Interviewer:    Russia, this is how I see, Russia might be sincere in it support for the reconciliation and its strategy might be to use improve relations with Turkey and to keep US, you and other extra-regional actors away from the south caucuses and I think and other, another motivation to isolate Georgia more. So that might, so Russia might be actually quite pragmatic in its support. Questions? Okay, we’ll have one more questions. Please.

Male Speaker:    I’m [IB], a former Armenian diplomat. Now, with global partners, do you consult a firm here in DC. Dr. Taspinar, thank you for your presentation, one of the most intellectually sound and strong articulations on the subject. In speaking about prime minister Erdogan’s thinking about the subject, you mention the dimensions that he’s thinking has evoked in relation to that psychological humanitarian and ideological dimensions and you noticed that missing from that list was the political dimension. I would like to ask if you could articulate what about the nation security dimension of this whole subject of Armenian and Turkish normalization since we all know if we’re interested in not finding out how realistic a progress is down the road. We know that it is interest rather than ideas that guide the actions of states and whether you would think, you would define national security, the national security rationale in terms of some sort of a composite measure of the three mentioned dimensions, psychological, ideological, humanitarian or there’s something more to it than the whole, the totality of those three? Thank you.

Interviewee:    Actually, I think the way Turkey approaches this question with Armenia, especially the 1915 and the US dimension is with the slogan, “Leave history to historians.” So there’s this historical dimension right that Turkey needs to emphasize and it should not be the job of politicians to judge history. And here, too, there’s a political dimension because if your slogan will be “Leave history to historian,” then one would assume that historians would be free to discuss freely these issues, that they should not, there should not be political or legal interference with conferences that talk about 1915. My experience is that last time there was a serious attempt to bring Armenia scholars, international scholars, Turkey scholars for a conference on what happened in 1915, the Ottoman and Armenians issue. The minister of interior, I think it was [IB] who was deputy prime minister basically used very strong narrative and said, “Those people are stabbing, those academics are stabbing the nation from the back, from behind.” So that tells you that if the political context is not there for freedom of speech, for democraty, for democracy, the narrative, the slogan “Leave history to historians” is hollow because you need to have the freedom to discuss these things. If you have article 301 which puts question people who basically signed these kind of petitions which apologize for the great catastrophe into legal problems, then the slogan of “Leave history to historians” needs to pass the test of whether historians and analysts are free to discuss what happened.

So there’s a political dimension to all these which would not be forgotten. Your question about national security dimension, I think that’s very much part of the Turkish trauma as well. It saddens me in a way to hear intelligent Turkish diplomats to argue that you know, if there is a genocide bill in the, in congress, if there is a nonbinding genocide resolution in the US congress, that would have major implications for international law that somehow there would be territorial and financial compensation demands coming from Armenia that Turkey would be in a very difficult situation if there is such a genocide passage in the US congress because it will basically create momentum for this discussion of genocide and the implications, the ramifications of being a country that has committed genocide in terms of the financial and territorial compensations. Here, it saddens me because it shows the lack of self confidence in Turkey. Is Turkey really concerned that a small country like Armenia or the Armenian diaspora can really do such serious damage to Turkey in terms of territorial and financial demands? I mean if we are dealing with this very strong Turkey, self-confidence narrative of basically being a strong country, a regional superpower in the region, why is Turkey so afraid? Genocide in itself would be a bad thing. I mean to basically, attaching the label of a country having committed genocide would be very difficult to swallow for Turkish pride but to constantly refer to the national security dimension of this issue, that there will be territorial demands coming from Armenia and from the Armenian diaspora and financial demands on the grounds that a similar model which was applied to the Holocaust would be applied to this, to me shows that there is this lack of confidence. Having said that, it would seriously help to diffuse such Turkish fears because Turks seriously believe that genocide recognition is just the first step of the process, that somehow and that brings the trauma dimension, somehow this will be the beginning of territorial disintegration. That if the Armenians want this, you end up with other minorities of Turkey who will also say, “Guess what, we were massacred too and we want our land.”