Armenian News-NEWS.am? presents an article on Armenia genocide by Cecilie Banke? posted in the Copenhagen Post? with some extractions.
Machiavelli once wrote that you can conquer a people, but you cannot conquer their memories. He concluded as suppressed memories will only have a way of cropping up whenever they get the chance. There can hardly be a better modern example of this than the massacre of the Armenians during the First World War. Even though over 90 years have passed since Armenians living in the former Ottoman Empire were forcibly deported, and even though the memory of what happened was first suppressed and then later neglected, the past two decades have seen increasing international focus on what happened.
The Danish Royal Library was recently criticized from both sides for its decision to organize an exhibition about the Armenian Genocide.
First, the Turkish Embassy criticized them. Then, when the library decided to allow the Turks to present their side of the story, the Armenian side protested. The decision was seen as kowtowing to Turkey and continuing the denial policy.
The question of the Armenian genocide has become a part of the global culture of memory, which over the past two decades has come to play an increasingly significant role in inter-state relations.
The scandal over the Royal Library?ˆ™s exhibition shows how even a small country like Denmark can get caught up in other countries?ˆ™ conflicts over how a specific period of history should be interpreted.
It is actions like these that Armenian interest groups, as well as historians and other scholars, say constitute a Turkish attempt to downplay the brutal deportation of Armenians and other Christian groups. As Taner Akcam, a Turkish historian wrote in the? New York Times? recently: "Turkey?ˆ™s attitude towards the Armenians sends a worrying signal to the Christian minority in the region. In such an interpretation, responsibility for preserving not just Turkey?ˆ™s modern history, but also its Ottoman history, needs to be seen in terms of overarching questions of security, stability and democracy in a region where continued denial of past transgressions only adds to tensions between ethnic and religious groups."
Nowadays, we expect that a state admits its guilt, atones for its transgressions and compensates its victims. This is exactly what Turkey is fighting against. Turkey does not believe it is responsible for crimes committed by the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.
However, letting Turkey present its version of the massacre of the Armenians will not contribute to the process being carried out by European and American historians to draw up a modern picture of the Armenian Genocide.
Memory is the way we recall what happened in the past. History is what makes us wiser about it.