Agos, May 31st, 2005

The dispute over history is considered to be the most significant obstacle in Turkey-Armenia relations, and seems - for now - unlikely to be a problem the two countries will strike a compromise over in the immediate future.

This is quite natural, because perceptions and discourses on both sides have reached a deadlock. Moreover, the real owners of history are not the two states… but the People.

Therefore, a solution by the Turkish and Armenian states regarding history would not mean that the Turks and the Armenians have reached a solution. Ultimately, even if states manage to reach a political compromise over history, the compromise between the two communities can not be simply achieved through political decisions. Moral and ethical relationships are necessary, and can only be produced over time.

The icebergs that exist between the two societies can only melt with the warmth of the relationships that will be formed.

Perceptions on both sides can only change in an environment of contact and dialogue. Therefore, ‘solving history’ is not actually a real concept, or a problem. There is nothing to be solved about history anyway… There is only a part of it that has to be understood. And understanding necessitates a process of learning, enlightenment and comprehension, spread out over time. It can never be achieved with save-the-day state decrees.

History is not a problem that needs solving, but an experience that has to be learned, perceived, comprehended and internalized. The essential point lies in Turkey becoming aware of its historical reality. And this can only be achieved through the development of the struggle for democracy in Turkey.

It is important to summarize the following truth once again:
The problem Turkey faces today is neither a problem of ‘denial’ or ‘acknowledgement.’
Turkey’s main problem is ‘comprehension.’
And for the process of comprehension, Turkey seriously needs an alternative study of history and for this, a democratic environment.
It is unfair, either through political pressure or laws, to impose denial or acknowledgement upon the individuals of a society who are in the middle of a process of comprehension.

Such a method would be the greatest blow inflicted on the process of comprehension. After all, denial or acknowledgement without comprehension benefits no one. The internal or external impositions of those who are either not aware of or prefer to turn a blind eye to this process of comprehension, extend the duration of the process rather than reducing it.

In the process we are going through, it is impossible to say that, those who expect Turkey to accept historical reality or impose denial on it are reading the current reality of Turkish society well.

After all, it is not that the society knows, or denies the truth; the society is defending the truth it knows. This society has shown difficulty in defining, naming and doing whatever else is necessary in legal terms regarding the ‘Susurluk Case’ or the unearthed ‘Hizbullah corpses’, events that have taken place only yesterday. So how is it to effortlessly and painlessly perceive and define a historical event of 90 years ago?

And especially after having been subjected to a bombardment of counter-information for so many years.

Yes, the complex relationship between history and contemporary politics stands before us once again.
We all accept the existence of a deadlock.
However, there is also the fact that in Turkish-Armenian relations today, we are in a state of confusion over where to find the lock and the key.

There is a dogged standstill between those who say, “Let us sort out history first and then establish relations,” and those who say, “Let us establish relations and leave the solution of history to the flow of relations.”

For one side, politics is the lock and history the key, and for the other history is the lock and politics the key. I am among those who believe politics is the key. And whatever the motivation, it is a fundamental duty that befalls all of us to unlock and transcend history.