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Gerard J. Libaridian

TPQ Advisory Board member Gerard Libaridian responds to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s article, “Turkish Armenian Relations: Is a ‘Just Memory’ Possible?” which was published in TPQ’s Spring 2014 Issue.

Professor Libaridian writes as a historian and a former official negotiator for Turkish-Armenian relations. The author relates his critique of various dimensions of the Minister’s account, including the theoretical grounding of the argument and its application in the case of the Armenian people. According to Libaridian, the Minister's historical analysis sanctifies the Ottoman Empire and attempts at “engineering memory.”

We hope this commentary will help further an open and vibrant debate.

Commentary on FM Davutoğlu’s TPQ Article on the Armenian Issue

img2t is not often that a minister of foreign affairs of an important country who takes part in the formulation of policies and has the responsibility of implementing them will dare to reveal the logic behind his government’s policy on a sensitive matter. This is what Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu has done recently in his article, Turkish-Armenian Relations: Is a “Just Memory” Possible?

Thus, we are most thankful to Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu for this TPQ article discussing the reasoning behind the position of the Turkish government on what is referred to by some as “1915,” the “Armenian issue,” or by other euphemisms. The Minister’s article, along with the 23 April 2014 statement by Prime Minister Mr. Recep Erdoğan on the same subject and written in the same spirit, represent the thinking of the current Turkish government on how to deal with Turkish-Armenian relations, including what most experts know as the Genocide of the Armenians.

As was the case with the Prime Minister’s statement, I ardently wish to think that, above all, these documents constitute invitations for a public discussion of Turkey’s understanding of and policy on the issue; in a sense, a dialogue that may engage anyone who has an interest in the policy aspect or historical dimension of the issue. Giving the benefit of the doubt to Mr. Davutoğlu’s motivation in publishing his thoughts, I have taken the liberty of analyzing his text and pointing out some problem areas, which, I hope, the Minister will view as graciously as he is known to do when confronted with disagreements.

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For more on this debate: Professor Libaridian’s article “Erdoğan and His Armenian Problem” published in TPQ’s Spring 2013 issue.