By Hambersom Aghbashian
Volkan Vural (born December 29, 1941 in Istanbul Turkey) is a Turkish diploma. He graduated from Ankara University, Faculty of Political Sciences in 1964, and entered the foreign ministry as a diplomat in the same year and served in various departments in the ministry, as well as in Turkish missions in many countries. He also worked at NATO’s international secretariat between 1976 and 1982. In 1987 he was appointed as ambassador to Tehran (1987-1988). then served as the Turkish ambassador to the Soviet Union and later Russia (1988-93). Between 1993 and 1995, He served as the prime minister Tansu Ciller’s Adviser (1993-1995). After working as Turkey’s ambassador to Germany (1995-1998), he went to New York as Turkey’s permanent representative to the United Nations (1998-2000). Upon his return, he started working as secretary-general for European Union affairs, until 2003, when he was appointed as ambassador to Spain, where he served until 2006, till his retirement. Volkan Vural is currently the adviser to the president of the Doğan group of companies and a member of the executive board of the Turkish Business and Industry Association (TÜSİAD). He is also the chairman of TÜSİAD’s foreign relations commission.
Volkan Vural has interesting and considerable ideas about the Armenian issue. According to him, if he is authorized, he will apologize. to the Armenians and the Greeks for the anguish the Turks caused to those people. Also Turkey, has to give the descendants of those people, the Ottoman Empire Armenians who were deported and to the Greek Cypriots, the right to become citizens again. Volkan Vural believes that the Armenian problem is not the historians but the politicians who have to settle it. He believes that the historical facts are known and doesn’t agree that facts are not known.(1)
In an interview with Taraf newspaper, Sep 8, 2008, ( the interview was translated into English by Ara Arabyan), Ambassador Vural was asked “what would happen to the properties and assets the Armenians left behind during the deportation?” in case of apology. His response was “These can be discussed. A fund may be established. The return of the properties and providing a full accounting for them is now very difficult, but a symbolic reparation is possible. What matters is that we show that we are not insensitive in the face of a painful situation, that we empathize with the situation, and that we are considering certain ways of compensation as a humanitarian responsibility. I would actually apologize.” And about the form of apology he had in mind he said “These events are unbecoming for Turkey. We do not approve them. The people who were forced to leave this country have our sympathy. We see them as our brothers. If they wish, we are prepared to admit them to Turkish citizenship.” (2)
In its article “Polarization in Turkish politics bars daring steps on Armenian tragedy”, Turkish Hurriyet Daily News wrote On April 21, 2014 “Volkan Vural, who served in several capitals as Turkey’s envoy, is one of the first former state officials to argue openly for an apology for the deportation of the Armenians and the loss of human life.” It quoted the retired Ambassador Volkan Vural saying “The Armenian Diaspora’s efforts for the recognition of the World War I mass killings as genocide will not have much impact on Turkey’s stance. Turkish society, however, is ready for bold steps as there is an increasing awareness that something very tragic happened in 1915. There has been a dramatic evolution in Turkish society, at least on certain segments. The awareness has increased tremendously and recognition that something bad, something tragic happened is generally being accepted. This is a very positive development and shows the maturity of Turkish society in recognizing these things.” In the same article Volkan Vural mentioned that the Balkan wars; created a trauma in Turkish society. The Union and Progress Party leaders saw a new danger emerging (the Armenians inside the Ottoman empire. H.A.). He added “Turkish society is evolving, we found out many issues that we learned from textbooks were not correct. (3)
Volkan Vural is the first Turkish ambassador who visited Armenia, at that time, 1991, when he was the Turkish ambassador to Moscow, and Armenia was on its way to becoming independent republic. Shnork Kalustian, then the Armenian patriarch in Turkey, had died during his visit to Yerevan. He sent a message to the Armenian president where he wrote “taking an interest in the funeral of the patriarch, who is our citizen, and facilitating the return of his remains to Turkey is my duty” and that “I am prepared to contribute in every way, including attending any ceremonies that may be held.” Patriarch Kalustian’s funeral rites were conducted in the Armenian church in Moscow and Ambassador Volkan attended that ceremony. The Armenians who were there, were astonished by the presence of a Turkish ambassador at a funeral ceremony in an Armenian church and that was his first contact with Armenia as ambassador. Volkan Vural visited Armenia many times and in different occasions.
Although Volkan Vural is one of the first former state officials to argue openly for an apology, and he thinks that there should be an apology for the deportation that caused human suffering, the tragedy of the Armenians in the Ottoman empire, he doesn’t use the Genocide word as he knows the consequences of a Genocide crime. On the other hand, he hopes that apologizing for the tragedy should also give some hope to the Armenians:“This is your homeland. You have established lives in other countries, but if you want to come back, this is your home; we recognize your nationality.” is one of his positive statements in this direction.