745) Facts and Comments by Retired Ambassador Ömer Engin LÜTEM

A Conference in Germany
A conference called "The Heavy Burden of History: An Attempt Toward Turkish - Armenian Dialogue" has convened in Mülheim an der Ruhr/ Germany on 23 to 25 of March, 2001 by the Protestant Academy of that town with the German-Armenian Society and German - Turkish Association for Social Sciences and Humanities.

The purpose of the conference was according to its brochure was to bring together Turkish and Armenian historians in order to analyze and discuss the events at the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1918. It was hoped that the direct dialogue may contribute to a process of acknowledgement, understanding and reconciliation between these two people.

Noble purpose indeed! It could be done if a real dialogue was established during the meeting. The Turkish scholars who were invited to speak like Halil Berktay, Fikret Adan�r, Taner Akçam and Elçin Kür�at-Ahlers are all well kown for their pro-Armenian views, although there are some differences among them. Berktay and Adan�r are more "scientific", Akçam is rather an activist than a scholar. R�dvan Akar sounds like a propagandist. As they all supported the Armenian views and since the Armenians did the same, instead of the intended dialogue a kind of a monologue prevailed at the meeting.

A meaningful dialogue necessitates the expression of an adverse opinion. Unfortunately the scholars who defended that the events of 1915 were not a genocide had not been invited to the conference. Except of a very tiny minority almost all the Turks believed that as far as the Armenians are concerned there has never been a genocide. There is hundreds of scholars, writers, journalists etc who share this opinion. Therefore there has been no difficulty to find some qualified persons who would express a contrary view and thus create a real discussion at the meeting. It’s a pity that the organizers of the conference had no courage to invite them. Because of their absence the purpose of the conference which is the establishment of a dialogue between the Armenians and the Turks, has not been realized.

As for the Armenian speakers of the meeting Richard Hovannisian began his presentation by saying that there is no need to prove that a genocide was committed against the Armenians and that he will not discuss this matter. Could anyone imagine a scholar who would not stand a contrary opinion! How could a dialogue be established if one of the interested party refuses to talk with the other.

Mrs. Lorna Touryan Miller spoke about the survivors of the "genocide" and the trauma of the following generations of the Armenians. She tried to explain and to excuse the terrorist acts of some Armenians belonging to the third generation by that trauma. Its quite normal that the refugees of 1915, as anyone else who witnessed the tragic conditions of war, felt some kind of trauma. Their sons and daughters -the second generation- would have much less of that kind of a feeling. As for the third generation it is rather impossible for them to have any kind of trauma, the conditions of life being completely different and that they had few occasions to be influenced by their grandparents. But all the terrorist acts and the murder of the Turkish diplomats has been preformed by the Armenians belonging to the third generation. If most of the killers were professionals some of them acted under the influence of a trauma. This apparent contradiction could be explained by the fact that the third and the fourth generation of the Armenians are exposed at church, at school and during inter-Armenian activities to a kind of brain washing which tries to inculcate self-pitying, vengeance and hatred for the Turks. With such feelings it is not possible for the Armenians of the diaspora, as it was the case at the Mülheim conference, to contribute positively to an Armenian-Turkish dialogue.

The Turkish - Armenian reconciliation is a necessity especially after the independence of Armenia. To overcome the prejudices inherited from the past and to prepare a favorable ground for a future Turkish - Armenian entente by a continuous dialogue, Turks and Armenians should try to understand and respect their respective opinion.


In this part we will examine the most important events of 2001 under the headings of relations between Turkey and Armenia, the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission, efforts directed at the recognition of the alleged Armenian genocide and the final developments in the Karabagh conflict.

1. Relations between Turkey and Armenia

In 2001 there was no improvement in the relations between Turkey and Armenia which have been steadily deteriorating since Kocharian assumed the Presidency in 1998. The reason for this was the fact that Armenia followed a policy of contention in the face of Turkish policies which were based on certain principles.

The policy Turkey follows in her relation to Armenia is based on the principles of respect for territorial integrity, the inviolability of borders and good neighbourly relations.[1] On the other hand, Turkey demands that Armenia withdraws from territories of Azerbaijan that it has occupied and favours a solution to the conflict is found within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Finally, Turkey believes that the efforts of Armenia directed at gaining international recognition for the alleged genocide are not in line with the principle of good neighborhood, which is an impediment to the normalization of relations. Turkey argues that history should only be judged by historians.

On the other hand, the foreign policy of Armenia was described by Foreign Minister Oskanian with the following words:”Turkey continues to condition it’s normalization of relations with Armenia on the Nagorno Karabagh conflict and Armenian Genocide issues. Armenia insists on the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of borders without any preconditions.”[2] Oskanian also said that international recognition of the Armenian genocide remained on the agenda of the country’s foreign policy.

As a result, while Armenia wishes to open the borders and establish diplomatic relations with Turkey it, at the same time, avoids acknowledging the territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of Turkey. Simultaneously Armenia accuses Turkey of genocide and continues to occupy Karabagh and Azerbaijani territory. It is this policy which can be summarized as taking everything but giving nothing in return that constitutes the main reason for the deadlock in Turkish-Armenian relations.

2. The Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission

It was announced that an unofficial “Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission” composed of six Turks and four Armenians had been established on 9 July 2001. The fact that none of the members of this body held official positions or titles made this initiative interesting and gave reason to hope that a framework was created to help official contacts to reach a negotiated settlement.

The terms of reference of the Commission[3] can be summarized as; developing the understanding and good-will between Turks and Armenians, promoting an improvement in the relations between Turkey and Armenia, supporting contacts, dialogue and cooperation between civil society organizations, developing proposals to be presented to the governments, promoting unofficial cooperation in the fields of tourism, culture, education, environment and other fields as well as in confidence building measures.

What is of interest is that “genocide” was not directly nor indirectly mentioned as one of the matters that the commission will be dealing with. In the same manner there is also no mention of the Karabagh conflict. It is clear that the parties have chosen to leave aside the topics that are difficult to agree upon and adopted a policy aimed at cooperation in other fields.

While there was no official Turkish reaction in response to the setting up of the Commission, the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted in a generally positive manner but also stated that this initiative could not replace direct state level contacts aimed at solving the conflict.[4]

The Dashnaks, on the other hand, reacted very negatively and harshly criticized the Commission.[5] The main criticism was based on the idea that this Commission could harm the efforts directed at the recognition of the alleged genocide. Therefore the Commission was described as an initiative that failed to take into consideration Armenian interests and the members were deemed unauthorized. For the Dashnaks, establishing dialogue with Turkey depended on the preconditions of Turkey’s recognition of the “genocide”, changing its “biased attitude” on the Karabagh conflict and the lifting of the embargo imposed on Armenia. This campaign which the Dashnaks directed at the Commission was effective. As a result, the majority parties in the Armenian Parliament adopted a resolution denouncing the Commission.[6] The Diaspora press also mainly opposed to the Commission and the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs performed an about face, voicing the concern that the Commission may stall the genocide recognition process that would not deter the Armenian officials in their quest for recognition of the genocide.

The criticism led Armenian members of the Commission to feel the need to go on the defensive and make statements clarifying that the “genocide” is not negotiable and that their activities would not prevent the process of the recognition of the “genocide”. While the debates continued and pressure mounted for the Armenian members of the Commission to resign, in September the German Parliament refused to take the genocide issue on their agenda, stating as a reason for this decision the fact that there were contacts initiated on the issue between Turkish and Armenian civil society organizations.[7] This development had a serious effect on the Armenian members, as did the European Parliament’s attachment of great importance to the Commission in a decision taken about Turkey on November 15, 2001.[8] As a result, during the second meeting of the Commission in Istanbul on 23-25 September 2001, the Armenian members began demanding that the genocide issue be taken up directly or indirectly and particularly that a reference must be made to it in the statements issued following the meetings. In the third meeting held in New York on 18-21 November 2001, it was agreed that an independent organization called “International Center for Transitional Justice” would determine if the United Nations Convention on Genocide of 1948 would be applicable to the events of 1915.[9] However the words of David L. Phillips, on this matter were reflected in the press as “establishing whether the mass killing and deportation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 do or do not constitute genocide”.[10] In short, a relatively simple legal matter such as establishing whether the 1948 Convention can be applied retrospectively was transformed into an effort at historic judgment about whether the events could be considered to be genocide.

When the Turkish members of the Commission drew the attention of the International Center for Transitional Justice to this fact, the Armenian members of the Commission sent David L. Phillips a letter, stating that the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission would no longer proceed.[11]

Thus, the Armenian members of the Commission ended the work of the Commission by resorting to a simple excuse. The main reason for this course of events was the mud-flinging campaign the Dashnaks conducted against the Commission and it’s Armenian members which caused the position of the Armenian members to transform from moderation to extremism. Proof of this negative transformation can be found in statements issued by Andranik Mihranyan, a member joining the Commission from Russia and Alexander Arzumanyan, the former Minister of Foreign Minister of Armenia in which they went as far as accusing the Turkish members of the Commission.[12]

Following the official dissolution of the Commission the Dashnak Party issued a statement expressing that there could be dialogue between Turks and Armenians only following a recognition of the Armenian “genocide” by Turkey, and that the responsibility of Turkey in the genocide could not be held apart from Turkish-Armenian relations. The statement read that therefore recognition of the “genocide” was an integral part of Armenian foreign policy and that efforts directed at recognition would now be conducted in a fashion stronger than ever.[13]

Vahe Gabrielyan, the Press Secretary of the Armenian President said that they had foreseen the dissolution of the Reconciliation Commission and added that the dialogue between Turkey and Armenia must be conducted at the official level.[14] Thereby it was once again proven that there is a serious difference of opinion between the Government of Armenia and the Dashnaks on the issue of dialogue with Turkey.

The overwhelming majority of the Armenian newspapers were satisfied with the failiure of the Commission, while on the other hand, some realistic views were expressed as well, stressing that if there would be no reconciliation, feelings of hatred, spite and revenge would prevail.[15]

Turkish authorities showed no reaction to the termination of the activities of the Commission.

It is difficult to say that the Turkish-Armenian dialogue has been ended completely. Under the circumstances there seems to be no other way to settle the problems other than through dialogue. On the other hand, it is fair to say that Armenia truly is in need of normalizing its relations with Turkey. Even the members of the Commission who had stopped the work of the Commission stated in their letters on this issue that contacts between Turkish and Armenian civil society organizations were necessary for the normalization of relations. Due to strategic concerns the USA also favors stability in the Caucasus and in this connection expects the two states to resolve their differences. Therefore, if there can be no contacts between officials, establishing contacts between civil organizations would undoubtedly be of value. Even a revitalization of the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission under a different setup could be considered.

3. Efforts for the Recognition of the Alleged Genocide

The most important development relating to the Armenian problem in 2001 was the fact that in January a law recognizing the ”genocide” was passed by the French Parliament. The law consisting of a short sentence which reads “France publicly recognizes the Armenian genocide of 1915” brought moral satisfaction to Armenian extremists. However this law did not yield any practical results as it stopped short of blaming anybody for the “genocide”, it did not request that Turkey acknowledge the “genocide” or provide for arrangements that would lead to legal action against those in France claiming that there had been no “genocide”.[16] Despite this, Turkish-French relations deteriorated and only at the end of the year was there an amelioration through some contacts in the military field.

No other country recognized the alleged Armenian genocide in 2001. On the contrary, despite all efforts of Armenian extremists, some countries’ authorities refused to do so.

These events are listed below in chronological order:

On February 14, 2001 the Russian Duma refused a proposal on the recognition of the genocide tabled by Jirinovski’s Liberal Democratic Party. However the 1995 decision of the Duma which “censured those who had annihilated the Armenians” and “accepted April 24 as a day of commemoration for the victims of the genocide” remained in effect.[17]

On May 13, 2001 the Swiss Parliament refused a draft law which demanded the recognition of the “genocide” by a margin of three votes.[18] Upon this development the Armenian extremists in Switzerland took to court the directors of Turkish associations with the aim of having the “genocide” mentioned in the text of the verdict. However the court acquitted the Turkish citizens on September 17, 2001 and did not label the events of 1915 as genocide. In the face of this defeat the Armenians managed to pass a decision on the “genocide” from the Canton of Geneva on December 10, 2001 but this had little effect since the same Canton had previously passed the same decision.[19]

Answering a petition on the recognition of the “genocide” the Office of the President of Slovakia expressed that the events of 1915 should be defined by historians and did not use the word “genocide”.[20]

Armenian activists were outraged when President Bush refrained from using the word “genocide” in his annual speech delivered on April 24, 2001. The activists were not satisfied with the use of the word annihilation by President Bush, although this word is close in meaning to “genocide”.[21] It is noteworthy that the Armenians have not presented a draft to Congress on the”genocide” this year. This development proves the difficulty of acting against Turkey after the attacks of September 11. As in previous years, some legislative bodies at State level or Governors passed resolutions on the “genocide” in 2001 as well[22] but this did not find much coverage even in the Armenian press and went largely unnoticed by the public.

Draft resolutions aimed at the recognition of the “genocide” were presented to the Canadian Parliament by a Parliamentarian of Armenian origin in April and June. Both were rejected.[23]

In answer to a question, Baroness Scotland, the Minister for the Commonwealth of Great Britain stated in February that the events of 1915 could not be defined as genocide according the United Nations Convention on Genocide of 1948. This position was repeated in a press statement issued by the British Embassy in Ankara in July.[24]

Upon a request for the position of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a position, the German Parliament rejected the recognition of the “genocide” in September.[25]

Pope Jean-Paul II,[26] the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin[27] and the President of Poland Kvashnewski[28] made statements during their visits to Armenia which could be interpreted as a recognition of the “genocide”. If one is to consider that the Vatican recognized the genocide in November 2000 and that the Russian Duma had done the same in April 1995, it becomes obvious that the statements of the Pope and Putin were no more than a confirmation of a known fact. On the other hand, it later became clear that the words of the Polish President were his own thoughts rather than the official position of his country.

The fact that no other country with the exception of France recognized the alleged Armenian genocide in 2001 constituted a serious setback for Armenia which believed that gaining recognition for the “genocide” was among its foreign policy priorities. It was also a setback for the Armenian Diaspora which had concentrated all its efforts on gaining recognition.

4. Developments in the Karabagh Conflict

The first months of 2001 witnessed promising developments for the resolution of the Karabagh conflict. Presidents Aliyev and Kocharian met for the resolution of the conflict in Paris in March and later in Key West – Florida in April. There were also encounters during meetings of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Despite these contacts that could be characterized as intense, no progress was made on the Karabagh conflict and although agreed upon previously, the two sides did not meet in Geneva in June.[29] This showed that the parties had very different opinions on the solution of the conflict, as a matter of fact it was clear that their opinions were contradictory.

According to the Armenians, Karabagh is an Armenian territory that must be annexed and due to security concerns the Azerbaijani lands surrounding it must be taken as well. However Armenia, aware that this extreme position will not find support, is willing to accept as a temporary solution independence of Karabagh and its connection to Armenia via a corridor.

Azerbaijani opinion on the matter can be summarized as a conviction that Karabagh is the territory of Azerbaijan and that it can at best be granted comprehensive autonomy. It must be stated here that according to international law there is no doubt whatsoever that Karabagh is the territory of Azerbaijan.

The Minsk Group whose mandate is to resolve the Karabagh conflict attempts to reconcile the opinions of the two parties. The three co-chairs that operate in the name of the Group are trying to create a formula for autonomy that is acceptable to both parties. While doing so they must take into consideration the UN and OSCE Lisabon Summit decisions which are based on international law. They must also consider the categorical position of Azerbaijan. In this context the co-chairs came up with a proposition according to which Karabagh is considered to be a common state, connected to Armenia via a corridor leading through Lachin whereas Nahchivan is connected to Azerbaijan via a corridor running through Megri. However this project failed due to the inflexible attitude of Armenia, causing the Minsk Group to become dormant as of the second half of 2001.

The Minsk Group, established in 1992 with Turkey as a member as well, handed its authorities to the co-chairs Russia, France and the USA after some time. However these three countries all had different degrees of favorable bias towards Armenia.

It is commonly accepted today that Armenia was the victor of the hostilities that had erupted due to the Karabagh conflict in the early 90’s because Russia had supplied the Armenian side with all forms of assistance, including weapon deliveries worth over 1 billion US Dollars. In exchange the Russian Federation was given military bases in Armenia. Russia has also placed numerous troops in the country with the pretext of securing the borders. Russia’s special relationship with Armenia allows the Russian Federation to continue exercising influence on the Southern Caucasus. It must be for this reason that President Aliyev has recently been pursuing friendly relations with the Russian Federation. As a price for this he has had to agree to rent the Gabala radar installation to the Russians for 10 years.[30]

France has no particular interest in the Caucasus. The interest that this country shows in the Karabagh conflict is directed more towards satisfying its small but highly active Armenian minority. The influence of the Armenians in France is so strong that the French Parliament risked upsetting Turkey as well as the cancellation of some certain military contracts and went on to pass in January 2001 a law on the alleged genocide. The most striking example attesting to the fact that France cannot be neutral on the Karabagh issue was witnessed when President Chirac sent President Kocherian a message on the occasion of the assumption of the duties of the new French Ambassador in which he stated that he hoped that 2002 would be a year of dialogue in the Southern Caucasus and that he wished that the problem be resolved “on the basis of the Paris principles”.[31] These statements of the French President were striking since Azerbaijani authorities had been insistently underlining that no principles for the solution of the Karabagh conflict were agreed upon during the meeting in Paris in March.[32] Following Presidential and parliamentary elections this year, in other words once the influence of the Armenian minority has diminished, one might expect that France will display a somewhat balanced attitude towards the Karabagh problem.

Concerning the USA, it is fair to say that this country too is under the influence of its Armenian minority. Despite the fact that following the hostilities other Azerbaijani territories alongside Karabagh were occupied as well and that close to a million Azerbaijanis were forced to flee and live in miserable conditions, the Congress stopped all aid to Azerbaijan as if it were the Armenians who had come under attack. Efforts of US Administrations directed at reversing this decision by pointing out the importance of Azerbaijan’s oil reserves brought no results. As the strategic importance of Azerbaijan increased following the terrorist attacks of September 11, this decision was lifted temporarily with the initiative of President Bush and despite all efforts of the Armenian lobby. Thus the USA found an opportunity to follow a more balanced policy in the Karabagh conflict.

Even if they are to follow more balanced policies than in the past, for reasons mentioned above it is clear that the USA, Russian Federation and France will have to favor the Armenians. Today it is clear that the Karabagh conflict cannot be solved without the consent of the USA and the Russian Federation. On the other hand, France has no role or power in the region. Therefore the Minsk Group would have a better chance of success if France were to be replaced by a country such as Turkey, which would defend the views of Azerbaijan. If France is to be kept within the Group, chances of success would be increased if two other states close to Azerbaijan are added to the group.

Bearing in mind that the Minsk Group has been in existence for 10 years, we believe that it will be in the interest of Azerbaijan to no longer ask for the mediation of this body if it once again fails to achieve any concrete results this year. In this case the matter could be taken to the United Nations which in fact is an organization designed to solve international conflicts. This way the support of over 50 Muslim states in the U.N. could be utilized as well.


1. Turkish-Armenian Relations

Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit paid an official visit to the USA in mid-January. According to the press reports[33] the Prime Minister told President Bush that Turkey has four conditions for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia and listed them as follows: Armenia must abandon it’s accusations of genocide, Armenia must evacuate Karabagh unconditionally, it must allow the people the right to return to these lands from which they had been expelled and a corridor must be opened between Nahchivan and Azerbaijan.

According to the same report, Ecevit told the US President that the practice of issuing visas to Armenian nationals had been reinstated. In return President Bush told the Prime Minister that; “your decision will strengthen our position towards the Armenian lobbies”.

The practice of issuing visas to Armenian nationals had been terminated in October 2000 and according to the new practice Armenians wishing to come to Turkey from then on had to obtain a visa from a Turkish diplomatic mission abroad. Due to this measure that was intended to be an answer to the activities of the Armenians who were trying to pass a resolution on the alleged genocide in Congress, Armenian nationals had to travel to Tibilisi or Moscow in order to obtain a Turkish visa. The result was a decrease in the number of Armenians that were coming to Turkey.

Turkey’s decision to return to the previous visa practice was welcomed in Armenia and a spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated ; “this will have a positive influence on the contacts between the peoples and improve the general atmosphere of the Turkish-Armenian relations which is rather tense”[34] The Spokesman of the Secretary of State said that they thought Turkey’s decision on this matter was positive, adding that the USA believed this would contribute to the improvement of Turkish-Armenian relations and that they encouraged initiatives of private or government agencies directed at the normalization of relations.[35] One of the leading organizations of the Diaspora, the American Armenian Assembly, thanked the Bush Administration on this issue[36] while the organization of the Dashnaks known as the American National Congress of Armenians (ANCA) stated; “Turkey, the perpetrator of genocide against the Armenian people will need to go far beyond such token gestures and that a meaningful dialogue between the Armenian and Turkish Governments will only be possible after Turkey abandons it’s denial of the Armenian genocide, fully lifts the blockade and ceases its military assistance to Azerbaijan”. As can be seen, the new visa regime satisfied everyone but the Dashnaks.

In retrospective we see that the decision taken by Turkey in October 2000, making it more difficult to obtain a visa did not in fact reach its intended aim which was the Government of Armenia of which Turkey was weary due to the prior policies on claims of genocide, Karabagh, and the occupation of Azerbaijani territories. Instead, it was seen that the decision was harming ordinary citizens of Armenia, who had the intention of coming to Turkey. In fact these were the same people that would help establish friendly relations with Turkey and their potential contact with Turkey should not be prevented or made more difficult, on the contrary, it would be of greater use if their contact to Turkey is facilitated.

It was perhaps due to the conducive environment created by the new visa regime that the Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Armenia met while they were in New York on the occasion of the World Economic Forum. In an interview on this matter the Armenian Foreign Minister said “I think that there will be a follow-up to this meeting in the near future”. He also stated that “both sides are in the mood to try to address our bilateral issues through a direct dialogue”.[37]

No statement was made in Turkey about this meeting.

2. The Eçmiyazin-Antilyas Competition

The center of the Gregorian Armenian Church is in Eçmiyazin which is close to Yerevan. The Patriarch, seated here is in principle the spiritual leader of all Gregorian Armenians. The Patriarchs of Istanbul, Jerusalem and Antilyas (Lebanon) are also answerable to him.

The fact that Eçmiyazin was located on Soviet soil and that the Patriarch here had no choice but to act according to Soviet views led to the “Cilica” Patriarch in Antilyas – Lebanon to follow an independent policy from Eçmiyazin and to start making appointments to local diocese. In time two Patriarchs came into existence in the Gregorian sect.[38] Some Armenian Churches in Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, and Iran as well as some churches in the USA became attached to the Patriarch in Antilyas.

Some say that in reality the Dashnaks are behind this split that was a result of the Cold War.[39] Furthermore the most serious sources confirm that the Antilyas Patriarch has close ties with the Dashnaks.[40] In fact the occasional extreme statements of the current Patriarch of Antilyas, Aram II about Turkey are sufficient to prove this proximity. On the other hand, the fact that there is a Church, which unconditionally supports them also explains the control of the Dashnaks over the Diaspora.

After the dissolution of the USSR and particularly after the founding of independent Armenia it would be expected that Antilyas would once again subordinate itself to Ecmiyazin. However, Antilyas, who by now had gained a political personality, did not do this. Although he recognized in principle the spiritual superiority of Karekin I, Aram II took every opportunity to prove that he was the equal of the former. This became particularly evident during the celebrations commemorating the 1700th anniversary of the founding of the Armenian Church.[41] On the other hand, it was seen that some states and authorities fueled the competition between the two Patriarchs almost on purpose. For example alone in January the Patriarch of Antilyas was personally invited by Prime Minister Tony Blair to a meeting on Christian-Muslim dialogue. Aram II also had a meeting with the Prime Minister while attending the activity.[42] On the other hand, Pope Jean-Paul II invited Aram II to Assisi on January 24, 2002 to take part in the “Day of Prayer for Peace” which was attended by representatives of well established religions.

The competition between Ecmiyazin and Antilyas peaked in January, when Antilyas created a local diocese in Canada. Ecmiyazin stated that this action proved that the attempts of Antilyas to create its own Churches, which had started in 1956 was still continuing. Ecmiyazin added that this action could stall the improvement of relations between the two Churches while Antilyas played the incident down and claimed that the new diocese was only the result of a new administrative setup. There were also claims that the new diocese had been created by Aram II as a result of the instructions received from the Dashnaks.[43]

3. The Report of the European Parliament on the South Caucasus

The report prepared by the Swedish member of the Group Greens/ European Free Alliance, Per Gahrton showed in many ways that he was deeply influenced by Armenians. Taking into consideration the principles of territorial integrity and inviolability of borders and, also, various resolutions of the United Nations Security Council with regard to Karabagh it is widely accepted that Armenia has to abandon the occupied territories of Nagorno Karabagh, Gahrton, however, did not mention openly this fact in his report. Gahrton only calls upon Armenia to refrain from all measures in the occupied Azerbaijani territories that might be interpreted as aiming at making the Armenian control permanent, meaning that as long as the dispute over Karabagh continues the Armenian occupation is justified according to Gahrton.

In the pertinent part of this report, which is directly related to Turkey, the European Parliament:

“…calls upon Turkey to take appropriate steps in accordance with its European ambitions, especially concerning the termination of the blockade against Armenia…[and] reiterates in this respect the position in its resolution of 18 June 1987 recognizing the genocide upon Armenians in 1915 as a fact and calls upon Turkey to do the same.”

The use of the term ‘blockade’ in the report is not correct in the legal sense. Turkey has never banned imports to and exports from Armenia. Since the border between Turkey and Armenia is closed to commercial goods, there is no direct trading between Armenia and Turkey. Armenia trades freely via its other neighbouring countries. Furthermore, the abundance of Turkish goods at the Armenian market demonstrates that Turkish firms trade with Armenia indirectly via Georgia or Iran. The border closure prevents transit passage, but this still does not cause harm to Armenia which does not have much to sell. In addition, Armenian Airlines fly directly to Istanbul and other international airlines use Turkish airspace on route to Armenia. Most importantly Armenian citizens are given Turkish visas at the borders as mentioned above. These clearly demonstrate that Turkey does not implement a policy of blockade against Armenia. Contrary to this fact, Armenia is stressing intensively that it has great losses because of the ‘blockade’. Per Gahrton, who seems to regard all Armenian claims as facts without questioning, included a phrase in the draft resolution calling Turkey to terminate the ‘blockade’ against Armenia.

Per Gahrton also included the well known Armenian view that Turkey must recognize the so-called genocide in his draft report. The facts that there was no reference to the recognition of the “genocide” in the criteria to be met by Turkey for the full EU membership and Turkey was extremely sensitive to the genocide allegations were taken into consideration when the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs discussed Gahrton’s report on 23 January 2002. As a result of the objections and lenghty discussions the phrase calling Turkey to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide was replaced by a call “upon Turkey to create a basis for reconciliation” while a reference to the European Parliament’s “resolution of 18 June 1987 recognizing the genocide upon Armenians in 1915” remained.

In comparison to Gahrton’s first draft report, this looks more positive, yet Turkey is not satisfied since there was a refence to the so-called genocide. It could be said, furthermore, that the report is somewhat absurd because it requires only one side, namely Turkey, to create a basis for “reconciliation” not the Armenian side. This would have been overcome had an amendment proposed by some Liberal and Green members of the Parliament been accepted. The amendment was written in a more balanced manner which included no reference to the “genocide” and urged Turkey and Armenia to work together to reconcile their historical differences. The proposal was rejected by 391 to 96 votes on 28 February 2002 in a plenary session.[44]

The adoption of Gahrton’s report and a resolution by the European Parliament caused serious reactions in Turkey.

All the political parties with a group in the Turkish Grand National Assembly issued a joint declaration on 28 February 2002 as soon as the European Parliament adopted its resolution.[45] In short, the declaration expressed that the European Parliament denied historical facts on purpose, the resolution was unfounded and finally that this resolution would not hinder Turkey to work on full European Union membership if to discourage Turkey was its aim.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a press release on the same day,[46] in which the Ministry pointed that the blockade allegations and the reference to the 1987 resolution which recognized the so-called Armenian genocide were unacceptable and the resolutions of the parliaments on the incidents of the past served to nothing but to distort the truth. A footnote of Gahrton’s report claimed that Atatürk accused the Union and Progress regime of committing an Armenian genocide in a speech in the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 10 April 1921. It is also pointed out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement that the Assembly did not convene on 10 April 1921 and this alone is enough to prove that the allegation is totally unfounded and far away from being serious. [47]

Turkish politicians, too, criticized the resolution of the European Parliament. The Deputy Prime Minister, Y�lmaz stated that the resolution was an unacceptable mistake and of no avail. He added that “such contradictory resolutions damage the credibility and reliability of the European Union”.[48] The leader of the MHP and Deputy Prime Minister Devlet Bahçeli called the European Parliament’s resolution “a new expression of the prejudicial and racist approach”.[49] Prime Minister Ecevit, in response to a question in his press conference of 2 March 2002, stated that this resolution does not deserve to be given full consideration, the European Parliament is stuck in the past and has not adequate knowledge of history, Turkey will work on correcting the inadequate knowledge that the Parliament has and finally the resolution will create an obstacle in the settlement of the differences with Armenia.[50] President Sezer called the resolution regrettable and stated that it was unfortunate for the European Parliament to make a judgment on history which could only be judged by historians.[51]

Apart from these reactions, the resolution also caused a great criticism in Turkish media. This, one more time, proves how the Turkish public opinion is so much sensitive about genocide allegations and makes it clear that how the Armenians and those who support them would be disappointed in expecting Turkey recognizing the “genocide”. Unfortunately, this issue, which coincides with Karen Fogg’s actions, has strengthened the negative feeling against the European Union among some circles in Turkey. It has created another obstacle in the way of the European Union membership.

With regard to Armenia, as the minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Oskanian, mentioned that this resolution which would have negative effects on the Armenia-Turkey relations as a result is not favourable for Armenia either, since they want to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey and want Turkey to open its borders to commercial goods as well. Nevertheless, the resolution would mark a success for the Armenian Diaspora whose aim is always and under any circumstances to harm Turkey even in the expense of Armenia.

Finally it must be stated that the adoption of the resolution points out instability in the European Union’s relations with Turkey. On 14 June 1987, the European Parliament recognized the so-called Armenian genocide, which was just after Turkey’s application for the full membership. On 15 November 2000, the Armenian “genocide” was again included in a regular report on Turkey’s progress, shortly after Turkey was announced a candidate of the European Union membership. The EU, however, did not include the “genocide” in the second report on progress issued on 25 October 2001.[52] In contrast, another resolution recognizing the “genocide” has been adopted just only four months later. These contradictory developments lead one to conclude that the European Union does not have a strong position on the so-called genocide and the personal attitudes of the reporters as well as political balance of power in the Parliament are the most important factors to crystallize its resolutions.

