“ANALYZE THE HISTORY AND BUILD THE FUTURE”. RAYMOND KEVORKIAN LECTURED AT AGBU ARMENIA HEADQUARTERS

On Wednesday, March 2, 2016, AGBU Armenia Headquarters hosted French-Armenian historian, foreign member of Armenia’s National Academy of Sciences, professor of history, former director of AGBU Nubarian Library in Paris Raymond Kevorkian, who delivered a lecture called “Analyze the History and Build the Future: The Example of Genocide Studies” for an audience of over 200 people. In his opening speech AGBU Armenia Deputy Director Hovig Eordekian presented a summary of Rayomd Kevorkian’s activities in the field of historical studies.

Prior to the lecture, a short video about the AGBU Nubarian Library prepared by Armenia’s H1 Public Television was presented to the audience. AGBU Nubarian Library was founded in 1928 by AGBU Founding President Boghos Noubar, where currently a collection of 44,000 books, over 800,000 pieces of archival materials and 280 19th century manuscripts are kept.

Raymond Kevorkian starts the lecture by stressing the importance of analyzing your own history and learning from the past. "A nation, which has not analyzed its history, is a lost nation", said Kevorkian. On the political arena, according to Kevorkian, Armenia doesn’t really have much to oppose Turkey. One of the few cards that we have in our hands against such a giant is the Genocide. “By continuing the struggle for recognition and condemnation of the Genocide and demonstrating its importance on the international arena, we give a reason to put pressure on Turkey”, mentioned the speaker, once again emphasizing that this is the only tool we have. He also drew parallels between some of the similarities and connections of mass crimes committed during World War I and World War II, which will make it easier on the international arena to understand the Armenian Genocide.

In Raymond Kevorkian’s opinion, ordinary states are not capable of committing a genocide.

When we study the ideology of Young Turks and Kemalists, we see that it was based on chauvinism. Historians can notice expressions of the same continuing ideology in the governing circles of today’s Turkey. According to Kevorkian, today the situation has changed in Turkey: Armenians are no longer the internal enemy, today the internal enemy in Turkey are the Kurds. Kevorkian sees similarities between the policy that Turkey carries out against Kurds today and the events of the past century. However, since there is no large-scale war in the region today, the possibility of genocide is low. The Kurdish factor is a reality now and Turkey is trying to convince everyone that the Kurds are terrorists, Kevorkian says. “They were saying the same about Armenians back in 1890. I am sure that the Kurdish factor will become one of the most important issues of the Middle East in the future, but I don’t see how Armenia can play a significant role in this matter”, Kevorkian said.

He also reminded that although Kurds were not fully involved in the implementation of the Genocide in 1915, some of them had become tools in the hands of the perpetrators. Today, in Turkey, the feeling of repentance about the Genocide is evident mainly among the Kurdish community. There is a clear understanding in the Kurdish community that what repeatedly happens to them for dozens of years has the same roots - Turkish chauvinism.

In his lecture Raymond Kevorkian also referred to the direct connection of the Armenian Genocide and Jewish Holocaust in Europe.“17,000 German servicemen were engaged at the Eastern front of World War I. A part of them later enrolled in national-socialist party. The Armenian Genocide by Young Turks served as a model for the Nazi Germany to implement the Holocaust during World War II. Hitler declared that they were the pupils of Young Turks. Later on, they began to propagate that Turks found the best way to resolve the issue of national minorities. Preaching that Armenian Genocide had a reason and was justified for Turks, Nazi regime prepared German public opinion for treating Jews in the same way. I believe that these facts should be talked about. We should voice that Germany has a sin against us to atone.”, Kevorkian said.

The speaker also referred to the issue of estates of the Armenian people in Turkey, Muslim Armenians living there, Armenians of Constantinople, as well as the intellectuals and open-minded people, who are today fighting for the democratization of Turkey. He is sure that by getting rid of prejudices we must believe in the sincerity of these people and interact with them without fear. After a lively Q&A session with Raymond Kevorkian, AGBU Armenia Deputy Director Hovig Eordekian made closing remarks, thanking the prominent historian for the lecture and wishing him success in his further scientific, teaching and social activities.

Raymond Kevorkian graduated from the Saint-Denis University of Paris, where he continues to teach at present. He also works as a Research director at the French Institute of Geopolitics (Institut Français de Géopolitique). He is the author of the book “The Armenian Genocide. A Complete History”. Raymond Gevorkian received a special award for his significant contribution to the recognition of Armenian Genocide from RA President Serzh Sargsyan in 2010 and a Legion of Honor from the President of France in 2015.

 

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