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An interview with Ruben Safrastyan, doctor and professor of history, associate member of the National Academy of Sciences, director of the Institute of Oriental Studies.

-Mr. Safrastyan, from the very beginning of its existence the Osman Empire has carried out a periodical and mass massacre of the subjugate nations, has used violent methods to keep them in obedience. But state policy of the genocide was carried out only to the Armenians. Why did we suffer most of all?

-In the end of the 19th century Turkey’s most complicated problem was the Armenian issue, as all the other Christian subjugated nations were freed from the Osman rule and were independent countries.

-Actually, the Armenian issue as a matter of international diplomacy, was one of the motives of the Armenian genocide.

-Yes. The second motive (and perhaps the most important one) was connected with the fact that in the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century the Turkish nationalism firmly established in the Osman Empire.

From their point of view Asia Minor or the so called Anatolia which also included the Western Armenia (which is incorrect in the geographical sense) was the last territory where the Turks could maintain their statehood. The main goal of the Turks nationalists was to make Anatolia a Turkish territory (they had already lost the Balkans). After that they had to realize their Pan-Turkish founding a united Turkish state with other Turkish speaking nations.

-The Armenian’s fault was that living in their historical fatherland they hampered the realization of pan Turkish plan.

-The Armenians were stuck as a wedge between the Turkish state and other Turkish speaking nations. The Armenians, being the biggest Christian nation of the Anatolian territory, hampered their plan. As a result the upper class young Turks made a decision to completely liquidate the Armenians from the Western Armenia.

-It decided to have a territory without nation.

-Yes. Actually, the Armenian genocide was a result of cold calculation driven by national interests against which the Armenian diplomacy was powerless. By reason of the genocide we lost a great part of our homeland. We had losses human, material, genetic, spiritual and cultural values. The national got an unprecedented psychological blow. I want to mention that in May 1915 the tree countries of Antante-England, France and Russia made an announcement and characterized the Armenian mass massacre in the Osman Turkey as a crime against mankind. Later that term became one of the important terms of the international law.

-At the beginning of the interview you mentioned that the Armenian diplomacy was powerless against the panturkish plan of the Osman Empire. Were the self-defence and resistance also powerless…Mr. Safrastyan, an opinion is formed that the Armenians haven’t made a proper resistance to the Turks. Why?

-Turkey had thoroughly the Armenian genocide beforehand. The men were called up for the army, the Armenian spiritual and political upper-class was liquidated. Then the Turkish incited the Muslim population, the ferosities which the Turkish army abetted. It must be mentioned that even in this conditions our nation, unlike the Jews, were able to carry out self-defence as they defended their fatherland. I would like especially the Armenian soldiers to know about it.In the Western Armenia our compatriots fought to defend their land, family and they carried on an unequal and fatal struggle.

-History shows that many countries that were previously inclined to be enemies, later on have maintained normal relations. We have lived with the Turks by side for centuries and in the future we have to tolerate each other. Do you consider let’s not say good-neighbourly, but at last civilized relations are possible between Armenia and Turkey?

-Our case is different. We haven’t waged war on Turkey. So it has been a nationally elaborated genocide policy, the results of which exist to this day: considerable part of our fatherland is expropriated, our material, spiritual, and cultural values are destroyed, our relatives are killed. Turkey denies the fact of the genocide, thus distorting the historical truth. And what is more, since the Armenian Independence, Turkey has put into practice pressure and blocade against us and refuses to establish diplomatic relations, concludes an alliance with Azerbaijan in the issue of Kharabagh antagonism. It wrecked the Armenian enterprise to improve celations without preliminary terms. In this conditions when we deal with a country which doesn’t give up its anti-Armenian position, the improvement of international relations, in my opinion, is going to be a long and a complicated process.

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