- Azerbaijan and Turkey Protect Armenia’s National Interest Inadvertently, By Harut Sassounian Publisher
- Who Will Blink First…Armenia or Turkey? By Harut Sassounian
- In His Own Words – Senator Edward Kennedy
- Denying The ‘Other’ Holocaust, By Marilyn Henry From The Jerusalem Post
- Nalbandian Says ‘Don’t Panic,’ While Davutoglu Eyes Karabakh, "Ara Khachatourian"
- Homenetmen Ararat’s Annual Camp: A Peek at the Week of Scouting, By: Gayane Khechoomian
- Three Apples: Short-Circuiting Justice, "Paul Chaderjian"
- On Perilous Paths, Unrealistic Roadways, And Into Harm’s Way
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Azerbaijan and Turkey Protect Armenia’s National Interest Inadvertently, By Harut Sassounian Publisher, The California Courier
After reviewing hundreds of articles in regional and international media outlets and scores of statements by various officials regarding the Protocols between Armenia and Turkey, it is clear that these agreements will not be ratified by the Turkish Parliament, unless the Armenian government first makes concessions on Karabagh (Artsakh).
As expected, there was great agitation against the Protocols last week among opposition political parties in both Armenia and Turkey. Furthermore, some Azeri officials and analysts criticized Turkish leaders for appearing to go back on their repeated promises of not opening Turkey’s border with Armenia until the Karabagh conflict was resolved.
On April 22nd, when Armenia and Turkey made public a "Roadmap" to regulate their contentious relations and open their mutual border, Azerbaijan strongly objected, threatening to retaliate against Turkey by taking a number of steps, including cutting off oil supplies. Turkish leaders immediately stopped the implementation of the "Roadmap" in order to appease their "Junior brother," Azerbaijan. Turkish officials repeatedly announced that they would not open their country’s border with Armenia, unless the Karabagh conflict was settled to the satisfaction of Azerbaijan. Prime Minister Erdogan felt obligated to fly to Baku in May to make the same pledge in his address to the Azeri Parliament.
But as international pressure mounted on both Armenia and Turkey to go forward with the frozen "Roadmap," Turkish leaders were careful not to alienate Azerbaijan once again. This time around, they fully briefed Pres. Aliyev during every step of their discussions with Armenia, repeatedly assuring Azerbaijan that its interests would be protected and that nothing would be agreed upon with Armenia, unless the Karabagh conflict was first settled. Just before the two Protocols were announced on August 31, Prime Minister Erdogan briefed Pres. Aliyev by telephone and a high-level Turkish delegation flew to Baku for follow-up talks.
A close reading of the lengthy text of the professionally crafted two Protocols and the appended Timetable indicates that the most critical detail – the date of their expected ratification – is left out! The documents spell out in great precision the terms of the agreements as well as the specific deadline for each of "the steps to be undertaken." For example, they state that as of August 31, Armenia and Turkey have six weeks to complete "internal political consultations" before the Protocols are submitted to their respective Parliaments for ratification. The documents also specify the exact timeline for the opening of the border and the formation of various committees.
However, all of these steps are contingent upon the crucial prerequisite of ratification of the Protocols by the two Parliaments, for which no date and no deadline is mandated. The joint announcement issued on August 31 by Armenia and Turkey, simply calls on both sides to "make their best efforts" for the "timely" ratification of the Protocols. The missing deadline is certainly not the result of an oversight!
After securing Armenian officials’ agreement to Turkey’s two preconditions – the formation of a "historical" committee and recognizing its territorial integrity – Ankara found a clever solution for its third precondition. It made the opening of the border with Armenia contingent upon the resolution of the Artsakh conflict, without including a direct reference to this requirement in the Protocols.
Since the ratification of the proposed agreement by the two Parliaments does not have a particular deadline, the Turkish government will probably apply its extensive diplomatic resources to pressure Armenia – via the OSCE Minsk Group of mediators on Artsakh, composed of France, Russia and the United States – into making concessions acceptable to Azerbaijan.
Turkey could therefore be expected to delay the ratification of the Protocols by its Parliament until Azerbaijan’s conditions are met on Artsakh. In recent days, several Turkish commentators pointed out this gaping loophole in the Protocols, boasting that Turkey would not open its border until Armenia makes territorial concessions on Artsakh. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made that same pledge practically on a daily basis since the August 31 announcement. Interestingly, Pres. Aliyev has not said one critical word about this agreement which calls for the opening of the border with Armenia – something he vehemently opposes. The reason is that he is assured by Ankara that nothing of that sort would take place until Artsakh is delivered to him on a silver platter!
Armenia’s President and Foreign Minister, on the other hand, have been repeatedly stating that they would not accept any linkage between the Artsakh negotiations and the opening of the Turkish border. In order to preserve their own credibility and safeguard the country’s national interests, Armenia’s leaders should not make even the smallest concession on Artsakh and not ratify these Protocols, until the Turkish Parliament ratifies them first. But, since Turkey refuses to ratify them without the settlement of the Artsakh conflict, the whole agreement would collapse and the international community would then hold Turkey solely responsible for its failure!
Who Will Blink First…Armenia or Turkey? By Harut Sassounian - Publisher, The California Courier
After months of rampant rumors and news leaks, the Foreign Ministries of Armenia and Turkey, with Switzerland as mediator, issued a joint statement on August 31, making public the text of two protocols intended to regulate their problematic relationship.
In a previous joint statement released on April 22, Armenian and Turkish officials stated that they had agreed to a “roadmap” which was to normalize their relations “within a reasonable timeframe.” At the time, the two sides had indicated their agreement in principle by “initialing” the two protocols, the text of which was not published until August 31. This lengthy delay was due to Turkey backing down from the “roadmap” under pressure from Azerbaijan. Pres. Aliyev had insisted that Turkey keep its border with Armenia closed until the Karabagh (Artsakh) conflict is resolved.
During the ensuing months, in the absence of any progress in Armenian-Turkish relations, there was widespread speculation on whether Pres. Serzh Sargsyan would agree to travel to Turkey on October 14, to attend the World Cup qualifying soccer match between the national teams of the two countries. The Armenian President attempted to pressure Turkey to keep its end of the bargain in the declared “roadmap,” by announcing that he would go to Turkey only if the border were open, or on the threshold of being opened.
