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Mount Ararat. Photo: flickr/Hovik Melikyan

Mount Ararat. Photo: flickr/Hovik Melikyan

Noah's Dove returns

April 2009

After Islamic Calvinists, Sex and Power in Turkey, and our film on Truth, fear and hope in Istanbul, we published an analysis of one of the most complex chapters of Turkey's relationship with its neighbours, and with its allies in the West: Noah's Dove Returns:  Armenia, Turkey and the Debate on Genocide.

No single topic poisons relations between Turks and Armenians more than the 1915 destruction of the Armenian communities of Anatolia, and the question of whether it constituted genocide.

Turkey continues to make considerable efforts to fight international recognition of the Armenian genocide. In our report we argued that this is a battle that Turkey cannot win. At the same time, it is clear that modern-day Turkey is not legally responsible for genocidal acts committed nearly a century ago, and that acknowledging the genocide would not bring into question the established Turkish-Armenian border.

Since 2000 Turkish civil society has begun to look at the history of Ottoman Armenians in a new light, in the process breaking numerous taboos. Over the same period, Turkey's foreign policy has evolved dramatically. Under the motto "zero problems with neighbours", the current Turkish government has moved to resolve a series of long-running disputes, cementing Turkey's position as a strategic player on the regional and international stage.

But it is not only among Turks that intense debates and new thinking is required for this relationship to develop. For decades, anti-Turkish sentiment and dreams of a Greater Armenia have been unifying themes among many Armenians, both in the republic and the diaspora.

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