09 November 2007

2177) The Armenian Constitution And Territorial Claims Against Turkey By Omer Engin Lutem

Ruben Safrastyan (Director of the Department of Turkish Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Armenian National Academy of Sciences) is an individual who is renowned in Armenia as a specialist on Turkey. The fact that he joins certain Armenian delegations makes one infer that he retains a semi-official position and that he voices the views of the Armenian Government.

In a statement he made to an Armenian newspaper (Largir, 31 October) Safrastyan set forth how the Armenian Constitution does not include a clause advancing territorial claims against Turkey and that Armenia, neither during nor before President Kocharian’s term in office, advanced territorial claims against Turkey. .

It is true that the Armenian governments did not make territorial claims against Turkey. Advancing such claims would not serve the interests of Armenia as this would not find support among any country (the Russian federation included) and would lend proof to how Armenia (which occupied Karabakh and surrounding territories) is continuing to pursue an expansionist policy.

It is wrong, however, that the Armenian Constitution does not include a clause advancing territorial claims against Turkey. Article 11 of the Armenian Declaration of Independence of Ausgust 23, 1990; refers to Eastern Anatolia as Western Armenia and as such beholds that this area is part of Armenia. Since the Armenian constitution recognizes as a basis “the fundamental principles of the Armenian statehood and national aspirations engraved in the Declaration of Independence of Armenia”, it likewise accepts the characterization of Eastern Anatolia as Western Armenia and this, albeit indirectly, translates into the advancement of territorial claims.

That Armenia lays a claim to certain territories that are a part of Turkey is apparent from it not recognizing the latter’s territorial integrity. After recognizing Armenia’s independence in 1991, Turkey proposed signing a document foreseeing the mutual recognition of borders to establish diplomatic ties between the two countries. That Armenia continues to refrain from signing this document, is the prime reason as to why diplomatic ties have not been established to date.

One may think it is contradictory that the Armenian governments have not advanced territorial claims against Turkey despite the incorporation of the said clause in the Armenian Constitution. Yet the fact that the Armenian Constitution does not stipulate when the territories laid claim to are to be annexed to Armenia, makes it unnecessary (at this point) to advance such claims against Turkey. On this point it should be noted that on one occasion President Kocharian stated that since today’s Armenia does not have the clout to advance such demands, doing so should be left to future generations at a time when conditions would hopefully be better suited to this end.
06 November 2007, ERAREN

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