03 June 2006

744) Notes from Retired Ambassador Ömer Engin LÜTEM


1. Turkish Congress on Armenian Studies

Institute for Armenian Research has organized a “Turkish Congress on Armenian Studies” on 20-21 April, 2002 in Ankara, under the high auspices of President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. The Congress aimed at getting together scholars and other authors in Turkey studying Armenian question, Armenians and Armenia, to discuss different aspects of these themes and to adopt a declaration containing common views. This was the greatest organization of its kind in Turkey with regard to the number of participants and presentations. And considering the number of the presentations separately, the Congress, probably, set a world record. The success of the Congress indicated the great interest for Armenian research in Turkey.

There is an article with detailed information about the Congress in this issue of the journal.[1] This issue includes also the subjects of the presentations, their authors and the full text of the declaration of the Congress.[2] Moreover, the texts of the presentations are to be published later as a book.

2. The 81st Anniversary of Talat Pasha’s Assassination: A Look on International Terror

The symposium organized by the Institute for Armenian Research together with Istanbul University on 15 March, 2002 in Pera Palas hotel in Istanbul, under the auspices of the Minister of Culture Mr. Istemihan Talay, was attended by five Turkish and six foreign scholars.

This symposium is being analyzed in a separate article in this issue of the journal.[3] Again, the presentations are going to be published later as a book.

Besides the originality of the presentations submitted, another aspect of the symposium drawing attention was the number of the foreign participants which exceeded that of the Turkish ones, and that some of the former spoke for the first time on this topic. It seems that developments with regard to Armenian question in recent years stimulate the study of the issue not only among the Turkish scholars but foreign ones as well.

3. The Movie “Ararat”

“Ararat” movie directed by Atom Egoyan, a citizen of Canada of Armenian origin and famous with his art movies, whose topic was the so-called Armenian genocide, incited a debate in the Turkish press.[4] Assist. Prof. Dr. Sedat Laçiner and �enol Kantarc�, two scholars of the Institute for Armenian Research, undertook an in-depth analysis of the movie based on the scenario of the movie, which consequently has been published as a book with the title, “Ararat: Sanatsal Ermeni Propagandas�” (Ararat: Armenian Artistic Propaganda). The book analyses the movie with regard to its topic, aim, the messages it tries to disseminate, the symbols it utilizes, its finance, the support extended from Armenia, its director and actors. Moreover, it sheds light on how the Armenians use cinema as a tool of propaganda, drawing on the examples from other anti-Turkish movies. At the same time, the authors compare the events taken from the movie with the real ones and conclude how far from reality the former are. Though Egoyan claims that considering historical events he relied on “An American Physician in Turkey”, the book written by Clarence Ussher, an American missionary, that the main scenes of horror in the movie have nothing to do with the book, reveals that Egoyan fabricated a great deal. In short, the book clearly shows that the movie “Ararat” has been produced for the sole purpose of propaganda.

Taking the movie to the Cannes Film festival with the hope of getting an award, Egoyan withdrew it finding that there wasn’t such a possibility, and displaying it out of the contest. The movie didn’t succeed in securing positive critiques. The reason behind seems to be the ambiguous and arduous manner of expression and that it was not convincing enough.

4. The Commemoration of the Martyrs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Turkish officials martyred by the Armenian terrorists while on duty abroad were commemorated by a usual ceremony on 30 May, 2002 in Cebeci Cemetery, in the Qraveyard of Martyrs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (D��i�leri �ehitli�i).

The ceremony was attended by a crowd including the families of the martyrs and all the staff of Institute for Armenian Research, speeches were delivered by a young official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Director of Institute for Armenian Research, retired ambassador Ömer E. Lütem, the Minister of National Defense Mr. Sabahattin Çakmako�lu, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ismail Cem respectively. Moreover, the messages sent by President Mr. Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Prime Minister Mr. Bülent Ecevit were read.5

5. Presidential Elections in France and Armenian Question

The presidential elections in France was taken as an opportunity by the Armenian militants to air their demands. Comité de la défense de la cause arménienne (Committee for the Defense of the Armenian Cause) has sent letters to the candidates with five questions asking for answers.[6]

Jacques Chirac, emphasizing the recognition of the Armenian “genocide” by the French Parliament, did not answer clearly the first question on what he thought about taking measures to prevent the denial of “genocide”. Yet ex-Prime Minister Jospin hinted that he may take measures for the French Parliament to punish the attempts of denial of “genocide”. As regarded Jean-Marie Le Pen, who made his way to the second stage of the presidential elections, he left the question unanswered.

It becomes clear that in the face of the lack of a clause of coercion regarding those who do not take the 1915 events as amounting to genocide in the French Law on the recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide,[7] the Armenian militants in France have concentrated all their efforts in this direction. Yet the silence of newly elected Jacques Chirac on this issue appears far from promising for the Armenians. However, it would be wise to take it for granted that this demand will come to the fore at every occasion.

Though President Chirac answered to the second question on the conditions of Turkey’s acceptance to the European Union mentioning the Copenhagen Criteria, ex-Prime Minister Jospin added to the criteria the recognition of the Armenian “genocide” as well. As to Jean-Marie Le Pen, he considered the job done by expressing that he was against Turkey’s membership on the ground of its being “an Asiatic country”.

President Chirac, after the third question on the Karabakh problem responded to the forth one on the “embargo” applied by Azerbaijan and Turkey, in an indirect way, saying that a detente in the region and especially between Armenia and Turkey would help to the establishment and the development of commercial relations.

It was President Chirac that put the most interesting answer to the last question on the preservation of Armenian culture and identity. He expressed his wish for the establishment of an Armenian cultural institution in France if elected, reminding that he had already been engaged in the efforts to strengthen a cathedral in Ani for a long time. This gave the impression that the French President is engaged in a good deal of service to the Armenians. It is difficult, however, to think that a new cultural institution will bring benefit to Armenians, who already utilize in France all the opportunities in all the spheres to the greatest possible extent.

As has been indicated above, the Armenian militants sought to utilize the presidential elections to put forward their demands. Ex¬ Prime Minister Jospin who was the outstanding candidate in terms of heeding the Armenian demands, failed to pass to the second stage, Le Pen who was successful in this regard, was rather indifferent to that demands, and the reelected Jacques Chirac, though resorting to phrases like “one of the most terrible crimes of the past century” about the so-called Armenian genocide, and speaking of the impossibility of the revision of history having in mind Turkey, he too parried Armenian militants’ demands, save for the not-so-useful Armenian cultural institute.

Although the stands taken by the French presidential candidates didn’t reverberate in Turkey to a significant degree, some of the ministers in the French government, formed following the election, received negative reaction from the Turkish media.[8]

The Minister for European Affairs Renaud Donnadieu, sorely criticizing Turkey’s acceptance as a candidate to the European Union, submitted a motion of investigation to the parliament. Explaining why he was against the candidacy of Turkey, he mentioned the so-called Armenian genocide, besides claiming that Turkey was not in line with the nature of Europe.[9]

The Deputy Minister for Local Liberties Patrick Devedjian has been known for his exceedingly negative attitudes towards Turkey and the Turks. He undertook the advocacy of all the Armenians arrested in France, who had tried to assassinate Turkish diplomats. He was one of the architects of the law on the Armenian “genocide” adopted in France in the last year. He was the lawyer of some mafia members and provided one of them with a gun.[10] It seems that he owes his position within the Republican Unity Party that gathered the supporters of De Gaulle, to Jacques Chirac, of whom he was a personal lawyer. Though Devedjian hoped for the post of the minister of justice[12] probably his connections with the mafia became an obstacle on the way.

During this period one more incident affected Turkish-French relations negatively. Journalists Without Borders placing “a map of the countries that suppress freedom of press” in the railway station Saint Lazarre in Paris, located the photo of Turkish Chief of General Staff Hüseyin K�vr�ko�lu on the map of Turkey. The map being tramped by passersby caused a great deal of reaction in Ankara. The General Staff said it will sue the organization and revise the military relations with France, while the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador U�ur Ziyal demanded from the French ambassador the photo to be removed.[13] The Turkish side found the French response that the railway administration was informed unacceptable, and issued an official release demanding the removal of the photo. Consequently the photo was removed.[14]

As it appears this incident has no direct connection with Armenian question. Yet it was aggravated by the lack of confidence emanated from France’s increased support of the Armenian claims for domestic political reason, turning it to a serious problem between the two states. Though it has been for about a year and a half that France has adopted the law recognizing the so-called Armenian genocide, direct and indirect problems continue to permeate the relations between France and Turkey. Adopting this law, France as if added to the Turkish-French relations a kind of Armenian mortgage.

6. A Report by the Swedish Parliament

The Foreign Affairs Commission of the Swedish Parliament prepares regular annual reports on foreign policy and human rights, which after being discussed in the parliament is submitted to the government as the stand of the parliament.

In the report that has been adopted in the parliament, it is stated that the Foreign Affairs Commission has evaluated the motions on the recognition of the Assyrians/ Syrians and Chaldeans “genocides” and the one demanding that Turkey accept the Armenian “genocide”; yet indicating that there isn’t an official Swedish view accepting the events during the Ottoman period as amounting to genocide. Pointing to the adoption of the UN Treaty on Genocide in 1948, the report argues that if it were in force by the time of the events befalling Asyrians/ Syrians and Chaldeans besides the Armenians, perhaps they would have been considered as genocide.[15]

Moreover the report indicated that, the report of the Foreign Affairs Commission of 1999-2000, which referred to an alleged UN decision of 1985 about the genocide that the Armenians suffered, it was found out that neither in 1985 nor in any other date there was no document by the United Nations on the Armenians; and Asyrians/Syrians and Chaldeans.16

In addition to this, the Foreign Affairs Commission, expressed that massacres that the Armenians, Asyrians/Syrians and Chaldeans were subject to, have to be openly discussed, which required historical studies, and all the governments including the Turkish one, should encourage, facilitate and open the archives to the scholars.[17]

Though Murad Artin, an MP of Armenian origin and some other parliamentarians tried to insert to the report phrases accusing Turkey, they lost by 89 votes against 209.[18]

These following points concerning the report by the Foreign Affairs Commission and by the Parliament need to be considered:

A. Regardless of the claims of the Armenian militants that Sweden recognized the Armenian “genocide”, the report states clearly that there is no official Swedish attitude on this issue.

B. Moreover that it was expressed that, had the 1948 treaty been in force during the Ottoman period, the events would have “probably” been accepted as genocide, shows that not only the impossibility of retroactivity of the agreement, but also indicates a neutral stand, leaving the discussion open as to whether genocide happened or not.

C. A report submitted to Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities by Benjamin Whitaker of English origin in 1985, mentioning genocides cites, after Jews, Armenians as an example. While being discussed in the sub-commission as the Turkish and some other states were opposed to the Armenian example. As a result, according to the procedure the report has not been submitted to a higher office, to Human Rights Commission, according to the procedure, the report has just been “noted”. Although the report hasn’t been subject to any processing, Armenian militants advertised the event to the world public opinion as the recognition of the Armenian “genocide” by the UN.[19] It was this disinformation that was mentioned in the 1999/2000 report of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Swedish Parliament and which was corrected this year. In this manner, a foreign parliament proved once more how groundless was the argument on the recognition of the Armenian genocide by the UN.

