THE RELOCATION OF EUROPEAN UN STRUCTURES TO ISTANBUL WOULD BE A CLEAR SIGNAL TO TURKEY: THE LETTER TO SECRETARY-GENERAL OF UN
To: Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations,
CC: Mr. Bradley Busetto, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident
Representative in Armenia
 
Honorable Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Bradley Busetto,
 
Your Excellences,
 
The tragic events of 2014 (Syria and Iraq) and the beginning of 2015 (in Europe), as well as the continuously deteriorating human rights record of Turkey impel us – the representatives of Armenian civil society – to reinstate our appeal to you regarding the intended transfer of European UN structures to Istanbul, Turkey.
 
It is deeply unfortunate that nowadays the world faces the real threat of a confrontation between the radical Muslim ideology and the rest of the world (particularly the European civilization) and Turkey’s role has unfortunately not been constructive in this domain. Terroristic acts have acutely intensified; massacres of civilians (Yezydis and Christians) of Iraq and Syria occurred; the risks of new terroristic attacks, their spillover into the territory of Europe and clashes on interethnic and interreligious grounds have gone up. This was and is a chance for Turkey to take a constructive stance on the issue, but instead Turkish military forces used the opportunity to attack the town of Kessab in Syria and its Armenian population has been deported.
 
Turkey’s human rights record has been steadily deteriorating under Erdoğan’s leadership. The Human Rights Watch in its Turkey’s Human Rights Rollback report of September 2014 states that “Turkey under Recep Tayip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is taking far-reaching steps to weaken the rule of law, control the media and Internet, and clamp down on critics and protestors…”
 
Moreover, Turkey’s continuous denial of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, its clear and intentional setback on the declared “Zero problems with neighbors” policy demonstrates that Turkey is yet a long way to go to become a reliable partner for the international community that shares universal values in theory and practice.
 
The year 2015 is a special, unique one in Armenian history – the centennial of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire.  We are confident that the impunity and lack of condemnation of the genocide have created the sense of total permissiveness, the indisputable right of force in world politics and crimes against humanity in the subsequent years. It is a known fact: “Who remembers the genocide of Armenians today?” –Hitler stated, justifying and preparing for the Holocaust. 
 
Just as the Lausanne Convention of 1923 that reinstated the right of “non-Muslim minorities” in Turkey, but failed to envisage the monitoring over the respect of these rights under the aegis of the League of Nations, the UN has failed to develop a similar mechanism as well. Meanwhile, ethnicity-motivated killings of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Kurds, Yezidis continue taking place in that country. Thus, editor of Armenian newspaper Agos and Turkish citizen Hrant Dink was assassinated in 2004, and years later the current President of Turkey publicly stated that being called an Armenian is the highest level of insult.   
 
We are confident that all of the above-stated factors reaffirm the concerns we had expressed earlier regarding the relocation of European UN structures to Istanbul. The relocation of the structures would be a clear signal to Turkey of approval by the international community of the course it has taken, a clear indication that the power of force prevails over values and standards. We wholeheartedly would like to believe that the international community will not send that signal of encouragement. We do hope that 2015 will be a decisive one – a year, when the international community will acknowledge the priority of moral values and justice of force in global politics.  
 
Unfortunately, we have not succeeded in preventing the relocation of the European UNDP office from Bratislava to Istanbul, which we think will potentially reduce the efficiency of this office’s cooperation with the countries of the region. We hope, however, that given the contemporary reality, the relocation process will be stopped and the remaining European UN structures will stay in their traditional locations, in historic European countries. 
 
Armenia is on the crossroad between Christian and Muslim civilizations. The history of our country is abundant with examples of grave experiences and losses generated from the confrontations and clashes of the two, but Armenia has also managed to serve as a bridge between them. We are confident that the mutual understanding and cooperation between the grand world religions are one of the essential prerequisites for peaceful and sustainable development of contemporary humanity, for a democratic and just world, and the Republic of Armenia can become an arena for the dialogue between the peoples. We will welcome and support any initiative that UN structures will undertake in that direction.
 
Thank you for consideration.
 
Sincerely,
RA Civic Coalition  for  support the UN Charter:
 
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1821 reads | 02.03.2015
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