The American government was also pressuring Turkey to move forward with the envisaged agreement with Armenia. In recent days, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned both Pres. Sargsyan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, to help overcome any remaining stumbling blocks. Since Pres. Obama had broken his campaign promise by not using the term “Armenian Genocide” in his April 24 statement, under the pretext that doing so would undermine the on-going “delicate” negotiations between Armenia and Turkey, the United States sought some progress in these two countries’ relations, as a face saving measure for the American President. As a result, Armenia and Turkey disclosed for the first time on August 31 the actual text of the two protocols and announced that they “have agreed to start their internal political consultations” on the “Protocol on the establishment of diplomatic relations” and the “Protocol on the development of relations.” These consultations are to be completed within six weeks, after which the two states will sign and submit these Protocols to their respective Parliaments for ratification.
The first Protocol commits the two sides to open their common border and to establish diplomatic relations. It also requires Armenia and Turkey to recognize “the existing border between the two countries as defined by the relevant treaties of international law.” This is an important requirement for Ankara as it seeks to put an end to Armenian claims to “historic Armenian lands,” now part of the territory of the Republic of Turkey. On the other hand, many Armenians would reject this provision, as they want to leave the door open for future claims on the usurped territories, including Mount Ararat.
The second Protocol contains the most controversial element of both documents. It states that Armenia and Turkey “agree to implement a dialogue on the historical dimension with the aim to restore mutual confidence between the two nations, including an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archives to define existing problems and formulate recommendations.” An “intergovernmental bilateral commission” would first be established, comprised of several sub-commissions, one of which would deal with “historical” issues. A “Timetable” attached to the second Protocol further specifies that Armenian, Turkish as well as Swiss and other international experts shall take part” in the deliberations of “the sub-commission on the historical dimension.” These two Protocols are bound to raise serious concerns and could cause major political turmoil within Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Armenia.
Pres. Aliyev would most probably once again go on a rampage against Turkey, as he did during the announcement of the first “roadmap” on April 22. Given Azerbaijan’s valuable energy resources and their transit through Turkey, Ankara’s leaders can ill-afford to ignore Aliyev’s temper tantrums!
There could also be turmoil within Turkey as both the political opposition and elements of the “deep state” may organize massive demonstrations and denounce Pres. Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan for being unpatriotic and favoring relations with Armenia over “brotherly” Azerbaijan. Such accusations could chip away just enough votes from the ruling majority in the Turkish Parliament to reject the ratification of the Protocols.
Ratification is also not a foregone conclusion in Armenia. For more than a year, many Armenians both in Armenia and the Diaspora have vigorously complained to the government about the wisdom of negotiating such an agreement. They objected to the plan to establish a sub-commission on “historical” issues, which by its very nature would cast doubt on the veracity of the Armenian Genocide. In addition, many Armenians do not accept “the existing border” with Turkey, in order not to preclude future Armenian territorial claims. The apprehension created by this document could lead to large demonstrations both inside and outside of Armenia and cause serious political dissension, jeopardizing Armenia’s stability and security.
Given the pressure brought to bear on the Armenian government by Russia, the United States, and Europe, it will not be easy for Yerevan to back down from going forward with this agreement. Nevertheless, all is not lost.
It is wholly possible that as a result of a sharp confrontation between Azerbaijan and Turkey on this issue, compounded by domestic opposition to the Gul/Erdogan regime, the Turkish government may quietly urge its parliamentary majority not to ratify these Protocols. To maintain the heat on Turkey and force it to blink first, Armenia should not sign any agreement with Azerbaijan over Artsakh for the time being. It is also possible that the outcry by Armenians worldwide against these Protocols would convince the Armenian government not to go through with this agreement and urge its majority in Parliament to vote against it.
Unfortunately, the repeated warnings to the Armenian authorities by this writer and others at the start of these negotiations went unheeded. It would have been much easier back then to make appropriate policy adjustments and take corrective measures. Should Armenia back down from this agreement first, it may bring upon itself the wrath of the major powers. Nevertheless, at this critical juncture, the Armenian government’s preeminent concern should be safeguarding the country’s national interest rather than earning brownie points from foreign powers!
In His Own Words – Senator Edward Kennedy
At the Armenian Assembly of America National Tribute banquet on October 10, 1987, in Boston, Mass., where the Assembly established the Governor George Deukmejian Fund For Public Service as a permanent tribute to the Governor’s more than a quarter century of public service, Senator Edward Kennedy spoke about his acknowledgment of the accomplishments of the Armenian people in spite of “the darker chapters in your history”. Below are his own words, submitted for publication by Mihran Agbabian, as we mourn his passing:
Tonight we honor the extraordinary contribution of the Armenian heritage to America, especially your enduring faith, commitment to hard work, and dedication to family.
These values are the essence of America; they have brought eminence to Armenian-Americans in many fields, and they have enriched every state in our American community.
From Worcester and Watertown in Massachusetts, to Fresno in California, wherever the sons and daughters of Armenia have gone, whatever you have touched, you have made America better than you found it and we are grateful for your accomplishments. And now you have also come of age in public life. Governor Deukmejian, Speaker Keverian and the other Armenian-American leaders here tonight have brought well deserved recognition for your community.
And in honoring the contributions of your heritage, we also remember the darker chapters in your history. None of us can ignore the savage cruelty that Armenians have suffered across the centuries. Few peoples in the history of the earth have endured so much murderous persecution for their faith, or borne their enormous tragedy with such extraordinary courage.
I am proud to be a sponsor in the United States Senate of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. And that resolution should have passed the House of Representatives, and with a little more help from the Reagan Administration it would have passed.
With vast majority of Americans we say again tonight that we shall never forget the cruel truth of Armenian suffering, we shall never forget the millions of men, women, and children who perished in their homeland at the beginning of this century in that nightmare of the soul that became one of the worst crimes against humanity in all recorded history. As the great writer, H.G. Wells observed, “human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe”.
That is why the Armenian resolution in Congress is so important. Unless America speaks the truth, unless the world comes to terms in the present with the horrors of the past, we may well stand condemned to repeat those horrors in the future. We must not let that happen.
Reminding ourselves relentlessly of man’s inhumanity to man is our best hope to prevent atrocities in the future, and to avoid the ultimate atrocity for all humanity – the atrocity of nuclear catastrophe.
