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Turks Are Worried ... 06/19/2003
Realizing their Guilt, Turks Are Worried
That Armenians Are Seeking Compensation

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

Despite the repeated denials of the Armenian Genocide, the Turkish
government and various segments of Turkish society, including the media, are
realizing that sooner or later they will have to join the rest of the world
in admitting that their ancestors have indeed attempted to annihilate an
entire nation, slaughtering in the process more than a million Armenians.
In recent years, some Turks have begun to indicate that their government
might consider recognizing the Genocide if Armenians would give an assurance
that such acknowledgment would not lead to demands for monetary compensation
and return of territories currently occupied by Turkey. The Turkish Foreign
Minister announced last month that Turkey was prepared to normalize its
relations with Armenia if the latter would recognize the territorial
integrity of the Republic of Turkey. The Turks have dropped their other
pre-conditions which until recently included the demand that Armenia return
Karabagh to Azerbaijan and end its efforts to achieve the recognition of the
Armenian Genocide by the international community.
By insisting that Armenia recognize the territorial integrity of Turkey, the
Turkish government is indirectly acknowledging that Armenians do have
territorial claims. If the Turkish leaders had no such concerns, they would
not have made this issue the only pre-condition for the improvement of
relations with Armenia.
The Turks do not seem to comprehend that Armenian territorial demands do not
hinge on the recognition of the Genocide. Armenians had legitimate
territorial claims from the Ottoman Empire long before the Genocide and will
continue the efforts to recover their historic lands from today's Turkish
Republic whether the latter recognizes the Genocide or not. The Armenian
demands from Turkey are similar in nature to the legitimate claims of the
victim of a crime independently of whether the perpetrator confesses to
committing the crime or not.
In recent years, with more and more countries and international
organizations recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the Turks have become so
panicky that even when Armenians do not make a particular demand, they start
fretting over how to handle the difficult the situation they are in.
For example, Hurriyet, one of the largest circulation newspapers in Turkey,
published on June 11 two articles on the lawsuit brought by Armenians
against New York Life Insurance Company for its refusal to pay for more than
85 years the claims of the policy-holders who were killed during the
Genocide.
It is interesting to see how the Turks are reacting to this lawsuit. In the
first article, Hurriyet quoted Ercument Kilich, the President of the
Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), as saying, "Armenians
living in the United States are once again trying to squeeze Turkey
economically. The Diaspora, holding in its hands old insurance documents, is
getting ready to demand compensation for the Genocide from Turkey, which the
Armenians view as the inheritor of the Ottoman Empire."
Kilich warned the Turkish officials: "Armenians overseas are starting a
massive campaign to demand financial compensation from Turkey. Insurance
claims that were worth about $10 million around the beginning of the last
century, are today worth "trillions of dollars!" Kilich said, "unless the
Turkish government takes timely precautionary measures, the Armenians would
demand from the insurance companies and they in turn would demand from
Turkey trillions of dollars as compensation for the Genocide. Turkey could
be confronted by the large American banking and insurance companies which
are very powerful in the United States."
Kilich cautioned that "since the Armenian lobby a nd the American insurance
companies are engaged in intense discussions, and since they consider Turkey
the successor of the Ottoman Empire, they could make demands directly from
Turkey." To counter such claims, he suggested that the Turkish government
utilize "the Japanese lobby, in addition to the Jewish lobby."
In the second article, Oktai Eksi, a well-known Turkish commentator, wrote,
"we can assume that the Armenian Genocide will now confront us as a
compensation issue." Eksi castigated the Turkish officials for not taking
preventive steps in advance.
According to Eksi, "even though the amount of insurance at that time did not
exceed $20 million, the amount to be paid today could be anywhere from $2
billion to $50 billion."
The "Armenian insurance claims from Turkey" became a hot topic last week on
several Turkish TV stations, including CNN-Turk. The truth is that neither
the Armenians nor the American insurance companies have expressed any
intention of suing Turkey. The Turks themselves, realizing their culpability
in the Genocide, are really worried. They fear that they may be liable for
"billions or trillions of dollars." The fact that the Turks are taking the
possibility of paying compensation so seriously proves that despite their
repeated denials they know exactly what they have done to the Armenians and
are really worried about the consequences!
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