Saturday, 10 October 2009

Armenia - Turkey protocols: Moving forward, not forgetting the past

If there is one big policy issue which I actually agree with and support current Armenian authorities, its their policy towards rapprochement with Turkey.

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

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) 

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

Imitational rally by ARF Dashnaktsutyun & co against #Armenia - #Turkey protocols soon to start in #Yerevan. A show which decides nothing.

The Economist: #Armenia - #Turkey : Bones to pick 

Double standards: ARF allowed to protest at government buildings, others - not. #Yerevan #Armenia

I respect Robert Frisk of The Independent, but disagree that #Armenia - #Turkey protocol means "Genocide forgotten".

The very fact that this 'opposing forces' joined by the neo-nazi homophobe Aryans made me treat them as a joke #Armenia

It sucks seeing Heritage & ARF Dashnaktsutyun signatures along with neo-nazi homophobe Aryans against #Armenia #Turkey deal

#Yerevan diaries: Dashnak's 'protest' re #Armenia - #Turkey protocols


armen said...

you said it well.
Diaspora organiztaions should really ask these kind of questions and answer them honestly. Skipping is not the way.
I also think that opening borders will benefit in the long term and dont see the reason for panic among some that turkey will eat "us".
however i do hope that this will not cause a serious rift amont Armenia and Diaspora and the 2 churches which is clearly visible now.

tzitzernak2 said...

I agree completely that we must move forward, that dialogue does not necessarily equal forgetting the past. And I have the same reaction to some of the protests - Where were your voices March, 2008? Just another reminder of the priorities of some...
And maybe I agree that there potentially a degree of leadership in what SS is doing, but one can be directed, but in the wrong direction... I'd just call him determined, since his motivation may be internal or external, and he may not be in complete control.
But while I think moving forward is important, mixing some of the most important issues facing the Republic and the Nation into one package is asking for trouble. Dealing with each issue, on its own terms and time course was the way to go...
That, and the fact that Sargsyan's regime is already precarious on many levels and it may not be that hard to threaten him politically, make me think that while these issues have to be solved, Sargsyan and his gang are not the ones who are going to be able to get the best possible deal out of all of this.

Haik said...

This is more than any other agreement. because this is the first treaty signed by Armenian and Turkish sides. that is, if the Turkish and Armenian national assamblies ratify.
No other treaty since Berlin Conference were completed. some treates turkey didnt ratify some Armenian side, inclouding treaty of Sevres, Kars , Alexandropol etc.
So this means the end of Armenian Question it without being even resolved. The core of Armenian question is the establishment of Armenian Homeland, dont confuse it with Armenian Genocide, Armenian Genocide is part of it. If this treaty is ratified call bye-bye to fair resolution of Armenian Question.
Look at the history turkey was defeated many many times but when it came to diplomacy it always won. They have clear foreign policy principles, Armenia doesn't. the foundation of our foreign policy should be the Armenian question.

Haik said...

Just to add that Armenian Question is very different from the Dashnaktsutyun's Hay Dat. Armenian Question officially was recorded in The Berlin Conference (1884) but I consider it was brought into international diplomacy by Israel Ori from 17 centuary.

tzitzernak2 said...

Haik - I've run into some who think this is just the start of some open and fair dialogue with Turkey, and are not concerned that the outcome of a commission would not be fair or truthful.
What mechanisms do you think are in place now that mean that this is the end of the Armenian Question?

Haik said...

It is just a step away from a treaty which recognises the Armenia-Turkey boarders. There was no such treaty between Armenia and Turkey in history. This means Armenia will not have any territorial claims which is the core of the Armenian Question.
This is a very dangerous game and because I have high doubts on the competence of Armenian regime it is possible they didn’t even look at it that deeply.
As a good alternative I would suggest a free trade zone somewhere near Kars or Gyumry if the question is about establishing trade routes and relations. I think this is what Armenian MFA should have been aiming.

7or Blog said...

Ձեր բլոգի այս գրառումից մեջբերում է եղել «7օր բլոգ»–ի բլոգերի տեսության մեջ՝ համապատասխան հղումով։ Շնորհակալություն։

artmika said...

Armenia - Turkey protocols: ‘happy ending’... for now