Denying The ‘Other’ Holocaust, By Marilyn Henry From The Jerusalem Post
Ten years ago, I was in Armenia for Genocide Memorial Day. Armenians from their “galut” around the world had come to Yerevan to participate with local citizens in the solemn commemoration. I was with a group that came from the US, including Henry Morgenthau III. He was there because the government intended to honor his grandfather, the first Henry, who as the US ambassador to Constantinople in 1915 had raised the alarm about the Armenian genocide.
The Morgenthaus and I were Jews among the Armenians. After a week together, however, it was hard to remember that the Armenians weren’t Jews. We have much in common: lost families, lost homes, lost countries, lost languages, lives as minorities, a diaspora, fears of assimilation, factions in religious practice – and genocide, as well as foes who would deny that the genocide ever happened.
But this also is where Jews and Armenians part. No civilized society will tolerate Holocaust denial. Nearly a century later, however, denial of the Armenian genocide persists, and it pops up in the most unexpected places.
Most recently it was in the federal appeals court in California. In a ruling on August 20, two members of a three-judge appellate panel did not quite deny the Armenian genocide; it was more like “genocide squelching.” At issue was one of a handful of California laws that collectively extended the statutes of limitations so that Nazi victims, including slave laborers, as well as victims of the Armenian genocide, would have additional time to file various claims for redress from human rights abuses and other losses.
The Armenians were seeking insurance payments from the period in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire during which they were deported and massacred by the Turks. This was akin to efforts within the Jewish community in the last decade to recover insurance payments for policies written during the Nazi era.
Jewish insurance claims were handled by an international commission chaired by former US secretary of state Lawrence Eagleburger. Armenians fended for themselves. Claims from the Ottoman/World War I era were handled by lawyers who dealt with individual insurance companies. The American insurer New York Life and the French company AXA reached settlements with the Armenians.
The case in federal court in California pits Armenians against German insurance companies. (Let’s put aside for this discussion that German enterprises should be sensitive to any claim related to genocide, or that it was Hitler who blithely predicted that no one would remember the fate of the Armenians.) The German insurers resisted any discussion of claims, including the possibility of humanitarian settlements with payments to charitable institutions, said Brian Kabateck, the Los Angeles attorney representing the Armenians.
The German companies argued that US presidential foreign policy prohibits legislative recognition of an “Armenian genocide.”
Although more than 40 American states have policies on the Armenian genocide, there is no federal policy recognizing it. Each time in recent years that a congressional resolution appeared likely to affirm that the genocide had occurred, the Bush and Clinton administrations argued against it, saying it would hurt American foreign policy by offending Turkey, a key ally. The Turks have never recognized the genocide; they refer to an Armenian revolt.
In a very broad statement that went far beyond California’s laws on claims deadlines, the federal appellate panel concluded that “there is an express federal policy prohibiting legislative recognition of an ‘Armenian genocide.’”
“By using the phrase ‘Armenian genocide,’ California has defied the president’s foreign policy preferences,” the panel ruled. It was not swayed by the fact that the federal government has not expressly prohibited states from using the phrase “Armenian genocide.” And the US government did not participate in this case, so its position on how states treat the genocide is entirely unclear.
Kabateck, the Los Angeles attorney, vowed to appeal to the full appellate court, saying the two judges’ ruling was “genocide-squelching.” “The court says the words ‘Armenian genocide’ when said by any state or local government violates the foreign powers of the US government and is unconstitutional,” he said. “Taken to its logical extreme, if these two judges are correct, no state or local government in the United States may use those words in any capacity.”
The Court ignored the US record, including president Ronald Reagan’s 1981 proclamation explicitly referring to “the genocide of the Armenians,” said Rouben Adalian, director of the Armenian National Institute in Washington. “This decision has so many egregious mistakes it makes one wonder what else was going on. It is frightening to see how even judges could be so misled into dangerous and really shameful territory.”
There is now concern that the ruling will be used as Turkish propaganda, and to expand the assault on teaching about the genocide in American public schools.
In June, a federal judge in Boston rejected a lawsuit filed by several students, teachers and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations that challenged Massachusetts’ state curriculum. The education guidelines characterize the World War I-era deaths of Armenians as genocide. Mark Wolf, the chief judge of the US District Court in Massachusetts, said the sensitive questions on the historic tragedy should be debated in the legislature, not the courts.
American Jews don’t face these horrific fights over atrocities and whether to teach them. New York, New Jersey, California, Florida and Illinois have laws requiring the teaching of the Holocaust. Ten other states have regulations recommending Holocaust education. Twelve states also have Holocaust commissions or councils that support Holocaust education.
But we surely remember our own battles against Holocaust denial. And as we are aggressive in protecting our history and in protesting contemporary atrocities such as in Darfur, so should we protest the denial of other atrocities of the past.
Nalbandian Says ‘Don’t Panic,’ While Davutoglu Eyes Karabakh, "Ara Khachatourian"
As Armenia’s foreign minister, Eduard Nalbandian told reporters Wednesday that there was no need to panic over the Turkey-Armenia roadmap protocols, his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu promised a swift resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In fact, Nalbandian brushed aside legitimate concerns about national issues, and in a rather pedestrian move used yet another animal analogy. When asked whether the provision on recognizing present-day borders amounted to Armenia’s acceptance of the Kars Treaty, Nalbandian said: “Don’t look for a calf under a bull.” This, coupled with his “don’t fish in murky waters” from several weeks ago demonstrates the level of sophistication of Armenia’s chief diplomat and the indifference with which this new page in Armenian history is being treated.
This non-chalance—or arrogance—further exasperates matters, as Turkey, having raised its position through the provisions of the protocols, is moving forward and engaging stakeholders and players to garner a resolution on Karabakh.
“To be able to turn this normalization [between Turkey and Armenia] into permanent peace, we are expecting a forthwith settlement on the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan with the contributions of the international community,” Davutoglu told reporters late Tuesday.
Turkey has already launched a new diplomatic initiative for mobilizing international actors in this regard, according to sources. Davutoglu held a long phone conversation with the foreign ministers of France and the United States, two members of the Minsk Group. The issue was already largely discussed with Russia.
Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan will also be a harbinger for a quick fix to Karabakh when next month he attends the UN General Assembly, of which Turkey is a permanent member.
So, assurances by President Sarkisian and Nalbandian do not silence the alarm that was sounded after Monday’s announcement. Nor, does it reassure Armenians around the world that their very national interests are not up for grabs for the myriad nebulous benefits the opening of the border is said to bring.
