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Armenian massacre happened long before the establishment of Turkish republic.

Can't Turkey just say that, "Yes, it happened. But since the Ottoman emperor Abdul Hamid is responsible for that, Turkey has nothing to do with it."?

What is the problem if Turkey admits that the genocide really took place?

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Republic of Turkey is the successor of the Ottoman Empire. –  quant_dev Jul 24 '12 at 16:40
This seems rather more a political question than historical... –  Bryce Jul 25 '12 at 3:33
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1 Answer

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Please note that Abdülhamid II was long gone when World War I broke out. You might blame him for the 1895-6 massacres or the 1909 Adana massacre, but he wasn't responsible for what happened during the World War. It wasn't even the ruling Sultan, but rather the nationalist Young Turks who orchestrated Ottoman involvement in the war and organised the cleansing of Anatolia.

Turkey is afraid of a few things:

  • reparations (monetary or territorial)
  • many of the statesmen involved with the establishment of the Turkish Republic were involved with the Armenian massacres
  • massacres and expulsions continued after the establishment of the Republic
  • damage to national pride and standing in the world
  • possible resettlement of an ethnic minority in modern Turkey

Furthermore, it doesn't stand to gain much from admitting to the genocide, so there is little motivation for Turkey to change its stance. It would also be impossible for any politician with ambitions to be elected (outside of a few Kurdish areas) to acknowledge the genocide.

Frankly, the denialist mentality has been so engrained in the national psyche that even if none of those points above existed, it would be difficult for Turkey to engage in a dialogue about what happened to the Armenians, Greeks and Syriac Christians during the War.

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Bullet #2 is quite important - Ataturk would be implicated. –  DVK Jul 24 '12 at 19:04
I may make an answer of this later, but for now I'd point out that there's really nothing unique to Turkey about this. As a Tulsan, this answer could easily be a good answer to "What would have been the problem if Tulsa admitted its 1921 Race War?" if you'd changed a few select words. When I was a kid, they would not allow documentaries on it to be shown on local TV. If anything, Germany is rather unique in the world in (mostly) owning up to their atrocities. –  T.E.D. Jul 24 '12 at 19:27
@DVK Atatürk is not usually himself implicated, but he was part of the same military elite as the Young Turk generals. –  SigueSigueBen Jul 25 '12 at 0:40
@T.E.D. - are you seriously equating Nazis and Tulsa Race War? (and yes, I know very well what the latter is - and don't intend to imply it was anything but evil) –  DVK Jul 25 '12 at 2:33
...if you don't compare, then the temptation is to say "That's something those people did", and pretend it could never ever happen where you live. To me, that's little better than the perpetrators' denialisim. –  T.E.D. Jul 25 '12 at 13:51
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