By Hambersom Aghbashian
Professor Mensur Akgün is a Turkish political analyst, civil society activist and a columnist for Turkish daily Star. He is also a professor at Istanbul Kültür University. After finishing his bachelor studies at the Middle Eastern Technical University- Ankara, in 1981, he received his master’s degree from the University of Oslo-Norway, in 1987, then earned his PhD from the Bosphorus University-Istanbul, in 1992. Prof. Akgün has published a couple of own monographs and co-authored books. He has traveled extensively and participated in various international conferences as a speaker representing both academia and civil society.
Together with his colleague Sylvia Tiryaki, Prof. Akgün founded the Global Political Trends Center, an Istanbul based research institution, which is operating under the auspices of Istanbul Kültür University. He has also been the Director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) and the editor of the News Perspectives Quarterly (NPQ-Türkiye). Prof. Mensur Akgün teaches courses on international relations and Turkish foreign policy at the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences of Istanbul Kültür University where he also holds position of chair of the Department of International Relations. His geographic areas of interest include the Middle East, Cyprus, Turkey and Armenia. He Published and co-authored many books, including “Possible Scenarios in Cyprus: Assuming There is No Solution- 2012”, “The Perception of Turkey in the Middle East -2012. (Co-author)”, “Ending the Isolation of Turkish Cypriots in Insight Turkey- 2010. (Co-author), “Turks Are Now Puzzling over the EU’s Back-Handed Compliment- 2010” and many others.
On June 8, 2011, www.arminfo.info wrote, “The paths towards recognition of the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century opened in Turkey long ago”, Mensur Akgün, Director of Global Political Trends Center (GPOT) told Armenian journalists in Istanbul.
He added, in Turkey they will finally put up with the fact of the Armenian Genocide only after normalization of relations with Armenia. He said that the relations with Armenia are important and necessary for Turkey not only from the viewpoint of the foreign political agenda, but also for internal processes. In this context, Akgün came out for public contribution to the given process both in Armenia and Turkey.”For our part, jointly with the Yerevan Press Club we try to move this process forward by combined efforts,” Akgün said.” (1)
Repairfuture.net, published on March 1, 2014, an interview with Prof.Mensur Akgün where he said that the major obstacle to the convergence of Turkey to Armenia is the nature of Ankara-Azerbaijan relations. While Armenia is getting closer to Russia, Azerbaijan is getting closer to the West. And about the relations between Turkey and Armenian he said They are literally in a refrigerator. Two protocols were signed in 2009, but since then, relations are in the refrigerator. The official discourse in Turkey blames the reference to genocide made by the verdict of the Armenian Constitutional Court. But in reality, the problem is exactly the nature of Turkey-Azerbaijan relations. Presumably, Turkey has underestimated the reaction of Azerbaijan. And as an answer to the question “Is it truly Azerbaijan who shackles Turkey?” he said: “It is essentially Azerbaijan. Sometimes, it is mentioned that the genocide question in Armenia or Armenian Diaspora or the reference to it in the preamble of the Constitution of Armenia is important, but this is totally wrong”. Answering a question “Why Turkey is so dependent to Azerbaijan?” he said: “The reason is primarily economic, but also political. Turkey defines itself with an ethnic and national identity. It sees Azerbaijan as a part of this ethnic identity. In addition, it considers Azerbaijan as the entrance door to Central Asia. Turkey has begun to face with its past and begun to know and see that its past is perhaps not so bright as they say, and there were crimes that can be qualified as genocide. If there will be no reaction coming from outside, in my opinion, the natural result of this process would be asking for forgiveness made by the Prime Minister, the President of the Republic or any other government official, as we have seen about Dersim. A monument can be built.* (2)
In an interview with Prof. Mensur Akgün in Istanbul, Vahe Sarukhanyan asked him “Who should resolve the Armenian Genocide issue -political leaders or historians?” Akgün said: “The issue isn’t connected to historians. The Turkish side has numerous documents attesting to the fact that there was no premeditation. The Armenian side has just as many documents to the contrary. But if the historians can reach some general consensus, their conclusions can be presented to the politicians. Then, there is a good chance that the matter will go to arbitration. If the Genocide was carried out by specific individuals in specific location in Turkey, the Turks would be obliged to recognize it. But, of course, there would be political, juridical and historical elements involved.” (3)
* Although Prof. Mensur Akgün shows good intentions, the Turkish government and officials are going in the opposite direction. On April 2011, Turkey-Armenia friendship symbol was demolished. A 30m-high statue – depicting two human figures facing each other – was erected on a mountain in Kars, near the Armenian border. Local authorities commissioned it several years ago to symbolize an end to decades of enmity and suspicion between Turks and Armenians. It was demolished before completion of the installation \, then prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described it as a “freak”.(H.A.)