The idea of Turkish-Armenian rapprochment also appeared on the agenda after the cost of the First World War and the Tashnak government, which was established in Armenia after that in the National Struggle period, became too heavy.
The letter that Turkish journalist-writer Osman Sadik Bey sent to an Armenian newspaper during the years of the War of Liberation is one of the unknown examples of this. The newspaper Slovo (Word) was published in Tbilisi in Russian in the Menshevik Georgia period and it is known as the publishing organ of the Armenian bourgeoisie of the city.
The letter was published in the 1 December 1920 issue of the newspaper with the heading “Turkey and Armenia.” Osman Sadik started his letter as follows:
“One of the difficult problems that are related to the Eastern Question is important and it has not been solved yet completely. This is the Armenian Question, of which the Armenian-Turkish relations are the darkest aspectt
“Before reviewing this deadlock and addressing how this spool, which had become almost impossible to unfold, manifested itself, I would like to remind some attempts of general and personal intitiatives. Unfortunately, these attempts remained fruitless because of the unwarranted disagreements of some young representatives of the Armenian intellectuals, who had a narrow nationalist point of view that reached up to the most extreme ends of chauvenism.”
The author notes at this point that the cabinets were almost not established without the Armenians, who had been promoted to top level positions, after the collapse of the Abdulhamid regime. According to Osman Sadik Bey, it is not possible to deny the fact that Armenian ministers, who had provided great services to Turkey, were appointed to the most significant posts of the imperial administration. Gabriel Noradunkyan managed foreign policy in two different cabinets and determined the fate of the empire in foreign relations. Or Hallachyan Effendi was at the head of Finance for a long time during the Union and Progress period. Oskan Effendi remained for a long time at the post of minister, where he administered the Ottoman post.
As the author put it, the most important matters of this big Muslim state were therefore at the hands of the Armenians. Apart from this, there was a considerable number of Armenian civil servants in different ministeries. Armenian MPs were always in the parliament, Armenian officers served in the Turkish army until the first battles of the First World War. After these examples, which were not products of dreams, the author points out that it is difficult to understand how the oppression of Armenians could be explained.
After these assessments, Osman Sadik Bey addresses the process of the First World War:
“The war was declared. You cannot find a single Armenian who would deny that the Armenians in Turkey openly sided with the Allied Powers, that they served them until today, that they revolted with weapons against the Turks, and that they resorted to bloody acts with weapons as soon as the weapons were fired. In addition, can it be denied that a state that is in a struggle of life and death at the war arena on the one hand has the right to take the most effective measures to prevent its rebelling subjects from backstabbing it?
“There were bloody and brutal pressures. Each Turk accepts this undoubtedly, but many Turks acted rather than just talking, protected and hid Armenian families. However, one should not forget that the pressures were not only caused by the Turks. Thousands of types of pressures can be seen everywhere in the world and even in countries that are more develoepd than Turkey. As a Turk, I do not reject the right of Armenians to have sympathy or antipathy and to resort to all sorts of means in order to protect their interests. However, I think that it is very difficult to reject the right of Turks to use coercion to confront all kinds of destructive internal attempts, which allied with the annihilating external threat at a critical time.”
Then Osman Sadik talked about the Armistice period. After the Allied Powers entered Istanbul, the Turks could never escape the insults written in the Pera newspapers (newspapers owned by non-Muslims) or on the streets. Three elements of the four that had lived peacefully in the country for centuries (Armenians, Greeks and Jews) insulted the honor of the fourth (Turks) constantly by relying on the protection of the armies of the Allied Powers. According to the author, this picture of the country is very sad.
Osman Sadik also says that he tried to make an agreement among the intellecturals of these elements. He had made a call to the Greeks, Armenians, Jews, and Arabs in the pages of Le Stamboul newspaper and suggested organizing a meeting. What was planned for this meeting was everyone keeping their cool and expressing the demands of their own environment. Osman Sadik pointed out the irrationality of these elements, which lived together, breaking off their relations.
However, nobody responded to this suggestion with a rational approach. Only an engineer named Leon Hadiryan published an article on this subject in the newspaper Le Stamboul. This article absoluteley rejected Osman Sadik Bey’s suggestion. Although Hadiryan saw the suggestion as sincere, he did not accept the right of Turks to discuss these topics while reserving the right to speak on behalf of Armenia for the Paris Conference.
Osman Sadık Bey noted the following developments as follows:
“As you see, this initiative remained fruitless. I also tried to fulfill this mission when I was the head columnist at the newspaper Le Courrier de Turquie and then I called on the Armenian intellectuals to give up their non-compromising attitude in the name of good feelings. Nobody helped me.”
According to the Turkish journalist-writer Osman Sadik, it is clear that it is not easy to speak about a past, which was experienced with conflicts for the Armenians and Turks and in which they hurt each other for a long time and could not reach an agreement. However, the constant rejection of the peace efforts of the Turks by the Armenians is equally sad.
The author points out that it is not possible to remember the past without pain and states that his goal in these initiatives was to provide Turkish-Armenian rapprochment and peace between the two nations. Feelings must be put aside and the issue of establishing good neighborly relations and providing peace between Turkey and Armenia must be addressed in all of its aspects.
On the very same days when Osman Sadik’s letter was published in the newspaper Slovo, the imperialist collaborator and chauvenist Tashnak regime collapsed and the Soviet government was established instead. In a short amount of time, the common interests against imperialism thawed the ice between Ankara and Yerivan and brought the two countries closer.
Perinçek, Mehmet (2011), Türk-Rus Diplomasisinden Gizli Sayfalar, Kaynak Yayınları, İstanbul.
Russian Military State Archive (RGVA) fond 7717, list 1, file 174, folio 380, 380 back, 381.