What has become crystal clear since Monday is that continued insistence by Armenia’s leaders that they have demanded no preconditions in the negotiation process was misleading at best and a lie at worst.
Unless the definition of the word “precondition” has changed since April 22 when the so-called “roadmap” agreement was announced, the provisions on the establishment of relations between Armenia and Turkey are peppered with preconditions that corner Armenia into making concessions and pose an extreme threat to our national interests, security and future. Clearly, Turkey is not wasting any time.
The Sarkisian administration’s self-righteous posturing and hollow promises signal that they are either truly out of touch or are the stranglehold on Armenia is so tight that they are unable to catch up with the paradigm shifts that have occurred since that ill-fated day in Moscow in 2008 when Sarkisian extended the invitation and kicked off the so-called “soccer diplomacy” fiasco.
From the onset this process was doomed and the administration did not ask for or seek national consensus, instead it turned away allies, alienated a significant portion of the Diaspora and polarized the entire nation.
The upcoming six weeks are a critical time for Armenia and Armenians. The protocol-mandated six week domestic political vetting period leading up to the return soccer match in Istanbul and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs visit at the end of this month with the revised Madrid Principles will test how adeptly we, as a nation, can maneuver this crucial turning point in history.
Political forces and organizations in the Diaspora must come together to ensure that their decades-long struggle is not pushed to the side in favor of a defeatist agreement and the Armenian government, with its president, foreign ministry and Diaspora ministry should rally the entire nation toward an uncompromising national solution.
Homenetmen Ararat’s Annual Camp: A Peek at the Week of Scouting, By: Gayane Khechoomian
The Scouts of Homenetmen’s “Glendale” Ararat Chapter recently returned from their 26th Annual week-long summer camping trip.
More than 250 scouts attended the camp from August 16-22 at the Mataguay Scouting Reservation in San Diego; many having attended in past years.
This annual camping trip has become a highlight in the year of scouting as all the their acquired knowledge is put to use in a week filled with challenges for its leadership as well as younger members that eager to learn the ways of the scout. In fact, many of the older scouts head out a day early to set up what they call a “bourg” or fortress. This fortress is usually made up of at least fifty long poles, many of them twenty feet in height and the whole thing takes a couple of days to erect. This year, the scouts built a fortress running thirty feet in height, held together only by the knots learned throughout the year.
Each day at camp begins by getting the scouts out of their tents with the help of Armenian music blaring through the sound system, aptly named “Radio Banakoom,” or the rough translation, “Camp Radio.” The favorite on the sound waves is Tata, but the scouts do get an occasional dose of Harout, Armenchik and Andy.
After completing a daily exercise routine, they are ready to take on the day’s activities, which are plentiful thanks to Mataguay’s resourceful campground. There is a pool on site where scouts spend their free time, a shooting range, an archery field, a rock climbing wall, and a lake for canoeing.
For the first day of camp, the leaders put together a huge rally for the individual scout groups to compete in water polo, volleyball, dodgeball and a game similar to baseball played with the hand instead of a bat. The rally is one of the fun aspects of camp that builds camaraderie and sportsmanship.
Though camp is fun and games, it is also an opportunity for them to learn about various topics. Part of the daily schedule includes lectures on scout knowledge. It is a perfect opportunity to teach scouts how to tie knots and perform survival signaling. Other topics pertain to being Armenian and living in the Diaspora and include lectures about Armenian culture, music, art, dance and history, which included a history of homenetmen. A favorite is the topic on current events in Armenia and how youth can get involved in the Armenian community.
Sometimes, alumni scouts make the long drive to camp to give a lecture, using what they have achieved in order to teach a new generation of scouts. A big part of scouting has been to give back to the community, even if one is not an active member. The sense of belonging to the scout world always seems to linger with individuals long after they leave.
One of the traditions at camp is the initiation of newly promoted leaders by putting them through a “survival night.” This night has earned its name because of the procedure it entails: the scouts are woken up in the middle of the night and given directions on where to go and what to do in order to find another campground that has already been set up by senior leaders. After this, they must stand guard to protect their grounds; if they succeed, they have “survived” the night and won their challenge.
This year’s batch of leaders excelled in their survival night challenge as they found their campground, set up camp, and prevented an attack on their territory by the senior leaders that came to test them.
In fact, to develop this skill, all scouts young and old must stand guard. Each person will watch over the campground at least once in the week for a two-hour long shift. This is part of the traditional night games that scouts play. The game entails stealing each others flags during the night in order to test the guards. Most of the time, the stealing occurs between Homenetmen chapters, all of which is done in good humor and with advanced approval from the leaders in question.
Each year, the scouts look forward to the annual camp dance equipped with a disc jockey. However, this year, they were in for a special treat: a “blacklight” party had been planned and the scouts were told to wear white t-shirts. They were then given highlighters to draw on each other as the markings would show up as glow-in-the-dark writing. Needless to say, the party was a huge success with the scouts dancing away the night.
At the close of each day, the scouts hold a campfire. The tradition takes place at every camp, where everyone gets together to sing, chant, laugh and enjoy the skits put on by the different groups. This year’s campfires became more technologically advanced than in the past: throughout the week, pictures were taken of all the scouts during their activities, which were then made into a slideshow to be viewed each night. Another change from the previous years was that the scout songs had all been put into karaoke format on a large screen, which led to participation during the campfires skyrocketing.
What makes the annual camp so amazing is not just all its unique activities, or that it gives scouts a chance to challenge their own boundaries and broaden their horizons, but that the entire week is put together and planned by youth who are themselves scouts. That by itself speaks so much of how Homenetmen scouting fosters leadership skills and brings new individuals up to lead the ranks in future years. It is no wonder that this camp is often referred to as the best week of the scouting year.
Three Apples: Short-Circuiting Justice, "Paul Chaderjian"
“Go back where you came from,” said the elderly man entering the auditorium to see the Red Army Choir perform. It was 1989, and I was on assignment for Horizon Armenian TV, reporting on why Armenians were protesting the performance.
The USSR was turning away from a command economy and introducing economic and political reforms through glasnost and perestroika. Taking their cues from Moscow, Armenians in the centuries-old Armenian region of Nagorno-Karapakh voted for autonomy.
