Turkish Official Dismisses Na´ve
Armenian Notions on Dialogue
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Ambassador Ecvet Tezcan, the Turkish Foreign Ministry's Director of
Intelligence and Research, returned to Ankara last week after a whirlwind
tour of the United States during which he met with several Armenian
organizations and individuals in New York, Washington, D.C., and Los
While Amb. Tezcan has not made any public remarks about his visit, his Azeri
compatriots, who are much less sophisticated in foreign affairs, revealed
what the Turks were up to in their sudden desire to have a dialogue with the
According to the ANS TV in Baku, Azeri officials initially indicated their
anxiety at this unexpected Turkish initiative. For more than a decade,
Azerbaijan had relied on Turkish military and political support to counter
Armenia in the Karabagh conflict. The Azeris were therefore worried that the
Turks were abandoning them to pursue their separate interests with the
The Turks reassured the Azeris that they remained steadfast in their
pro-Azeri and anti-Armenian position. A similar reassurance was given to the
Azeris a couple of years ago by a Turkish member of the Turkish Armenian
Reconciliation Commission when the TARC was established. This latest Turkish
initiative was yet another ploy to give the United States and the European
Union the false impression that Turkey was engaging in "constructive
dialogue with Armenians."
In a program broadcast on ANS TV on June 19, the interviewer asked the
Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Vilayat Quliyev, if "these talks [with
Armenian-American organizations] aim to lessen the pressure of the European
Union and the USA on Turkey?" He responded by saying, "Today Turkey is a
candidate for European Union (EU) membership. Turkey considers its
membership in this organization as one if its main goals. Talks will start
with Turkey in late 2004. It's clear that pressure is being exerted on
As expected, the meetings between Amb. Tzcan and the Armenian-Americans did
not resolve anything. They were simply a rehash of the same old issues well
known to both sides. Furthermore, the politically sophisticated Turks were
able to accomplish their objectives at the expense of the Armenians.
Armenian American groups gave one or more of the following reasons to
justify their meetings with Amb. Tezcan:
1) The Armenian-Turkish conflict can only be resolved through dialogue;
2) By rejecting the Turkish offer for dialogue, Armenians would look bad in
the eyes of Washington;
3) The meeting was an opportunity to educate the Turks on the Genocide and
other Armenian demands.
There is a serious flaw in all three of these reasons because:
1) Genocide is not an issue that can be resolved by dialogue. The
descendents of the perpetrators of the Genocide have to simply acknowledge
the crimes committed by their forefathers -- something the Turks are
unwilling to do at this time. Someday, when they are ready to acknowledge
the Genocide, Armenians could then sit down with them to agree on the
2) There was no need for a large number of Armenian organizations and
individuals to meet with the Turks just to prevent them from claiming that
Armenians are rejecting their overture for dialogue. Meeting with just one
Armenian group would have been sufficient for that purpose.
3) The Turks, especially the Director of Intelligence and Research, do not
need an education on the Genocide or on any other Armenian issue. They know
only too well the crimes committed by their ancestors. Besides, if Amb.
Tezcan had to be educated about the Genocide, was there a need for half a
dozen Armenian groups to tell him the same story?
The Armenian organizations missed the point that the only rea
son why the
Turks were willing to hold these meetings was to give the impression to the
U.S. and the EU that they were making a good faith effort to resolve their
differences with the Armenians. The Turks wanted to let American and
European legislators know that there was no longer a need for them to meddle
in this affair by adopting resolutions on the Armenian Genocide. The
Armenian American groups do not seem to realize that the minute they set
foot in that meeting room, regardless of what they discussed and how boldly
they presented the Armenian demands, they were unwittingly helping the Turks
accomplish their objective!
If there were any doubts about the true intentions of the Turks, they were
dispelled by the remarks made by Ugur Ziyal, the Undersecretary of the
Turkish Foreign Ministry, during his visit to Washington last week. The
Turkish Daily News reported that during his various meetings with Bush
administration officials, Amb. Ziyal used the fact of the dialogue between
Armenians and Turks in order to convey to Washington "Turkey's sensitivities
over the so-called Armenian genocide bill and expressed Turkey's
expectations from the U.S. administration and the Congress on this issue."
While Armenian groups were engaged in a dialogue with Amb. Tezcan with the
na´ve expectation that their efforts would help Turkey recognize the
Genocide, Amb. Ziyal was telling reporters at the National Press Club in
Washington that neither dialogue nor political pressure would ever lead
Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, for the simple reason that, in
his words, no genocide had taken place.
So much for dialogue with the Turks!