Are We Ready?


By Edmond Y. Azadian

The centennial of the Armenian Genocide is around the corner. Only two years are left to prepare a commemoration commensurate with the magnitude of that colossal tragedy, which not only cost 1.5 million lives, but also a 3000-year-old homeland. Assimilated generations of Armenians, or masses alienated from their roots must be added in the loss ledge of the martyrs.

Once in a while we come across some Armenian media statements to the effect of a tsunami in 2015, which will scare the Turks and turn a new page in our struggle to promote the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Yes, indeed, there are some preparations in Armenia and we learn about the centennial commemoration committees being formed in many communities throughout the Diaspora. However, no major earth-shaking event seems to be in the offing. It would be a shame if the centennial commemoration also turns out to be a run-of-the-mill program, akin to those which we organize every year in Armenia and in active Armenian communities around the globe. Any impressive commemorative event will take more than two years to organize.

There seem to be no major undertakings to celebrate the survival of the Armenian people by gathering world-class artists and celebrities of Armenian extraction in an impressive venue in New York, Paris, Moscow or Yerevan. That certainly would entail tremendous resources, which no benefactor, foundation or organization seems ready to undertake, let alone initiate.

Monuments have been erected in many capitals of the world, sometimes compromising the location, depending on the clout of the respective Armenian community.

The most impressive and eloquent monument would have been the Genocide Museum at the heart of our nation’s capital. In addition to its symbolism, the museum by itself could make a political statement. It is almost tragic that two years shy of the centennial, the museum is still a hostage to the dispute of opposing parties. One is certainly justified to begin to believe that the project is already a victim of a political conspiracy. The government of Turkey would have given an arm and a leg to have the museum disappear from that conspicuous location in Washington, DC. But that wish thus far is being offered for free by internecine warfare.

One area where we have recorded strides is the academic sphere and that is where the battle is shaping up between victims of the Genocide and the descendants of the perpetrators. One hundred and twenty world-renowned genocide scholars have signed a powerful statement in the New York Times, leaving no room for any rebuttal. However, the Turkish government is buying corrupt scholars to promote their line of denial.

In the production of academic volumes, the Armenian case has enjoyed the support of world-class non-Armenian scholars otherwise the dispute would have been reduced to the level of he said-she said, which still remains the goal of Turkish authorities.

Yet one phenomenal development is that respected Turkish scholars have also joined the fray.

From time to time, Turkish leaders float trial balloons to dupe the international media. They propose to form a joint committee of scholars to “research both sides of the argument,” while there is no other side in this case. It is unthinkable in any other context. For example, no one has proposed to form scholarly committees to study “conflicting” views on the Jewish Holocaust.

While Turkish authorities propose the formation of joint committees, they already know the conclusion; indeed, Prime Minister Erdogan, on the one hand proposes the idea of the joint committee, yet in the same breath, he emphatically declares that there has never been a genocide in Turkish or Ottoman history.

Fortunately thus far, there have been no takers of that offer from the Armenian side — neither the Armenian government nor any party in the Diaspora.

But the growing clout of Turkey on the international political scene has been influencing government positions in countries where Armenian lobbying groups have been active. President Obama has retreated on his pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide; his annual April 24 statements are testimony to that cowardice.

Many Armenians who believed in President Obama’s moral fabric, have come to the realization that like his advisor, Samantha Power, and other statesmen, he is caught in the gears of political power to forgo morality. No Armenian still entertains any hope that he will come up with a statement using the word genocide this year, next year or in 2015.

The dramatic 40-percent drop in US aid to a starving Armenia is an indirect contribution to the Turkish-Azeri efforts to squeeze Armenia out of existence.

Adding insult to injury, the president has kept parity in military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan, bypassing again Article 9 of the Freedom Support Act, to deny Azerbaijan any military assistance in view of the Baku government’s belligerence.

Unfortunately, we have also retreated in France despite the valiant campaign of the French-Armenian community. President Francois Hollande had promised to pass the resolution in the French Parliament crafting iron-tight legal language to withstand the Supreme Court arguments. After some reassurances, his foreign minister has quietly dropped the case, arguing that the Supreme Court had already issued its verdict.

Our strategic ally, Russia, is in no better position. Its bilateral trade with Turkey is approaching an annual figure of $100 billion, which no side is willing to compromise, despite the fact that political divisions keep them apart. For example, Russia is arming the Assad regime in Syria while Turkey is arming mercenaries on the border to overthrow the Syrian government. Recent political contacts between Ankara and Moscow indicate nothing but rapprochement between the two parties. Although Russia has recognized the Armenian Genocide, Mr. Putin does not seem to have the appetite to help Genocide recognition worldwide.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has targeted the diasporan Armenians. He has reiterated recently his statement that Baku’s number one enemy is the Armenian Diaspora. When we see the enemies intention to turn diasporan Armenians against the homeland, it behooves us to close ranks facing that enemy. But what are we doing instead? Confined to our narrow corners and unable to read the tides of world powers, we are jeopardizing Armenia’s existence and future, under the pretense of supporting democracy there. If Armenia’s existence is compromised, democracy can only be an exercise in futility.

The Genocide centennial is around the corner yet the prospects of a powerful show of force seem to be remote. Turkey has been using all its political and financial resources to prevent any waves on the international scene. No matter how much we may court optimism, the facts of life still remain against us.

In this kind of atmosphere, no tsunami appears on the horizon; perhaps just a breeze to soothe our burning hearts.