After the German Bundestag on June 2 passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the acting head of the Armenian Church in Istanbul, Archbishop Aram Atesyan, posted the following letter addressed to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on its facebook page. The subservient tone, riled Armenians around the world.
Agos newspaper in Istanbul issued a response. Read the response after the archbishop’s letter.
“Dear Mr. President,
The decision that Bundestag made about the events happened during the tragic times of World War I caused regret in our nation. As the Turkish Armenians society, we submit our regret to your dignified office as an expression of our heartfelt and sincere feelings.
Armenian Patriarchate in Turkey is a religious institution which performs its obligations to the state perfectly and got over the delusion of seeing itself different from the other citizens. Also, its maxim is to express the feelings of Christian-Armenian Turkish citizens, who know how to protect their rights when necessary. The Patriarchate is aware of the fact that some people are not happy with its stable attitude that it maintains by abiding the traditional way. Our late patriarchs not only provided religious services to our community with their statements and constructive attitude, but also put their stamps on the history with their exemplary behaviors, which still guide us today.
In this regard, it is unacceptable that a parliament, which was formed by the votes of German citizens and has the duty of establishing laws for the peace, prosperity and security of their nation, expressed its opinion, though it has no right to do so. It is unacceptable that this parliament legalized its decision on behalf of the entire German nation and considers itself a judge.
Sliding the role of German Reich over by a few sentences and pointing the Ottoman Turkey as the sole perpetrator is ethically controversial. It is also questionable to what extent this decision expresses the feelings of German citizens.
As we stated on number of occasions, using this tragedy that traumatized the Armenian nation in international politics causes sorrow and pain. This resolution and similar resolutions hit us hard. Unfortunately, this historical pain of Armenian nation is considered as a tool for accusing and punishing Turkish state and nation. And because of this ugly mentality, sub- and supra-identities of Turkish Armenians are harmed. The ones who are willing to see the truth can realize how Armenian nation has been abused by imperialist powers.
Turkish and Armenian peoples have to live together. These two ancient and neighboring peoples shouldn’t be driven apart from each other by hatred inciting discourses. Instead of politicizing the history, the aim should be the fellowship and peace. Two neighboring peoples, who have common history and similar traditions, will live together with peace one day, as long as we deem it possible and prevent the unnecessary steps.
In a world where politicians express their opinions about our people’s suffering by taking their interests into account, we, as the Patriarchate, will continue to pray for the fellowship of Turkey and Armenia. This attitude is the force of our faith and the expression of our sense of citizenship. On the other hand, we know that some people will react against this attitude of ours. May God take root in the hearts of the citizens of the both countries. May God help the souls who devote themselves to create what is good.
On this occasion, we once again express our regret and pray to God for bestowing health, success and happiness on you. Also, we pray to God for making the state dignitaries, who work for the good of people, succeed in their services.
Archbishop Aram Ateşyan
General Vicar of Armenian Patriarch in Turkey
Agos’s Letter to Atesyan appears below:
Dear Mr. Archbishop,
We have read your letter about the Armenian Genocide resolution of Bundestag, which is addressed to the President and signed on behalf of “Turkish Armenians Society,” with sorrow, anger and shame. Please regard this letter as the voice of those members of that society who disagree with the content and style of your letter.
You define the systematic and almost complete annihilation of a people by the decision of the state itself as “the events happened during the tragic times of World War I;” this is an affront to the ancestors, victims and the survivors in the eyes of the society to which you also belong.
The society that you defined as “Christian-Armenian Turkish citizens who perform their obligations to the state perfectly, got over the delusion of seeing themselves different from the other citizens and know how to protect their rights when necessary” doesn’t have a homogeneous structure; rather, it consists of individuals who have their own independent feelings, opinions, and firm acknowledgment of truth. The thing is, Armenians are not the ones who see themselves different from other citizens. After 1915, whenever the political atmosphere gets intense, Armenians become subjected to discriminatory, fascist, and obviously threatening discourses and threats, especially in times of 1942 Wealth Tax and [the] Sept. 6-7 plunders. And on Jan. 19, 2007, they witnessed the assassination of Hrant Dink, one of the most precious figures who devoted himself to the peace between and in two peoples.
You said, “We, as the Patriarchate, will continue to pray for the fellowship of Turkey and Armenia”; how could you justify this statement of yours, given the fact that your addressee President Erdogan threatened the citizens of Armenia to send them back to Armenia two days ago? Doesn’t it trouble your conscience? Let us remind you those statements of the president, in case you have forgotten: “Currently, there are almost 100.000 Armenians in my country. Almost half of them are Turkish citizens. However, the other half are citizens of Armenia and we can send them back to Armenia, like Europe did.”
You said that you are aware of the fact that “some people are not happy with your stable attitude that you maintain by abiding the traditional way.” Honestly, we are having difficulty in understanding how forelock-tugging can be considered as an attitude.
The Armenian Genocide, as a crime against humanity, is a concern of the whole humanity. You said that you pray for the good of two peoples. The common future of those peoples would be possible only when an honorable reconciliation is achieved, because then, there won’t be this kind of oppression that caused you to deny even your own history.
Dear Mr. Archbishop,
Since you said “The role of German Reich is slid over by a few sentences,” we see that you have failed to comprehend the content of the resolution. Almost 80% of this resolution, which declares German Reich as the accomplice to the genocide, consists of Germany’s confrontation with its own history.
Let us continue: you said, “Using this tragedy that traumatized the Armenian nation in international politics causes sorrow and pain.” Indeed, the oppression that led you to write this letter causes sorrow and pain. Also, the sub- and supra-identities of the Armenian society in Turkey is not harmed by this resolution, but by your words. Above all, your words on “abuse of Armenian nation by imperialist powers” are recorded as an example to the denialist discourse; not by the ones who will take advantage of your usage of the official state discourse, but by your own people. In the near future, we will see who will appreciate your discourse with “enthusiastic applause.”
On this occasion, borrowing your style in your letter, we once again express our sorrow, uprising, and anger, and pray to God for you; may God bestow sense, intelligence, and comprehension on you.
We also pray to God for giving you a dignified attitude, which you obviously lack, since you said that “you pray to God for making the state dignitaries, who work for the good of people, succeed in their services” in a time when tens of people are being killed every day in a civil war.