7. Israel and the So-called Armenian Genocide

Israel’s Ambassador to Armenia, Mrs. Rivka Cohen who resides in Tbilisi, Georgia answering a question on the so-called Armenian genocide in a press conference she arranged in Yerevan on Israeli-Armenian relations on February 8, 2002 said that, “Holocaust is a unique phenomenon, since it has been planned and aimed to destroy the whole nation.[20] At this stage nothing should be compared with Holocaust”.[21] her answer was taken to amount to the denial of the Armenian “genocide” both in Armenia and in Diaspora with the eventual media campaign against her and Israel in general, where there were even those demanding she be declared persona non grata.[22]

This event left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia in a difficult situation, which after a long hesitation eventually decided to issue a protest note to Israel, stating that “the Armenian Foreign Ministry considers unacceptable any attempt to deny or demean the reality of the Armenian Genocide”. Moreover it was said that Armenia has never intended to draw parallels between the Armenian Genocide and Jewish Holocaust, believing instead that any crime committed against humanity is unique with its own special political, legal, historical and moral consequences.[23] At the same time, the Speaker of the Foreign Ministry said that a visit of Mr. Oskanian, the Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Armenia to Israel was foreseen but there was no such a plan on the agenda at that stage.[24] The minister himself on a different occasion, complained about the disregard of the moral values by doubting the reality of Armenian genocide for the sake of some political vested interests, and said that he was confident that the time will come when the state of Israel will revise its policy, and this will occur basically as a result of the pressure of the Jewish people.[25]

Israel in its response to the protest note of the Armenian side stated that “Israel acknowledges the tragedy of the Armenians, however, these events can’t be compared to a genocide, which does not minimize the greatness of this tragedy.”[26] In short, Israel confirmed its official attitude that Armenian relocation didn’t amount to genocide, which had been expressed earlier by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel Shimon Perez while he had visited Turkey in April last year, who said that: “We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian tragedy. Nothing similar to the holocaust occurred. It’s a tragedy what the Armenians experienced but not genocide. This issue should be dealt with by historians and we do not support the comparison of the Armenian tragedies to Jewish Holocaust.”[27]

Though this is the official view of Israel, some Jewish scholars appear to be of a different opinion. To those convinced in the “uniqueness” of the Holocaust like the official view, some others argue that there have been other holocausts and considering the relocations of 1915 a genocide.[28]

Some of these put forward their views in a declaration released last August: “We, the undersigned, are scholars, rabbis, teachers, community leaders, and students of Jewish heritage. As Jews, we share many similarities with the Armenian people. We were both victims of genocide during the twentieth-century and have survived despite those who would deny us our right to exist. On this year, 2001, which marks the 1 700th anniversary of Armenia’s adoption of Christianity, we as Jews salute our Armenian friends and their contributions to Western society and culture.”[29]

This declaration was signed by 54 famous Jews, including 13 professors and 8 rabbies. The works of some of these authors can be found in the footnote.[30]

The activities of two persons draw special attention in this regard: Mr. Israel W. Charny, Executive Director of the Holocaust and Genocide institute in Jerusalem and editor of the Encyclopedia of Genocide and Mr. Yair Auron the author of the book titled “Banality of Indifference: Zionism and the Armenian Genocide” and a member of the Armenian Zoryan Institute in the United States. These two persons who are in a constant activity for the Armenian “genocide” to be recognized, following the aforementioned statements of Mrs. Rivka Cohen, sent protest letters to the Israeli government.[31]

Despite some renowned Jews thinking and acting in line with the Armenians, the official Israeli view should be taken to be the valid one. Moreover if to add the strategic value that Israel attributes to Turkey, it can be said that at this stage there is no possibility that Israel will recognize the so-called genocide.

Armenians are well aware of the advantages that good relations with Israel may bring and are spending a good deal of effort to this end. Yet, as the event associated with Mrs. Rivka Cohen proved, being overemotional with regard to the so-called genocide issue, they sometimes over react causing results hardly favorable to themselves, like forcing the Israeli Government to confirm their refusal of the Armenian “genocide” with a verbal note.

8. The So-called Armenian Genocide and Switzerland

There had been a number of futile attempts to make the Parliament of Switzerland recognize the so-called Armenian genocide. Yet on 13 March, 2001 as the last initiative was unsuccessful only by a very narrow margin of votes by 73 to 70, it was expected that the attempt would be renewed with a greater chance to be successful.[32]

The expectation became true in a shorter time, with the issue raised again in the Parliament of Switzerland. A parliamentarian from Geneva, Jean-Claude Vaudroz submitted to the Parliament a resolution on 20 March, 2002 which read: “The National Council (parliament) recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915. It asks the government, to take notice of this recognition and to convey it through the regular diplomatic channels.”[33]

The motion was signed by 115 MPs out of the total 201 members of the Parliament. That the text didn’t carry binding clauses as regarded the government of Switzerland, didn’t mention Turkey or Turks, and didn’t include phrases of condemnation seem to be main reasons for the success of the initiative. Since with such features they might have thought that Turkey would not object stiffly. In fact, the author of the resolution, Jean-Claude Vaudroz said that the decision didn’t target the Republic of Turkey. Yet though not expressed explicitly, it is clear that a reference in the resolution comes down to Turkey and Turks. Moreover, it is doubtless that if adopted the resolution will be utilized by Armenians against Turkey.

After a few days of the submission of the resolution in question to the Swiss Parliament, while in his official visit to Turkey the Minister of Economy of Switzerland Pascal Couchepain sought to downplay the importance of the issue, saying that “it was only a statement” and that “we are aware of the Turkish public opinion’s sensibilities on the issue. I think that the issue should be left to historians and not to political bodies”. He went on claiming that “members of parliament generally sign various propositions without really knowing their content.”[34] According to the Minister of Foreign affairs of Switzerland, Joseph Deis, though the Parliament wanted to adopt a resolution which has nothing to do with the government, the relations between the two states were strong enough to overcame such difficulties.[35]

According to press[36] the government of Switzerland, in an advisory letter sent to the parliament of the country, stated it had better the issue was left to the historians to resolve and that in case this resolution was adopted that would affect Turkish-Armenian relations negatively. Thus the government has warned the parliament.

On the other hand, the cases of 12 Turks that denied the Armenian “genocide” and acquitted[37] yet were appealed finished. The higher court ruled that such cases couldn’t be appealed by private persons (those who appealed were two Armenians), relying on procedural law.[38] If the parliament of Switzerland had adopted a resolution recognizing the so called Armenian genocide, persons with actions and statements amounting to the denial of this “genocide” would have to be punished by the related clauses of Swiss Criminal Law. In this way, the adoption of such a resolution will be more than a “mere declaration”, carrying judicial consequences.

9- Commemoration of 24 Countries April Activities in Various

April 24th has been commemorated both in Armenia and in Diaspora with usual meetings and ceremonies.

The main activities in Armenia were the march to the monument of “genocide”, a ceremony here and a religious liturgy organized in Echmiazdin.[39] President Kocharian in his speech argued that all the Armenians in the world were awaiting the recognition and condemnation of this crime committed against humanity not because of the wish to take revenge but to prevent similar crimes.[40]

In a march organized in evening with torches, a Turkish flag has been burned.[41]

In almost all the countries of the world with an Armenian minority, various ceremonies and organizations have been organized, the outstanding ones of which were in the United States, France, Lebanon and Greece.

The message that the President of the United States released on the occasion of 24th of April drew attention as it is the case every year. Armenians of the United States tried to exert pressure on the President to get the word “genocide” be included in the message. The most significant of such endeavors was that initiated by members of the Congress, Joe Knollenberg and Frank Pallone, who invited the other members to sign a letter to be sent to the President.

To summarize, the letter, referring to the September 11 terrorist attack, reminds those subjected to violence and mass massacres in preceding years, points to the treacherous murder of 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, and argues that to prevent future genocides the Armenian “genocide” should be understood properly. President Bush was reminded also of his promises in 2000 (before election),[42] with the consequent demand that he uses the world “genocide” this year.[43]

Being signed by 162 members of the Congress the letter was sent to the President.[44] Though there has been an increase of about 30 compared to the previous one, if to consider the whole of the American Congress (535 in total: 435 in the House of Representatives and 100 in Senate) it expressed the will of just % 30 of the institution. This proportion was not great enough to make President Bush change his mind, especially when the next election was three years away.

In his message on 24 April President Bush resorted to such phrases as massacre, murder and horrific killings, however didn’t mention “genocide”.[45] To alleviate the expected disappointment of the Armenians, he added that he looked forward to Turkey’s restoration of economic, political and cultural links with Armenia. Moreover, he praised Armenians for their contribution to the national life of America, and expressed gratitude to Armenia for its cooperation in the struggle against international terrorism. He still emphasized the support Armenia extended to the American nation after September 11. What was interesting in this regard was that, apart from opening its air space to some of the planes destined to Afghanistan, Armenia did nothing that can be counted as a support in the fight against terror. Far from truth President Bush’s remarks were, they should certainly as regarded appealed to the Armenian pride.

In the message there have been two points that concern Turkey very much. The first is about the event of relocation. The President spoke of “the massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenians through forced exile and murder at the end of the Ottoman Empire”. Yet the historical records are clear that the number of Armenians in the whole Ottoman Empire was below 1,5 millions. Moreover, though it is true that Armenians were forced to migrate, that they were subjected to mass killings doesn’t hold true. Such phrases by the President run counter to the views and beliefs of the Turkish state, scholars and public opinion, and diminishes the assets that he gained by avoiding the word “genocide”.

As to the President’s words regarding his expectations that Turkey reestablish economic, political and cultural relations with Armenia, these reflect the views of the Armenians in “establishing relations with Turkey unconditionally”. To establish diplomatic relations with Armenia unconditionally means letting them go on claiming about “genocide”, invading Karabakh and other Azerbaijani territories and refusing to recognize Turkey’s territorial integrity and inviolability of its borders. That’s why an unconditional establishment of diplomatic relations means disregarding the Turkish interests.

American President’s calling for the establishment of relations between Turkey and Armenia is due to the great importance that the United States, for strategic reasons attributes to peace in the Caucasus. This stand is correct as a principle. What is wrong is that demands are directed solely towards Turkey. As it is Armenia’s attitudes and policies that are behind all the problems existing in the South Caucasus. To try to resolve the problems, the first state to start with is Armenia.

During the period under review six[46] American federated states adopted resolutions recognizing the so-called Armenian genocide.[47]

We have already mentioned how easily American federated states deliver declarations and adopt resolutions concerning days of celebration upon the demands by the electorate.[48] On the other hand, houses of representatives, senates, governorates and other offices of the states can be appealed to take decisions of the similar nature, and such demands could be repeated each year. For instance, in California densely populated by Armenians, though one decision on this subject would be enough logically, there have been 17 on the recognition and commemoration of the so-called Armenian genocide.

The common feature of the resolutions is that they are overridden with faults as the texts presented by Armenians are adopted without almost any investigation whatsoever. For example, in a resolution being adopted in Rhode Island’s House of Representatives and Senate separately on 24 April, 2002, it was stated that the so-called Armenian genocide had been recognized by the United Nations, the European Council and Great Britain; which doesn’t hold true.

Moreover, in a resolution by Wisconsin Senate on 20 February, 2002 it is stated that, “Government of Turkey denies its Armenian community religious freedom, the right to control its own schools, the right to teach its children its own language, and the right to express its ethnic identity”; this too has nothing to do with reality. Before deciding on that kind of issue it would be proper to investigate the real situation in Turkey, for example, by appealing to the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul.

10. Armenia: A Law Against the Deniers of the So-called Armenian Genocide

“Agricultural-Industrial Popular Unity”, one of the fractions in the Armenian Parliament, submitted a draft law to protect the memories of the victims of the Armenian “genocide” in the Ottoman Turkey between 1915-1923. The draft law stipulates that those denying, approving of “genocide”, or discussing its verity to be punished.[49]

As there can be no one daring to deny “genocide” in Armenia, the reason behind a need for such a law begs question. The Chairman of Agricultural-Industrial Popular Unity, Hmat Hovanisian, in his speech delivered in this regard, accused the officials of the Ter-Petrosian era, who endeavored to normalize Turkish-Armenian relations, especially Jirayir Libaridian, the author of the book “Challenge of Statehood”,[50] and Murad Boyaliian who still is under arrest allegedly due to spying for Turkey.[51] Though not mentioned by Hovannisian, that the Armenian members of the still-inactive Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission will also be susceptible to punishment seems rather granted, if the law is adopted.

In this way, the draft law is radical enough not only to target those denying the “genocide”, but also those trying to achieve normal relations with Turkey. As the Armenian government has been mute with regard to this draft it is difficult to predict whether it will be adopted at this stage. Yet if adopted a proper response could be from the Turkish side the adoption by the Turkish Parliament of the draft law submitted by the Foreign Affairs Commission to other commissions (and which is probably still on the agenda of the latter) named “Law against International Defamation, Accusation and Manipulations[52] must be discussed and adopted immediately.

11. The Second Armenia and Diaspora Conference

As announced by President Kocharian, after being elected in 1998, a conference attended by delegates both from Armenia and Diaspora, was held on 22-23 September, 1999 in Yerevan.

Trying to forge close relations with the Diaspora Armenians, unlike his predecessor Ter-Petrosian, President Kocharian is expecting to secure an increase in aid and investments from Armenians abroad, and to get their support in the Karabakh issue. On the other hand it becomes clear that the greatest expectation of the Diaspora Armenians from Armenia is that the latter be more active in the international recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide.

The second Armenia-Diaspora Conference was held on 27-28 May in Yerevan. According to press, half of the delegates, participating in the organization were from Diaspora and the other half from Armenia (total 3000). The Declaration that was adopted at the end of the conference[53] spoke of the terrible wound that the Armenian nation suffered as a result of the planned action by the Ottoman Turkey, which caused the mass annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians, yet that this nation managed to withstand this blow and establish the first Armenian Republic on 28 May, 1918 as a result of heroic struggles,[54] though that state was destructed by a renewed Turkish aggression.[55]

Moreover, the declaration which states that Diaspora should link its identity and honor not only to the past but also to the existence of the Armenian state and have a responsibility towards it, amounts to an indirect expectation from the Diaspora to provide more aid to Armenia. The phrases considering the liberation of Artsakh (a name given to Karabakh by Armenians) as the greatest achievement of Armenia in modern times, proves that despite the resolutions of the United Nations Armenians see Karabakh as annexed to Armenia. The words on raising the level of prosperity of the people of Karabakh too indicates that Diaspora extend its help to Karabakh.