[1] The booklet on Turkish foreign policy which was distributed while Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem presented the 2002 draft budget to the Turkish Grand National Assembly Planning and Budgetary Commission on November 2, 2001 was used for reference during the writing of this section.
[2] Armenpress News Agency, January 8, 2001
[3] Armenian Studies, Volume 2, pages 267, 268
[4] Noyan Tapan News Agency, July 13, 2001
[5] Asbarez Online, August 3, 2001
[6] Asbarez Online, July 31, 2001
[7] Armenian Studies, Volume 2, p. 17, 18
[8] Armenian Studies, Volume 2, p. 26, 27
[9] Gündüz Aktan, Radikal, 12.12.2001
[10] RFE/RF Armenia Report, 28.11.2001
[11] Armenian Assembly of America, Press Release, 11.12.2001
[12] Arz Daily, 24.11.2001 and Noyan Tapan News Agency, 12.12.2001
[13] Yerkir, 13.12.2001
[14] PanArmenian News, 14.12.2001
[15] Aravot, 14.12.2001
[16] Armenian Studies, Volume 1, p. 10-12
[17] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 18-19
[18] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 16-17
[19] Hyetert-Arz-Am, 11.12.2001
[20] Armenian Studies, Volume 1, p. 39
[21] ibid
[22] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 32-33
[23] Armenian Studies, Volume 2, p. 26
[24] ibid
[25] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 17-18
[26] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 13-15
[27] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 18-19
[28] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 19-20
[29] Armenian Studies, Volume 2, p. 9-12
[30] RFE/RL Russia/ Azerbaijan: Radar Deal: Win-win situation or fools bargain?
[31] Asbarez Online, 23.01.2002
[32] This statement drew strong criticism from the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayet Guliyev. Guliyev said that “there are no Paris principles and it is not possible to resolve this conflict through the use of legendary principles.” Asbarez Online, 23.01.2001
[33] Hürriyet, 20.01.2002
[34] RFE/ RL Armenia Report, 16.01.2002
[35] ANCA Press Release, January 16, 2002
[36] Medimax News Agency, January 16, 2002
[37] RFE/ RL Armenia Report, 02.02.2002
[38] The official title of the patriarch seated in Eçmiyazin is Catholicos or Catogicos in Armenian. The Patriarch of Antilyas took the same title in 1956 with the aim of showing that he was equal of Eçmiyazin. As this is not a religious study we used the title “Patriarch” for both authorities as the word does not have a corresponding definition in Turkish.
[39] Tatul Hakobyan, Arz Daily, 22.06.2001 and La Lettre de l’UGAB, 19.01.2002
[40] Encyclopedia Britannica CD-Rom 2001
[41] Rafik Hovanisian, Arz Daily, 23.01.2002
[42] Press Release: Daily Press – Catholisicate of the Great House of Cilicia, 22.01.2002
[43] La Lettre de l’UGAB, 19.01.2002
[44] Sabah, 01.03.2002
[45] This declaration can be found in the DOCUMENTS section
[46] This statement can be found in the DOCUMENTS section
[47] In a footnote in Gahrton’s report it is stated that the director of the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan and the Head of the Armenian Parliament’s Legal Matters Committee told him that Atatürk accused the Union and Progress regime of committing a genocide towards Armenians in a speech in the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 10 April 1921. Although it is known that Ataturk never delivered such a speech, the archieves of the Turkish Grand National Assembly has been checked again. The registers of The Turkish Grand National Assembly show that Atatürk did not take floor on that day. The Institute for Armenian Research sent Per Gahrton and the members of the European Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee e-mail messages in which the Institute explained what Gahrton’s report stated is unfounded and further pointed out that Atatürk never used the term “Armenian genocide”. Per Gahrton did not take this into consideration and it seems that he did not give consideration similar messages of others. In the present issue of Armenian Studies there is an article by �enol Kantarc� titled “Speeches on the Armenians Attributed to Atatürk and his Help to the Victims of Armenian Terrorists and ‘Court Martials’”. In this article you will find detailed information on the speeches attributed to Atatürk and further Atatürk’s general view on this issue.
[48] Milliyet.com.tr, 1 Mach 2001.
[49] Hürriyet, 3 March 2001.
[50] CNN-Türk, 2 March 2002.
[51] Hürriyetim 1March 2002.
[52] For these reports: Armenian Studies, vol: 3, pp. 25-27.

The last three months is a period in which Armenia suffered serious setbacks in her policy towards Turkey and Azerbaijan. A lawsuit in Switzerland that aimed at indirect recognition of the alleged genocide resulted in acquittal and the German Parliament refused to look into a petition about the “genocide”, stating that this matter did not fall into the Parliaments field of responsibility.

The European Parliament refused amendements related to “genocide” to it’s resolution concerning progress report of Turkey.

A legal provision that did not permit the USA to deliver aid to Azerbaijan was revoked pending certain conditions.

The Council of Europe did not recognize local elections held in occupied Karabagh.

Armenian efforts to redraw the route of the Baku-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline so as to pass through Armenia failed.

On the other hand Pope Jean Paul II and the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin mentioning the “genocide” may be seen as points gained in favor of the Armenian side. However, since both the Vatican and the Russian Parliament have already recognized the “genocide”, the statements of the heads of state are no more than reaffirmations. The recognition of the “genocide” by the Polish President Kwasniewski is more the statement of a personal opinion since, as he said, he is not certain that his Parliament will follow him on this issue.

The main reason for these setbacks is that the Armenian side have acted in most of the cases emotionally and in haste without properly analyzing the situation beforehand.

Another fact that must be born in mind is that the strategic importance of Turkey and, to a certain extent, that of Azerbaijan have increased after September 11th and that it will be difficult for Armenians, at least for the time being, to find international support for their actions against these two states.

1. 10th, 1700th, 2783rd ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS

The 10th anniversary of independence of Armenia, the 1700th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity by Armenia and the 2783rd anniversary of the founding of Yerevan were widely celebrated in September and October.

The 10th anniversary of the independence of Armenia

In a referendum held on September 21st 1991, a great majority of the Armenians chose independence. Armenia became the only state to secede from the USSR in accordance with Soviet law.[1] Soviet law had been abided by due to concerns that Moscow may otherwise not aid Armenia in the war against Azerbaijan.

In a speech delivered on the 10th anniversary of independence[2], President Kocharian stated that the country faces a number of problems but did not elaborate on the reasons of the difficulties. The root cause of the problems that Armenia faces today is the Karabagh issue which prevents the normalization of relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan and drains funds desperately needed elsewhere. The Armenians who cannot bear the austere life at home leave for other states that may accept them, thus causing a serious de-population of the country. Oddly enough, as the population decreases so does unemployment and a kind of a balance is maintained.

In his speech Kocharian did not address these concerns. Instead, without specifically naming Turkey he said; “Ten years ago it seemed an unrealizable dream that the number of those acknowledging the genocide should reach this level. In ten years will it be possible for us to achieve those targets that seem unbelievable today?“[3]

These words of the President of Armenia carry both pride as well a promise.

The pride is in the statement that there has been an increase in the number of countries that have recognized the so-called genocide. Although this claim is true numerically, these recognitions are not strong enough to exert Turkey to accept the “genocide”. In this context, it should be mentioned that even if the number of recognitions are to increase in the future, this is unlikely to have an effect on Turkey.

The slightly veiled promise of Kocharian is the possibility that things that seem unbelievable today may become reality in the future. When this statement is studied in the context of the “genocide” one can assume that Kocharian expects Turkey to recognize the “genocide”, pay compensation to the Armenians and give to Armenia some territories in Eastern Anatolia. However, when one sees that in 86 years Armenians have achieved only the recognition by 11 states[4] and one international organization [5] it seems truly unbelievable (using Kocharians own terminology) that the Armenians should expect much success in the future.

Another matter that needs to be taken into consideration is that Kocharian has made the “genocide” the main foundation on which his policy towards Turkey rests. This has led to a serious erosion of bilateral relations when compared with the era of Ter Petrosyan. It is obvious that using the “genocide” as a tool of pressure has not yielded the desired results.

The 1700th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity

It is assumed that Christianity was accepted as a state religion in Armenia 1700 years ago.[6]

On September 20-23rd 2001, the 1700th anniversary of this event was celebrated with far more pomp than the 10th anniversary of the �ndepentence of Armenia. Dignitaries of Christianity took part in the festivities while the Pope officially visited Armenia only later on September 25th because the Russian Patriarch Aleksei II had wished not encounter him in Armenia.

The visiting religious leaders were taken to the “genocide” monument known as the “Tsitsernakaberd” in Armenia. The Armenian Catholicos gave a speech thanking the religious leaders who had expressed their anger regarding the “genocide” and added that he hoped more would make similar statements in the coming years.[7]

Armenians attach great importance to taking foreign dignitaries visiting their country to the “genocide” monument. One of the organizers of the 1700th anniversary celebrations, Archbishop Hovnan Terteryan has stated that visiting the monument bears political significance since it meant a recognition of the “genocide”.[8] Therefore, Armenians make a point of convincing and sometimes even pressing their guests to visit the monument. As a result, Georgian head of state Sheverdnadze who enjoys very good relations with Turkey had to lay a wreath at the monument during his visit to Armenia on October 24th 2001[9]. Another statesman with good ties to Turkey, Romanian President Iliescu, visited the “genocide” monument on November 1st 2001 and later during a speech at the University of Yerevan stated; “Your history is tragic, you have lost a great part of your historical homeland”.[10]

The celebrations provided an opportunity for the consecration of a new cathedral in Yerevan. The building, which was completed at the approximate cost of 10 million US Dollars,[11] is the largest Armenian Church in the world. With a size that approaches that of the St. Peters in Rome, the building can seat 3000.[12] It is, however, difficult to understand who will fill the cathedral for it is too big for the inhabitants of Yerevan who are generally known not to be very religious.

Bartholomeos, the Greek Patriarch of Istanbul, visited Armenia on the occasion of the 1700th anniversary celebrations on November 4-5th 2001. The Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul Mesrop Mutafyan accompanied him. Bartholomeos visited President Kocharian as well as participating in the religious ceremonies.[13] It is noteworthy that Bartholomeos, like the Pope, visited Armenia separately and not with the other religious leaders. Unlike the Pope, local and foreign press paid little attention to him.

There is no information available whether Bartholomeos visited the “genocide” monument.

The 2783rd anniversary of the founding of Yerevan.

The municipality of Yerevan declared October 6 - 13th as days of celebration commemorating the founding of the city.

According to the news,[14] the Urartu civilization had built the Erebuni castle 2783 years ago on the site where Yerevan stands today. It is difficult to understand how it was possible to determine the exact date of the construction of a castle in the depths of the Caucasus 27 centuries ago where writing was not widely spread. On the other hand, the Urartus were not Armenians.

It is equally important to stress that historically Yerevan is not an Armenian city. On that subject renowned[15] encyclopedias state that through history the city has been ruled by the Romans, Parthans, Arabs, Mongolians, Turks, Persians, Georgians and after 1827 by the Russians. As may be recalled from Ottoman expeditions, the proper name of the city is Revan. Although it is normal that there should have been some Armenians among the population of this city (for it was a trading center), the “Armenianization” of the city did not take place until 1827 when due to strategic concerns Russia decided to increase the Armenian population in the Caucasus by moving Ottoman and Iranian Armenians into the region. In other words Yerevan may be 2783 years old but it has only recently become an Armenian city. The celebrations for Yerevan did not attract much attention probably due to negative reactions to the over emphasis of the age of the city.

According to the Armenian press,[16] the attacks of September 11th had a negative effect causing 50.000 less tourists to attend the celebrations and resulting in 50 million US Dollars less in revenues.


The Armenian Catholicos Karekin II visited Pope Jean Paul II in November 2000. This visit, which would usually be considered to be a regular contact between two religious figures, was of significance because it took place only a month after the election of Karekin II to office and shows that there were close contacts between the two churches.

The Orthodox Churches in general and the Russian Orthodox Church in particular have numerous problems with the Papacy. Despite some similarities the Gregorian denomination to which most Armenians belong is not identical with the Orthodox faith. In the past the Armenian Church felt the need to act in together with the Orthodox Church, which had a superior standing in the Tsarist Russia as well as the USSR.

The Roman Catholic Church, which had the main purpose of uniting all Christians under its roof faced stiff opposition from the other Churches, changed tactics and eventually turned to assure the primacy of the Pope To this end, small Churches such as the Armenian Church were chosen as primary targets.

The joint declaration released after the visit of Karekin II to the Vatican in 2000 stated “the Armenian genocide which begun the century was a prologue to horrors that would follow” indicated that the Vatican had acknowledged the so called Armenian genocide. On the other hand the Pope elevated Archbishop Maloyan, supposedly killed in Mardin in 1915, to sainthood immediately after his visit to Armenia on October 7th, 2001.[17]

Therefore, it was to be expected that the Pope acknowledged the so called Armenian genocide on the occasion of the 1700th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity by the Armenians. According to the press reports Ankara had indicated that it would be deeply discomforted if the Pope has visited the “genocide monument” while in Armenia and that upon this the Pope had written to the President Sezer a letter stating that there was no ground for the Turkish side to be concerned.[18]

However, the Pope did visit the monument and began his prayer with the following words: ”Listen, o Lord, to the lament that rises from this place, to the call of the dead from the depths of the Metz Yeghern.”[19] The prayer was in English and the only Armenian words were “Metz Yeghern”. According to the dictionary, these words mean ‘great murder’. However, over time they also became descriptive of the so-called Armenian genocide[20]. Therefore, the news agencies,[21] which claimed the Pope had deliberately not used the word genocide in the English prayer so as not to upset Turkey, were wrong since the words “Metz Yeghern” could not have been understood to have a different meaning, especially when pronounced under the “genocide” monument.

Any hesitations as to the meaning of these Armenian words were resolved when the joint declaration was signed between the Pope and Karekin II, in which the word “genocide” was used. The relevant sentence reads: “The extermination of a million and half of Armenian Christians, in what is generally referred to as the first genocide of Twentieth Century, and the subsequent annihilation of thousands under the former totalitarian regime are tragedies that still live in the memory of present-day generation”.[22] Before leaving the country the Pope spoke of “terrible events that brought the people of Armenia to the brink of annihilation”. This time the word annihilation had been substituted in the place of “genocide”, however, there was no difference in meaning since the words can be considered to be synonyms when used in this context.

It is interesting to see the Pope touching upon the thousands who disappeared during the totalitarian regime and place them in the same context as those that died in the “genocide”. Although it is true that in the USSR - especially under Stalin - peasants died of starvation and some peoples such as the Meshketi Turks, Tatars and others were deported. It is difficult to say that the Armenians suffered beyond what was considered to be a normal and general level of misery in the USSR. On the contrary, unlike the Muslim peoples of the Union, the Armenians adapted themself easily to the regime and became a nation that was treated well by Moscow. Although the liquidation of some Armenian oppositionists may be considered normal, it is difficult to believe that there were thousands that disappeared under the Soviet rule. These allegations are intended to arouse pity in the same way as the claims of genocide.

It’s obvious that there has been amelioration between the Vatican and the Armenian Church but the price of that has been paid by Turkey. According to the press,[23] Turkey protested the attitude of the Pope both in Ankara and the Holy See, stating that it was upsetting to see the Pope visiting the “genocide” monument to please Armenia while the Turkish people and government have been entirely disregarded and Turkish history tarnished. It may be assumed that the relations between Ankara and the Vatican will suffer of these events for some time to come.

On the other hand, the reopening of a church in Tarsus, which was given importance by the Vatican, did take place with an official ceremony a few days after the Pope had visited Armenia.[24] Ankara considered it inadequate to link the recognition of the “genocide” by the Vatican with the reopening of this church.



In 1995, a member of the Swiss Parliament Angelina Fankhauser had asked the Swiss Government if it was ready to recognize the Armenian “genocide”. In September of the same year 5000 Swiss citizens of Armenian origin petitioned the parliament on the same matter. On January 30th 1996, the Turkish-Swiss associations handed in a petition bearing 4200 signatures opposing the Armenian initiative.[25] In summary, the Turkish petition stated that there was no resemblance between the relocation of the Armenians and the holocaust of the Jews and that there could not be a genocide since the Ottoman government had no intention of annihilating the Armenians.[26]

The Swiss-Armenian Union took 17 members of the Union of Turkish Associations to court, claiming that according to Article 261 of the Swiss Penal Code those who deny the existence of the genocide or minimize the significance of it would be punished by a fine or imprisonment. [27]

In the meantime, the Swiss Government answered the question of Angelina Frankhauser and used the terms “tragic events” instead of “genocide”.[28]

After the unsuccessful attempts in 1995 and 2000, on March 13th 2001 the Swiss Parliament rejected a third initiative to have the genocide recognized by a margin of 3 votes.[29]

The lawsuit of the Swiss Armenian Union resulted in a verdict on September 17th 2001. 17 Turks were acquitted. The press reports read that the judge had based his decision on the fact that the Turks involved in the trial had not acted with racist motives when handing in their petition. Rather, the Turks, according to the judge, had acted against the Armenian initiative with the aim of preserving their cultural identity. The judge avoided referring to the events of 1915 as genocide.[30]

The purpose of the Armenian side in taking the matter to court was to obtain a judgment on a matter on which Parliament would not decide in their favor. This tactic was flawed since it was almost impossible for a court of law to conduct research so as to determine if events of 1915 may be classified as genocide or not. On the other hand, since Parliament had not accepted a resolution recognizing the “genocide”, the court did not have any reference to turn to.

Although the Armenians appealed the decision, the case signified a defeat for them, as stated by a Swiss newspaper.[31]


Armenians living in Germany, joined by some Germans, had asked the German Parliament with a petition in April 2000 to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide. The German Parliament asked the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an opinion. In September 2001 the Commission for Petitions decided that this was not a matter that the Parliament could deal with and that the sensitivity of Turkey should be taken into consideration. It was also stated that there were contacts between Turkish and Armenian associations on this matter.[32]

This development, which hardly drew the attention of both the Turkish and Armenian press, was of great significance since it illustrated the position of an important state like Germany. By rejecting the petition at the level of a commission and stating that this is not a matter that falls within the juristiction of the Parliament, Germany’s position, starkly contrasted with the attitude of the European Parliament as well as the parliaments of some EU members which recognized the “genocide” such as France, Italy, Belgium and Greece.

It’s beyond doubt that the decision of the German Parliament signifies a serious defeat for the Armenians once again. Despite this, considering the great importance of Germany for Turkey, it should be expected that the “genocide” issue will surface under different guises on the agenda of Germany in the future.

The Vice-President of German Parliament Antja Vollmer visited the “genocide” monument in Yerevan on October 4th 2001 and laid a wreath. She stated to journalists that the wreath has been laid in the name of German Parliament and the German people. She also called the events of 1915 the first genocide of modern history.[33] Answering a question if Germany would recognize the genocide, Vollmer said that the Germans knew of the genocide and that she hoped Turkey and Armenia would initiate a dialogue about the murders committed in the past.[34]

Mrs. Vollmer is a member of the Green Party that received about 6% of the votes in the last elections. Therefore, it is in fact difficult to claim that Mrs. Vollmer represents the German Parliament and the German people. It is known that in the extreme left and in the Green Party of Germany there are a number of anti-Turkish initiatives. The statements of Mrs. Vollmer which are surely beyond her competence must be seen in this context.


On April 15th 1995, the Russian Duma accepted a resolution that recognized the so-called genocide. On the other hand, the Duma on February 14, 2001 refused to debate a proposal on the same subject. However, the resolution of 1995 stayed in effect.[35] The Russian government did not take a stand on this matter.

During his visit to Armenia on September 15th 2001, the Russian President Putin wrote in the guest book of the “genocide” monument in Yerevan; “The Russians have always been sensitive to the suffering and tragedies of the Armenian people. We bow in respect before the memory of the victims of the genocide.“[36] Putin and his wife laid a wreath and planted some trees by the monument. While visiting the University of Yerevan Putin was asked a question which he answered by stating that the events of 1915 were a genocide. [37]

Since the decision of the Duma in 1995 was a recommendation only, its significance was limited. However, the attitude of the head of state on the matter changes the situation and places Russia among the states that recognize the “genocide”. On the other hand, like France, Putin (until now) does not relate the “genocide” with modern Turkey, trying to avoid harming Turkish-Russian relations.


During his official visit to Armenia, the Polish President Alexander Kvashnewski wrote the following words into the guest book of the “genocide” monument after visiting it on November 15th 2001: ”We feel the grief of Armenian genocide as deeply as they do, and I am sure that we shall never let such kind of tragedies, crimes and barbarism towards man and the nation whenever and wherever take place”. [38]

The Polish President later stated at the University of Yerevan that his visit to the monument constituted the most important part of his trip to Yerevan and that the main task today is to develop Turkish-Armenian relations. The President said that he could not guarantee that the Polish Parliament would accept a resolution recognizing the “genocide” adding; “ it is time to face the reality and I invite my Turkish friends to tell the truth”.[39]


The President of the Committee Ministers of the Council of Europe and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein Ernest Walch, Head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Lord Russell-Johnston and it’s Secretary-General Walter Schwimner released a statement on August 24th stating that local elections in Karabagh must not be held as they would not be legitimate.

In the statement it was reminded that while becoming members of the Council of Europe Azerbaijan and Armenia had undertaken to resolve the Karabagh problem through peaceful means and that preventing efforts for a solution would not be in the interest of Karabagh. The same statement gave support to the the Minsk Group and added that the Council of Europe was ready to contribute to efforts undertaken to find a solution.[40]

The Islamic Conference Organization also released a statement in which it opposed local elections to be held in Karabagh and called for the respect for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

On the other hand, the US State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said that they did not believe that the local elections would have any influence on the negotiation process,[41] thus taking a different position than the Europeans.

Both Armenia and the Armenians of Karabagh objected to the statement of the Council of Europe and the local elections were held in Karabagh on September 5th 2001. As predicted, President Gukasyan supporters won.[42]

A statement by Lord Rusell-Johnston during his visit to Armenia on September 9th 2001 that “as long as no solution is found, according to international law and treaties Karabagh is an occupied territory”[43] caused great displeasure in Armenia. Answering Lord Johnston’s statement that they wished the Council of Europe should contribute more actively to the solution of the Karabagh problem, the Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanyan said that the Minsk Group co-chairs, Armenia and Karabagh did not feel it necessary that the Council of Europe contribute to the solution of the Karabah problem.[44] However, it is only normal that the Council of Europe should take part in seeking for a solution since among the members of the Council are to be found almost all members of the OSCE, including two of the Minsk Group co-chairs France and Russia as well as the parties involved in the conflict, namely Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Armenians who wished to see Russia exclusively on their own side in the conflict were disappointed by President Putin who expressed to President Kocharian during his visit to Armenia on September 15th 2001 that although Russia is prepared to play a constructive role, ”the key to the solution is in the hands of Azerbaijan and Armenia only...The problem of Mountainous Karabagh is your problem and you will solve it”.[45]

The Minsk Group was drawing criticism from President Aliyev for not being active for some time. Aliyev stated “unfortunately the OSCE is violating her own principles. What is it that we will agree upon with the Armenians when they are the ones who have occupied our territories and refuse to leave them now? Either the Minsk Group adopts a position on this matter based on the principles or we start a war and liberate our lands. The OSCE opposes a war and we, too, believe in the peaceful solution of this conflict. But it is just not solved”.[46]

The Minsk Group co-chairs visited Baku on the 4th, Stepanakert on the 5th and Yerevan on the 6th of November. The initial part of the meeting of Aliyev with the co-chairs was broadcast on TV. In a long speech Aliyev said that although it was set up 9 years ago the Minsk Group had not been able to solve the conflict. He stressed that Armenia is the occupying force, that one million displaced Azerbaijanis are suffering the direct consequences of the invasion and that Armenia is trying to lay claims to Azeri territories.[47] As the meetings of Kocharian and Gukasyan with the co-chairs were closed to the press,[48] it was impossible to receive information about these meetings.

According to press reports, the co-chairs brought with them new proposals. Although the details were not released, the press claimed that these were a modified version of the agreements reached in Paris and Key West.[49]According to a source, the evacuation of the occupied Azerbaijan territories (except Karabagh) is among the new proposals [50]

In a joint declaration the co-chairs stated that they submitted to the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia “new ideas” that they believed would bring the positions of the parties closer on Karabagh and that it is now the responsibility of the two Presidents to find a solution to the conflict. They stressed that a resumption of hostilities would be to the detriment of both states as well as the Caucasus. [51]

The French co-chair Philippe De Surmain said that a solution to the Karabagh issue could not be viable unless it took into account Turkey and Iran as well as other regional states.[52] According to one news report, there is a disagreement on reporting developments regarding the Karabagh talks to Turkey: While France favors passing the information on to Turkey, Russia opposes it.[53]

The Presidents Aliyev and Kocharian will be meeting in Moscow on the occasion of the CIS Summit on 29-30th November.[54] It is hoped that they will discuss the conflict on this occasion.


The Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission held its second meeting on September 23-25th in Istanbul.[55] The commission also met with intellectuals, academics, members of the media and businessmen. It was reported in the Armenian press of Turkey that the Armenian members of the Commission are displeased with some of the views expressed concerning the Armenian “genocide”claims. [56]

Among the most important decisions taken by the Commission were to increase the number of Armenians in the body, the establishment of a secretariat, the creation of a web site and inviting the International Center on Transitional Law to organize a seminar which would also deal with models of international peace.

As it was the case for the first meeting[57] the Armenian Diaspora, and to a lesser extent the media of Armenia continued strongly to criticize the Reconciliation Commission. The “Forum of European Armenian Unions” asked the members of the Commission to resign[58] and there were allegations that the Commission was financed by the US Department of State. [59]

The focus of these criticisms is the fear that the Reconciliation Commission will freeze or postpone the process of international recognition of the “genocide” as the “genocide” is not discussed by the Commission The refusal of the European Parliament to include the “genocide” in a resolution recently adopted on Turkey and the German Parliament’s refusal of a petition on the same matter[60] are considered as recent examples of this danger.

The strong support lent to the Commission by the Armenian Assembly of America leads a competing body, the Armenian National Committee (an extension of the Tashnak Party), to strongly criticize the former. It is believed that a draft resolution on the “genocide” could not be submitted to the American Congress this year due to the squabbles between the two organizations.[61] In reality, as expressed by an Armenian member of the Reconciliation Commission; “Nobody can actually consider bringing this matter (the alleged genocide) to Congress following the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Turkey has once again become the key country for realizing the strategic plans of the USA in the Middle East.”[62]

On the other hand, as will be seen under the following heading, the fact that the European Parliament attributed significance to the Reconciliation Commission in its resolution concerning the progress report on Turkey and stated that this Commission may lead the way in the normalization of relations constituted a clear answer to the criticism directed at the commission. Indirectly, this resolution also marked a victory for the Armenian Assembly of America over the Tashnaks.

Despite the harsh criticism, the Armenian members of the Commission continued their work and the third meeting of the Commission was held in New York on November 18-21st 2001.


The first resolution of the European Parliament on the alleged Armenian genocide dates back to July 18th 1987.

The main factor leading the Parliament to deal with this matter was that when Turkey applied for full EU membership in 1987 the Armenians began pressuring the Parliament to recognize the “genocide’. The Parliament by adopting this resolution aimed to assist the Armenians, who have stopped terrorist attacks in 1985, in their efforts in the political field.

The resolution of July 18th 1987 has two important points. The first is that the Parliament recognizes the events of 1915-1917 as genocide. The second is that Turkey will not be accepted to the EU if she continues to not recognize the Armenian “genocide.” Along with this, in the decision it is also stated that modern Turkey cannot be held responsible for the events, that no political, economic and legal claims could be based on the recognition and that the Armenian terror is to be condemned. As the Turkish application to EU did not succeed at that time, the above-mentioned resolution of the Parliament lost its importance and became a document the Armenian side could hardly rely on.

The possibility of taking the “genocide” issue to the European Parliament resurfaced when the membership candidacy of Turkey was accepted at the Helsinki Summit in 1999. On November 15th 2000, after a lengthy discussion, the European Parliament by a narrow margin added to the progress report on Turkey two articles on the “genocide” and on the relations with Armenia.

The European Parliament in these two articles:

“Calls, therefore, on the Turkish Government and the Turkish Grand Assembly to give fresh support to the Armenian minority, as an important part of Turkish society, in particular by public recognition of the genocide which that minority suffered before the establishment of the modern state of Turkey.”[63]


“Calls in this connection on the Turkish Government to launch a dialogue with Armenia aimed in particular at re-establishing normal diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries and lifting the current blockade”.[64]

We will not dwell on certain errors and particularly discrepancies that these articles contain. Let us say, however, that the wording, that could be interpreted to mean that only the Armenian minority living in Turkey had been influenced by the alleged genocide, disturbed the Diaspora.

However, two interesting points worth mentioning of this resolution are that unlike the decision of 1987, recognition of the “genocide” by Turkey is not made a pre-requisite for EU membership and that there is no reference to the 1987 decision.

The draft decision on this year progress report contains one article on the Armenian problem and a second one on Armenia.

The European Parliament by these articles

“Supports the civil initiative launched by a group of former diplomats and academics from Turkey and Armenia, the aim of which is to arrive at a common understanding of the past; believes that this initiative, together with others, should lead to the normalization of relations between the communities and states concerned.“[65]


“Urges, in this regard, Turkey to take all the necessary measures to establish a favorable climate to the stability of the whole Caucasus region; asks Turkey, in this regard, to play an active part in restoring the dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia and considers that lifting the blockade on Armenia could be a first concrete step towards a pacification of the region.”[66]

As can be seen, there is no reference to the “genocide” in these articles, too. There is also no reference to the previous resolution taken on this matter, which has been mentioned above. The European Parliament has noved far away from recognizing the “genocide” and asking Turkey to recognize it in 1987 to a position that does not pay any attention to the claims of genocide. The reason for this may be that the Parliament does not intend to place yet another problem before Turkey in her efforts for EU membership. Another consideration may be that there is no reason to create difficulties for Turkey who enjoys an enhanced strategic position following September 11th.

The supporters of Armenia in the European Parliament tried to amend the above articles which drew criticism not only because a significant role was given to the much criticized Reconciliation Commission but also because the articles made no reference to the “genocide”. The amendments suggested by the supporters of Armenia were rejected by a wide margin of votes[67], another serious defeat for the “genocide” camp.

7. SECTION 907

Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act adopted by the US Congress in 1992 states: “The US Government may not supply the Government of Azerbaijan with any aid according to this or any other law until the President reports to Congress that the Government of Azerbaijan has taken verifiable steps to lift the embargo and ceased all aggressions against Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh”.

There can be no doubt that section 907 which prevents the US Government from supplying aid to Azerbaijan who has been aggressed by Armenia, been robbed of 20% of her territory as well as being left with a million displaced citizens, is the best example for unfairness one can think of. This article supports and encourages the aggressor. Therefore it could also be said that section 907 affects negatively upon the work of the Minsk Group.

In the past years the efforts of the US Governments to annul this section, which causes serious problems for US foreign policy towards Azerbaijan, have not been successful since Congress - under the influence of ethnic groups - resisted such attempts. This is not the first time that in the Congress some domestic political considerations surpass foreign policy interests.

The terrorist attacks of September 11th and the role Azerbaijan could play in this context gave impetus to the discussions on the annulment of section 907. Upon this, the Armenian President Kocharian sent the President Bush a letter on October 9th 2001 stating that the lifting of section 907 or the alleviation of its provisions would harm the peace process. [68]

This initiative of the Armenian President was not effective and the Secretary of State Powell sent a letter to Congress on behalf of the President Bush on October 15th 2001 in which he stated that Azerbaijan had decided to open her air space and air fields to the US planes and to share intelligence and that therefore the ban on aid to Azerbaijan in the context of section 907 should be lifted.[69]

The Armenian organizations began an intense campaign aiming to preserve 907.[70] On the other hand, the prominent Jewish Americans as well as leading Jewish organizations tried to have the section annulled or the provisions partially lifted.[71] Thus, two important lobbies in the USA came to a standoff on the issue of aid to Azerbaijan.

