I disagree that protests in Diaspora were harmful for current Armenian president Serj Sargsyan. Internally, may be (he does not have much support and trust inside the country, anyway). But internationally - not. Quite the contrary. He does not have a reputation on international scene, and these actions - going through difficult and sensitives agreement with Turkey despite Diaspora and some internal protests - will put him on the map to the level which he could never had dreamt of.
Here current Armenian president displayed leadership qualities. (I would never thought I'd ever say this re Serj Sargsyan but here we go) There are times when head of states need to conduct unpopular policies which may not be supported from a populist point of view but important for country’s future. It’s exactly that moment now in Armenia.
Where were Diaspora organisations when 1 March 08 happened in Armenia? Where were their voices when Armenians in Armenia were left alone in face of widespread human rights abuses and election fraud? The answer is simple. They were dead silent. Now when I hear “democracy” or “human rights” or anti-Serj shout or posters during the protests in Diaspora, I simply can’t take them seriously. Well, with one important reservation. If only this whole anti-protocol hysteria would help for Diaspora groups and individuals to understand that what we need first and foremost is democratic Armenia where human rights are respected, if only they understand that this is the main direction where their efforts should be directed at, then I would happily take back my skepticism. Until then, I am afraid, it’s too little too late.
My main reservation with the document, as I mentioned earlier too, is the so called ‘historical commission’. However, from a pure language point of view, there is no prefix “historical” in the protocols, and there is absolutely no mention of the Genocide there, although, yes, it is implied. However, we should not be afraid of it: no ‘historical commission’ is able to put a question mark for the Armenian Genocide. It’s the fact for international and scientific community, regardless of the limited numbers of countries which officially recognised it. (which is a sole consequence of their geopolitical interests) What is more important is the recognition of the Genocide by Turkey. I do believe that opening up the dialogue on the issue, which will be inevitable following the ratification of the protocols (and partly happened already thanks to international pressure and efforts by few Turkish intellectuals), would contribute to it. Protocols are not about forgetting or denying the Armenian Genocide. Protocols are about moving forward without forgetting the past.
Now the ball is on the Turkish side. The general consensus in Yerevan is that Armenia will formally ratify the protocols only after Turkey first ratify them. Taking into account the circumstances, I do support such approach.
P.S. below are just few of my recent tweets on the topic.
For my full twitter feed, see http://twitter.com/unzippedblog
Reports: Live broadcast of #Armenia - #Turkey protocols signing ceremony from #Zurich on Armenian public TV from 8pm local time #Yerevan
#Armenia president Serj Sargsyan statement re signing of protocols with #Turkey (AM) http://bit.ly/fBaQl
All eyes on #Zurich today. What's more important, however, #Armenia & #Turkey parliaments afterwards. They have to ratify the protocols.
Group of prominent #Diaspora Armenians issued an open letter in support of #Armenia president policy re #Turkey deal http://bit.ly/hddLI
Imitational rally by ARF Dashnaktsutyun & co against #Armenia - #Turkey protocols soon to start in #Yerevan. A show which decides nothing.
Double standards: ARF allowed to protest at government buildings, others - not. http://bit.ly/f0V24 #Yerevan #Armenia
I respect Robert Frisk of The Independent, but disagree that #Armenia - #Turkey protocol means "Genocide forgotten". http://bit.ly/D5NjL
The very fact that this 'opposing forces' joined by the neo-nazi homophobe Aryans made me treat them as a joke http://bit.ly/1ZSsMz #Armenia
It sucks seeing Heritage & ARF Dashnaktsutyun signatures along with neo-nazi homophobe Aryans against #Armenia #Turkey deal http://bit.ly/Klipx