According to the declaration the main issue of the Diaspora is the preservation and propagation of national character, traditions, culture and identity under differing political and cultural conditions which exist in different countries around the world. This proves that in spite of all the efforts, the basic problem facing Armenians is assimilation.

The following paragraph of the Declaration concerns the so-called Armenian genocide: “The Conference reconfirms its resolve to attain international recognition of the Armenian Genocide in every country around the world. The conference welcomes all the efforts of just-minded friends of the Armenian people in capitals around the world which is proof of the growing commitment of international community to the issue of genocide”. It appears that Armenia as much as Diaspora is determined to continue its activities to get “genocide” recognized. This in turn means that Armenia will continue to have problems with Turkey.

Though not expressed in the declaration, according to press, among the submitted projects to the conference, there was one envisaging the establishment of a genocide research center in Armenia. The expectation from such an establishment, it seems, is the intensification of the current studies and training of young scholars on that subject.[56]

12. The Keykjavik Meeting

On an initiative by Turkey, the ministers of foreign affairs of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia got together on 15 May, 2002 in Reykjavik, the city hosting the meeting of the NATO ministers of foreign affairs.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs �smail Cem, in a speech delivered on 17 February, 2001, stating that a trilateral meeting between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia would accelerate the resolution of conflicts between the two states (Azerbaijan and Armenia) made an offer to this end.[57] Yet the Armenian authorities didn’t accept it indicating that Turkey clearly takes side of Azerbaijan, that it had not established diplomatic relations with Armenia, and that such a meeting would push the Minsk Group to the sidelines.[58] As Armenia accepted the same offer after a year though the cited reasons for the previous refusal were intact, seem to indicate some changes in the conditions. Indeed, the intensification of the United States’ de facto presence in the Caucasus, which supported Mr. Cem’s offer, rising influence of Turkey which had already been engaged in the security issues of the region, and absence of opposition of the Russian Federation to that meeting constituted the main reasons behind Armenian’s decision to sit at the table.

A press release following the meeting stated that “the ministers discussed ways of solving the existing problems in the sphere of security and regional cooperation”.[59] The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey added that, the meeting was organized with the initiative of Turkey and support of Azerbaijan and Armenia, that, it was the first meeting between the ministers of foreign affairs of the three states, that the ministers discussed current security and other local problems and the possibilities of cooperation, that the meeting was a positive precedence for future activities, and that the ministers may get together within the framework of Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, of which the three states are members.[60]

Following this meeting the ministers of foreign affairs of Turkey and Armenia had a bilateral meeting. According to one newspaper,[61] �smail Cem put four conditions for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia:

1. History shouldn’t be used as a source of enmity, Yerevan should forgo genocide claims, and accepts that the issue should be left to historians;

2. A clause in the Armenian Constitution demanding territory from Turkey should be removed;

3. The problem of Nagorno Karabakh should be resolved;

4. A security corridor should be established between mainland Azerbaijan and Nakhchevan.

As this news was also published by different newspapers and agencies, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Vartan Oskanian, felt a need to deny that �smail Cem spoke of the four conditions in the trilateral meeting.[62] he added that in the bilateral meeting, Turkish-Armenian relations, the possibilities of their development, the present obstacles and the ways to overcome them were discussed.

The four points mentioned are Turkey’s expectations from Armenia to establish diplomatic relations. These may be called preconditions of Turkey as well.[63] It is meaningless to put forward such issues in a trilateral meeting devoted to regional problems. However, during the Cem-Oskanian meeting, though defined not as “conditions” they were certainly put on the table, since these are the main problems between Turkey and Armenia.

The Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Armenia met on 25 June, 2002, on the sidelines of the 10th anniversary of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. The meeting described as “positive”[64] focused on bilateral relations and on the southern Caucasus and especially on Karabakh. The Armenian Foreign Minister said after the meeting “We will continue this process”[65] Following the resignation of Mr. Cem Mr. Oskanian repeated his intention to go ahead with the dialogue with Turkey by saying “Now I can only hope that the new Turkish government desires to carry on our dialogue that begun in the beginning of the year”.[66]


[1] See, pp. 120-122.
[2] See, pp. 154-157.
[3] See,pp. 124-126.
[4] On this topic see Sedat Laçiner “Ararat Filmi ve Türk Bas�n�: Ele�tirel Bir De�erlendirme”, (The Film Ararat and Turkish Media: A Critical Analysis) Armenian Studies No:5, pp. 48-83.
[5] The texts of the speeches and messages are in the documentary section of the journal.
[6] For the questions and answers we relied on La Lettre de L’UGAB 17 April 2002.
[7] See, Armenian Studies, Vol.1, No 1, 2001, pp. 20, 21.
[8] 9 May�s 2002 tarihli Radikal: “Frans�z Hükümeti Tats�z” (French Government is not delighted), Radikal, May 9 2002; “Türk Kar��tlar� Yeni Hükümette” (Turkey opposers at the new government), Hürriyet, 9 May 2002; “Frans�z Kabinesi Türk Dü�man� Dolu”, (French Cabinet is full of Anti-Turks) Ak�am, 9 May 2002.
[9] Radikal, 9 May 2002.
[10] Ak�am, 7 May 2002.
[11] Liberation, 8 May 2002.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Radikal, 9 May 2002.
[14] Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, No. 62, 10 May 2002.
[15] A report by the Foreign Affairs Commission of Swedish Parliament, with a sign “2001/02:UU8 Mnskliga rttigheter m.m- inder, omrden, enskilda folkgrupper och vissa FN-frgor.”
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid.
[18] www.ntvmnsbc.com.tr, 27 March 2002.
[19] For Whitaker report and views thereon see Türkkaya Ataöv “What Really Happened in Geneva: The Truth About the Whitaker Report”, Ankara, 1986.
[20] The phrase unique used here to indicate the only of its kind. Thus it means that the conditions that were the case in the Jewish Holocaust have not been repeated in any other case.
[21] Asbarez Online, 8 Feburary 2002.
[22] Armenian Aryan Parti: Arminfo, 11 February 2002; and journalist Sasunyan: California Courier Online, 14 February 2002.
[23] A press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, 15 February 2002.
[24] Armenpress News Agency, 15 February 2002.
[25] Noyan Tapan News Agency, 20 February 2002.
[26] Arminfo, 20 February 2002.
[27] Asbarez Daily, 13 April 2002.
[28] For Israeli view on the difference between Armenian events and holocaust see �brahim Kaya, “The Holocaust and Armenian Case: Highlighting the Main Differences”, Armenian Studies, No. 4, p.274.
[29] Azg Daily, 7 September 2001.
[30] Robert Melson: Revolution and Genocide. On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust Daniel Jonah Goldhagen: Hitler’s Willing Executioners. Ordinary German and the Holocaust; Efraim Karsh: Empire of the Sand. The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East (1789-1923); Robert Jay Litton : The Nazi Doctors. Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide; Deborah Lipstadt: Denying Genocide. The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.
[31] For the texts of these letters see Armenian National Institute, 7 March 2002; Zoryan Institute of Canada, 6 March 2002.
{32] Armenian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2001, pp. 38,39
[33] Press Release, Association Switzerland-Armenia, 20 March 2002.
[34] Agence France Presse, 26 March 2002.
[35] Turkish Daily News, 29 March 2002,
[36] Hürriyet, 25 May 2002.
[37] Ermeni Ara�t�rmalar�, No. 3, pp. 16, 17.
[38] Press Release, Association Switzerland-Armenia, 18 April 2002.
[39] Press Release, Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, 25 April 2002.
[40] Agence France Presse, 24 April 2002.
[41] Reuters, 24 April 2002.
[42] Armenian Studies, No. 1, pp. 39, 40.
[43] Armenian Assembly of America, Press Release, 5 March 2001.
[44] Armenian National Committee of America, Press Release, 15 April 2002.
[45] For the full text of the message see Armenian National Committee of America, Press Release, 24 April 2002.
[46] As of late May 2002 these states are: California, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
[47] As of late May 2002 27 states recognizing the so-called Armenian genocide are (Numbers indicate how many times it was recognized): Alaska (2), Arizona (1), Arkansas (1), California (17), Colorado (5), Connecticut (2), Florida (1), Georgia (1), Illinois (6), Maine (2), Maryland (4), Massachusetts (3), Michigan (5), Minnesota (1), Nevada (1), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (5), New Mexico (1), New York (10), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (6), Rhode Island (12), South Carolina (1), Virginia (4), Washington (1), Wisconsin (4).
[48] Armenian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2001, pp. 32, 33.
[49] Pan Armenian News. 19 April 2002.
[50] The Challenge of Statehood. Armenian Political Thinking since Independence
[51] RFE/RL, Armenia Report, 20 April 2002.
[52] Law against International Defamation, Accusation and Manipulations, Armenian Studies, No. 1, pp. 21, 22.
[53] www.armeniadiaspora.com/conference2002/htms/declareng.htm
[54] The Sardarabad battle is mentioned. As in 1918 Russia withdrew from the Ottoman territories it occupied in 1878, Armenians fighted Ottoman forces to invade these lands but were not successful. Though advancing Ottoman armies towards Yerevan were stopped in Sadrabad in late May 1918, Armenains unable to carry out war were compelled to sign the Batum Treaty on 4 June, 1918, accepting all Ottoman demands.
[55] To take East Anatolian territories granted to Armenia by the Sévres Treaty, Armenians entered into combat with the Turkish forces in the command of Kaz�m Karabekir in late September 1920, yet being defeated signed the Gümrü Treaty which recognized the Sévres as invalid.
[58] Ibid., pp. 34, 35.
[59] Medimax News Agency, 16 May 2002.
[60] Anadolu Ajans�, 15 May 2002.
[61] Hürriyet, 16 May 2002.
[62] Interfax, 18 May 2002; Osbarez Online, 20 May 2002.
[63] For a detailed information on this issue see Ermeni Ara�t�rmalar�, No. 4, pp. 14, 15, 24.
[64] Agence France Presse 25 June, 2002
[65] Turkish Daily News, 27 June, 2002
[66] ITAR-TASS News Agency 18 July, 2002




1. THE MEETING OF MINISTERS OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Following their meeting in Rejkyavik,[1] the Ministers of foreign Affairs of Turkey and Armenia met again on the occasion of the celebrations organized for the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization on June 25, 2002. They also met on September 16, 2002 during the meeting of the UN General Assembly.

It appears that at the Istanbul meeting mainly the main objective of the Karabagh conflict was Armenian side is to secure discussed. On the other hand Minister of foreign Affairs of Armenia, Vartan Oskanian, repeated the willingness of his country to initiate diplomatic with Turkey with no preconditions attached. The Turkish side listened but did not respond to that. There was no change in the policy of the two sides when they met in New York three months later.[2] The Armenian Minister of foreign Affairs stated, “despite the fact that these meetings have not given any tangible results, I believe that the fact of the dialogue itself is useful”.[3]

As it is understood from these meetings, the main objective of the Armenian side is to secure the establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of borders with Turkey while making no concessions in return. Because Turkey supports the view of Azerbaijan, Armenia does not wish to see Turkey involved in the efforts to settle the Karabagh problem. However, aware that insisting on this issue will prevent them from drawing Turkey to the negotiating table, Armenia has decided to give precedence to bilateral relations and accept the discussion of the Karabagh issue as well. Armenia also hopes that once Turkey starts to play an active role in the solution of the Karabagh issue, it will distance itself from unconditionally supporting the views of Azerbaijan and adopt a more “balanced” policy.

Turkey considers that there can be no improvement in bilateral relations until the Karabagh conflict is resolved and therefore she gives priority not to the establishment of diplomatic relations. But the resolution of this conflict will eliminate only one of the obstacles that Turkish-Armenian relations face. following this the remaining problems between Turkey and Armenia, such as the allegations of ‘genocide’, the inviolability of the Turkish-Armenian border and the reference in the Armenian Constitution to some of the eastern provinces of Turkey as “western Armenia” will have to be resolved and only then will it be possible to open the borders and establish diplomatic relations. It becomes obvious that this fact is at least partially understood by the Armenian Minister from his following statement: “The establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey or complete re-opening of the border before the (Karabagh) conflict’s final settlement is certainly not probable, but not impossible. I think the policy of small steps, which I believe will allow to achieve certain shifts in the relations with Turkey before the settlement of the conflict, is more real”.[4]

The differences of opinion on Karabagh issue and allegations of genocide once again surfaced during the UN General Assembly in September.

