadjar district and other recently occupied areas of Azerbaijan;

2.Urges the parties concerned immediately to resume negotiations for the resolution of the conflict within the framework of the peace process of the Minsk Group of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and refrain from any action that will obstruct a peaceful solution of the problem;

3.Calls for unimpeded access for international humanitarian relief efforts in the region, in particular in all areas affected by the conflict in order to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population and reaffirms that all parties are bound to comply with the principles and rules of international humanitarian law;

4.Requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Chairman-in-Office of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe as well as the Chairman of the Minsk Group of the Conference to assess the situation in the region, in particular in the Kelbadjar district of Azerbaijan, and to submit a further report to the Council;

5.Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

RESOLUTION 853 (1993)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 3259th meeting, on 29 July 1993
The Security Council,

Reaffirming its resolution 822 (1993) of 30 April 1993,

Having considered the report issued on 27 July 1993 by the Chairman of the Mink Group of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) (S/26184),

Expressing its serious concern at the deterioration of relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijani Republic and at the tensions between them,

Welcoming acceptance by the parties concerned at the timetable of urgent steps to implement its resolution 822 (1993) ,

Noting with alarm the escalation in armed hostilities and, in particular, the seizure of the district of Agdam in the Azerbaijani Republic,

Concerned that this situation continues to endanger peace and security in the region,

Expressing once again its grave concern at the displacement of large numbers of civilians in the Azerbaijani Republic and at the serious humanitarian emergency in the region,

Reaffirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Azerbaijani Republic and of all other States in the region,

Reaffirming also the inviolability of international borders and the inadmissability of the use of force for the acquisition of territory,

1.Condemns the seizure of the district of Agdam and of all other recently occupied areas of the Azerbaijani Republic;

2.Further condemns all hostile actions in the region, in particular attacks on civilians and bombardments of inhabited areas;

3.Demands the immediate cessation of all hostilities and the immediate complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces involved from the district of Agdam and all other recently occupied areas of the Azerbaijan Republic;

4.Calls on the parties concerned to reach and maintain durable cease-fire arrangements;

5.Reiterates in the context of paragraphs 3 and 4 above its earlier calls for the restoration of economic, transport and energy links in the region;

6.Endorses the continuing efforts by the Minsk Group of the CSCE to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict, including efforts to implement resolution 822 (1993) , and expresses its grave concern at the disruptive effect that the escalation of armed hostilities has had on these efforts;

7.Welcomes the preparations for a CSCE monitor mission with a timetable for its deployment, as well as consideration within the CSCE of the proposal for a CSCE presence in the region;

8.Urges the parties concerned to refrain from any action that will obstruct a peaceful solution to the conflict, and to pursue negotiations within the Minsk Group of the CSCE, as well as through direct contacts between them, towards a final settlement;

9.Urges the Government of the Republic of Armenia to continue to exert its influence to achieve compliance by the Armenians of the Nagorny-Karabakh region of the Azerbaijani Republic with its resolution 822 (1993) and the present resolution, and the acceptance by this party of the proposals of the Minsk Group of the CSCE;

10.Urges States to refrain from the supply of any weapons and munitions which might lead to an intensification of the conflict or the continued occupation of territory;

11.Calls once again for unimpeded access for international humanitarian relief efforts in the region, in particular in all areas affected by the conflict, in order to alleviate the increased suffering of the civilian population and reaffirms that all parties are bound to comply with the principles and rules of international humanitarian law;

12.Requests the Secretary-General and relevant international agencies to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the affected civilian population and to assist displaced persons to return to their homes;

13.Requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Chairman-in-Office of the CSCE as well as the Chairman of the Minsk Group, to continue to report to the Council on the situation;

14.Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

RESOLUTION 874 (1993)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 3292nd meeting, on 14 October 1993
The Security Council,

Reaffirming its resolutions 822 (1993) of 30 April 1993 and 853 (1993) of 29 July 1993, and recalling the statement read by the President of the Council, on behalf of the Council, on 18 August 1993 (S/26326),

Having considered the letter dated 1 October 1993 from the Chairman of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) Minsk Conference on Nagorny Karabakh addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/26522),

Expressing its serious concern that a continuation of the conflict in and around the Nagorny Karabakh region of the Azerbaijani Republic, and of the tensions between the Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijani Republic, would endanger peace and security in the region,

Taking note of the high-level meetings which took place in Moscow on 8 October 1993 and expressing the hope that they will contribute to the improvement of the situation and the peaceful settlement of the conflict,

Reaffirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Azerbaijani Republic and of all other States in the region,

Reaffirming also the inviolability of international borders and the inadmissibility of the use of force for the acquisition of territory,

Expressing once again its grave concern at the human suffering the conflict has caused and at the serious humanitarian emergency in the region and expressing in particular its grave concern at the displacement of large numbers of civilians in the Azerbaijani Republic,

1.Calls upon the parties concerned to make effective and permanent the cease-fire established as a result of the direct contacts undertaken with the assistance of the Government of the Russian Federation in support of the CSCE Minsk Group;

2.Reiterates again its full support for the peace process being pursued within the framework of the CSCE, and for the tireless efforts of the CSCE Minsk Group;

3.Welcomes and commends to the parties the Adjusted timetable of urgent steps to implement Security Council resolutions 822 (1993) and 853 (1993) set out on 28 September 1993 at the meeting of the CSCE Minsk Group and submitted to the parties concerned by the Chairman of the Group with the full support of nine other members of the Group, and calls on the parties to accept it;

4.Expresses the conviction that all other pending questions arising from the conflict and not directly addressed in the adjusted timetable should be settled expeditiously through peaceful negotiations in the context of the CSCE Minsk process;

5.Calls for the immediate implementation of the reciprocal and urgent steps provided for in the CSCE Minsk Group’s Adjusted timetable, including the withdrawal of forces from recently occupied territories and the removal of all obstacles to communications and transportation;

6.Calls also for an early convening of the CSCE Minsk Conference for the purpose of arriving at a negotiated settlement to the conflict as provided for in the timetable, in conformity with the 24 March 1992 mandate of the CSCE Council of Ministers;

7.Requests the Secretary-General to respond favourably to an invitation to send a representative to attend the CSCE Minsk Conference and to provide all possible assistance for the substantive negotiations that will follow the opening of the Conference;

8.Supports the monitoring mission developed by the CSCE;

9.Calls on all parties to refrain from all violations of international humanitarian law and renews its call in resolutions 822 (1993) and 853 (1993) for unimpeded access for international humanitarian relief efforts in all areas affected by the conflict;

10.Urges all States in the region to refrain from any hostile acts and from any interference or intervention which would lead to the widening of the conflict and undermine peace and security in the region;

11.Requests the Secretary-General and relevant international agencies to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the affected civilian population and to assist refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes in security and dignity;

12.Requests also the Secretary-General, the Chairman-in-Office of the CSCE and the Chairman of the CSCE Minsk Conference to continue to report to the Council on the progress of the Minsk process and on all aspects of the situation on the ground, and on present and future cooperation between the CSCE and the United Nations in this regard;

13.Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

RESOLUTION 884 (1993)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 3313th meeting, on 12 November 1993
The Security Council,

Reaffirming its resolutions 822 (1993) of 30 April 1993, 853 (1993) of 29 July 1993 and 874 (1993) of 14 October 1993,

Reaffirming its full support for the peace process being pursued within the framework of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and for the tireless efforts of the CSCE Minsk Group,

Taking note of the letter dated 9 November 1993 from the Chairman-in-Office of the Minsk Conference on Nagorny Karabakh addressed to the President of the Security Council and its enclosures (S/26718, annex),

Expressing its serious concern that a continuation of the conflict in and around the Nagorny Karabakh region of the Azerbaijani Republic, and of the tensions between the Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijani Republic, would endanger peace and security in the region,

Noting with alarm the escalation in armed hostilities as consequence of the violations of the cease-fire and excesses in the use of force in response to those violations, in particular the occupation of the Zangelan district and the city of Goradiz in the Azerbaijani Republic,

Reaffirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Azerbaijani Republic and of all other States in the region,

Reaffirming also the inviolability of international borders and the inadmissibility of the use of force for the acquisition of territory,

Expressing grave concern at the latest displacement of a large number of civilians and the humanitarian emergency in the Zangelan district and the city of Goradiz and on Azerbaijan’s southern frontier,

1.Condemns the recent violations of the cease-fire established between the parties, which resulted in a resumption of hostilities, and particularly condemns the occupation of the Zangelan district and the city of Goradiz, attacks on civilians and bombardments of the territory of the Azerbaijani Republic;

2.Calls upon the Government of Armenia to use its influence to achieve compliance by the Armenians of the Nagorny Karabakh region of the Azerbaijani Republic with resolutions 822 (1993) , 853 (1993) and 874 (1993) , and to ensure that the forces involved are not provided with the means to extend their military campaign further;

3.Welcomes the Declaration of 4 November 1993 of the nine members of the CSCE Minsk Group (S/26718) and commends the proposals contained therein for unilateral cease-fire declarations;

4.Demands from the parties concerned the immediate cessation of armed hostilities and hostile acts, the unilateral withdrawal of occupying forces from the Zangelan district and the city of Goradiz, and the withdrawal of occupying forces from other recently occupied areas of the Azerbaijani Republic in accordance with the Adjusted timetable of urgent steps to implement Security Council resolutions 822 (1993) and 853 (1993) (S/26522, appendix), as amended by the CSCE Minsk Group meeting in Vienna of 2 to 8 November 1993;

5.Strongly urges the parties concerned to resume promptly and to make effective and permanent the cease-fire established as a result of the direct contacts undertaken with the assistance of the Government of the Russian Federation in support of the CSCE Minsk Group, and to continue to seek a negotiated settlement of the conflict within the context of the CSCE Minsk process and the Adjusted timetable, as amended by the CSCE Minsk Group meeting in Vienna of 2 to 8 November 1993;

6.Urges again all States in the region to refrain from any hostile acts and from any interference or intervention, which would lead to the widening of the conflict and undermine peace and security in the region;

7.Requests the Secretary-General and relevant international agencies to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the affected civilian population, including that in the Zangelan district and the city of Goradiz and on Azerbaijan’s southern frontier, and to assist refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes in security and dignity;

8.Reiterates its request that the Secretary-General, the Chairman-in-Office of the CSCE and the Chairman of the CSCE Minsk Conference continue to report to the Council on the progress of the Minsk process and on all aspects of the situation on the ground, in particular on the implementation of its relevant resolutions, and on present and future cooperation between the CSCE and the United Nations in this regard;

9.Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

The Karabagh Question

June 5, 2009

III. Problems of Turkey and Azerbaijan with Armenia

The Karabakh Problem

Ömer Engin LÜTEM*

This essay will include a brief history of the Karabakh problem which constitutes the most important conflict in the South Caucasus and analyze the invasion by Armenian forces of Azerbaijani territories, international efforts directed at the solution of the problem, the main resolutions adopted by international organizations on this issue and the benefits regional countries stand to gain from the settlement of the conflict.

Karabakh and Mountainous Karabakh are two different geographical terms. Karabakh is the approximately 18.000 km2-sized area between the Kura and Arax rivers of Azerbaijan and Lake Sevan (Gökçe Gölü) of Armenia. Of this region 4300 km2 is mountainous and commands strategic value. This region has been called Nagorny (mountainous) Karabakh by the Russians and constitutes today the point of conflict between the Azerbaijanis and Armenians. This area is now called Karabakh only, mainly because of practical reasons.

The Russian Empire, primarily due to geo-strategic concerns, created the Karabakh problem approximately two centuries ago. At the outset of the 19th century, Turkic peoples and especially Azerbaijanis were in the majority and Armenians constituted a minority in the regions that are modern day Karabakh and Armenia. The majority of the Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire and Iran. Karabakh, which in the Turkish language means black garden or black vineyard, was a Khanate composed mainly of Azerbaijanis.

After gaining control of the Caucasus, the Russian Empire followed a policy of increasing the Armenian population in the region, as it was convinced that this would make administering the area easier [1]. With this aim, the Russian Empire especially tried to move to the Caucasus those Armenians living in Iran and the eastern part of the Ottoman Empire. Parallel to this development, a part of the Muslim population of Karabakh migrated to the other regions of Azerbaijan and to Ottoman territories. The Russian policy of moving Armenians to the Caucasus was successful in eventually changing the ethnic composition in the area and particularly in Karabakh. While the Armenians continued to move to the Southern Caucasus throughout the 19th century, with the exception of some areas, they did not become a majority in many regions. However the flow of Armenians from Eastern Anatolia to the Caucasus after the Balkan Wars and the migration of approximately 420.000 Armenians [2] to the region during and following World War I led to Armenians forming a majority in the regions that modern day Armenia is comprised of.

The Russian policy of moving Armenians to the Caucasus yielded the following results: the increase of Armenians in the Caucasus made it difficult for the Moslem peoples in the region to unite against the invading Russian forces and prevented them from cooperating against the Russians with Iran and the Ottoman Empire – the two Moslem powers in the region. The Armenians under Russian control played an important role in the revolt of the Ottoman Armenians and the propagation of the idea of an independent Armenia. It was under the same influence that the Ottoman Armenians sided with the Russian army in the First World War. On the other hand, settling Armenians in Karabakh also led to a serious conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia that occasionally escalated into armed conflict.

With the collapse of the Russian Empire an Armenian state was created in the Caucasus in 1918. The Sèvres treaty, which essentially liquidated the Ottoman Empire, granted to the Armenians vast territories in East Anatolia. The Armenians initiated a war to take possession of the said territories but were defeated by the Turkish forces and accepted the boundaries in force today. Soon after Armenia ceased to exist as an independent state and joined the Soviet Union.

