It is really strange. The Armenian issue has become an issue in the run up to the Dutch elections. The two leading Dutch parties in the opinion polls have kicked out prospective Turkish MPs because they do not accept the Armenian claims are true. The candidates, one from the opposition Labor Party and two from the biggest coalition party - the Christian Democrat CDA - are Dutch/Turkish politicians who have worked for integration of the Turkish and Muslims in the country.
There are strong Armenian communities and lobbies in many countries including Armenia. Armenians are actually a nation of diaspora. The diaspora population of the Armenians is higher than the population of motherland. The diaspora Armenians are very keen on to make all world governments to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide. The Armenians believe in that the 1915 Events Under the Ottoman Rule was a genocide although even the term of ‘genocide’ was unknown at that time. Turkey has never accepted the Armenian claims and accused the Armenians of massacring more than 520.000 Muslim Ottoman citizens, namely Turkish and Kurdish people. Turkey’s so-called ‘deny’ made the nationalist Armenians crazy and they started a revenge campaign. The Armenian fanatics murdered many former Ottoman ministers after the First World War and made great pressure on the parliaments where they live in against the Turkish interests. In 1970s, the Armenian reaction against Turkey transformed into Armenian terrorism. ASALA and other Armenian terrorist organizations assassinated more than 40 Turkish diplomats and civilians. The Armenian terrorists made armed operations in many countries, including France, Greece, United States, United Kingdom, Austria, Spain, Iran, Switzerland etc. Many people were also wounded. The bombs were put in the Turkish bank branches, airway offices and embassies. The Armenian terrorist organizations were backed by the Communist intelligence services and Palestinian terrorist organizations. They were trained in Lebanon and Syria. The most dramatic fact for Turkey was that the military alliances in NATO, notably France and Greece, ignored the Armenian terrorists. The terrorists even found safe haven in Greece and Greek Cyprus.
When the terrorist attacks hit Western targets and killed some Western citizens, the United States and Western European states put great pressure on the Armenian groups and the Armenian terrorist organization strangely vanished. Some of the Turkish academicians argue that the Armenian groups handed their arms and terrorism facilities to the Kurdish separatist terrorist organization PKK. The PKK and ASALA made agreements in London and Beirut. The end of the terrorist attacks was actually a fresh start for the parliament lobbying for the Armenian communities. The Armenian Church and Armenian extremist groups aimed to persuade at least 100 foreign parliaments to recognize the Armenian historical claims as truth. The Armenian activists never applied a court for their cause although they claimed that more than 1,5 million Armenians were massacred by the Ottomans. Strangely the Armenian figure has changed a lot:
Some Armenian books claimed about 750.000 Armenians were killed, while some others were speaking about 1,5 million. Even some Armenian activists in Wales argued more than 2,5 million Armenians were slaughtered by the Turks. According to the Ottoman archives the total Armenian population was less than 1,5 million.
Armenians started campaigns and lobbied to issue Armenian bills against Turkey in almost all countries in the world. They focused on the North American and Western European parliaments. The Armenians hoped that if the West recognize the Armenian claims, they would force Turkey recognize the Armenian cause. But they were simply wrong. Turkey has never been persuaded in any issue like this. How Armenians harmed Turkish interests abroad, Turkey became more hostile towards the Armenians. The Armenian attacks abroad made the Turkish people crazy.
Netherlands was not an exception. The Armenian lobbying has always been strong in this country. Armenian community concentrated in Amsterdam during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the Armenian Dutch citizens became very influential despite their relatively small population. The exact number of Armenians in the country now is unknown, but it is unofficially estimated that about 4,000 to 6,000 Armenians live in the Netherlands. However the Armenian influence on Dutch politics is still strong, particularly on the Turkish issues. One of the reasons for this is the Armenian global solidarity. The Armenian lobbying parties in Western Europe unite in each cases and make lobbies. For example, about 300.000 Armenians live in France and they have MPs, businessmen, authors etc. in France and all these strong people join in any lobbying activities in EU countries. Thus the Armenian cause become strong in the countries where the Armenian population is really small, like United Kingdom, Netherlands and Belgium. Second reason is the strong anti-Turkish circles in these countries. Many in the Netherlands believe that the Turkish people are not European and Turkey’s EU membership must be prevented. The EU summits however confirmed that Turkey’s EU membership cannot be stopped in terms of economic and political criteria. Turkish economy is better than Bulgaria’s, Romania’s, even some of the EU members right now. Under these circumstances, the Armenian issue with the Cyprus issue provide perfect tools to keep the Turks outside. Third, there are traditional anti-Turkey groups in the Western European countries like the Greeks, Greek Cypriots, racist and religionist European groups, Marxist Turks and PKK supporters. All are natural partners for the Armenian lobbying groups against Turkey. None of these groups lose any opportunity in damaging Turkish interests in Europe. Thus an anti-Turkish coalition emerged, and when the Armenians attempted to push the Dutch or any other parliament to accept the Armenian claims as truth, all the mentioned anti-Turkey groups unite behind the Armenians. It was the case when the Dutch Parliament accepted the Armenian 1915 allegations. The Dutch Parliament adopted a resolution recognizing the 1915 events as genocide in 2004. According to the accepted resolution the Dutch government had to push for recognition of the so-called genocide as part of the negotiations for Turkey’s desired accession to the EU. Tineke Huizinga from the Christian explains the official Dutch position:
"More than one and a half million people were murdered during the time of World War I by Turkey and this was a genocide and you can absolutely compare this with the Holocaust."