In his speech to the General Assembly Vilayet Guliyev, the foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, directed harsh criticism towards Armenia for its stance on Karabagh. The Turkish foreign Minister Gürel accused Armenia of not complying with the relevant UN resolutions on Karabagh and demanded that Armenian forces evacuate the occupied Azerbaijani territories. Gürel stated that the Karabagh conflict is an impediment to achieving political stability and economic development in the region. The Armenian foreign Minister Oskanian did answer the Azerbaijani statement but refrained from mentioning Turkey. He did, however, extend his appreciation to the governments and international organizations that had recognized the “genocide” and promised that Yerevan could cooperate with those states that were in the process of recognition. The Turkish delegation objected, stating that the events to which Oskanian was referring occupied a very short time span in the nine centuries of Turkish-Armenian co-habitation and that the allegation that there was a premeditated, planned and duly executed scheme to annihilate the Ottoman Armenian population remains unsubstantiated. furthermore, the Turkish delegation demanded from Armenia not to participate in a smear campaign that propagated only one version of events in history.

2. MR. OSKANIAN’S CONFERENCES

It is of particular interest to dwell on some of the conferences of the Armenian foreign Minister as these shed light on Armenian policy towards Turkey.

In a speech on Turkish—Armenian relations delivered at TESEV, a Turkish think tank, on June 26, 2002[5] Oskanian stated that it was not up to him to evaluate the friendship of Turkey with Azerbaijan but that this friendship should not be used to isolate other countries (namely Armenia). He added that Turkey was not establishing relations with Armenia not only because of historic problems but that the problems of Armenia with Azerbaijan had taken Turkish-Armenian relations hostage.

He also claimed that Karabagh had never been a part of independent Azerbaijan, that the region was never controlled by Azerbaijan with the exception of the Soviet era and that the population of Karabagh had been separated from Azerbaijan in accordance with provisions of the Constitution.

Oskanian gave priority to the “embargo” issue an stated that Azerbaijan had convinced Turkey to implement an embargo against Armenia, that the two states believed that they could thus impose their own solution on Armenia but the Armenian economy did not collapse despite the embargo. he also stated that contrary to expectations, the Armenian economy was faring better than the other economies in the region, emphasizing that the ONE’ had grown by 9,6% last year and that they had achieved 10% growth in the first half of 2002.

On the issue of diplomatic relations, Oskanian restated the well-known Armenian thesis, saying that his country was willing to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey with no preconditions attached. However through indirect remarks he made clear that this would not mean that Armenia would abandon the claims of genocide.

A close study of the views of the Armenian foreign Minister reveal that they contain some errors in judgment.

Turkish support for Azerbaijan against Armenia is based not only on ethnic and cultural similarities, but also on the fact that Armenia does not recognize the territorial integrity of Turkey and continuously works to secure international recognition of their allegations of genocide. In this context, the thesis that the problems of Armenia with Azerbaijan have taken hostage Turkish-Armenian relations reflects only a part of reality.

As the name implies, Karabagh[6] has historically been Azerbaijani territory. No one but the Armenians disputes that legally this territory belongs to Azerbaijan. This fact was confirmed by the Council of Europe, European Union, Russia, USA and other countries during the “presidential elections” in Karabagh.[7] On the other hand, the Karabagh conflict concerns also the regional stability. Lastly, due to a million refugees that resulted from hostilities the humanitarian dimension of this problem cannot be disregarded.

As the economic measures that Turkey has taken against. Armenia consists of only closing down of border crossings, this cannot be considered to be a real embargo. On the other hand it is only natural that Azerbaijan should implement an embargo or similar measures against Armenia, a country with which it is at a war that has been temporarily halted by a cease-fire. However Armenia complains that it faces great injustice and works hard for the lifting of the “embargo”. These efforts are intended to make believe that the economic measures taken by Turkey and Azerbaijan are putting Armenia in a very difficult position. But Oskanian said in Istanbul that these measures did not have an effect on the Armenian economy, on the contrary the Armenian economy was doing better than the other economies of the region. One should conclude in that case that the Armenian efforts to lift “embargo” are in fact an occasion to complain about Turkey and Azerbaijan in order to put them under pressure.

As to the Armenian willingness to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey, taking into account the policy of Armenia towards Turkey and Azerbaijan which one may easily describe as hostile, it is only natural that Turkey should seek the fulfillment of certain preconditions before establishing diplomatic relations. In fact, establishing diplomatic relations without preconditions with Armenia would mean tacit recognition of the occupation of Karabagh and other Azerbaijani territories, ignoring the fact that Armenia does not recognize the territorial integrity of Turkey and the inviolability of Turkish borders and accepting Armenia to continue accusing Turkey of genocide. The proof that Armenia will not desert its genocide claims even if diplomatic relations are established is found in the TESEV speech of Oskanian where he states that Armenia in this case is not willing to renounce its national memories or dismiss historical injustices it has suffered. In essence, it is not to the benefit of Turkey to establish diplomatic relations with Yerevan, as this will mean accepting all of Armenian demands while getting nothing in return.

As Turkey definitely refuses the claims of genocide, it is clear that there is no use for Armenia to follow a policy that is based on these claims. On the contrary, insisting on such a policy results only in aggravating of the conflict, which makes it even more difficult to achieve the stability that is so much needed in the entire Southern Caucasus region.

In a speech delivered at Yale University on September 19, 2002, the Armenian foreign Minister stated that the USA had been promising for four years to try to convince Turkey to take concrete steps towards cooperative relations with Armenia. He added that as the USA was aware of the unconditional readiness of Armenia to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey, Washington had tried for Turkey to at least start with gestures such as the reopening of railways or the opening of borders so as to allow trade, but that four years later no progress had been made. Oskanian said Yerevan was well aware of American efforts to convince Ankara. He also said that Washington could not risk applying too much pressure for the fear of losing the vital Turkish support on a number of critical issues such as Iraq, Israel, and NATO and EU defense. However he did add that the current situation was in fact perceived in Armenia as an American bias or partiality towards Ankara.

The most interesting feature of this speech is that Armenia expects the USA to be active on convincing Turkey to take a step forward on matters Yerevan considers vital such as establishing diplomatic relations, the opening of borders and resumption of railway transportation while it does nothing serious for the realization of these goals itself and goes as far as blaming Washington of being partial when no progress is made.

In another conference on Caucasus security issues on October 30, Oskanian; “pointed out the non-constructive position of Turkey whose one-sided policy was only compounding the problem”. According to Oskanian “although the Armenian side has tried to change this negative position of Turkey, no actual progress is being made for Turkey does not want to overcome its narrow ethnic problems and approach the issue from a geopolitical standpoint.”[8]

These words are astonishing as all the problems in the southern Caucasus are emanating from Armenia. It is Armenia that has occupied Karabagh and other Azerbaijani territories. It is Armenia that supports the unrest in Georgia’s Javakheti region. Armenia does not recognize the territorial integrity of Turkey and the inviolability of Turkish borders and voices accusations of genocide. Finally, the Russian Federation owns its presence in the southern Caucasus to Armenia. The Armenian habit to never search for the blame with themselves but always others constitutes a psychological barrier that is difficult to overcome when dealing with this country. .

3. ARMENIAN DIASPORA ACTIVITIES AGAINST TURKEY

The activities of the Armenians of the diaspora against Turkey continue and aim mainly on achieving recognition of the ‘genocide’ claims in the parliaments of some states. On the other hand Armenians systematically oppose all initiatives -particularly in the USA- that may be of benefit to Turkey even if these do not concern any Armenian interests.

a. USA

As always, Armenian activities are at their strongest in the USA where the most powerful Armenian diaspora resides.

A New “Genocide” Draft Resolution

New Jersey Senator Robert Toricelli (D) presented to the Senate at the end of July a draft resolution that envisaged the supporting of the 1948 Genocide Convention on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the signing of this document by the USA.

A paragraph of the draft resolution reads; “whereas the enactment of the Genocide Convention Implementation Act marked a principled stand by the USA against the crime of genocide and an important step toward ensuring that the lessons of the holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda, among others, will be used to help prevent future genocides”.[9]

Thus, unable to present a resolution on the alleged Armenian genocide, American Armenians had chosen to bring the issue to the Senate indirectly by hiding it behind the Holocaust. The draft had gathered 31 supporters as of late October and will be accepted if this number reaches 51.

Is there a chance for this resolution to be accepted? Considering the highly increased strategic value of Turkey to the USA following the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the likelihood of a military intervention to Iraq, it is difficult to believe that this resolution which will be met by the fierce reaction of Turkey will be accepted now. In line with this understanding, the Co-Chairman of the Armenian Caucus frank Pallone told Armenian reporters in Yerevan on August 16 that the September 11 attacks had made things difficult for the resolution and that their opposition was claiming that bringing up the issue of the “Armenian genocide” would harm the war on terror. Pallone stated also that he did not agree with this but it would be very difficult to bring this matter up under the given circumstances.[10]

On the other hand it must be noted that ultimately the outcome of this draft will depend on the stance of the Jewish lobby. It would only be logical for the American Jews to oppose this draft, as they rightly believe that the holocaust is unique and since the draft attempts to equate the holocaust with the “Armenian genocide”.

“Wexler Resolution” on the Accession of Turkey to the EU

Member of the House of Representatives Robert Wexler (D) proposed a draft resolution to assist the accession of Turkey to the EU. The operative paragraph reads as follows:

“Now, therefore, be it revolved that it is in the sense of the House of Representatives that;

1. The United States should continue to support the efforts of the Republic of Turkey to join the European Union,

2. The European Union should recognize Turkey’s comprehensive political and economic reforms and set a date for the initiation of accession negotiations at the meeting of the European Council in Copenhagen to be held on December 12-13.”

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the Dashnak organization in the USA, immediately objected to this draft resolution. A letter sent by ANCA to the members of the house read: “The American people, through their representatives, should not be asked to confer their approval upon a military-led government that abuses the human rights of its citizens, restricts the religious freedom of its Christian minorities, denies Armenian Genocide, illegally blockades Armenia and continues to maintain a military occupation of Cyprus.[11]

The Armenian Assembly of America, the opponent of ANCA which does however act parallel with ANCA when the issue is Turkey, wrote in its statement on this issue “Now can the USA morally support Turkey’s accession to the EU without calling upon Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, lift its blockade of Armenia and address its human rights record?[12]

It’s worth mentioning that the 125 member Armenian Caucus which brings together the Representatives and Senators of the Congress supporting Armenian issues was reduced to 114 members after the by-elections, signaling a relative weakening of the position of the Armenian Lobby in Congress.

The Draft Law Which Envisages Economic Benefits for Turkey

In order to assist Ankara economically the US government introduced to Congress a draft law that envisaged the lifting of all taxes on certain goods such as textiles and leather products imported from Turkey. The House of Representatives passed the draft.

Due to strong opposition of the Armenian lobby to this draft, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage wrote a letter to the members of Senate promising to push for the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border and the restoration of broader “economic, political and cultural links” between Turkey and Armenia.[13]

As can be seen, the Armenian lobby in the USA can even intervene in an issue that does not concern Armenians or Armenia directly, such as granting Turkey trade benefits. The lobby can even compel the Deputy Secretary of State to write a letter, in line with the demands of Armenia from Turkey.

b. Canada

The Canadian Senate, with the initiative of some of its members of Armenian decent adopted a resolution on the Armenian “genocide” on June 13, 2002. The operative paragraph of the resolution reads as follows;

“That this house calls on the Government of Canada: a) to recognize the genocide of the Armenians and to condemn any attempt to deny or distort a historical truth as being anything less than a genocide, a crime against humanity and b) to designate the 24th of every year hereafter throughout Canada as a day of remembrance of the 1.5 million Armenians who fell victim to the first genocide of the 20th century.”[14]

This resolution, which was accepted with 39 votes in favor and none against, shows to which extent the influence of the Armenian community in Canada has grown over public opinion. It is difficult to understand the existence of this influence despite the murders of Turkish diplomats[15] in Canada by Armenian terrorists. This can only be explained by a lack of effective opposition to the Armenian allegations that was considered as true over time. Another reason is that Turkish diplomats assassinations are forgotten as time passes.

This resolution does not place Canada amongst the states that recognize the alleged Armenian genocide. For this to happen the house of Commons must adopt a similar resolution and finally the government must implement it.

c. Wales

The National Assembly of Wales recognized the alleged Armenian genocide by a decision taken with 31 votes on October 30, 2002. [16] This decision known as a Statement of Opinion reads as follows: “We recognize the Armenian genocide under Turkish Government in 1915. We call on Turkey to stop economic sanctions against the Republic of Armenia and call on British Government not to support Turkey’s application for EU membership.” [17]

It is understood that the different churches in Wales were the main driving force behind this decision.[18]

This decision will have no legal consequences for either Great Britain or Turkey. It is, however, a moral satisfaction for the Armenians and will constitute a precedent for efforts to obtain recognition for the “genocide” in the UK.

