The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity

April 9, 2007

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April 9, 2007

Re: Nobel Laureates call for tolerance, contact and cooperation between Turks and Armenians

Dear friends,

We, the undersigned Nobel laureates, issue this appeal directly to the peoples of Turkey and Armenia. Mindful of the sacrifice paid by Hrant Dink, the ethnic Armenian editor of Agos in Turkey, who was assassinated on January 19, 2007, and whose death was mourned by both Turks and Armenians, we believe that the best way to pay tribute to Mr. Dink is through service to his life's work safeguarding freedom of expression and fostering reconciliation between Turks and Armenians.

To these ends, Armenians and Turks should encourage their governments to:

- Open the Turkish-Armenian border. An open border would greatly improve the economic conditions for communities on both sides of the border and enable human interaction, which is essential for mutual understanding. Treaties between the two countries recognize existing borders and call for unhampered travel and trade.

- Generate confidence through civil society cooperation. Turks and Armenians have been working since 2001 on practical projects that offer great promise in creatively and constructively dealing with shared problems. The governments should support such efforts by, for example, sponsoring academic links between Turkish and Armenian faculty, as well as student exchanges.

- Improve official contacts. Civil society initiatives would be enhanced by the governments' decision to accelerate their bilateral contacts, devise new frameworks for consultation, and consolidate relations through additional treaty arrangements and full diplomatic relations.

- Allow basic freedoms. Turkey should end discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities and abolish Article 301 of the Penal Code, which makes it a criminal offense to denigrate Turkishness. Armenia also should reverse its own authoritarian course, allow free and fair elections, and respect human rights. Turks and Armenians have a huge gap in perceptions over the Armenian Genocide. To address this gap, we refer to the 2003 "Legal Analysis on the Applicability of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to Events which Occurred During the Early Twentieth Century," which corroborated findings of the International Association of Genocide Scholars.

It concluded that, "At least some of the [Ottoman] perpetrators knew that the consequences of their actions would be the destruction, in whole or in part, of the Armenians of eastern Anatolia, as such, or acted purposefully towards this goal and, therefore, possessed the requisite genocidal intent. The Events can thus be said to include all the elements of the crime of genocide as defined in the Convention." It also concluded that, "The Genocide Convention contains no provision mandating its retroactive application."

The analysis offers a way forward, which addresses the core concerns of both Armenians and Turks. Of course, coming to terms will be painful and difficult. Progress will not occur right away. Rather than leaving governments to their own devices, affected peoples and the leaders of civil society need to engage in activities that promote understanding and reconciliation while, at the same time, urging their governments to chart a course towards a brighter future.


Peter Agre Nobel Prize, Chemistry (2003)
Sidney Altman Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1989)
Philip W. Anderson Nobel Prize, Physics (1977)
Kenneth J. Arrow Nobel Prize, Economics (1972)
Richard Axel Nobel Prize, Medicine (2004)
Baruj Benacerraf Nobel Prize, Medicine (1980)
Gunter Blobel Nobel Prize, Medicine (1999)
Georges Charpak Nobel Prize, Physics (1992)
Steven Chu Nobel Prize, Physics (1997)
J.M. Coetzee Nobel Prize, Literature (2003)
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji Nobel Prize, Physics (1997)
Mairead Corrigan Maguire Nobel Prize, Peace (1976)
Robert F. Curl Jr. Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1996)
Paul J. Crutzen Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1995)
Frederik W. de Klerk Nobel Prize, Peace (1993)
Johann Deisenhofer Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1998)
John B. Fenn Nobel Prize, Chemistry (2002)
Val Fitch Nobel Prize, Physics (1980)
Jerome I. Friedman Nobel Prize, Physics (1990)
Donald A. Glaser Nobel Prize, Physics (1960)
Sheldon Glashow Nobel Prize, Physics (1979)
Roy J. Glauber Nobel Prize, Physics (2005)
Clive W.J. Granger Nobel Prize, Economics (2003)
Paul Greengard Nobel Prize, Medicine (2000)
David J. Gross Nobel Prize, Physics (2004)
Roger Guillemin Nobel Prize, Medicine (1977)
Dudley R. Herschbach Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1986)
Avram Hershko Nobel Prize, Chemistry (2004)
Roald Hoffman Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1981)
Daniel Kahneman Nobel Prize, Economics (2002)
Eric R. Kandel Nobel Prize, Medicine (2000)
Aaron Klug Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1982)
Edwin G. Krebs Nobel Prize, Medicine (1992)
Sir Harold W. Kroto Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1996)
Finn E. Kydland Nobel Prize, Economics (2004)
Leon M. Lederman Nobel Prize, Physics (1988)
Anthony J. Leggett Nobel Prize, Physics (2003)
Rudolph A. Marcus Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1992)
Daniel L. McFadden Nobel Prize, Economics (2000)
Craig C. Mello Nobel Prize, Medicine (2006)
Robert C. Merton Nobel Prize, Economics (1997)
Marshall W. Nirenberg Nobel Prize, Medicine (1968)
Sir Paul Nurse Nobel Prize, Medicine (2001)
Douglas D. Osheroff Nobel Prize, Physics (1996)
Martin L. Perl Nobel Prize, Physics (1995)
John C. Polanyi Nobel Prize, Chemistry (1986)
Stanley Prusiner Nobel Prize, Medicine (1997)
José Ramos-Horta Nobel Prize, Peace (1996)
Richard J. Roberts Nobel Prize, Medicine (1993)
Wole Soyinka Nobel Prize, Literature (1986)
Elie Wiesel Nobel Prize, Peace (1986)
Betty Williams Nobel Prize, Peace (1976)
Kurt Wüthrich Nobel Prize, Chemistry (2002)