The Republic of Armenia that declared its independence on 23rd September 1991 following the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has made the genocide claims against Turkey a state policy. Trying to create the image of a nation under oppression and persecution, it strives to secure the sympathies of Western powers and particularly the United States and France and international organisations.
Their objective is the recognition and registering of the genocide claims, securing a sizeable indemnity from Turkey, the returning of the territories seized from Armenians and the establishment of Great Armenia. In fact, the declaration adopted on 23rd August 1990 by the Armenian Parliament states, in no uncertain terms, that The Armenian Republic supports the efforts for the international recognition of the 1915 genocide in Western Armenia by the Ottoman Turkey.
The initiatives intended for the recognition of the so called genocide have been concentrated on in a number of countries where commemorative monuments were erected and the claims of genocide were formally included in school curricula .
A relatively mild atmosphere prevailed in the Turkish-Armenian relations under the term in office of Ter Petrossian. With the election, however, of Kocharian to the Presidency in April 1998, the extreme nationalist activities were let loose and Armenia began to pursue a toughness policy in its relations with Turkey. Kocharian stated in an official declaration that The Armenians will never forget the genocide and always try to remind the rest of the world of this tragedy and added that The Genocide remains unpunished and the international recognition and reproach are inadequate and insufficient. He repeated this statement also in the 53rd General Assembly Meeting of the United Nations and said that Armenia was under the blockade grip of Turkey and Azerbaijan.
The best reply to people like Kocharian has been given by the Armenian community living in Turkey. Regarding the genocide and the replacement claims, Dikran Kevorkian, Kandilli Armenian Church Pastor, said the following on 7th October 2000 in a television programme named Nutshell:
Genocide and replacement denote two different concepts. The imperialist schemes and the Armenian apolitical dream leaders (media, churches and the clergy) are the causes of this situation. The Patriarch is a spiritual leader and a blunder is committed when his opinions are sought about political matters. What could ASALA and PKK do if there were no political support behind them? There was a German pressure on the Sublime Porte for the replacement, in an attempt to shake the existing order and to secure itself economic benefits through the Berlin-Baghdad railroad.
For the assimilation claims, Kevorkian stated the following words:
Today, it is only in Turkey among all countries of the world that the Armenians manage to maintain their own identity. The Armenians in the Diaspora abroad continue their struggle for existence by changing their names because there are efforts there to assimilate the Armenians. The Diaspora knows very well that the Sunday rites in all major American churches are in English and the Armenians are gradually forgetting their own language. When we say these we are criticised. It is for these reasons that we, as the Armenians living in Turkey declare our regrets against these efforts, because an injustice is being committed to the concept of National Forces entrusted to us by Atatürk. All this is a stratagem conducted from abroad, including the ASALA, PKK and Kocharians declaration. We, as the citizens of Turkey believe that an injustice is perpetrated here. If Armenians are intelligent enough, they should not allow themselves to be used for the interests of others.
In a reception held at Hilton Hotel on 22nd May 1999, the Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II gave the following messages refuting most of the Armenian claims:
The establishment of the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate is an event unprecedented in the history. In 1481, only eight years after the conquest of Istanbul,. the firman issued by Mohammed the Conqueror for the conversion of the West Anatolian Armenian Episcopate into the Istanbul Patriarchate, is a clear evidence of his vision and the tolerance displayed by the subsequent sultans, toward other religions.
The establishment of a spiritual leadership office for a religion other than that of the ruler is unprecedented in the history before and after Mohammed the Conqueror. We will better understand the value of this event that occurred some 538 years ago and the importance of the tolerance between religions and cultures when we consider the clashes prevailing in the world and the wars being fought around us, at the threshold of a new millenium .
On this occasion, we recall with affection and gratitude Mohammed the Conqueror, all the statesmen that served the country along the lines that he had drawn and our eighty-three Patriarchs who faithfully served this office, beginning with the first Istanbul Armenian Patriarch Hovaghim from Bursa.
We, the Turkish Armenians as the largest Christian community living in this country sincerely believe in the bright future of the Republic of Turkey, we joyfully celebrate its seventy-fifth anniversary and we maintain great hopes for the future.