Turk­ish re­la­tions and the geno­cide

Los Angeles Times - - SUNDAY OPINION -

Re “Go ahead, of­fend Turkey,” Opin­ion, April 16

The geno­cide of the Ar­me­ni­ans 100 years ago is a well-known his­tor­i­cal catas­tro­phe.

Peter Balakian states that Pres­i­dent Obama spoke out against the use of threats by a for­eign power to in­hibit free speech in the United States. Turkey is a valu­able ally threat­en­ing to close U.S. mil­i­tary bases in that coun­try if Congress passes a sim­ple non­bind­ing state­ment ac­knowl­edg­ing the events of 1915 as geno­cide.

Balakian lauds Pope Fran­cis for ac­knowl­edg­ing the his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of the Ar­me­nian geno­cide, stat­ing that the pope re­fused to be in­tim­i­dated by Turkey. The pope does not have the re­spon­si­bil­ity of main­tain­ing troops in Turkey. Obama as com­man­der in chief rec­og­nizes the ne­ces­sity of main­tain­ing a U.S. pres­ence in Turkey.

My Ar­me­nian friends ac­cept Obama’s use of the Ar­me­nian words for the geno­cide as suf­fi­cient. Gaye Re­hder

Los An­ge­les

In 1915 an English sol­dier, Fran­cis Yeats-Brown, was cap­tured by Turk­ish sol­diers near Bagh­dad. He soon es­caped and wrote a book ti­tled, “Caught by the Turks.”

In that book he quotes a Turk­ish sergeant, of peas­ant back­ground and ed­u­ca­tion, boasting, “The English were al­most de­feated, the Ar­me­ni­ans were al­most ex­ter­mi­nated, but the Greeks re­mained to be dealt with, and the cursed Arabs.”

In­ter­est­ing that in 1915 this non­com­mis­sioned sol­dier could boast of the im­pend­ing suc­cess of the Turk­ish pro­gram for Ar­me­nian ex­ter­mi­na­tion. Yet, over a 100-year span, highly ed­u­cated Turk­ish schol­ars and of­fi­cials have not been able to find any ev­i­dence of the ex­ter­mi­na­tion. Syd­ney Shiff­man

Long Beach

Balakian’s piece on the Ar­me­nian suf­fer­ing dur­ing World War I is, un­der­stand­ably, filled with emo­tion. He writes, “The ‘R-word’ is about re­spon­si­bil­ity, so­cial jus­tice and re­pair,” which is ab­so­lutely right.

How­ever, he’s re­fer­ring to the wrong “R-word.” He is speak­ing of recog­ni­tion, but should be speak­ing of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

The key to cre­at­ing a trust and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Turkey and Ar­me­nia for the next 100 years is to stop look­ing back­ward and fo­cus on the fu­ture. Th­ese two great na­tions have too much to gain — from trade to cul­ture and se­cu­rity — to be held back by a cen­tury-old ar­gu­ment.

I en­cour­age read­ers to stand with Turk­ish and Ar­me­nian Amer­i­cans who are ready for a new era of re­la­tions be­tween th­ese two great peo­ples.

Solomon P. Or­tiz Cor­pus Christi, Texas The writer, a for­mer Demo­cratic mem­ber of Congress, is an ad­vi­sor to the Turk­ish In­sti­tute for Progress.

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