In the hierarchy of discrimination among Turkish and Turkish-ethnic nationalists, there is another ethnic group that is far below the Kurds in Turkey: the Armenians. Historically, the genocide against the Armenians is having an impact, which is portrayed by the Turkish side as a failed, unintended hunger march and which was tolerated and partially supported by the then ally of the Ottoman Empire Germany. Even under Attaturk, who was pro-Western and secular, but nonetheless a ethnically thinking-nationalist autocrat, the discrimination continued to exist and this has not changed until today. Whenever there is a resolution on the Armenian genocide abroad, most of the proud Turks stand together on a bipartisan basis. In the current war in the Caucasus between Azerbaijan, which is supported by Turkey, and Armenia, which is supported by Russia, this question is boiling up again in Turkey and as an Armenian one you live dangerously in Turkey:
“It was a really terrible experience to be born as an Armenian in Turkey, wrote Robert Koptas on Twitter. “We go through this experience to be damned, and we call it life.” Koptas is one of the important voices of the Armenians in Turkey. And right now he sounds exhausted. He was “very tired, sad, upset and angry,” he continues. Born in 1972 in Istanbul, Koptas was editor-in-chief of the Istanbul-based Armenian newspaper “Agos” from 2010 to 2015, founded by Hrant Dink, who was murdered by a Turkish nationalist in 2007. His successor Yetvart Danzikyan also complains about the current situation. Whenever, as now, a conflict breaks out between Azerbaijan and Armenia or a parliament in the world passes a resolution on the genocide of the Armenians, the Armenians in Turkey are in the spotlight – and fear is among them.
As with the Turkish MP Garo Paylan. He is currently under pressure from two sides. On the one hand, Paylan falls into the crosshairs of his opponents because he is a prominent representative of the Armenians in Turkey. He spoke out in favor of a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Caucasus. Turkish nationalists didn’t like that. The nationalist think tank Asam placed full-page advertisements accusing Paylan of “treason” and calling on “the independent judiciary” of Turkey and the parliament to take the “necessary steps” against Paylan. But he is known for not being intimidated.
“Matters of concern”
On the other hand, Paylan is one of the seven MPs of the pro-Kurdish party HDP, whose immunity is to be lifted according to the will of the public prosecutor in Ankara in order to be able to prosecute them. Paylan is charged with calling for rallies in 2014 when the HDP was a member of its executive committee in support of the Syrian-Kurdish city of Kobani, which was attacked by the terrorist militia “Islamic State”.
Raffi Kantian, the chairman of the German-Armenian Society, calls the events around Paylan “worrying”. His parliamentary immunity still protects him to a limited extent. But it would not protect him from underground paramilitary groups such as the ultra-nationalist “Turkish Revenge Brigade”, which has been responsible for numerous assassinations and death threats. Paylan recently incurred the anger of Turkish nationalists for calling a honking convoy of cars a “provocation” that drove with Azerbaijani flags for the Armenian patriarchate in Istanbul. Hate speech turns into hate crimes, Paylan warned. One of his colleagues in the HDP parliamentary group, Ömer Faruk Gergerlioglu, asked how the authorities could even allow such a rally. “
Now the Caucasus War and the Armenian question are reaching Germany as well. As always, Erdogan fan and Turkish nationalist Mesut Özil, who is highly valued as a soccer player, is attracting media attention:
“Rio world champion Mesut Özil has sided with Azerbaijan in the conflict over Nagornyj Karabach. “Azerbaijan’s problem is our problem, his joy is our joy,” the former national player writes in Turkish on social media: “One nation, two states.”
The quote, which is attributed to the Turkish state founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, is followed by an explanation in English. “It is important to me that everyone in the world knows about the fact that the Nagornyj-Karabakh region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but is currently illegally occupied,” writes the 31-year-old.
Özil refers to a 2008 UN statement calling on Armenia to withdraw its troops from the region. “I urge that this decision (…) be recognized by everyone,” he emphasizes. Özil closes his statement with a call for peace and a future “without violence”. Every death, regardless of which side, is “a loss for everyone”.
Özil’s reference to the occupation by Armenia falls “too short”, said Omid Nouripour the sports information service. When Özil expresses himself on such issues, “he should also criticize Turkey’s aggressive foreign policy,” said the foreign policy spokesman for the Green parliamentary group. Ataturk also said: “Peace at home, peace in the world.” However, the Turkish government’s policy is “neither internally nor externally peaceful at the moment”.
In terms of international law, Özil is absolutely right. Armenia, supported by Russia, had conquered the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is largely inhabited by Armenian Christians, in a bloody war, separated it from Azerbaijan and carried out an ethnic expulsion of the Azerbaijanis living there. The former victim people behaved nationalistically like a new perpetrator people. Conversely, if Azerbaijan wins a military victory, there is also a risk of ethnic displacement of the Armenians, if not a new genocide. Friends and apologists of international law, which is usually more of an appeal if it fits into geopolitical considerations of power, and then again in the next moment is broken by the great powers when it does not suit them, come into a fundamental need for explanation. Özil is also not bothered by Erdogan’s occupation of northern Syria which is agianst international law or his war of aggression in Libya. Özil, who at the time came out as a proponent and supporter of the Islamist Erdogan during the T-shirt affair, supports his neo-Ottoman dreams of great power. He is not interested in its violations of international law and if international law is favorably for the neo-Ottoman cause, in this case, Azerbaijan, then that fits well into the image and concept. Conversely, Omnipour also idealizies Attaturk , because the Father of all Turks was definitely a ethnically minded nationalist and autocrat and also had no appreciation for Kurds and Armenians, to say the least. With Mesut Özil, the Kaukausus war has now also reached the German sovver nation Germany, which up until now hadn’t given a god damn about the wars from NATO partner Turkey, but was more excited about the question of when the stadiums will be reopened for fans. But if Mesut Özil scores goals for Germany again, his neo-Osmanisic impulses and potential acceptance of a new Armenian genocide are quickly forgiven.