Ragip Zarakolu: Turkey Continues to Violate the Rights of Armenian People
YEREVAN — “Armenia did its utmost to normalize the relations with Turkey, it was impossible to make more concessions,” Turkish publisher Ragip Zarakolu said at a discussion on “The Turkish view on the Karaabkh conflict” initiated by the “Civilitas” foundation. “Turkey, in turn, did its best to frustrate the process,” he added.
Zarakolu founded his own Begle publishing house in Istanbul in 1976, where he published a number of books on the harassment against national minorities in Turkey, as well as the Armenian Genocide.
The Belge Publishing House established by Zarakolu and his wife Aysenur, has always been a focus for Turkish censorship. Charges brought against the couple resulted in imprisonment for both Aysenur and Ragip Zarakolu, the wholesale confiscation and destruction of books and the imposition of heavy fines.
In 1995 the Belge Publishing House offices were firebombed by a far right group, forcing it to be housed in a cellar. Since his wife’s death in 2002, Zarakolu continued to face further prosecutions.
“The Pan-Turkic positions are still strong in my country, and they affect the Armenian-Turkish relations,” Zarakolu said.
“Instead of redeeming the sins of the past, Turkey is trying to interfere with the Karabakh issue and impose its position. What’s interesting is that by supporting Azerbaijan, Turkey is attempting to become a party in an issue it has nothing to do with and raise the Karabakh issue in international structures with a view of pressuring the right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination. At the same time Turkey wants to deprive Armenia of the right to interfere with the Karabakh settlement process. This is a vivid example of Turkey’s double-faced policy,” Zarakolu declared in Yerevan.
According to the publisher, by adopting a correct position Turkey would contribute to the settlement of the Karabakh issue. However, Turkey’s practice of setting preconditions speaks of the fact that the pan-Turkic sentiments are still there. Besides, let’s not forget that there is a string Azerbaijani lobby in Turkey,” the publisher said.
“Turkey frustrated the Armenian-Turkish protocols as it did in 1990s. This attitude of Turkey is becoming dangerous to the Caucasian region. Turkey is conducting an adventurist policy on the Syrian issue, as well. It should change its policy and act for the sake of peace in the region. The civilized society is the only hope of change in the country. The ice on the Genocide issue has started to melt inside the Turkish society. We must work to have the Turkish public separate the Genocide issue from the Nagorno Karabakh conflict,” he added.
Ragip Zarakolu said he feels shame for Turkey’s behavior. “Turkey signifies the issue of its own security, but creates serious threats for Armenia’s security by keeping the shared border closed. In this situation I admire the courageous and self-confident stance of Armenia. Your country has become a unique island in the region, which heroically survives,” Zarakolu said.
“There is a thick folder with the sins Turkey has committed against the Armenian people. Instead of redeeming the sins of the past, Turkey continues to violate the rights of the Armenian people, the Turkish publisher said.