The Armenian lobby, in particular the Armenian National Committee (“ANC”) has for many years now been incensed that the Federal Government refuses to accept the ANC’s characterisation of the events of 1915-1916 as a ‘genocide’. Most recently, the Foreign Minister confirmed, in a letter to ATA Alliance the longstanding position of the Australian government that, tragic as these events were, and as terrible the consequences for many groups, they did not, however, constitute a genocide as properly understood. This is, in fact, the same position that ATA Alliance has maintained since its inception.
Of course, the ANC was not to be placated, and started to make all sorts of outlandish claims – such as the Australian Government was being “pressured” by the government of Turkey, that there had been threats to “cancel” ANZAC commemorations, and so on. In order to try to substantiate these claims, an FOI request was made to DFAT. DFAT would have been the body charged with investigating the issue, and on reporting to Parliament, also providing briefing notes to politicians. If there was pressure on Australia, these notes would have made reference to it.
On August 14th, DFAT released speaking notes intended for Senate estimates during this February 2015. In short, there is no conspiracy, there was no pressure, there were no threats about ANZAC day. It is just that the Federal Government, for many years, on the advice of their various Departments, having looked at the issue, do not consider that these events amount to genocide. There is, in short, no “smoking gun”.
In fact, the Armenian lobby in Australia was simply adopting the same sort of pressure tactics that the Armenian lobby in the UK has recently. In this instance, they came up with nothing.
DFAT speaking notes once again confirm in detail the long standing Australian government position on the Events of 1915 which is “the events do not constitute a genocide”. In a move to further frustrate the Armenian Lobby, the documents also point out the government’s support for signing of the normalisation protocols and more efforts in reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia. The Armenian lobby in Australia vigorously rejected these normalisation protocols and protested the Armenian government when they engaged in reconciliation talks with the Turkish government in 2007. The protocols were finally taken out of Armenian Parliament’s agenda due to the pressure of the diaspora who holds the economical power in the extremely poor ex-soviet state of Armenia.
It seems pretty clear that sections of the Armenian diaspora have no interest with reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey, and will go out of their way to block any attempts at rapprochement between the two countries. Armenia, a small landlocked country is heavily dependent on income from its diaspora, and therefore highly responsive to the diaspora’s demands.
The notes disclosed by the DFAT also points out the close relationship Australia and Turkey extends beyond Gallipoli, and the two countries work in partnership at G20 and as allies at NATO, in Afghanistan missions and recent crack down on ISIS.
Armenian Lobby is willing to do whatever necessary to achieve their cause, this also includes calling Foreign Minister of the Australian Government Julie Bishop and her advisers, “stupid”, and describing Prime Minister Tony Abbott as someone who “back-flips” on foreign affair issues, and whoever doesn’t agree with their position as people akin to “Holocaust Deniers”.
The Armenian Lobby’s consequentialist idea of “results justifies the means” has brought the Armenian terrorism to Australia in 1980 and 1986 killing the Turkish Consulate, an act which has never been condemned by them. More over the Armenian Lobby has hosted commemorative events in Sydney for the 5 terrorists who attacked Turkey’s Lisbon embassy, to where Australian politicians of Armenian decent also attended. More recently the Armenian lobby has also accused the Australia Government as being “gagged” by the Turkish government, an accusation which underestimates Australia’s sovereignty, diplomatic culture and its long standing bipartisan position under successive governments on the events of 1915.
We would hope that the release of these documents, under FOI, will now surely put these allegations of undue pressure by Turkey on Australia to bed. However, we are not holding our breath.