They wanted their own state, just like the Greeks, Serbs and Bulgarians, but they were a century too late. It was only a matter of time before Turkish nationalism and such Armenian national aspirations were to confront each other. What followed is tragic. Armenian nationalism begot to Turkish wrath, Turkish anger. More than a million Armenians were wiped out from their territories. The majority were massacred during deportations. Once the empire was gone, Turkey embarked on the most radical westernization program the Islamic world ever witnessed. And I argue here that Turks are still not accepted as a western country by the European union or the west in general because of this Orientalist approach that they’re Muslim but they also have basically the burden of history and the Armenian issue is part of the reason why there is this prejudice towards Turkey that basically this is a country that has not come to terms with its history. In that sense, the Turkish trauma is very much there, alive, there is a kind of inferiority complex towards the west, there is an attempt to emulate the west but there’s also distrust towards the west because there’s this feeling that the west played a major role in terms of inciting internal ethnic minorities of the Ottoman empire to their own nationalist project. The Russians supported Greek and Armenian nationalisms, the Brits supported basically Arab nationalism, the French supported the Catholic communities of the Ottoman empire. So there’s this distrust of the west in Turkey which creates this trauma, which is the most visible today in the Kurdish question. If you want to understand Turkish situation today, the Turkish political context today, you also have to refer to this Turkish trauma and the way Turkey looks at the west, wants to emulate the west, wants to be part of the west in many ways. So the Armenian trauma is very much based on the genocide as I said and as if this was not enough, you have the additional trauma of the region.
There’s a more recent trauma that we’re dealing with and that needs to be addressed as well in the context of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan too is a traumatized nation. Azerbaijan too had basically some share of this traumatized context and it’s a more recent trauma in many ways based on the loss of Nagorno-Karabakh. A defeat, a narrative of victimization, a narrative of basically we have lost our land and we are the victims of this and this is not just, this is unjust and in that sense, the external dimension, the external dynamics in this Turkish-Armenian process are very important, especially given the fact that one of the reasons why Turkey is unable to go forward and ratify the two protocols that I’m about to, protocols that are supposed to open the border and are supposed to start diplomatic relations is based on the fact that Turkey has decided that Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan should be part of almost a precondition that the withdrawal of Armenian troops from some regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh is a precondition. So the Azeri trauma is also now part of this Turkish and Armenian trauma and it’s only complicating matters. To basically give you a context of the Turkish political situation today and why we are at a very difficult conjuncture, I think things would have been much more easier in terms of ratifying the protocols for Turkey had AK Party had been strong at home.
If AK Party was strong at home today, it could have taken risks, it could have easily said, “Okay I will bring the protocols to the parliament without putting a precondition such as Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan.” Why is AK Party not able to do that? Because AK Party I think has already lost a lot of political capital and here, we need to understand that the inter-linkage between the Kurdish opening and the Armenian opening. The Kurdish opening, the so called Kurdish opening which was about democratization ended with total failure. We’re not sure if the Armenia opening will end up with total failure but we can already say that the Kurdish opening ended with failure because basically there is this sense in AK Party today that the amnesty proposal and the return of PKK militants which were greeted as heroes by Kurdish families at the border basically brought back this memory of this fear of disintegration in Turkey. There is this fear that Kurdish basically have their nationalist project that they want to establish their own state, which is not very different than the perception that the unionist had about the Armenian issue. Armenians want their own state and that they will rebel again, that they are about to rebel against it, against the state.