Episode 69 – Viennese Armenian Turkish Platform

The Defeat of Armenian Documents In Epsiode 68, we covered how the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission efforts to launch a dialogue between Yerevan and Ankara that started in 2001 failed two years later, in 2003. The TARC process had to be stopped as Armenian ultra-nationalist groups like ANCA have never welcomed the reconciliation process. This experiment had inspired the formation of a new platform in 2003: The Viennese Armenian Turkish platform, or VAT for short. VAT’s goal was to mediate between Armenian and Turkish historians to scholarly discuss the Turkish Armenian question concerning the 1915 events. As an Austrian initiative, VAT served from two 2003 to 2005 as an intermediary, providing a platform on equal terms. The Turkish Historical Society and the Armenian Academy of Sciences accepted this challenge and agreed to limit their scope of work to the years 1914-1919. There is an enormous body of confusing international literature on what had transpired before, during and after World War One. The state of the art is controversial, polarized, and politicized. As a final outcome, a “common handbook” was to be published giving both sides equal opportunity to present their views on this sensitive historical matter. VAT invited both Turkish and Armenian historians to deliver by July 15, 2004, 100 documents that best explained their understanding of 1915 events and validated their position. Turkish historians fielded a formidable array of documents from many sources (Austrian, German, British, French, Russian) while the Armenians limited themselves to the Austro-Hungarian diplomatic communications. The differences were stark. While the Turks were proving that the Armenians terrorized the Ottoman countryside and waged numerous massive bloody revolts during a war of survival for the Ottoman Empire, Armenians generally stuck to repeating Armenian suffering, but saying nothing about the Armenian complicity that caused it. This may explain why Armenians never dared to take Turkiye to the International Court of Justice to have their baseless claim of genocide scrutinized and proven. With such poor documentation, they know they are bound to lose, like they lost at the European Court of Human Rights in 2015, French Constitutional Court in 2012, and the US Federal Court numerous times in the last 20 years. This may also explain why the Armenians failed to open their archives in Erivan, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Boston, Paris and elsewhere. The smoking guns of all Armenians hate crimes and war crimes are in those archives. Back to VAT. The Turkish media rejoiced. News and commentaries proudly expressed how Turks decisively won the document battle and the Armenian side lost. The Armenian members of VAT used the Turkish-media’s delighting in success as an excuse to abandon the table. Turkish position has always been to establish a joint, blue-ribbon historians commission to research all the relevant archives on the Armenian claims. It was first voiced in 2005 in the Turkish Grand National Assembly. Armenia rejected Turkiye’s joint study offer. Then on February 12, 2008, at the 44th annual Munich Security Conference, the Turkish PM Erdogan verbally repeated the Turkish offer of establishing a joint investigation committee of historians, looking directly at the Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanian’s face. Again, Armenians rejected the Turkish proposal. VAT gave both sides until the end of the 2005 to study the 100 documents submitted by the opposing side. Then each side was supposed to come back with 80 more documents in response. The document pool would be locked after that, and all the round-table discussions would focus on that pool. The Turkish members of VAT, Prof. Halaçoğlu and Prof. Özdemir had accepted to participate but cancellations came from VAT’s Armenian members, namely Prof. Barseghian and Prof. Melkonian. “The First Viennese Armenian-Turkish Round Table”, thus unfortunately never materialized. The first batch of documents, already exchanged, were published in abook by Inanc Atilgan and Garabet Moumdjian and it will serve as primary sources for the international community. There are 179 archival documents from Turkish, American, German, French and Austrian archives: 99 from the Turkish side and 80 from the Armenian side, all from the 1914-1919 period, covering the First World War. The Armenian scholars submitted only the Austro-Hungarian diplomatic communications describing the Ottoman policy towards the Armenians during the WWI. The Turkish side presented 99 powerful and precise documents from many countries leaving no room for imagination. The scope and depths of the Turkish documents presented a rich picture of the events, documenting Armenian revolts, treason, war crimes, and Armenian hate crimes.

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