An academic in the U.S. argued Thursday that there is “no document proving that the killing of Armenians was an official policy” of the Ottoman Empire in 1915.
Speaking at the Turkish-American Security Foundation (TASFO), Michael Gunter of Tennessee Tech University explained that well-known documents published by Armenian author Aram Andonian in 1919 to supposedly prove deliberate massacres were fabrications.
Having conducted research on the events of 1915, Gunter said Armenian claims had a greater audience because Christian Armenians had gained more sympathy in the Christian West.
“Also, Muslim Turks were historical enemies of the West. Since Armenians also spoke Western languages better than Turks, they were able to convey their messages to the West better,” explained Gunter, a professor of sociology and political science.
Emphasizing that he hoped an academic dialogue would be initiated between the advocates of Turkish and Armenian theses in the U.S., Gunter pointed out that Turkish Americans would be willing to do so, but Armenian Americans had never accepted such an endeavor.
He stressed that many Armenians in the western parts of the Ottoman Empire had not been deported, adding that some Armenians had been killing innocent Muslims for decades without intervention.
“For genocide to exist legally in international law, planning or premeditation must be proven, and it has not been proven on this issue,” he said.
Turkey objects to presenting the 1915 incidents as “genocide,” rather calling them a tragedy in which both Turks and Armenians suffered casualties in the heat of World War I.
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution in December that recognizes the so-called “Armenian genocide.”
The resolution had been blocked several times in the Senate, even though the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed the resolution by an overwhelming 405-11 in late October.
The resolution asserts that it is U.S. policy to commemorate the 1915 events as “genocide.”
In 1915, the Ottoman Empire relocated Armenians in Eastern Anatolia following revolts when some sided with invading Russians, which resulted in Armenian casualties.
Armenia has demanded an apology and compensation, while Turkey has officially refuted the Armenian allegations over the incidents, saying that although Armenians died during the relocation, many Turks also lost their lives in attacks carried out by Armenian gangs in Anatolia.
The Turkish government has repeatedly called on historians to study Ottoman archives pertaining to the era to uncover what actually happened between the Ottoman government and its Armenian citizens.