The Senate decided to make some changes in Article 907 on October 25th 2001. According to this, section 907 may not be applied if the President believes that this is necessary in order to prepare the US and her allies for battle against terrorism or the security of the borders of Azerbaijan require it. However, this should not prevent efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the Karabagh problem or be used to initiate hostilities against Armenia. The new decision is in force until 31st December 2002 and may be extended on a yearly. [72]

The Senate also decided to grant Armenia military aid with the total value of 4,6 billion Dollars,[73] a decision obviously taken to at least partially console the Armenian side. At the meeting of a joint committee of the members of Congress and the Senate on November 14th 2001, upon the insistence of pro-Armenian members an amendment was adopted stating the US aid may not be used against Armenian groups living in the Caucasus.[74] Although not spelled out, it is clear that the reference made is to Karabagh.

Thus, Azerbaijan without lifting the economic embargo on Armenia became, under some conditions, eligible to obtain American aid.


Efforts initiated in Congress to have the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline passed through Armenia[75] for reasons of cost effectiveness resulted in a proposal that would prevent financing the pipeline by the US Export-Import Bank unless it would pass through Armenia. However this proposal, known as the “Crowley Amendment” was rejected in the Senate Committee of Financial Services on October 31st 2001 with a margin of 4 votes. [76]

It is clear that when Turkey and Azerbaijan have serious problems with Armenia, the above proposal is fueled not by the economic concerns but by the Armenian hostility towards Turkey and Azerbaijan. If adopted this proposal could not only harm Turkey and Azerbaijan but also US companies and thereby the US interest. The fact that it has been rejected by a narrow margin of four votes indicates that in the United States the ethnical pressure groups see no inconvenience to damage national interest to achieve their own ends.


Between 1973 and 1984 Armenian terrorists murdered 34 Turkish diplomats and other officials including ambassadors, consuls general and military attaches. These murders which the Armenian side tries to avoid mentioning and which the Turkish press rarely remembers are, unfortunately, now in the process of being forgotten.

Some of the perpetrators of these murders have gotten away while others have been imprisoned in different states. Armenians portray these people as heroes rather than murderers and have tried to secure their release. The best example in this instance is the release of one of the murderers of the Orly Airport case, Varujan Garbidian (or Garbetian) by the French Government.

A bomb left in front of the Turkish Airlines counter desk at the Orly Airport in Paris on July 15th 1983 exploded killing 8 and injuring 50. Among the dead were 4 French, 2 Turkish, 1 American and 1 Swedish nationals. Three Armenians responsible for the attack were caught and convicted on March 2nd 1985. Garbidian, the only one in the group to be sentenced to life imprisonment was released on April 22nd 2001 and took part at the commemoration of the “genocide” in Armenia on April 24th.[77] Although no explanation was given on what grounds he was released, the lawyers of Garbidian have said that the main reason was the recent recognition of the alleged genocide by France. [78]

It is shocking to see that the French law that reads “France openly recognizes the Armenian genocide of 1915” can be interpreted to form a ground upon which a murderer is released. This kind of logic would dictate that Armenians who would murder Turks in the future on the pretext of the so-called genocide would also be released after a while. It is obvious that this kind of logic, besides being against law and justice, also encourages future assassinations.

As for Armenia, by receiving Garbidian and financially caring for him, she is adding yet another file to the problems already existing between herself and Turkey and is moving even further away from the resumption of diplomatic relations to which she attaches such great importance.

While France relied on unbelievable excuses to release a murderer who had been convicted to life sentence, an event in the USA indicated the exact opposite direction. An Armenian named Harry (Hampig) Sassunyan who murdered Mr. Kemal Ar�kan the Turkish Consul General in Los Angeles on January 28th 1982 was sentenced to life imprisonment. A higher court approved the verdict but did not accept the provision that the victim had been murdered due to a “special circumstance” i.e. because of his Turkish nationality.[79] This would make the murderer who had served 19 years of his sentence eligible for an early release. Upon this, Los Angeles County Prosecutor Steve Cooley stated that to prevent Sassunyan from being released, he would re-file the suit to prove to that and the existence of “special circumstances”, in other words that Arikan had been murdered due to his nationality. The prosecutor stressed also that it was unacceptable that members of one ethnic group resort to terrorism against members of another group.[80]


In America it is customary for state senates, governors and mayors to make certain statements so as to obtain the favor of their electors. Armenians have very often made use of this opportunity and have achieved recognition of the “genocide” in some state senates.

Although the Turks living in the USA rarely took this opportunity, we observed this year that the Governor of Alabama declared August 30th “A day commemorating the suffering of the Turks on the way to independence and sovereignty”[81] and that the Mayor of Hartford (Connecticut) decided to declare the same date to be “A day commemorating the Turkish day of Independence”[82]. The Governor of Connecticut declared the same day to be “The day commemorating in Connecticut State as the Turkish day of Independence”.[83]

As the day in question was August 30th, (the day on which Turkish armies defeated the invading Greek armies in Anatolia in 1922) the Greek lobby in the USA immediately acted against these decisions. Altough August 30th had nothing to do with the Armenians, they too protested simply because of the hate they felt for the Turks. The joint efforts of the Greeks and Armenians was successful and a few days later on September 5th the Mayor of Hartford revoked his decision and even apologized.[84] The Governor of Alabama first retracted his statements through his Political Director, later he confirmed this with his own signature.[85]

The Governor of Connecticut annulled his decision citing historical errors.[86] A letter written to the European Armenian National Committee from the Office of the Governor apologized to the Armenian and Greek communities living in Connecticut.

[1] Armenia This Week, 21 September 2001.
[2] Armenpress Political, 21 September 2001.
[3] Idem.
[4] Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Southern Cyprus, Uruguay, Vatican.
[5] European Parliament.
[6] Prof. Erick Feigl in his article “The Victory and Tragedy of the Armenian National Church” published in the second issue of this Journal states that it’s not possible that Armenia has adopted Christianity in the year 301 A.D.
[7] Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Press Release, 23 September 2001.
[8] RFE/RL Armenia Report, 19 September 2001.
[9] Zerkalo 25 October 2001.
[10] La Lettere de L’UGAB, 10 November 2001.
[11] La Lettre de L’UGAB, 29 September 2001.
[12] Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Press Release, 25 September 2001.
[13] Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Press Release, 6 November 2001.
[14] Arminfo, 14 September 2001.
[15] “Yerevan” articles of Encarta Encyclopedia 99 and Encyclopedia Britannica 2001.
[16] PanArmenian News, 8 October 2001.
[17] Asbarez Online, 9 October 2001.
[18] Hürriyet, 29 September 2001.
[19] Reuters, 26 September 2001.
[20] Idem.
[21] Associated Press, Reeuters, Agence France Press, 26 September 2001.
[22] www.vatican .va/holy father , 28 September 2001.
[23] Hürriyet, 27 September 2001.
[24] Ak�am, 3 October 2001.
[25] Association Switzerland-Armenia, Press Release, 18 April 2000.
[26] La Lettre De L’UGAB, 11 September 2001.
[27] Association Switzerland-Armenia, Press Release 18April 2001.
[28] Neue Zürchher Zeitung, 16 September 2001.
[29] Armenian Studies, No:2 Page 58.
[30] Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 16 September 2001.
[31] Le Temps, 16 September 2001.
[32] www.bundestag.de/aktuell/bp/2001bp0109/0109083b.html.
[33] RFE/RL Armenia Report, 5 October 2001.
[34] Asbarez Online 5 October 2001.
[35] Armenian studies No:1, Page 38.
[36] Noyan Tapan, 16 September 2001.
[37] Armenpress, 18 September 2001.
[38] ArmTv, 15 November 2001.
[39] Asbarez online, 15 November 2001.
[40] Council of Europe, Press Release, 24 August 2001.
[41] La Lettre de L’UGAB, 7 September 2001.
[42] RFE/RL Armenia Report, 6 September 2001.
[43] Noyan Tapan, 10 September 2001.
[44] Armenpress, 13 September 2001.
[45] AZG (Turkish/version) 18 September 2001.
[46] Halk, 24 October 2001.
[47] Azerbaijani TV Channel One, 5 November 2001.
[48] Arminfo, 6 November 2001.
[49] Armenian Studies No.1, pages 30, 31.
[50] RFE/RL Armenian Report, 5 November 2001.
[51] RFE/RL Armenia Report, 8 November 2001.
[52] Arminfo, 7 November 2001.
[53] AZG Daily, 8 November 2001.
[54] Yeni Musavat, 6 November 2001.
[55] The English version of the Istanbul meetings’s statement is a mong the”documents” of this issue.
[56] Agos, 28 September 2001.
[57] Armenian Studies No:2 page 18-21.
[58] AZG, 6 November 2001.
[59] Armenian National Committee of America, Press Release, 13 October 2001.
[60] AWOL, 27 October 2 November 2001 and California Courier, 7 November 2001.
[61] AZG Daily, 18 October 2001.
[62] Andranik Mihranyan. PanArmenian News, 17 October 2001.
[63] Article 10.
[64] Article 21.
[65] Article 31.
[66] Article 32.
[67] Armenian National Committee of Europe, Press Release, 25 October 2001 and www.ntv.com.tr/news/114964.asp.
[68] Arminfo, 10 October 2001.
[69] Asbarez Online, 17 October 2001.
[70] Asbarez Online, 30 October 2001.
[71] U.S. News Wire, 29 October 2001.
[72] Asbarez Online, 25 October 2001.
[73] Armenian Assembly of America, Press Release, 25 October 2001.
[74] Armenian National Committee of America, Press Release, 14 November 2001.
[75] Armenian Studies, No.2 page. 27-29.
[76] Armenian National Committee of Armenia, Press Release, 31 October 2001.
[77] La Lettre de L’UGAB, 24 April 2001.
[78] Milliyet Internet, 25 April 2001.
[79] Los Angles Times, 29 September 2001.
[80] Idem.
[81] Hürriyetim, 24 August 2001.
[82] Hürriyetim, 31 August 2001.
[83] Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region, Press Release, 15 October 2001.
[84] Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region, Press Release, 6 September 2001.
[85] Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region, Press Report, 3 October 2001.
[86] Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region, Press Release, 26 October 2001.

(Recent developments on Karabakh issue "Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission" A new condition for establishing diplomatic relations with Armenia "The states that recognized and not recognized so called Armenian genocide" The crossing of Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline through Armenian territory


Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia had met in Paris on 4-5 March 2001 and in Florida on 3-7 April 2001, but they could not reach an agreement even if they made some progresses.

According to some press news, following formula has been discussed in these meetings: Karabakh will be a region, legally bound to Azerbaijan. But it will have a wide autonomy that does not let Azerbaijan to interfere in Karabakh in anyway. Armenia will be bound to Karabakh with the Lachin corridor to be passed on the territories of Azerbaijan. Azeri territory under the Armenian occupation will be returned to Azerbaijan. Nakhichevan will be bound to Azerbaijan with a corridor to be passed from Mehri region on the Armenian territories.[1]

Political parties represented in the Armenian Parliament, adopted a declaration about the Karabakh issue on 28 April 2001:[2]

a. Karabakh should be united with Armenia or independent status of this region should be internationally confirmed.
b. Karabakh administration should participate the final meetings related with solution of the problem.
c. There should be a common border with a sufficient length between Karabakh and Armenia.
d. Borders between Karabakh and Azerbaijan should be secured.

Armenians tried to show Azerbaijan as the responsible party for the cancellation of Geneva summit meeting. While Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Oskanyan, mentioning that principles agreed on Paris should be complied for meetings,[3] Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, Guliev had stated that Paris principles are inventions of Armenians and added that “Aliyev and Kocharian only exchanged their ideas in Paris”. “If there was an agreement related with any principle, both parties will have known it”.[4]

Minsk Group co-chairs have issued a common declaration on 11 July 2001 after their last visits to Armenia, Karabakh and Azerbaijan.[5] They stated that current situation described as “neither peace nor war”, is dangerous, and especially war related announcements have increased the tension and possibility to restart the conflicts. New conflicts would not be beneficial for anyone and hinder peace initiatives. To call for a military solution to the Karabakh problem is an irresponsible behavior and the interested parties should act with moderation and responsibility, and abstain from the activities and statements that could harm peace process.

Lately Aliyev and Kocharian had came together in the summit of former Soviet States, organized in the city of Sochi of Russia on 1 August 2001, but they could not reach an agreement.[6]

It is clear that President Aliyev is not pleased with the approach of the OSCE to the Karabakh problem. Considering that even 7 years had passed from the cease fire, 20 % lands of Azerbaijan is still under occupation and there are approximately one million refugees, it is impossible not to agree with President Aliyev who had mentioned, that

respect to the sovereignty and territorial integrity are the main principles of the OSCE. On the other hand, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is recognized by the United Nations Security Council and concerning Karabakh, Security Council had mentioned the inviolability of international borders and the unacceptability of the usage of force to gain territory. It is beyond doubt that the mission of OSCE is to secure the Armenian withdrawal from the invaded territories.[7]

For the solution of the Karabakh problem OSCE had created Minsk Group. The US, Russian Federation and France became co-chairs of this Group and in the course of time they assumed all authority on the subject. As we have mentioned in the last issue of our journal, these three countries, due to some reasons have an inclination for Armenia.[8] These countries, without considering that Armenia is the aggressor and invader side and Azerbaijan is victim of this aggression, are acting as if conditions of both parties are equal. This leads to endless negotiations and bargaining without any progress. We have previously written that if Minsk Group will continue its mission to find a solution to Karabakh problem, this group should have a more balanced structure and this can only be possible with the nomination of a new co-chairman who could defend the positions of Azerbaijan. The only candidate for this job is Turkey.[9]


Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) has adopted a decision related with Karabakh problem every year since 1993. In these decisions Armenia has seriously been condemned as it had assaulted Azerbaijan, and actions against Azeris are considered as crimes against humanity. OIC demanded Armenian forces’ unconditional and immediate withdrawal from Azerbaijan territories, and to conform to the decisions taken on this subject by the Security Council. OIC suggested to solve the disputes between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the basis of respect of the territorial integrity and inviolability of international borders and the continuation of the peace process within the OSCE. OIC expressed its support for the OSCE Lisbon decision in 1996, which stated the respect of the territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan and a wide autonomy for Karabakh. OIC decisions also demanded that Armenia should pay compensation for Azeri refugees.[10]


Some well known Turks and Armenians, who do not have an official title and duty, established the Turkish–Armenian Reconciliation Commission in Geneva on 9 July 2001.

Terms of reference of the Commission, in brief, are including the following matters:[11] To promote mutual understanding and good will between Turks and Armenians, to encourage improved relations between Armenia and Turkey, to benefit from the readiness of reconciliation among the Armenian Diaspora and Turkish, Armenian civil societies, to support contacts, dialogue and cooperation between them, to undertake directly some activities and to support the projects of other organizations, make suggestions to governments, to support unofficial activities in the fields of business, tourism, culture, education, research, environment and media, secure expertise based on project requirements on historical, psychological, legal matters and on other topics.

One have the impression that, in the Reconciliation Commission the concession of the Armenians for improvement of relations with Turks, is to put aside the genocide issue. On the other hand concession of the Turkish part seems to give up its support of Azerbaijan on the Karabakh problem. This attitude is shown itself with not mentioning at all the Karabakh problem in the terms of reference of the Commission.

But the policy of the Turkish Government on the Karabakh problem differs from the Commission. One day after the establishment of the Commission, Vice Prime Minister, Mesut Y�lmaz, during the meeting with the Chairman of Parliament of Azerbaijan, Alsekerov, had mentioned that the solution of the problems between Armenia and Turkey is directly related to the solution of the Karabakh problem.[12]

As it could be foreseen the strongest reaction from Armenians to the Reconciliation Commission came from Dashnaks. The bureau of this political party published a declaration in Yerevan on 13 July 2001, stating that they are refusing any initiative that are not taking care of Armenian interests, ordered by foreign powers and with the participation of unauthorized persons”[13].

An Armenian writer had mentioned that the Commission could damage the solidarity between Armenians in Washington and Yerevan. As an example, the writer mentioned the disagreement between the Armenian Assembly of America, which supports the Commission and the Armenian National Committee, which is a Dashnak organization, about the timing and the mechanisms of the new Armenian genocide resolution, which will be submitted to the House of Representatives in Washington.[14]


As well known, Turkey had two conditions for establishing diplomatic relations with Armenia: Armenia should give up genocide claims and the Karabakh problem should be solved. A third condition is added to these by Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit on 5 June 2001: opening a corridor between Nakhichevan and Azerbaijan. According to the press

news, Ecevit had made this statement during the US Minister of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld’s visit to Ankara and mentioned that Armenia’s withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh and opening a secured corridor between Nakhichevan and Azerbaijan are the conditions for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia. [15]


As we studied in detail in the last issue of our journal, in the first eight months of year 2001, except for France, no other state recognized the so called Armenian genocide.


Nevertheless, within the first eight months of year 2001, eleven USA state had taken decisions recognizing so-called genocide. Eight of these confirmed their previous decisions. Three of them (Arkansas, Minnesota and New Mexico) had accepted for the first time a decision on this matter.


Within the current year, drafts submitted to House of Commons and Senate by an Armenian origined Canadian Deputy, Serkis Asadurian, and Senator Shirley Maheu, respectively were not accepted and Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Manley, answered to the question of Serkis Asadurian on this subject on 3 May 2001 in Canadian Parliament had used the words “a terrible disaster” instead of “genocide” and also urged Turkish and Armenian Governments to reach an agreement.


According to the Armenian press, Timothy Jones, British Ambassador in Armenia, said, “Armenian genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923 has also been recognized by our country. We considered this as terrible events of history.”[16]

Two days later, on 20 July 2001, the British Embassy in Yerevan stated that the Ambassador did not use the term genocide in his speech. In a press release the British Embassy in Ankara had also mentioned that events between 1915 and 1923 could not be named as genocide according to UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. [17] This announcement has a special importance, as it is confirming the attitude of the British Government, announced by Baroness Scotland on last February. According to a Turkish columnist, it is the first time that a western government is evaluating 1915 events according to the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and mentioned that these events do not comply with the stipulations of the UN Convention. [18] British attitude on this matter is important because Britain is a major power having a seat in the UN Security Council and after the First World War, it was the main country, which asked for punishment of the Ottoman officials accused activities against Armenians within the war. Britain’s attitude can constitute a precedent for other countries.


On 14 June 2001, House of Representative Members, Knollenberg, Crowley, Pallone and Sweeney, known with their continuous activities in favor of Armenia, had submitted a draft resolution to the House about Baku–Ceyhan oil pipeline, which in brief, mentioned that US should not fund any pipeline project in South Caucasus, which put in danger the Armenian economic integration to the region and its commercial value is not proven. Oil and gas pipelines projects should be re-evaluated in a way to cover all of the Caucasus states. The possibility of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline passing through Armenia which will reduce the cost, should be considered.

Is there any chance for the success of this initiative? There is no economic benefit to include Armenia to this project. Beyond this, insisting on the Armenian route means to delay the project until the solution of political problems, which means serious economical losses as this can take years.

President Kocharian has recently insisted on economical cooperation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The main aim of the above mentioned draft resolution should to attract attention to this cooperation. Azerbaijan–Armenia economical cooperation, which is also favored by European Union, can be re-taken into agenda with this draft resolution, and may lead to a pressure on Azerbaijan, who did not agree to remove economical embargo, which is the main card in his hand.

[1] Reuters, 4. 5. 2001.
[2] Hayots Ashkhar, 28. 4. 2001, in Groong, 2. 5. 2001.
[3] PanArmenian Net News 14.6.2001, Medimax 11.7.2001, Noyan Tapan 16.7.2001.
[4] PanArmenian Net News, 4. 7. 2001.
[5] State Department, Office of the Spokesman, 11. 7. 2001.
[6] RFE/RL Armenia Report, 1. 8. 2001.
[7] Resolution no.822, 874 and 884 of the Security Council
[8] Ermeni Ara�t�rmalar�/Armenian Studies, Say�. 1, s. 32
[9] Ibid.
[10] The last decision on this subject was taken by OIC Foreign Ministers meeting in Bamako (Mali) on 25-27 June 2001. The document of this decision is in the documents section of this journal.
[11] The Armenian Assembly of America published these duties under the title of “Terms of Reference” on 10 July 2001. The full English script of the duties of the commission is in this issue of our journal.
[12] Anadolu Ajans�, 11. 7. 2001.
[13] Asbarez Online, 13. 7. 2001.
[14] California Courrier Online, 2.8.2001. Harut Sassounian: President Kocharian Must Intervene to Prevent Futher Damage by Turkish Commission.
[15] Hürriyet, 6.6.2001.
[16] Asbarez Online, 18.7.2001.
[17] This statement can be found in the documents section of this journal.
[18] Gündüz Aktan, ‘�lk Yenilgi mi?’, Radikal, 30.7.2001.

This article will briefly deal with and comments the events related to the "Armenian Issue" which has occurred within the first four months of the year 2001.

1. The recognition of the Armenian "genocide" by France

The French parliament has adopted a law on January 18, 2001 consisting of this sentence: "France recognizes the Armenian "genocide" of 1915".

This law as a draft has been adopted at first on May 29, 1998 by 29 votes at the French parliament which has 577 seats. Turkey gave a protest note to the French government concerning this issue. On the other hand the Turkish parliament took a decision to invalidate this draft. Moreover the military projects with France were suspended. Turkey’s reactions postponed the final adoption of this draft for about two and a half years by the French senate.

However with the coming municipality elections of March 2001, the senate begun to discuss the draft and adopted it by 164 votes to 40 at November 8, 2001. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected and condemned this decision by a press release.

The Turkish parliament adopted a similar resolution on January 9, 2001. Despite of this, the draft has been once again adopted by 52 votes at the French parliament on January 18. With the approval of President Chirac, it became affective by January 30.

There are several reasons for the adoption of this law. Contrary to Ter Petrosyan’s period, during the presidency of Kocharian, Armenia cooperating with the diaspora, gave priority to the recognition of the Armenian "genocide". This has put a pressure on France which possesses an Armenian minority. The second reason is the belief that as Turkey needs the support of France for her relations with the European Union, her reaction would not be too strong to the law concerning the "genocide". The third reason is that, as the words Turk or Turkey was not mentioned in the law and as the year 1915 is stated, it was thought that there would be no association made with modern Turkey.

After the adoption of the law the Turkish government has publised a declaration which rejected and condemned it. The President condemned the law aswell. The Minister of the Foreign Affairs has stated that this law may activate Armenian terrorism again and asked for the protection of the Turkish citizens and diplomats in France. There has been contacts with Azerbaijan concerning the role of France in the Minsk Group. Economic sanctions against France has been discussed and according to the press the suspension of the purchase of weapons and military supplies were considered. The Turkish televisions and newspapers have dwelled on that matter and criticized France. The most severe criticism came from the trade unions. Furthermore there has also been some suggestions to cancel the teaching of the French language.

A short while after the adoption of the law the official visit of Kocharian to France, the authorization for a "genocide" monument in Paris, the inauguration of a stele concerning "genocide" at the garden of the building where the Sévres Treaty was signed, the disorders which was created by the French Armenians on March 13, 2001 at the football match of Galatasaray- St Germain in Paris and lastly the release from prison of one of the perpetrators of the Orly "massacre", Varujan Garbisian, just before 24th of April caused further tensions between Turkey and France.

It is obvious that this situation is not in favor of the two countries. Turkey should accept that the law concerning the "genocide" is a fact. As for France the miscalculations she made led to political and economical damages for her. Reconciliation of the two sides depends on the attitude of France. If France will continue to be in favor of Turkey in the European Union’s matters and if she could convince Turkey that the law in question is not concerning modern Turkey, therefore, Turkey should not insist on the economic sanctions.

According to some articles of the Turkish press published after the adoption of the law in question, to claim on French soil that there has never been an Armenian "genocide" would constitude an offense. However in law no penalty is mentioned. A punishment on this subject should require a special article in the French Criminal Law or in "Gaysot" law which concerns the negation of Jewish genocide.

The famous oriental ist and historian Bernard Lewis has been condemned according to the French Civil Law to pay one French franc indemnity for the fact that he denied the Armenian genocide and thus morally damaged the Armenian Community. As the Turkish Civil Law has a similar article on moral damage it should be possible, in principle, to sue in Turkey those who would claim that an Armenian genocide took place.

After the adoption of the French law, the Turkish National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Commission has prepared a draft of "Law against International Diffamation, Accusation and Manipulations". This draft rejects allegations of Armenian "genocide" and considers these allegations as hostile acts.

2. The declarations of Kocharian: Recognition of the "genocide", indemnity and territorial demand

At an interview on the CNN/Türk, the President of Armenia said that if Turkey recognizes the Armenian "genocide" and apologizes for it this will not create a legal ground for territorial demand or compensation from Turkey.

What was Kocharian’s reason to make this declaration? The recent decisions of some parliaments concerning the recognition of Armenian "genocide" may arouse the opinion that Turkey is ready to negotiate the issue. Kocharian might have thought that if he insists on the territorial demands and on compensation foreign powers would not help Armenia on that matter and under these conditions Turkey will accept to negotiate. To overcome these objections, he most probably thought that in return of a recognition and an apology he will abandon territorial demand and compensation.

One should emphasize on that subject that Armenia has no legal right for territorial demand or compensation. For this reason recognition and apology for the "genocide" is out of the question for Turkey. Furthermore some parliaments recent decisions for the recognition of the Armenian "genocide" has created a very negative impact on Turkish public opinion, making impossible any kind of recognition.

Turkey wants to establish its relations with Armenia on the universally accepted principles of good neighborliness and respect of territorial integrity.

Armenia’s Human Rights Commission Chairman Paruyir Hayrikian requested on March 9, 2001 the annulation of the Kars Treaty of March 16, 1921 and the annexation of Kars, Ardahan and Nahchivan to Armenia. This declaration caused reactions from the Turkish and the Armenian governments. The spokesman of the Turkish Foreign Affairs said that as long as there are such requests, the Turkish - Armenian relations will not normalize. The Armenian Foreign Affairs spokesman said that these words do not reflect the Armenian foreign policy.

3. Developments of the Karabagh problem

The plans presented to both sides by the Minsk Group from 1997 till the present concerning the Karabagh problem was made public at Azerbaijan on February 21, 2001. The Azerbaijani parliament discussed this matter for two days. The opposition parties which did not participate to the meeting, suggested a military solution for Karabagh.

Aliyev and Kocharian who had a meeting with the participation of president Chirac on March 4-5, 2001 has not reached an agreement.

The Azerbaijan and the Armenia presidents met again at Key West, Florida on April 3-7, 2001 and decided to have further meetings at Geneva in June.

Minsk Group which has been established by OSCE is trying to solve the Karabagh problem. Later the group initiative has passed on to its copresidents consisting of USA, Russian Federation and to France. These countries are more inclined to Armenia then to Azerbaijan. At the USA and at France there are influent Armenian minorities. As for Russia, she is in strategic cooperation with Armenia and has military bases in that country. Therefore the fact that these three countries are responsible to find a solution to the Karabagh problem is not in favor of Azerbaijan. However as for the time being the only international mechanism is the Minsk Group, a balance should be brought to this group. This could be realized by the election of a new co-president who will defend the Azeri views. The only available candidate for the task is Turkey.

On the other hand conditions for a permanent peace should be created. The core of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is due to their artificial borders. These borders which were established at the time of the Soviet Union intended to have an ethnically non-homogeneous society at both countries. In our opinion the only solution to Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict is to abandon these artificial borders and draw new ones based on ethnicity.

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs �smail Cem, said on February 17, 2001, that a meeting should be held among Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan in order to accelerate the solution of the problems between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This proposal, which at first the Armenians did not find convenient, could create a working frame which would unable the discussions of not only the Azeri and Armenian problems but at the same time Turkish-Armenian issues.

4. A new approach to the Armenian issue

Mr. Gündüz Aktan, retired Ambassador and columnist, proposed in his articles and at interviews to the press that the allegation of Armenian genocide should be studied from the legal point of view. The interested sides, that is Armenia and Turkey, may apply to the International Court of Justice in order that the Court determines whether the events of 1915 were considered to be a genocide. Another alternative is for both sides to appeal to the arbitrage. In case of the subject matter is taken to the International Court of Justice or to the arbitrage, it will not be logical for any parliament to take any decision concerning the Armenian "genocide".

5. The countries who refused to recognize the "genocide": Russia, Switzerland and Slovakia

During the period of the first three months of 2001, Russia, Switzerland and Slovakia refused to recognize the Armenian "genocide". However Russia’s Duma had taken in 1995 a decision on the recognition of the Armenian "genocide" which should be still valid.

After many attempts the Swiss parliament discussed on 13 Mart 2001 the Armenian "genocide" issue but refused the recognition by three votes.

In a letter of the Slovakian president’s office received by an Armenian news agency, the characteristics of the 1915’s events should be defined by historians.

6. The message of President Bush

On the occasion of April 24, it is a custom for the American presidents to publish a message. Although the Armenians in the USA put pressure on President Bush in order that he uses the word "genocide" in his message, to their great disappointment, the president did not use the word "genocide" not even "massacres" in his message and he qualified the events as "killings".

7. Strengthening of Kocharian’s situation

After the assassinations of the Parliament Chairman Karen Demirdjian and the Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian in the National Assembly’s building on 27 October 1999, Vazgen Manukian and Aram Sarkisian who had both served as prime ministers, became potential rivals of president Kocharian. However at the beginning of 2001 the political strength of them weakened due to some problems within their own parties. The prime minister Aram Manukian has also faced some difficulties in his party. On the other hand Yerkrapah, the Veterans Union’s of Karabagh, which represented the main opposition to Kocharian, after the assassinations of October 1999, had split up loosing much of its influence.

At internal politics level these developments left Kocharian unrivalled. In return at the foreign policy Kocharian begun to be severely criticized especially by the Dashnaks for his stands on Karabagh and on Turkey.

In this section titled Facts and Comments which is, as usual, the first article of the Review of Armenian Studies, we examine the major developments involving the Armenian question in Turkey and Turkey’s relations with Armenia over a year, that is, from the summer of 2004 to summer of 2005. Also, we provide information about those countries, organizations and officials that have recognized Armenian genocide allegation during that period. Furthermore, we address in detail the developments on the genocide allegations in four countries, namely, the US, France, Belgium and Germany.


Turkey’s bid for EU membership has become the main issue for the Turkish public opinion especially since the EU countries decided at their Dec. 16-17, 2004 summit to start membership talks with Turkey on Oct. 3, 2005. The Armenian genocide allegations and their potential effects on Turkey’s EU accession process have been widely discussed in Turkey. The news of the grandiose commemoration activities held in Armenia and in the Diaspora to mark the 90th anniversary of the relocation of the Armenians in 1915 reverberated through Turkey.

We give blow a brief summary of the “Armenian issue-related” events that took place in Turkey in the first half of 2005.

