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Ara Sarafian, the head of the London-based Gomidas Institute, gave an interview to Hurriet last week. The historian argued, that multilateral efforts to improve relations between Armenia and Turkey are the wrong way to resolve the Armenian issue and stressed, that the solution lies in the huge and influential diaspora.
I have very limited knowledge about Sarafian’s views and activities. What little I know comes from this post at the Caucasian Knot and a recent entry in my own blog. However, there are a couple of points made by the historian in the Hurriet interview that took me by surprise.
1. Sarafian said there were two problems that would arise out of any effort to improve relations with Armenians through closer ties with Armenia. “Freedom of expression for historians in Armenia is limited and the genocide issue has become a political tool,” he said.
2. “We cannot compare the Armenian genocide with the Holocaust. Those who were banished from their land suffered a lot but survived,” he said.
3. He said the restoration of the Armenian Akdamar Church in the recent past could have created an environment of dialogue but had become a missed chance. “Armenians did not want to take that chance because it did not suit their interests,” he said.
These are all quite arguable statements. I know the journalist personally, so I dismiss the option that the words of Sarafian were misrepresented. But – I can’t bring myself to agree, even to a smallest degree, to what Sarafian has said in the points highlighted by me.