A renewed discussion over the Armenian-Turkish genocide question is occurring among Returned Turkey PC Volunteers, so I thought it important enough to pass on some of the historical record from a Turkish-Canadian resident.  It doesn’t answer the question of whether genocide occurred, but clears up many of the misconceptions.  This is while Russian (and French) historical archives that could document their involvement in the breakup of the Ottoman Empire have not yet been located or researched by historians.

The Armenian section of the Ottoman Archives has been open to all researchers since 1989. Most documents are in Ottoman (Turkish with Arabic characters) with transliterations into current Turkish. As you know, the Turkish language is changing all the time, so the “current” here might be old again for many. The military archives are restricted, but hopefully will be opened soon.
Tales are told by survivors of the 20th century wars everywhere in Turkey. Armenians, Turks, Jews, Kurds, Arabs and others who had lived in eastern Anatolia and found themselves forced to fight against the Russians or the French or each other had stories to tell. Those who fled to safety had stories to tell too. Stories are inherited by younger generations, in the process some stories are diminished in significance and some others are exaggerated in detail. While millions of Muslims were forced out of the Balkans and Caucuses and fled to Anatolia, several hundred thousand Armenians emigrated to the USA, Europe, Russia and elsewhere.
(Lets also recall the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in the 1920s. All these migrations created more human suffering and created more stories. Anatolian Greeks who were sent to Greece took their Bozuki and Rabetica music with them. They were rejected by the mainland Greeks and in later years their music was banned. Life is full of twists and turns: Today, bozuki is recognized as the national instrument of Greece)
The events of the period we are discussing here cannot be described in anything less than ‘tragic’ terms for Turks and Armenians. In the late 1880s about 1,600.000 Armenians were living in Anatolia (this figure is the average of numbers available from Ottoman, Armenian, Russian, British, American and French sources). In Europe, the independence movement of nations living under Ottoman rule started with Greeks in 1823 and followed by others: Rumanians, Bulgarians, Albanians, Slovenians, etc. By the time Russia defeated the Ottomans in 1878, practically every nation that revolted against the Ottomans had gained its independence.
Armenians living in the Ottoman lands received financial, military and political aid from Russia, Britain, France and the USA towards fulfilling their dream for independence. Armenians living in Russia at the time coerced most of the Ottoman Armenians to revolt. Before WWI started, several uprisings took place in Erzurum, Kars and other cities in the east and were put down by the Ottoman regulars. Animosities between the Turks and Armenians started with these revolts and killing continued for both sides during the war. About 50000 Ottoman Armenians joined the invading French armies and about 150.000 or more joined the Russians. Some Armenians remained loyal to the Ottomans and even served in the military.
When the Russians invaded the eastern Anatolian provinces and the fighting intensified between the Ottomans, Russians, French and the Armenians. At times the Ottomans had to fight the Russians in the front and the Armenians at the back. In May 1915 the Ottomans decreed forced relocation of about 460.000 Armenians out of the war zone into remote corners of the empire where modern Syria is today.
(Later this figure was revised to 500.000 by a reputable Turkish scholar)
Even under perfect conditions such an ambitious plan might have failed. In May 1915 the Ottomans were fighting at 3 different fronts, had no spare food or other supplies or medicine or suitable transportation or security forces available for this delicate and complex mission. Out of 460.000 that were moved out, 382.200 reached their destination. In this sad journey about 56.600 perished for a variety of reasons, including brutal treatment.
As a result of this disaster, Talat Pasa (minister of interior) ordered those responsible to be tried and punished: 659 Ottoman officials were tried, 68 received the death sentence and were hanged, 67 received life sentence or forced labor and others received lesser charges or acquitted.
Fighting continued throughout the war, Armenians and Turks killing each other. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 changed the course of events for both sides. Armenians lost Russian support and protection. The nationalist forces under Mustafa Kemal made peace with Lenin and secured the eastern border. The Ottoman lands which the Allied Forces promised to the Armenians remain within the borders of the Turkish Republic today. (see the Sevres Treaty for the promised lands and see the Lousanne Treaty for the Republic’s borders). By the time the dust settled and the fighting ended, 530.000 Turks and 350.000 Armenians were dead.
The irony is that, in 1954 President Celal Bayar and later in 1955 Prime Minister Adnan Menderes officially visited the USA. The Armenian community was highly visible in Washington, DC  cheering the Turkish officials. There was no “genocide” claims at the time. In 1963 the Diaspora Armenians (a younger generation) in the USA started their anti-Turkish campaign, charging Turks with 350.000 Armenian deaths. That innocent number has now become 1.5 million !
Selamlar,
Muharrem