Orhan Pamuk incident: Renowned Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk said, in an interview with a Swiss daily, Tages-Anzeiger, “We killed 30,000 Kurds and one million Armenians. No one dares to acknowledge that. I do.” Pamuk’s statement was not based on any credible evidence and it triggered widespread reactions in Turkey, drawing strong criticism from most of the people. Charges have been filed against him in an effort to make him pay compensation for defamation the state. Some argued that Pamuk had uttered these words merely to boost the sales of his new book in Europe.1 Some columnists accused him of angling for the Nobel Prize.2 Some others defended him on the grounds of freedom of speech. Naturally, Armenians hailed Pamuk like a hero.3 Pamuk said that he was trying to explain that intolerance had caused so much pain in the past.4 His words hardly proved effective and he has greatly lost prestige in Turkey.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) took some initiatives on Armenian question, Party Chairman Deniz Baykal, in a speech delivered on March 1, 2005, suggested a three-stage new policy with regard to the Armenian question.5 At the first stage, a commission consisting of an equal number of Turkish and Armenian historians would be set up. At the second stage, not only Turkish and Armenian archives but also the archives of the other countries concerned (the US, Britain, Russia, Germany, France etc.) would be opened for research; and, finally, at the third stage, an international organization (UNESCO, for example) would keep the minutes of the researches and discussions undertaken by the commission and report them to the international community.

The CHP advanced another proposal concerned the “Blue Book”. The Armenian genocide allegations had been put forth via three books published during and at the end of the First World War: The first one, that is, the “Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire”, came to be known as the Blue Book. It was published in Britain by Viscount Bryce in 1916 at the instigation of the Foreign Office, and compiled by British historian Arnold Toynbee, a rising young historian at that time. Although the claims put forth in the two subsequent books have been successfully refuted by now, nothing has been done in the case of the Blue Book which all these years has been presented as “the proof” attesting to the Armenian “genocide”.

Another book, which was also published at the instigation of the British Government during the First World War on the alleged atrocities committed by German troops in Belgium, was defined, as a piece of war propaganda in 1925 by the then British Foreign Secretary Sir Austin Chamberlain at the House of Lords at the request of the German government. CHP, accepting the proposal of Istanbul Deputy �ükrü Elekda�, a retired ambassador, decided to try to persuade the British government to acknowledge that the Blue Book too was written with the aim of disseminating wartime propaganda.

The two other books in question that have been used as reference sources for Armenian the genocide allegations, are the “Ambassador Morgenthau Story” published in 1918 by Henry Morgenthau, US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire between 1913 and 1916, and “The Memoirs of Naim Bey, Turkish Official Documents Relating to the Deportations and Massacres of Armenians” published by Aram Andonian in 1920.

Professor Heat Lowry, in his book, “The Story Behind Ambassador Morgenthau Story”, revealed the falsification, mistakes and exaggerations in Morgenthau’s book. On the other hand, �inasi Orel and Süreyya Yuca’s book published in 1983 under the title, “The Talat Pasha Telegrams: Historical Fact or Armenian Fiction?” proved that telegrams that had been attributed to Talat Pasha were in fact forgeries.

The CHP’s third initiative was to invite a prominent American scholar, Justin McCarthy, to Turkey to gave a conference on the Armenian question.

Prime Minister Erdo�an and CHP Chairman Deniz Baykal after their meeting on March 8, 2005, announced their agreement on the strategy to be followed against the Armenian allegations.6: a commission of Turkish and Armenian historians and other specialists would be set up, archives would be opened without restrictions and a letter on the “Blue Book” would be drafted and sent to the British Parliament after being signed by all members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM). Together, the CHP and Justice and Development Party (AKP) command an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly. The agreement these two political parties have reached on the Armenian question is of great significance because it reflects a national consensus in Turkey on this particular subject.

Armenia reacted promptly to this developments. Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan said on the following day, “There is nothing that historians can do here, Turkey should determine its own stance on this.7 The issue of the international acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide and the Armenian-Turkish relations lie in two different planes and do not intersect. For Armenia the issue of the Genocide is not a precondition for normalization of relations with Turkey. We are always ready to dialogue with the Turkey however we will be consistent in the Genocide issue.”8

For years the Armenian Diaspora –recently with the participation of Armenia as well-- has tried to prove that the Armenian’s relocation of 1915 was, in reality, a genocide. To this end, the Diaspora has spent a considerable amount of money. The foreign scholars that counter the Armenian thesis have been intimidated. Some of them have taken refuge in Turkey. Under the influence of the Armenian propaganda activities and, also, due to Turkey’s failure to demonstrate the real nature of the relocation of 1915, the public opinion in the Western countries believes that Armenians had been subjected to a genocide. As a , Armenian activists think that they have “won the genocide war”. For this reason they now argue that there is no need for research on Armenian relocation and that there is nothing historians can do anymore. They expect Turkey to ultimately yield to the pressure exerted by other countries, especially by the EU, and acknowledge Armenian genocide allegations. However, Armenians overlook one point: It is true that lately there has been an increase in the number of countries recognizing the Armenian “genocide” but these developments have only sharpened Turkey’s resolve to resist the Armenian claims as Baykal-Erdo�an agreement has shown.

Another event that indicates that Armenians do not want any historical research done regarding their genocide allegations is their attitude the Vienna Turkish-Armenian Platform (VAT), that platform was launched as a private initiative in March 2004. Using that platform as an intermediary Turkish and Armenian historians presented to one another 100 documents in July 2004. It was planned that, at the second stage, further exchanges of documents would be carried out; later the two sides would state their views on that matter; and finally, both the documents and the views expressed, would be published in book. However, Armenians refused to take part in the second stage and the initiative was abandoned. It is not clear why Armenian historians, led by Lavrenti Barseghian, director of the Genocide Institute in Yerevan, acted in this manner. The first possibility that comes to mind is that Armenian historians, upon studying the 100 documents delivered to them by Prof. Dr. Halaço�lu, President of the Turkish Historical Society, realized that they did not have enough knowledge to counter them and decided to withdraw from the VAT.
Visiting Turkey at the invitation of the CHP, Prof. McCarthy gave a lecture at the TBMM on March 24, 2005, and replied to questions. With the authorisation of Justin McCarthy we publish the text of his lecture in this issue.[1]

The Turkish media highly praised McCarthy for his efforts, calling him a “One-Man Army”[2]. Indeed, McCarthy is the only prominent scholar in the US to oppose the Armenian allegations. His academic courage and integrity are commendable indeed.

McCarthy’s lecture fuelled the arguments in the Turkish press on the Armenian issue. These debates became more and more intense especially because of Armenian activities marking the 90th anniversary of the Armenian “genocide” in various parts of the world. During this period, conferences and panels were held in Turkey on the Armenian question. TV channels and radio stations aired programs in which the participants expressed clashing views. In Turkey, the Armenian issue had never been discussed so intensely and over such an extended period.

In such a climate the ceremony held on March 18, 2005 to remember the Foreign Ministry Martyrs (the Turkish diplomats slain by Armenian terrorists) with the participation of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, gained a special significance. As it’s known Armenians had resorted to violence and terror as a means of propaganda between 1973 and 1985, killing 31 Turkish diplomats and other officials. Among them were four ambassadors and four consuls general. Almost twenty years have passed since and the impact of those events on the Turkish public is beginning to fade. Yet, Armenian terrorist activities have a very long history. For example, Armenian terrorists had attempted to assassinate Sultan Abdulhamid in 1905 and, following the First World War, they had murdered two Ottoman Grand Viziers and many other Ottoman political leaders on the grounds that they had organized the relocation of the Armenians to Northern Syria. Although some of the victims had nothing to do with the relocation of the Armenians. On the other hand, Armenian politics has a “terrorism tradition” that targets not only the Turks but also fellow Armenians. It may be remembered that during a raid on the Armenian Parliament in May 1999 gunmen killed the prime minister, the speaker of the parliament and six other deputies.

The Ankara-based Retired Ambassadors’ Group has become involved in the debates on Armenian issue by publishing on March 25,2005 a declaration the full text of which can be found in the Documents Section of our review.10 (Document No: ) In our opinion, this declaration is important especially because it makes it clearly defines who is to decide whether the crime of genocide was committed. The declaration states that genocide is a crime under International Law, that it could only be committed by real persons and not by states, that only a competent tribunal can determine whether this crime has been committed or not, and that no parliament, senate, local or municipal council, no association or any other non-competent organization can have the power to decide whether the crime of genocide has been committed or not. Thus, the declaration underlines the fact that the resolutions passed by the parliaments of a number of countries to formally recognize the Armenian genocide are baseless from the legal point of view.

The TBMM’s commission on Harmonization with the European Union invited to meeting at April 4, 2005 retired ambassadors Gündüz Aktan, Ömer Lütem and Pulat Tacar and writer Levon Debagian and journalists Hrant Dink and Etyen Mahcupian, Turkish citizens of Armenian origin to discuss Armenian issue related matters Turkish Armenians were invited to the TBMM for the first time has drawn a favorable reaction from the public. The publisher of Armenian-Turkish weekly, Hrant Dink said on that occasion, “We presented our views freely, the views that we have harbored for years and communicated to the public either in writing or verbally”. Mahcupyan, on his part, said, “ I find it very positive that such a meeting has been held. I took part in the meeting and I saw that it was not organized merely for the sake of making a handsome gesture or as a show. It took place in a highly participatory atmosphere full of excitement. People gathered around the same table to discuss the question, ‘What should Turkey do in a future-oriented way?’”11

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer participated to the debate on Armenian issue and in a speech delivered at the War Academies on April 7, 2005, said, “We are witnessing efforts to bring many issues not directly related to our (EU) membership process before Turkey as covert conditions. It is wrong and unjust for our European friends to press Turkey on these issues. It should be known that it is not possible demands imposed on us and devoid of just foundations to be accepted. The claims of genocide upset and hurt the feelings of the Turkish nation. What needs to be done is to research, investigate and discuss history, based on documents and without prejudice. The basis of such discussions should be scientific and not political.”

The TBMM held a general debate on the Armenian allegations on April 13, 2005.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül delivered the first speech, summarizing the Armenian question from the past to the present. He touched on the Armenian terrorist attacks, the provisions of the UN Genocide Convention of 1948, and the activities and financial means of the Armenian Diaspora. He stated that regarding the Armenian question Turkey has, for years, followed a defensive policy, failing to do in time the archival work needed to explain the real facts to the international community. He pointed out that the funds needed for that purpose had not been allocated, and that, as a result, Turkey proves hopelessly inadequate in its efforts on this subject compared to what the Armenians have done so far. Gül said that government efforts alone would not be enough to counter successfully the Armenian allegations. All segments of the society, every individual, should take part in a joint drive to this effect.

Gül stated also that Prime Minister Erdo�an was sending an official letter to President Kocharyan to suggest creation of a commission consisting of Turkish and Armenian historians and other specialists. The commission would look into the 1915 events, scanning all the relevant archives and at the end would report its findings to the international community. Gül said, referring those countries that have adopted resolutions recognizing Armenian genocide claims, “We now expect them –especially-- to encourage Armenia to accept the Turkish proposal.”

Later, Foreign Minister Gül gave information about the current state of the Turkish-Armenian relations. Explaining why “normal” relations have not been established with Armenia, the foreign minister said, “Which country could possibly normalize its relations with a country that does not recognize its national borders?” The foreign minister pointed out also that Armenia has not complied with the UN Security Council decisions on Karabakh. He stressed that Armenia was making it impossible for Turkey to establish diplomatic relations with it -- by failing to respect the basic principles of international law and the relevant UN Security Council decisions and by acting in ways incompatible with the spirit of goodneighborliness.

The foreign minister said that Turkey would follow a proactive aiming to bring to light to historical facts regarding the Armenian allegations. Turkey would go all the way in that direction, and, during that process, many countries might have to face up to their own past -- even more extensively than Turkey might have to, said the foreign minister.

The full text of the foreign minister’s speech is attached as (Document No ).

�ükrü Elekda�, speaking for the main opposition CHP, said that Armenians had failed, in spite of all their efforts, to present a single valid document to prove their case over the past 90 years. He said that Armenians based their allegations mostly on a number of unauthenticated (or subjective as in the case of memoirs) documents as well as on three books that had been published with the aim of disseminating propaganda during the war. He noted that, though it has been proven that two of these (the books by Aram Andonian and Henry Morgenthau) are not “valid”, there were still those who see the third one, that is, the “Blue Book”, as a reliable historical document and use it in their academic studies. He underlined the need to persuade the British Parliament to admit that the Blue Book was propaganda material and, therefore, unreliable as a source. He urged all members of the TBMM to undersign a joint letter to be addressed to the British Parliament. At the end of the debates TBMM members signed one by one the identical letters to be sent to the House of Lords and to the House of Commons. A copy of this letter is attached (Document No ).

At the end of the general debate TBMM members adopted unanimously a declaration in which they expressed full support to the proposal for creation of a commission consisting of Turkish and Armenian historians, for opening of the national archives without restrictions, for carrying out similar work in the archives of the countries concerned, and finally, for reporting their findings to the international community. The declaration further stated that, for this initiative to be successful, the support of the Armenian Government would be essential. It stressed that Turkey and Armenia should be ready to face up to their past; and that if Armenia wanted good relations and cooperation with Turkey it should accept the Turkish proposal for a joint assessment of the past. It expressed the TBMM’s expectation that those countries that sincerely want the Turkish-Armenian relations to improve (especially those countries whose parliaments have passed resolutions in favor of the Armenian genocide allegations) would support this initiative. Referring to those resolutions the declaration said that the TBMM found these unseemly, meaningless, arbitrary and unfair, and therefore condemned them. It stressed that Turkey would not allow its history to be reconstructed on the basis of one-sided and misleading assessments. A copy of this letter is attached as (Document No ).

The most important outcome of the TBMM’s April 13 session is that all of the political parties represented at the Parliament embraced the new policy designed vis-à-vis Armenia. Armenian allegation and on mid may the Turkish media reported that a large-scale academic conference would be held at Istanbul’s Bogazici University on May 25-27, 2005 with the participation of more than fifty people. The conference was entitled “Ottoman Armenians during the Fall of the Empire: Scientific Responsibility and Democracy Problems”.12 The large majority of the participants were Turkish scholars that had already adopted the Armenian allegations of genocide. None of the Turkish scholars that maintain that the relocation of 1915 was not a genocide was not invited. The organizers were obviously trying to leave out those that oppose the Armenian theses. Besides, although genocide is a concept defined in international law, it was seen that the conference was not going to discuss the relocation of Armenians according to international law. Thirdly, only a group of pre-determined guests would be allowed to enter the conference hall. Those who had not been invited would not be able to participate.

The news that conference is going to be held caused an outcry at the TBMM. Istanbul deputy �ükrü Elekda� said that all of the scholars invited to speak at the conference had, in the past, either defended the Armenian genocide allegations or questioned the validity of the Turkish official theses. Elekda� said that not even a single historian or specialist was invited to the conference to defend or explain Turkey’s views. He expressed his conviction that the conference was singularly intended to promote the Armenian propaganda drive. Minister of Justice Cemil Çiçek, speaking in the name of the government, said, with reference to the TBMM’s April 13 session, that the government and the opposition had joined hands, taking the decision to work together to counter the “genocide slander” being committed against the Turkish nation. The attempt to stage the aforementioned conference at a time the necessary steps were being taken to translate into action the government-opposition agreement, amounted to “stabbing these efforts in the back”, he said. He stressed on the other hand that universities being autonomous bodies did not mean that universities would act irresponsibly. A day later Bogazici University issued a statement, announcing that the conference was postponed.

The point which needed to be emphasize on that subject is that, in accordance with freedom of expression, it was legally not possible to prevent such a conference. The minister of justice himself had openly stated that the government did not have the power to prevent the conference, but Bogazici University itself.

The postponement of this conference triggered massiv negative comments in the Turkish media. The minister of justice, especially, was heavily criticized for using the expression “stabbing in the back”. The media criticism focused on the scope of the freedom of expression in Turkey while the Armenian issue was pushed into the background.

The organizers and would-be participants of the conference issued a statement13 on May 27, telling the public that they had to postpone the event because they were faced with pressure, threats and slandering. The conference would be held in near future, they added. However, it has still not taken place and no explanation has been given about this delay.


Some negative developments in Turkey-Armenia relations have been observed during about one year period that we are studing. Although the foreign ministers of Turkey and Armenia have had talks for some time, they have not agreed on any of the issues at stake. Russian opposition to help resolve the Karabakh problem, especially, has made a negative impact on Turkish-Armenian relations. These relations have been adversely affected also by the pressure put on Turkey --especially by the Armenian Diaspora—to force Turkey to acknowledge the “genocide” prior to the EU accession talks and to open its border with Armenia. Another negative factor was the commemoration events of the 90th anniversary of the alleged Armenian genocide which turned into an anti-Turkey campaign. Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers met twice over the past year but they have not met since September 2004. Prime Minister Erdo�an’s April 2005 proposal for a joint commission of historians that would look into the genocide allegations has not yielded any tangible result – for the time being.

In what constituted the first negative development in bilateral relations during the period in question, Armenian President Robert Kocharyan refrained from taking part in the NATO summit held in Istanbul on June 29, 2004. Since the NATO Summit had nothing to do with Turkish-Armenian relations, it is a strong possibility President Kocharian was acting in response to a request he may have received from President Putin of the Russian Federation who was also not attending the conference.

Russia does not want Turkey to contribute to efforts aimed at solving the Karabakh problem obviously because it fears that his own role in the region would be diminished. As a matter of fact, right after NATO’s Istanbul Summit, during Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanyan’s visit to Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, accused Turkey of trying to “bypass” Russia by taking a primary role towards resolution of the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict. He said that Russia was in a position to guarantee a peace formula that would be acceptable to both parties and he reminded that Russia was Armenia’s main military ally in the Caucasus region.14

Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe15 on June 24, 2004, Armenian President Kocharyan touched on his country’s relations with Turkey. He said that memories of the past –in the context of which he referred to “the genocide”, its “consequences” and “no show of repentance”—were casting a shadow on bilateral relations. He said that Turkey worsened the situation further by imposed an embargo on Armenia. He said that basically two things should be done to break the deadlock: Firstly, the meetings on the issues inherited from the past should be held at various levels and should not interact; secondly, the Turkey-Armenia relations should not be linked to relations with a third country (Azerbaijan). Kocharyan also stated that if preconditions were to be put forth, that would kill the positive expectations.

These rather ambiguous expressions can be “deciphered” in the following manner: Obviously, the Armenian president continues to accuse Turkey of committing genocide. He wants that the consequences territorial demands and compensation payments of the “genocide” should be tackled. He believes that Turkey should apologize to the Armenians for the “genocide” and that Turkey should end the economic embargo on Armenia. He would not object to the Armenian Diaspora and Armenian NGOs holding direct talks with Turkey but he warns that these talks should not affect the official contacts and meetings between the two countries. Furthermore, he wants Turkey to stop supporting Azerbaijan. He also wants Turkey to normalize its relations with Armenia without setting any preconditions for that. (In other words he wants Turkey to stop demanding that Armenia end its occupation of Karabakh and other Azerbaijani territories, and that Armenia drop its genocide allegations and recognize Turkey’s territorial integrity and the inviolability of Turkey’s national borders.)
Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, during a meeting with the members of press in the late May 200416, said that [Armenian] territorial claims on Turkey was not an item on Armenia’s foreign policy agenda. He said that Armenia was striving to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without any preconditions, and that the problematic issues could be taken up later. He said that ensuring international acknowledgement of the Armenian “genocide” and obtaining territory from Turkey as compensation would become possible only after building a powerful state in Armenia. He pointed out that if Armenia wanted territorial compensation, there would be no need to articulate that everywhere in a loud voice. These words clearly indicate that Armenia is indeed making territorial claims on Turkey. To fulfill this aspiration Armenian Prime Minister pins his hopes on his country getting stronger one day.

According to Armenian Prime Minister, establishment of relations with Turkey without any preconditions should definitely be the top priority issue. In other words, Armenian prime minister wants to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey -- without renouncing the genocide allegations and territorial claims, and without withdrawing the Armenian forces from Karabakh and other Azerbaijani territories. Naturally, once diplomatic relations are established, border gates would be opened and Armenia would be able to conduct its foreign trade via Turkey. Resolution of its problems with Turkey would create a certain climate of confidence in which Armenia would attract larger amounts of foreign capital and receive more financial aid from the United States and the European Union. Having gained the necessary strength, Armenia would then put on the agenda such issues as the Armenian territorial and compensation claims on Turkey and the demands that Turkey recognize the so-called Armenian genocide.

One could easily conclude that Armenia’s policy vis-à-vis Turkey will follow such a path in the long run. The first step of that policy as stated many times by Foreign Minister Oskanian is the establishment of normal relations with Turkey without any preconditions. The following steps of the Armenian policy is enveiled by Prime Minister Markarian’s above mentionned speech.

Tension in the in the Armenian-Turkish relations affected also the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). OSCE presidency rotates annually. Each year a member country is elected to that position unanimously. The country to hold office is determined some time in advance. It seems that Turkey has been approached and accepted for OSCE presidency for 2007.

Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanyan, during a lecture delivered at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on June 14, 2004, said, in response to a question, that Turkey was the sole candidate for OSCE presidency for 2007. He went to say, however, that Turkey has followed an unbalanced policy in the region (the Caucasus) in the last 12 years, giving Azerbaijan unequivocal support. He argued that Armenia would not allow a country that has not yet established diplomatic relations with Armenia to assume the presidency of an organization that is carrying out negotiations on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. He pointed out that Armenia has veto powers over the election of the OSCE president – which it would use. Oskanyan hinted that if they were to receive something in return for their cooperation, they might agree not to veto Turkey’s OSCE presidency for the year in question. Obviously what he implies is the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia and the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border gate.

In reply to a question on this subject, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül said that Armenian “veto” was not an issue. OSCE presidency is a task that involves a heavy agenda and, since a general election would be held in Turkey in 2007, the Turkish authorities felt they would not be able to devote to the OSCE affairs the time required, he said.17 Thus, Turkey refused to accept Armenian blackmail. It demonstrated clearly that, for the time being, it is not in favor of opening its borders with Armenia and/or establishing diplomatic relations with it. However, doing this, it had to give up an important international position: OSCE presidency.

Turkey had submitted its application for OSCE presidency in 1999 as well. At that time, Armenia’s newly elected President Kocharyan, who was conducting at that time an aggressive policy against Turkey, announced that he would veto Turkey’s candidacy. Then Turkey hinted that it might veto any proposal to stage the OSCE meeting in a city other than Istanbul. Armenia came under pressure from Western countries, the US especially, and it altered its stance. As a result, Turkey was elected OSCE president and Kocharyan attended the OSCE meeting in Istanbul. We notice that, this time Turkey has decided not to adopt the same approach.

As we mentioned above, just as President Putin, Armenian President Kocharyan did not attend the NATO Summit in Istanbul. In reply to a question on this issue, Prime Minister Erdo�an said that Turkey was striving to solve its problems with its neighbors and that Turkey always acted with a “win-win” mentality. He stated that Turkey did not want to break its ties with Armenia but “if Armenia is running away; we would run after it only up to a certain point.” He said that tackling the “genocide issue” would not yield any results. That was a task for historians. The important thing was to build the world of future, he stressed.18

Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanyan represented his country at NATO’s Istanbul Summit on June 29, 2004. In this speech he said that Turkey was a natural bridge between the Caucasus and Europe and the only NATO member country that had a common border with the Caucasian countries. He pointed out that the Caucasus was included in Europe’s “New Neighborhood Initiative” and that Armenia’s access to Europe would be via Turkey. For development of “genuine relations of neighborhood” in the Caucasus Turkey should normalize its relations with Armenia. He stressed that that would make an immeasurably positive impact on the Karabakh issue.19

Oskanyan, in an interview with an Armenian newspaper,20 said that Turkey greatly desired to improve its relations with Armenia but lacked the political will needed for that. He reiterated that Armenia wanted to normalize its relations with Turkey without any preconditions. He argued that Armenia did not need Turkey, that the Armenian economy continued to develop despite the embargo, and that improvement of relations with Turkey was not a matter of life and death for Armenia. He said that they just wanted to be on good terms with the neighboring countries. He stated that there was no obstacle to the establishment of normal relations with Turkey. He did not refer however the serious problem that exist between the two countries such as Armenian genocide allegations and recognition by Armenia of the Turkish borders and Armenia’s occupation of Karabagh and other Azerbaijan territories. It’s worth mentioning that these problems prevented up to now the establishment of normal relations between the two countries.

Referring to the Gül-Oskanyan meeting, a Turkish newspaper 21 wrote that Oskanyan raised the border gates issue. Gül, in turn, reportedly said that Armenia should stop making “genocide” allegations that bother the Turkish public and renounce its territorial claims on Turkey – claims cited in the Armenian Constitution as well.

From the statements22 the foreign ministers of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia made to the press together, it can be deduce that the ministers exchanged views on NATO and EU expansion and on Karabakh during their three-way meeting.

In conclusion, we can say that the bilateral and three-way talks held during the NATO Summit of June 2004 brought about no real change in the respective stances of these countries. Yet, it was a positive development that they decided was taken have further meetings especially on a three-way basis. However no such a meeting was held since.

As has become a custom that the foreign ministers of Turkey and Armenia took advantage of their stay in New York to participate to UN General Assembly, to have a meeting. After that meeting The Turkish Foreign Minister told the press they explored bilateral issues as well as regional concerns23 and that the Armenian Foreign Minister gave information about the talks he had held with his Azerbaijani counterpart. He said that he, in turn, told the Armenian Foreign Minister, that Turkey would continue to serve as a catalyst between the two sides.24 Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman, on the other hand, told the press that the two ministers discussed the possibility of reopening the border gates between the two countries25.

In the speeches they made at the UN General Assembly in September 2004, foreign ministers of Turkey and Armenia both touched on Karabakh without referring to the Turkey Armenia relations.

Although nearly a year have passed since the New York meeting, the two foreign ministers have not met again. Considering the fact that they had met four times in the 14-month period preceding the last meeting, one could say the relations of the two countries are stagnant to say the least.

During Prime Minister Erdo�an’s visit to the Russian Federation in January 2005, issues related to Armenia were brought up. In a speech he made during the visit, President Putin said they were aware of the problem that existed between Turkey and Armenia. He said Russia would do its best to solve the problems inherited from the former Soviet Union. They were ready to act as an intermediary and a guarantor to help solve the problem. Prime Minister Erdo�an said they would display solidarity with Russia towards finding a solution to the problem existing with Armenia. He emphasised out that Turkey’s Armenia policy was based on solution-seeking. He criticized the Armenian position of refusing to recognize the Treaty of Kars of 1921 which established the borderline between the two countries. He said that because of Armenia’s negative attitude Turkey was not opening the land transportation routes yet. Complaining about the way Armenia maintains an anti-Turkey stance, he said, “We want to overcome the problems with Armenia. We want our relations to flourish in all areas. There are opportunities especially in commercial matters. Armenia is the only neighbor we have that stays angry with us. We do not want an angry neighbor.”26

Since Armenian recognition of the Treaty of Kars would mean that Armenia recognizes Turkey’s existing borders, in other words, Turkey’s territorial integrity, this has been a major issue between the two countries. In an interview with a Turkish daily (Zaman)27, Oskanian commenting on Prime Minister Erdogan’s words regarding the Treaty of Kars said that Armenian leaders “have made no statements saying we don’t recognize it. We are the successor states of the Soviet Union. All of the agreements, which the Soviet Union signed, continue to be in force unless new agreements have been signed to replace them, or unless statements have been made about not recognizing those agreements.”

Armenia’s Foreign Minister words are true from the international law angle. However, it is quite possible that the Armenian Minister is not talking sincerely. Zaman, the daily that carried the interview, asked a high-level Turkish Foreign Ministry official to comment on Oskanyan’s words regarding the Treaty of Kars. The official pointed out that Armenia’s Declaration of Independence refers to Turkey’s eastern provinces as “Western Armenia” and the Turkish Ararat Mount is Armenia’s national emblem. This is a situation that does not make sense. On one hand Armenia recognizes Turkey’s borders. On the other hand it considers Turkey’s eastern provinces Armenian territory. To officially recognize Turkey’s border, Armenia needs to make a written statements to this effect and then change the concerned article of its Independence Declaration and its emblem.

Significantly, during the interview Oskanyan said he did not think Turkish-Russian cooperation would contribute to the resolution of the Turkey-Armenia conflict. He said, “…I don’t think that these countries’ cooperation will foster conflict’s settlement. So, in spite of its very close relations with Russia, Armenia is not willing to accept Russia’s offer to be an intermediary or a guarantor in this conflict. Armenia, which gets support against Turkey from many Western countries, could be feeling that it does not need Russia at this stage.

Referring to the “genocide” issue, Oskanyan said, “On the Armenian foreign policy agenda, there is no reference to territories or compensation. Our foreign policy goal is international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.” He said that, for normalization of the relations between Turkey and Armenia, “We have never said that Turkey” should first acknowledge “the Genocide.” He went on to say, “There are two important problems between Armenia and Turkey: opening the border, and Genocide…The EU, too, would like for Turkey to recognize the genocide at some stage in the process. We hope that these matters will be included in the agenda for negotiations between Turkey and the EU to begin later this year.”

Just after the TBMM debated the Armenian problem on April 13, 2005, Turkey has undertaken a new initiative to solve its problems with Armenia. Prime Minister Erdo�an sent a letter to President Kocharyan, suggesting that the two countries should be “forming a group comprised of the historians and other specialists of our two countries to investigate the developments and events related to the 1915 period by researching all relevant archives and to report their findings to the international community.” Erdo�an said in his letter, “I believe that an initiative will serve as a step towards the normalization of relations between two countries.” Erdo�an’s letter to Kocharyan is attached as Appendix 1.

President Kocharyan, in an interview with RTR Russia TV, "confirmed he had recently received a letter from the Turkish Prime Minister, but added that the letter did not contain much that would help tackle the problems between the two countries. According to TV channel Kocharian said “We’re not talking about material compensation, it is a moral issue, the issue of the material consequences is not discussed at state level.”28

From the Armenian President’s words, it is possible to conclude that Armenia would not demand compensation if Turkey recognized the so-called genocide, that only the people concerned (those who were subjected to relocation) might have that right. Since there had been no “State of Armenia” in 1915-1916, even theoretically Armenia would not have the right to demand compensation from Turkey. Legaly, the Treaty of Lausanne has already determined how individuals’ claims regarding both movable assets and real estate would be resolved. Here, it must be pointed out that for most of these claims the statute of limitations expired long time ago anyway.

Armenian Parliament Speaker Artur Bagdasaryan, has stated on this issue that, on the “genocide” issue, “all the discussions are completed and there is no need for additional consideration.”29

Speaking at a press conference, Prime Minister Andranik Markaryan, referring to the commission suggested by Turkey said, “If the commission is to decide whether or not there was a genocide, then I am against it. I myself is a descendant of a genocide victim… If we manage to ensure that Turkey establishes diplomatic relations and opens its border with Armenia and creates an environment in which they could discuss all problems, that would constitute progress and a victory.”30

Foreign Minister Oskanyan, in an interview on that subject with a Turkish channel (NTV), said, referring to the Turkish Prime Minister’s letter, that in reality that proposal had “existed” for years. He also stated that their answer to it has always been the same. They would not discuss the reality of genocide with anybody, at least not at the government level. However, they were open to dialogue.31

A spokesman for the Dashnak party said, “acceptance of the Turkish proposal would amount to questioning the genocide.”

