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Legislating Reality and Politicizing History: Contextualizing Armenian Claims of Genocide

Although the relocation of Armenians as a historical event occurred over 100 years ago, it still remains on the agenda of policymakers and academics today. It is accurate to say that the Armenian question is one of the important issues limiting Turkey’s role in international politics, and deeply impacting relations between Turkey, Armenia and the Armenian diaspora, whose respective discourses on the relocation of Armenians clash with each other and prevent the development of good relations between the Turkish and Armenian people. 

 

 Although the relocation of Armenians as a historical event occurred over 100 years ago, it still remains on the agenda of policymakers and academics today. It is accurate to say that the Armenian question is one of the important issues limiting Turkey’s role in international politics, and deeply impacting relations between Turkey, Armenia and the Armenian diaspora, whose respective discourses on the relocation of Armenians clash with each other and prevent the development of good relations between the Turkish and Armenian people. 

 

It is possible to discern two main arguments shaping the debate on the relocation of the Armenians. From the Turkish point of view, broadly, their relocation was a necessary and extraordinary precaution taken to cut off connections between the Armenians who joined the Russian Army and their supporters in the region. It was believed that the marching of Russian troops into Anatolia would be stopped if local Armenians were evacuated from the Eastern provinces. The Armenian point of view has produced a different discourse. According to their perspective, the relocation of Armenians was part of a plan to annihilate the Armenian population from the Ottoman Empire. These opposite discourses have perpetuated a vicious cycle and politicized the relocation of Armenians at the international level. 

 

In this framework, Cannon’s book can be considered a positive contribution to understand how the relocation of Armenians has been politicized among diaspora groups. Cannon’s book should not be considered a history book, nor does it aim to focus on the history of the Armenian diaspora. It does not deal with archives or authentic documents proving whether the relocation of Armenians during the First World War was genoci

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