Neither British Parliament nor the government accepts Armenian claims of genocide. This was most recently proven by the British Minister Baroness Scotland in February 2001 when in a reply to a question in the house of Lords she answered that evidence showed that the events concerning the Armenians could not be classified as genocide as the term is clearly defined by the 1948 UN Genocide Convention. The British Embassy in Ankara confirmed this position in a press statement issued in July of the same year.[19]

British government attitude has resulted in caution on the Armenian side. Despite the fact that they have supporters like Baroness Cox in the Parliament, it appears that before applying to the Parliament Armenians would try to first have decisions taken in organizations that may be sympathetic to their cause such as trade unions, the Greater London Council, the British Council of Churches, the Liberal Party, etc.[20]

d. Report on “Armenians in Turkey Today”

After Kocharian was elected President in 1998, the Forum of Armenian Associations in Europe was founded to bring together Armenian organizations in Europe and facilitate their cooperation. This organization has worked more on preventing the accession of Turkey to the EU than it has realized cooperation between Armenian organizations. One of the successes of the forum which is usually engaged in lobbying activity was the adoption by the European Parliament of the South Caucasus Report which reflects the views of Armenians and came into existence by convincing the Swedish Reporter Per Garthon to the Armenian cause.

The sensitivity of the EU on minorities has led the forum to follow a policy based on depicting the situation of the Armenian minority in Turkey as negative, thus intentionally causing Turkey to encounter some problems when it is dealing with the EU. As a result the forum has commissioned a report entitled “Armenians in Turkey Today- A Critical Assessment of the Situation of the Armenian Minority in the Turkish Republic.” Tessa hoffman, the author of the report, is known in Germany for her activities and writing against Turkey. She unconditionally supports Armenian views and has therefore been given an award by the Armenian Benevolent Foundation and the Yeravan University granted her with the academic title of Professor.[21]

The report includes a great number of allegations about the Armenians living in Turkey. Most of the allegations are untrue while some others are wildly exaggerated.[22] The report claims that the Armenians living in Turkey face intense prejudice, suffer discriminatory legal and administrative measures as well as many restrictions and arbitrariness and that these measures aim to assimilate the Armenians or to force their migration. The report speaks of unreal events such as the confiscation of church property and even considers the fact that there are not a sufficient number of priests due to the measures taken by the government. It alleges that the authorities can and do paralyze the operations of schools at will.

In the detailed section under the heading “Re¬commendations”[23] - as if all the allegations were true - authorities are called upon to protect Armenians from threats and attacks as well as to put an end to the pilferage at religious foundations. The report demands that the Turkish press ceases discriminatory and offensive reporting and recognizes its responsibility to that end. The Turkish press is requested to refrain from criticizing those who do acknowledge the alleged genocide. Educating broad sections of Turkish society on the “genocide” and reviewing schoolbooks are among the recommendations. Furthermore it is stated that Turkish politicians must recognize their own responsibility for the protection of minorities, finally, it is recommended that Turks who do recognize the alleged genocide should not be prosecuted. Finally the report demands that the EU takes the appropriate measures to support Turkish academics, publishers and journalists who critically reassess history, in other words those who recognize the Armenian genocide claims.

It is not clear on whom these recommendations are directed at. However bearing in minds the close relations of the forum with the EU circles, it comes to mind that the EU is the actual addressee. As a significant portion of the members of the European Parliament are against Turkey becoming an EU member, it is likely that these recommendations could be at least partially incorporated into some resolutions of the European Parliament.

The Armenian Patriarcate in Turkey made public a declaration concerning this report[24] and reflected the real conditions of the Armenians living in Turkey. This declaration, which could be considered as a denial of the Hoffman report, protests the allegations of assimilation, pressure and ill treatment of the Armenian population in Turkey and reiterates the loyalty of Turkish Armenians to their country.

4. FORTHCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN ARMENIA

Presidential elections in Armenia will be held on February 19, 2003. A number of Armenian politicians including President Kocharian have declared themselves to be candidate. Among them are the leader of the Armenian Peoples Party Stepan Demirjian, leader of the National Unity Party Artashes Geghamian and leader of the National Democratic Union Party Vazgen Manukian.

Although the 19 opposition parties have formed an alliance to nominate a single candidate to face Kocharian, they have been unable to agree on a person. The strongest contender for the office of president is Kocharian. Due to the high number of candidates it is likely that Kocharian will not be able to receive sufficient votes in the first round and could only be elected in the second.

Kocharian’s strength in these elections does not come from his successes during his presidency but rather from the relative weakness of his competitors. As we will go into details below, it is difficult to claim that Armenia has registered serious progress under the leadership of Kocharian in the last five years.

Armenia’s greatest problem is economic. The weakness of the economy leads to unemployment, poverty and migration. The first years of the Kocharian era were marked by economic stagnation yet there is a substantial growth in GDP during the last two years. This growth is only due to the increase of the export of cut diamonds and some metals and the construction of a road financed by the American businessman of Armenian origin Kirk Kerkorian’s Lincy Foundation.[25] As the growth concerns to very few sectors of the economy it did little to increase overall wages or decrease unemployment.

A longstanding source of complaint in Armenia is the corruption. A public opinion poll organized recently by the Armenian branch of the Regional Development Center/Transparency International with the support of the British government and the USAID and OSCE Yerevan Offices asked “how has the level of corruption changed during the last five years?”. 47% of the respondents think the level of corruption has grown while 25% believed that it has not changed.[26] It is clear that the Armenian people’s complaints about corruption are continuing at an increasing trend.

It is not possible to say that the current government is more liberal regarding rights and freedoms than the government of Ter¬Petrosian. Particularly, at times attempts are made to bring the media under pressure. A few recent examples include the bomb attack on journalist Mark Gregorian[27] and the prevention of distribution of the paper Avarot.[28]

In addition to efforts of the Minsk Group to resolve the Karabagh conflict, approximately 20 meetings were held between Alley and Kocharian but no progress was made. This constitutes a failure for Kocharian. On the other hand Kocharian tried to use allegations of genocide as a tool to drive Turkey towards a kind of neutrality in the Karabagh issue, yet this tactic failed as Turkey continued to support Azerbaijan and even backfired as the borders between the two countries remain closed and the establishment of diplomatic relations is not on the agenda.

During the Kocharian era Armenia continued to pursue a policy directed at establishing good relations with both Russia and Western countries, USA specifically. However as it failed to properly balance the two parties, the Russian federation further strengthened its leading position in Armenian foreign policy and the country became totally dependent on Russia in the field of defense, not only through the Russian military bases on Armenian territory but also for the procurement Of weapons. Russia also became indispensable in the economic field due to its large share in Armenian foreign trade. Furthermore, a number of Armenian companies that could not pay their debts were handed over to Russia for the payment of accumulated debts. Russia continued to be the supplier of fuel for the Metzamor nuclear reactor that is still the main energy source in Armenia.

The biggest handicap for Kocharian during the upcoming elections will be the continued suspicion that he was involved in October 27, 1999 slaying of his political opponents. In this attack Speaker of Parliament Demirjian and Prime Minister Sarkisian were murdered with some other deputies while the parliament was in session. Although the ongoing interrogation of the accused has yielded no information pointing at Kocharian, the fact that he was the only person to benefit from the murders causes continued suspicion.

As mentioned above, despite these failures Kocharian continues to be the strongest candidate for the office of president. The main reason for this is that there is no single and powerful opponent facing him. Kocharian is further strengthened by the support of the Republican party, which is headed by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian. It should be noted that this party won the recent municipal elections. Finally the Dashnak party has recently declared that it will support Kocharian.[29] One of the reasons for the support of this party is the effort of Kocharian to gain international recognition for the alleged genocide.

Yet it would not be correct to already say that Kocharian will he victorious in the presidential elections. There are still about two months until the elections and that is a long time in volatile Armenian domestic politics.

5. REACTIONS OF ARMENIA REGARDING THE NEW TURKISH GOVERNMENT

For some time Armenian officials avoided reacting to the Justice and Development Party victory in the parliamentary elections in Turkey. Only ten days after the elections and upon the insistence of journalists did Foreign Minister Oskanian say, “I believe we shall have to wait and see what kind of policy towards Armenia and the region in general the Turkish government will adopt”.[30]

Politicians however were not shy to speak their opinion. Member of the Dashnak party and Deputy Chairman of the Armenian Parliamentary Commission on Foreign Affairs Armen Rustamian said that there would be no serious change in Turkish foreign policy towards Armenia with the new Islamic government. he also stated that the outgoing Turkish government had organized meetings of the two countries’ Foreign Ministers with the real intention of veiling their negative attitude towards Armenia, that the actual goal of Ankara was to divert the attention of the international community from the issue of recognizing the genocide of the Armenians and that Ankara aimed at strengthening its influence in the southern Caucasus. Rustamian, added that the new government would follow the policies of the previous one. He also attributed an aggressive character to Islam by saying “the victory of the pro-Islamic forces in the election revealed the true system of values in Turkey, which is based on a traditionally aggressive ideology”.[31]

The Chairman of the Armenian Parliamentary Commission on Foreign Affairs Hovhanness Hovhannissian said that Armenia should reconsider its foreign policy and what had happened in Turkey was a cause for serious concern.[32]

Artashes Gaghamian, presidential candidate and leader of the National Unity Party said that the new government would attach importance to economic cooperation with Azerbaijan and Georgia and try to bolster this with a military pact, something, he said, that would not be in the interest of Armenia and Karabagh.[33]

The Parliamentary majority leader Galust Sahakian kept his remarks brief and simply said; “Turkey is Turkey - be it under secular or Islamic rule”.[34]

It is evident that Armenian politicians have a negative attitude towards the new Turkish government. We observe, however, that this attitude is not the conclusion of a research on what the Armenia policy of the new government may be, but rather reflects the traditional hostility for Turkey.

The Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ya�ar Yak�� indicated during an interview that the new government will be in favor of improving relations with Armenia and that it will take the initiative to ‘that end.[35]

President Kocharian himself during an interview he gave on November 22, 2002 while he was in Prague to attend the NATO Summit mapped out the policy of Armenia towards the new Turkish government. Kocharian said, “Armenia is ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey and open borders, to expand trade without any preconditions... Improvement of Turkish-Armenian relations should not be contingent of opposition with Azerbaijan over Nagorno Karabagh… Armenia is open for discussion with the new government of Turkey for all questions related to possible development of bilateral relations”.[36]

It is understood from the above statement that Armenia will continue to follow its previous policy with the new Turkish government: i.e., to establish diplomatic relations and secure the opening of borders without making any change in its own position. However, it is not in the interest of Turkey to establish diplomatic relations and open the borders before Armenia recognizes the eastern borders of Turkey, ceases to support allegations of genocide and solves the Karabagh conflict. Any negotiations that do not take this fact into account are unlikely to yield tangible results.


[1] Ömer E. Lütem, ‘Facts and Comments’, Review of Armenian Studies, Volume 1, Number 1, 2002, pp. 25-27.
[2] Turkish Probe, June 30, 2002.
[3] Medimax, October 18, 2002.
[4] Medimax, October 18, 2002.
[5] For the full text of the speech Press Release, Ministry of Foreign Affair of the Republic of Armenia, June 26,2002.
[6] Karabagh is a Turkish word (Karaba�) meaning “black wineyard”
[7] See Asbarez Online, August 2, 2002; Armenpress, August 7, 2002; Arminfo, August 24, 2002
[8] Ayastani Anrapetutyun, October31, 2002 (ANN/Groong November 2, 2002)
[9] Armenian National Committee of America, Press Release, July 29, 2002.
10 Armenpress, August 16, 2002.
[11] Armenian National Committee of America, Press Release, October 30,2002
12 Armenian Assembly of America, Press Release, October21, 2002
13 RFE/RL, Armenia Report, October 10, 2002
[14] Armenian National Committee of Canada, Press Release, July 13, 2002
[15] The attacks carried out by the Armenian terrorists in Canada and intending murder are listed below:
- April 8, 1982, Ottawa, Turkish Trade Attaché Kani Güngör was seriously wounded,
- August 27, 1982, Ottawa, Turkish Military Attaché Colonel Atilla Alt�kat was murdered,
- March 12, 1985, Ottawa, Canadian guard of the Turkish Embassy was murdered, Turkish Ambassador Ço�kun K�rca was seriously wounded.
[16] The Welsh Parliament has 60 deputies and 48 ballots were cast during the negotiation of this matter. ARCA News Agency, November 5, 2002.
[17] ARCA News Agency, November 5, 2002.
[18] Press Release, Cathlolicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, October 25, 2002 and Asbarez Online, October 22, 2002.
[19] Ömer E. Lütem, ‘Olaylar ve Yorumlar’, Ermeni Ara�t�rmalan, No.2, Haziran-Temmuz-A�ustos 2001, pp. 25-27
[20] Asbarez Online, October 22, 2002.
[21] Armenian in Turkey Today, http://www.armenianforum.org/site/enolish/eu-co news/Armenian%20in%20Turkey%20MOD.pdf. p.2.
[22] Armenians in Turkey..., pp. 9-45.
[23] Armenians in Turkey..., p. 7.
[24] Lraper Church Bulletin, October 16, 2002.
[25] La Lettre de I’UGAB, November 2, 2002.
[26] Aykakan Zhamanak, November 2, 2002.
[27] RFE/RL Armenia Report, October29, 2002.
[28] RFE/RL Armenia Report, October31, 2002.
[29] Asbarez Online, November 25, 2002.
[30] Azg Daily, November 15, 2002.
[31] Arminfo, November 5, 2002.
[32] Al + TV 7, November 7, 2002.
[33] Azg (Turkish), November 8, 2002
[34] Al + TV 7, November 7, 2002.
[35] Turkish Daily News, November 6, 2002.
[36] Armenpress News Agency, November 25, 2002.