Shavarsh Kocharyan, an opposition member, said that the Turkish proposal “…is aimed at easing the European Union’s growing pressure on Turkey” to face its “troubled past.”32

The Turkish proposal has drawn negative reactions from the Armenian Diaspora as well. Harout Mardirossian, President of the Committee of Defense of the Armenian Cause, an organization with Dashnak tendencies, said that the Turkish proposal was a ridiculous effort to deny the “genocide”. He maintained that the “Armenian Genocide” was an incontestable fact and that its “reality” was non-negotiable.33

On April 25, that is, immediately after the events commemorating the 90th anniversary of the alleged Armenian genocide, President Kocharyan sent his reply letter to Prime Minister Erdo�an. (The full text of the Kocharyan letter is attached as Appendix 2.

In short, Prime Minister Erdo�an had suggested that a group of Turkish and Armenian historians should investigate the events of the 1915 period by scanning the entire body of relevant archival material and report their findings to the international community. In his reply letter, Kocharyan did not deal with this proposition directly. However, the expressions he used in the letter indicate that he does not favor of that proposal. He says, for example, “Governments are responsible for development of bilateral relations and we do not have the right to delegate historians” and that the Turkish Prime Minister’s proposal “does not refer to the present and the future.” Furthermore, Kocharian repeats the well-known Armenian position for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries without preconditions. Clearly, there is no accord on this issue between the views of the two sides. However, Kocharyan has preferred not to close the door altogether. He has suggested that “…an intergovernmental commission may be formed to discuss any issue or issues available between our countries aiming at solving them and coming to mutual understanding.”

Armenians believe that “genocide” has been adequately proven, and that Turkey too will have to acknowledge the “genocide” at a not-too-distant future due to the pressure exerted by other countries. They are convinced that once that happens the time will come for them to discuss the consequences of that acknowledgement (compensation and territorial claims). Erdo�an’s proposal amounted to saying, “Let us investigate together whether the 1915 events were a genocide.” goes against the Armenians’ convictions. Therefore, although they wanted to reject it, they did not dare to refuse a proposal that a number of great powers such as the US and German governments and the majority of the members of the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe supported. That’s why in the last sentence of his letter Kocharyan suggests an “intergovernmental commission”, in what seems to be an attempt to soften the negative attitude he showed in the beginning of this letter.

Erdo�an and Kocharyan had been expected to have a talk during the Council of Europe summit in Warsaw – though, later, it became clear that no such meeting had actually been planned. In a speech he made at the summit meeting, Kocharyan made an unwarranted reference to the “genocide” issue. He said, “…the efforts to internationally recognize the Armenian Genocide are conditioned by the faith in European values. We are grateful to the states that supported…”34

Prime Minister Erdo�an had an adverse reaction to this speech. He held a press conference to warn those countries that supported Yerevan. He pointed out that the TBMM too could pass genocide resolutions against certain countries. On the other Erdogan in his speech at the summit meeting drew attention to the fact that Turkey has opened its archives, he urging Armenia and other states to follow suit.35 He stated that historians, legal experts and politicians needed to look into the archives and that one could reach a conclusion only on the basis of the outcome of such research.36 He went on to say: “I do not find it right, either in terms of human rights or in terms of the supremacy of the law, that interested or disinterested parliaments adopt such resolutions through some simple lobbying activities without basing themselves on documents or information.”

Addressing the AKP parliamentary group meeting on his return home, the prime minister on this subject said “…in some countries’ parliaments decisions to accept the Armenian genocide were made after they were lobbied. Such decisions without using any documents or information are not supported by any solid evidence; such decisions have been made in the parliaments of 15 countries so far. Among them are countries that have committed genocide themselves. We will make similar decisions regarding their past after studying the documents. We will take this step.”[4]

In conclusion, the scholarly study that Prime Minister Erdo�an tried to initiate by sending a letter to President Kocharyan has not taken place so far.


During the period we have studied, the parliaments of Slovakia, the Netherlands and Poland adopted resolutions that confirm the Armenian genocide allegations. The decision of the German Parliament which will be delt separately amounts to a formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide allegations. Furthermore, the decisions formerly on that subject by Belgium, the Russian Federation, Argentina and Lebanon, have been reiterated. Also, regional parliaments in some countries took similar decision and the statesmen of certain countries declared that they recognized Armenian genocide claims a seven months period (November 2004- June 2005). In short, saw a more extensive recognition of the Armenian genocide allegations than any other previous period.

This phenomenon was caused mainly by two factors: Firstly, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the “Armenian genocide”, both Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora pushed their efforts to the maximum to gain recognition from some countries. Secondly, due to the EU decision to start accession talks with Turkey in October 2005, to a number of countries begun to use the Armenian genocide allegations for a variety of purposes: some of them are having a reckoning with their own past, some are trying to prevent Turkey’s EU membership and some others are trying to exact concessions from Turkey during the EU accession process. The fact that the approval of each and every EU member in the negotiation process is needed Turkey has adopted a cautious approach vis-à-vis those EU countries that have recognized the genocide allegations.

Above the decisions of the parliaments that have recognized the Armenian genocide allegations will be examined in chronological order:


The Slovak Parliament took the following decision regarding the so-called Armenian genocide on November 30, 2004: “The Slovak Parliament recognizes the genocide of Armenians in 1915 during which hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were killed and considers this act a crime against humanity.”38

At first sight the reasons for the decision of the Slovak Parliament were not clear. Slovakia does not have a sizeable Armenian community. a close relationship with Armenia. Only in the light of certain historical events that the reasons for Slovakia Parliament decision can be understood.

When the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939, they annexed the region where the Czechs lived to Germany under the name “Protectorate of Bohemia”. On the same day, a so-called “independent” state of Slovakia was founded. Slovakia pursued the same policies as the Nazis. In this framework, the over 80,000 Jews in the country were deprived of their civic rights and most of them were ultimately sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland on the other side of the border where they were exterminated. The Russian Army occupied Slovakia towards the end of 1944 and the “Czech” and “Slovak” regions were reunited and the state of Czechoslovakia re-established. The Soviets urged Czechoslovakia, their new ally, to expel from the country the German population that had lived there for centuries. Accordingly, millions of ethnic Germans living in the Sudetenland and Carpathian regions were expelled to Germany under extremely difficult conditions.

During the Soviet Union’s disintegration process, Slovakia became an independent state once again with the support it received from Germany. Well aware of the fact that due the maltreatment of the Jews and Germans in the past Slovakia would not be accepted as a respectable country by the fellow Europeans, the Slovak Parliament adopted two resolutions in a row, presenting a formal apology to the Jews in December 1990 and to the Carpathian Germans two months later.

Since then Slovakia has been (or tries to give the impression that it is) very sensitive on human rights issues. Therefore, the Slovak Parliament adopted with relative ease a resolution that recognizes Armenian genocide claims. Obviously, they were convinced that Turkey, an aspiring member of the EU, would not have a strong reaction to that.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement39 on December 2, 2005, condemning the decision taken by the Slovak Parliament. The Ministry stressed that it was not among the duties and responsibilities of national parliaments to pass judgment on the controversial periods in the history of other nations. It pointed out that taking such a decision by distorting the events for self-interest would not be compatible with responsible behavior - at a time there is a need to leave to the future generations a legacy of friendship and tolerance rather than hatred.

The Netherlands

On December 21, 2004, the Dutch Parliament adopted a resolution in which it asked the Dutch Government “to bring up the recognition of the Armenian Genocide continuously and expressly in the dialogue with Turkey.”40

The Dutch decision was met with astonishment in Turkey since, two days earlier, the Netherlands, the term president of the EU, had played an important role at the European Summit in bringing about the EU decision to start the accession talks with Turkey.

The reasons for the Dutch decision are not so obvious. Before everything else, it must not be forgotten that the Netherlands has a very active and well-organized Armenian community that has ample financial resources. However, since the Dutch Armenian community is small they could hardly wield the kind of power needed to elicit a decision from the Dutch Parliament. On the other hand it would be impossible for them to exert a financial influence on all members of the Dutch Parliament. We could assume that the Dutch deputies acted in that manner because, due to intense Armenian propaganda, they sincerely believe that the Armenians had been subjected to genocide. However, in that case it would be difficult to explain why do the Dutch parliamentarians fail to display a similar interest in the massacres their neighbors the Belgians had committed in Congo and the French in Algeria? Why do they fail to ponder on their own colonial past from this particular perspective? Why they insist on portraying as genocide, the relocation of a group of people due to security concerns -- in a country far away from the Netherlands nearly a century ago?

The only plausible explanation seems to be the one that concerns the presence in the Netherlands of a large community of migrant workers and their families. Their integration problem has not been solved. The average Dutch citizen is upset by the presence of these workers and their families. In case of Turkey will become a member of the EU that would increase the number of Turks in the Netherlands. It seems that, conservative Dutch is trying to prevent such a development. The Dutch government, as EU term president, was well aware that without Turkey’s contribution, the EU would not be able to carry out its Middle East and the Caucasus policies in the future. Therefore, on one hand the Dutch government made efforts to ensure that accession talks with Turkey would be started. On the other hand, it did not do anything to prevent the Dutch Parliament from taking a decision regarding the Armenian “genocide”, a decision that will render all the more difficult the Turkey-EU talks. Thus, the Dutch government has devised a temporary solution by adopting a double-standard approach to a difficult subject.


The Polish Parliament unanimously passed the following decision on April 19, 2005: “The Parliament of the Polish Republic pays tribute to the victims of the genocide of the Armenian population in Turkey during World War One. The remembrance and the condemnation of this crime remains a moral duty of the whole mankind, of all the States as well as all the willingly people” 41

The decision taken by the Polish Parliament drew a very strong reaction from Turkey. The Foreign Ministry, in a statement published on the following day42, “condemned and rejected this decision stating that. It is a irresponsible behavior to portray those events as genocide, pointing out that the soundest decisions about historical events could only be made by historians. The statement said that it was with this consideration that Turkey had suggested to Armenia creation of a group of historians and other specialists of the two countries to look into the developments and events related to the 1915 period. The group would research all relevant archival material and report its findings to the international community. The statement said, “It hurt the Turkish people’s feelings deeply when the Polish Parliament, instead of advising the Armenian government to accept our historic proposal, passed a resolution based on falsified information regarding the events of 1915. The Polish Parliament’s behavior is not compatible with the spirit of friendship that evolved between the peoples of Turkey and Poland over a period of eight hundred years.”

The Foreign Ministry statement was strong-worded indeed. The Turkish Press as well severely criticized the Polish resolution and a number of NGOs denounced Poland. Turkish Parliament Speaker Bülent Ar�nç sent a letter to his Polish counterpart condemning the resolution. The planned visit to Turkey of the Polish-Turkish Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group and the visit of the Polish Parliament Foreign Relations Commission Chairman were cancelled. The Turkish Parliament decided not to send a representative to the “parliamentary marathon and semi-marathon” to be held in Poland.43

The strong Turkish reaction is due to the fact that Turkish public always had a highly positive image of Poland. Throughout their history Turkey and Poland had faced a common enemy: Russia. The Ottoman Empire had refused to agree to the partition of Poland between Russia and Prussia. Therefore, when the Polish Parliament passed –on an issue on which Turkey has been highly sensitized-- a resolution that reflects the Armenian views, the Turkish people saw that as an act of betrayal. Here, it must be noted that the Turks’s warm feelings towards the Polish people are obviously not reciprocated. For Poland, Turkey is not “special”. The memory of the Russo-Ottoman wars and the Ottoman refusal to agree to the partition of Poland has faded. Even if, at that time, Polish people harbored warm feelings towards the Turks, these must have evaporated during the Soviet era.

Why did the Polish Parliament take this decision? As all the other formerly communist countries that because the EU members, Poland is an over-zealous advocate of human rights probably to compensate for its own shortcomings. Also, Germany, Poland’s old-enemy that is now a friend and protector, may have played a role in this development by making certain suggestions. Finally, Polish Parliamentarians may have thought that since, Poland has the right to veto Turkey’s EU accession process, Turkey would not be in a position to display a strong reaction. However, the Turkish reaction has been quite severe and bilateral relations have suffered from the Polish Parliament’s move.


The Russian Federation has the world’s largest concentration of Diaspora Armenians. Furthermore, Armenia is Russia’s only ally in the Caucasus. Russia has military bases in Armenia and Russian military units guard Armenia’s borders. Armenia has gained extra significance for Russia following the regime change in Georgia.

On April 14, 1995 the Russian State Duma had passed a resolution recognizing the so-called Armenian genocide due to the pressure exerted by the Armenians living in Russia and, also, because of Russia’s special relationship with Armenia. The operative part of it is as follows44: “The State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation condemns the perpetrators of the extermination of Armenians from 1915 to 1922; expresses its deep sympathy to the Armenian people and recognizes April 24 as a day of remembrance for the victims of the Genocide.”

The Duma passed a new resolution45 on April 22, 2005 with 310 votes. No one abstained or voted against the draft. The Duma was most probably encouraged by the adoption of a series of similar resolutions in other countries. The resolution is as follows: “The State Duma of the Russian Federation pays tribute to the sister Armenian people on the occasion of 90th anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide, which is one of the most cruel and tragic events of the 20th century. The deputies of the State Duma fully denounce the act of genocide committed against the Armenian people. The Duma believes that the entire international community should commemorate the 90th anniversary.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry responded by delivering a diplomatic note to Russia in protest, stressing how unfortunate it was that, instead of supporting Turkey’s well-intentioned initiatives on this issue Russia had taken a decision of that kind.46 The Ministry issued a statement47 as well in which it denounced and rejected the resolution passed by the Duma. Noting that relations between Turkey and Russia had made significant progress in all fields, the Ministry pointed out that the step taken by the Duma was not compatible with the level bilateral relations had reached. The Ministry expressed Turkey’s conviction that historians could take the soundest decision on this subject. It was for that purpose that Turkey had taken the initiative to have Turkish and Armenian historians shed light on the facts -- by studying the material in the archives of the third countries concerned as well. The Ministry went on to say that the Duma’s decision was unfortunate also from the standpoint of peace and stability in the region and development of good neighborly relations.

While the Duma takes such decisions regarding the history of other countries, it somehow refrains from making any reference at all to Russia’s own bloody history. Yet, the memory of so many incidents is still fresh in minds: The Russian Army during the Russo-Ottoman War of 1878 helped the Bulgarians to become the predominant ethnic group in the Ottoman provinces which correspond roughly to today’s Balkan of Tuna (Danube) by carrying out an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Turks living in those provinces. At around the same time the Russians organized pogroms against the Russian Jews and thus forced a sizeable part of them into exile. The Russians quelled the 1905 revolts with a bloodbath. The Communist regime in the thirtees deliberately abandoned peasants to death by starvation because they were resisting the forcible collectivization of agriculture, thus causing millions of peasants to perish. Under the Gulag system, opposition members were exiled to the remotest parts of the country where they were forced to live under primitive conditions. Incalculable numbers of people were exiled and/or died during the 1936-1939 period that came to be called the Great Terror. Many peoples –Crimean Tartars and Meshketian Turks among them-- were exiled from their lands to other regions. Prior to and during the Second World War large-scale massacres were committed in the Baltic countries Poland, especially. In the post-war period, freedom movements were ruthlessly suppressed in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. It is almost a case of black humor that a country with so much blood and human tragedy in its own past comes up and accuses others of committing genocide.


While there is no sizeable Turkish community in Argentina, the country has an Armenian Diaspora consisting mostly of people that had migrated from the Ottoman Empire. Over the years, the Armenian Diaspora has become affluent and influential to a certain extent. In fact, in 1993 it managed to elicit from the Argentinean Senate a resolution in favor of the commemoration of the “Armenian Genocide”. Since the war in Karabakh was still continuing at that time, the resolution expressed concern over the human rights violations allegedly being committed against the Armenian people there.

New resolutions basically similar to the 1993 decision were adopted in 2003 and 2004.

The resolution --passed on April 20, 2005-- pays tribute to the Armenian “genocide” victims, expresses solidarity with their families, and condemns the Turkish Government for systematically denying “the events that were incontestably documented by various offices of the Turkish Government.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement on May 5, 2005 denouncing and rejecting the Argentinean Senate’s accusation that Turkey had committed genocide against the Armenian people. It said, “It is obvious that the attitude of the Argentinean Senate is politically motivated.” Adopting a text “which lacks historical truth” and is “full of mistakes”, was an “irresponsible act,” it added. The Ministry noted that Turkey had offered to create, together with Armenia, a mixed group that would investigate the events of the 1915 period by scanning all relevant archives and report its findings to the international community. Those countries that sincerely wanted normalization of the Turkey-Armenia relations, should support the Turkish initiative. Those that acted otherwise, passing such resolutions, were serving no useful purpose, merely letting themselves to be an instrument for bad-intentioned efforts.


Uruguay too has a small but influential Armenian community.

Uruguay was the first country to take a parliamentary decision recognizing Armenian genocide claims. The Chamber of Representatives and the Senate of Uruguay made April 24 the “Day of Remembrance for the Armenian Martyrs” by passing a bill to this effect on April 20, 1965. That decision was reiterated in 2004, that is, four decades later.48

In the latest instance, the Chamber of Representatives adopted on May 3, 2005 a resolution in which they asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to “carry through the United Nations the initiatives” needed to have “April 24 declared as the “Denunciation and Repudiation of all Forms of Genocide Day”.49

We can say that Uruguay’s initiative hardly stands a chance, and if one day the United Nations decides to determine a specific date for condemnation of the acts of genocide, it would base that decision on the Holocaust.

During the period we have studied, senior officials of a number of countries have announced they recognize the “Armenian genocide”. Since the parliaments or governments of the countries concerned have not confirmed these statements so far, the views expressed have to be of a “personal” nature. Nevertheless, the fact that no objections have been raised against these statements may be a clue indicating that these countries too may be inclined to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide if conditions become ripe for it in the future.

Under the period that we are studing, the first official that recognized Armenian genocide claims, President Mohammed Khatami of Iran. During an official visit to Armenia in September 2004, Khatami paid tribute to the “victims of the 1915 genocide” and laid a wreath at the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan.50

Lately, Iran has been following a policy of rapprochement towards Armenia especially since the Greater Middle East project was put forth and the US established good relations with Georgia and Azerbaijan. Khatami’s trip to Armenia and his visit to the Genocide Memorial should be assessed in this framework. On the other hand, Khatami obviously has not taken into consideration the fact that his visit to the Genocide Memorial would make Turkey uncomfortable.

During a visit to Armenia, Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov went to the Genocide Memorial on October 6, 2004. Accompanied by his wife, he laid wreaths at the memorial and planted a spruce tree in memory of the “genocide” victims. It would be impossible to think that the Bulgarian President is not aware of Turkey’s sensitivities regarding the genocide allegations. Having secured NATO membership, Bulgarian officials are not attaching as much importance to Turkey as they did in the past. Bulgaria may recognize the so-called Armenian genocide after becoming a full member of the EU.

During an official visit to Armenia in November 2004, Arnold Ruutel, President of Estonia, gave a lecture at the university of Yerevan. Asked to comment on the “Armenian genocide committed in Turkey in 1915”, Ruutel said, “It is right that the injustice done to the people of Armenia should be recognized and condemned.”

When asked by a journalist why he or other Estonian leaders had not said so before, Ruutel said that before Estonia joined the EU the situation in the country had been tense and Estonia did not want to become involved in other crises at that time. He went on to say, (having become a full member of the EU), “Now Estonia is on solid ground, it has the strength to issue clear statements on its positions.”

Although the Estonian President clearly accepted the Armenian allegations, the Estonian Parliament and Foreign Ministry remain silent on this issue for the time being. This stance may be related to the fact that Turkey spent a great deal of effort to ensure that Estonia would gain NATO membership. Since Estonia has become a NATO member, it does not need Turkey’s help anymore. On the contrary, now Turkey is seeking Estonia’s (and, for that matter, all the other member countries’) support in the course of its EU membership process.

Why does Estonia display such interest in the Armenian genocide allegations? According to one source51, “Having suffered from Soviet violence, Estonia is under a moral obligation to fight for human rights and against crimes against humanity.” On the other hand, “Estonia is expecting that Russia should apologize (for the Soviet period).”

Lithuania’s Minister of National Defense Gediminas Kirkilas, on a visit to Armenia in April 2005, also went to the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan. Stating that acts of genocide should be denounced and measures should be taken to prevent further acts of his kind, the minister said that although no official proposal was being made for the recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide in Lithuania at present, “he believes that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Lithuania would be right.”52

On the other hand, NATO Secretary-General Yaap de Hoop Scheffer and former president of the European Commission Romano Prodi refrained, during their visit to Armenia, from commenting on the genocide allegations. In reply to a question on this issue, the NATO secretary-general said, “NATO is not going to exert any pressure on Turkey. In the whole, NATO stands aside of any question filled with hatred and bearing racial context. Between NATO and Turkey, there are close relations of cooperation.”53

A number of international and regional organizations and regional parliaments too have recognized the Armenian allegations. At the top of the list is the World Council of Churches. This religious organization in which the Protestant and Orthodox Churches are members but not the Catholic Church, had, in a decision it had taken in 1983, complained about the “silence of the world community and the deliberate efforts to deny historical facts” in the face of the ”tragic massacre of one-and-half million Armenians in Turkey and the deportation of another half million from this historic homeland at the beginning of this century.” In the following years, the World Council of Churches continued to issue similar declarations. To mark the 90th anniversary of the so-called Armenian genocide, the World Council of Churches issued a statement, saying, “The World Council of Churches has on different occasions addressed the need for public recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the necessity of Turkey to deal with this dark part of its history,” and “… propose to all member churches to make Sunday April 24 a day of memorial of the Armenian Genocide.”54

The US-based Jewish Defense League too has recognized the so-called Armenian genocide allegations.55 The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, another Jewish organization, had recognized the Armenian genocide allegations in 1989. Although both of them are important Jewish organizations, they do not represent the entire Jewish community in the US. There are other Jewish organizations that subscribe to the opposite view and make efforts to ensure that the US Congress would not acknowledge the genocide allegations. Meanwhile, the Israeli Government rejects the Armenian genocide allegations – on the grounds that the Holocaust was a unique kind of phenomenon.

This year, a bill recognizing the Armenian Genocide allegations was passed in Kansas,56 bringing up the number of the American states that accept the genocide allegations to 38. These states are listed in the footnote.57 The American States can take a decision of this kind without engaging in extensive research -- as long as part of the voters seek it and they are not outnumbered by another group of voters who oppose it. The decisions taken by the individual states in the US are not legally binding on the US Administration or the US Congress.


During the period we have studied, certain developments involving the Armenian genocide allegations were observed in a number of countries.

In the US, though President Bush did not use the word “genocide” in his April 24 speech, he did use certain expressions that almost meant the same thing. Meanwhile, a bill envisaging recognition of the “genocide” was presented to the US House of Representatives.

In France, movement that has emerged against Turkish membership to EU, Armenian question to its arguments against Turkish membership. France has announced that it would raise the Armenian issue during the accession talks with Turkey. Furthermore, a bill has been presented to Parliament with the aim of making it a crime in France to negate the Armenian genocide never happened.

The Belgian Senate killed an attempt to expand the scope of a law enacted in 1995 which makes it a crime to deny that the genocide never happened. In its expanded form the law in question would have punished also those who would “deny the Armenian Genocide”.

The German Parliament adopted a resolution accepting the Armenian genocide allegations though the text did not include the word “genocide”.

Detailed information is given below on the developments that took place in four countries.

United States of America

This year, President Bush’s April 24 message gained an extra importance since it was the 90th anniversary of the so-called Armenian genocide. The Armenian lobby had hoped that the President would use the word “genocide” this time because of Washington’s discontent over the anti-American stance and statements of certain Turkish figures. Some 220 Congressmen sent a letter to President Bush, urging him to act in that way. That figure had been 191 last year. There are 550 representatives and 100 senators in the US Congress. Although a record number of representatives and senators have taken the initiative in favor of the Armenians this year, they still accounted for no more than one-third of the total number of representatives and senators. In other words, the Armenian lobby could not rally an adequate number of members of Congress to influence the President this year either.

The President did not use the word “genocide” in his April 24 message this year. Furthermore, unlike last year, the President did not used the word “annihilation”58 in his speech. However, he used expressions such as “the most horrible tragedy”, “mass killings”, and “terrible events” to describe the 1915 incidents. The President used the word “great calamity” in place of “Metz yegern”, an expression used by the Armenians to describe the “genocide”. In short, the President did not use the word “genocide” so as not to offend the Turks and he tried to please to the Armenians by using expressions that connote the word “genocide”. His speech did not draw any comments from the Turkish and Armenian governments.

The Turkish media saw as a favorable development the fact that the President did not use the word “genocide”. The Armenian media was moderately disappointed. However, Aram Hamparian, the Executive Director of the biggest Armenian organization in the US, that is, the Dashnak Armenian National Committee of America, claimed, “This statement is a fresh attempt to help the government of Turkey continue its shameful policy of denying the crime against humanity.”59 Bryan Ardouny, the Executive Director of Armenian Assembly of America, an organization that represents those Armenians that have more moderate views, said that he was “extremely dissatisfied with the President’s characterization of the attempted annihilation of our people” and that the President had used “evasive terminology which only serves to support Turkey’s state-sponsored denial campaign.”60

As in previous years, President Bush praised Armenia in his message, saying, “The US is grateful to Armenia’s contributions to the war on terror and to efforts to build a democratic and peaceful Iraq.” It was not clear how Armenia contributed to the war on terror. Armenia dispatched a team of 46 of doctors and engineers.61 It is not easy to understand how such a small group would contribute to the building of a democratic and peaceful Iraq.

President Bush touched on the scholarly studies regarding Turkish-Armenian problems as well. He said, “I applaud those individuals in Armenia and Turkey who have sought to examine the historical events of the early 20th century with honesty and sensitivity.” It is not clear who these individuals are. The only activity undertaken between Turkey and Armenia regarding historical research was the Turkish-Armenian Platform in Vienne which ceased its activities when the Armenian historians refused to take part in it any longer. The praise coming from President Bush may be a sign indicating that he favors continuation of such activities.

Secondly, President Bush said, “the analysis by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) did not provide the final word, yet marked a significant step toward reconciliation.” The ICTJ is a US-based private organization for legal studies. Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) had asked the ICTJ whether the UN Genocide Convention of 1948 could be applied to the events of 1915. The ICTJ, in a report drafted on the subject, said that the 1948 Convention could not be applied retrospectively and, therefore, there was no legal ground for territorial demands on or compensation from Turkey. However, the ICTJ also volunteered an answer to a question that had not been posed to it. It said that if it had been possible to implement the 1948 Convention retrospectively, the relocation of 1915 would have been classified as genocide. At the end, neither the Turkish nor the Armenian members of the TARC were satisfied with the ICTJ report. The report has almost come to be forgotten by now since a report of a private organization such as the ICTJ would not be binding and, also, because the Reconciliation Commission cessed to exist process of disintegration from then on.

Why did the US President refer to a report prepared by this little-known organization? The first thing that comes to mind is that the US administration may be thinking that the formula mentioned in that report would enable Turkey and Armenia to eliminate their differences. The formula in question was that the 1915 events would be recognized as genocide but no territory or cash compensation would be demanded from Turkey. Although Armenia might accept such a solution, the Armenian Diaspora, dominated by the Dashnaks, would insist on getting compensation and territory. Since Turkey rejects the genocide allegations altogether, this formula does not stand a chance.

Here is another significant aspect of President Bush’s message. The president said, “Prime Minister Erdo�an’s proposal for a joint Turkish-Armenian commission can help advance these processes” of reconciliation between both countries. Prime Minister Erdo�an had called for a commission that would conduct historical research – whereas President Bush did not mention any specific task for the commission, leaving the door open for discussions on all issues. That is more in line with the Armenian position.

On June 14, 2005 a draft Armenian genocide resolution was presented to the House of Representatives by Congressmen Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg, co-chairmen of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues62 and some fifty other members of Congress including George Radanovich and Adam Schiff who have always defended Armenian interests. The resolution was titled, “The Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide”. The authors of the resolution said that the text was quite similar to the draft that had been presented to the Congress in 1999.63 The 1999 draft had been debated at congressional committees but was dropped from the agenda in October 2000 upon the written request of President Bill Clinton.

The new draft resolution, in the section titled “Findings”, lists 30 articles that summarize what the US has done up to now regarding the Armenian “genocide”. That document is too long to be quoted here in detail. It would be enough to mention the contents of the first article to give an idea about the overall draft. Article One states that the “Armenian Genocide” was “committed by the Ottoman Empire” from 1915 to 1923, resulting in the “deportation” of some 2,000,000 Armenians of whom 1,500,000 died and the 500,000 survivors were sent into exile “bringing to an end the over 2,500-year Armenian presence in their historic homeland”. Needless to say that those figures are uncommensurate exaggerations.

The operative part of the Resolution is as follows:
“The House of Representatives

1) Calls upon the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide and the consequences of the failure to realize a just resolution;

2) Calls upon the President in the President's annual message commemorating the Armenian Genocide issued on or about April 24 to accurately characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians as genocide and to recall the proud history of United States intervention in opposition to the Armenian Genocide.”

Does this resolution stand a chance of getting accepted? If President Bush, a Republican himself, did not want it, the Congress, dominated by Republicans, would hardly be prepared to adopt the draft. We think that the stance President Bush will take on this issue will depend on the nature of the Turkish-American relations. In other words, The President would most probably take into consideration the extent to which the US demands from Turkey would be met.


During the local elections and, especially, the European Parliament elections held in France in 2004, it became evident that rightwing and center French political parties were against Turkish membership in the EU. However, President Chirac stated that if the EU Commission report turned out to be favorable for Turkey, the accession talks with Turkey should begin. Although, he added the talks would continue for a very long time and that Turkish membership was not a current issue.

Some 5 million Muslims live in France, most of them Arabs of North African origin. Generally speaking, the Muslim community in France is poorly educated, has a high crime rate and has not been integrated into the French society, causing a certain uneasiness among the French. The Turkish bid for EU membership had drawn no sizeable adverse reaction from the French until the 2004 elections when the French began to put the Turks into the same category as the North African Muslims. In the end, the rightwing and center parties opposed Turkey’s EU membership. Meanwhile, the Socialist Party, in principle, continued to support Turkey’s membership bid but linked it to improvements regarding human rights, democratic practices and the issue of Armenian “genocide”64 Since Turkey rejects the “genocide” allegations, the Socialist Party too should in reality be seen as a party that oppose Turkey’s EU membership.

The French government has supported Turkey’s EU membership in spite of the opposition coming from those political parties which participated to the government. This must be due partly to the stance taken by President Chirac. The President obviously believes that it would be impossible to back off from the decisions taken about Turkey at EU Summit Meetings. However, in France opposition to Turkey’s EU membership has grown to such an extent that on Dec. 13, that is, a few days prior to the European Summit, Foreign Minister Michel Barnier announced that during the accession talks with Turkey, France will ask Turkey to recognize “the tragedy that took place in Turkey at the beginning of the 20th century and affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of Armenians.” He pointed out that for more than 50 years the European integration project has been based on the idea of reconciliation. He cited as an example the French-German reconciliation. He said, “I believe that when the time comes Turkey should come to terms with its past, be reconciled with its own history and recognize this tragedy.”[5] At the EU’s Dec. 17 summit, the French Government first tried to promote the idea that Turkey should be given privileged partner status rather than full membership. When that effort failed, it agreed that the EU should begin membership talks with Turkey – on the condition that these talks should be open-ended. In other words, the talks would not necessarily result in full membership and the EU giving Turkey special status (as opposed to full membership) would continue to be an alternative.

