Historically, what the Armenian Problem meant was that a number of conflicts and clashes had taken place between the Armenians who were trying to carve out pieces of Ottoman land in order to set up an independent Armenia there, and the Ottoman Administration that opposed these attempts. After Armenia was defeated by the Turkish forces in 1920 the Turkish-Armenian border was delineated by the Moscow and Kars Treaties (1921), resolving the ”Armenian territorial claims” issue. The Armenian Problem came to an end thanks to the fact that the Lausanne Treaty, that is, the document that gave the new Turkish state international recognition and determined its international responsibilities, contained no provisions involving Armenia or the Armenians.
The post-World War II years, however, saw a revival of Armenian nationalism. Armenians were faced with a new problem: how to preserve the Armenian identity at a time Armenian immigrants were being assimilated everywhere at an increasing rate. As a solution to this problem, inspired by the consequences of the Holocaust, they made the allegation that the Turks had committed genocide against the Armenians during the relocation of 1915. The Armenian churches, political parties and charities supported that allegation. The Diaspora Armenians embraced it and they became unified on a platform of enmity towards Turks and Turkey. Thus the Armenian identity came to be preserved on the basis of hatred.
This hatred, fed by the nationalistic movements, resulted in Armenian terrorism. These terrorists targeted Turkish diplomats as the representatives of the Turkish State. However, after a while they began harming non-Turks as well and, as a result, those circles that had provided the inspiration and the finances needed for these attacks, brought the attacks to an end. However, immediately after that, the parliaments of certain countries and international organizations started passing resolutions supporting the Armenian genocide allegations, thus creating a fresh Armenian Problem for Turkey.
This new version of the Armenian Problem aims to make the Turkish State “admit” that the Armenians had been subjected to genocide. Undoubtedly that would be followed by demands for compensation. That, in turn, would lead to territorial claims, according to the Armenian militants. However, until now, no national parliament has said that Turkey should cede land to the Armenians.
The process of Turkish accession to the European Union has brought about an increase in the number of states supporting the Armenian genocide allegations. The EU bodies approach the Armenian “genocide” issue in different ways. The European Parliament claims that Turkish recognition of the Armenian “genocide” is a precondition for Turkish membership in the EU. The European Council (which is the EU body responsible for carrying out talks with Turkey) and the European Council, on the other hand, do not say any such thing. They merely cite the Copenhagen criteria that the candidate countries have to comply with. However, they do urge Turkey to normalize its relations with Armenia.
It is obvious that the Armenian Problem has once again entered Turkey’s foreign policy agenda, claiming an importance place for itself in it.
Although the Armenian Problem is important and current, few people in Turkey –not counting a number of specialists— seem to be well informed about all aspects of it. Its potential consequences, especially, are not properly understood. As a result, there have been a variety of approaches to this problem. There are even those that make a grave mistake as can be seen from the emergence in Turkey in recent years of a number of persons embracing the Armenian views unquestioningly.
In our country examination of the Armenian Problem generally takes place in the form of shedding light on the historical events. Since deliberate misinterpretation of certain historical events lies at the base of the Armenian Problem, having correct information about that period is indeed the prerequisite of making a study of this problem. However, the problem we are faced today is not merely one of shedding light on certain events in history. Today, Turkey is being asked to recognize as genocide an event that took place nearly a century ago, pay compensation, and then, if possible, cede territory. For this reason, studying history would not be enough. One has to study also the international relations of our day, the international law and especially the genocide law, and the psychological state the Armenians are since that too is an important factor.
This CD has been prepared with the aim of providing information to the readers on all aspects of the Armenian Problem and, in this context, to provide them with all the relevant documents.
The first topic addressed in this CD is the “Historical Dimension of the Armenian Problem”. Under this heading we provide several articles. Dr. Şenol Kantarcı of the Süleyman Demirel University gives historical information on the related developments prior to the Lausanne Treaty in his article “The Armenian Problem from its Beginning to the Lausanne Treaty”. ASAM Chairman, retired Ambassador Gündüz Aktan explains in his article “The Lausanne Peace Treaty and the Armenian Problem” how the treaty in question had drawn the line on the Armenian Problem. Chairman of the ASAM Research Institute for Crimes against Humanity retired Ambassador Ömer Engin Lütem recounts the phases the Armenian Problem has gone through since Lausanne in “The Armenian Problem from Lausanne to Our Day”. Various documents are annexed to this section. These include the relevant provisions of the Sèvres Treaty, the Kars Treaty, the list of the Turkish officials martyred by Armenian terrorists, the texts of the resolutions adopted by a number of parliaments in recognition of the Armenian genocide claims, the list of the state assemblies and town councils that have passed resolutions of the same kind, and the texts of the April 24 messages of a number of US presidents. Also annexed to this section are three maps showing the way the Ottoman Empire was split up, the territorial claims the Armenians had made at the Paris Conference, and the boundaries determined by US President Wilson in line with the Sèvres Treaty.
The second topic addressed in this CD is the “Legal Dimension of the Armenian Problem”. Since genocide is a legal concept the Armenian allegations should be examined from the legal aspect before everything else and, in this respect too, the UN Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (1948) should be taken as a basis. More than a hundred countries, Turkey and Armenia among them, are parties to this convention. Although it is of primary importance to the Armenian Problem, the genocide law has, unfortunately, not been studied extensively enough in our country. To fill the void in this area this CD provides two articles: ASAM Chairman, retired Ambassador Gündüz Aktan’s “The Armenian Problem according to the International Law” and ASAM International Law Adviser Dr. Sadi Çaycı’s “The Armenian Problem from the Standpoint of International Law”. The texts of the relevant agreements and other documents including the aforementioned UN Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, are annexed to this section.
The third topic comes under the headline “Turkey and Azerbaijan’s Problems with Armenia”. One of the articles in this section, “The Armenian Diaspora and Turkey-Armenia Relations”, written by Associate Professor Dr. Kamer Kasım of İzzet Baysal University, dwells on the worldwide Armenian community’s role in the Armenian Problem, the Turkey-Armenia relations, the quests for a dialogue on this issue, the basics of the Karabagh problem and the stance taken by the third countries on the Armenian Problem. The Karabagh problem has special importance for Turkey since Turkey supports Azerbaijan’s views on this issue. Therefore, an article written by Chairman of the ASAM Research Institute for Crimes against Humanity retired Ambassador Ömer Engin Lütem looks into the Karabagh issue in detail. Annexed to this section are the texts of the UN Security Council resolutions passed in 1993 on the Karabagh issue (Resolutions No 822, 853, 874 and 884) and the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s Jan. 25, 2005 Resolution No 1416 as well as a map showing the Azerbaijani territories currently under Armenian occupation.
Section IV is devoted to the psychological dimension of the Armenian Problem. It features ASAM Political Psychology Expert Clinical Psychologist Sevinç Göral’s article titled “The Turkish-Armenian Problem: Psychology of Victimization and Large Group Identity”.
Section V concerns a number of articles on other related subjects: “Etiology of Racism in Europe” by ASAM Chairman retired Ambassador Gündüz Aktan which would enable a better understanding of the Armenian Problem and “Let the Historians Decide” and “The Armenian Uprising and the Ottomans” both by renowned American historian Justin McCarthy.