by Bahram Batiyev
Exclusive interview with Edward J. Erickson, a retired regular US Army officer and eminent American military historian.
- Mr. Erickson, “Ottomans and Armenians: A Study in Counterinsurgency” will be presented in Moscow on 31 May. Can you tell us a little bit what the book is about?
- Ottomans and Armenians, A Study in Counterinsurgency is a military history of the revolutionary activities of the Armenian Revolutionary Committees and the efforts of the Ottoman state to remove the Ottoman-Armenians in certain provinces as a perceived threat to national security. The book is fact based and taken from archival sources. It was published in the USA in 2013 and published in Turkish in 2015. Russian is the third language that the book will be published in.
- Erdogan, President of Turkey, has recently once again stated that Ankara has opened all its military archives to research the 1915 events. Why do you think Armenia is refusing to make their own archives available and to study the Turkish archives jointly with the Turkish?
- The Turkish archives are open today. The archives of the state of Armenia, the archives of the Armenian Patriarch in Jerusalem, and the archives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) in Massachusetts, USA are not open to scholars. Period. Why is this? I would guess that there is evidence in those three archives proving that the Armenian committees were actively engaged in revolutionary activities in 1914-1915. If this is true, it weakens the Armenian claims that those who were killed were helpless and innocent victims of genocide.
- As a historian, who studied the events of 1915, can you at least name an approximate number of how many Armenians actually died? Where did the Armenians even take the numbers of half a million “genocide victims”, which the Armenian propaganda operates on?
- The Armenian side has relentlessly told the world that 1.5 million Ottoman-Armenians died. This is unsubstantiated by any kind of fact-based evidence and it is, frankly, an impossibly high number. Yes, thousands of Ottoman-Armenians were killed or died as a result of the relocations. However, at least 350,000 survived in their homes in western Anatolia, at least a 350,000 survived the deportations, and we know that 250,000 fled to Russia. An approximate number of dead is probably around 350,000.
- How do you feel about the bills regularly initiated in European countries about the criminalization of the denial of the "Armenian genocide"?
- This is an on-going issue for Turkish politicians and it is, historically speaking, irrelevant. A parliamentary bill is a vote by people who do not know history. Just because some parliament says it is true… does not make it true. Politicians should leave history to the historians.
The criminalization of these issues is rapidly being called into question and clearly violates the principle of free speech.