To explain this attitude, the French Government arranged for a general debate at the National Assembly, on December 21 Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Rafarin said Turkey should consolidate its democracy, respect human rights and minority rights “especially with regard to the tragic Armenian and Kurdish questions”, confirm the reconciliation process with Greece and solve the Cyprus issue.66 Later on, when criticized for not having used the word “genocide”, Rafarin said that speaking about the “Armenian genocide of 1915” was not a problem for him; and that actually France had a law regarding the -Armenian “genocide”.67

President Chirac claimed that the French might say “No” to Turkish full membership in the EU in the referendum to be held on this issue if Turkey failed to review its history.68

On the other hand, the French Government in order not jeopardize the referendum on European Constitution, had the French Constitution amended so that referendums can be held on the EU membership bids of newcomers beyond the year 2007, which means that in the future there will be a referendum in France for the Turkey’s adhesion treaty to EU.

In April the Louis Harris Institute conducted a survey69 commissioned by the French Dashnak Party to find out to what extent Turkey’s EU accession process would be affected by the Armenian genocide allegations. According to the survey results, 39 percent of the people were in favor of Turkish accession to the EU while 53 percent were against it. Asked whether a potential Turkish recognition of the “Armenian Genocide” would facilitate the Turkish accession to the EU, 49 percent of those polled said no while 45 percent said yes. Obviously, Turkey’s recognizing or not recognizing the “Armenian Genocide” would have little effect on the French public’s opinion regarding Turkey’s EU membership.

On the other hand, it must be noted that the great majority of the French people believe that Armenians had been subjected to genocide. This belief led the French Parliament to recognize the so-called Armenian Genocide by passing a law to this effect in 2001.70 However, this law did not introduce any sanctions against those who refuse to accept the Armenian genocide allegations. The French Armenians have been trying to elicit from the French National Assembly a new law envisaging punishments for those who say or write in France that the “Armenian genocide” never happened. To this effect, a draft has been presented to the French National Assembly.


Belgium passed a law on March 23, 1995, introducing prison sentences for 8 days to 12 months range and fines ranging from 26 Euro to 5000 Euro for those who deny the genocide or belittle it or try to justify it or praise acts of genocide or crimes against humanity. In its present form the bill could only be applied to the Jewish Holocaust. The Belgium National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament, amended this law on April 21, 2005, expanding its scope; and sent the new version to the Senate for approval.71

According to this proposed new version, events specified as genocide in a decision by the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly or a court in Belgium or any other EU country would be deemed a case of genocide.72 However, it has been realized that even with this amendment the bill would not apply to the Armenian genocide allegations. This is because neither the UN Security Council nor the UN General Assembly nor a court either in Belgium or any other EU member country has ever ruled that the Armenian relocation of 1915 was genocide. This time the Armenian lobby has been mobilized to amend the draft already relayed to the Senate by the lower house of the parliament. According to their proposal for a given event to be deemed genocide it would suffice for the European Parliament to adopt a resolution to this effect or for the parliament of an EU member country to pass a bill to this effect.73 It is public knowledge that in 1987 the European Parliament passed a bill recognizing the so-called Armenian genocide. The French National Assembly did the same thing by passing a bill on January 30, 2001.

However, the Belgian Senate’s Justice Commission, after long deliberations, refused to uphold the amendments to the law on the negation of genocide. During the Senate debates, those who opposed the amendments argued that “determining whether a given act constitutes genocide or not” is not a task for political organizations such as parliaments. This is a task for the judicial authorities, they stressed. This approach is in line with the UN Genocide Convention of 1948.


The political formation that consists of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU) and is called Christian Democrats in short form, played a major role in the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany in the aftermath of the Second World War. Christian Democrats are also the architect of the friendly and close relations built between Turkey and Germany in many areas in the post-war period. Christian Democrat governments provided Turkey with financial and military assistance at that time. It was a succession of Christian Democrat governments that decided to bring in from Turkey the majority of the foreign workers the German economy needed in the sixteesl.

This favorable picture started to change following the disintegration of the Soviet Union and reunification of Germany which resulted to the decreasing of Turkey’s strategic importance. Christian Democrats begun to rise the integration problems of the Turkish migrant workers– an issue they had attached little importance until then. Christian Democrats opposed Turkish membership in the EU but, since they believed weakening the Turkey-EU relations would be hazardous, they put forth the idea that Turkey should be given privileged partners status. The “Privileged Partnership” formula has been promoted by right-wing political parties not only in Germany but in some other EU countries as well, in France especially, but in the end it could not get widespread approval and finally, at the European Summit of December 17, 2004, the EU decided to start full membership talks with Turkey.

Seeing that the privileged partnership formula would not materialize, Christian Democrats started looking for other options that would make difficult Turkey membership to EU. The Armenian genocide allegations was choosed to be the main tool to that end. With the assumption that this would cause Social Democrats a significant loss of votes in the next parliamentary election, they began to accuse Turkey of massacring the Armenians.

It is no secret that the German people, especially those with right-wing tendencies, have been highly upset by the accusations against Germany and the Germans regarding the Holocaust, that is, the Jewish genocide. Their perception of this issue is as follows: If it could be proven that the Germans were not the first nation to commit the crime of genocide that would somehow lessen the Germans’ moral culpability. Therefore, right-wing German parties tend to accuse others of committing genocide. When Christian Democrats decided to blame Turkey, they calculated that they would get popular support especially from these circles.

In line with this strategy, Christian Democrats presented a draft resolution to the German Bundestag on February 23, 2004 on the Armenian question. The draft was debated extensively among the political parties and, after certain alterations were made in it, the text was adopted by the Bundestag on June 16, 2005 without holding a vote. The title of the resolution is, “Commemoration of the Deportation and Massacring of the Armenians in 1915: Germany has to participate in reconciliation of Armenians and Turks.”

The text adopted by the Bundestag is long and it touches on many issues. Some of them, which we deem important, are given below, accompanied by comments:

The resolution passed by the Bundestag does not contain the term “genocide”. However, it has expressions associated with genocide such as “the annihilation of almost all Armenians” and “extermination of Armenians through forceful expulsion”. These expressions indicates that, as a matter of fact, Bundestag has admitted the genocide allegations of the Armenians. It’s probable that Bundestag refrained from using the word “genocide” because of harsh reactions that might draw from the Turks living in Germany.

The resolution states that many Muslims from Turkey live in Germany; therefore it is an important duty for them, through remembrance of history, to contribute toward reconciliation. Such statements have come to mean indirectly that the Turks living in Germany are dutibound to “admit” that the Armenians had been subjected to genocide. But, the Turks in Germany legally has no such duty. These kind of statements are a clear sign of the growing wave of xenophobia in Germany.

The resolution says that the German federal states that make up the federal republic should, by way of education, contribute to the tackling in Germany of the issue of “extermination of Armenians through forced exile”. This means that the Armenian genocide allegations will be included in the curriculum of German schools. When this subject is taught in schools, German students will most probably develop anti-Turkish sentiments while the students of Turkish origin will be burdened with feelings of guilt. Such a sense of guilt might cause some of the Turkish pupils to be alienated from their own national identity. That would create a climate conducive to the “integration” or, say it plainly to the to, Germanization of the students of Turkish origin, an issue to which Germans attach great importance.

The resolution recommends a number of measures, arguing that Turkey should open its border with Armenia. It says that Germany would help normalize the relations between Armenia and Turkey and thus contribute to stability in the Caucasus region. The resolution does not say, on the other hand, why and by whom exactly stability has been disrupted in Southern Caucasus. It was and it is Armenia who undermines stability in the Caucasus by occupying Karabakh and other Azerbaijani territories, by not recognizing Turkey’s current borders, and by seeking political gains via the genocide allegations it directs against Turkey. The fact that the Bundestag did not mention at all to those the Armenian actions proves that its resolution is not an impartial one.

With this resolution Bundestag has asked the Federal Government to make a number of moves some of which are as follows:

The Federal Government must strive to bring about Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, to that and one side would apologize for “the historic crime” and the other side would forgive it. As Turks do not accept the argument that they had committed a crime against the Armenians, therefore, it is out of the question for them to extend an apology. The Armenian question is not a psychological but a political issue based on calculations done for the sake of gaining advantages. Therefore, it could not be resolved merely with one side extending an “apology” and winning “forgiveness”.

The resolution urges the Federal Government to make an effort to ensure that the Turkish Parliament, Turkish Government and Turkish people would ponder without reservations “the role they have played” vis-à-vis the Armenian people in the past and at present. This ambiguous statement implies that Turkey’s Parliament, Government and people have to acknowledge the so-called Armenian genocide.

The content of the Bundestag resolution reflects mainly the Armenian views. This resolution is neither impartial nor fair. Therefore Federal Government cannot be expected to make a positive contribution to the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia.

The resolution the Bundestag backs idea that a historians’ commission should be set up. Thus, in a way, it accepts the proposal made by Prime Minister Erdo�an. However, it argues that international experts too should take part in the commission.

On June 16, 2005 the Turkish Foreign Ministry vigorously condemned the Bundestag move.74 The Ministry said that the resolution resulted from certain considerations involving German domestic politics. It pointed out that the Bundestag has put forth totally groundless arguments. Noting that the resolution made the kind of suggestions that could arouse anti-Turkish sentiments in the German youth, the ministry said that it had duly contacted its German interlocutors, informing them in advance that such a resolution would adversely affect bilateral relations.

The Bundestag resolution will have no legal consequences for Turkey. This is because, according to the principle of national sovereignty, the parliament of a country cannot make a legally binding demand on another country. However, this decision may have political consequences and will probably cause problems in the relations between the two countries

As mentioned above, the Bundestag passed this resolution unanimously. Not a single voice was heard in Bundestag in favor of the Turkish views. This is totally unacceptable considering the very close relations between Turkey and Germany, the presence in Germany of more than three million Turks, and the fact that each year millions of German tourists visit Turkey. Taking into account this hostile resolution and the fact that, Christian Democrats are expected to come to power in the autumn, there would most probably serious crisis in the near future between the two countries.

We belive that Turkey, considering the traditional friendship and special ties with Germany do not exist anymore shoud review its relations with that country in order to place them on new and more realistic foundaditions.

1 Tercüman, February 18, 2005.
2 Hürriyet, February 11, 2005, Fatih Altayl�, “Kara Yazar” [Black (Bad or Shameful) Author].
3 Hürriyet, February 27, 2005 “Ermeniler Kahraman �lan Etti” [Armenians Declare Him To Be A Hero].
4 Milliyet, February 19, 2005.
5 Radikal, March 1, 2005, Murat Yetkin: “Soyk�r�m Için Atak” [Offensive on the Genocide Issue].
6 CNN.com March 8, 2005.
7 Medimax News Agency, March 9, 2005.
8 PanArmenian News, March 24, 2005
9 See the article “Armenian uprising and the Ottomans” in this issue
10 Hürriyet, March 28, 2005, Tufan Türenç “Tek Ki�ilik Ordu: Justin McCarthy” [One-Man Army: Justin McCarthy].
11 Milliyet, March 26, 2005
12 Agos, April 9, 2005.
13 Hye-Tert, May 18, 2005.
14 Hürriyet, May 27, 2005.
15 Armenpress, June 14, 2004
16 Armenpress, June 24, 2004
17 Arminfo, May 26 2004
18 Anatolia News Agency, July 17, 2004.
19 Milliyet, June 26, 2003.
20 Press Statement of Armenian Foreign Ministry, June 29, 2004.
21 Haykakan Zhamanak, July 1, 2004.
22 Hürriyet, June 29, 2004.
23 Armenpress and Azertag, June 28, 2004.
24 armenialiberty, September 29, 2004.
25 Yeni �afak, September 28, 2004.
26 armenialiberty, September 29, 2004.
27 Vatan, January 12, 2005
28 Zaman, January 25, 2005
29 Agence Frence Presse, April 23, 2005.
30 Pan Armenian News, April 15, 2005.
31 RFE/RL, April 18, 2005.
32 NTV, April 21, 2005
33 Asbarez, April 15, 2005
34 Agence France Presse, April 14, 2005
35 AZG Armenian Daily #088, 18/05/2005.
36 Zaman, April 18, 2005.
37 NTV Channel, May 18, 2005.[4] TNA Parliament Bureau, May 19, 2005.
38 Agence France Presse, December 2. 2004.
40 www.mfa.gov.tr/MFA_tr/BasinEnformasyon/Aciklamalar/2004/Aralik/ December 2, 2004.
41 Press Release, Federation of Armenian Organizations in the Netherlands (FAON), 24 April
Committee, December 21, 2004.
42 European Armenian Federation For Justice and Democracy, Press Release, April 21, 2005.
43 http://www.mfa.gov.tr/MFA_tr/BasinEnformasyon/Aciklamalar/2005/Nisan/NO65_
20 Nisan2005.htm
44 cnntürk, 27 Nisan 2005
45 www.armenian-genocide.org/Affirmation.151/current_ca…/affirmation_detail.htm
46 ITAR-TASS News Agency, April 22, 2005.
47 Zaman, April 28, 2004
48 http://www.mfa.gov.tr/MFA_tr/BasinEnformasyon/Aciklamalar/2005/Nisan/NO67_26Nisan
49 http://www.armenian-genocide.org/Affirmation.282.current_ca…/affirmation_detail.htm
50 Oriental Republic of Uruguay, Parliament – Chamber of Representatives, Press Release,
No.2854, May 3, 2005.
51 Asbarez, September 9, 2004.
52 Same source.
53 Yerkir, April 6, 2005.
54 Grassroot News, November 16, 2004.
55 Press Release Catholicosate of Cilicia, February 21, 2005.
56 California Courier Online, March 8, 2005.
57 Armenian Assembly of America Press Release, April 29, 2005.
58 Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.
59 Armenian Studies.
60 RFE/RL, April 25, 2005.
61 Armenian Assembly of America Press Release, April 25, 2005.
62 Caucaz.com, Georgia, January 18, 2005
63 Caucus means a group formed by a number of US Congressmen to promote the interests of a group or a country.
64 For the full text of the draft resolution please refer to: Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Press Release, June 14, 2005.
65CDCA, December 13, 2004.
66 Le Figaro, December 22, 2004.
67 Agence France Presse, December 21, 2004.
68 Sansursuz, December 18, 2004.
69 CDCA, May 13, 2004.
70 Armenian Studies No: 1. pp.10-20.
71 Zaman, May 2005
72 Belgian Assembly Document No: 51 1284/009
73 Fédération Euro-Arménienne, Communiqué de Presse, May 5, 2005
74 http://www.devletim.com/git.asp?id=390

In this issue, the main developments in the relations of Turkey with Armenia between September and December 2003 are handled and the recognition of the So-Called Armenian Genocide in the Swiss parliament is interpreted.


In Armenia, the debates on the normalization of relations with Turkey and opening of the land border, which we have discussed in our previous article,[1] are continuing.

The groups with ultra-right tendencies, first and foremost Dashnaks, claim that national security implications of opening the border with Turkey are not analyzed, that it is not appropriate to develop relations with Turkey without conditions; and that this surprising tolerance of the Armenian authorities leads to Turkish diplomats’ imposing increasingly stricter pre-conditions upon the Armenian side.[2] One of the sources counts among the above-mentioned preconditions the evacuation of Karabagh by Armenia, renouncement of genocide claims and territorial demands, which are also the conditions of Turkey to establishing normal relations with Armenia. On the other hand, Dashnaks demand reparation, land, and recognition of the so-called genocide by Turkey in return for the development of normal relations with Armenia. The Armenian government, aware of the impossibility of agreement with Turkey in case these demands are put forward, defends establishing relations without conditions. Nevertheless, Armenia has not renounced those claims yet officially. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Oskanian, stated that recognition of the so-called genocide is to be dealt with after establishment of diplomatic relations with Turkey.[3]

One of the arguments of the opponents of the opening of the border is that this would be in favour of Turkey instead of Armenia in terms of the political aspects. The pro-H�ntchak media argued that Turkey has always entertained pan-Turanian aspirations to join its Central Asian cousins to build an pan-Turkic empire, and Armenia will contribute to the realization of this objective by opening the border.[4]

The claim that Armenia would prevent Turkey from uniting with Central Asian Turks was an idea proposed to assist the establishment of Great Armenia, which was envisaged during and after the First World War. It is surprising to face this view today, an idea which was not valid even in those years, and this points to the fact that H�ntchaks, who failed in parliamentary elections, are so weakened that they look for help in old fashioned demagogic ideas.

Another view is that Armenia will be a transit country not only for Turkey but also for Azerbaijan and Central Asia in case of the opening up the border. This view is theoretically correct, though it is hollow regarding contemporary realities. The eastern parts of Armenia belong to Azerbaijan, and the conflicts with Armenia should be resolved in order for Azerbaijan to allow for transit passages. For the railways, the conditions are different. Turkey does not have direct railway connections to Georgia or Azerbaijan. The railway goes through Kars to Armenia, and then turns north to Georgia, and south to Azerbaijan. It is connected to the Central Asian countries through Georgia by the Russian railway network. Armenia’s giving permission for transit passages, due to the fact that its land routes declined as transit passageways, reduced the debate of opening Turkish-Armenian border to the railway connection. Nevertheless, Turkey has not demanded to use the Armenian railway, on the contrary, the Kars-Tbilisi railway project, which bypasses Armenia, is placed on the agenda.

The opening of the border became so important in Armenia that the Union of Industrialists and Businessmen of Armenia has arranged a seminar on this issue on September 17, 1987.[5] Some of the views put forward at this seminar are summarized below:

The president of the mentioned union, Arsen Gazaryan, mentioned the closing of the border between two countries ten years ago, and argued that the businessmen in the eastern regions of Turkey demanded opening of the Armenian border from the public authorities. Moreover, Gazaryan repeated the idea that Armenia was a path for Turkey to access the markets of Azerbaijan and Central Asia, and that Turkey was a path for Armenia to access the Russian and European markets. This, in turn, will reduce Armenia’s dependence on Georgia.

The journalist, Tatul Manaseryan also repeated the view that Turkey had much bigger interest in the opening of the border and related this argument to the issue of development in the eastern regions of Turkey. This view is not realistic in view of the limited contribution of limited exports to such a small country like Armenia.[6]

Harutyun Haçatriyan, the vice director of the most prominent news agency of Armenia, Noyan Tapan, had pointed a fact by explaining that the opening of the border will be beneficial to Armenia since it will be a spiritual blow to Azerbaijan.

The Assistant Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Armenia, Samvel Avetisyan, indirectly distanced himself from those who argued that opening of border would be much more beneficial to Turkey by saying that Turkey does not really need Armenia, for the latter is a considerably small market for Turkey’s large economy. Indeed, according to Armenian sources, Turkish exports to Armenia is around 20-25 million dollars.[7] Even this export increases ten times in coming years by the opening of border; its place in the total export volume of Turkey will be less than 1%. Therefore, the contribution of the opening of border to the development of the eastern regions and to Turkey’s material profits is negligible. From this point of view, opening of the border is not important in terms of economy, rather it is important as a step of normalization of the relations between the two countries.


While debates continue in Armenia, there are statements in Turkey affirming the stance of the government.

The new Azerbaijani prime minister, �lham Aliyev has made his first visit to Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo�an arranged a press conference with �lham Aliyev on September 8, 2003, and commented that Turkey is on the side of Azerbaijan whose lands are occupied by Armenia and she is to continue supporting all attempts to resolve the Karabagh problem.[8]

The prime minister stated, as an answer to a question on the opening of the railway between Turkey and Armenia, that the unique credible project was the Kars-Tblisi project though it has been not realized yet, and it does not include Armenia. Furthermore, the prime minister cited that the Kars-Tblisi Railway Project aims at accessing the Turkish republics.[9] Thus, the prime minister has excluded Armenia from the plan of connecting Turkey by railway to the Caucasus and then to the Turkish republics. On the other hand, according to Armenian sources, the prime minister has explained to the Turkish Armenian Patriarch Mesrop Mutafyan at their meeting on September 25, 2003 that although Turkey is resolving the conflicts with her neighbors and establishing good relations, the border will not be opened and good relations cannot be established as Armenia does not recognize the border of Turkey. He also mentioned that the dramatic historical events should be left to the historians.[10]

The Armenian authorities preferred to give a soft response to the statement of Turkish prime minister. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Oskanyan, as an answer to a question, stated that the arguments that Turkish-Armenian border will be opened in the short term is exaggerated, that he has never had great expectations on this issue, and that the issue will be made clear at the meeting with the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs.[11] The official spokesman of President Koçaryan, A�ot Koçaryan, explained that the president is in favor of opening of the border, which is expected to happen after a long time, and doubts that Ankara will agree to reciprocate soon.[12]

The Tashnaks, afraid of being out of the agenda and rapprochement between the two countries, utilized the statements of the Prime Minister Erdo�an as a means to criticize Turkey and the Armenians who are in favor of opening the border.

Gegam Manukyan, member of the Higher Committee of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, stated that Turkey’s intolerant policy towards Armenia was well-known, and that the majority of Armenians has always known that the ongoing isolation of Armenia will, in fact, continue and that Ankara will maintain its biased position, and that the Turkish government was not ready to listen to the demands of the international community, and that it was not ready to work in the spirit of cooperation and tolerance. He added that Turkey will continue to violate human rights and international norms by constantly denying Armenian Genocide and blockading Armenia.[13] Manukyan also stated that the statement of Erdo�an should be a wake-up call for those Armenian officials who call for the immediate opening of the border, urging Gymri railway to be repaired and become ready for operation, and the border which was closed by Ankara to be reopened. It is clear that he referred to the Minister of Transportation, Andranik Manukyan, who explained that all preparations for the railway are completed and that Armenia was ready to start transportation with Turkey.[14]

As it is clear from this point, the Tashnaks are in conflict with other members of the government also on the opening of the border. Their uncompromising behaviors might result in their leaving the government in case the border is opened. The fact that Makaryan Government has the majority even without the Tashnaks can make this easier.

In contrast to the radical stance of Tashnaks, the statements of the Defense Minister Serj Serkisyan, who is known to be close to Koçaryan, that Armenia and Turkey would open the border in a few months, and there are prerequisities to think so show that Koçaryan and his group really desire opening of the border.[15]


The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the two countries made their traditional speeches at the gatherings of the United Nations General Assembly. They also took the advantage of them and arranged bilateral talks.

Vartan Oskanyan especially concentrated his speech at the General Assembly on September 25 around an answer to �lham Aliyev’s speech criticizing Armenia on the same forum; and he skipped the relations with Turkey. However, towards the end of his speech, he spoke about the so-called Armenian Genocide as: ‘On another matter, important for us and for all humanity, Armenia continues to engage countries and governments around the world to recognize and condemn the first Genocide of the 20th century. The survivors of the Genocide and their descendants are helping build a democratic Armenia, committed to a future, without forgetting the past.[16] Judging by his entire speech, this issue is out of the topic. This makes us think that the Armenian minister has mentioned this issue in order to avoid criticisms especially from the Tashnaks since he has always mentioned this issue in his UN General Assembly speech every year.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gül referred only to the Karabagh problem about Armenia in his speech, and said: 'Turkey expects Armenia to fully comply with the relevant U.N. resolutions in order to find a prompt and just solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The peaceful settlement of this conflict will positively contribute to the normalization of the Turkish-Armenian relations and also to regional cooperation.[17]
While the Turkish side did not speak about the meeting of the two ministers on September 25, Vartan Oskanyan made numerous statements about it; and he said that Armenia and Turkey have taken a further step towards normalizing their strained relations, there is no practical positive results to report at this point; and that they are on the right track in terms of registering progress in the bilateral relations.[18] He also continued commenting on this issue after he returned to his country; and he said that there are signals from Turkey that it is willing for a positive shift in its relations with Armenia, and his impression is that this issue is no longer occupies much space in Turks’ mind and is not strictly tied for normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations as it was in the past.[19] Oskanyan argued that the country economic programmes were not linked to the problem and the Armenian economy has already adapted to the blockade.[20] According to the Tashnak media Oskanyan has also said that Turkey did not demand that Turkish territorial integrity be recognized anymore.[21]

The attempts to belittle the border issue by arguing that it will not effect economy much although the attempts of Armenia to open the border is so clear, the statements neglecting the closeness in the relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan that Turkey is not interested in the Karabagh problem, the illogical claim that Turkey does not demand Armenian recognition of its territorial makes us think that Oskanyan speaks to satisfy the expectations of the Armenian public opinion.

While the Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs pretends not to credit the border with Turkey, the depression began with the pressures on President Shewardnadze in Georgia brought the border issue back on the agenda.

The land connection of Armenia to Russia and then to Europe is still through Georgia. The first issue in the minds of the Armenian authorities when the events in Georgia broke out is the transit transportation through this country. President Koçaryan mentioned that stability in Georgia might be helpful to avoid the possible negative consequences, particularly, the possible problems with the transit cargo transportation through Georgia,[22] The Minister of Foreign Affairs Vartanyan also mentioned his happiness since no problem has occurred in goods turnover.[23] Minister of Transportation, Andranik Manukyan, at a speech in the parliament, expressed that the transportation though Georgia and the route to Georgia was not effected from the recent developments, but he did not know its future. Manukyan added that 90% of Armenian trade is conducted through Batum and Poti ports of Georgia.[24] Galust Saakyan from the Republican Party drew attentions to the risk created by the situation in Georgia by saying that the Armenian leadership should think about this issue and try to find alternative routes for the country's economic development. Saakyan thinks that the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border has become pressing in these circumstances.[25] Thus, the developments in Georgia once more revealed that opening of the border with Turkey is a priority for Armenia.


In these three months, there are two statements explaining the attitude of turkey towards Armenia in principle.

The first statement belongs to the President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and in his speech in the opening of the Turkish Grand National Assembly on the internal and external problems of Turkey, the president said about the relations with Armenia:‘In accordance with its willingness to develop good relations with all its neighbours, Turkey wants to normalize her relations with Armenia. However, the realization of this goal requires that Armenia pursues a foreign policy that is consistent with the principles of good neighbourliness and international law, exerts serious effort to resolve problems with its neighbours and opts for a final choice of making peace with its past and leaving the judgment of history to historians. Should Armenia display political will in this direction, Turkey would not remain unresponsive. Such a positive development would also contribute in a concrete manner to the stability and welfare of the Southern Caucasus.’[26]

The second statements has taken place in the speech on November 3, 2003 in the presentation of 2004 Fiscal Year Draft Budget to the Turkish Grand National Assembly Planning and Budget Commission. The related part of this speech is as follows: Turkey wants to normalize her relations with Armenia and improve collobration in the context of neighbourly relations. The achievement of this target depends on Armenia’s acting in accordance with the codes of international law, making her final choice on behalf of peace with her history and showing great will in order to resolve her conflicts with her neighbours. On the condition that she clearly states that she adopted such an approach, Turkey will respond and that will make important contributions to the welfare and stability of Southern Caucasia.[27]

As it is clear from the statements above, the speeches of the president and the minister of foreign affairs share the same attitude towards Armenia. They can be summarized as follows:

The first principle is that Armenia should comply with the codes of international law. When we apply this to the Turkish-Armenian relations, since the borders of Turkey are demarcated by international treaties, it is in contradiction to the international law that Armenia declared Eastern Anatolia as Western Armenia in its Constitutional Declaration; and in this context, it is clear that Armenia cannot demand land or reparation from Turkey. Similarly, Armenia’s occupation of Karabagh, which is legally Azerbaijani territory, is also in contradiction to law. On the other hand, acceptation of every possible change in the status of Karabagh by Azerbaijan is also a requirement of international law.

The second principle is that Armenia should attempt to resolve her conflicts with her neighbours in correspondence with the principles of international law. If Armenia’s policies towards Azerbaijan and Turkey are analysed, it is understood that the main target is not to resolve the problems, but to take advantage of them. For example, Armenia tries to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey, at least to open the border without renouncing her claims for territory and reparation and without resolving the Karabagh conflict. On the other side, she tries to normalize relations with Azerbaijan and lift the embargo without withdrawing from Karabagh and other Azerbaijani territory.

The third principle is that Armenia should leave the history to the historians. She has to make a final choice in the direction of peace with her past, and stop seeing the historical problems as contemporary issues. In contrast to this principle, Armenia applies to policy of imposing 1915 Relocation, which is known as emigration too, as genocide to the international society. This policy aims to provide pressure on Turkey by accusing with genocide and trying to set the grounds for territorial and reparation demands. There has been almost a century after the Events of 1915. After these events during the First World War, a new political regime has been established, Turkish Republic has taken place in this framework and her borders are demarcated with the international treaties. Thus, no conflict related to those days can be valid today. If such a revisionist idea is proposed, previous problems and demands will refresh in the Balkans, Middle East and the Caucasus; in other words, the existing international system might be questioned. The events of those years became history; and analyze and judgment of them belong to historians.

According to the texts mentioned above, if Armenia complies with the mentioned principles, it is clear that Turkey will normalize the relations with Armenia in correspondence with her ‘willingness to develop good relations with all its neighbours’, that’s the land border will be opened and diplomatic relations will be established.


The ministers of foreign affairs of the two countries met in Brussels on December 5, 2003 in the framework of Euro Atlantic Association Council. According to Anadolu Agency’s news report on this issue[28] the two ministers discussed the recent situation in Georgia, stability issues in the Caucasus, improving relations with NATO and Europe, and providing more substance to the activities related to the Partnership for Peace.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah Gül, stated that Ankara supported the efforts to resolve the problems that existed between Azerbaijan and Armenia and that the time was ripe for taking the necessary steps towards confidence building measures. He added that Turkey was ready to contribute to these efforts and to undertake the role of a catalyst. Gül spoke of the same issues to the Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs Guliev.

In this news report, there is no information about the crucial issue of what the ministers discussed regarding the relations between Turkey and Armenia. The Turkish side did not issue a statement probably due to the deliberative nature of the process and the lack of solid results. Nevertheless, the Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Oskanian, during his statement to the press, focused on bilateral relations and pointed out that the Brussels meeting was qualitatively different from the two previous meetings and that the parties were closer to taking the first steps in the relationship between Turkey and Armenia. He added that although it was to soon to make clear statements, the first positive result, though small in nature, regarding the Turkish-Armenian border would be achieved in a few months time.[29]

According to the minister, there is a possibility of opening up the Turkish-Armenian border in the coming months. The reasons of why the border is not opened are not explained because there are expectations for the incoming months. These developments might be related to the Karabagh Problem judging by the fact that the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents accepted to start negotiation after a break of one and a half years. In this context, Turkey might open the border in order to encourage Armenia if the parties make progress in the resolving of the Karabagh Conflict. Such a progress may create a positive atmosphere for the other problems between the two countries.


