The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution on March 5 publicly acknowledging and condemning Turkey’s Ottoman army for their role in the Armenian Genocide almost 100 years ago.  According to New York Times reporters Sebnem Arsu and Brian Knowlton, “Turkey reacted sharply, recalling its ambassador to Washington, Namik Tan, in a display of annoyance.  Turkey is a critical United States ally in NATO, but the question of Armenian genocide taps deep veins of national pride.”  Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the reporters, “Each interference by a third party will make this normalization impossible.”  See “Turkey Criticizes Committee Vote on Armenian Killings.

With all due respect to Minister Davutoglu because I know he means well, the U.S. government acknowledging the Armenian Genocide will not harm Turkey-Armenian relations and it should not add strain to Turkey’s relationship with the United States.

Minister Davutoglu doesn’t understand what mediators know to be true:  There are different levels of defining peace.  While many people, Americans mostly, define peace as a state of bliss where everything around us is good and everyone around us gets along, others, notably people in war torn countries, consider peace to be an absence of active war.

Mediators define peace (we call it “success”) differently, too.   One way is compromise that avoids expensive litigation through settlement, but doesn’t necessarily resolve the conflict.  The parties may still walk away believing their opponents are the enemies who intentionally injured them.  If the relationship continues, as it often must, the unaddressed, underlying conflicts resurface and manifest in a new dispute.  Take neighbors, for example, who dispute property lines or encroaching tree limbs.  Once the survey is done and the tree is trimmed, that immediate dispute is settled.  But unless the animosity and bad feelings between them are addressed, and the underlying conflict resolved for good, new disputes will likely erupt in a few months over parked cars, fertilized lawns, noise, lights or any other lever disgruntled neighbors can find to fight about.  That’s how unresolved, underlying conflict continues.

Turkey and Armenia are neighbors who will never have true peace until the travesties of the past are acknowledged, discussed and artfully apologized for.  My “Talk It Over” co-host Louise “Weezy” Palanker puts it this way:  Don’t just say “I’m sorry,” (or worse, “I’m sorry you feel that way”), you have to also say, “can you ever forgive me?” and “what can I do to make it up to you?”  The transgressor who asks these questions is taking responsibility for his or her actions and attempting to make things right.

Minister Davutoglu seems to believe that silence and a lack of unrest indicate that all is well when it fact, Armenians are merely tolerating the current situation while still holding a vey deep grudge, resulting in an unresolved underlying conflict.  Real peace between Turkey and Armenia will be achieved once Minister Davutoglu or another high-ranking Turkish leader delivers a public acknowledgement, complete with a responsible apology, and asks the “what can we do to make things right?” question.  Then, and only then, can discussions about forgiveness and peace begin.  And perhaps then, the world will have one fewer ticking time bomb ready to explode in that part of the world.  Permanently.


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19 Responses to “True Turkey-Armenian Peace Will Come Through Real Apology”

  1. Lee Jay Berman's EYE ON CONFLICT » Blog Archive » True Turkey … | Turkey Live Says:

    […] See original here:  Lee Jay Berman's EYE ON CONFLICT » Blog Archive » True Turkey … […]

  2. Kylie Batt Says:

    Прошу прощения, это не совсем то, что мне нужно….

    Minister Davutoglu doesn’t understand what mediators know to be true: There are different levels of defining peace…..

  3. Lee Jay Berman Says:


  4. Lee Jay Berman Says:

    from Louis Coffee via Linked In:

    First question is who needs to apologize to whom? Perhaps all involved, both directly and indirectly. Second question, or perhaps simultaneos questions, for what and how far back to go.

  5. Lee Jay Berman Says:

    from Rose Nazarian via Linked in:

    If you were educated on this topic, you would not have asked such questions! Turks killed 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. Who do you think needs to apologize? Armenians were the first nation who accepted Christianity as a national religion in 301 A.D. Turkey being a Muslim country did not like Armenians, so they systematically killed 1.5 million Armenians (please do some research). As a result, Armenians lost their land. When people go to Turkey and say it is such a beautiful country, they do not know that part of Turkey was old Armenia and most of architectural influence in Turkey is due to Armenian architects.

