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050220|Lecture|Europe, Turkey, and the Armenian Genocide
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20 February 2005 | Dr. Tessa Hofmann | London

EUROPE, TURKEY, AND THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

Europe and Turkey look back to a long relationship: Their common history covers at least 150 years of European pressure for Turkish reforms, of European half-heartedness and Turkish delays and evasiveness. As early as 1904 the French author A. Schopell compiled a documentation under the title “The reforms and the protection of Christians in Turkey during 1673 until 1904“. It contained 645 decrees of the Sultan, treaties, agreements, notes and circulars, which had been signed for the protection of the Christian minorities. But all of them remained unrealised. And not only that. The very fact that Europe had interfered in Turkey’s domestic affairs on behalf of minority rights and on behalf of the protection of Christians made those Ottoman Christians even more hated and suspect by the ruling Turks as well as by Turkish dissidents and opposition parties. 1913 was the year when the Turkish government, after 30 years of delay, finally agreed to a European project of the realisation of article 61 of the Berlin Treaty, signed by defeated Turkey in 1878. This article contained the promise of reforms, including regional administrative autonomy and security for the Ottoman Armenians. But instead of improvements, legal inferiority and occasional local persecution were soon followed by nation-wide deportation and extermination. Under the guise of WW1, more than the half of estimated two and a half million Ottoman Armenians perished, most men during massacres, and most women, children and aged people from starvation and exhaustion during death marches and the subsequent liquidation of concentration camps.
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