The Swiss parliament recognized the so-called Armenian Genocide on December 16, 2003 by a decision with 107 votes for, 67 votes against and 11 votes abstaining.[30]

A decision recognizing the so-called Armenian Genocide was tried to pass at the parliament by the Armenian minority, which has influence in Switzerland regardless of their number, with the help of separatist Kurdish groups and contributions of some politicians for some time. The Swiss governments had refused such a decision as they take into account the bilateral relations with Turkey. The attempts in 1995 and 2000 were fruitless; the vote on December 13, 2001 was refused only with 3 against votes. A proposal for the recognition of the so-called Armenian Genocide and notification of Turkey about it, which was prepared by 115 of 201 parliamentarians, was not voted due to the government’s expression of negative opinion[31]. However, it was clear that such a decision would be realized sooner or later since almost half of the parliament is in favour of it.
Meanwhile, the Geneva Canton had recognized the so-called Armenian Genocide on December 10, 2001. The Vaux Canton adopted a similar decision on September 23, 2003; and this decision is commented as having symbolic importance in some of the Armenian media since the treaty dismembering Armenia had been signed in that city[32]

The Swiss Minister of Foreign Affairs, Micheline Calmy-Rey was to make an official visit to Turkey on October 6, and she was to visit ‘The Kurdish Regions’ other than �stanbul and Ankara according to the Swiss media.[33] However, Ankara cancelled the visit making out the decision of Vaux Canton.[34]
While the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs tried not to exaggerate the cancellation of the visit,[35] the media argued that Turkey has disregarded and even insulted to Switzerland;[36] thus, an anti-Turkish atmosphere is created in the public opinion.
Then, news that M�T (National Intelligence Service) informed Swiss intelligence about Minister of Foreign Affairs Calmy-Rey’s meeting with a high level authorized PKK member, and thus President Couchepin demanded explanation from her[37] resulted in the claims that Turkey spied in Switzerland.[38] The Federal Crown Authorities initiated investigation.[39] As a result, the Federal Prosecutor V. Roschacher declared that there is no evidence that a member of the federal government and a Swiss citizen with Kurdish origin is exposed to spy activity.[40] However, this did not change the anti-Turkish atmosphere.
In these conditions, a decision recognizing the so-called Armenian Genocide in the Swiss Parliament, where half of the members supported the Armenian view, is not surprising.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a declaration about the decision of the Swiss parliament and stated that the decision is censured and renounced sharply, the events should not be distorted and presented as genocide on behalf of a single party, it is surprising to see that they try to mislead the public opinion; and the Swiss government has gone into heavy burden in terms of the negative consequences of this decision taken by neglecting the relations between Turkey and Switzerland; and the emotions and ideas of the Turks living in the country.[41]

The mentioned decision, seemingly soft, has two risks:

The first one of the risks, which is also expressed by the Union of Switzerland and Armenia,[42] that any act claiming that 1915 Expedition and Relocation might require punishment. A case submitted to the court by the Armenians against the Turkish associations, which claimed that the events do not mean genocide, had been refused previously since the parliament did not have such a decision then[43] Such a case is not likely to be refused anymore. Thus, the decision of the Swiss parliament is not only unfair, but also against the right to free thought and expression

The second risk is that this decision might be prejudication to other countries. The decisions recognizing the claim of Armenian Genocide taken in the recent years in Italy and France did not influence the bilateral relations in spite of the sharp Turkish protests. In case, Switzerland also does not face problems in her relations with Turkey, it might lead other countries to recognize the Armenian genocide claims.

[1] Ermeni Ara�t�rmalar�, Vol 3, No. 10, p. 17.
[2] Armenian Policies must be based on principles of Armenian-centrism, Yerk�r, September 5, 2003.
[3] Ermeni Ara�t�rmalar�, Vol 3, No. 10, p. 15.
[4] Turkish Embargo of Armenia, Armenian Mirror Spectator, September 3, 2003.
[5] Takings and Losses of Open Border, Economists present their outlooks, Azg, September 19, 2003.
[6] See Sedat Laçiner, ‘Türkiye-Ermenistan �li�kilerinde S�n�r Kaps� Sorunu ve Ekonomik Boyutu’, Ermeni Ara�t�rmalar�, No. 6, pp.35-65.
[7] Ermeni Ara�t�rmalar�, No. 11, p. 18, footnote 32.
[8] Hürriyetim, September 8, 2003.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Yerk�r quoting Marmara, September 29, 2003.
[11] Asbarez, September 16, 2003.
[12] RFE/RL, September 23, 2003.
[13] Asbarez, September 9, 2003.
[14] Panarmenian, September 7, 2003.
[15] Golos Armenii and Hürriyet.
[17] Anatolian Agency, September 26, 2003.
[18] RFE/RL, September 26, 2003.
[19] Azg Daily, October 7, 2003.
[20] Medimax News Agency, October 6, 2003.
[21] Asbarez , October 6, 2003.
[22] Medimax News Agency, November 24, 2003.
[23] Azg Daily, 425 Kas�m 2003
[24] Armenpress, 4 Aral�k 2003 ve RFE/RL 3 Aral�k 2003
[25] Noyan Tapan, 1 Aral�k 2003
[26] www.cankaya.gov.tr/tr_html/KONUSMALAR/01.10.2003-349.html
[27] Booklet.
[28] Anadolu Agency, December 5, 2003.
[29] Medimax News Agency, December 6, 2003.
[30] Hürriyet and Vatan, December 17, 2003.
[31] See, Ermeni Ara�t�rmalar�, No. 3, pp.13-17; No. 4, p. 19; No. 5, pp. 17-19.
[32] Yerkir, September 24, 2003.
[33] Neue Zürcher Zeitung, September 30, 2003.
[34] Sabah, October 2, 2003.
[35] Neue Zürcher Zeitung, October 1, 2001 (Swiss play down Turkish Rebuff), SwissInfo, October 1, 2003.(La Diplomatie suisse adopte un profile bas)
[36] Neue Zurcher Zeitung, September 30, 2003 (Turkey snubs Calmy-Rey), Swissinfo, October 1, 2003 (Turkey snubs Swiss, Swiss protest about Turkey snub after Armenian genocide decision), Agence France Presse, October 1, 2003 (Turkish Cancellation of swiss trip an “affont”)
[37] Hürriyet, October 25, 2003.
[38] Swiss�nfo, October 26, 2003 (Swiss investigate alleged case of Turkish espionage, Micheline Calmy-Rey et les espions turcs, Micheline Calmy-Rey espionnée par les services turcs), Agence France
Presse, October 26, 2003 (Turks spied on Swiss foreign minister over Kurd link)
[39]Neue Zürcher Zeitung, October 27, 2003 (Swiss investigate alleged case of Turkish espionage)
[40] Agence France Presse, October 31, 2003.
[41] www.mfa.gov.tr (Press Releases, No. 214, December 16, 2003)
[42]Association Switzerland-Armenia, Bern, Press Release,, December 16, 2003.
[43] Ermeni Ara�t�rmalar�, No. 4.

The major events that took place in the summer of 2003 in Armenia, the Armenian Diaspora and Turkish-Armenian relations can be summarized as follows:

1- Parliamentary Elections and the New Armenian Government

Parliamentary elections in Armenia were held on May 25, 2003 and none of the political parties won a majority.

Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party of Armenia won 32 of the 131 available seats, and thus, ranked as the first party.

The second party was the Country of Law that had been established in 1998 and is known to be closely affiliated with President Kocharian. A Western source has stated that this party benefits from the vast financial aid of a Western country, and, that the leader of the party, Arthur Baghdasarian, does not conceal his ambition of becoming president.[1]

The alliance that the relatives and political supporters of Karen Demirchian and Vazgen Sarkasian (Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister, respectively, in 1999, and both were killed in Parliament during an attack on October 27 of the same year) had formed against President Kocharian during the presidential elections was operational during the parliamentary elections as well. This alliance formed the ‘Justice Block’ and took part in the elections. Despite its being the major opposition movement in the country, the Justice Block obtained even less votes than the Republican and Country of Law parties. The Block maintains that this failure must be attributed to the election fraud.

The historic Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaks), known for its ultra nationalist and chauvinistic ideas, ranked fourth in the elections. This party was banned in Armenia during the presidency of Ter Petrosian, but was allowed again on the political arena after it started supporting Kocharian in the 1998 presidential elections.

The Republican Party and the Country of Law Party, both of which supported President Kocharian, were successful in the elections, but it is difficult to explain the relative failure of the Dashnaks despite the significant financial support of the Diaspora. It is possible that some of the voters did not look favorably upon the Dashnak attitude on the ‘genocide’ question, that is, of no immediate relevance, their extremist stance on the Karabakh issue and their rather passive position on other topics of internal politics.

The falsifications and irregularities[2] witnessed during the presidential elections were also seen during parliamentary elections. It appears that voting in the place of other electors and box stuffing were particularly common.[3] Due to the economic hardship in Armenia, approximately one million of her citizens have migrated to the other countries, especially to Russia. It is known that many of these people who have left the country are still listed on the voters’ registry. One source[4] claims that the total of such persons, who were listed but who no longer live in Armenia, make up 30 % of the electorate and that many persons have voted in their place.

As in the presidential elections, the parliamentary elections were also followed by a large number of foreign observers. Two observer missions were particularly important. The first was an international mission led by the Parliamentary Assemblies of the OSCE and the Council of Europe as well as by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The American Bob Barry headed this mission. The other one was the delegation of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which had witnessed the presidential elections and was once again headed by the Russian Yuri Yarov.

In the long and detailed report that the OSCE/ODIHR published[5] following the elections, it was stated that the preliminary results indicated that, compared with the presidential balloting in March, the parliamentary elections did represent an improvement in terms of the freedom of campaigning and the freedom of press; while it fell short of international norms in the field of democratic election standards.

On the other hand, the Head of the Commonwealth of Independent States Observer Mission, Yuri Yarov, stated that the elections met the requirements of Armenian election law and that they were transparent and democratic. He also added that there had been some irregularities but that these were not of a proportion that would change the outcome of the elections.[6]

The differences of opinion of the two missions for the presidential elections surfaced again regarding parliamentary elections. In fact, this difference reflects two different conceptions. While the Western countries see free and fair elections as a precondition of democracy, some of the former Soviet block countries tend to consider elections as more of a formality.

Armenia faces serious problems with Azerbaijan and Turkey due to the Karabakh conflict and her allegations of genocide. On the other hand, Armenia, which has excellent relations with Russia, tries to be in very good terms with the European states and the USA. Therefore, foreign policy should be of a particular significance for that country. Despite this, foreign policy issues commanded little space in the election programs of the parties; and vague terms devoid of real content were used. In line with this trend, little space was devoted to the relations with Turkey.

Only the two historic parties, Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (Ramgavar), used the ‘genocide’ issue for election campaign; while other parties almost did not mention this subject. This fact proves that the people of Armenia, unlike the Armenians of the Diaspora, do not see the ‘genocide’ as a main concern.

The Constitution of Armenia came into force in 1995 during the era of Ter Petrosian. This Constitution drew great criticism because of the vast powers it gave to the President of State. With the support of President Kocharian, a new draft was prepared. This draft, which amended 80% of the existing 114 articles, was ratified by the Parliament. A referendum concerning the constitutional amendments was held simultaneously with the parliamentary elections, but, as the necessary percentage of approval was not obtained, the amendments were rejected.[7]

The rejection of amendments was first and foremost a failure for President Kocharian. However, this gives the president an opportunity to claim that he is working for democratic conditions to be established in the country. Had the referendum yielded a ‘yes’ vote, it would have meant a slight curtailing of the powers of the president, yet as things stand today, the president continues to enjoy vast powers including dissolving parliament; and appointing as well as ousting the prime minister.

After the elections the Republican Party of Prime Minister Andranik Makarian, the County of Law Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation set up a coalition government in which the Republican Party holds 7 ministerial seats as well as the seat of the prime minister; and the County of Law and Armenian Revolutionary Federation hold three ministerial seats each. President Kocharian became the de facto fourth partner of the coalition by personally appointing the ministers of defense, foreign affairs and justice.

The 34-year-old leader of the Country of Law Party, Arthur Baghdasarian, was elected as the speaker of parliament; and his two deputies were elected from the ARF and the Republican Party.

The program read out by Prime Minister Markarian on June 19 in Parliament basically proposed to improve education, health and social services in the next four years, and to fight poverty. It is stated that the annual increase of GNP in the country must be no less than 6 % for this to be realized. Since Armenia’s GNP increased by 12,9 % last year, this objective can be realized. Upon the insistence of the ARF, an addition was made to the program in which it was stated that corruption, which had hampered the development of the country for so long, would be fought.[8]

In the program, there was no reference to the policies of the state on foreign policy, human rights and the Karabakh conflict. While delivering the program, Prime Minister Markarian only stated that Karabakh cannot be a part of Azerbaijan, adding that there must be a common border between Armenia and Karabakh; and that Karabakh must have the right to self-determination.[9]

It is obvious that the government left the determination of foreign, defense and justice policies to the president. In practice, however, this de facto leads to the existence of two kinds of government in Armenia: one is responsible from the foreign, defense and justice policies; and a second one isaccountable for the rest. On the other hand, it is possible that the government did not include the policies left to the President into it’s program because it wished to stress that the government is not responsible from those matters.

2- Turkish – Armenian Relations

Armenian official circles, that hoped that Turkey would resume diplomatic relations with Armenia and/or open her borders after the Turkish AKP (Justice and Development Party) came to power, was disillusioned by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo�an’s statements when he visited Azerbaijan in January 2003.[10]

The Armenians once again became optimistic when it was reported that the Turkish Foreign Minister said in Antalya in May 2003: ‘if Armenia is ready to recognize the territorial integrity of Turkey and to renounce its territorial claims, Ankara is ready to be friends with Yerevan’.[11] Answering the questions of journalists on May 25, Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian repeated the desire of Armenia to start negotiations with Turkey without preconditions and that it was a positive development that Abdullah Gül had not tied the issue to the Karabakh issue. Oskanian added, ‘if that is the official policy of Turkey, it must be welcomed. I believe that through this the path to the normalization of our relations will be opened’. Oskanian also praised the incumbent Turkish authorities for introducing positive changes in their foreign policy, which in turn ‘has changed the overall situation in the region’. He expressed hope for a meeting to take place between the two countries’ foreign ministers soon where a more detailed discussion of this announcement could be held.[12]

In recent years, the foreign ministers of the two countries had been meeting quite frequently. Yet, the elections held both in Turkey and Armenia halted these contacts. The NATO Ministerial Meeting and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in early June 2003 brought the two foreign ministers together in Madrid. According to the press statement of the Armenian Foreign Ministry ‘they discussed regional issues, the Nagorno Karabakh resolution process, as well as bilateral matters. The ministers agreed that improved relations between the two countries would have a positive effect on the regional stability and security. Ministers Oskanian and Gül found this first get-acquainted session valuable for promoting dialogue, and they agreed to meet again’.[13]

The positive atmosphere created by the Madrid meeting caused the Dashnaks to clarify their policy. ARF Supreme Body Representative Armen Rustamian made the following statement in response to a question of a journalist: ‘Turkey must first observe neutrality on the Karabakh issue; second it must recognize the Armenian genocide. If these two conditions are satisfied, only then will it be possible to think about developing truly normal relations with Turkey’.[14] It’s noteworthy that while the Dashnaks are introducing preconditions, for years, the Armenian Foreign Ministry has insistently stated that there are no preconditions attached to developing relations or starting diplomatic relations with Turkey. Since the Dashnaks are a coalition partner there seems to be a dormant disagreement within the government concerning the relations with Turkey.

On the other hand, Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanian, in reference to the meeting in Madrid, stated that the Turkish Government’s stance on Armenia had undergone substantial changes, adding that the Turkish regime was inclined to normalizing relations with Armenia. He also said that the dialogue between the two states would continue, and that even with small steps, a positive change in bilateral relations would definitely be achieved. He added that the resolution of this issue was one of the conditions for the membership of Turkey to the European Union (EU).[15]

The Copenhagen Criteria, which stipulate the conditions for Turkish membership to the EU, do not mention relations with Armenia. Yet, the European Parliament has tried to create a linkage to the Copenhagen Criteria by adding to its most recent resolution[16] concerning Turkish accession to the Union the following sentence: ‘Of course the resolution of the Cyprus question and the normalization of relations with Armenia also form part of the fulfillment of the Copenhagen Criteria.’ Yet, the final and binding position on this issue is that of the European Commission which conducts the accession negotiations.

In its aforementioned resolution, the European Parliament called also on the Turkish authorities to promote good neighborly relations with Armenia and stated that first steps in this direction could be the resumption of diplomatic relations and the opening of borders.

As to the ‘genocide’ issue, a proposal aiming at the addition of an article to the resolution that would require Turkey to recognize the ‘Armenian genocide’ was rejected, and instead, only a reference to previous resolutions on this matter was made.

As can be seen, this resolution of the European Parliament supports Armenian views. This has caused Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanian to claim that the normalization of the relations between the two countries is a pre-requisite for the accession of Turkey to the EU.

In the same speech, Oskanian also said that the USA was insistent on the resolution of the conflict between the two countries. It has been known for a long time that the USA, with the aim of achieving peace and stability in the Caucasus, has been trying to bring about normalization in Turkish-Armenian relations. It is also known that the USA has been trying to bring closer the representatives of civil society organizations through initiatives such as the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission and through the meetings of the journalists and women’s associations of both sides.

In a letter[17] of the American State Department addressed to some congressmen, who represent Armenian interests, it was stated that during the visit of Foreign Minister Gül to Washington on July 24, Foreign Secretary Powell raised with him the need for reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, and that the two ministers specifically addressed the opening of the land border. The said letter summarizes American policy on this issue as follows: ‘Progress on Turkish-Armenian reconciliation is a top priority for us and we will continue to press the issue with the highest levels of the Turkish and Armenian governments at every opportunity’.

On the other hand it is obvious that Turkey has become under pressure due to the possibility of a resolution being passed in American Congress that would also refer to the alleged Armenian genocide.

The successful meeting between the two foreign ministers in Madrid, the most recent pro-Armenian resolution of the European Parliament, the insistence of the USA on reconciliation between the two states, and the draft resolutions in Congress led to an impression that there would soon be positive developments in Turkish-Armenian relations. There was speculation in the press of both countries that Turkey would soon open the border with Armenia; and that Prime Minister Erdo�an would make a formal statement on this matter in his visit to Kars at the end of June.[18]

However, Prime Minister Erdo�an did not mention the opening of borders in his Kars speech on June 27; and stated that the normalization of relations would come about only after the Armenian side gave up its allegations of genocide.[19] During an appearance on television Foreign Minister Gül said; ‘there is no border gate (between the two countries) at the moment but why shouldn’t there be one in the future?’ He pointed out that Turkey wanted good neighborly relations with Armenia and went on to say ‘There is nothing to be ashamed of in our history’.[20]

Thereby it became clear that, despite the pressure from the USA and the European Parliament, Turkey did not intend to fully normalize her relations with Armenia until the latter changed her attitude towards Turkey, for example, retracted her allegations of genocide.

Reacting to Erdo�an’s attitude, some of the Armenian press pointed out that, although Turkish Prime Minister had not chosen to normalize relations with Armenia, he had also not mentioned the resolution of the Karabakh conflict as a precondition and that this in itself was a positive sign.[21]

As relations with Turkey became a topic of discussion in Armenia, Foreign Minister Oskanian gave an interview on Armenian state television on July 2. In summary, Oskanian said that Turkey was paying more attention to bilateral relations today while previously the focus was on Karabakh. He stressed that the two sides expressed the intention of normalizing bilateral relations step by step, adding that border trade and the opening of the railway lines were possible without establishing diplomatic relations. Oskanian also said that Armenia never used the recognition of the genocide as a condition for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, however, they had told the Turkish side that recognition of the genocide will remain on the agenda of Armenian foreign policy. He stated that they would take up the genocide issue after establishing diplomatic relations with Turkey.[22]

Regarding the proposal of Turkey that a trilateral meeting to be held between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia; Oskanian said that the purpose of such a meeting may not be the discussion of the Karabakh problem, and that Turkey cannot be the mediator in the search for a settlement. He added that the main subjects of the agenda must be regional cooperation, bilateral relations and the settlement of the Karabakh conflict within the framework of these issues.

The most important aspect of the statements of the Armenian foreign minister is that Turkey no longer regards the Karabakh problem as a factor in her relations with Armenia. On the other hand, although Oskanian does not say it openly, it is clear that Turkey wishes to continue her involvement in the Karabakh problem through the trilateral meeting mentioned above. It is also understood that the two sides wish to develop their relations step by step (by allowing border trade or opening the railway line) and to establish diplomatic relations at the end of this process. Finally, Armenia will not bring up the issue of the genocide until it has set up normal relations with Turkey.

As to the Prime Minister Erdo�an’s statement in Kars, the first reaction came from the Dashnaks who made the following statement: ‘The AFR has on numerous occasions announced that it supports the establishment of normal relations between Armenia and Turkey, but that this can only come about when Turkey accepts the historical truth. The Armenian-Turkish dialogue can bear results only when Turkey accepts the fact of the Armenian genocide, which is not an object of negotiation. No Armenia-Turkey or Armenian-Turkish dialogue has any future prospect as long as Turkey continues to take sides on the question of Artsakh/Karabakh and does not lift its blockade of Armenia.’[23]

President Kocharian’s press spokesman Ashot Kocharian stated that Armenia wished to normalize her relations with Turkey without any pre-conditions and added that this would allow both sides to take up a number of issues, including the most sensitive ones. As mentioned above, Foreign Minister Oskanian said that Armenia had never used the recognition of genocide as a condition for the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. On another occasion, he made very clear the policy of the government when he said ‘no matter if Turkey recognizes the genocide or not, Armenia is ready to establish diplomatic relations with that country’.[24] All these statements contradicted with Dashaks’ pre-conditions.

Arthur Baghdasarian, who is the leader of the junior partner party in the coalition and was also elected as the Speaker of Parliament, proposed that a Turkish-Armenian parliamentary commission is set up so as to develop bilateral relations.[25] The Deputy of the Dashnak Party criticized Baghdasarian describing his proposed step as incorrect reminding him that there are no diplomatic ties between Turkey and Armenia.[26]

These discussions regarding Turkey quickly turned into a debate in the Armenian public opinion with the focus being on whether or not Armenia would benefit from the opening of the border with Turkey.

Although Deputy Trade Minister Tigran Davtiyan said that there would be an increase of 1 billion dollars in local production if the border with Turkey were to be opened,[27] the Dashnaks claimed that the opening of the border would be a matter of national security; those that would be harmed by the opening of the border would outnumber those that would benefit from it and that cheap Turkish goods of inferior quality would harm production in Armenia.[28]

The Dashnaks also opposed to the connection of the railway lines of the two states in case the border is opened. The Dashnak Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Vahan Hovanisian, stated that the opening of the border would be profitable for Armenia only in case of transit, when along with the railway with Turkey, the railway with Azerbaijan and Abkahzia are opened, too. He also said that Armenia would become an appendage of the Eastern Turkish market, otherwise.[29]

It is clear that the Dashnak objection to the opening of the border is based on political reasons than economic ones. The economic excuse, that the Armenian market will be flooded by Turkish goods if the border is opened, is in fact not a probability since Turkish businessmen are already trading with Armenia via Georgia.[30] It would be normal that Turkish exports would increase somewhat if the border is opened, but it should be expected that the Armenian exports to Turkey would increase as well. In addition to this, experience shows that restricting imports with the fear of being swamped by cheap imports only promotes smuggling.

The true concern of the Dashnaks is that development of trade may lead to the improvement of political relations. Since the philosophy of this party is based on opposing Turkey in every field, they perceive any improvement in Turkish-Armenian relations as a threat to their existence, and, therefore, attempt to prevent it.

Although Foreign Minister Oskanian stated that the opening of borders would not have a negative impact on the Armenian economy,[31] it can be seen that the government circles in Yerevan are starting to have doubts on this subject.

The member of the coalition partner Republican Party and Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Tigran Torosyan, stated that his party was not in favor of opening the border with Turkey, but did support the initiation of dialogue without preconditions, adding that the opening of the border should not mean uncontrolled trade.[32]

The Armenian Minister of Trade and Economic Development, Karen Cheshmaritian, said that there was no in-depth analysis of the consequences of opening the border with Turkey, that while opening the railway one should bear in mind both the capacity of Armenia increasing its exports and the potential opportunities of Turkish imports; also stressing that another question to consider would be how comfortable an environment Armenia would be for Turkish investors. The minister pointed out that the World Trade Organization (WTO) norms were not valid in their relations with Turkey, saying. ‘When we entered the WTO, Turkey said that it would apply Article 13 in the charter of this organization. This means that the principles of the WTO in trade between Turkey and Armenia are not valid. Thus, both Turkey and Armenia can apply with regard to each other any trade regime that is deemed necessary by the two governments.’[33]

Obviously, the members of the Armenian government, under the influence of the Dashnaks, are already looking for ways of limiting trade with Turkey even before any decision has been taken to open the borders. On the other hand, the issue being important, some political parties have requested the Turkish-Armenian relations to be discussed in the Parliament.

3. The Diaspora and Turkey

The Director General of the Department of Intelligence and Research of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ecvet Tezcan, traveled to the USA in early June to hold talks with the leading organizations of the Diaspora. The aim of the visit was to inform these organizations of the views of Turkey and to learn their opinions at a time when efforts to normalize Turkish-Armenian bilateral relations were intensified.

The visit of Ambassador Tezcan caused concern in the Dashnaks. The Dashnak organization Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) published a press release and asked the other Armenian organizations to remain vigilant against such Turkish initiatives.[34] The President of ANCA, Kenneth V. Hachikian, said: ‘We stand in principle that the very existence of such meetings in the absence of full acknowledgement and acceptance of responsibility for the Armenian genocide will only serve the Turkish Government’s campaign to deny the Armenian genocide. We believe that it would be a very serious mistake to accept the invitation to meet this senior Turkish official’, thereby trying to prevent Armenian organizations from meeting with Ambassador Tezcan.

The Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), which is the second largest Armenian organization in the USA, stated that they would meet with Ambassador Tezcan only if the Armenian ‘genocide’, Turkish-Armenian relations, the Karabakh peace process, and treatment of the Armenian minority in Turkey would be discussed as well.[35] When told that this would be possible, representatives of the AAA met with Ambassador Tezcan; and with a press statement they made public the content of the meeting.[36] According to this statement, the representatives of the AAA told Ambassador Tezcan that the Diaspora is united in its insistence that Turkey should deal with the Armenian ‘genocide’, establish normal relations with Armenia that are not dictated by the Azerbaijani position on Karabakh, and end its restrictions and pressures on Armenian communal life in Turkey.

The historic Ramgavar Party (Armenian Liberal Democratic Party) met with Ambassador Tezcan without preconditions. According to an article published in the media of the party,[37] the Ramgavar delegation told Tezcan that the important issues between Turkey and Armenia could be resolved through continuous contacts and negotiations. They also took up the issues of the Armenian ‘genocide’, the Turkish embargo on Armenia, the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict, the plight of the Armenian population in Turkey and the condition of architectural monuments in historic Armenia, which they say is part of Turkey today. After expressing his views on these issues, Ambassador Tezcan said that instead of hearing these assessments from third parties, as had been the case in the past 80 years, he had decided to hear them directly from the Armenians of the Diaspora. He added that as long as Armenians keep the right perspective and they do not entertain illusions, these discussions may constitute concrete steps towards more substantial changes in the relations of Turkey and Armenia.

Ambassador Tezcan also traveled to the west coast of the USA where he met with representatives of the Armenian Benevolent Union (AGBU) and the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America. Like their counterparts on the east coast, during these meetings, the Armenian side dwelled upon issues such as genocide, the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia, and the Armenian minority in Turkey.[38]

Ambassador Tezcan also met with other representatives of Armenian organizations in both the east and west coasts, however, the names of these organizations were not made public.

Armenian organizations made press statements about these contacts, and the Diaspora media –especially that of the Dashnaks- covered these contacts in detail. The aim of the Dashnak media was to prevent the other organizations from having meetings with Ambassador Tezcan, and to use this opportunity to make public their hardliner views once again. The other Armenian organizations, on the other hand, tried to deflect criticism of the Dashnaks by making public that during their meetings with Tezcan they had taken up issues on which all Armenians would agree such as the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, ‘genocide’, and the Armenian minority in Turkey.

The contacts of Ambassador Tezcan once again displayed the deep split between the Dashnaks and the other Armenian organizations. The Dashnaks demanded that Turkey must first recognize the genocide and accept its responsibility (in other words give land to Armenians and pay them compensation) in order to meet with the Turkish representative. The other Armenian organizations did not make such demands and only brought up the issue of the ‘genocide’ during the meeting with Ambassador Tezcan. Since there was no mention of it in their declarations, they did not bring up territorial claims or demand compensation. This was more in line with the attitude of the Armenian government, which contrary to the Dashnaks, favored the initiation of dialogue without preconditions.

4. The ‘Genocide’ Draft Resolution in the U.S. Congress

A draft resolution aiming at commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the UN Convention on Genocide by the USA had been submitted to the American House of the Representatives in 2002. The draft also intended to reaffirm U.S. support for the Convention. A paragraph of the resolution reads ‘the enactment of the Genocide Convention Implementation Act marked a principled stand by the United States against the crime of genocide and an important step toward ensuring that the lessons of the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and elsewhere will be used to help prevent future genocides’. This wording meant indirect recognition by the House of Representatives of the alleged Armenian genocide.

This draft (H.Res.183) was re-introduced again to The House of Representatives in early 2003. Due to the unfavorable atmosphere in the USA concerning Turkey’s attitude regarding the American operation in Iraq, the draft was quickly passed in the Judiciary Committee and become ready for final voting. However, the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, did not have the draft voted yet.

This draft was submitted to the Senate (S. Res 184) and was supported by 30 Senators out of 100. But, also here, the draft was not yet voted.

On the other hand, there was a new attempt in the Senate to make an addition to the draft budget of the U.S. State Department in which indirect recognition of the alleged genocide was intended. The Senate went into recess before this attempt could be finalized.[39]

One of the reasons for the above mentioned drafts’ not being voted is the objections of the Jewish lobby. The American Jews were disturbed by the Armenian attempt to usurp a topic that basically concerned the Jewish people. The American Jewish Committee sent a letter to Congress stressing that the genocide issue should not be attached to the draft budget of the State Department and called for the reference to the Armenian ‘genocide’ to be removed.[40]

Sources in Washington reported that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage had personally contacted senators asking them not to vote in favor of the draft resolution.[41] The departing U.S. Ambassador in Ankara, Robert Pearson, confirmed the intervention of Cheney.[42] Turkish Prime Minister Erdo�an said that he had spoken three times to Vice President Dick Cheney who was sincere and kept his promise. Erdo�an noted that the resolution did not come onto agenda thanks to the efforts of Cheney.[43]
It would be normal to assume that the U.S. officials had intervened to offset the very negative impact on Turkish society of the mistreatment by U.S. forces of 11 Turkish soldiers whom they detained in the Northern Iraqi city of Sulaymania on July 4. It appears that a resolution on the ‘genocide’ was halted because it would have led to very serious tensions as an event immediately following the detention of the Turkish soldiers by the U.S. troops. Yet it should also be remembered that these drafts remain on the agenda of both the House and Senate and that they will be easily voted if the U.S. Government would not have any objection.