After all of the Caucasus came under Soviet control, the Mountainous Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (region) was created and attached to Azerbaijan. According to Armenian sources [3] this region with an overwhelmingly Armenian population was attached to Azerbaijan because the Soviets were practicing the policy of “divide and rule.” Stalin, who as a native of Georgia knew the conditions in the Caucasus very well drafted the following map: Nakhichevan is separated from Azerbaijan through an Armenian corridor. Thus Azerbaijan loses direct contact with one of her important provinces. Furthermore, Turkey is prevented from becoming a neighbor of Azerbaijan. Karabakh is attached to Azerbaijan, thereby creating a source of continuous discontent between Azerbaijan and Armenia, forcing the two parties to resort to the mediation of Moscow.

During the Stalin era occasional demands of Karabakh being attached to Armenia were met with harsh reactions from Moscow. For instance, it has been claimed that one of the reasons for the assassination in 1936 of Khanjian, the First Secretary of the Armenian Communist Party, can be traced back to the Karabakh problem [4]. After the Second World War the USSR demanded from Turkey not only control of the Turkish Straits but also the provinces of Kars and Ardahan and simultaneously it called on the Armenians of the diaspora to settle in Armenia, thereby further strengthening the existing nationalism in Armenia. However the Soviets tried hard to allow this nationalism to be aimed abroad only (in other words towards Turkey) while attempting to keep the same sentiment from impacting on national problems such as Karabakh.

The Karabakh problem could only reemerge in the atmosphere of relative freedom that followed the death of Stalin. At this time some personalities from Karabakh applied to Moscow on numerous occasions and demanded that the area be joined with Azerbaijan. Clashes that erupted in 1988 between Azerbaijanis and Armenians in Khankendi, the capital of the region that was now known as Stepanakert showed that there was a strong tendency in Karabakh for joining Armenia. It also appears that this tendency was being covertly supported by Armenia. The Armenian diaspora which always pursued dreams of creating a greater Armenia also wanted to see Karabakh being a part of Armenia. Moscow disregarded these requests, which if granted, would upset the existing order. In 1973 Boris Kevorkov became head of the Karabakh Communist Party and while serving in that capacity maintained the status quo as demanded by Moscow. During this 15 year period, those asking to join Armenia were accused of engaging in Dashnak propaganda.

Mikhail Gorbachev became Secretary General of the Communist party in 1985 and tried to implement the much needed reforms that the conservative party cadres had been preventing. Gorbachev demanded these reforms to be founded on certain basic principles such as restructuring (perestroyka), openness (glasnost), democratization (demokratizatzia) and new thinking (novoe mysshlenia). Thus an era of relative liberalization started in the USSR, causing long unvoiced complaints to surface and nationalistic sentiments to gain strength. Strong nationalistic currents emerged quickly in Armenia and Karabakh, demands that Karabakh be annexed to Armenia were made and street protests organized.

A serious crisis erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia when the latter supported the demands of Karabakh. As the USSR was breaking up, it could not be decisive enough to overcome the crisis. Soon after these developments it became more concerned with trying to preserve its presence in the region and to that end implemented policies that often supported Armenia but sometimes Azerbaijan as well. The USA and European powers had no real influence in the region at that time. While stating that they supported peace initiatives, on overall they followed a policy of non-involvement. This created a very conducive conjecture for Armenia.

In February 1988 protests were being held in Karabakh and in Armenia. The Karabakh Parliament (110 of the 140 members were Armenian) decided on February 18, 1988 that the region should be annexed to Armenia. However the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR rejected this decision citing that this would be harmful to relations between nationalities and that it was a product of the provocation of national extremists. In the meantime the protests had grown and 100.000 persons had gathered in the Opera Square in Yerevan on February 22. The protests only stopped after Gorbachev delivered a calming speech on February 26 and agreed to meet with representatives of the “Committee for Karabakh” that had been elected in Yerevan. However, clashes erupted between Azerbaijanis and Armenians in Baku and Sumgait when Azerbaijanis living in Armenia were attacked and had to flee. The clashes in Sumgait on 28-29 February resulted in the deaths of 26 Armenians and 6 Azerbaijanis. 197 were wounded [5].

Despite the ban, protests continued and on March 12, 1988 the Karabakh Parliament passed another resolution renewing the demand to be annexed to Armenia. On May 21,1988 the First Secretaries of the Azerbaijani and Armenian Communist Parties, Bagiraov and Demirchyan respectively, were relieved of their duties by Moscow, ostensibly for health reasons. Suren Haroutunian in Armenia and Abdul Rakhman Vezirov in Azerbaijan replaced them [6].

On June 15 the Armenian Parliament decided to request from the Azerbaijani Parliament and the Supreme Soviet that Karabakh be incorporated into Armenia. This decision was based on Article 70 of the Soviet Constitution which stated that the USSR was an integral, federal, multinational state formed on the principle of the right to self-determination of nations and voluntary associations of equal Soviets. On the other hand the Azerbaijani Parliament decided on June 17 that the decision of the Armenian Parliament was null and void, based on Article 78 of the Soviet Constitution which stated that the territory of a Union Republic could not be altered without its consent. From a purely legalistic point of view, it is clear that the region of Karabakh, which is not a Soviet Republic, could not resort to the provisions of Article 70 of the Soviet Constitution.

After the Parliament of Armenia, on July 12, 1988 the Parliament of Karabakh also demanded immediate secession from Azerbaijan and incorporation into Armenia as an autonomous Oblast to be known by its ancient name Artsakh [7]. On July 18, this was discussed in the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet and the demand was rejected. This decision prompted large protests and strikes in both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Moscow, considering the inability or unwillingness of the local administrators of Armenia and Azerbaijan in resolving the Karabakh issue, established the “Special Administrative Committee for Nagorny Karabakh” and appointed Arkady Volsky of the USSR Communist Party Central Committee as its chairman.

On November 24, 1988 a state of emergency was declared in Azerbaijan in Ganja (then known as Kirovabad) and Nakhichevan. Three days later the party leaders of the said town and region were dismissed. Troops began evacuating Armenians from these regions. In the weeks following this event tens of thousands of Azerbaijanis fled Armenia and a similar amount of Armenians fled Azerbaijan. According to statements made in Moscow, 87 died in the incidents and 1500 were wounded. 158.000 Armenians fled Azerbaijan while 141.000 Azerbaijanis fled Armenia and 15.855 weapons were seized [8].

On December 7, 1988 an earthquake struck Armenia and caused the death of close to 25.000 persons. Even this tragic incident did not stall the protests in Armenia. In a television address on December 11, Gorbachev denounced those that were trying to exploit the earthquake for political aims. Armenian nationalists had spread rumors that evacuation of the devastated areas would be used as a pretext for dispersing large numbers of Armenians outside of their homeland.

In face of the incessant turmoil, Moscow adopted a tougher stance at the beginning of 1989. The members of the Karabakh Committee in Armenia who had been organizing the protests were arrested and a curfew was declared. Furthermore, a significant number of changes were implemented in the Communist Parties and local governments in Azerbaijan and Armenia. On January 28, 1989 the Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Hasan Seyitov was relieved of his position due to health reasons and replaced by Ayaz Mutalibov. In Karabakh the First Secretary of the Communist Party Genrik Pogosian also retired due to health reasons. Furthermore, Karabakh was placed under direct rule from Moscow on January 12, 1989 [9]. It was stated that Karabakh would retain its status as part of Azerbaijan.

These drastic measures implemented by Moscow brought about relative calm for some time. However a few months later protests started in Armenia demanding the release of those that had been arrested previously. In Karabakh – now under the direct rule of Moscow- clashes between the Azerbaijanis and Armenians in May could only be prevented through the intervention of Soviet troops. On August 16 a National Council in which only Armenians participated was established in Karabakh.

The Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet ended direct rule from Moscow over Karabakh on November 28, 1989. The Special Committee for Nagorny Karabakh was also dissolved. However Soviet troops remained in Karabakh. Thus, theoretically Karabakh was returned to Azerbaijan. Yet the Supreme Soviet demanded from Azerbaijan that it pass new legislation guaranteeing full and real autonomy for Karabakh. As a reaction to Karabakh being returned to Azerbaijani rule, the Armenian Parliament and the Karabakh National Council passed a resolution on December 1, 1989 stating that Karabakh was a part of a unified Armenian Republic. According to this resolution Armenian laws would apply in Karabakh and the Karabakh National Council was accepted to be the legal Government for the region. In Azerbaijan this decision was protested at a rally organized by the Popular Front which was increasingly gaining strength as a political movement. Approximately half a million persons attended the rally. Furthermore, the railroad to Armenia was blocked for a week.

In January 1990 the Armenian Parliament decided to extend the provisions of its budget and election laws to cover Karabakh. When the Armenian decision regarding a “unified Armenia” was found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Soviet in Moscow, the Armenian Parliament voted to allow itself to veto legislation approved by Moscow [10]. These decisions displayed clearly that Armenia was on its way to independence and that it had the desire to annex Karabakh.

In Azerbaijan, during protests organized by the Popular Front and attended by a majority of persons who were refugees from Karabakh and Armenia, the Government was called upon to reassert full sovereignty over Karabakh, or resign. Karabakh was returned to the administration of Azerbaijan on November 28 but order could not be restored.

On January 13, 1990 fighting erupted between Azerbaijanis and Armenians in Baku. 60 persons died in a few days and most of them were Armenians. On January 15 the Supreme Soviet in Moscow decreed to the dispatch of armed forces to Azerbaijan to stop the violence. The troops were authorized to use firepower. The Supreme Soviet also declared a state of emergency in Karabakh, and the adjacent regions of Azerbaijan as well as in Baku. In the meantime, in Baku protests demanding the resignation of the Government were still underway and barricades were being erected on the outskirts of the city. The USSR deployed 11.600 troops to Azerbaijan. Along with the 6000 troops already in the country the total number of Soviet troops exceeded 17.000. These units launched an attack on Baku from sea and land on January 19. According to official sources 82 died in street battles. The figure was as high as 600 according to the Popular Front. On January 20 the First Secretary of the Azerbaijan Communist Party Abdul Rakhman Vezirov resigned and Ayaz Mutalibov was assigned to replace him. Hasan Hasanov became Prime Minister [11].

The fact that 750.000 gathered in the largest square of Baku for the funeral of those killed by the Soviet troops displayed that the resistance against the USSR enjoyed wide popular support. However, Soviet troops continued to resort to force on January 24 and 43 leading members of the Popular Front were arrested. A military decree banned all strikes and protests and introduced a 30 day administrative detention period without trial. Baku returned to relative peace. Evacuation of the Armenians and Russians in Baku was suspended after the Popular Front agreed to guarantee their safety but more than 30.000 had already been evacuated. According to official figures, the death toll in the clashes in Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani and Armenian borders in January 1990 exceeded 200. The representatives of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan and the National Movement of Armenia met in Riga, the capital of Latvia, on January 24. On February 15 they agreed to a cease-fire and the release of prisoners. However low intensity hostilities continued between the two sides. On February 13 railway traffic resumed. The Supreme Soviet in Moscow pointed out that efforts of the central authorities to normalize the situation in the Transcaucasus had achieved no positive results and ordered authorities of Armenia and Azerbaijan to enter into talks to conclude a treaty aimed at restoring trust. Upon this, the Azerbaijani and Armenian Prime Ministers met in Tblisi but could not produce any results.

In the meantime Moscow issued a decree ordering all illegal armed groups to disband and surrender their weapons or face a crackdown by security forces or army units. This decision was pertinent not only for the armed groups in the Caucasus but for those in Central Asia as well. It was also a warning for the Baltic States where unrest was rising. The newly elected Armenian Parliament voted to suspend the application of this decree on Armenian territory.

The new Parliament established following elections in Armenia convened on July 20. On August 4, 1990 Levon Ter- Petrosian was elected Speaker of the Armenian Parliament. This office was the equivalent of Head of State. The candidate of the Communist Party, Vladimir Movsisian received only 80 votes whereas Ter-Petrosian received 140. Vazgen Manukian was appointed Prime Minister [12]. Both Ter-Petrosian and Manukian were members of the Karabakh Committee mentioned above. The fact that these persons were elected to the highest offices in Armenia showed that Communist rule in Armenia had effectively come to an end.

On August 23, 1990 the Armenian Parliament adopted a Declaration of Independence. According to this, the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic was renamed as the Republic of Armenia. It was stated that Armenia was a self governing state, endowed with the supremacy of state authority, independence and sovereignty. It was also stated that only the constitution and laws of the Republic of Armenia were valid for the whole territory of the Republic of Armenia. According to the Declaration, military units of other countries and their military bases could be located on the territory of the Republic of Armenia only by the decision of the Armenian Parliament. The Republic of Armenia was to conduct an independent foreign policy and could establish direct relations with other states and national state units of the USSR. Armenia was to create its own currency, national bank, tax and custom services and its own system of education. As is evident, Armenia would become a fully independent state. However the Declaration did not state that Armenia was declaring independence from the USSR. It appears that Armenia, while becoming de facto independent tried at the same time to preserve the protection of the USSR.

In the Armenian Declaration of Independence only a passing reference is made to the union of Armenia and Karabakh because it is assumed that the two are already united. In fact this union was not legal since it had not been approved either by Azerbaijan to which Karabakh was attached or the USSR which had a say over the status of the “independent region”.

In the meantime, it must be pointed out that the Armenian Declaration of Independence also contained an article on Turkey. Article 15 of this document reads: “The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Turkey and Western Armenia”. This article not only accepted the claims of genocide which Turkey categorically rejected, it went further to state that international recognition would also be sought. The same article implied also that by referring to Eastern Anatolia as Western Armenia, the territorial integrity of Turkey was not being recognized. In line with this thinking, Armenia still has not declared that it recognizes the Kars Treaty of October 13, 1921 which established the border between the two states and which had been signed by the Armenian SSR.

