By Hambersom Aghbashian

Cengiz Çandar (born 1948) is a Turkish journalist and a former war correspondent, graduated from Ankara University in 1970 with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and Int. relations. He began his career as a journalist in 1976 in “Vatan” after living some years abroad due to his opposition to the regime in Turkey. An expert for the Middle East (Lebanon and Palestine) and the Balkans , Çandar worked for the Turkish News Agency and for Cumhuriyet, Hürriyet, Referans and Günes newspapers as a war correspondent. Çandar served as special adviser to Turkish president Turgut Özal between 1991 and 1993. From 1997, he lectured for two years on “History and Politics in the Middle East” at Bilgi University in Istanbul. Between 1999 and 2000, he did research work on “Turkey of the 21st century” as a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Int. Center for Scholars, and was a Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace. His description of the 1998 events in Turkey as a “post-modern coup” gained notice internationally. In 2007, he condemned the authorities for depriving Aghtamar* of its Armenian past by renaming it to “Akdamar”. He is the author of many books.(1)

Jon Coevet a free-lance journalist based in Istanbul wrote in “Washington Report on Middle East Affairs”, December 2000, quoting Çandar saying “An open society based on social consensus, a society without taboos which stands tall with enough self-confidence is the biggest source of strength. Let us confront our history. Let us do some soul-searching.”(2)

Cengiz Çandar participated in the Conference entitled “The Armenians during the Collapse of the Ottoman Empire” that was held at Istanbul’s Bogazici University in September 2005. Several hundreds of nationalists gathered in front of the university shouting out slogans “Betrayers”, “It’s Turkey – love it or leave it”. During a briefing for members of the press, eggs and tomatoes were thrown at journalist Cengiz Çandar, as a sign of protest.(3)

Çandar has been to Armenia several times and closely follows Turkey-Armenia relations. He wrote many articles concerning Turkish-Armenian relations, “Turkey-Armenia – In the freezer” On 23 April 2010, “From Yerevan to Bursa: writing history anew” On 14 October On the road without return 10 October 2009.(4)

Scott Peterson wrote in the “Christian Science Monitor- March 17, 2010”, Prime Min.Erdogan, was angry over the decision by a US congressional committee and by the Swedish parliament to call the 1915 deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenians a “genocide,”. NATO member and EU candidate Turkey does not want to be lumped with Nazi Germany, Cambodia, or Rwanda as perpetrators of genocide in the 20th century. “There are currently 170,000 Armenians living in our country,” Erdogan told the BBC Turkish service in London. “Only 70,000 of them are Turkish citizens, but we are tolerating the remaining 100,000. If necessary, I may have to tell these 100,000 to go back to their country”. ”It seems a very careless statement,” says Mr. Çandar. I don’t think that he will be implementing that, sending Armenians working here back to Armenia,” says Candar. “But it is a signal sent to Armenia to deter them from supporting [such] genocide resolutions out loud.” (5)

On March 20, 2010, Taraf newspaper wrote “The Prime Minister criticized Cengiz Çandar (of Radikal newspaper) who asked for a public apology for the PM’s earlier deportation threats to Armenian illegal immigrant workers.” “These claims [of Armenian Genocide] are baseless and cannot stain our history…I am calling on those journalists and others who try to give us humanity lessons: Be Turkey’s and the Turkish Nation’s lawyer first. … I am calling on those who advice me to apologize: We know whom to apologize very well. Whose lawyer are you?”(6)

The following are some excerpts from Çandar’s article “ Turkish Awakening on Armenian, Kurdish Issues? Al-Monitor , April 28, 2013”. He wrote, “For the past 3 years, Turkey has been holding, Armenian massacre [1915] observations at Taksim Square. The first, at Haydarpasa Station, which was the starting point of Istanbul’s Armenian intellectuals on their trips of no return. It was repeated in 2012 with larger crowd which met in Sultanahmet tourism area, where Armenian intellectuals and politicians were first assembled and then detained in 1915. This year, the dimensions of April 24, 1915, suddenly changed. The observances spread to Turkey’s most important political center of Diyarbakir and to Dersim. As the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide approaches in 2015, could there be a totally unexpected development on the Armenian issue in Turkey? Will this affect Turkish-Armenian relations and change the geopolitics of the Caucasia? That is a question to ponder as 2015 nears. The answer might not be all that difficult if one looks at the developments on the Kurdish issue in 2013 and the recent observances of the 1915 disaster defined as genocide that fell upon the Armenians. The impossible is impossible in Turkey.(7)


*Aghtamar is the second by size of four islands in Lake Van in Western Armenia, (currently occupied by Turkey). It is well famous for it’s Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross. In 1951 the Turkish government made a decision to destroy the church, but the writer Yasar Kemal managed to stop the destruction. Between May 2005 and October 2006, the church underwent restoration program. The cross which was sent by the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey was erected on the top of the church on October 2, 2010. after being sanctified by Armenian clergymen. Since 2010, every year a mass is held in the church too.

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