Unexpected things happen all the time in everyday life, in families, in work places, and in various spheres, particularly in politics and international relations.
Pope Francis invited Palestinian and Israeli leaders to Rome to discuss their relationships. They went and met, yet nothing happened.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, extended condolences to the Armenians and others who lost their family members during the 1915 Genocide. Of course he did not use these words, but referred to it as the events of 1915 during the Ottoman government.
Now another surprise came when President Serge Sarkisian of Armenian officially invited Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan and other Turkish leaders to visit Armenia on April 24, 2015, the 100th anniversary observances of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians. He mentioned that if Erdogan does not get elected, the the next Prime Minister is invited, Sarkisian also sent invitations to other governmental leaders to attend the events in Armenia.
Sarkisian’s official announcement during the 100th anniversary organizing committee meeting in Yerevan was a big surprise and a very, very bold and brave step. Very few people expected this announcement except his very close advisers. The reaction was quick everywhere — from Armenia to Europe, from Turkey to the Middle East and the United States. Some in favor and some against the idea. Nevertheless, many articles were written, particularly by Turkish journalists.
There is some relaxation, albeit very small, in Turkish-Armenian relations, particularly in Turkey. As I had mentioned before, many books are bring written and published by Turkish historians and authors in Turkey without mincing words, that there was a Genocide, that Armenian properties were confiscated, that many Armenians were forcefully Islamized, etc. In fact some of the properties that were confiscated by the Turkish government in 1950s and 19601s are being returned to their rightful owners, the Armenians. Of course, the returned properties to Sourp Pergich Hospital or the Mekhitarist Brotherhood in Istanbul, are very, very small compared to the total numbers of land taken away from Armenians. And, the Turkish government is not forbidding the observances of the Armenian Genocide on April 24 in the streets of Istanbul or Diyarbakir with the participation of the Turkish people, intellectuals and even some public officials. And on television, many Armenians, particularly Archbishop Aram Atesyan, the locum tenens of the armenian Patriarchate of Turkey, speak of their past and their relatives’ forced Islamization or confiscation of properties. And people listen and learn. But again, these are very, very little signs indicating change.
Then, all of a sudden, it was a surprise to hear PM Erdogan in an interview on American television saying that there was no genocide, because there are Armenians still…alive, creating laughter around the world.
Will Erdogan respond and visit Armenia? Particularly on April 24? I am sure he will not, despite the fact that the ball is in his court now.
I hope I am wrong.