In brief, the Declaration of Independence has caused Armenia to become embroiled in conflict with Azerbaijan due to Karabakh and led to conflict with Turkey as well, due to claims of genocide and by not recognizing Turkish territorial integrity.

When few months later the hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the border regions intensified, Soviet troops helped Azerbaijani forces in accordance with the Moscow decree mentioned above. This was met by the protests of Armenians. Ter- Petrosian blamed the Soviet leader of cooperating with Azerbaijan to both punish the nationalistic Government of Armenia and uphold the Communist regime in Azerbaijan. Gorbachev had prepared a new Union Treaty, in a last effort to save the crumbling USSR. Azerbaijan signed this treaty alongside eight other Soviet Republics while Armenia refused to become party to it [13].

While the hostilities were continuing Russian President Yeltsin, and Kazak President Nur Sultan Nazarbayev were able to achieve a cease-fire agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Karabakh on September 24, 1991. According to this agreement all armed groups were to disarm and withdraw from Karabakh, leaving behind only Soviet troops. Hostages were to be freed and people returned to the villages they had been obliged to abandon. An estimated 800 people had died in clashes since 1988 and therefore the cease fire agreement was received well. Yet in the clashes that occurred 2 days later 15 were killed. It was difficult to claim that either Azerbaijan or Armenia was in complete control of the armed groups. On November 20 an Azerbaijani helicopter carrying a high ranking officer as well as civilians was shot down. Armenia did not accept Azerbaijani allegations regarding the incident. It is worth noting that shortly before the incident Azerbaijan had cut off gas supplies to Armenia.

On November 21, 1991 the Azerbaijani Parliament annulled the autonomous status of Nagorny Karabakh which would be governed henceforth by National Unity Council [14]. The next day the USSR called on Azerbaijan and Armenia to abrogate all acts that would change Karabakh’s legal status. Both states accepted this decision which was in favor of Azerbaijan Karabakh being legally attached to it.

The Referendum on the independence of Armenia from the Soviet Union was held on September 21, 1991 and witnessed a record turnout of 95%. 94% voted in favor of independence from the Soviet Union [15]. On September 23 Armenia declared independence. The independent Armenian state covered 29.800 km2 and had a population of 3.283.000. The Nationalist Party to which President Ter-Petrosian also belonged was ruling Armenia. The Armenian Communist Party had ceased its activities in August.

In Azerbaijan only Ayaz Mutalibov joined the presidential elections of September 9, 1991. The Popular Front represented the rising political force in the country but was preoccupied with internal problems. On October 18 the Azerbaijani Parliament decided on independence. The referendum on December 29 affirmed this decision [16]. The newly created Republic of Azerbaijan was 86.600 km2 in size with a population of 7.023.000. The country was being administered by Ayaz Mutalibov’s Communist Party.

The Armenians in Karabakh held a referendum in parts of the region under their control and declared their independence on December 10, 1991 [17]. On December 28 they held parliamentary elections. 11 of the 81 seats in the new parliament were reserved for Azerbaijani Parliamentarians. Yet as the Azerbaijanis had not participated in the elections and considered them to be illegitimate, the seats were left vacant. On January 3, 1992 the Armenian Parliament recognized the independence of Karabakh. On January 8 Artur Mkrtchyan became Head of State [18]. In the meantime Karabakh applied for membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States but was not admitted.

According to the 1979 population census of the USSR the population of Karabakh was 160.000, of which 75 % were Armenians and the remainder Azerbaijanis [19]. As the Azerbaijanis fled or were forced to leave the region due to war, approximately 120.000 Armenians had remained in Karabakh when independence was declared.

In response to Karabakh declaring its independence, Azerbaijan placed the region under direct Presidential rule on January 2, 1992 and Salam Memetov was made responsible of the administration of the area. Yet this appointment was of little consequence since Azerbaijan did not control a large part of the said territory.

The USSR ceased to exist on December 21, 1991. Eleven of the former Republics, including Armenia and Azerbaijan created a loose union amongst themselves and named it the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The Baltic States and Georgia did not join.

Turkey recognized the independence of Armenia two days before the United States on December 24, 1991. Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel sent a message to President Ter-Petrosian and asked that territorial integrity and the inviolability of borders is respected [20]. This message was aimed at the indirect claims on Turkish territories voiced in the Armenian Declaration of Independence. Turkey was also disturbed by the allegations of genocide in the same document. When Armenia did not change its position on these issues Turkey did not establish diplomatic relations with Yerevan.

On the other hand the Government of Demirel tried to establish good relations with Armenia. Armenia received its energy in the form of natural gas from the USSR and also from the Metsamor nuclear power plant. Due to the difficult internal situation in Georgia there was frequent disruption in the supply of gas. The nuclear power plant utilized outdated technology and would frequently be shut down as well. Turkey supplied Armenia with electricity during these dire economic times and donated 100.000 tons of grain. Turkey also undertook significant efforts for the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. Prime Minister Demirel summarized Turkish policy in the following statement: “To stay away from the conflict and to utilize diplomatic means to resolve it” [21]. This moderate policy, however, did not bring about a change in the Armenian stance on Karabakh or the demands it directed at Turkey.

When Armenian forces started the invasion of Karabakh, Turkey tried to help Azerbaijan without upsetting Turkish-Armenian relations. The USA and European countries had adopted a position favoring Armenia as they were under the influence of the Armenian diaspora. The Demirel Government insistently cautioned that other states should not take sides in the conflict, that a new Israel should not be created in the Caucasus and that Armenia may become unwilling to negotiate if it felt the support of European states [22]. On the other hand, much `humanitarian aid` was being provided to Armenia from western states. Turkey allowed this aid to transit its territory and airspace but strictly controlled the shipments fearing that they may contain weapons.

This moderate policy of the Demirel Government towards Armenia drew much criticism in Turkey. On numerous occasions opposition leaders such as Bülent Ecevit and Mesut Yılmaz accused the Government of following a passive policy. As we shall see below, President Turgut Özal had a similar opinion. In many Turkish cities rallies against Armenia were organized.

When Turkey started helping Azerbaijan, Armenian politicians begun to disagree between themselves about the policy to follow regarding Turkey. Raffi Hovannisian, the Foreign Minister of Armenia, who was also an American citizen in his speech at the Istanbul meeting of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on September 10, 1992 voiced the claims of genocide and also said that Turkey had lost the neutral position it had initially displayed on the Karabakh issue. Hovannisian also said that Turkey should not make the resolution of the Karabakh conflict a pre-condition for normalization of relations with Armenia [23]. Furthermore, Hovannisian was critical of President Bush for US neutrality in the Karabakh conflict. Hovannisian resigned at the request of President Ter-Petrosian on October 16, 1992.

The disintegration of the USSR had a negative reflection on the Karabakh conflict. The USSR could legally determine who would administer this region and how. Problems had decreased when it had chosen to temporarily administer the region itself. On the other hand, the USSR also had the authority to send troops to the region. However when it became clear that the USSR would disintegrate the troops in and around Karabakh started to retreat, causing an escalation in the clashes between the Armenians and the Azerbaijanis. Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, Commander in Chief of CIS, after the Hodjali massacre ordered the withdrawal of troops stationed in Karabakh and on the Armenia-Azerbaijan borders areas. He also told his troops to destroy all weaponry which could not be removed. However withdrawal of Soviet troops took time and did not start until June. Some of these forces remained in Armenia and later Russian military bases were set up in this country.

Hostilities in Karabakh increased in February 1992. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Hüseyin Sadıkov and his Armenian counterpart Raffi Hovannisian met in Moscow on February 20 and called for a cease-fire. They also requested the granting of access for humanitarian deliveries. In the meantime, the Azerbaijani Parliament refused to endorse a peace plan of President Ayaz Mutalibov that called for cultural autonomy for Karabakh within Azerbaijan.

On February 25, 1992, Armenian forces took the town of Hodjali which lay to the north of Hankendi (Stepanekert). One source reported that more than 600 Azerbaijani civilians were killed, 127 wounded and 487 were taken prisoner [24]. Some have observed that the 366th Regiment of the Soviet Army (which had not left the region yet) had also participated in the assault [25]. Yet there is no indication that Moscow had ordered such an attack. Another source indicated that discipline had broken down in numerous parts of the Soviet Army, with many of the troops deserting, selling their weapons or shelling one or the other side of the conflict in return for money [26].

The Hodjali massacre caused great anger in the Azerbaijani public. Ayaz Mutalibov, who was trying to find a solution to the conflict in line with Moscow’s wishes resigned following massive demonstrations and accusations of failing to save Azeri lives in Karabakh. Yakup Mehmetov was appointed interim President.

The Hodjali massacre also caused great sensitivity in Turkey. Protests were organized in Istanbul. In an interview with the Financial Times President Özal proposed a blockade of Armenia to support Azerbaijan [27] but the Demirel Government was more cautious and sought the support of the Russian Federation, USA and France in obtaining a cease-fire. Minister of Foreign Affairs Hikmet Çetin proposed a six point peace plan to the concerned parties, international organizations and members of the UN Security Council. However Armenia refused to examine this plan, accusing Turkey of not being neutral.

On the other hand Iran succeeded to bring together in Teheran representatives of Azerbaijan and Armenia on March 15, 1992 and had them sign an agreement envisaging a cease-fire and the lifting of economic sanctions. Although there were some skirmishes, generally the provisions of the said agreement were implemented for sometime.

During the CSCE Foreign Ministers meeting held in March 1992 in Helsinki, it was agreed that a peace conference in Minsk comprising Azerbaijan and Armenia would be convened with the participation of a delegation from Karabakh as observer. Furthermore, the USA, the Russian Federation, Germany, France, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Turkey would also join the conference. Preparatory meetings were held in Rome but the conference could not be held because the Armenian Administration of Karabakh would not accept the status of observer. The countries that were to join the conference accepted to work together for the resolution of the Karabakh conflict under the Minsk Group name. Despite the fact that it has been unsuccessful, the Minsk Group has remained the primary party responsible for the resolution of the conflict until today.

On May 8 Armenian forces took the town of Shusha. With the loss of this town almost all of Karabakh was now in Armenian hands. Armenian forces then targeted regions outside of Karabakh and on May 17 took Lachin, thereby enabling Armenia and Karabakh to be joined by a land corridor.

The loss of the historic city of Shusha caused upheaval inside Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani Parliament blamed acting President Yakub Mehmetov for setbacks and reinstalled ex- President Mutalibov on May 14. Mutalibov cancelled the presidential elections scheduled for June 7 and declared a state of emergency in Baku. The next day 20.000 Popular Front supporters occupied the Parliament and Presidential Palace. Mutalibov fled and Isa Kamber was made President until elections.

In the meantime, one day after Shusha fell Armenian troops launched an attack on the town of Sadarak in Nakhichevan, near (10 km) the Turkish border. Like Karabakh, Nakhichevan was an independent region attached to Azerbaijan. Armenian nationalists always claimed the region, stating that it was a part of “historical Armenian lands”. The simple fact that like Karabakh, the word Nakhichevan is not known as a word with meaning in the Armenian language should be sufficient to counter this claim. On the other hand, unlike Karabakh, the population of Nakhichevan is Azerbaijani.

Turkey took a close interest in Nakhichevan because of the common border with this region as well as due to the fact that it was one of the parties that with the Soviet Union, Armenia and Azerbaijan established the status of the said region with the 1921 Kars Treaty.

The assault on Sadarak caused concern in Ankara. Since the Armenians had easily occupied Karabakh, there were fears that they could do the same in Nakhichevan. The Council of Ministers met and decided that Armenia had to be warned that Turkey would not allow the occupation of Nakhichevan and would not accept a change in the present borders [28]. At the same time the President of Nakhichevan, Haydar Aliyev, requested military assistance from Turkey. Azerbaijani interim President Isa Kamber stated that the 1921 Kars Treaty authorized Turkey to militarily intervene in Nakhichevan. The Commander of the Turkish Army General Muhittin Füsünoğlu said that the armed forces were prepared for a potential operation [29].

Bülent Ecevit, one of the leaders of the opposition, was demanding that Turkey intervene in Nakhichevan as soon as possible, warning that if Armenia were to occupy the region it would start demanding territories from Turkey [30]. Prime Minister Demirel was saying that an immediate military operation was not in question [31]. President Özal, on the other hand, was of the opinion that the territories that Armenians had occupied in both Karabakh and Nakhichevan must be taken back and that Turkey too had some responsibility in seeing this done [32].

At the same time the Commander in Chief of the Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, was expressing that a third country joining the conflict could lead to World War III [33]. On 15 May 1992 – three days before the assault in Sadarak – a defense agreement had been signed in Tashkent between five CIS countries, including Russia and Armenia but excluding Azerbaijan. According to this agreement the signatory states would assist each other if their security would be endangered. This meant that the Russian Federation would have to assist Armenia if its security would be threatened.

The Turkish Government seemed determined to resolve this crisis through diplomatic means. With this aim it contacted all concerned states and international organizations. To quote Prime Minister Demirel; Armenia was “placed in a diplomatic straight jacket” [34]. This initiative resulted in the USA, England, Iran, Georgia, EU and NATO issuing statements stressing that borders could not be changed with the use of force. The Nakhichevan crisis finally ended when the Russian Federation also criticized Armenia and declared that it would not support illegal activities.

One issue that needs to be addressed regarding Nakhichevan is whether in fact the provisions of the Kars Treaty or Moscow Treaty both concluded in 1921 enable Turkey to militarily intervene in the said region. With the Moscow Treaty Turkey and the USSR agreed to Nakhichevan becoming an autonomous entity under the protection of Azerbaijan. Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed to the same status with the Kars Treaty. There are no provisions in these Treaties as to how the parties are to act if the treaties are violated and therefore there is also no mention of whether the parties have a right to use military force. This being the case, each state will have to determine what course of action it will take if the autonomous status of Nakhichevan is violated.

