“Statements about opening the Ottoman archives are not new. For years, especially since 1987-88 Turkey has constantly been stating about readiness to open the archives to show what they call facts proving their stance,” expert in Turkish studies Anush Hovhannisyan told Panorama.am when asked to comment on the rationale behind the recent call by Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu to open the archives.
To remind, Cavusoglu stated days ago that if Armenia was confident [in
its approach] then could accept the proposal on setting up a joint
working group to involve also France, Russia. USA. In the ministers’
words, Armenia could even suggest any party to join the working group
and open the archives.
Hovhannisyan first questioned the FM’s statement. “What does it mean to open the archives? Turkish archives have been filtered before they are open. There are numerous evidences proving that with many scientists and researchers who had worked in those archives and voiced certain documents were missing. I myself had a chance to visit the Ottoman archives of the Prime Minister. It contained rich materials about the number of population, the economic situation. However, the documents related to the Armenian Genocide are not there. They will never open military archives, including the archives of secret services,” said our interlocutor.
The expert recalled the fact that Talat Pasha and the officers under his command had burned all documentation of the general directives regarding the Armenian Genocide before leaving the Ottoman Empire and took some materials to unknown directions.
“That is to say the statements of the Turkish side are aimed at certain circles who are not quite familiar with the issue. Those statements are populist in nature,” said the turkologyst, adding, the archive of Armenia however, is open for Turkish colleagues.
“I am engaged with the issue of confiscation of the Armenian property in Turkey and quite interested in Turkish land registry and cadaster archives. It is known that in 2005 the digitization of the documents in that archive started and the archive director wrote letter to the head of Turkey’s state security council which dealt and coordinated all activities regarding the issues of the Armenian Genocide. When informed about the existence of those documents the response letter suggested to close the archive and ban access to it to ‘not make a fuss and combat ungrounded claims about the Genocide’. However, the materials leaked to the press with some documents published in media in 2007-20008. That is to say whatever relates to the Armenian Genocide is a taboo in Turkey.”
Hovhannisyan argued that Turkish archives may not contain materials that would deny the fact of the Armenian Genocide. “All archival documents available in the world – whether in German, Armenian and to some extent in Turkish archives come to unequivocally prove there was an intention, action and a Genocide. Thus, Turkey has no chance to deny the fact no matter its archives are open or closed,” explained Anush Hovhannisyan.
As to the idea of setting up a commissions, the expert noted the move is aimed at prolonging the discussions and using them as a pretext to silence the topic whenever the issues is raised in other parliaments. “That was something Turkey practiced during the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement urging all countries to not interfere as the both parties are discussing the issue. The primary aim of the suggested commission is to prevent resolutions against Turkey,” concluded Hovhannisyan.