By Karine Kalantarian
Eight in ten Armenians want their government to continue to seek Turkish and worldwide recognition of the 1915 genocide of their people in the Ottoman Empire, according to an opinion poll released on Tuesday.
The survey conducted by the Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS), a private think-tank, also shows that a plurality of citizens support Yerevan’s policy of not using genocide recognition as a precondition for improved relations with modern-day Turkey.
ACNIS pollsters said almost 40 percent of 1,900 people randomly questioned across the country support an unconditional normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. Twenty-nine percent of respondents disagreed with this policy, with the remaining 31 percent undecided.
Public opinion is far less divided on Yerevan’s continued pursuit of genocide recognition which is supported by 80 percent of those polled. Most of them felt that Turkey will admit to the genocide only under increased pressure from the United States and the European Union.
The survey also suggests that a majority of Armenians believe that Turkish recognition of the tragedy should entail territorial and financial compensation to Armenia as well as descendants of genocide victims.
The Armenian government says it recognizes Armenia’s existing border with Turkey and has not laid claim to any Turkish territory. “We are not talking about compensations, this is only about a moral issue,” President Robert Kocharian told Russian television on Saturday.
ACNIS pollsters said about two thirds of people interviewed by them believe that the Turks remain “capable of committing genocide.” Almost 40 percent said they feel “pain” when thinking about the mass killings and deportations of their ancestors. About the same percentage of respondents spoke of a desire for revenge, hostility and hatred toward the Turks.
The poll also exposed the deeply traumatizing effects of the 1915 events, with 90.1 percent agreeing that persisting memories of the genocide make up the Armenian national identity along with the language, culture and history.