Stalin had unjustly carved Karapakh out of Armenia and put it under the rule of Turkic republic of Azerbaijan. Remapping the USSR was Stalin’s way to control its population. When Armenians exercised their new democratic rights, Azeris targeted Armenians to hold on to real estate.
Turks had a dream of one Turkic state from Central Asia to the Baltics, but Christian Armenians had been in the way during the Ottoman Era. A hundred years later, Soviet Armenians were in the way once again. Violence against Armenians erupted, but the Red Army was not protecting its citizens. Instead, it was on a PR tour.
Armenians in the US were livid.
For decades, the US had failed time and time again to recognize what had happened to my people in ancient Armenia as a systematic mass-killing, a Genocide. When this Genocide was continuing in 1989, there was not a blurb about it on the evening news.
Flash forward another two decades, and Genocide resolutions have failed time and again. The public remains uneducated, and last Thursday two Southern California appellate judges ruled that beneficiaries of insured-Armenians killed during the Genocide could not pursue their claims.
Why? The Court said since the US had not acknowledged the Genocide, pursuing these claims would “interfere with the national government’s conduct of foreign relations.” And why haven’t these resolutions passed? Because a foreign government, Turkey, spends millions of dollars annually lobbying against Genocide recognition.
Turkey bullies the State Department saying it will not be an emissary of the US in the Middle East if the US recognizes the Armenian Genocide. Even though Turkey gets its way, it still doesn’t come through when the US needs it most. Witness when Turkey would not allow the US to open another front from Turkey to take down Saddam Hussein.
Where are the independent thinking citizen-lawmakers of our democracy? Where is their sense of justice and fairness? Perhaps their loyalties are to those who make contributions to their campaigns to ensure they vote against these resolutions.
Turkish American groups donate huge amounts to congressmen who don’t even have Turkish-Americans in their districts. Lawmakers take the contributions and vote against the recognition of historic facts.
Then you have a district court denying the Genocide based on the fact that Genocide resolutions haven’t passed. And this is logical? Is this democracy? Is this why a 21-year-old American-Armenian is told to go back where he came from? Where would he go back to?
Our grandparents’ villages were razed a hundred years ago. Our churches and graveyards were either destroyed or continue to be destroyed. Our poets and doctors were killed. Our musicians were sent to insane asylums. There is no ‘there’ to go back to.
Why didn’t this elderly man know that out of this Genocide came the American-Armenians who helped make our country what it is?
My people fought our nation’s wars, labored in its factories and farmlands. They built dams to hold back rivers. They designed air traffic control systems. They invented his automated bank machine and the most critical parts of the automobile he drives. They created the technology that scans his body to cure his illnesses. They gave him Cher, Vegas mega-resorts, cuisine, fashion, films, and journalism.
Why didn’t this man know that everything and everyone is connected? Like the Internet. The elderly gentleman. Failed Genocide resolutions. Genocidal Janjaweed in Sudan and Chad. Chaderjian. Me. You.
And three apples fell from heaven: one for the storyteller, one for him who made him tell it, and one for you the reader.
p.s. and Kim Kardashian.
On Perilous Paths, Unrealistic Roadways, And Into Harm’s Way
The other day, a friendly Congressman’s staffer, upon his review of the twin Protocols aimed at normalizing bilateral relations between Armenia and Turkey, conveyed the following observation to the Armenian National Committee of America’s Washington office:
“What Armenia is giving up is tangible and in the present as opposed to what Turkey is giving up that may or not come in the future.”
This observation is a fittingly accurate description of the essence and purpose of the proposed dual Protocols, which will be examined over the next six weeks in Armenia and Turkey and then ratified by the legislative bodies of each country. It should be hoped that the Armenian people and their homeland government will be able to comprehend the full portents of the Congressional staffer’s observation – as it clearly hints that the so-called Protocols are grounded on perilous paths and unrealistic roadways that can only push the Armenian side into harm’s way.
It is not that difficult to pin down the dangers posed by these Protocols. Let us start from the very beginning.
In the context of the current bilateral normalization process, Armenia’s sole and immediate objective is the opening of borders by Turkey. The achievement of this objective was imposed upon Armenia especially in the aftermath of last year’s war between Russia and Georgia, when Georgia’s internal instability created sequential obstacles for the normal transportation of over 70% of Armenia’s imports and exports.
For Turkey, the opening of borders with Armenia rests on three objectives. First, to finalize and legalize Armenia’s currently held frontiers with Turkey that have been left legally undetermined since 1920. Second, to halt the international affirmation of the Armenian Genocide and its ensuing territorial and financial restitution. Third, to dismantle the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh and subject its territory to Azerbaijan’s jusrisdiction.
Armenia’s lone objective, which requires immediate implementation, is based purely on economic considerations. The border is already half open, because Armenia has not closed down its side of the territory. Turkey, which keeps its side of the territory closed since 1993, is obligated under international law, as well as on the principle of good neighborly relations, to open its borders immediately.
The triple Turkish objectives, which cannot be subject to immediate implementation, are based purely on territorial considerations. And resolution of territorial disputes, as experience suggests in diplomatic affairs, require lengthy processes of difficult negotiations.
The proposed Protocols, in substance as well as in form, convolute the timing of each party’s objectives by turning them upside down. Their pertinent provisions entitle the first and second Turkish objectives – legalization of the current frontier regime, and cessation of Armenian Genocide recognition and claims – with the status of immediate implementation. (As for the third Turkish objective pertaining Nagorno Karabakh, the Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, within hours of the execution of the Protocols, turned it into a corollary of these documents, when he announced that in the context of the normalization process with Armenia Turkey will defend Azerbaijan’s interests regarding Nagorno Karabakh.)
On the other hand, the very same provisions of the Protocols render a status of dependency to Armenia’s economic objective for the border opening, which in fact has to be entitled to immediate implementation. Furthermore, this status of dependency turned into a remotely implementable and even an unenforceable proposition by Mr. Davutoglu, when he indicated in his above statement that opening the border was out of the question for now, because “a longer process is required for that.”
If the proposed Protocols are ratified in their existing contents, Armenia will obtain nothing in return in order to suffice its sole demand for the opening of the borders by Turkey – except perhaps an ephemeral promise or an unsubstantiated hope that someday somehow the borders may open.
As for Turkey, it will be able to achieve all of its demands, thereby fulfilling its dream of legalizing the usurpation of a large portion of Armenian homeland since 1920.
