In an interview with Tert.am, Hayk Demoyan, Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, spoke of the preparations for the centennial of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey to be marked in 2015.
Mr Demoyan, Turkey is reportedly actively preparing for the centennial of the Armenian Genocide by shooting films and –
- Turkey is doing it every year, before every April. They are well aware that the pressure is going to be much stronger in 2015. They are, as it were, taking preventive measures. What’s the purport? More money is being allocated for various printed matter as well as for films, which, although feature films, are actually means of propaganda. A glaring example is the film ‘Sarıkamış’. Other similar films have been created. Moreover, we were offered to provide materials for the film and the Turkish side provided a translated script to us. The aim was to find out what materials were at our disposal. The film was introduced as a feature film about massacre.
So what was the script about? What’s Turkish truth?
- In brief, it was a story of a Turkish orphan turned into an Armenian and killed by fascists. The viewers are supposed to feel great liking for a Turkish orphan who eyewitnessed the Armenian massacre. But it was ‘an incidental.’ They did it well, they even translated the script. But we did not even respond to them because we realized the script was a mere trap. They, in fact, sought access to the museum’s holdings – films, photos, everything.
Do you know anything about the materials Turks are preparing?
As to their further actions, they have focused on big propaganda collections being prepared for 2015, including a screen version of the Battle of the Dardanelles. They seek to ensure the presence of many states’ leaders at the event scheduled for April 24, 2015.
I think it is going to be a spectacular show. Regretfully, high-ranking officials of some countries have already given their consent to attend. This is evidence of Turkey’s influence on international politics and it is taking advantage of it. The only reason for its success is that high-ranking officials easily succumb to Turkish influence.
Turks started this work a few years ago to curb the wave prior to the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. But there is a subtlety: Turkey has modified its tactics. Formerly they flatly denied the facts and brought allegations against Armenians. Now that the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide is in progress, as well as under the pressure of research, Turkey has come to realize the failure of its policy of denial.
They cannot calm down and are trying new tactics employing diplomatic means they are well aware of. Specifically, they are placing emphasis on improved Armenian-Turkish trade and economic ties, saying, ‘let us increase exports and imports than speak of historical events.’ Note, they do not say ‘it never happened’, but they are speaking of ‘priorities’ and of ‘things that do not matter.’
To sum up, I can note that, at least at the level of its top-ranking officials – be they the incumbent Islamists or nationalists – Turkey is not yet prepared for facing its own history and the crime committed by the Turkish State. Nor will it be during the next few decades.
But we must not be disappointed. We must be able to find new ways to increase pressure, especially psychological pressure, which is their weak point, as admitting each of their guilts is certainly a shock to them.
And if the Turkish side presents the matter as a matter of honor of Turkey and the Turkish people, we must realize that it is one of the issues related to Turkey’s national security.
The issue of Armenian Genocide has turned into a catalyst causing a growing split between the Turkish state and society. It is not being done on purpose. Rather, the very subject of the Armenian Genocide is a destructive factor in such a sensitive environment as Turkish nationhood, which was artificially formed during the Kemalist period.
-We have no information now because they have not applied to us. We are following their steps. Their daily visits to our website number 300 to 400 irrespective of upgrades. Most of them are Turkish visitors. One more question is the potential inside Armenia and in the Armenian Diaspora to influence Turkish society for them to show interest. Specifically, it is posting materials and presenting the Armenian Genocide as part of the Turkish people’s history.
What are your expectations?
Regretfully, we have come to realize it too late. Ways of presenting the information are of importance. We need asymmetric ways. We cannot do with mere statements. Do we have potential? I do not speak of languages because a five-language website is quite an achievement. But we also need to think of efficient instruments. We do not have them now.
-I expect unification of forces inside Armenia and in the Armenian Diaspora, as well as at the Armenia-Diaspora level. We have potential, but we do not have the will to create the instruments.
Back to Turkish propaganda. You have said they are trying to get materials. What about other methods of spying? What preventive measures do you take?
-It is weekly practice. We instinctively feel what or who is behind a letter – a sincere wish or Turkish intelligence. We had incidents as well. Once I turned out a Turkish photojournalist who was photographing the entries Turkish citizens made in our visitors’ book. They expressed their pain and offered apologies. They regularly ask me about Turks’ visits, which is of great interest to them.
What are the displays scheduled for 2015?
-The displays are going to be on a scale of 1/100. Technically, it is going to be an entirely new museum. On April 24, 2015, we plan to open a museum that will occupy an area of 2.5 times as large as this museum. Moreover, we are going to hold 15 mobile exhibitions in different countries.
Will any new materials be displayed? I mean 3D.
-We are going to bring a new museum culture to Armenia. We are going to use up-to-date technologies, 3D and touch screen. The museum has done tremendous work in recent years and doubled its holdings. Dozens of thousands of pieces have been collected. Of course, we are exerting tremendous efforts, but we are also well aware that we cannot restrict ourselves to the Memorial to Armenian Genocide victims (Tsitsernakaberd).
Some think that everything will be ‘reduced to zero’ after the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide even if US President Barack Obama uses the words «Armenian Genocide».
-Those believing this theory actually believe the Turkish version. I am one of those believing that we should revise our strategy in 2015 and exert more efforts to cope with the consequences of the Armenian Genocide. The major consequence is that Turkey seized part of the Armenians’ homeland. To put an end to it is the main aim of all the generations of Armenians. Otherwise, we ourselves will make the Turkish dream come true.