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CRAG clashes with Turkish journalist - 17 January 2001

Genocide Recognition and the French Armenian Genocide Bill discussed on the BBC.

London, 13th January 2001 - Hratche Koundarjian of the Committee for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and Zafer Arapkirli, a correspondent for Turkish television channel NTV were interviewed on BBC News 24 about the pending Armenian Genocide Bill in the French Senate.

Mr Arapkili was clearly following the Turkish governments policy of denial, at points he stated that the Armenian Genocide was a 'big and shameless lie…' and that for people to claim that those events constitute genocide 'is a disgrace to the memory of the Jewish [Holocaust] victims'. Responding Koundarjian asserted that Holocaust scholars have themselves recognised the fate of Armenians in 1915 as genocide, and that at an international summit two years ago 126 Holocaust specialists actually affirmed the Armenian Genocide, he struck his point home by explaining that this is not 'one or two, it isn't a minority this isn't a fringe of academia' but that it represents the 'forefront of academic thought' on Genocide and the Holocaust.

The BBC anchor put the pressure on by asking Zafer Arapkirli to respond to the charge that Turkey is 'trying to suppress argument [of the genocide] by threatening reprisals'. To which he dodged the question and responded with what were in Koundarjian opinion the 'tired old denial arguments'.

The last question to Koundarjian was if Armenians wanted "Turkey to be made a pariah state" for not recognising the genocide. He carefully responded that "what we want is for Turkey to come to terms with its own past, really this is talking about the democratisation of Turkey and its movement into a modern state. If Turkey cant come to terms with events that took place 86 years ago really we have to be concerned with Turkeys accession into the European Union".

There is a great deal of interest in the Armenian Genocide in light of Britain's first National Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th. Several major newspapers have already featured extensive articles and editorials on the exclusion of the Armenians from the memorial day. Britain does not officially recognise the Armenian Genocide, though there is mounting pressure for it to do so.

Koundarjian's participation on the news programme is part of the expanding programme of the Committee of the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide. He is currently the Press and Information director of the Committee. CRAG supports all efforts for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide Internationally.

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