This article focuses on the main developments in Turkish- Armenian relations during the first five-months of the year 2004, which could be summarized as follows:

During this period one of the most important issues in Turkish- Armenian relations was the opening of borders between the two countries. Armenian hopes were not fully materialized, as Turkey connected the opening to compromises on the Karabagh conflict and to withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied Azerbaijan territories.

There have been some important developments in the United States. President Bush again did not mention the word “genocide” in his 24 of April statement, however the Democratic Party candidate for the next presidential election, Senator John Kerry, supported Armenian allegations. Worldwide famous National Geographic magazine, in an article in its March 2004 issue, did the same.

The Canadian House of Commons, neglected its government’s opinion by adopting a motion that recognized the genocide allegations of the Armenians.

French President Jacques Chirac faced strong objections from his country’s Armenian population when he said that the recognition of the Armenian “genocide” is not a condition for Turkey’s membership to the European Union. On the contrary, the French Socialist Party stated that Turkey should recognize these allegations even before beginning EU accession negotiations.

The European Parliament resolutions on Turkey’s accession and on South Caucasus policy reflected mainly Armenian views, however the European Court of Justice rejected an Armenian association request that claimed that the candidate status of Turkey to the European Union was in violation of the June 18, 1987 parliamentary resolution.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation held its 29th Congress in February. At the Congress, Party chairmen asked for the “liberation” of Eastern Anatolia.

As to Turkey, the Second Congress on Armenian Studies was held at the end of Mayin Ankara. A book entitled “Armenians: Exile and Emigration,” which is based on non-Turkish sources and which contradicts Armenian allegations, has been published by the Turkish Historical Society. Finally, Turkish and Armenian scholars agreed to meet to discuss Turkish-Armenian issues.


I. Turkey-Armenia and Azerbaijan Relations

1. Visit of the Turkish Foreign Minister to Azerbaijan


During the official visit of Foreign Minister Gül to Azerbaijan on 9-10 January 2004, bilateral issues as well as relations with Armenia and most importantly the Karabagh conflict were discussed. The Azerbaijanis were naturally concerned that Abdullah Gül--like his predecessor �smail Cem--was having regular meetings with the Armenian Foreign Minster Oskanian and also because Oskanian was making optimistic comments about these meetings.


In an interview on television the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayet Guliyev expressed their concerns with the following statement; “... naturally we have, so to speak, many expectations from Turkey, because Turkey is a country that is giving much support to Azerbaijan with regard to the occupation that Azerbaijan has been suffering. That is why, we are naturally following Armenian-Turkish relations with special sensitivity ... Armenia has territorial claims on Turkey as well. Armenia is constantly keeping the fictitious genocide issue on the agenda. That is why, if Turkey makes even a minor move towards Armenia, it may harm both Azerbaijan's and its own national interests. Any move of this nature should be attentively examined, and we hope that in general, moves of this nature will not be made until the Karabakh conflict is settled.”[1]

Gül tried to alleviate the concerns of the Azerbaijani side during his visit. He stated that it would be hard to solve the problem peacefully as long as Armenia's occupation continues and that there have been no recent changes in Turkey's relationship with Armenia.[2] On whether Turkey was considering reopening its border with landlocked Armenia, Gül said: "There is no such thing for now."... "We wish a peaceful solution to this conflict. In the future, we will come together in a trilateral meeting and discuss how to solve this."[3] On the other hand, while visiting President Ilham Aliyev Gül said, “As you know, the Karabakh problem is not only yours, it is ours as well. Efforts are being made for the peaceful solution of this problem in the frame of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. We hope the other side will also demonstrate good will and a constructive position and the world will assist to settle this conflict peacefully and fairly, and that the occupied lands of Azerbaijan will be liberated. Turkey will do its best in this direction. There should be no doubt regarding this.”[4]

2. Visit of the Turkish Prime Minister to the USA and the Armenian Issue

The Turkish Prime Minister made an official visit to the United States at the end of January. Armenian organizations and supporters of the Armenians in the US undertook certain initiatives against this visit. In a letter sent to President Bush the co-chairs of the Armenia caucus, Congressmen Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg, insisted that the President demand from Erdo�an that Turkey lift her economic blockade on Armenia in order for economic, political and cultural relations between Turkey and Armenia to be re-established. The letter was submitted to the other Congressmen with the aim of obtaining their signatures.[5] The fact that approximately 50 members signed this letter[6] shows that about half of the Armenian caucus did not participate in this initiative. On the other hand this letter dealt only with the opening of the borders and left out the topic of the genocide allegation that is generally always addressed. This displayed the fact that the issue of the opening of the borders has currently superseded the issue of the genocide claims.

The largest Armenian Dashnak organization in the US, the Armenian National Committee of Armenia (ANCA), objected when the American Jewish Congress presented its Bravery Award to Prime Minister Erdo�an. ANCA initiated a campaign in which protesting faxes and e-mails were sent to President Bush.

In New York, Prime Minister Erdo�an addressed the Armenian issue on January 27, 2004 while speaking to some of the representatives of Turks living in the US.[7] He displayed Turkish willingness to be more active on this issue by expressing that his Government did not want to follow a defensive policy but an offensive one. He also said that historians should deal with these matters, “Let us deal with today, let us deal with the future” Erdo�an stated. He pointed out also that there were numerous requests in Turkey from the persons living in vicinity of the frontiers with Armenia, that the borders be opened. The Prime Minister implied that this could happen if the friendly hand of Turkey is not pushed away (by Armenia).

When asked during a conference at Harvard University on January 31 what he would do if Turkey’s accession to the EU would be made conditional on her recognizing the genocide, he said “it is wrong to depict something that did not happen as if it has happened and it is wrong to carry it into the future”. He then mentioned the positive aspects of the relations between Turkey and Armenia such as the meetings of the Foreign Ministers and the flights between the two countries and added “it is wrong to talk of genocide after all of these developments, you can not serve humanity by talking about such things. In a world where we expect peace to become a global phenomenon these are bombs that shatter peace. You must serve peace.”[8]

The above statements of the Prime Minister may be interpreted to mean that Turkey could open the borders if the Armenian side provides a gesture of good will first. Although it is difficult to assess what such a gesture should be, as the Karabagh issue is currently on the forefront, one might think that a positive step on this issue is expected from the Armenian side.

As to the official meetings, Prime Minister Erdo�an and President Bush met on January 28, 2004. While President Bush was informing the press about this meeting, he did not mention Turkish-Armenian relations as one of the topics discussed. It was only natural that this issue should not come up when issues such as Cyprus and Iraq were the main points on the agenda.
On the other hand press reports seem to indicate that the matter was discussed between Foreign Minister Gül and Secretary of State Powell and that Gül might linked the opening of the borders to progress being made on the Karabagh issue.[9]

3. The Border Issue and President Ilham Aliev’s Visit to Turkey

After Prime Minister Erdo�an’s visit to the US some Azerbaijani circles had the impression that the Turkish border with Armenia was about to be opened. Protest mail was sent, articles critical of Turkey were published in the Azerbaijani press;[10] and comments were made that the Prime Minister was compelled to compromise on the opening of the border by the US government and the Armenian Diaspora.[11]

To a question concerning Turkey’s attitude President �lham Aliyev answered as follows: “I do not want to make assumptions. I talked to Mr. Erdo�an on this subject when I visited Ankara as Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Gül reassured me that Turkey would never open its border with Armenia until the Karabakh conflict is resolved. This is enough for me. I do not need any other explanation if I heard this myself. But I should say that the European Union and some other fairly influential countries in the world are exerting strong pressure on Turkey to make it open the border. I have repeatedly told the meetings with relevant sides that a Karabakh resolution will be generally impossible if Turkey opens its border with Armenia, because Azerbaijan will have lost an important lever and then peaceful negotiations will generally fail. This will stop the negotiations and lead to unpleasant results. For this reason, if the sides interested in the issue want a peaceful solution to the problem, then they should not put pressure on Turkey. Turkey is a big and strong state. I am convinced that Turkey will cope with all this pressure. Turkish-Azerbaijani fraternity is above everything for us and the Turkish people.”[12]

Reacting to the remarks of Aliyev, the Armenian Foreign Ministry stated that a lifting of the Turkish blockade would on the contrary facilitate a Karabakh settlement. “Turkey could really be an important factor in political and economic developments in our region if it abandons its one-sided approaches favoring Azerbaijan” a ministry statement said.[13]

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, during a visit to the Armenian capital, Yerevan[14] said on that subject: “It seems to me that the opening of the border between Armenia and Turkey would benefit the peoples of both sides rather dramatically and rather quickly".

In an interview with Azerbaijan Television during the visit of �lham Aliyev to Turkey, Turkish Foreign Minister Gül stated that he was informed about those protests and about Azerbaijan's concerns. The Turkish government's official position is that the Turkish-Armenian border will not be re-opened unless Armenia is ready to make compromises on the Karabakh conflict, withdraws its troops from the occupied territories, and unless the US-based Armenian lobby drops its false claims about the alleged Armenian genocide. He also said he had voiced this stance during a meeting with his Armenian counterpart Vardan Oskanian and he would inform the Armenian government about the final and firm position of Turkey in this regard during their next meeting.[15]

Judging by the declarations above the attitudes of the relevant states towards the opening of the border can be summarized as follows:
Armenia and the US stand with opening of the borders without pre-conditions. Azerbaijan, on the contrary, is totally against opening of the borders. Turkey shares the attitude of Azerbaijan in essence, however, Turkey might be willing to open the borders if some conditions are fulfilled. But Armenia does not seem to be ready to accept any condition for the moment.

The visit of President �lham Aliyev to Turkey in the mid-April has been successful. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer summarized Turkish position by saying that Turkey believes that the conflict must be resolved peacefully in accordance with the principles of international law and in a stage-by-stage manner.[16] Stage-by-stage manner should probably mean that the negotiation process will be divided into stages and in each stage Azerbaijan and Armenia will cede some concession to each other, reaching at the end a final agreement.

After President Aliev visit in an interview to the Anatolian Agency Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül restating that border between Turkey and Armenia would not be opened said that Nagorno Karabakh issue should not be abandoned, it should be discussed solved. Gül also said that Turkey was trying to play a catalyst role and he is hoping that foreign ministers of Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan would hold a trilateral meeting possibly during NATO summit in Istanbul in June 29th.[17]

Foreign Minister of Armenia Mr. Oskanian reacting to the statement of Mr Gül said that there have been meetings on foreign ministers' level amid the three countries, during which regional issues were discussed. “But as regards the mediation of the Karabakh issue by Turkey in particular, it will make no sense, for Turkey, in view of the policy it conducts and the current situation, is just incapable of playing a role of an impartial mediator."[18] In other words, according to Armenian Foreign Minister Turkey cannot hold a mediatory position since she shares the opinions of Azerbaijan.

The Armenian Minister also mentioned their dissatisfaction with the Turkish government by saying that the relations with the Turkish government have initially had positive flow, and three meetings of Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers have taken place since 2003. “The first meeting (Madrid, June 2003) was good, the second (New York, September 2003) was not as good, and the third (Brussels, December 2003) was bad. First we concentrated upon bilateral issues. During the second meeting, Karabakh has become an issue of negotiations, and in the third meeting Karabakh became a precondition for normalization (of Turkish-Armenian relations). Thus we ended up in the initial positions, just like the state of affairs was during the reign of the former Turkish government”, said Mr. Oskanian.[19]

The discontent of Armenian government towards Turkey resulted in withdrawal of President Robert Kocharian from the NATO Summit to be held in Istanbul on June 29th. The Armenian president's press secretary pointed out that the reason for Robert Kocharyan's decision not to take part in the NATO summit in Istanbul is the "current state of Armenian-Turkish relations."[20] Nevertheless, other factors should be taken into account since the NATO Summit is irrelevant to the Turkish-Armenian relations and the Armenian President had already participated to a NATO Summit in 1999 when the Turkish-Armenian relations are no different than today. According to the Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, Kocharian decision targeted domestic politics.[21] In fact Kocharian’s position is shaken through the demonstrations, which have been going on for months. Kocharian might have attempted to acquire sympathy of the radical groups via his hard stance against Turkey. Moreover, Kocharian might be fulfilling the wishes of Russian Federation, as President Putin will not participate, either to the NATO Summit.