    How far back? If someone or in this case a nation is still hurting as far back as the harm was done. Lastly, this is not an Armenian issue, this is a human issue. If Turkey truly accepts and apologizes for what they have done to Armenians, they are apologizing to humanity in general. This will help humanity to come together and know that we cannot hurt and harm others and walk away just because it happened in 1915. If Armenians are still hurting, which they do, Turkey must express apology. Turks are being arrogant by not wanting to own up to what they have done.

    If Lee Jay is willing to mediate this matter, I will be more than happy to join him as an Armenian mediator and help him to resolve this matter. Additional point, the holocaust would not have happened if Turkey owned up their action before WWII. Find out what Hitler said when he was asked what would the world do if we kill Jews?

  6. Martin Kotowski Says:

    Being of German origin with a Polish name, I like to think that I am living proof that sometimes the Germans and the Poles got along far better than either nation cares to admit. And I have stories from my family history that also prove that. But I also know from that background that the gap between peoples that have engaged in existential combat in recent history is very difficult to bridge. I had a very cordial Internet relationship with a Polish student who broke that relationship off abruptly when he learned I was of German origin. My Polish friend was living in that part of today’s Poland that used to be German territory but was given to Poland by Stalin after WWII as compensation for the half of Poland Stalin annexed to the Soviet Union, which has never been given back to Poland.

    I think my Polish friend had difficulty relating because he was living in a university town where all the old buildings were of German construction, a constant reminder to him that where he was living had never been Polish until very recently.

    But returning annexed German territory to Germany, and annexed Polish territory to Poland, is simply not an option. These territories are now inhabited by Poles, or by Russians and Ukranian s, respectively. It would take as great an upheaval as WWII to dislocate all these people all over again. I don’t want that. I want the prosperity of the Polish people, the Russian people, the Ukranian people, and, yes, the German people. Fortunately, those nations now have a new paradigm in which they can pursue all those goals without contradiction – the paradigm of a peaceful, united Europe. This is not easy, but we all need something to challenge us. By the way, within the united Europe as it exists today, peaceful does not mean lack of competition between its member nations. Just as California competes with Texas for jobs, such competition goes on there as well.

    Armenia has a similar grievance as Poland has in terms of stolen territory, except it was not compensated with territory from a defeated enemy as Poland was. But the same principles still hold: to turn back the clock and readjust the borders involves a huge appeaval that risks the original conflict all over again. The solution must be one that fervently seeks the prosperity of the Armenian people, but does so in a forwardlooking way, not a backwardlooking way. And time has been the healer. I as a German can say the German rape of Poland in 1939 -1940 was a terrible evil – but as someone who was born after the war I bear no personal responsibility, I simply acknowledge the truth. Do I bear some inherited guilt for which I should apologize?

    Since I also have been an American for most of my life, my American identity as an individualist says I have no personal guilt – I don’t apologize. As a Catholic christian, however, I have also been given the Hebrew bible as a scripture. That bible says that the sins of the fathers are passed on for generations to come. I am sure that you can see that in my identity as a German I very much feel that the sins of my father’s generation was passed on to me, and to my generation’s children and grandchildren, even though we bear absolutely no personal responsibility.

    The real question is how we deal with that passed on baggage. We can deal with it intelligently and compassionately, acknowledging and condemning the wrong, and look to a better future. Or we can bind ourselves in a bad past and pledge ourselves to relive it.

    The choice is obvious, once you really think through it.

  7. Lee Jay Berman Says:

    from Sam Kessler via Linked In:

    How severe would the legal and financial implications be if the Turkish government ends up officially acknowledging its role in the Armenian massacre? I imagine that survivors and descendants might seek compensation just as other groups and minorities have done in the past. It might be a main issue or one of many issues that prevent their acknowledgement. I’m sure the political and economic environment of the country and the world for that matter would be determining factors too.

  8. emmy Godwin Says:

    Hi Jay.
    I always enjoy reading from you. But on the issue of Turkey and Armenia I might not agree with you if you will not define what you mean by “real apology”. Secondly do you believe making apologies begets forgiveness? Personally I dont believe it though apology could be one of the required steps towards peaceful relationship.
    Remain blessed Jay.
    emmy Godwin
    Mediator from Poland

  9. Jobeth Williams Says:

    Now we know who the sensbile one is here. Great post!

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