For Turkey, the twin Protocols are firmly anchored on beneficial and realistic grounds. For Armenia, those grounds lead only onto perilous paths, over unrealistic roadways, and into harm’s way.
Seto Boyadjian is an attorney and member of the national board of the Armenian National Committee of America.
For Us Armenians, You Were the Greatest Teddy!, By Walter Karabian
Of all the parades of political officials and public personalities who have complimented our community for achievements, stood with us on national days of mourning and voiced support for independence and recognition of the fledging Republic of Armenia, one name stands above them all, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.
He was more than a supporter, and much more than someone who mouthed the words “never again” at the anniversaries of the Armenian Genocide. When he raised his voice it meant so much more than other public personalities because what he said was usually more perceptive and important.
When the Civil War broke out in 1974 in Lebanon, he authored legislation to make it easier for displaced and stateless people to immigrate to the United States.
When the Shah of Iran fell in 1979 and our churches and schools were closed, he authored legislation to make it easier for our people to seek asylum in the United States. He joined other humanitarian organizations to provide relief for those who were trapped in other far away places.
When Armenia struggled for independence as the Soviet Union was collapsing, he again made it easier for those who were displaced to gain entry to the United States.
I give great credit to the Armenian community of Greater Boston for Senator Kennedy’s awareness of our history and hopes. It takes ongoing education to have Senators and Representatives understand our cause. No group did a better job than the Massachusetts Armenian community with Edward Kennedy. Along the way, our community received a major assist when Teddy married Victoria Reggie, who is of Lebanese descent and strongly identifies with the Armenian people. On several social occasions, she mentioned the similarities of our cultures and foods displaying a knowledge and closeness to us as “cousins.”
Beginning in 1962, I had numerous meetings, shared platforms with him, etc., but one event stands out in my mind because it took place at the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston and because many Republicans were present. I didn’t shrink from the task as you will learn if you wish a free copy of the DVD recording of my historic and controversial introduction of Senator Kennedy. Other head table guests included Vice President George Bush, U.S. Senator Bob Dole, and many Republican dignitaries. Kennedy’s beautiful response to my introduction is a classic. Please send an email to email@example.com or write me at 900 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1440, Los Angeles, California 90017, and I will be happy to send you a DVD of this event free of charge.
Walter Karabian is a partner in the Los Angeles-based law firm of Karns and Karabian. He was the first speaker of
the California Assembly.
Toronto To Host Armenbar's Mid-Year Meeting Featuring Keynote Speaker Vartkes Yeghiayan
LOS ANGELES - The Armenian Bar Association (ArmenBar) will return to Canada for its Mid-year meeting, on the weekend of October 2-4, in Toronto. The meeting will be held at the elegant Hilton Hotel, and will mark only the third time in the group's history that it has held a meeting in Canada.
Vartkes Yeghiayan, respected attorney, author and the architect of the New York Life and other Genocide reparation cases, will be the keynote luncheon speaker.
"We have a vibrant group of 2 0members in Canada who have made significant contributions to the Armenian legal community and the Armenian Bar Association, so we are thrilled to be returning to visit our neighbors to the north for our Mid-year meeting," said Sonya Nersessian, Chair of ArmenBar.
Toronto is Canada's cultural, educational, financial, high tech, commercial, industrial and entertainment center. It's skyline boasts the CN Tower, the tallest structure in North American, and formerly the tallest structure in the world. The meeting headquarters at the Hilton is walking distance from the CN Tower, as well as other popular attractions, including the Canadian Opera, Rodgers Centre, Air Canada Centre and Eaton Centre.
As is customary, the event will draw numerous legal scholars, law professors, historians, judges, lawyers, law students and politicians from throughout the United States, Canada, France and Armenia. The conference will be punctuated by legal seminars, receptions, and a meeting of the Board of Governors. Attorneys attending the meeting will receive continuing legal education credits for what promises to be an interesting and informative series of lectures, including "Research on Genocide Reparations."
In addition to Yeghiayan, the list of guest speakers includes attorney and author Michael Bobelian, immigration law specialists Chantal Desloges, Caroline Mouralian and Alice Yardum-Hunter along with law professors Katherine Kessedj ian and David Nersessian.
The panel on Genocide Reparations will kick off the Saturday session, and will feature Harvard Law Professor David Nersessian and Katherine Kessedjian, Professor at the University of Paris II, Pantheon-Assas, France. Nersessian and Kessedjian have been involved in extensive research on methods to achieve redress for the Armenian Genocide in international courts and tribunals. The panel will showcase new avenues for the Armenian community in its efforts to achieve retribution from Turkey for a crime which remains unpunished nearly a century after it was perpetrated.
Bobelian, an attorney and journalist, has recently published his latest text entitled "Children of Armenia, a Forgotten Genocide and the Century-Long Struggle for Justice." He will discuss the critically acclaimed book and research which went into its publication. Chronicled in the book is the story of Gourgen Yanikian, who in 1973 murdered the Turkish Consul General and Vice Consul from Los Angeles. He stated that the purpose of the killings was to demand justice for the Armenian Genocide. The act sparked a wave of attacks against Turkish diplomats throughout the world in the 1970's and 1980's. Yeghiayan's two decade quest to bring the New York Life class action lawsuit to light is also covered in the book.
Desloges, Mouralian and Yardum-Hunter are all experts in the area of immigration law. Desloges is the founder20of the immigration and refugee law free advice clinic in Ontario. Mouralian has offices in Quebec and Lebanon, and has assisted hundreds of Armenians in the immigration process. Yardum-Hunter has been an immigration specialist for 30 years.
She has written and lectured extensively on the subject, and has been recognized as a "Super Lawyer." The lecture will deal with the hot topic issue of cross border immigration in North America.
The meeting will be presided over by Armenbar Chair Sonya Nersessian from Boston, Massachusetts. "We are proud of our organization, excited about the meeting, and believe it will be an enriching experience for all who attend," said Nersessian.
More information can be obtained by visiting the ArmenBar website at: www.armenianbar.org.
Masis Mayilyan: Ankara Is Close To Perception, Lragir 01/09/2009
The head of the NKR public council on foreign policy and security Masis Mayilyan comments on the protocol on the Armenian and Turkish relations published on August 31
Turkey is obvious to have imposed more than three preconditions for establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey: recognition of Turkey's present state border by Armenia, exception of works aimed at recognition of the Armenian genocide from the Armenian foreign-political agenda and concession of liberated territories to Azerbaijan. Later, there were signals attesting that Ankara was ready to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia on condition of fulfillment of at least one of these preconditions.
