“For decades, the Turkish state has been denying the reality of the genocide against Armenians and its international recognition, not only politically but also scientifically.

It must be emphasized that the so-called official Turkish historiography, especially concerning the genocide against Armenians, is, in fact, a distortion of history. Turkish historiography was instructed by Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish state, to create a new and favorable version of history, essentially falsifying it, and this work was under his direct control. The Turkish historiographical attack on Armenians became particularly active after 1965, and this process continues to this day. Today, the genocide against Armenians remains the primary issue on which Turkish historiography pursues a systematic policy of denial. However, in the context of all this, some Turkish historians and analysts have started to publish articles and give interviews on the issue of the Armenian genocide with a more objective approach, especially since 2005 and during the debates that followed the signing of the Armenian-Turkish protocols. In these instances, remarkable revelations and confessions can be found. It is worth noting that this material is mostly found in the relatively free Turkish press.

Below are the views expressed by several Turkish scholars on the Genocide against Armenians , which have been witnessed by a small section of the Turkish scholarly community:

Taner Akchyam (historian) – In a letter written in Malta, Halil Mentesh, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and President of the National Assembly during the Young Turks period, stated that if Armenians and Greeks had not been expelled from the country, they would not have been able to establish this state.

Similar words were spoken in a much simpler way by Hasan Fehmi in the Ankara National Assembly in 1920: “We knew before the exile that they would call us murderers,” he said, and asked: “Why did we take the risk of being called murderers?” To which he replied: “We had to do it for the good of our blessed homeland.”

The Turkish state was also founded as a result of the 1915 Genocide against Armenian . The glory of the personalities who founded the Republic of Turkey is an integral part of our national identity. To criticize or blame them seems like blaming oneself and this is very difficult. But among the founders of the Turkish state there are also those who participated in the 1915 genocide or were aware of it, and this is why it is difficult for us to speak freely.

According to 1919 official Ottoman figures, 800,000 Armenians were exterminated. It is easy to say that 800,000 Armenians were killed, and it is obvious that the state was responsible for the massacre of so many people. Let us consider this answer in more detail: Let’s say 800 thousand people died of “starvation, unfavorable conditions, unclear reasons”. But in the same years 1916, 1917, 1918, the Ottoman government deported more than 1.5 million Muslims without any problem. How could the state that displaced 1.5 million Muslims without any problem fail to prevent the massacre of nearly one million Armenians? You know, we have an official lie: “Armenians were going to hit us from behind, they were hitting us, so we took them out of the battlefields and moved them to safer places so that they would not fight against us”. But it is important to note that Armenians were deported from all parts of Western Armenia: Ankara, Bursa, Kütahya, Amasya, Tokat, Samsun, Edirne, Tekirdağ.

Look how Armenians were taken out of these provinces and where they were deported to: To the deserts of Syria and Iraq. Moreover, according to Ottoman documents, Syria and Iraq had been declared a war zone. Armenians were taken out of the center of Western Armenia, one of the safest provinces where no incidents had occurred, and sent directly to the battlefield to fight the British. Isn’t there something strange here? The phrase “let’s leave this question to historians” is now annoying. For some reason, the Turkish Foreign Ministry and our diplomats have become the world’s greatest historians. And after all this, you say to leave this question to historians. So you will leave historians only when they say what you want. And vice versa, you don’t let historians who express views different from yours speak. This is a purely political issue and the politicians of both countries need to sit down and resolve this issue.

The Turkish state cannot live by covering up this crime. This is the shame of the Turkish state. With this shame, the Turkish state can neither be a member of the European Union nor have a place in the modern world. They will not allow it. Today we call this century the century of apologizing. The Turkish state is like a pot: The Foreign Ministry is the lid that barely “covers” the Turkish state. Now this pot is exploding: It is no longer possible to isolate Turkey from the outside world. The pot is bursting all over.

Selim Deringil (historian) – They say: “Let historians solve the 1915 events.” But have historians been asked? No, the Turkish authorities have what I call “A team” historians. When they say “let’s leave the question to historians”, they mean them.

It was not thousands of people who founded the Turkish state. It was a few hundred people, all of whom were in one position or another at the time of the Armenian deportation in 1915. They either knew about the events or participated directly. In general, they were the same people. They say, “The deportation, the massacre, the genocide, or whatever it was, was carried out by the Young Turks.” All right, but who are these Young Turks? The founders of the Republic were all Young Turks.

Halil Berktay (historian) – The question of the state and quasi-state status of the Turkish state is quite difficult. Everyone knew about the massacres of 1915-1930.  That’s why, when we analyze the historiography of that period, we never come across the phrase “this did not happen, it is a lie”. The reason is that these events are still in the memory of generations and everyone knows what happened.

There were also those who were proud: “If we didn’t kill them, they would.”

In 1926, the Los Angeles Examiner published an interview with Atatürk. At that time, the trial of some members of the Young Turk Party had already ended. Answering the journalist’s question, Mustafa Kemal said: “The people we are condemning today are the perpetrators of terrible violence and massacres against the Christian population of the Ottoman Empire.”

Ayshe Hyur (writer, researcher, historian) – According to 1914 records, there were 2538 churches, 451 monasteries and 2000 schools belonging to the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire.

After the exile, the first thing Muslims who settled in Armenian villages and cities did was to convert the central and beautiful churches into mosques. The rest were used as warehouses and boiler rooms. On May 25, 1921, Rıza Nur, a representative of the nationalist wing of the Parliament, wrote in a letter to Kazım Karabekir, the commander of the Eastern Front: “It will be a great service for Turkey if it is possible to erase the traces of the city of Ani from the face of the earth”. It was the capital of the Armenian kingdom in the Middle Ages. Karabekir wrote in his memoirs that he rejected Reza Nur’s proposal because the ruins of Ani covered an area the size of the walls of Istanbul and it would be difficult to carry out such a work. 

Ashkhen Virabyan