Does it matter whether Turkey admits it was genocide?

Yesterday, I attended a talk by a well-known reporter who has covered the Armenian community and the United Nations throughout her career. At the end of the talk, the question of whether it matters if Turkey admits to the Armenian Genocide came up. I chose to listen to the opinions shared, not offering mine despite being among Armenians in the familiar surroundings of the Eastern Dioceses of the Armenian Church complex. It is interesting to note that Armenians do not share one mind when it comes to the topic of the Armenian Genocide.

Dr. Richard Hovannisian at 2011 Times Square Commemoration of Armenian Genocide

Dr. Richard Hovannisian at 2011 Times Square Commemoration of Armenian Genocide

While there is no doubt in any Armenian’s mind about the veracity of the facts concerning the Armenian Genocide, we do not all agree on what to do with this knowledge.

Many Armenians (like a significant percentage of those attending the commemoration of the 96th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Times Square) want reparations and land. Many only want an official acknowledgment and apology from the government of Turkey.

Opinions also tend to be colored by whether or not an Armenian individual’s family was a victim of the Genocide or not. Present-day Armenians living in Turkey frequently disparage Armenians in the diaspora for our politics, which is something not altogether surprising, because the Turkish government considers the vocal diaspora (especially in the United States) to be a thorn in its side. 

As I’ve come to learn, Armenians from the former Soviet Republic of Armenia and the Middle East have varying degrees of knowledge about the Armenian Genocide. Generally speaking, Armenians living in Europe and the United States have historically had far greater access to the wealth of knowledge about the history of the Armenian Genocide. This, too, informs the opinions Armenians have about the Turkish question.

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