Returning to events relating to Karabakh, the Presidential elections in Azerbaijan that were held on June 7, 1992 were won by Abulfaz Elchibey, the leader of the Popular Front. Azerbaijani forces launched a counteroffensive on July 12 and in the followings days took the town of Mardakert (Ağdara) in the north east of Karabakh as well as about 15 villages in the same region. The success of the Azerbaijani forces can partially be attributed to the fact that they had received their share of weapons from the disintegrated USSR [35].

Azerbaijan reclaiming Mardakert caused a crisis in Karabakh and the Government resigned. A state of emergency was declared. A Defense Committee which was invested with governmental power until the end of the war was established and Robert Kocharian was appointed to head it. He was a close associate of the Armenian President Ter-Petrosian.

The success of Azerbaijani forces in Karabakh led to Armenia reviewing its fundamental policy regarding Karabakh. On July 8 the Armenian Parliament passed a resolution in which it pledged consistent support for Karabakh and the rights of its population and went on to state that any document referring to Karabakh as being within the structure of Azerbaijan would be unacceptable [36]. Thereby Armenia had refused any solution to the Karabakh conflict according to which the said territory would remain within the boundaries of Azerbaijan.

The fighting concentrated in Lachin, namely around the corridor that had been established between Armenia and Karabakh. The cease-fire mediated by Kazakhstan on August 28 was violated, as was a second cease-fire, brokered by Russia on September 25. The offensive that Azerbaijani forces staged with the aim of taking control of the Lachin corridor was repulsed. In December the Armenian forces initiated an attack through which they regained most of the territories which they had previously lost.

As was pointed out above, Azerbaijan had signed an Agreement to join the CIS. However in a vote on October 7, 1992, the Azerbaijani Parliament decided not to ratify this Agreement. A few days later on October 12, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Azerbaijani President Abulfaz Elchibey signed a treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Security in Moscow [37]. According to this agreement the parties would respect each others territorial integrity, inviolability of their borders and their independence. They were also committing to not resorting to use of force or the threat thereof, not intervening in internal affairs and respecting human rights. The principles regarding territorial integrity and the respect for the inviolability of borders were in favor of Azerbaijan. It is noteworthy that since Armenia claimed that Karabakh had never been a part of independent Azerbaijan it did not consider itself to be in violation of any of the mentioned principles.

1993 started with a joint peace initiative of Presidents Bush and Yeltsin. On January 3 the two leaders issued a statement calling for an immediate end to the bloodshed and resumption of peace negotiations under the aegis of the CSCE. Yet the hostilities continued, albeit at a lower intensity, as it was winter.

Armenia in particular went through a difficult winter that year. Industrial production ceased for two weeks. On January 23, the entire country was left without lighting when Azerbaijanis in Georgia blew up a section of pipeline bringing gas to Armenia. Prime Minister Khosrov Haroutunian resigned. The new Prime Minister Hrand Bagratian stated that the top priority was to be solve the food and energy crisis. With U.S. help Armenia received 13 million Dollars credit from the World Bank and 59,4 million Dollars credit from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development [38].

While the opposition in Turkey continued to criticize Karabakh policies, the Government pursued its peace initiatives. Minister of Foreign Affairs Hikmet Çetin declared during a visit to Azerbaijan that Turkey and Russia had drafted a three stage plan aimed at ending the conflict. According to this plan, in the first phase the parties would declare a cease-fire. In the second phase all foreign military personnel around Karabakh would withdraw and finally, in the third phase all roads to Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nakhichevan would be opened. But continuing fighting prevented the plan from being considered.

The Armenian forces took the town of Kelbajar on April 4, as well as its surroundings, thereby establishing a second corridor between Karabakh and Armenia. About 40.000 Azerbaijanis fled the region as a result of the assault. Armenian troops also attacked southwards from Karabakh towards the town of Fizuli. Like Lachin, both Kelbedjar and Fizuli were Azerbaijani lands outside Karabakh. The fact that fighting had spilled over from Karabakh into Azerbaijan constituted an escalation. Armenia denied that its regular troops were involved in the fighting and pretended that those fighting in this campaign were Armenians from Karabakh. However it was difficult to believe that the Armenians of Karabakh who numbered at most 120.000 people could easily overcome Azerbaijan with a population of 7 million.

When Kelbajar fell Turkey took two decisions: First it stopped all scheduled and charter flights to or from Armenia. Second, it brought the matter to the Security Council. The Chairman of the Council issued a statement on April 7, expressing serious concern about developments as well as a call for a cease-fire and withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied areas. However Turkey’s proposal that the Security Council condemn Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan was rejected.

The fall of Kelbajar once again displayed the differences of opinion between President Özal and the Demirel Government. Prime Minister Demirel continued to state that there would be no Turkish military intervention in Armenia [39] while President Özal stressed that the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict was no longer defined by the issue of Karabakh and had taken the form of the “dream of greater Armenia,” therefore forcing Turkey to take military precautions. He said that military maneuvers could be conducted on the Armenian border and pointed out that in this day and age nothing could be achieved without taking a certain amount of risk [40].

Turgut Özal died unexpectedly on April 17, 1993. Elchibey and Ter-Petrosian met when both came to Ankara to attend his funeral. It was decided that negotiations should resume under the auspices of the OCSE.

On the other hand, the Security Council passed Resolution 822 on April 20, 1993 and demanded the immediate cessation of all hostilities and hostile acts with a view to establishing a durable cease-fire as well as immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from the Kelbedjar district and other recently occupied areas of Azerbaijan. The Council furthermore urged all parties concerned to immediately resume negotiations for the resolution of the conflict within the framework of the peace process of the Minsk Group of the CSCE. The Resolution reaffirmed also the respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states in the region, the inviolability of international borders and the inadmissibility of the use of force. As there was no doubt that Kelbedjar and its surroundings were territories of Azerbaijan, this wording was in favor of Azerbaijan. On the other hand mention of the invasion of the Kelbajar district by the “local Armenian forces” left the impression that Armenia was not responsible of the occupation of Azerbaijani lands. Furthermore, the usual criticism of the aggressor was not included in this Resolution. Finally, there was no mention of what the Security Council would do if its demands would not be met. In short, this Resolution was not of the substance to stop the aggressors.

Three days after this Resolution was adopted Turkey, Russia and the U.S. tabled a peace plan. The plan called for the withdrawal by mid-May of Armenian forces from Kelbedjar which would be followed by a two month cease-fire during which CSCE sponsored negotiations would resume. Azerbaijan accepted the plan. The Armenian Government described the plan as positive but refused to approve it, claiming that the “Republic of Karabakh” required clarifications. A slightly amended version of the plan was approved on May 26 by Azerbaijan and Armenia but Karabakh’s Armenian Administration rejected it on the grounds that it failed to provide guarantees for the safety of the population and failed also to end the Azerbaijani economic blockade [41].

Meanwhile the Elchibey regime in Baku was losing power due to military defeats that were being suffered at the hands of the Armenians. Colonel Suret Huseinov who had been stripped of his rank for disobeying orders rebelled in Ganja. He repelled the forces of the Azerbaijani Army and began advancing on Baku. This led to the resignation of Prime Minister Panah Huseinov and the Speaker of Parliament Isa Kamber. On June 15, 1993 the President of Nakhichevan, Haydar Aliyev, was elected Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament. Unable to prevent the advance of the forces of Huseinov, Elchibey left for Nakhichevan on June 18 but he did not resign. On June 21 Huseinov’s forces entered Baku and he declared for himself all the powers of the Head of State. The Parliament stated that Elchibey was incapable of effective control over the situation in the country or of performing his function and handed over presidential powers to Aliyev. Huseinov was appointed Prime Minister and Supreme Commander [42].

This confusion in Azerbaijan had presented the Armenians with the opportunity to attack once again. Mardakert, the last major town in Karabakh still held by the Azerbaijanis fell on June 27 and a Russian brokered cease-fire was declared. Three weeks later, on July 24 Armenian forces attacked again, this time taking the town of Agdam to the north of Karabakh as well as its surroundings.

The Security Council called into emergency session by Turkey, convened on July 29, 1993 and passed Resolution 853 that contained the same elements as Resolution 822. It differed in stating that it condemned the seizure of the district of Agdam and all other recently occupied areas of Azerbaijan; it also condemned all hostile actions in the region, in particular attacks on civilians and bombardments of inhabited areas but the wording did not clarify who the aggressor was or who was being condemned. Furthermore, the Resolution urged the Government of the Republic of Armenia to exert its influence to achieve compliance by the Armenians of the Karabagh region of the Azerbaijani Republic with Resolutions 822 and the acceptance by this party of the proposals of the Minsk Group of the CSCE. This wording allowed one to infer that the aggressors were the Armenians of Karabakh. The only substantial positive aspect of the Resolution was that although indirectly, it affirmed that Karabakh belonged to Azerbaijan.

It was clear that with such wording, Resolution 853 would have as little effect on the Armenians as Resolution 822. Indeed, shortly after Resolution 853 was passed, Armenian forces took Jebrail on August 18, Fizuli on August 23, Kubatly on August 31 and Goradiz on September 3. At this point Russia intervened and established a cease-fire.

The towns mentioned above are very close to Iranian border and the Azerbaijanis fleeing from the Armenians had to take refuge there. Since this region of Iran is inhabited by ethnic Azerbaijanis, the Iranian Government wanted to prevent the influx of refugees and to do so, approximately 1000 Iranian troops entered Azerbaijani territory. This was seen as an escalation in the Karabakh conflict and was met with the protests of concerned parties, including Turkey. The problem was overcome when Iran agreed to build facilities to house 100.000 Azerbaijani refugees displaced by the Karabakh war [43].

It was observed that the Armenian side felt uneasy when the Turkish military units on the Armenian border were reinforced. President Ter-Petrosian called President Demirel on September 6 and voiced his concern, pointing out the it was not they who were responsible for the events but the Armenians of Karabakh. Demirel responded by saying that the occupation of Azerbaijani territories was causing an outrage in Turkey and that the occupation had to be stopped immediately [44].

At the same time there were important internal developments taking place in Azerbaijan. In a referendum held on August 29, 1993, 97,5 % of the participants stated that they had no confidence in Elchibey. Aliyev won the Presidential elections on October 3, securing 98,8 % of the votes [45].

After coming to power Aliyev took two important decisions.

The first was to make Azerbaijan a member of the CIS. The most important criticism Russia directed at the Elchibey Government had been regarding its unwillingness to make Azerbaijan a member of this organization. It was speculated that the Russian policy of siding with Armenia on the Karabakh conflict could be traced to Azerbaijani unwillingness to join the CIS. Now it was expected that Russia would implement a more balanced policy. However Azerbaijan continued to suffer defeats in Karabakh after it became member of the CIS.

Aliyev’s second important decision was to sign an agreement with a consortium of western oil companies led by BP on November 2, 1993. Thereby Azerbaijan not only opened a path to significant financial resources but also found it easier to voice its views in the United States.

On October 14, 1993 the United Nations Security Council passed another Resolution calling upon all parties concerned to make effective and permanent the cease-fire. This new Resolution numbered 874 reiterated the main points of Resolutions 822 and 853. The Resolution furthermore called for the implementation of the timetable concerning the withdrawal of forces from recently occupied territories and the removal of all obstacles to communication and transportation. None of the parties was condemned.

Ten days after Resolution 874 was passed, Armenian forces violated the cease-fire and attacked the Zengelan region of Azerbaijan. Approximately 50.000 Azerbaijanis crossed the Arax River and fled to Iran. The Security Council passed Resolution 884 on November 12, 1993 and as had become standard practice at this point, reiterated the principles of the previous Resolutions. Furthermore, it stated that continuation of the conflict in and around the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and the tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan would endangber peace and security in the region. It also stated that it condemned the violations of the cease-fire and particularly the occupation of the Zengelan district and the city of Goradiz, attacks on the civilians and the bombardments of the territory of Azerbaijan. The resolution demanded immediate cessation of armed hostilities, withdrawal of occupying forces from the Zengelan district and the city of Goradiz and from other recently occupied areas of Azerbaijan and strongly urged the concerned parties to make effective and permanent the cease-fire and continue to seek a negotiated settlement of the conflict within the context of the CSCE Minsk Process.

On December 21, 1993, Azerbaijani forces launched a counter-attack. They succeeded in retaking Goradiz and Agdam and seized some territory in the Kelbajar region as well. Although a cease-fire that would come into effect on March 1, 1994 was signed as a result of a Russian initiative, low intensity fighting continued. On March 22 Armenian forces went on the offensive and retook almost all of the above mentioned regions. These last hostilities showed that Azerbaijan could not liberate its occupied territories while also proving that Armenian forces could not advance any further. This situation made a lasting cease- fire possible.

On May 9, 1994 Rasul Kuliev, the chairman of the Azerbaijani National Assembly, signed in Bishkek a cease-fire protocol which had already been signed by the chairman of CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly and the chairs of Armenia, Karabakh and Kyrgyzstan legislatures. In summary the protocol called for a cease-fire and deployment of international forces to act as peacekeepers. The ratification of the protocol in the Azerbaijani Parliament met some difficulty. Some opposition deputies claimed that the protocol had effectively recognized Karabakh as an independent entity and that it sanctioned the deployment of Russian troops in the region under the guise of a peace keeping force. After reassurances given by President Aliev that Russian troops would not be permitted into the conflict zone, the Parliament of Azerbaijan ratified the protocol [46].

