Turkey must accept the inevitable, said Semih Idiz in the Istanbul Milliyet. A committee of the U.S. House of Representatives last week passed a resolution labeling the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I as “genocide.” The resolution will soon go before the full House, where it has enough co-sponsors to all but guarantee passage. Never mind that historians can’t agree on just how many Armenians died during that chaotic period as the Ottoman Empire was collapsing—estimates range from 300,000 to more than 1 million. Never mind that nobody can prove how many Armenians were civilians and how many were fighting with the Russians against the Turks. And never mind that the Bush administration is firmly opposed to this pointless exercise in pious condemnation of a NATO ally for actions allegedly committed nearly 100 years ago. The powerful Armenian lobby in the U.S. has prevailed. Ties between the U.S. and Turkey are now “frayed and nearing the breaking point.”
This isn’t just a war of words, said historian Kemal Cicek in the Istanbul Today’s Zaman. The proposed House resolution holds Turkey directly responsible for “the so-called genocide.” If passed, it ill “open the door for demands of compensation and reparations” by families of Armenians who died in 1915—even though the Turkish state didn’t yet exist at that time. As millions of ethnic Armenians claim to be descended from “massacre” victims, the sums could be enormous. And it’s no coincidence that the most active of these rmenian descendents live in the U.S., not Armenia or Turkey. It’s time to play hardball. To counter the influence of the Armenian diaspora, Turkey should start deporting illegal Armenian workers and enacting new trade restrictions against Armenia. Perhaps such measures would cause Armenians to denounce the U.S.-based expatriates that pretend to speak on their behalf.
There is one way to make the U.S. regret its meddling, said the Istanbul Hurriyet in an editorial. For starters, we could restrict U.S. access to our Incirlik military base. Nearly threequarters of fuel and supplies for the U.S. forces in Iraq are routed through Incirlik. It would be both costly and politically difficult for the U.S. if the Pentagon were forced to find a new supply route through Jordan or Kuwait. Reacting with pique just makes Turkey look bad, said MehmetAli Birand in the Ankara Turkish Daily News. Simply repeating "There was no genocide” and retaliating against countries that say otherwise has won us no friends. It’s time to take a different tack. “We must bring out the truth about what really happened and refrain from hiding anything.” Open our archives to inspection by foreign historians. Repeal the law that forbids writers from labeling the killings genocide, while at the same time “replace the term ‘genocide’ with a new word or a sentence that really qualifies the events and insist on using it.” If we can do all that, our international credibility will rise. If we can’t, we will be forever marked as perpetrators of genocide.