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Another Turkish-Armenian Effort Fails - This Time in France 01/21/2003
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

The proponents of the denial of the Armenian Genocide never seem to tire or give up. Their attempts to conceal the truth come in many forms and are hidden behind various acronyms.

There was a time when the only denier of the Genocide was the perpetrator itself - the Turkish government. Despite the enormous amounts of money and effort spent by the Turks to cover up the first genocide of the 20th century, they failed miserably. No one believed their lies. It was obvious to the whole world that the successors to the Ottoman Turks were simply trying to hide the crimes of their predecessors.

As time passed, Turkish denials got more and more sophisticated. They started using non-Turkish "scholars" to do their dirty work. These hired guns provided the false cover of objectivity and the appearance of academic respectability to the Turkish lies.

After many of these so-called scholars were exposed and discredited, the Turks pulled the most amazing feat of all. They were able to lure a handful of Armenians, who should have known better, in a shameful Turkish attempt to bury the truth about the Armenian Genocide. With the eager support of the State Department which provided around $2 million for this ingenious enterprise, the infamous nine-member Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) was inaugurated in July of 2001.

The four Armenian members of TARC (two from Armenia and one each from Russia and the United States) may have had different motives for joining such an initiative. Some of them may have been duped into believing that such efforts could eventually lead to the recognition of the Genocide by the Turks. Others may have had more selfish objectives.

Six months later, after a storm of protests from Armenians worldwide, the Armenian members of TARC announced that they were disassociating themselves from this initiative due to "the insincerity" of the Turkish members! Regrettably, the sincerity of the Armenian members must also be questioned. Contrary to their announced withdrawal from TARC more than a year ago, they continued their clandestine contacts with their fellow Turkish commissioners. According to various press reports, the "sincere" Armenian members and the "insincere" Turkish members of TARC are getting together yet again in New York this week.

Meanwhile, the formation of a more "sophisticated" version of TARC, the "Forum for the Rapprochement of Armenians and Turks" (FRAT), was announced in Paris earlier this month. This new association is composed of 11 individuals (four Armenians, four Turks and three French) who announced in their letter of January 3rd that they believe in "healthy and constructive dialogue between the two peoples."

FRAT stated its objectives as follows: "Mobilizing Armenians, Turks and their friends from all nationalities in order to counter ideas, representations and actions that nourish misunderstanding and antagonism between the two peoples; Striving for the rapprochement of the two communities and for a better reciprocal understanding; Mobilizing the major actors of Armenian and Turkish civil society in order to actively cooperate in all domains, particularly in the fields of culture, media, education, science and economy."
Displaying amazing organizational speed, this newly-formed group announced the following series of activities: Concerts at UNESCO in Paris (February 4, 2003), in Istanbul (Feb. 6, 2003), in Yerevan (later in the year) and in Hiroshima, Japan in 2004, with the participation of Armenian, Turkish, Greek, Egyptian, Israeli, and Japanese performers. These concerts will be sponsored by FujiFilm, Mitsubishi Arts and Culture Trust Funds, Asahi Shinbun, and National Geographic.

The sheer speed and scope of activities, the names of the sponsors (the ones made public), and the worldwide reach of this three week old 11-member group raise a lot of questions about its true founders and funders.

It is alarming is that FR AT's "Declaration of Intentions" refers to the Armenian Genocide as "the tragedy of 1915" and "the bloody events of the last century." Furthermore, it leaves the facts of history to "the reflection of historians." These are troubling words because they are borrowed verbatim from Turkish revisionists. Even more disturbing is the statement that regardless of the differences of opinion among the members of FRAT on the "events of 1915," Armenians and Turks need to engage in dialogue. Once again, the truth about the Genocide is covered up by using utopian notions of peace and friendship among nations. We are led to believe that if Armenians and Turks were to sing and dance together, all of their problems would disappear. The true intent of those behind TARC and FRAT is to create diversionary tactics which would distract the attention of Armenians away from seeking proper recognition and retribution.

Fortunately, the French Armenian community reacted angrily against FRAT, similar to the Armenian American reaction to TARC. Within days of FRAT's announcement, two of its four Armenian members resigned (Ara Cinar and Christian Markarian). The remaining nine members (Patrick Carrale, Ali Kazancigil, Mark Buker, Goksin Sipahioglu, Kenize Mourad, Huseyin Sermet, Jean-Claude Kebabdjian, Alexander Jevakhoff, and Georges Juttner) issued a press release on January 15, announcing that they are canceling the planned concerts and putting an end to all of their activities.

It remains to be seen if the powers behind FRAT, just as those behind TARC, are intent on keeping afloat both of these sinking ships.
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