Thus the hostilities that had been ongoing for six years came to a halt but although ten years have passed since then, peace could not be established between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The main reason for the defeat suffered by Azerbaijan in Karabakh is the internal turmoil in the country and the implementation of inconsistent policies. While a single President starting from independence until cessation of hostilities ruled Armenia, Azerbaijan saw three. Furthermore, Mutalibov and Elchibey did not leave their offices under normal circumstances and the country witnessed numerous power struggles that at times superceded the conflict in Karabakh. Yet another factor that complicated affairs for Azerbaijan was that its successive Presidents did not follow similar policies regarding Karabakh. Mutalibov’s pro-Moscow policies did not bring about a solution. Elchibey disregarded Moscow entirely and his pan-Turkish policies did not find wide support in either Turkey or the Turkic states of Central Asia. It was during his tenure that the Armenians took certain Azerbaijani territories outside Karabakh. Haydar Aliyev made Azerbaijan a member of the CIS, hoping that Russia would then be willing to assist to only find that this would not be the case and that he would have to witness the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani towns such as Agdam, Fizuli, Jebrail, Kubatly, Goradiz and Zengelan.

As for Armenia, the insistent policy it had been pursuing to separate Karabakh from Azerbaijan since the 1960’s finally paid off during the disintegration of the USSR. It has been argued that since an annexation of Karabakh by Armenia would have constituted a violation of universal principles such as the inviolability of borders and respect for territorial integrity, the Armenians of Karabakh were used as proxies that could utilize the argument of a peoples right to self-determination, thereby separating Karabakh from Azerbaijan and declaring an independent state. This fictitious state, however, was not recognized by anyone.

On the other hand, economic measures implemented by Azerbaijan and Turkey against Armenia coupled by roads frequently severed due to internal unrest in Georgia quickly turned Armenia into a country under a blockade. The economic crisis caused about one million Armenians to move to other countries, mainly Russia. The Armenian economy could not develop and funds sent by the diaspora and aid received from the World Bank and the European Bank for Construction and Development became vitally important.

Another result of the Karabakh conflict was that Armenia became dependent on the Russian Federation. Russia became Armenia’s primary economic partner. Armenia needed Russian support in nearly all fields and gave this country military bases. In time, Armenian authorities saw the benefits of a more balanced approach and tried to develop closer ties with the U.S. and EU states. This policy termed “complementarity” could not be properly implemented due to the dependence of Armenia on Russia. Today Armenia essentially looks like a satellite of the Russian Federation.

As for Turkey, it tried to establish and maintain good relations with Armenia. With this aim, Turkey became one of the first states to recognize Armenia, supplying this county with electricity and delivering 100.000 tons of grain. Armenia however, was captive to its historic prejudices and strived to gain recognition for its claims of genocide while at the same time it refused to recognize the borders of Turkey. On the other hand Turkey’s assistance to Azerbaijan was limited. To compensate this almost passive policy, Turkey conducted intense diplomatic activities aimed at halting the fighting and reaching a lasting solution that would take into consideration Azerbaijani interests. These efforts did not yield any tangible results. In short, the Turkish policy of establishing good relations with Armenia while simultaneously contributing to the resolution of the Karabakh conflict was unsuccessful.

The Russian Caucasus policy could be summarized as regaining the influence that the USSR has had in this region. However because it chose to support separatist activities in Abkhazia and Adjaria, Moscow has serious problems with Georgia and because of the policies it followed regarding Karabakh it has considerable difficulties with Azerbaijan. This made Armenia Russia’s sole close partner in the region and this status was further augmented when Russia obtained military bases in Armenia. It is pointed out that the two states are in a strategic partnership today. This close relationship shows that the Karabakh conflict cannot be resolved without the contribution of Moscow.

Regarding the U.S. certain facts must be taken into consideration when analyzing its Caucasus policy in general and Armenia policy in particular. Due to strategic considerations, the U.S. wishes to see security established in the region and therefore supports the solution of the Karabakh conflict. However a politically active Armenian diaspora in the United States operates as much in favor of Armenia and Karabakh as it does against Turkey and Azerbaijan. For instance, although it was Azerbaijan that was attacked, Congress cited the Azerbaijani blockade of Armenia to make an amendment in the Freedom Support Act (Section 975), thereby preventing the U.S. Government from granting humanitarian assistance to Azerbaijan. One factor that is in favor of Azerbaijan is its very significant oil reserves. The fact that Azerbaijan gave western companies the right to produce and transport its oil was highly appreciated in the United States.

After the cease-fire in Karabakh, the CSCE Minsk Group accelerated the negotiation process. Starting in 1997 the Group conducted its efforts through the Russian, American and French co-chairs. Azerbaijan complained that these countries looked more favorably upon the Armenian position; Russia due to strategic considerations and France and the U.S. due to the Armenian diaspora. Nevertheless these three states have continued to guide the peace process until today.

A plan prepared by the Minsk Group co-chairs in May 1997 gave Karabakh an autonomous status within Azerbaijan and the right to its own constitution. It also called for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijani provinces and the town of Shusha, which would be policed by OSCE forces. Karabakh would be granted the status of a free economic zone [47]. This plan was accepted by Azerbaijan.

The President of the region of Karabakh, Robert Kocharian, became Prime Minister of Armenia in May 1997. Arkady Gukasian won the Presidential elections in Karabakh in September and went on to reject the Minsk Group plan, claiming that it discounted the achievement of independence. He then proposed the creation of a federal or common state in which Azerbaijan and Karabakh would be of equal status.

In December 1997 the Minsk group presented to the parties a plan that was said to contain a few stages. According to this plan Armenian forces would first pull out of all Azerbaijani territories except for Shusha and Lachin and the refugees would be allowed to return. The status of the Shusha and Lachin corridors would be determined later.

In Armenia there were differences of opinion regarding the proposal of the Minsk Group. Armenian President Ter-Petrosian described the demands for independence for Karabakh as unrealistic [48] and favored a step-by-step approach to the resolution of the conflict. The Armenian administration in Karabakh stressed that all issues relating to the conflict should be resolved simultaneously and insisted on independence. As expected, Prime Minister Kocharian supported the view voiced in Karabakh. When his opinions on Karabakh were not supported by the Armenian Parliament President Ter-Petrosian resigned on February 3, 1998. Under the term of the Armenian Constitution Prime Minister Kocharian became acting President until presidential election. In the second round of voting held on March 30, Kocharian was elected President.

A OSCE peace plan tabled in November 1998 envisaged the formation of a “common state” comprising Azerbaijan and Karabakh. However this plan was rejected by Azerbaijan under claims that it threatened its territorial integrity. Azerbaijan stated that it supported the earlier proposal of the Minsk Group which provided for broad autonomy for Karabakh within Azerbaijan [49]. Later, on February 21, 2001 Azerbaijan made public the plans prepared by the Minsk Group. It became evident that the Common State envisioned gave Karabakh de facto independence, with its own constitution and armed forces and the right to veto any legislation enacted by the Azerbaijani Parliament.

The mistrust that Azerbaijan felt towards the Minsk Group led to the two Heads of State of Azerbaijan and Armenia to meet directly. The Minsk Group only played the role of facilitator. According to press reports during their meetings in March 2001 in Paris and in Key West in the U.S. in April, the two Presidents agreed on the following formula: Karabakh will legally belong to Azerbaijan but will enjoy a very broad autonomy. Armenia will be connected to Karabakh via a corridor and Azerbaijan will be connected to Nakhichevan with a similar corridor. It appeared that these corridors would be in Lachin and Meghri [50]. Armenian forces would pull out of the areas they had occupied and the railroad would resume its operations. This formula failed to deliver a result but the fact that the Heads of State as well as Foreign Ministers continued even today to meet raised hopes for an eventual settlement.

The Karabakh conflict was dealt with by some international organizations as well.

Above we have described the Resolutions passed by the UN Security Council. In these resolutions affirmation of the respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity of all states in the region, the inviolability of international borders and the inadmissibility of the use of force for the acquisition of territory were laid out as principles to be adhered to. Statements demanding the withdrawal of all occupying forces from occupied areas of Azerbaijan and expressing that Karabakh is a region of the Republic of Azerbaijan run contrary to the Armenian claims that Karabakh is an independent state that has taken territories that are in fact its own. However the Security Council Resolutions did not point out Armenia as an aggressor and did not condemn this state for its actions.

The Council of Europe started taking a close interest in the Karabakh conflict after Azerbaijan and Armenia became members of this organization in 2001. Regarding this conflict, most recently the Parliamentary Assembly of this organization passed Resolution 1416 on January 25, 2005. This Resolution deserves to be examined closer since it is very recent and all European states are represented in the Council of Europe.

In this Resolution it is stated that the Parliamentary Assembly regrets that more than a decade after the armed hostilities started, the Karabakh conflict remains unresolved. It goes on to point out that hundreds of thousands of people are still displaced, living in miserable conditions and stresses that considerable parts of the territory of Azerbaijan are still occupied by Armenian forces and that separatist forces control the Karabakh region. The Resolution states also that hostilities led to ethnic expulsion and the creation of mono-ethnic areas which resemble the results of ethnic cleansing. The Resolution adds that independence and cessation of a regional territory from a state may only be achieved through a lawful and peaceful process based on democratic support by the inhabitants of such territory and not as a consequence of an armed conflict leading to ethic expulsion and the de facto annexation of such a territory to another state.

Furthermore the resolution reads as follows: “The Assembly reiterates that the occupation of a foreign territory by a member state constitutes a grave violation of that state’s obligations as a member of the Council of Europe” and goes on to remind that Armenia and Azerbaijan committed themselves upon their accession to the Council of Europe to use only peaceful means for settling the conflict and to refrain from any threat of using force against their neighbors.

In the Resolution, reference is made to UN Security Council Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 and Resolution 853 is particularly stressed. Also, member states are urged to refrain from the supply of any weapons and munitions which might lead to the intensification of the conflict or continued occupation of territory.

The Resolution goes on to reaffirm the right of displaced persons from the area of conflict to return to their homes safely and calls all members to provide humanitarian aid to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

In the Resolution, regarding the future status of the region, the Assembly calls on the Government of Azerbaijan to establish contacts without preconditions with political representatives of both communities from the Karabakh region.

In the Resolution the Assembly suggests that if the negotiations under the auspices of the Co-Chairs fail, Armenia and Azerbaijan should consider resorting to the International Court of Justice.

Clearly Resolution 1416 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is not in accordance with Armenian views. Particularly two aspects are to the disadvantage of the Armenian side; the first is that Karabakh can not have an independent status since a lawful and peaceful process based on democratic support by the inhabitants of this territory, as required by the Resolution, did not take place in Karabakh. On the contrary, the Azerbaijanis were expelled from their homes and some were killed. This meant that an “armed conflict leading to ethnic expulsion” had taken place as stated in the Resolution. Secondly, the Resolution expressed that considerable parts of the territory of Azerbaijan were still occupied by Armenian forces and went on to stress that the occupation of a foreign territory by a member state constituted a grave violation of that state’s obligations as a member of the Council of Europe. While falling short of being an open condemnation of Armenia, these words were nonetheless harsh criticism.

In all the literature on the Karabakh conflict, the least mention is made of the position of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on this matter. In fact, this organization has taken numerous decisions regarding the conflict since 1994. Most recently the OIC Foreign Ministers in their meeting in Istanbul on June 14-16 2004, passed a Resolution numbered 10/31-P.

The highlights of the said Resolution can be summarized as follows: It strongly condemned the aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan, considered the actions perpetrated against the civilian Azerbaijani population in occupied Azerbaijani territory as crimes against humanity and condemned looting and destruction of the archeological, cultural and religious monuments on the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Furthermore it demanded the strict implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884, and withdrawal of Armenian forces from all occupied Azerbaijani territories including the Karabakh region and strongly urged Armenia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

This OIC Resolution called on the UN Security Council to recognize the existence of aggression against the Republic of Azerbaijan and demanded that the necessary steps under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations to ensure compliance with its resolutions are taken [51]. The Resolution condemned aggression against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and decided to take coordinated action to this end at the United Nations. Furthermore it called on all member states to instruct their Permanent Representatives at the United Nations in New York, while voting at the UN General Assembly, to give absolute support to the issue of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

The Resolution expressed full support for the three principles of the settlement of the armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, contained in the statement of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office at the 1996 Lisbon OSCE Summit. The three principles mentioned are; the territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan, the highest degree of self-rule of the Karabakh region within Azerbaijan and guaranteed security for this region and its entire population. These principles were not ratified in Lisbon since Armenia did not accept that Karabakh remained within Azerbaijan.

The Resolution asked all states to refrain from providing any supplies of arms and equipment to Armenia and to use such effective political and economic measures as required in order to put an end to Armenian aggression and the occupation of Azerbaijani territories.

Lastly, the Resolution called for enabling the displaced persons and refugees to return to their homes in safety. It also stated concern over the severity of humanitarian problems concerning the existence of more than one million displaced persons and refugees in the territory of Azerbaijan and urged all member states to extend their contributions to these people. Furthermore, it requested all member states, the Islamic Development Bank and the other Islamic Institutions to render urgent financial and humanitarian assistance to the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Clearly the OIC fully supports the Azerbaijani position in the Karabakh conflict, strongly criticizes Armenia and views some actions of this state as “crimes against humanity”. With more than 50 members, the OIC has a significant presence, especially in the United Nations. One incident displaying the weight of the said organization was witnessed when Azerbaijan demanded that the Karabakh conflict is discussed at the United Nations at the end of October 2004 and was opposed by most of the OSCE members who believed that such a course would harm the efforts of the Minsk Group. Ultimately it was the votes of the Islamic countries that allowed the issue to become an agenda item at the General Assembly.

The resolutions passed by the UN Security Council, Council of Europe and OIC are not of a compulsory nature. However it is not realistic to assume that international conflicts can be settled without adherence to principles adopted by these organizations. These include the respect for territorial integrity, the inviolability of borders and refraining from the use of force to gain territory. That is why although it has been occupying Karabakh and some Azerbaijani territories for twelve years, Armenia has been unable to attain the acceptance of any party regarding its claims that Karabakh is an independent state or that it requires parts of Azerbaijani territory to defend Karabakh.