The texts of the protocols dwell with the recognition of borders as well as with the partially "freezing" of the genocide issue. Setting up a commission enables Turkey to have additional arguments in the parliaments of foreign countries in connection with the genocide issue. These two facts are probable to cause negative response within the Armenian society.
An important and positive circumstance in the protocol is the lack of a direct connection between the Karabakh issue settlement and the normalization of the Armenian and Turkish relations. Ankara seems to be close to realizing the fact that the present stage of the Karabakh issue settlement cannot be an obstacle for the Armenian and Turkish relations. Let us hope that such a progress in perception will not be harmed by external influences.
Turkey's Mediation Unacceptable For Armenia, Fm States, Information-Analytic Agency News.Am Sept 2 2009 Armenia
20:08 / 09/02/2009RA Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan is sure Armenia is not linking normalization of its relations with Turkey with the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. The Minister also trusts the OSCE MG Co-Chairing countries. "I am sure that the entire world views it this way," Nalbandyan told a news conference today.
If Turkey views the process is a different way, it does not mean anything. He regards as erroneous the opinion that the Protocols on establishing Armenian-Turkish diplomatic relations mention the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. "The Nagorno-Karabakh peace process is within the OSCE Minsk Group, and Armenia cannot accept Turkey's mediation," the Minister said. Nalbandyan stated that the Protocol fixes clear terms, and the entire world expects the sides to honor the agreements. "We will see if Turkey will honor the agreements," he said.
On August 31, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Ministries of Armenia and Turkey issued a press release, which says: "The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey have agreed to start their internal political consultations on two protocols -the 'Protocol on the establishment of diplomatic relations' and the 'Protocol on the development of bilateral relations' - which have been initiated in the course of their efforts under Swiss mediation.
Football Kinder Or Diplomacy, Yeghisheh Metsarents, Lragir 01/09/2009
The process of normalization of the Armenian and Turkish relations resembles confectionary in the sense of similarity to the Kinder Surprise chocolate rather than diplomacy. The point is that this process has already given the second surprise to the Armenian public in the form of an Armenian and Turkish regular document which, by tradition or by custom or yet by the logic of the Kinder Surprise", was released at night, like the statement of April 22.
Why? What is the reason that the Armenian-Turkish documents are adopted at night? The impression is that the protocols will be implemented at night. For example, the Turkish and Armenian border will be opened only after 10 pm, and with the first rays of the sun it will be closed. Similarly, the Armenian and Turkish consulates in both countries which grant visa will operate only at night.
This secrecy, darkness and unexpectedness of the process of normalization of the Armenian and Turkish relations, not to mention their contents, give rise to a lot of questions. Is there anyone who may give the evil eye to the parties? Some people will say that Azerbaijan could do. But they will learn about the protocols in Baku anyway, and if Aliyev's eye is evil, he may do in a few years too. From whom is the process of the Armenian and Turkish settlement kept secret?
Perhaps this is done for the effectiveness of work but any interstate agreement especially of such strategic importance depends largely on the perception of the public. And the public perceives better when it participates in shaping facts rather than when it is faced with the fact. The society faced with the fact may get confused and not know what to do, and may agree to everything. But what will happen after when the society comes round?
After all, the Armenian and Turkish relations are not being normalized for a day or two or a decade, and they are aimed at bringing communities together, strengthening regional stability and security of both peoples and their neighbors. Or is it a fairy tale for children, who are sometimes given a Kinder-Surprise?
S. Safaryan About The Armenian - Turkish Diplomacy, Aysor Sept 2 2009 Armenia
The member of the Zharangutiun (Heritage) party parliamentary faction Stepan Safarian spoke about the developments of the bilateral relations of the Republic of Armenia and Turkish Republic. He divided the Armenian - Turkish relations launched since 2007 into 4 rounds.
According to Safarian 2007-2008 September was the hidden period of the diplomacy, during which have been discussed questions concerning the opening of the boarders, establishing diplomatic relations and creation of intergovernmental commissions.
"Those documents have been ready before Gul's arrival to Armenia", - Safarian assured.
The second round was in 2008 September to 2009 April. The deputy called it "Real Football" when the ball appeared at first in Armenian and then in Turkish playground. 2009 April 2009 August- it is the "midnight diplomacy" round when the issues were being solved after midnight. And the round started on September 2009 the speaker called "shocking".
"Now there is nothing left to do then to defend the shocks. The Armenian diplomacy will be defending", - said Stepan Safarian adding that till the Turkish diplomats were making a record the Armenian diplomats were in Baden- Baden.
Turkey Violated Kars Treaty, Aysor Sept 2 2009 Armenia
Armen Maruqyan, Ts., Senior researcher, Ph. D. of the Institute of History of the RA National Academy of Science (NAS), Department of Armenian Cause and Armenian Genocide, touched upon the developments of the bilateral relations between Armenian and Turkish Republics.
He mentioned that when they speak about the policy without preconditions we remember only the Artsakh issue forgetting about the Genocide.
"The conditions that exist are still valid, no any Turkish official has said that Turkey refuses the preconditions. If they remain valid what else can be said. The Armenian side was to make Turkey to refuse its previous preconditions", - said the speaker.
Coming up to the opening the boarders he mentioned that when the European hears about the opening of the boarders he thinks that the boarders are closed by the two sides while it is Turkey that has closed the boarders.
"They should speak about the unblockading the boarder. If we do not do that we appear in the same status with Turkey", - assured Maruqyan.
As for Turkey's regional integrity, according to the speaker, it will seriously harm the abolishment of the after-effects of the Genocide as not only the financial aspects should be taken under consideration: "The problem is in the historical fatherland: if we recognize the regional integrity of Turkey we put a cross over our historical fatherland."
As for the Kars treaty the speaker said that we can even put demands in front of as Turkey it has violated the treaty by keeping Armenia in a blockade.
Maruqyan suggested internationally annulling the Kars treaty as it has been violated by Turkey itself.
