Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Turkey should face up to its past

The Times - October 23rd 2007

Sir

If the recent congressional resolution on the Armenian genocide was, as you suggest, appallingly timed, when is a suitable time to talk about genocide (“Danger signs”, Oct 22)? The Armenian lobby is so vociferous precisely because of the apparent conspiracy of silence that has surrounded the genocide for almost a century.

Turkey argues that Armenian fatalities in 1915 were largely caused by the First World War and because the Armenians sided with Russia, Turkey’s enemy. How does Turkey explain the estimated 500,000-plus deaths of Pontic Greeks and Assyrian Christians who were not allies of Tsarist Russia? The lack of any explanation would suggest that they were killed systematically because of their ethnicity or religion.

Reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia is an important element of Turkey’s effort to join the EU. Just as important is a lasting settlement to the conflict in Cyprus, which remains at an impasse. The handling of these critical issues will show us how prepared Turkey is to face up to its past before embracing its future.

Dr Charles Tannock MEP
Brussels