[1] David Petrosyan, ‘Parliamentary Elections Preliminary Results and First Impressions’, The Noyan Tapan Highlights, No. 21, June 2003.
[2] Review of Armenian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp.19-20.
[3] Noyan Tapan, May 27, 2003.
[4] Agence France Presse, May 25, 2003.
[5] OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission - Parliamentary Elections, Republic of Armenia, May 25, 2003, Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions, Yerevan, May 26, 2003.
[6] ArmenPress, May 26, 2003.
[7] ArmenPress, May 28, 2003.
[8] RFE/RL, June 19, 2003, and ArmenPress, June 20, 2003.
[9] Haykakan Jamanak, June 20, 2003.
[10] Review of Armenian Studies, No. 3, p. 22.
[11] Arminfo, May 21, 2003.
[12] ArmenPress, May 25, 2003.
[13] Press Release, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, June 4, 2003.
[14] Asbarez, June 12, 2003.
[15] Arminfo, June 12, 2003.
[16] This report, known as the Oostlander Report in reference to its author and the attached resolution was passed on June 5, 2003 with 216 in favor, 75 opposing and 38 abstention votes.
[17] ANCA Press Release, August 5, 2003.
[18] Radikal, June 25, 2003; Azg, June 27, 2003.
[19] Azg in reference to the TRT on June 29, 2003.
[20] Anadolu News Agency, June 29, 2003.
[21] Armenialiberty, July 1, 2003; RFE/RL, July 30, 2003.
[22] Public Television of Armenia, July 2, 2003 in Ann Groong, July 4, 2003.
[23] Asbarez, June 30, 2003.
[24] Haykakan Jamanak, July 11, 2003.
[25] Hürriyet and A1 web, July 11, 2003.
[26] Mediamax, July 14, 2003.
[27] Panarmenian, July 2, 2003.
[28] Yerkir, July 11, 2003.
[29] Armenia Now, July 29, 2003.
[30] Golos Armenii (August 13, 2003) states that Turkish exports to Armenia are worth 25-30 million Dollars, while Armenian exports are worth approximately 10 million Dollars. [31] Golos Armenii, July 19, 2003.
[32] Interfax, July 30, 2003.
[33] Golos Armenii, August 13, 2003.
[34] ANCA Press Release, June 6, 2003.
[35] AAA Press Release, June 6, 2003.
[36] AAA Press Release, June 12, 2003.
[37] Mirror On Line, June 15, 2003.
[38] AAA, AGBU , Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, Press Release, June 18, 2003.
[39] Nethaber, May 28, 2003
[40] Hürriyet, July 11, 2003
[41] Sabah, July 11, 2003
[42] Turkish Daily News, July 12, 2003
[43] Anadolu News Agency, July 13, 2003


The year 2002 witnessed frequent meetings between the foreign ministers of Turkey and Armenia. The foreign ministers saw the international organizations’ meetings as an opportunity to hold bilateral talks in Reykjavik[1] in May, in Istanbul in June[2] and in New York in September. During these meetings, Turkey focused on finding a solution to the issue of Karabagh conflict while the Armenian side concentrated on the question of establishing diplomatic relations with Turkey and of opening the borders. Although no progress was made in these meetings, the Armenian side in particular stated on numerous occasions that they favored the continuation of these talks. However, the general election in Turkey and the presidential election in Armenia have led to the meetings of the foreign ministers to be ceased.

Throughout the year 2002, the Armenian foreign minister stated on numerous occasions that Armenia was ready without preconditions to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey. There are many reasons for Turkey has yet to establish her diplomatic relations with Armenia and of her closure of borders to the latter. Some of the important ones are the Armenian occupation of Karabagh and other Azerbaijani territories; the Armenian unjust allegations of genocide directed against Turkey; and the reluctance of Armenia to officially recognize the territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of Turkey. If the unconditional diplomatic relations are to be established between the two countries Armenia has to show its good intention by acting towards the solution of these problems. Because of this background, the exchange of diplomatic relations with Armenia and opening of the borders are against the interests of Turkey.

The year 2002 stands as, unlike 2000 and 2001 and despite the efforts of the Armenian militants, no foreign parliaments passed a resolution to recognize the alleged genocide claims. In this context, the efforts made in the parliaments of Sweden[3] and Switzerland[4] were materialized. Though initially the Canadian Senate did pass a resolution on this subject[5], later it was not enacted because the necessary vote was not secured in the in the House of Commons. Also, no draft resolution on the alleged Armenian genocide was presented to the US Congress although an attempt was made to include this matter in a resolution on the Jewish Holocaust.[6]

On February 28, 2002 the European Parliament, in a report on the Caucasus, restated that the alleged genocide was recognized by the Parliament and made a request from Turkey to lift the blockade on Armenia. This sparked great protests in Turkey. The political parties in the Turkish Grand National Assembly published a statement on the same day stating that the European Parliament was intentionally distorting the historical facts.[7]

The Forum of Armenian Associations in Europe which works in order to further Armenian views in the organs of the European Union, commissioned by Tessa Hofmann, who is well-known for her continuous pro-Armenian stance, to prepare a report on Turkey’s Armenians. The report entitled as “Armenians in Turkey Today: A Critical Assessment of the Situation of the Armenians in Turkey Today”. It was published in late 2002 and contained numerous errors regarding the position of the Armenians in Turkey. The Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul published a statement protesting the report.[8]

The most significant vehicle for Armenian propaganda in 2002 was the movie of “Ararat” directed by Atom Egoyan. The themes of the movie were based on the many historical falsifications and distortions, and it contained many scenes of violence. Due to its confused and complicated storyline, this movie failed to attract audience even in the countries with an Armenian population. A book published by the Institute for Armenian Research displayed the propaganda aspects and historical inaccuracies of this movie.[9]

Although Presidents Aliyev and Kocharian privately met several times, no progress has been made on the Karabagh issue. The Minsk Group that had been formed by the OSCE to specifically address this conflict was practically not active in 2002. The French, American and Russian co-chairs of this group visited both Azerbaijan and Armenia, but they failed to produce new proposals. This fact leads one to question the value of the co-chairs’ activities and of the Minsk Group they represent. It must be borne in mind that the failure to find a solution serves the interests of Armenia that has already occupied Karabagh and considers it as an Armenian land. New measures are needed to be put on the Karabagh problem which is currently at a deadlock. If the problem is to be solved within the OSCE system, a new negotiating mechanism which will sustain the balance between Azerbaijan and Armenia must be created. If the creation of such system was not possible, then the issue must be taken to the United Nations whose priory mission is to solve the conflicts. The presence of Muslim states in this body will give Azerbaijan such needed balance.

It seems that there is tacit agreement between the parties to postpone the solution of the Karabagh conflict until the end of the presidential and parliamentary elections in Armenia and presidential election in Azerbaijan. However, it must be borne in mind that as the integration of Karabagh with Armenia rapidly progresses, each day that goes by is in the interest of Armenia and against the interest of Azerbaijan.

Regarding the study of the Armenian question in Turkey, the year 2002 contained a number of important activities. The Turkish Congress of Research on Armenian Studies was held in April. Over 130 scholars and writers who presented 115 papers on a wide range of topics concerning the various aspects of the Armenian question attended the Congress. The Congress was the largest one organized in Turkey until this date. Taking into consideration the number of papers presented, the congress is likely to be the largest congress on this topic in the world. The Institute for the Armenian Research will publish the papers of the Congress in 2003.

The Institute for the Armenian Research has been publishing the bilingual quarterly “Ermeni Arast�rmalar�” (Armenian Studies) since May 2001. As a result of an increase in the number of English articles in this quarterly and in order to reach to the non-Turkish readers as well, the Institute began to publish by the end of 2002 a quarterly in English titled as “Review of Armenian Studies”.

Samuel A. Weems, a former District Attorney and judge from Arkansas, published in mid-2002 a highly praised book entitled as “Armenia, Secrets of a ‘Christian’ Terrorist State”. After publishing the first volume of “The Armenian Great Deception Series”, Mr. Weems unfortunately died on January 24, 2003. May he rest in peace.


The presidential election in Armenia was held on February 19, 2003. As none of the candidates was able to secure the necessary vote to be elected, the run-off was held on March 5, 2003 and Robert Kocharian was re-elected as President for a five-year term.

The Election Campaign

Although the 16 opposition parties had declared that they would agree on a single candidate[10] they were unable to do so. The main reason for this is the fact that there is no single prominent politician in Armenia which all parties can agree on. Although it was believed that the former President Ter Petrosian could have played a unifying role, the opposition did not support him either.[11] Shortly before the election, some parties decided to support the leader of the Peoples Party, Stephan Demirchian. However, finally, 9 candidates including Kocharian declared their candidacy.

On the other hand, the candidature of Kocharian was widely supported by many quarters. That includes the Prime Minister (from Republican Party) and Andranik Markarian as well as by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (the Dashnak Party), the Land of Rule of Law Party and a dozen of other small parties and political organizations.[12]

President Kocharian gave a series of promises during his election campaign. The most significant of these was to create 30-40 thousand new jobs in the country every year. Other promises included were the construction of new roads and houses for the refugees, increasing the supply of gas to the Soviet regime era’s level, reinstating continuous water supply to houses and raising the water level of the drying Lake Sevan by 60 cm.[13] Kocharian also promised that if elected, he would stop the migration of Armenians and ensure the return of those already were in abroad.[14]

A remarkable development during the election was the refusal of the candidature of the first Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia Raffi Hovhannisisian on the grounds that he was not a citizen of Armenia. Armenian law requires that, to be eligible for the presidency, candidates must have held citizenship for at least 10 years and be resident in Armenia for the same duration.

This brings to the agenda the citizenship of Kocharian himself who was born in Karabagh. Kocharian was at the head of the Karabagh State Defense Council during 1992-1994 period.. He became the president of the so called Republic of Karabagh during 1994-1997. As he was holding official positions in Karabagh during 1992-1997 term, it is physically impossible for him to have resided in Armenia. However the claim of some candidates that Kocharian is not an Armenian citizen, was refused by the courts[15].

Some acts of violence were witnessed during the election. Unknown assassins killed the President of the Armenian Public Television and Radio Council Tigran Naghdalian on December 27, 2002. It has been claimed that this killing was linked to the murder of eight persons who were attacked in the Armenian Parliament on October 27, 1999. Naghdalian was one of the prime witnesses of this attack.

Alex Harutiunian who was appointed as the Chairman of the Armenian Public Television and Radio Council after Naghdalian was arrested as an accomplice of the murders in Parliament’s attack. He was later released due to lack of evidence. Harutiunian was the Chief of Cabinet to Kocharian when he was arrested.[16]

The second act of violence during the presidential election was the stabbing of the parliamentarian Hayk Babukhanian on February 4, 2003 while he was attending a rally for the presidential candidate Aram Karpetian.[17]

Unfortunately the Armenian political life has a tradition of violence. From 1998 (Kocharian was elected President at that time) to the current time, we can list the following acts of violence: the slaying of Chief Prosecutor General Henrik Khachatarian in 1998; the murder of eight persons including the Speaker Demircian and Prime Minister Sarkasian in 1999 in Parliament; the killing of the Prime Ministerial Aide Gagik Poghosian in 2001; the wounding of the well known journalist Mark Grigorian; and as mentioned above, the murder of Tigran Naghdalian in 2002. Furthermore, the year 2003 started with the stabbing of Babukhanian. The reason for the unabated continuation of these attacks is the fact that none of the assassins have been caught.[18]

The central theme of the harsh criticism carried out by the media during the presidential election was the unlawful actions conducted by the supporters of President Kocharian. Based on the news from the Armenian media, these can be listed as follows: State television widely broadcasted in favor of President Kocharian while paying little attention to the other candidates;[19] misinformation was given about the other candidates;[20] while the posters of Kocharian were to be seen on the walls of many buildings, including the official ones the other candidates faced difficulties in showing up their own posters,[21] and sometimes these were torn off[22]; the propaganda headquarters of President Kocharian was in a government building[23]; soldiers participated in the election campaign in favor of President Kocharian. Also, their other actions: school children were taken to Kocharian’s election campaigns[24]; the Minister of Justice David Harutiuian held conferences with teachers and parents forcing them to vote for Kocharian[25]; only Kocharian’s TV advertisements were shown during prime time; the electricity, gas and water bills of some persons were paid in return for their promise of vote for Kocharian.[26]

Defense Minister Serge Sargisan’s management of President Kocharian’s election campaign without resigning from his official duties led observers to believe that Kocharian was willing to make use of Government means and facilities during his campaign. Some even claimed that Sargsian had ordered the security forces to ensure that Kocharian was re-elected[27].

Foreign Policy issues in the Election Campaign

Foreign policy issues were barely touched upon during the election campaign. It’s a fact that the large number of poor people in Armenia is longing for the days of the Soviet regime when a form of stability had been established. 13.7 percent of respondents in a poll stated that they wished to see Armenia joining the Russia-Belarus Union while 6.3 percent expressed the desire for Armenia to become a part of the Russian Federation itself. A majority of the population, as large as 53.6 percent, believed that the close relations with the Russian Federation must be preserved.[28] One source claimed that it was this extraordinary standing of Russia in Armenia that led Kocharian to visit Moscow for no apparent reason on 16-18 January.[29] Kocharian most probably intended to prove that relations with Moscow are perfect and thus ensure the votes of those Armenians favoring Russia.

Besides the very clear pro-Russian stance, Armenia wishes to be in good relations also with the USA and Europe as well. As Armenia is in need of support from all these nations it has dubbed this policy as “equilibrium”. Foreign Minister Oskanian stated in an interview that this is one of the most successful pillars around which their foreign policy was built.[30] He also added that departure from this policy would have negative repercussions. It is worth noting that Armenia does not consider either Turkey or Azerbaijan, neither even Georgia as an element in its balance policy.

On the other hand, in the same interview the Armenian Foreign Minister stated that if he were to be elected, Kocharian would be ready to knock on the European Union’s door to begin membership negotiations in 2008, which would be the final year of Kocharian’s second term. However the fraud and irregularities witnessed during the presidential election prove that European Union membership is not so close.

The Karabagh Issue in the Election Campaign

The Karabagh issue was also not taken up much during the election campaign. The main reason for this is the general approval by the public opinion of the hard line policy adopted by Kocharian towards the issue. However, even if it was nothing more than a rumor, the possibility that the Megri area may be given to Azerbaijan in the framework of a settlement was enough to attract criticism. Indirectly referring to Megri, Kocharian’s election program also states that[31] an “exchange of territory” with Azerbaijan is unacceptable. The program also states that Karabagh must have safe borders, which have a geographical connection with Armenia. In other words, while Kocharian wishes to see Karabagh connected to Armenia via the Lachin corridor, he refuses a corridor through Megri that connects Nahchivan to Azerbaijan.

During the visit to Moscow mentioned above, Kocharian stated in a conference on January 16, 2003 that the Karabagh events of 1991-1992 proved that it was not possible for Armenians to live in Azerbaijan, and added “we are talking about some sort of ethnic incompatibility”. This statement attracted strong protests.[32]. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Walter Schwimmer, made a comment that this expression of hate was amounted to war mongering and ran counter to the principles of ethnic tolerance and diversity. He also made the following statement: “Europe to which Armenia and Azerbaijan belong, begins with the acceptance of European diversity-be it ethnic, cultural, religious or linguistic.[33]

Relations with Turkey in the Election Campaign

Since the public opinion generally accepts Kocharian’s hard-line policy towards Turkey, this issue has not been dwelled upon much during the election campaign.

The leader of the pro-Russian National Unity Party Gegemian criticized the Kocharian Government because Turkey would be participating in NATO military exercises which will be held in Armenia next summer and made a demagogic as well as historically inaccurate statement by saying ”after 1915, a Turkish soldier will set foot on Armenian soil for the first time in 2003. [34]

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation said they had decided to support Kocharian because he is “raising national issues in the international arena with dignity.” This refers surely to Armenian diplomacy starting to make accusations of alleged genocide against Turkey in some international organizations after Kocharian assumed power[35] Viken A. Hovsepian, a member of the Dashnak Party, said in a statement that it must be remembered that Kocharian for the first time in Armenian history requested from the United Nations to recognize the genocide and that this constituted a major break with the previous regime of Ter Petrosian who had made continuous efforts to avoid talking about the so-called “genocide” issue.[36] In conformity with Dashnak demand, Kocharian in his election program[37] unwisely reiterated that he would work for the international recognition of the “genocide”.

Results of the First Round

After the first round of the election, Robert Kocharian obtained 49.48 percent of the votes while Stepan Demirchian received only 28.22 percent.

Participation in the election remained as low as 62 percent However, this percentage should be considered to be normal for Armenia since it was 60 percent in the previous presidential election.

Developments Between the Two Rounds

When the voting started on February 19, 2003 some voters were unable to find their names on the voters’ registration lists and they went to the courts asking for their right of voting to be restored. The number of these persons exceeded ten thousand.[38]

Opposition parties complained about ballot box stuffing in favor of President Kocharian. In addition to this, a significant number of the election observers from the opposition were arrested. Nevertheless, the Central Election Commission reported to have received very few written complaints.[39]

The presidential election was monitored by a total of approximately 470 foreign observers some of which were members of international organizations. Yuri Yarov who headed the observer mission of the Commonwealth of Independent States stated that there was no proof of the violations that the opposition was claiming[40]. Yarov also said that the presidential election was being conducted in a free, fair, transparent, democratic and legitimate fashion[41].

In the Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions[42] issued by the International Election Mission which was jointly established by the OSCE and Council of Europe it was stated that “the 19 February 2003 presidential election in the Republic of Armenia was generally calm and well administered, but the counting process was flawed and the long-term election process fell short of international standards in several key aspects”. It was also said that the election had been marred by intimidation and a serious instance of violence, that there was evidence of manipulations, that public resources were heavily used in support of the incumbent President and that public TV failed to provide balanced and unbiased broadcast on candidates.

Supporters of the opposition parties staged large rallies to protest the outcome of the first round of the election. In response to this, President Kocharian said in an official statement that the authorities would vigorously respond to any action aimed at disrupting public order.[43] The Ministry of Defense issued a statement in which it was stressed that the opposition’s actions broke the internal stability of Armenia and jeopardized the country’s constitutional order. The same statement reminded that Armenia was still living in conditions of temporary armistice.[44]

In the meantime, some participants of the unauthorized rallies were arrested. According to the Speaker of the Ministry of Justice, Ara Saghatalian, 150 persons had been arrested by February 27, 2003.

There were concerns that the Armenian presidential election was being conducted in an atmosphere of violence. Peter Schieder, the Chairman of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe stated on February 26th that he was seriously concerned about the shortcomings and irregularities of the election adding that if Armenia wants to live in accordance with the democratic obligations as a member country of the Council of Europe, such irregularities should not be reproduced during the second round. Schieder also demanded the public order to be maintained without resorting to disproportionate means and all persons arrested to be released immediately.[45]

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and the OSCE Chairman in Office, raised his concerns about the election and requested the arrested persons to be released. He called upon the Armenian authorities to respect the OSCE Copenhagen Document of 1990 on election. This document demands that election campaigns be conducted in a free and fair atmosphere and that neither administrative action, and violence nor intimidation prevents parties and the candidates from freely presenting their views.[46]

An important development between the two rounds of the election was the participation of Kocharian and Demirchian in a TV debate on March 3, 2003. In the debate during which a number of issues were taken up, Kocharian followed a tactic in which he showed his own knowledge of state affairs and sought to portray his rival as an inexperienced politician lacking in-depth knowledge in the same field. Demirchian, on the other hand talked about Kocharian’s involvement in corruptions, frauds and scandals and stated that “what I lack is an experience of involvement in illegalities and intrigues”.

During the debate, a journalist asked Kocharian and Demirchian the probability of improving the relations with Turkey and the possible cost of doing so. In his answer Demirchian said that the improvement of ties would not be at the expense of national values and he believed that ties with regional countries and neighbors in the future must be improved. On the issue of the alleged genocide Demirchian stated that this is a national issue. Kocharian on the other hand stressed that none of the candidates including Demirchian had any word related to the genocide issue in their election programs.[47]

The importance of this televised debate for the Turkish-Armenian relations is that none of the candidates with the exception of Kocharian made use of the alleged genocide claims during their election programs. This development, in principle, may show that in the era after Kocharian, Turkish-Armenian relations may be constructed upon more realistic foundations.

Before the second round of voting, Walter Schwimmer, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Lord Russell Johnston, the Head of the Consultative Assembly Observer Mission and Peter Eicher, the Head of the OSCE Observer Mission demanded fair and free election in Armenia.

Results of the Presidential Election

There were no serious acts of violence during the second round of voting on March 5, 2003. According to the results declared by the Central Election Commission the following day, Kocharian received 67.5 % and Demirchian 32.5% of the total votes.

The Armenian press and news agencies published numerous reports claiming that many irregularities had occurred during the second round of voting as well. The most important allegations were in relation to ballot-box stuffing in favor of President Kocharian. According to one of the reports 600.000 fake ballots baring the name of Kocharian had been printed.[48] The second allegation was that significant number of observers belonging to the opposition had been arrested, thus preventing them from objecting to the vote count. Besides these allegations, the pro-Kocharian broadcasts of the state TV must also be mentioned.

The Council of Europe issued a statement[49] immediately after the second round of voting stressing that the second round marked by serious irregularities adding that the overall election process had fallen short of international standards.

Yuri Yarov who headed the observer mission of the Commonwealth of Independent States said that there had been no irregularities after the second tour and that the election had been well organized[50]. The contradictions between Yarov’s statement and the views of the other observers can be explained with the Russian desire to contribute to the election of Kocharian. In this context, it is safe to assume that Vladimir Putin’s congratulation of Kocharian as the first foreign statesman is a result of Russian attempt to give legitimacy to the election.

However, the reaction to the election by the USA, which usually supports Armenia in every field, has been quite harsh. Richard Boucher, the Speaker of the State Department, agreed with the international observers’ conclusion that presidential run-off fell short of international standards. He stated that the leadership of Armenia missed an important opportunity to advance democratization by holding a credible election and added that “we call on the government to get on the road to building a democratic Armenia, beginning with a full and transparent investigation of election irregularities, accountability for those responsible, and other steps to restore public confidence.”[51]

One may ask the possible impacts of the above-mentioned statements of fraud in the election? As Lord Russell Johnston has said personally, the Council of Europe (and OSCE) has no powers to apply sanctions to any country in the case of undemocratic elections.[52] Also it must be remembered that according to international law no country or organization has such powers. A report regarding this election will be prepared and submitted to the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Armenians will most probably refuse any criticism that will be directed at them during the deliberations and will try to defend themselves by sheltering behind the report of the Observer Mission of the Commonwealth of Independent States which claims that no irregularities occurred during the election. In this context, it should be remembered that fraud took place also in the 1998 during the Armenian presidential election and that reports were prepared on that occasion too and all of these were later forgotten.

Although his election is questionable, it is clear that Robert Kocharian will be leading Armenia during the next 5 years. It is hoped that in this lengthy period of time Kocharian will implement the much needed domestic reforms. In the sphere of foreign policy he must heed Armenian interests and resolve the Karabagh problem with Azerbaijan. It is also hoped that to normalize the relations with Turkey he will adopt a realistic policy and abandon allegations of genocide, and recognize the territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of Turkey. This will open the gate to an era of peace and cooperation in the southern Caucasus.


There were Armenian press reports in the second half of December 2002 stating that the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ya�ar Yak�� had said that in spite of Azerbaijan’s dissatisfaction, Ankara might improve relations with Armenia.[53] When asked questions on this statement, Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Oskanian welcomed the intention of Turkey to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia. He added that Armenia was ready for cooperation without any preconditions[54] and that establishing diplomatic relations with Armenia and lifting the embargo would make the perspective of Turkish membership to the European Union (EU) more real.[55] Another source claims that Oskanian said, “I hardly believe that the EU will admit Turkey having no diplomatic relations with Armenia.[56]

According to an Armenian news agency[57] in the same days the Deputy Secretary of State of the USA Marc Grossman stated: “I call on the Turkish government to continue efforts on Armenian-Turkish reconciliation as well as to individual steps being taken to that end so as Turkey and Armenia can advance on the way of accord and joint economic development”. This led to the opinion that soon there would be developments in Turkish-Armenian relations.

This situation created serious concerns in Azerbaijan. The speaker of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Metin Mirza declared that these were a part of the lies of the Armenian press and stressed that Ankara had stated on numerous occasions that it would not cooperate with Armenia in any field until the Azerbaijani territories under occupation were liberated and the Karabagh conflict settled.[58].

The leader of the of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Tayyip Erdo�an visited Azerbaijan on January 7, 2003 and he and those with him made statements that clarified the policies of the new Turkish government regarding Armenia and the Karabagh conflict, thus allaying certain fears in Azerbaijan.

It is possible to summarize Erdo�an’s relevant statements while in Azerbaijan as follows: In the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, the new Turkish Government will continue to support the rightful policy of Azerbaijan.[59] Turkey will not develop relations with Armenia before the resolution of the Karabagh conflict.[60] Turkey supports the idea of direct talks between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia with the aim of finding a solution.[61] Turkey also supports the efforts of the Minsk Group[62] however she is concerned by the ineffectiveness of this Group. [63]. A trilateral dialogue between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey may have a positive impact on the solution of the Karabagh conflict.[64]

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ya�ar Yak��, who accompanied Erdo�an on his visit to Azerbaijan said that Armenia must evacuate the territories of Azerbaijan, and that Armenia was the only country that did not recognize the borders of the former USSR, and the borders of Turkey which had been established in 1921. He also drew attention to the fact that eastern Anatolia was called west Armenia by Yerevan, adding that the article of the Armenian constitution regarding the alleged genocide must be removed.[65]. He also said that Turkey would open her border with Armenia if Azerbaijan gives its consent.[66]

The above statements indicate that the new Turkish government will follow the same basic policies as the previous Turkish governments did. In other words, it is understood that no diplomatic relations will be established with Armenia unless the border opened as long as it does not resolve her problems with Azerbaijan, such as Karabagh. Relations also will not be established as long as Armenia fails to recognize the territorial integrity of Turkey and continues its false allegations of genocide.

The clarification of Turkish policy led to disillusionment in Armenia. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Oskanian organized a press conference where he stated that the AKP government had initially sounded ready to reconsider the Armenian policy followed by previous Turkish cabinets and that signals testifying to this had been received but that Erdo�an’s statements in Baku had cast a shadow over those hopes, adding however that they wished direct contacts which had been initiated in the Ecevit era to be resumed with no pre-conditions attached.[67]

About a week later, on January 16, 2003 while visiting Russia, President Kocharian touched upon this matter during a speech at the Moscow Academy of Foreign Affairs. After saying that Turkey continued to blockade Armenia and that there were no diplomatic relations between the two states, he said that bilateral relations should not be tied with the resolution of the Karabagh conflict, and that Turkey had nothing to do with the conflict and that relations should not be burdened with Azerbaijani-Armenian problems. He also said that Turkish-Armenian cooperation would be beneficial for both countries and the region as a whole and that they had expressed their preparedness for a dialogue with Turkey without any preconditions on a number occasions and that Armenia continued to stand by this position.[68]

It is possible to say that Kocharian’s insistence on the idea that the Karabagh conflict is of no interest to Turkey is an answer to Erdo�an’s aforementioned statements in Baku about his concerns on the ineffectiveness of the Minsk Group and the idea of establishing trilateral dialogue between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey which will have positive effect on the solution of the Karabagh conflict. The Armenians believe that it will not be in their interest to take up the Karabagh conflict to a trilateral meeting where the Turks will support the views of Azerbaijan.

As a result it can be said that some Armenian officials interpreted the statements of the Turkish politicians in line with their own expectations. When Tayyip Erdo�an, the Turkish Premier, clarified the matters during his Baku visit, Armenians are disappointed. Considering the importance of the issues that divide two countries, Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Armenia should resume their meeting as soon as possible. It’s likely that after the parliamentary elections in Armenia due on May 25, 2003 such a meeting could be arranged more easily.

[1] Review of Armenian Studies, Volume 1, Number 1, pp. 25-27.
[2] Review of Armenian Studies, Volume 1, Number 2, pp. 7-8.
[3] Review of Armenian Studies, Volume 1, Number 1, pp. 13-14.
[4] Review of Armenian Studies, Volume 1, Number 1, pp. 17-19.
[5] Review of Armenian Studies, Volume 1, Number 2, pp. 15-16.
[6] Review of Armenian Studies, Volume 1, Number 2, pp. 13-14.
[7] Ermeni Ara�t�rmalar�, Issue 4 (December 2001-January, February 2002) pp. 238-242.
[8] Review of Armenian Studies, Volume 1, Number 2, pp.17-19
[9] �enol Kantarc�, Sedat Laçiner, Ararat, Ermeni Sanatsal Propagandas� (Ararat Artistic Armenian Propaganda) (Ankara: ASAM 2002).
[10] AREA, January 28, 2002.
[11] RFE/RL November 16, 2002.
[12] Armenia This Week, February 14, 2003.
[13] La Lettre de L’UGAB, January 14, 2003.
[14] Noyan Tapan, January 31, 2003.
[15] RFE/RL Armenia Report, January 9, 2003.
[16] La Lettre de l’UGAB, January 11, 2003.
[17] Yerkir Online, February 4, 2003.
[18] Le Monde, February 19, 2003.
[19] Armenia Now, January 31, 2003.
[20] Review an Outlook, February 2, 2003, “The Noyan Tapan Highlights” N4, February, 2003.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Arminfo, January 29, 2003 and Orran, February 1, 2003.
[23] Orran, February 1, 2003.
[24] Ibid.
[25] Eurasianet Organization February 11, 2002.
[26] Ria Orienda January 28, 2003 and Review and Outlook, February 2, 2003 “The Noyan Tapan Highlights” 4 February, 2003.
[27] RFE/RL Armenia Report, January 16, 2003.
[28] AZG Daily, December 10, 2002.
[29] Noyan Tapan, February 10, 2003.
[30] H1 TV, Orakarg Program, February 8, 2003.
[31] La Lettre de L’UGAB.
[32] RFE/RL Armenia Report, January 31, 2003.
[33] Ibid.
[34] Noyan Tapan, January 28, 2003.
[35] La Lettre de L’UGAB, novembre 30, 2002.
[36] AWOL, February 8-14, 2003.
[37] La Lettre de L’UGAB, novembre 25, 2002.
[38] Arminfo and Armen Press, February 19, 2003.
[39] Armen Press, February 19, 2003.
[40] Arminfo, February 19, 2003.
[41] Arminfo, February 20, 2003.
[42] Press Release, OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission, Yerevan, February 20, 2003.
[43] Noyan Tapan, February 22, 2003.
[44] Arminfo, February 22, 2003.
[45] Council of Europe Press Release, 26 February 2003.
[46] OSCE, The Hague, February 28, 2003.
[47] Ann Groong, March 5, 2003, Armenian Presidential Candidates TV Debates, Public Television of Armenia,Yerevan, March 3, 2003.
[48] Arminfo, March 5, 2003.
[49] Council of Europe Press Release, March 6, 2003.
[50] Arminfo, March 5, 2003.
[51] RFE/RL, March 7, 2003.
[52] Arminfo, March 6, 2003.
[53] Pan Armenian Net and ArmTV dated December 17, 2002.
[54] ITAR-TASS News Agency, December 17, 2002.
[55] Arm TV, December 17, 2002.
[56] ARKA, December 18, 2002.
[57] Pan Armenian, December 18, 2002.
[58] ANS TV, December 18, 2002.
[59] Azerbaijan TV Channel One, January 7, 2003.
[60] Arm TV, January 8, 2003.
[61] Armen Press, January 8, 2003.
[62] Pan Armenian News, January 8, 2003.
[63] Arm TV, January 8, 2003.
[64] Trend News Agency, January 8, 2003.
[65] ANS Radio, January 8, 2003.
[66] Pan Armenian News, January 8, 2003.
[67] RFE/RL Armenia Report, January 11, 2003.
[68] http://news.president.am/eng/

Retired Ambassador Ömer Engin LÜTEM*
* �KSAREN President - oelutem@iksaren.org
- Armenian Studies, Issue 1, March -April - May 2001
Armenian Studies, Issue 4, December 2001 - January-February 2002
Armenian Studies, Issue 3, September-October-November 2001
Armenian Studies, Issue 2, June-July-August 2001
Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES, Number 7-8, Volume 2 - 2005
Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES, Number 5, Volume 2 - 2003
Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES, Number 4, Volume 4 - 2003
Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES, Number 3, Volume 1 - 2003


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