4. Armenian Foreign Minister’s Views on the Relations with Turkey

Some of the statements made by the Armenian Foreign Minister to journalists shed some light upon the expectations of his country from Turkey.

Although practically no result has been obtained from the meetings he had with his Turkish counterparts in the last two years, Mr. Oskanian believes these meetings to be useful. Regarding this he has said "my meetings with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül last year let us believe that our dialogue is not over and we can achieve positive results if persistent work is carried out.”[22] The Armenian Minister believes that there are no insurmountable problems in relations with Turkey and is of the conviction that due to different reasons the Turkish authorities have a more serious desire to make positive changes in Armenian-Turkish relations.[23]

The Armenian Foreign Minister has also stated that the European Union can contribute to the normalization of relations, especially regarding the opening of borders. Oskanian went on to say they believed that the European Union should express in clearer terms the condition that Turkey must open her borders with all her neighbors, including Armenia, before negotiations are initiated.[24]

As for the issue of the genocide allegations, Oskanian said;” we have expressed several times that there is such a problem and it will remain on our agenda. But the matter of recognition of the genocide by Turkey has never been a pre-condition and will never be for the normalization of our relations”. He added, “I think that the establishment of diplomatic relations with Turkey will promote the discussion of the problem of genocide at the state level. Today, as there are no such relations, we are unable to put this problem on the agenda at the state level and to discuss it.”[25]

The claim that the genocide issue is not being brought on the agenda because there is no diplomatic relations between the two states is difficult to believe. This topic can be discussed as the other issues are discussed despite the absence of diplomatic relations and both sides can voice their positions. The real reason behind the Armenian reluctance to bring up this issue is the Turkish sensitivity on the allegations of genocide and Armenian fear that it may impact negatively on bilateral developments they attach particular importance to, such as the opening of the borders and the establishing of diplomatic relations.

II. United States and the Armenians

1- President Bush’s Statement of April 24

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Mr. George Bush, then candidate, in a written statement, referred to the "genocidal campaign" perpetrated against the Armenians. This event led to the expectations that President Bush might conceptualize the 1915 events as “genocide” in his statement of April 24. Nonetheless, President Bush had not used the term in his statements despite the written demands of the Armenians and supporting senators and congressmen.

169 representatives and 23 senators have asked the President to use the word “genocide” in his 2004 statement. The President did not oblige[26], yet he used expressions like “most horrible tragedies of the 20th century” and “the annihilation of as many as 1.5 million Armenians” which easily could evoke genocide.

On the other hand, President Bush in his message commended individuals in Armenia and Turkey who have worked to support peace and reconciliation, including through the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission, and called on Armenia and Turkey to restore their economic, political, and cultural ties.

The main Armenian organizations in the US had negative reactions to the President’s statement. The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), a Dashnak institution, stated that the President again resorted to the use of evasive and euphemistic terminology to obscure the reality of Turkey's Genocide against the Armenian people. ANCA Director Hamparian said that the President’s failure to honor his campaign promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide is compounded by the fact that, in this statement, he commends Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission, which was created to block international recognition of the Armenian genocide.[27]

The Armenian Assembly of America, which usually cooperates with the government, stated that the President’s statement used language to clearly define the events but once again stopped short of using the word genocide.[28]

2. The US Presidential Election and Armenians

Prior to presidential elections in the US, the Armenian Diaspora always attempts to convince candidates to adopt a pro-Armenian stance. In this context, Diaspora organizations asked the candidates to express their attitude regarding the official recognition of the 1915 “genocide”, the blockade of Armenia by Turkey, the right to self-determination of Karabakh etc. “Are you going to pay an official visit to Yerevan in case elected President?” was also asked. According to the Armenian media the presidential candidates did not give at the beginning clear answers to these questions.[29] However in time it’s understood that many candidates were in favor of accepting the allegation of the Armenian genocide.

One of the candidates, former Commander of NATO Forces, Wesley Clark sent a letter to the American Armenian Society on December 12, 2003 in which he stated, “What happened in 1915 was a genocide.”[30] There is no doubt that this can be explained by political self interest because the same Wesley Clark had enjoyed good relations with Turkey as NATO Commander and signed a letter aimed at defeating a pro-genocide motion in Congress in October 2000. This was such a change of attitude that even some Armenian observers did not find Clark’s action sincere.[31] General Clark later dropped out of the race for the Presidency.

Another candidate, Howard Dean, sent a letter to the Armenian National Committee of America,[32] promising to officially recognize the Genocide of the Armenians in Ottoman Turkey if he is elected. Another candidate, who is known to be an orthodox Jew, Joseph Lieberman, reminded his Armenian electors that he had participated in pro-Armenian initiatives in the Congress several times.[33]

John Kerry who has emerged as the official Democratic Party candidate against President Bush is also known to be a supporter of the Armenian views. Last year he was among the 167 Congressmen who urged George Bush to use the word ''genocide'' in his traditional April 24 message. Kerry, with 5 other colleagues appealed to President Bush urging him to influence Turkish Prime Minister Erdo�an to remove Turkey's blockade of Armenia.[34] Senator Kerry, in a written statement on April 22, 2004 said that he was thanking Armenian Americans for their persistence in the struggle to gain international recognition of this atrocity (i.e genocide allegations), he was proud of his work with the Armenian American community to gain broader recognition of the Armenian Genocide; he was joining Armenian Americans and Armenians worldwide in mourning the victims of the Armenian Genocide; and he was calling on governments and people everywhere to formally recognize this tragedy.

Taking into account the strong commitment of Senator Kerry for the Armenian genocide allegations it’s normal that militant American Armenians vote for him in the coming presidential elections. As a matter of fact an Armenian columnist entitled his article “Kerry Says Genocide; Bush Doesn't; A Clear Choice for Armenians.”[35]

One could not say that all the American Armenian are chauvinist or otherwise extremist. There are certainly hundreds and thousands of people of Armenian origin who have migrated to the US three or four generations ago and have adopted American values. It is normal that these people would rather vote in line with the policy proposals of the candidates especially those concerning economy and would not give priority to the events happened nearly a century ago.

3. Some Armenian Complaints

In the draft budget proposed for fiscal year 2005 the US Government allocated 8.75 million dollars in military aid to Azerbaijan while granting 2.75 million dollars to Armenia.

Armenian organizations in the US have claimed that this proposal violates the principle that there is to be parity between Azerbaijan and Armenia in military aid. Prior to the fiscal year of 2002, military assistance to Azerbaijan was prohibited according to Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, a provision that restricted U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan due to its ongoing blockades of Armenia and Karabagh. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Azerbaijan conditioned its cooperation with the United States in the war against terrorism on the removal of Section 907. The Administration pressed Congress to provide the President with the authority to waive Section 907 annually. Armenians claim that part of the understanding reached between the White House and Congress was an unwritten agreement that military aid levels to Armenia and Azerbaijan would remain even.[36]

Those Members of Congress who defend Armenian interests acted for establishing parity in military aid granted to Azerbaijan and Armenia. Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone called on his colleagues to co-sign a letter to President Bush expressing concern about the decision. The letter stated that the Congressional signatories "strongly believe that your request in this area would undermine the stability in the South Caucasus region, and would weaken the ongoing peace negotiations regarding the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.”[37]

In fact the military aid granted by the US to Azerbaijan and Armenia is more of a
symbolic nature. As stated by the Armenian Defense Minister, it is difficult to believe that Azerbaijan’s armed forces would get four times stronger than the Armenian forces as a result of this aid.[38] It is understood that American Armenians were objecting to this aid because they always try to disrupt any development that may be in the interest of Azerbaijan (and Turkey).

Another problem for the American Armenians is the “Permanent Normal Trade Relations Status” that the USA grants to some states that allow them to enjoy lower tariffs and greater access to US Government credit facilities. This status is rarely granted to states that had emerged from what was once the USSR. The Armenian Diaspora undertook great efforts for this status to be extended to Armenia and House of Representatives took a decision to this effect in November 2003. However, the Armenian Diaspora was disappointed when the Senate did not include Armenia in the trade bill it passed on March 4.[39]

Another source of disappointment for the Armenians living in the USA was the State Department’s annual human rights report on Turkey that used the term “alleged genocide of Armenians”. The Armenian National Committee of America called this the most recent instance of complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.[40]

On the other hand the Dashnaks objected to the fact that in the web site of the State Department no mention was found of the genocide in the section dealing specifically with Armenia. Armenians applied to the State Department requesting that this “serious error” be corrected.[41]

4. National Geographic Magazine and “The Rebirth of Armenia”

The National Geographic Magazine in its issue of March 2004 published an article titled “The Rebirth of Armenia” which stated that, among other things, in 1913 the Ottoman Empire had an Armenian population of about two million, fewer than 100,000 remained in 1920, it was systematic slaughter, it was the 20th century’s first major experience of genocide etc., The article stated also that dozens of Turkish diplomats and nationals were “allegedly” murdered by Armenian terrorists.

Mount Ararat is particularly emphasized in the article. It has been claimed that the Armenians have been pondering Ararat from the beginning of civilization (!) but since 1920 Turks have controlled this national icon. The article cites Vardan Oskanian, Armenian Foreign Minister saying sentimentally “Every morning we look at it (Ararat), It is only 25 miles from this building, and we feel we can almost touch it. But we can’t go there. (Ararat is not forbidden to Armenians) Ararat is our pride and our frustration. Our history. The unfulfilled dreams that drive us”. It’s obvious that the article tries to give the impression that in the past Ararat belonged to Armenia, which is not the case.

The article is so biased that it gave the impression of being an advertisement. The Armenian Ambassador to Washington, Mr. Kirakosian’s, feverish thanks to the magazine conforms with this impression.[42]

The Turkish Embassy in Washington and distributor of National Geographic in Turkey had warned the magazine about the mistakes and exaggerations contained in the article. As no correction was made, this article is not published in the Turkish version of the National Geographic.[43]

III. Canada and Armenian Allegations

The longtime efforts of the Armenian Diaspora in Canada for the recognition of the so-called Armenian Genocide has been fruitful; and the Canadian Parliament adopted a motion on April 21, 2004 that says, “This House acknowledges the Armenian genocide of 1915 and condemns this act as a crime against humanity.”[44]

Foreign Minister Bill Graham before the vote in a letter to the members of Parliament stated that cooperation between Turkey and Canada exists in several fields and Canada should maintain good relations with Turkey, which is a NATO ally.[45] According to press reports, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce lobbied that the members of Parliament should consider the possibility that Canadian companies like Bombardier Aerospace and SNC Lavalin could lose out to European competitors for mega projects such as the extension of the Ankara subway system.[46] Nevertheless, these political and economic considerations did not have much influence on the members of the Parliament.

After the vote, Foreign Minister Bill Graham issued a statement saying that the motion will not alter the official Canadian government position that while the events in question at the start of the 20th century were a tragedy, they did not constitute genocide.[47]

The Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement on April 22, 2004 condemned this decision taken under the influence of marginal opinions, drew attention to the risk of hatred among the people from different origins, emphasized the fact that it would not benefit neither the Armenians in Canada nor those in Armenia and expressed that Canadian politicians would be responsible for the negative consequences that this decision could bring.

The Canadian parliament has taken this decision with the intention of satisfying its citizens of Armenian origin. As Canadian citizens of Turkish origin did strongly oppose this decision, Canadian Parliament favored Armenians and discriminated against its Turkish citizens. A Canadian newspaper stated in this respect “A multicultural country like Canada has to be careful about allowing ancient grievances to be played out such that they push foreign policy in a particular direction. Once that starts to happen in a country like this, it won't end.”[48]

From the perspective of international law, we should be reminded that parliaments do not have competence to take such a decision. According to the 1948 United Nations Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 9, disputes relating to the responsibility of a State should be submitted to the international Court of Justice and not to national parliaments.

IV. France and the Armenians

1. President Chirac’s Statement

The French President Jacques Chirac, during a press conference on the European Union Enlargement on April 29, 2004, answered the question whether recognition of the Armenian “Genocide” is a pre-condition for the access of Turkey to the Union or not, that it is an issue between Turkey and Armenia; he added that he is content to see the positive developments in Turkish-Armenian relations and the future in the bilateral relations could not be evaluated according to the past.[49]

The Council of Coordination for the Armenian Organizations in France published a statement declaring that they were surprised by the statement of the President, France had passed a law recognizing the Armenian Genocide during the term of Chirac; and asked why the President had approved this law if it was a matter of bilateral relations between Turkey and Armenia. The Declaration also accused the President of washing his hands of the annihilation of Armenians in Turkey.

2. French Socialists and The Armenians

The first secretary of France’s Socialist Party, François Hollande and President of Dashnaktsoutiun (France) Mourad Papazian announced in a joint statement on June 3, 2004[50] that to give a date to Turkey for the beginning of the accession talks to EU should be contingent, in addition to the Copenhagen criteria, to Ankara’s recognition of the Armenian “genocide” as stated in the resolution of the European Parliament dated June 18, 1987.