It is really strange and non-based because there was no country named Turkey in 1915. Turkey was established in 1923. The country at that time on Anatolian territory was the Ottoman Empire. Dutch politicians compare the 1915 Events with the Holocaust but Israel reject any comparison between Holocaust and 1915 Events. The following quotation from a Nobel Prize winning Israeli statesman, Shimon Peres, closes the discussion:
“We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred. It is a tragedy what the Armenians went through but not a genocide... Israel should not determine a historical or philosophical position on the Armenian issue. If we have to determine a position, it should be done with great care not to distort the historical realities.” (Peres: Armenian Allegations are Meaningless’, Turkish Daily News, 10 April 2001; Haig Boyadjian, ‘Peres Claims Armenians Did Not Experience Genocide’, Asbarez, 10 April 2001).
Turkey has rejected all accusations and blamed the Dutch politicians of undermining Turkish-Armenian reconciliation. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan call the Armenian side to establish a joint commission to discuss the historical disputes instead of foreign involvements. However the Armenians rejected all good will offers and continued to their anti-Turkish efforts in the Western parliaments. Strangely Armenia does not recognize Turkey’s eastern borders despite the written agreements, like Kars Agreement. Second, Armenia has occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan and about 1 million Azeris have been refugees since the occupation. The genocide-like massacres in Hocali town (Azerbaijan) was pictured and documented well by the Western media. However none of the European or North American Parliaments mentioned all these issues but discussed the disputes happened almost a century ago. I personally do not believe that the Western parliaments love the Armenians and give great importance to history. If so, they should first recognize the Algerian genocide committed by France after the Second World War. Genocides committed by the Belgium, Germans or Russians should have been on the list. If these parliaments give so importance to the massacres and genocides, they should have mention the war crimes and massacres committed by the Armenians during the Ottoman time, after the First World War and Karabakh War. All of us know that all these things are dirty politics. The Armenian issue is being abused, and the Armenians are happy with abused by the Western politicians.
DUTCH POLITICAL PARTIES AND RACIST DISCRIMINATION
Armenians saw the Ducth elections as another opportunity to raise their arguments and to harm the Turkish interests in this country in 2006. It made the headlines after questions were raised by the Armenian community in the Netherlands when the names of the candidates were made public on the party lists for the November elections, and a heated discussion soon followed.
The Turkish-Dutch candidates in question had clearly stated in the past that, in their view, the 1915 events were not genocide but communal calashes. They said the so-called genocide not taken place. This view is contrary to the official policy of some of the Dutch political parties.
It was a clash with this position that brought the CDA candidates Ayhan Tonca, Osman Elamci and Labour Party candidate Erdinc Sacan into problems with their parties. Ayhan Tonca has constantly denied the genocide occurred: "The genocide that people talk about never took place" he said.
Although Mr. Tonca doesn’t deny that hundreds of thousands of people died, he argues that there needs to be further investigation to see if the killings were consciously carried out by the Ottoman government at that time. Many Turkish people and even the current Turkish Government think in this way. Turkey accepts that thousands of people were killed and died during the 1915 Relocation. Turkey says that it was difficult times, and the war circumstances with poor economic conditions caused epidemics and famines in Anatolia. According to the Turkish historians many Armenians died due to the famine, bad weather conditions, epidemics and lack of health etc. facilities. Turks also accept that many more Armenians were killed by the armed gangs, mostly Kurdish. The previous Armenian attacks against the Kurdish tribes caused revenge attacks and some Kurdish gangs also attacked the Armenian immigrants hoping to get their valuables. What is obvious that the Ottoman soldiers could not protect the Armenian civilians and thousands of Armenians were killed or died due to the ‘natural reasons’.
Turkish candidates explanation was not in line with the CDA’s and Labour Party’s official policy, and events that followed the initial uproar made things even harder for the CDA to accept. As a matter of fact that these Turkish candidates do not accept some other CDA policies, like Turkey’s full EU membership. The Armenian and anti-Turkey lobbies’ pressure left the CDA with little choice but to remove them from the list of candidates. The Dutch Labour Party decided to scrap its candidate from the list after the Turkish-Dutch candidate refused to stand by the so-called official party policy recognizing the Armenian claims. According to the candidates removed from the list, this was unacceptable, because the political parties are known as the symbol of different ideas and freedom of speech. If a politician cannot think in different ways in political parties, where does he/she can do so?
The Netherlands has been known for its liberal laws and political system. Dutch even allow paedophile group. A Dutch court turned down a request to ban a political party (the Brotherly Love, Freedom and Diversity Party, PNVD) with a paedophile agenda. Dutch PNVD seeks to lower the age of sexual consent from 16 to 12 and legalize child pornography and sex with animals. "Freedom of expression...including the freedom to set up a political party can be seen as the basis for a democratic society," Judge Hofhuis told the journalist after the verdict.
As a result, you can defend child pornography and sex with animals in the Netherlands but you cannot have different opinion on Armenian issue.
If you are Turkish you have to obey what the imposed on you. Shut up, and accept it!
You have no choice but recognition of what you did not commit.
Thanks God, the Netherlands is a liberal and democratic country.
28 September 2006
Sedat Laciner is the Director of the Ankara-based think tank U.S.A.K. (I.S.R.O.) and Davos Economic Forum Young Global Leader 2006