A prompt resolution of the Karabakh conflict will be very beneficial for Armenia. The economic restrictions that Turkey and Azerbaijan are currently applying will be lifted and Armenia will able to reach Europe and the near east via Turkey. This, in turn, will have a profound effect on the Armenian economy. For Armenia, solving its problems with its neighbors will signify an improvement in the capacity for obtaining credit as well as bilateral and international aid. On the other hand this country will be able to divert significant funds now allocated to defense expenditures to urgently needed development projects. In short, Armenia will develop rapidly if it resolves the problems with its neighbors. For all this to be possible, it is expected of Armenia that it accepts that Karabakh is attached to Azerbaijan within the framework of a very broad autonomy and that it pulls out of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. On the other hand, for Karabakh it is economically more advantageous to be incorporated into Azerbaijan and not Armenia.

Azerbaijan also stands to benefit significantly from the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. The war psychology that has been evident for close to 15 years will be dispelled, solutions will be found for the problems of the internally displaced persons and refugees and vast resources used for defense will be utilized in other areas. It is only to be expected that Azerbaijan, having solved the Karabakh conflict and with the oil revenue it stands to collect, will become the most powerful state in the South Caucasus.

If the conflict is resolved, the influence of the Russian Federation over Armenia will gradually weaken. It is also to be expected that the Russian bases in Armenia will close down eventually. On the other hand it is also possible that the resolution of the conflict and the peaceful atmosphere this will create will have a positive reflection on the other conflicts in the region such as in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Chechnya. This would be to the benefit of both the Russian Federation and Georgia.

Iran has supported Armenia because it feared the possibility that its own 15 million strong Azerbaijani community may want to unite with those Azerbaijanis across the border. Therefore, an Azerbaijan that has solved the Karabakh conflict and has attained a higher economic standard will not be welcomed by Iran. Yet since this conflict can not continue indefinitely, Iran must work on resolving its potential ethnic problems by establishing good relations with Azerbaijan and by granting its non-Farsi population broad cultural rights.

The resolution of the Karabakh conflict will be in the interest of Turkey in the geopolitical sense since it would signify a major improvement in security in the Caucasus and signal the emergence of a more powerful Azerbaijan. In addition, the opening of the border with Armenia will increase trade with this country and also allow the utilization of Armenian roads for transportation to Azerbaijan. However the main problem for Turkey in its relations with Armenia is not the Karabakh conflict but the fact that Armenia does not recognize the territorial integrity of Turkey and continues its allegations of genocide. Therefore, the resolution of the Karabakh conflict will not be sufficient for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations and it will be necessary to ensure a parallel solution to these bilateral issues as well.


* Ambassador (Retired)
[1] Ömer Göksel İşyar, Sovyet-Rus Dış Politikaları ve Karabağ Sorunu (Soviet-Russian Foreign Policies and the Karabakh Issue) Alfa Yayınları, İstanbul, 2004, pp.227-216
[2] Kamuran Gürün, Ermeni Dosyası, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara, 1983, p.227
[3] Donebédian and C. Moutafian, Artash, Histoire du Karabagh, Sevig Press, Paris 1991, p.93
[4] Ibid, p.95
[5] Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, Record of World Events, London, 1988-2000, V:34, p.36034
[6] Keesing’s, V:34, p.36035
[7] Keesing’s, V:34, p.36036
[8] Keesing’s, V:35, p.36471, 36490
[9] Keesing’s, V:35, p.36402
[10] Keesing’s, V:36, p.37169
[11] idem
[12] Keesing’s, V:36, p.37664
[13] Keesing’s, V:37, p.38078
[14] Keesing’s, V:37, p.38582
[15] Keesing’s, V:37, p.38418
[16] Keesing’s, V:38, p.R120
[17] Keesing’s, V:38, p.38733
[18] Mkrtchyan was shot death at his home on April 14, 1992. Karabagh Parliament called his death “an accident”. On that subject see Patrick Karam and Thibault Mourges, Les Guerres de Caucase, des Tsars à la Tchétchénie, Librairie Perrin, Paris 1995, p.91
[19] P. Donabédian and C. Mutafian, p.93
[20] Ayın Tarihi, December 24, 1991 ( Ayın Tarihi (History of the Month) is published by the Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information on the web site )
[21] Ayın Tarihi, March 19, 1992
[22] Ayın Tarihi, February 12, 1992
[23] Ayın Tarihi, September 10, 1992
[24] Araz Aslanlı, Tarihten Günümüze Karabağ Sorunu (Karabakh Issue from History to Present Day) in Avrasya Dosyası (Eurasian File), Volume) 7, Number 1, 2001, Ankara, p.404
[25] Thomas De Wall, Black Garden, Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War, New York University Press, New York, 2003, p.170; Thomas Goltz, Azerbaijan Diaries, M.E. Sharp, New York, 1998, p.124 and Araz Aslanlı, p.404
[26] Idem, p.312
[27] Ayın Tarihi, March 7, 1992
[28] Ayın Tarihi, March 18, 1992
[29] Ayın Tarihi, March 19, 1992
[30] Ayın Tarihi, May 19, 1992
[31] idem
[32] Ayın Tarihi, May 21, 1992
[33] Kamer Kasım, The Nagorno Karabagh Conflict from its Inception to the Peace Process, in Ermeni Araştırmaları/Armenian Studies, Number 2, ASAM, Ankara, 2001, p.174
[34] Ayın Tarihi,
[35] The military “heritage” of the USSR was distributed by the Tashkent Agreement May 15,1992 between the Soviet Republics. Azerbaijan obtained 220 tanks, 285 guns and 220 military vehicles. But its share of 100 planes and 50 helicopters was not delivered. On that subject see Nazım Cafersoy, Elçibey Dönemi Azerbaycan Dış Politikası, Bir Bağımsızlık Mücadelesinin Diplomatik Öyküsü, (Azerbaijan Foreign Policy During Echibey Presidency, June 1992-June 1993, Diplomatic Story of a Struggle for Independence) ASAM, Ankara, 2001, p.73
[36] Keesing’s, V:38, p.39018
[37] Keesing’s, V:38, p.39156
[38] Keesing’s, V:39, p.39332
[39] Ayın Tarihi, April 8, 1993
[40] Ayın Tarihi, April 7 and 13, 1993
[41] Keesing’s, V:39, p.39475
[42] On October 6,1994 President Aliev dismissed Suret Huseinov as Prime Minister in the wake of a coup attempt
[43] Keesing’s, V:39, p,39650
[44] Ayın Tarihi, September 6, 1993
[45] Keesing’s, V:39, p.39694
[46] Keesing’s, V:40, p.40019,20
[47] Keesing’s, V:43, p.41710
[48] Keesing’s, V:43, p.41878
[49] Keesing’s, V.44, p.42636
[50] Ömer E. Lütem, Facts and Comments, in Ermeni Araştırmaları/Armenian Studies, Number 2, ASAM, Ankara, 2001, p.211
[51] Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter of the United Nations is related to the “Action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression”. This action could be realized by measures involving or not involving the use of armed force)

International Relations Dimensions of the Armenian Question

June 5, 2009

III. Problems of Turkey and Azerbaijan with Armenia

The Armenian Diaspora and Turkey-Armenia Relations

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kamer Kasım*

I. Background Information

From an international relations angle the great powers have always displayed an interest in the Armenian problem which was carried into the international arena with the 1878 Berlin Treaty. When the Ottoman Empire started to disintegrate those countries that wanted to have a say in the Ottoman lands and/or to speed up that disintegration process formulated Armenian-oriented policies. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire the Armenian problem continued to be an issue in international relations, this time in the context of the Caucasian policies and the Diaspora Armenians. Since 1965 the Armenian allegations have been voiced more often at international platforms and this process has gained momentum. At the end of the Cold War Armenia gained independence and this process has thus gained a new identity.

Ethnic Armenians living in various parts of the world have set up a variety of organizations in an attempt to influence the foreign policy of the countries they live in. Some of these organizations, although they are called political parties, are institutions peculiar to the Armenians. All these organizations play a role in the realm of foreign relations and this role must be studied.

When Armenia became independent in 1991 the Armenian problem gained an “Armenia dimension” as well. Armenian independence is important in two respects: firstly, from the standpoint of that country’s relations with Turkey and the way the Armenian problem affects these relations, and, secondly, from the standpoint of Armenia’s relations with the Armenian Diaspora or, to put it differently, the Diaspora’s efforts to set the direction of Armenia’s foreign policy.

In this section the Armenian problem’s international relations dimension will be analyzed. To be able to understand the current developments related to the Armenian problem one needs to know about the historical background together with the Armenian community’s activities and organizations in various countries of the world, and analyze Armenia’s foreign policy and the factors that affect it. In this article the developments in the Turkey-Armenia relations and the role the Diaspora plays in carrying the Armenian problem into the international arena will be discussed.

II. The Armenian Community in the International Arena and its role in the Armenian Problem

Armenians living in various parts of the world founded organizations in these countries to meet their needs as a community and, also, to influence the political and social structure in these countries. Along with associations for mutual assistance they founded certain organizations that call themselves political parties. After Armenia gained independence these Diaspora organizations began having a say in Armenia’s policies as well. The Armenian organizations exert a negative influence on Turkey’s relations with the rest of the world with their lobbying activities vis-à-vis the US administration, and with their efforts to promote their genocide allegations in the international arena. The Diaspora influence on Armenia is one of the main factors preventing the establishment of normal diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia that are neighboring countries. This issue will be addressed in detail when discussing the Turkey-Armenia relations and the Armenian foreign policy. Before that it would be better to briefly identify the Armenian Diaspora and its fields of activity.

In countries that have a sizable Armenian community such as the USA, France, Canada, Lebanon, Russia, Australia, Iran and Britain, the kind of structures called Diaspora organizations have been created. Diaspora organizations operate in a wide range of fields including education, health, religious services and politics. Some of the Diaspora organizations, namely, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (more commonly known as the Dashnaks), Social Democratic Huntchak Party and Armenian Liberal Democratic Organizations also known as Ramgavar, define themselves as political parties.

The Armenian Diaspora in the world consists of four to five million people.[1] Some 750,000 Armenians live in the USA and around 50,000 in Canada. In Europe, France boasts the biggest Armenian population with 300,000. In the Middle East, Iran and Lebanon lead with 200,000 each. Australia has an Armenian community of some 30,000. In the USA, France and the Middle Eastern countries Armenian presence goes back a long time. In Australia and Canada settlement of Armenians is a more recent phenomenon. Widespread Armenian migration to Australia, for example, began in the 1960s.

Diaspora organizations can be roughly classified as research organizations, aid organizations and culture and sports organizations. In addition to these there exist in almost every country the aforementioned organizations that call themselves political parties, namely, Dashnak, Huntchak and Ramgavar. Also, in many countries there are the organizational structures called Armenian National Committees: the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the Armenian National Committee of Australia etc. Furthermore, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) has branch offices in many countries.

The Armenian Diaspora organizations push the genocide allegations into the foreground, pursuing a line aimed at orienting in this regard the governments of the countries where they operate. The research organizations (some of which are nongovernmental organizations while others operate as institutions affiliated with universities) stage symposiums, panels and conferences to promote the genocide allegations. The Armenian National Committees make efforts to ensure that Armenians would take part in the political activities wherever they live and that the Armenian community’s views would be reflected by the media. Aid organizations such as the AGBU and certain cultural organizations operate with the aim of meeting the economic and cultural needs of the Armenians in various parts of the world. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaks), Huntchaks, Ramgavar, the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) and the Armenian National Committees focus entirely on political issues. The AAA and the ANCA are the driving force that carries the Armenian genocide allegations into the US Congress. These are the main components of the Armenian lobby in the USA. The American Armenian lobby’s primary goals include the following: preventing US aid and arms sales to Turkey, blocking US aid to Azerbaijan and ensuring US support for Armenia in every field. The Armenian organizations in European countries too engage in similar activities. The genocide allegations and the rallying of the Armenian community around this common cause are the raison d’etre of the Diaspora organizations. In fact, a “genocide industry” has been created. Meanwhile, by rallying the Armenian community around a common cause and forming a lobby, the Diaspora gains an advantageous position in the political field in the countries in question. This can be seen clearly in the case of the USA.

As we will explain below when referring to Armenia’s foreign policy, when it comes to promoting the genocide allegations in the international arena and on issues related to Turkey-Armenia relations, the Armenian Diaspora acts much more radically than some political groups in Armenia do. However, there are differences of view among the Diaspora organizations in the way they view Turkey and, also, on the strategy to be followed to keep the genocide allegations alive on the agenda. For example, the ANCA which the Dashnaks support, rejects all kinds of dialogue with Turkey, pursuing a much more radical line than the other groups. The AAA, on the other hand, is not against a dialogue with Turkey in principle. This point will be discussed below in relation to the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC).

III.Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission

Certain “civil diplomacy” attempts have been made between the two sides, that is, the Turks and the Armenians, to enable them to discuss one another’s views. Journalists of the two sides come together at regular intervals and put the existing problems on the table. Aside from that, the most serious step taken to build a dialogue was the creation of the TARC.

The TARC was formed formally on July 9, 2001 with the participation of six Turkish and four Armenian figures. Its aims were explained in the document titled “Terms of Reference” in the following vein: “The TARC seeks to promote mutual understanding and goodwill between Turks and Armenians and to encourage improved relations between Armenia and Turkey. It hopes, through its efforts, to build on the increasing readiness for reconciliation among Turkish and Armenian civil societies including members of Diaspora communities. It supports contact, dialogue and cooperation between Armenian and Turkish civil societies. It will directly undertake activities and catalyze projects by other organizations. It will develop recommendations to be submitted to the governments concerned. It will support collaborative track two activities in the fields of business, tourism, culture, education and research, environment, media and confidence building. It will secure expertise based on project requirements, and may include specialists on historical, psychological and legal matters.”[2]

When we look at the way the TARC was assessed by the Armenian side, especially by the Diaspora, we see that one segment of the Diaspora had definitely not been ready to have a dialogue, unwilling even to have research conducted on the allegations they were putting forth.