The joint statement claimed also that the reforms in Turkey were inadequate, the major role of the military in the state affairs is in contradiction with the democratic principles of Europe, minority rights were not respected particularly in the case of Kurds, and Turkey does not abide by the Copenhagen Criteria. The two sides demanded Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide, which was committed by the “Ottoman Government”. The Socialist Party announced that they would propose a draft law concerning punishment of those who deny the Armenian Genocide. The sides also called for voting for the Socialist candidates in the elections of European Parliament on June 18, 2004.

What is amazing in that matter is that the French Socialist Party considers as normal to have an electoral agreement with an Armenian Party which recently claimed that Turkey’s eastern Anatolia provinces be annexed to Armenia.

V. The European Union and the Armenians

1. The European Court of Justice Verdict

The Euro-Armenia Association in Marseilles applied to the European Court of Justice in October 2003 claiming that the status of candidate for EU membership given to Turkey at the Helsinki Summit in 1999 was in violation of the June 18, 1987 resolution of the European Parliament on the “Armenian genocide” and therefore the Turkish candidacy must be annulled.[51]

Upon Turkey’s application for membership in the then European Economic Community in 1987, the European Parliament had adopted a resolution calling for a political solution to the Armenian question. The resolution stated that the tragic events of 1915-1917 constituted genocide within the meaning of the UN Convention on genocide, however Turkey could not be held responsible for the tragedy experienced by the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire. The same resolution stressed that neither political, nor legal or material claims against present-day Turkey could be derived from the recognition of this historical event as an act of genocide.

These resolutions asked the Council of Ministers to obtain an acknowledgement of the genocide from the Turkish Government. It also stated that the refusal by the present day Turkish Government to acknowledge the genocide would constitute an insurmountable obstacle to the consideration of the possibility of Turkish accession to the Union.

We must emphasize that the resolutions adopted by European Parliament are advisory and display the ideas and tendencies of that organization; they are not mandatory for the member states. Consequently, although the 1987 resolution demands it, the EU Council of Ministers never asked Turkey to recognize the Armenian “genocide”. As well, the Copenhagen Criteria do not contain such a demand.

In the verdict regarding the case of the Armenian Association in Marseilles, the European Court of Justice stated that the application of the Armenian plaintiff did not have any legal base and rejected it stressing that the decision of the European Parliament of 1987 was ''only and fully political'' and that this recommendatory decision did not have a power of sanction. The European Court of Justice said that the European Parliament could change its resolution anytime and that it did not have any legal influence.[52]

This verdict is important because it makes clear that the 1987 resolution of the European Parliament would not obstruct Turkish adhesion to the European Union. It is therefore a serious setback for the Armenian extremists. Yet, this ruling will not prevent the European Parliament in the future from passing similar resolutions referring to the 1987 resolution. In fact, the two recently adopted resolutions that we will talk about in the next paragraph reference the 1987 resolution.

2. The European Parliament and the Armenians

The European Parliament has mentioned Armenian matters in two of its recent resolutions. The first of these is “EU Policy Towards South Caucasus” dated February 26, 2004, and the other one is the “Progress Toward Accession by Turkey” dated April 1, 2004.

In the Resolution on the Progress Towards Accession by Turkey, the European Parliament “request Turkey to reopen the borders with Armenia and to promote good neighbourly relations with Armenia, to work together to promote equitable solutions to the regional conflicts and to take any action that would stand in the way of a historic reconciliation”. The Parliament also “would like a dialogue to be established between Turkish and Armenian academics, social and non-governmental organizations in order to overcome the tragic experiences of the past as has been expressed in its earlier resolutions (reference is made here to the resolution of 18 June 1987).

In the Resolution on EU Policy Towards South Caucasus, the European Parliament recommends the Council “to urge Turkey to be fully committed to its candidate status and to take the necessary steps to establish good neighbourly relations with the countries, with particular regard to the lifting the trade restrictions and the gradual reopening of the land border with Armenia”. On the other hand the European Parliament “reiterates its position set out in its Resolution of 18 June 1987 on a political solution of the Armenian question, call on Turkey and Armenia to promote good neighbourliness in order to defuse tension and calls on Turkish and Armenian academics, social organizations and NGOs to embark on a dialogue with each other in order to overcome the tragic experiences of the past”.

As can be seen, these resolutions are Armenian inspired. However they do not mention directly the genocide claims and are contented with a reference to the resolution of June 18, 1987.

VI. The 29TH Congress of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Turkey

The Chairman of the Dashnak Party, (Armenian Revolutionary Federation-ARF) Hrand Markaryan strongly criticized Turkey during his opening speech of the 29th Party Congress held on February 6, 2004 in Yerevan. Some excerpts follow:
“The international recognition of the Genocide and the liberation of Western Armenia (i.e. eastern Anatolia) are the very demands” (of the Dashnaks).

“ We will continue our struggle; we will continue our pressure on Turkey until final victory, until the Genocide is internationally recognized, until United Armenia is created.”

“ Today's Turkey is the same Turkey that planned and perpetrated the Genocide.”…” Turkey is the same Turkey of yesteryear with its aggressive and pan-Turkic goals.”

“ Armenian-Turkish reconciliation, the opening of the Armenia-Turkish border are irrelevant points of agenda so long as Turkey denies the fact of Armenian Genocide.” “ We oppose any relations between Armenia and Turkey…” [53]
Mainly, two points stand out in this harsh statement. The first one is the call of the leader of the Dashnak Party for the liberation of Eastern Anatolia, in other words the annexation of some parts of Turkish territory by Armenia. The second point is the opposition of the Dashnaks to improving relations or even to establishing any kind of ties with Turkey as long as she does not recognize the alleged genocide.

Yet these views do not conform to the policy that is currently being implemented by the Armenian Government as this Government has not made establishing normal relations with Turkey conditional on the acknowledgement of the “genocide” and has never openly voiced any territorial claims from Turkey.

The speaker of the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated about Mr. Markaryan’s speech; “those are strictly the ARF's own positions and this is not the first time that they have expressed them publicly. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs disagrees with many of the positions expressed there and they do not reflect Armenia's foreign policy. It is true that the ARF is a member of the coalition, but foreign relations are constitutionally formulated by the President of the Republic.”[54]

In his speech Mr. Markaryan addressed also to the irregularities during the last elections, in other words he indirectly questioned the legitimacy of the Armenian Parliament. This move, adding to the criticism of the Government’s foreign policy brought up the possibility of the Dashnaks leaving the coalition. Yet while the Dashnaks displayed no desire to leave the government, the other members of the coalition did not seem willing to oust the Dashnaks either, despite the fact that even without them they would still have the necessary majority to govern.

The declaration that was published after the ARF Congress, contrary to the Markaryan speech, did not refer to irregularities during the recent election, to “United Armenia” and to the possible re-opening of the Turkish-Armenian border.[55] It seems that the Dashnaks, taking into account the dissatisfaction caused by Mr. Markaryan’s speech, preferred to soften their rhetoric.

VI. Developments in Turkey

1. The Second Congress On Armenian Studies

The Second Congress on Armenian Studies[56] organized by the Institute for Armenian Research and the Ankara Chamber of Commerce was held on 29-30 May 2004 in Ankara.
About 130 papers concerning nearly all aspects of the Armenian Issue, the Armenians and Armenia were presented to the Congress. The high number of the papers and the wide range of topics analyzed pointed to the interest in Turkey for Armenian issues.

The Patriarch of Istanbul, Mesrop II sent a congratulation message to the Congress.

The papers presented at the Congress will be published in a book, as in the case of the first congress.[57]
2. Publication of the book “Armenians: Exile and Emigration”
The book, entitled “Armenians: Exile and Emigration,” written by Prof Dr. Hikmet Özdemir, Prof. Dr. Kemal Çiçek, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ömer Turan, Dr. Ramazan Çal�k and Prof. Dr. Yusuf Halaço�lu was published by the Turkish Historical Society in April. The book is composed of three main chapters, namely the Armenian Population in the Ottoman State, Emigration and Relocation to Syria, and the Armenians after the Emigration.

The Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire is calculated according to foreign sources as 1.5 to 1.7 million, about 500,000 of which were subjected to emigration. Many of them returned after the First World War but emigrated again during the Turkish War of Independence. This new finding disproves the widely accepted Armenian allegation that 1.5 million Armenians died or were killed during the emigration.

The book, which is based on foreign sources that were almost unused previously, constitutes an important step in the scientific research of the Armenian issue.

3. Meeting of the Turkish and Armenian Scholars

A “Viennese Armenian-Turkish Platform” was created in March 2004 in order to study the “Turkish-Armenian Issue” with scholarly methods and using historical documents.

Two scientists each from the Turkish Historical Society and the Armenian Academy of Sciences will discuss the issue. The moderator will be Prof. Dr. Wolfdieter Bihl from Austria. Prof. Dr. Yusuf Halacoglu, President of the Turkish Historical Society, and Prof Dr. Hikmet Özdemir, chairmen of the Armenian unit of the Society will participate from Turkey; Armenia will be represented by Prof. Dr. Lavrenti Barseghian (Director of Yerevan Genocide Museum), and Prof. Dr. Ashot Melkonian (Armenian Academy of Sciences, Institute of History).

Each side is to submit a pre-determined number of documents to each other through the Viennese Armenian-Turkish Platform and no document will be accepted afterwards. In Spring 2005 a meeting will be organized, at which the documents will be discussed. This meeting will be recorded and the conclusions published.

This initiative derives its importance from the fact that the Turkish and Armenian historians will come together in a scientific environment for the first time.


[1] ANS TV, Baku, January 10, 2004
[2] Baku Today, January 9, 2004
[3] Associated Press Worldstream, January 8, 2004
[4] Azer Tag, Azerbaijan Info Agency, January 10, 2004
[5] Armenian Assembly of America, Press Release, January 22, 2004
[6] A1plus, January 28, 2004
[7] Hürriyet, January 28, 2004
[8] Hürriyet, February 1st, 2004
[9] Anatolian Agency, January 30, 2004
[10]Baku Sun, March 26, 2004
[11]525, September 13, 2004
[12]ANS TV, March 24, 2004
[13]RFE/RL Armenia Report, March 25, 2004
[14] Associated Press Worldstream, March 26, 2004
[15] Ans TV, April 14, 2004
[16] Zaman, April 13, 2004
[17] Anatolian Agency, April 19, 2004
[18] Azg, April 24, 2004
[19] Azg, April 27, 2004
[20] Medimax News Agency, May 10, 2004
[21] Anatolian Agency, May 20, 2004
[22] Medimax News Agency, January 14, 2004
[23] Haykakan Zhamanak, December 13, 2003
[24] Radio France Internationale, December 12, 2003
[25] Haykakan Zhamanak, December 13, 2003
[26] White House.gov.(Press release), April 24, 2004
[27] ANCA, Press Release, April 24, 2004
[28] AAA Press Release, April 26, 2004
[29] Pan Armenian Network, January 21, 2004
[30] www.clark04.com
[31]The California Courier, December 20, 2003
[32] PanArmenian News, February 9, 2004
[33] Ibid.
[34] PanArmenian News, February 6 2004
[35] Harut Sassounian, California Courier Online, April 29, 2004
[36] Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Press Release, February 16, 2004
[37] Ibid.
[38] RFE/RL, February 6, 2004
[39] Armenian National Committee of America, Press Release, March 4, 2004
[40] ANCA, Press Release, March 4, 2004
[41] Asbarez, March 2, 2004
[42] Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, Press Release, March 16, 2004
[43] Milliyet, March 4, 2004
[44] Armenian National Committee of Canada, Press Release, April 21, 2004
[45] Hürriyet, April 22, 2004
[46] The Globe and Mail, April 22, 2004
[47] RFE/RL, April 23, 2004
[48] The Globe and Mail, April 27, 2004
[49] Le Monde, April 30, 2004
[50] For full text of the joint declaration see: Comité de Defense de la Cause Arménienne, June 3, 2004
[51] Anatolian Agency, March 4, 2004
[52] Ibid
[53] www.yerkir.am, February 7, 2004
[54] Press Release, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, February 6, 2004
[55] RFE/RL, February 18, 2004
[56] The First Congress on Armenian Studies was held on 22 and 21 of April 2002.
[57] Ermeni Ara�t�rmalar� 1. Türkiye Kongresi Tebli�leri, (The Presentations of the FirstCongress of Armenian Studies, Three Volumes) Published by ASAM Ermeni Ara�t�rmalar� Enstitüsü ISBN 975-6769-88-2



Retired Ambassador Ömer Engin LÜTEM*
* �KSAREN President - oelutem@iksaren.org
- Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES, Number 1, Volume 1 - 2002
- Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES, Number 2, Volume 1 - 2002
- Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES, Number 6, Volume 2 - 2004

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