2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. On the 24th of April 1915, the Ottoman government began a series of forced deportations, starting with the arrest of roughly 250 Armenian political activists, writers, public intellectuals, politicians, journalists, and other community leaders.
Between 800’000 and 1.5 million Armenians died during the period of executions and deportations following 1915. The events have been described by the historian Richard L. Rubenstein as the “first full-fledged attempt by a modern state to practice disciplined, methodically organised genocide”.
The Turkish government admits the deportations, but claims that any deaths were unintentional, that the numbers involved have been inflated, that massacres were also perpetrated by Armenians against ethnic Turks, and that the forced marches into the Syrian desert were primarily intended to prevent Armenian revolutionaries from allying with Tsarist Russia during the first world war.
There have been recent signs that Turkey is starting to reconsider its official history. People are no longer sent to jail for describing the events in 1915 as a ‘genocide’. In 2014, Turkey’s then prime minister (and current president) Recep Tayyip Erdogan became the first Turkish leader to offer public condolences for the mass killing of Armenians.
We had a question sent by D. Kohler from Austria via our ‘suggest a debate’ form:
Should Turkey be sanctioned by the EU and the international community for refusing to acknowledge its crimes against humanity committed against the Armenian Christians?
But would sanctions really be effective? And, anyway, is such a discussion not premature? Only 28 governments worldwide (15 of them EU Member States) recognise the events of 1915 as a genocide. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, feel that reconciliation cannot be achieved if foreign governments fixate on the past. In other European countries, including Greece, Italy, and Slovakia, it is illegal to deny that a genocide took place.
Should more countries recognise the Armenian genocide? Are relations between Turkey and Armenia finally beginning to heal? And is Turkish society opening up to a different interpretation of the past? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!