The TARC was a case of civil diplomacy since its members did not have official duties or titles.[3] It was extensively debated and assessed both in Armenia and in the Diaspora. With certain exceptions it can be said that the Armenian view of the TARC was a negative one. The harshest criticism came from the ANCA, which is one of the Dashnak organizations in the USA, and from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, also a Dashnak organization. The Dashnaks described the TARC as an initiative of unauthorized persons, saying that it was ordered by foreigners and that it would not serve Armenian interests. For the Dashnaks Turkish recognition of the alleged genocide was a precondition for any talks. They were concerned mainly because the activities of the TARC constituted an obstacle to their efforts to win international recognition for the Armenian genocide allegations and caused division in the ranks of the Armenians. Considering the quarrels that took place among the Armenians, the TARC worries about “division” were not groundless.

The TARC was bitterly criticized by those circles in Armenia that were Anti-AAA and that had opposed the Armenian National Movement that had been in power in Armenia during the Ter- Petrosyan era. That was because of the fact that the TARC’s Armenian members had served at important positions during the Petrosyan era. For example, Arzoumanian, one of the members, had been Ter-Petrosyan’s foreign minister. Another member, Hovhannissian, had served as Armenian ambassador to Syria during the same era.

The ANCA and some other Armenian Diaspora organizations criticized the US State Department for supporting the creation of the TARC. [4] The State Department had expressed support for the TARC initiative. There had even been press reports saying that the State Department was giving the commission material support.[5] TARC’s Armenian members, however, stressed that they knew nothing about any material support from the US Administration.[6]

Unlike the ANCA, the AAA expressed support for the TARC. Creation of such a commission sharpened the rivalry between the ANCA and the AAA, two US-based big Armenian organizations. It affected these two Diaspora organizations’ joint lobbying efforts in the USA. Also, it made an impact on those countries where the Armenians were promoting their genocide allegations. The European Parliament underlined the importance of the climate of dialogue created by the TARC while making no reference to the Armenian genocide allegations in its report on Turkey.[7] The German Parliament too refused to debate a motion concerning the Armenian genocide allegations, pointing out that contacts had begun between the Turkish and Armenian nongovernmental organizations.[8]

Creation of the TARC affected also the relations between the Dashnaks and the Armenian Government. With the conviction that the Armenian Government had played a part in the creation of the TARC, the EDF voted against a bill envisaging privatization of the electricity distribution company. In a statement issued on July 13, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said the ministry had nothing to do with the creation of the TARC while stating that Armenia always favored all kinds of contact and dialogue between the Turkish and Armenian peoples in encouragement of open discussion of the existing problems. The ministry stressed that the TARC activities could be no replacement for talks at a government-to-government level.[9] Despite that statement ten political parties in Armenia issued a joint communiqué in which they denounced the TARC.[10] The communiqué made an impact on the Armenian Foreign Ministry’s views on the TARC. On Aug. 1, 2001 the Ministry issued a new statement, this time making a reference to the political parties’ communiqué and stressing that the TARC could not cause the Armenian authorities to deviate from their path of striving to win international recognition of the “genocide”.[11] The change in the Armenian Foreign Ministry’s stance obviously resulted from the negative reaction of the political parties in Armenia. In Armenia the main worry was that the TARC would try to play a part in Turkey-Armenia relations, replacing the authorities to this effect. Indeed, Armenian President Kocharyan declared that the Armenia-Turkey relations should be discussed at government level.[12] Another criticism the Armenians directed at the TARC involved its composition. They complained about the TARC consisting of four Armenians and six Turks. Also, they said that the Turkish members of the TARC were hardliners.[13]

Although creation of TARC did not cause as much excitement among the Turks as among the Armenians, the Turks had a positive reaction to the establishment of a Turkish-Armenian dialogue via the TARC. Generally speaking, they saw that as a step taken at the right time to ease tension between the two societies.[14] Turkish Armenians too saw that as a positive step. Agos newspaper columnist Markar Eseyan described the TARC as a small step for the two peoples but a big one for friendship and civilization; and he complained that the western countries were exploiting the Armenian problem in order to obtain concessions from Turkey.[15]

The TARC decided to obtain the legal opinion of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), a nongovernmental organization, on whether the UN Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide that took effect in 1951 could be applied retroactively to the incidents that had occurred in the early 20th Century. The ICTJ issued its report in February 2003, saying that the convention cannot be implemented retroactively. It stressed that since the convention is not retroactive no claims could be made as a result of the Armenian allegations. However, the ICTJ did not stop there. It went on to make a statement supportive of the Armenian stance regarding the events that were the subject matter of the Armenian allegations, a statement that was not based on any scientific study or research.

The TARC, which was an initiative aimed at creating a climate of dialogue between the two societies, disintegrated after the ICTJ presented its report. Although it went on for some more time with different members it lost its function. Here, the basic problem is the way the Armenians –and, in this context, the Diaspora organizations— choose as their main field of activity the efforts aimed at winning international recognition for their genocide allegations.

IV. Turkey-Armenia Relations

In 1991 Armenia gained independence and thus the “Armenia phenomenon” joined the loop in the Armenian problem. The Armenian problem’s international relations dimension has come up to the foreground due to the aforementioned ties between Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora and, also, because of the path the Turkey-Armenia relations have taken.

When examining the relations between these two neighboring countries one has to take into consideration, along with the parameters specific to the Caucasus, the “effects” originating from the Armenian Diaspora and from the political structure in Armenia. Turkey recognized Armenia as an independent country in 1991 together with the other newly independent former Soviet republics. However, normal diplomatic relations could not be established between the two countries. There are three main obstacles to the establishment of normal diplomatic relations: Firstly, the Armenian administration is striving to have the genocide allegations recognized on an international plane. Secondly, the Armenians make the kind of statements (as can be seen in the text of Armenia’s Declaration of Independence) that amount to saying that they consider part of Turkish territories “Western Armenia” and believe that Turkey’s territorial integrity and the existing Turkish-Armenian border must not be recognized by Armenia. Thirdly, there is the Nagorno Karabakh problem.

Article 11 of the Armenian Declaration of Independence issued on Aug. 23, 1990 says, “The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.” And the Armenian Constitution adopted in 1995 refers to the Declaration of Independence.[16] Furthermore, from time to time the Armenian Parliament witnesses speeches in the vein of, “The 1921 Kars Treaty must not be recognized.”[17] The current border between Turkey and Armenia was determined by the Kars Treaty. In 1992 Armenia became a member of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) whose name was changed into the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1994. Considering the fact that by becoming a member of this organization Armenia has accepted the inviolability of the existing borders, the reference to “Western Armenia” in its Declaration of Independence and the way it questions the Kars Treaty, conflict with Armenia’s international obligations. Significantly, after it gained independence, Armenia refused to sign a joint declaration with Turkey on such issues as good-neighborly relations, inviolability of the borders and territorial integrity.[18]

Armenia’s first president, Ter-Petrosyan, adopted a policy of trying to improve his country’s relations with Turkey rather than voicing the genocide allegations at international platforms. He served as president until 1998. However, Turkey-Armenia relations could not develop during the Ter-Petrosyan period either. That was because of the influence the Armenian Diaspora exerted on Armenia’s foreign policy and, also, due to Armenia’s failure to take the necessary steps regarding Karabakh. For landlocked Armenia, Turkey is like a gate that would give access to the West; and if Armenia developed its relations with Turkey that would, from the economic and political angle, exert a stabilizing effect on Armenia. Its tense relations with Turkey render Armenia dependent on Russia, harming its sovereignty. In fact, Armenia is the only country where Russia manages to maintain military bases in an almost unopposed manner.[19]

Armenia would benefit more greatly than Turkey would from a normalization of the Turkey-Armenia relations. Armenia is conducting an unrealistic foreign policy that fails to take into consideration the country’s capacity. This policy is imposed on Armenia by the Armenian Diaspora and by those political parties in Armenia that represent the Diaspora. Since Armenia became independent the Diaspora organizations –especially those that are being called the Diaspora parties— have carried the Diaspora’s agenda into Armenia and this has adversely affected Armenia’s relations with Turkey. In fact, Armenia’s first president, Ter-Petrosyan, was forced to resign due to the pressure exerted by the radical groups in the Diaspora and Kocharyan became his successor in the 1998 presidential election.[20] After Kocharyan became president, tension in Turkey-Armenia relations grew further. The Diaspora had already been employing the genocide allegations as a tool for preserving the Armenian identity. Now Armenian Administration too attempted to use the genocide allegations to manipulate Armenia’s relations with Turkey and, especially, Turkey’s relations with third countries. The resolution the French Parliament passed in 2001 resulted partly from the Kocharyan Administration’s efforts.[21]

The Nagorno Karabakh problem is another issue affecting the Turkey-Armenia relations. The problem which began in 1988 still continues though a ceasefire was declared in 1994. The Armenians living in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno Karabakh region wanted to annex the enclave to Armenia. That led to clashes and, as a result, Armenian forces occupied 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territories. Efforts made to solve the dispute in the framework of the OSCE have been futile. The Armenian occupation of the Azerbaijani soil conflicts with the obligations Armenia has as an OSCE and Council of Europe member. Meanwhile, Armenia strives to make its occupation of the Azerbaijani lands permanent.[22] It has been argued that Armenia is conducting an irredentist policy regarding Georgia’s Javakhety region where there is an ethnic Armenian community, even trying to create another Nagorno Karabakh inside Georgia.[23] However, the developments taking place in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 and the fact that Georgia’s territorial integrity is now more important for the USA than it had been in the past, lessen the possibility of a Karabakh-type clash in Georgia.[24]

Latest Developments in Turkey-Armenia Relations

As stated above Turkey and Armenia do not have normal diplomatic relations. Armenia has a representative in Istanbul accredited to the Organization for Black Sea Economic Cooperation. Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers met in Reykjavik on May 15, 2002 during the NATO foreign ministers meeting. Later, on June 25, 2002 they had a talk in Istanbul on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Organization for Black Sea Economic Cooperation. Turkey has persistently put forth a number of conditions to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia. The current Armenian Administration, however, refrains from taking any step towards meeting these conditions. Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks the USA, who is Turkey’s ally, has increased its influence in the Caucasus and US troops have been deployed in Georgia. Furthermore, Azerbaijan-USA relations too have progressed thanks to the support Azerbaijan has given the USA in the fight on terror. Considering these developments, there is obviously no country in the region –except Russia—with whom Armenia can have a close relationship.[25] The foreign policy line adopted by Armenia renders the country extremely dependent on Russia and Armenia’s sovereignty has come to be questioned. Normalization of Turkey-Armenian relations would serve Armenia’s interests. But for that, Armenia must first rid itself of the influence exerted by the Armenian Diaspora.

There has been another development as well in the relations with Armenia: the exchange of letters between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Armenian President Kocharyan. In the wake of the debates held at the Turkish Grand National Assembly on the Armenian problem on April 13, 2005, PM Erdoğan announced that he had sent a letter to President Kocharyan, suggesting that a group consisting of historians and other experts from the two countries should look into all relevant archives to find information related to the 1915 events and report their findings to the international community. President Kocharyan replied to the letter on April 25, suggesting instead creation of an inter-governmental commission to solve all of the unresolved issues between the two countries and to reach a common understanding.

According to press reports, some time after the exchange of letters representatives of the two foreign ministries held a series of meetings in a third country. These reports said that from the Turkish side Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü and Turkish Ambassador in Tbilisi Ertan Tezgör were taking part in these meetings.[26] However, in the subsequent three months no news of such meetings has emerged, leading to speculation that the meetings must have been suspended.

In a USA and EU-based context, continued efforts are being observed towards normalization of the relations between Turkey and Armenia and establishment of a continuous dialogue between the two sides. Balıkesir Deputy Turan Çömez, a member of the ruling party in Turkey, paid a three-day unofficial visit to Armenia in June 2005. He had a chance to see the current situation in Armenia on the spot, having conversations with people from all walks of life.[27] However, it is quite obvious that the Kocharyan Administration is far from taking the kind of steps that would meet Turkey’s expectations especially on the genocide allegations and the Karabakh problem. In fact, Kocharyan makes intense efforts to ensure that the progress reports the EU regularly issues on Turkey would include references to the Armenian allegations and the border gate issue. Prior to the latest EU progress report on Turkey (issued on Nov. 9, 2005) too Armenia was observed to be making an intense effort to this effect.

V. Conclusion

The international dimension of the Armenian problem has come to the foreground since the Armenian allegations have been put on the agenda in various countries by the Armenian Diaspora, and, also because Armenia has joined the loop as an “actor” since it gained independence in 1991 in the context of both its relations with Turkey and its ties with the Diaspora. There has been tension between Turkey and Armenia due to the Karabakh problem and, also, because of the Armenian Administration’s efforts to put the genocide allegations on the international community’s agenda. Due to the Diaspora’s efforts to exert an influence, this tension has reached the point where it affects Turkey and Armenia’s relations with third countries. The Armenian Diaspora now has a say in the Armenian Administration and it is a negative influence on the Turkey-Armenia relations. Normalization of relations with Turkey would be in line with Armenia’s interests. With a multi-faceted policy Armenia can ease its dependence on Russia. Being a landlocked country Armenia needs to cultivate normal diplomatic relations with Turkey for the sake of its economic and political stability. However, currently Armenia has a number of political parties that make territorial demands on Turkey, promotes the genocide allegations and conducts an intransigent policy on the Karabakh issue. Armenia’s current policies constitute an obstacle to the establishment of normal diplomatic relations with Turkey.

