The Armenian Question in Turkish Politics

The issue of Armenian identity has become a source of controversy and speculation in Turkish politics, as various factions accuse their rivals of having Armenian roots. The Turkish gossip machine—specially the one’s operated by enemies of the current government—whispers that Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul are of Armenian origin. Meanwhile, Erdogan’s allies claim the leader of the opposition party is of Armenian descent.

These allegations are not new, as they have been circulating for years in the Turkish media and social networks. They are often based on dubious sources, such as old photographs, family names, or physical features. They are also motivated by political agendas, as they aim to discredit or undermine the legitimacy of the targeted politicians.

The reason why being Armenian is considered a stigma or a weakness in Turkish politics is rooted in the history of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey. The Armenians, who were a Christian minority in the predominantly Muslim empire, faced discrimination, persecution, and massacres, especially during the First World War. The most tragic episode was the Armenian Genocide of 1915, when an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed or deported by the Ottoman authorities. The Turkish state has denied the genocide and refused to recognize it as such, despite the overwhelming evidence and the international recognition.

The Armenian question has remained a sensitive and unresolved issue in Turkey, as it touches upon the national identity, the historical memory, and the foreign relations of the country. The Turkish government has often reacted with hostility and censorship to any attempt to raise awareness or demand justice for the Armenian cause. The Turkish society has also been influenced by the official narrative, which portrays the Armenians as traitors, enemies, or terrorists.

Therefore, accusing a Turkish politician of being Armenian is intended to cast doubt on his or her loyalty, patriotism, or competence. It is also a way of appealing to the nationalist sentiments of the Turkish voters, who may view the Armenians as a threat or a rival. However, these accusations also reveal the ignorance, intolerance, and prejudice that still exist in some segments of the Turkish society. They also ignore the fact that there are many Turkish citizens of Armenian origin, who have contributed to the culture, economy, and development of the country.

The Armenian question in Turkish politics is not only a matter of historical truth or justice, but also a matter of human rights and democracy. The Turkish politicians who are targeted by these allegations should not be ashamed or afraid of their possible Armenian ancestry, but rather embrace it as a part of their rich and diverse heritage. The Turkish society should also respect and accept the diversity of its people, and reject the hatred and violence that have marred its past. The Turkish government should also acknowledge and apologize for the atrocities committed against the Armenians, and seek reconciliation and cooperation with them. Only then can Turkey overcome its historical trauma and move forward as a modern and democratic nation.


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