Sunday, April 12, 2009

History is not legislated in a democracy. History is written by historians.

I wrote those words to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell before he addressed the legislature of the State of Maryland in 2001, when it was contemplating a resolution condemning Turkey for "genocide" of Armenians in the 1920's. He used those words in his speech to the legislature.

In 2006, I shared those words in e-mail with then-Turkish Ambassador to the US, Osman Faruk Logoglu and I shared these words in e-mail with then-Foreign Minister of Turkey, Abdullah Gul. These men used these words.

Turkey continues to use these words and this wisdom. As I write this, this wisdom seems to have become the keystone in a renewal of relations between Armenia and Turkey. There have been accusations of forged documents, as the venue of the debate has moved to historical research, but this represents enormous progress.

At this point, the loser seems to be Azerbaijan, whose province of Ngorno-Karabagh has been occupied by Armenia for fifteen years. Turkey's solidarity with Turkic and Turkish-speaking Azerbaijan has been affected by the possibility of resolving the issue of Turkish and Armenian war-deaths in the 1920's. This is an example of The Law of Unintended Consequences.


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