When we look at the stance taken by a number of aforementioned countries on the Armenian allegations, we see that even with those countries that do not currently recognize these allegations Turkey may experience troubles in the future. The Armenian lobby’s activities –especially when targeting the US Congress– are likely to be a continual problem. By engaging in counter-lobbying activities and by launching a diplomatic offensive in major countries, Turkey can counter the Armenian lobby’s activities and prevent these activities from harming Turkey’s bilateral relations. In these efforts Turkey must target influential figures that take part in the decision-making mechanisms. Also, establishing a dialogue with the non-radical segments of the Armenian Diaspora would be important from the standpoint of creating a climate of mutual understanding.

VI. References

VIII. 1. Websites that may prove useful:

VII.2. Books and Articles


ADALIAN Rouben and Masih Joseph, (eds.), Armenia and Karabagh Factbook, (Washington D.C.: Armenian Assembly of America, July 1996).
AZADIAN, Edmond. and Hacikyan, Agop J. (eds.), History on the Move: Views, Interviews and Essays on Armenian Issues, (Wayne State University Press, 2000).
CROSSANT, Michael P., The Armenian-Azerbaijan Conflict, Causes and Implications, (London: Preager. 1998).
GIRAGOSIAN, Richard, Transcaucasus: A Chronology, (Washington: Armenian National Committee of America, 1992-1997).
GÜRÜN, Kamuran, Ermeni Dosyası [Armenian File], (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayınları, 1983).
HOVANNISIAN, Richard G, Armenia on the Road to Independence 1918, (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967).
HUNTER, Shireen T., The Transcaucasus in Transition: Nation Building and Conflict, (Washington D.C.: Center For Strategic and International Studies, 1994).
LIBARIDIAN, Gerard J., Ermenilerin Devletleşme Sınavı (The Challenge of Statehood), Translated by Alma Taşlıca, (Ankara: İletişim, 2000).
MASIH, Joseph R. and Krikonan, Robert 0. (eds.), Armenia at the Crossroads, (Harwood Academic publishers, 1999).
SONYEL, Salahi, Turkey’s Struggle For Liberation And The Armenians, (Ankara: Center For Strategic Research, 2001).
YILMAZ, İskender, Gümrü Antlaşması [Gyumri Treaty], (Ankara: Atatürk Araştırma Merkezi, 2001).


AKTAN, Gündüz, “TARC: Çıkmaz Sokak [TARC: Blind Alley]”, Radikal, 12 December 2001.
AKTAN, Gündüz, “Turkish-Armenian Dialogue”, Turkish Daily News, 11 July 2001.
ASTOURIAN, Stephan H., “From Ter-Petrosyan to Kocharian: Leadership Change in Armenia”, Berkeley Program in Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies Working Paper Series, 2000-2001.
BİRAND, Mehmet Ali, “Armenians Work, Turks Look On”, Turkish Daily News, 14 July 2001.
CABBARLI, Hatem, “Armenian Diaspora in Russia: Its Composition and Activities”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, Vol: No: 3, September-October-November 2001, pp. 13 1-152.
CORNELL, Svante 0, “Undeclared War”, Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Vol: 20, No: 4, Fall, 1997, pp. 5 1-72.
DANİELYAN, Emil, “Turkey/Armenia: Reconciliation Commission off to Rocky Start”, RFE/RL, 13 August 2001.
DANİELYAN, Emil, “Members Deny Knowledge of US Funding For Turkish-Armenian Group”, RFE/RL, 15 October 2001.
DANNREUTHER, Roland, “Russia, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf’, Survival, Vol: 35, No: 4, Winter, 1993, pp. 92-112.
ESEYAN, Markar, “Barış Aritmetiği [Arithmetic of Peace]”, Agos, No: 277, 20 July 2001, p. 9.
FRANTZ, Douglas, “Unofficial Commission Acts to Ease Turkish-Armenian Enmity”, The New York Times, 10 July 2001.
GOBLE, Paul, “Caucasus: Analysis from Washington-Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict Risks Recognition”, RFE/RL, 8 May 1998.
GOLTZ, Thomas, “Armenian Soldiers Massacre Hundreds of Fleeing Families”, The Sunday Times, 1 March 1992.
İLTER, Kemal, “Greece Model Is Used in Setting Up Commission between Turks And Armenia”, Turkish Daily News, 13 July 2001.
İLTER, Kemal, “An Historic Step For Both Turks and Armenians”, Turkish Daily News, 12 July 2001; Sami Kohen, “Barış Zamanı [Time for Peace]”, Milliyet, 11 July 2001.
İYİGÜNGÖR, Aydan, “The Profile of the Armenian Diaspora in Germany”, Ermeni Araştırmaları Vol: 1, No: 3, September-October-November 2001, pp. 258-273.
KANTARCI, Şenol, “ABD ve Kanada’da Ermeni Diasporası: Kuruluşlar ve Faaliyetleri [Armenian Diaspora in USA and Canada: Organizations and Activities]”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, Vol: 1, No: 3, September-October-November, 2001, pp. 67-118.
KASIM, Kamer, “The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Caspian Oil and Regional Powers”, Bülent Gökay (ed.), The Politics of Caspian Oil, (New York: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 185-198.
KASIM, Kamer, ‘The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict From Its Inception to the Peace Process’, Ermeni Araştırmaları, Vol: 1, No: 2, June-July-August, 2001, pp. 178-179.
KASIM, Kamer, “Diasporanın Ermenistan Dış Politikasına Etkisi [Diaspora’s Effects on Armenia’s Foreign Policy]”, 2023 Dergisi, 15 April 2002, pp. 42-48.
KASIM, Kamer, “Türk-Ermeni Barışma Komisyonu: Kısa Süren Bir Diyalog Girişimi [Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission: A Short-lived Dialogue Attempt]” Stratejik Analiz, Vol. 2, No: 22, February 2002, pp. 30-36.
KASIM, Kamer, “11 Eylül Terör Eylemlerinin Rusya’nın Kafkasya Politikasına Etkisi [The Effects of the Sept. 11 Terror Attacks on Russia’s Caucasus Policy]”, Selçuk Üniversitesi Hukuk Fakültesi Dergisi, Vol: 9, No: 3-4, 2001 pp. 53-65.
KASIM, Kamer, “Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission: A Missed Opportunity”, Armenian Studies, Vol: 1, No: 4, December 2001-January-February 2002, pp. 256-273.
KASIM, Kamer, “Ermenistan’ın Dış Politikası: Ter-Petrosyan ve Koçaryan Dönemlerinin Temel Parametreleri [Armenia’s Foreign Policy: Basic Parameters of the Ter-Petrosyan and Kocharyan Eras]”, Stratejik Analiz, July 2002, pp. 42-50.
KASIM,Kamer, “Armenian Community in Australia”, Armenian Studies, Vol: 1, No: 3, September-October-November, 2001, pp. 305-320.
LAÇİNER, Sedat, “Armenian Diaspora In Britain and the Armenian Questions”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, Vol: 1, No: 3, September-October-November, 2001, pp. 233-257.
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar [Facts and Comments]”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, Vol: 1, No. I, March-April-May, 2001, pp. 10-22.
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, Vol: 1, No: 2, June-July-August, 2001, pp. 9-29.
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, Vol: l, No: 3, September-October-November, 2001, pp. 7-33.
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 4, December 2001-January 2002, pp. 14-31.
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 5, Spring 2002, pp. 7-27.
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 6, Summer 2002, pp. 7-23.
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 7, Fall 2002, pp. 7-17.
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 8, Winter 2003, pp. 7-36
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 9, Spring 2003, pp. 7-29
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 10, Summer 2003, pp. 7-25
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 11, Fall 2003, pp. 7-27
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 12-13, Winter 2003-Spring 2004, pp. 7-32
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 14-15, Summer-Fall 2004, pp. 7-21
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 16-17, Winter 2004-Spring 2005, pp. 7-81
LÜTEM, Ömer E., “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, No: 18, Summer 2005, pp. 7-44


* Abant İzzet Baysal University, International Relations Department staff member
[1] For the Armenian Diaspora and its activities in the USA, Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, Russia and Lebanon see: Armenian Studies/Ermeni Araştırmaları, Vol: 1, No: 3, September-October-November, 2001.
[2] Terms of Reference of the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission, July 9, 2001, Ermeni Araştırmaları, Vol: l, No: 2, June-July-August 2001, pp. 267-268.
[3] For a comprehensive assessment of the TARC see: Kamer Kasım, “Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission: A Missed Opportunity”, Armenian Studies, Vol. 1, No: 4, December 2001-January-February, 2002, pp. 256-273.
[4] “ARF Bureau Declaration Regarding the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission”, Asbarez, 14 July 2001. Also see the interview conducted with EDF member Dr. Viken Hovsepian,!TARC/VH-QA.html
[5] Armenian News Network, Groong,, 16 September 2001.
[6] RFE/RL, 8 September 2001. For the interest the US media displayed in the TARC see: Douglas Frantz, “Unofficial Commission Acts to Ease Turkish-Armenian Enmity”, The New York Times, 10 July 2001, editorial. “Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation?”, Washington Times, 17 July 2001.
[7] Armenian News Network/Groong, 5 Oct. 2001.
[8] See: Ömer E. Lütem, “Olaylar ve Yorumlar”, Ermeni Araştırmaları, Vol: 1, No 3, September-October-November, 2001, pp. 17-18.
[9] Asbarez On Line,, 25 July 2001. RFE/RL Armenia Report, 7- 24 July 2001. Noyan Tapan, 13 July 2001.
[10] “Komisyon Ermenileri Böldü [Commission Divides Armenians]”, Agos, No: 280, 10 August 2001, pp. 1 and 11 “Foreign Ministry Respond Reconciliation Grouping”, Asbarez On line “http//” Aug. 2, 2001. Khatchik Derghoukassian and Richard Giragosian described as ‘privatization of foreign policy’ the TARC activities in their article titled, “The Dangers of Privatizing Armenian Foreign Policy”, Armenian News Network/Groong,, 31 August 2001.
[12] “Armenian President, US Congressman Discuss Reconciliation Commission”, Noyan Tapan, 22 August 2001.
[13] Emil Danielyan, “Turkey/Armenia: Reconciliation Commission Off to Rocky Start”, RFE/RL, 13 August 2001.
[14] For views from Turkey see: Mehmet Ali Birand, “Armenians Work, Turks Look On”, Turkish Daily News, 14 July 2001. Kemal İlter, “Greece Model Is Used in Setting up Commission Between Turks And Armenia”, Turkish Daily News, 13 July 2001. Kemal İlter, “An Historic Step for Both Turks and Armenians”, Turkish Daily News, 12 July 2001. Sami Kohen, “Barış Zamanı [Time for Peace]”, Milliyet, 11 July 2001.
[15] Markar Eseyan, “Barış Aritmetiği (Arithmetic of Peace]”, Agos, No: 277, 20 July 2001, p. 9.
[16] Stephan H Astourian, , “From Ter-Petrosyan to Kocharian: Leadership Change in Armenia”, Berkeley Program in Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies Working Paper Series, 2000-2001, p. 20.
[17] Gerard J. Libaridian, Ermenilerin Devletleşme Sınavı, (The Challenge of Statehood), translated by Alma Taşlıca, Ankara: İletişim Yayınları, 2000, p. 36.
[18] Ömer Engin Lütem ile söyleşi [Interview with Ömer Engin Lütem], 2023 Dergisi, No: 12, 15 April 2002, p. 29.
[19] Kamer Kasım, “Ermenistan’ın Dış Politikası: Ter-Petrosyan ve Koçaryan Dönemlerinin Temel Parametreleri [Armenia’s Foreign Policy: Basic Parameters of the Ter-Petrosyan and Kocharyan Eras]”, Stratejik Analiz, NO: 27, July 2002, pp. 42-49.
[20] Kamer Kasım, “Diasporanın Ermenistan Dış Politikasına Etkisi [Diaspora’s Effects on Armenia’s Foreign Policy]”, 2023 Dergisi, No: 12, 15 April 2002, pp. 42-46.
[21] Kasım, Ermenistan’ın Dış Politikası: Ter-Petrosyan…, pp. 45-46.
[22] For detailed information on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict see: Kamer Kasım, “The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Caspian Oil and Regional Powers”, Bülent Gökay (der.), The Politics of Caspian Oil, London: Palgrave, 2001, s. 185-198. “The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict From Its Inception to the Peace Process”, Armenian Studies, No: 2, June-July-August, 2001, p. 170-185.
[23] For detailed information on this issue see:, Kamil Ağacan, “Genişleyen NATO ve Güney Kafkasya [Expanding NATO and South Caucasus]”, Stratejik Analiz, July 2003, p. 83-87. Hasan Kanbolat, Nazmi Gül, “The Geopolitics and Quest For Autonomy of the Armenians of Javakheti (Georgia) And Krasnodar (Russia) In the Caucasus”, Armenian Studies (Ermeni Araştırmaları), No: 2, June-July-August 2001, p. 186-210.
[24] Kamer Kasım, “Georgia: An Important State For the Stability in the Caucasus”, Journal of Turkish Weekly, 12 September 2005.
[25] See:, Kamer Kasım, “11 Eylül Terör Eylemlerinin Rusya’nın Kafkasya Politikasına Etkisi [Effects of Sept. 11 Terror Attacks on Russia’s Caucasus Policy]”, Selçuk Üniversitesi Hukuk Fakültesi Dergisi Vol: 9, No: 3-4, 2001 pp. 53-65
[26] cnntürk, 13 July 2005
[27] Radikal, 17 June 2005.