Turkey Lashes Out at U.S. Lawmakers for Armenian ‘Genocide’ Measure

Mark R. Parris
Mark R. Parris Former Brookings Expert

October 11, 2007

MARGARET WARNER, host: Mr. Ambassador, why has Turkey reacted so sharply to this resolution, which, as the congressman says, was not aimed at what Turkey is today, modern Turkey, which wasn’t even a country then?

MARK PARRIS, Former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey: I think, inevitably, criticism is in the eyes of the beholder. And you visited Turkey. You visited Turkey, as well. I don’t think that anybody who’s ever visited Turkey can be in any doubt that Turks, at all levels, of all levels of education and all parts of the country, view this kind of a resolution as criticism and, frankly, as interference in their own responsibility for coming to terms with their own history.

There are a lot of Turks who recognize and, frankly, admit — and use words like “genocide” — that this is a part of their history that they’ve got to come to terms with. I don’t know any of them who believe that this will assist that discussion going forward or make it easier for them to deal with neighboring Armenia.

All of them believe this will be a major setback, because it is perceived as a major insult to Turkish credibility, honor by a long-standing ally. So why do they feel this way? They’re human beings; they know something terrible happened.

At some level, I’m sure that they’ve recognized that that’s going to have to be dealt with. But they don’t appreciate third parties coming in and legislating the means by which they should reconcile themselves with their own history and with their neighbors.

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