Roundtable Meeting on Turkey’s Confrontation with Her Past, Democratization and Armenian Demands

Association for Liberal Thinking (ALT) hosted a roundtable meeting on February 17, 2014, with two representatives of National Congress of Western Armenians (NCWA) in Ankara at our premises. The meeting was held to exchange ideas with a small group of opinion leaders from academy, media, bureaucracy, politics and law.

NCWA Vice Chairman Garen Mikaelyan and Executive Member Sevag Artsuni introduced their initiatives and explained their ongoing attempt which aims to discuss the Armenian related matters in a considerate manner based on dialog. Instead of an irreconcilable approach with macro demands, they emphasized that they believed in the significance of the establishment of a peaceful process including both civil society and the government.

NCWA representatives pointed out that members of the initiative are the grandchildren of Ottomans; thus, they wish their demands to be considered as a part of Turkey’s democratization agenda and not to be seen as a foreign policy, but as a domestic issue. They also stated that they follow up Turkey’s grand steps towards democratization and rule of law, with the emphasis on significance of the Reconciliation Process in Turkey and stressed that the Armenian issue has to be dealt as a normalization process just like the Kurdish matters.

Other participants, meanwhile, analyzed Turkey’s political and social conditions, democratization process and the experience of confrontation with her past and resolution of the issues. Besides, social perception on Armenian issue was discussed. Another discussion topic was raised who the correspondent would be in the resolution of the issue. Representatives of NCWA emphasized that there are more than 7 million Anatolian Armenians living in various countries, who are not citizens of Armenian state. Also, they put that in the resolution process, Armenian state with her 2.5 million Armenian population is not the only and the actual correspondent. However, some participants remarked that recognizing the Armenian state as a correspondent would develop political, social, cultural, economic and commercial relations and contribute to the resolution of problems, along with cooperating with civil society.

Finally, it is acknowledged that during the advancement of freedom, justice and peace in Turkey, along with various political and social steps, for those who stay distant, it is crucial to come across and get to know each other to recover from common psychological and emotional prejudices. It is noted that the Armenian issue should be regarded within the democratization process; and returning the citizenships of the deported Anatolian Armenians should be raised as one of the priorities. Meanwhile, civil actors should make efforts to push governments open up the Turkish-Armenian border to promote trade, cooperation, prosperity and peace. Finally, as stated by all participants it is quite crucial that constructive circles should encourage various collaborations in the near future.

Representatives of Western Armenians in Turkey - Orhan MiroğluToday's Zaman

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