Turkey Confirmed Armenia's Loss, Lragir, 02/09/2009
Commenting on the two Armenian-Turkish protocols, the former NKR foreign minister Arman Melikyan stated on September 2 he has heard different comments from the government camp, from the HAK and the ARF Dashnaktsutyun but in fact he has not found any comment there.
Arman Melikyan says if the point is about the Armenian and Turkish border, the border is already drown. And if there is a functioning agreement, what is the need for additional agreements. He says a new agreement should be signed only in case the agreement of Kars is repealed to launch new Armenian and Turkish negotiations. According to Melikyan, these two agreements solve two different problems. It could be a joint document, in other words, establishment of diplomatic relations is to be seen in the context of mutual relations.
According to him, the document on the establishment of diplomatic relations gives rise to a number of questions, including the one on the recognition of the Armenian and Turkish border. Arman Melikyan says there is a nuance that the agreement of Kars is multilateral, as other countries, in particular, Georgia, Russia, and Azerbaijan also participated in it. According to Arman Melikyan, Turkey, with the help of the protocol on diplomatic relations, solves the important issues of the agreement of Kars, without referring back to the agreement of Kars. According to Melikyan, through the Armenian-Turkish protocols Turkey confirms Armenia's losses and does it with the help of Armenia.
"In other words, if the point is the Armenian and Turkish border, Armenia confirms the existence of the Armenian and Turkish border and does not touch upon the question of Nakhijevan, enabling Turkey to tell Azerbaijan that they defend their interests," says Arman Melikyan.
In answer to the question what impact the Armenian and Turkish relations will have on life in Armenia, Arman Melikyan answers that the society has to start thinking. "I think it is high time that the public start thinking about building their future themselves. We need knowledge, patriotism and self-denial for it. We have all this and I am sure this helped us to win the war. But this phase of relative peace, when someone became rich and others became poor and the public grew immoral, is a very dangerous phase," says Arman Melikyan.
What Will Russia Do? Lragir, 02/09/2009
On September 2, the former NKR foreign minister Arman Melikyan hosted at the Novosti press club focused journalists' attention on the Russian foreign ministry's reaction to the Armenian and Turkish protocols where it is noted that the Armenian and Turkish relations are not harmful for a third country. Arman Melikyan wonders whom Russia means by saying third country - itself or Azerbaijan. In any case, Arman Melikyan notes that it is interesting from the point that in case the Armenian and Turkish relations are bettered and the border is open by the end of the year, beginning from the next year, Russia has to say when it withdraws its army from Armenia and when the Russian soldiers leave the Armenian and Turkish border, as in case of open borders their staying makes no sense.
Arman Melikyan thinks Russia had better say ready to denounce the Russian and Turkish agreement of March 16, 1921 as well as all the following Russian-Turkish agreements.
The Whole Truth Is Told To A Jackass Only, Hakob Badalyan Lragir 02/09/2009
The governmental heralds who participate in debates and discussions on the Armenian-Turkish issue who usually are not governmental political figures but so-called independent political scientists, listening to whom one understands that they do not want to explain the phenomenon but only say "good, good, very good", have adopted a very interesting attitude. The peculiarity of this attitude is that these people try to present the issue from the angle that whoever speaks against the strategy the government is against the opening of the Armenian and Turkish border. This is typical of the Armenian governmental and pro-governmental thinking to change notions, diviate from the topic and turn the debate into trivial arguments.
Meanwhile everyone understands that the axis of the criticism of the process of the Armenian and Turkish relations is not the demand not to open the border. The main topic of the criticism is at what price, at whose expense it will be done, what Armenia has to give in return for opening the border, and whether this price is equal to the result expected from opening the border. Or whether the Turks are not using the issue of the border to manipulate the Armenians during the negotiations. This is the problem and not the open or closed border as the governmental heralds are trying represent, saying that the process is important. But do they explain how Armenia benefits from this process and what it loses? Do they say what form the process has to have? Or maybe they do not care about the form, the important is to have it, even if Armenia appears as an "outsider" in this process.
It does not seem hard to understand that the discussion must be on this issue rather than the fact that an open border is better than a closed one, or it is better to negotiate than not to negotiate. Of course, an open border is better than a closed one and negotiation is better than its absence. But the best solution is to think before negotiations whether they cannot be used as a trap against you. The problem of the governmental heralds should be to explain to the society that there is no trap. Let the heralds explain that the setup of the sub-commission will not deal with the genocide issue, but they will study only historical documents and facts not relating to the genocide. Let the government heralds clarify this issue and not say that the word genocide lacks in the protocols so everything is good.
Let them explain to the public the reason why Armenia and Turkey draft a protocol to establish relations and include in it the provision of recognition of state borders of the two countries as well as a provision on "respect of inviolability of the borders of other countries". What do the Armenian and Turkish relations have in common with other countries? Does this provision imply Azerbaijan? Let the governmental heralds explain this and not the fact that Artsakh is not mentioned in the protocol. Finally, let the governmental heralds know the famous saying "the whole truth is told to a jacjass only'. Moreover, in diplomacy the whole truth is never said, especially in such delicate questions as the Armenian and Turkish relations. Consequently, a politician has to be able to read between the lines because an ordinary citizen may read the lines without the help of any politician. They should not take the citizens for uneducated people or idiots. A political scientist should read between the lines.
Whose Goal Was Scored?, James Hakobyan Lragir, 01/09/2009
We have to admit that few of those who track the Armenian and Turkish relation would expect the two protocols, released on August 31. Even if such an event was expected in the process of normalization of the Armenian and Turkish relations, nevertheless, very few people imagined such a thing happen in the nearest future.
Above all doubts, the Armenian government will present this event as the success of Armenia because the protocols prepared by Armenia and Turkey dwell on the opening of the border and establishment of relations.
But both protocols contain not only admirable but also worrying points for the Armenian side. The point is that the protocols run that Armenia and Turkey, the countries which sign the protocols, respect the territorial integrity of other countries. Is there no danger in connection with the Karabakhi conflict? Is Azerbaijan not one of the other countries? The point is that there does not seem to be any exception in the protocol.
Besides, the sides also recognize each other's borders. Perhaps no comment is needed here, as well as regarding the fact that the sides agree to set up an intergovernmental commission to shape an atmosphere of mutual confidence between the societies, which will also consider other issues, including a sub-commission to study the genocide issue.
There is not a statement about the genocide or that the commission is to study it. But what does it mean an impartial and through study of historical documents? Turkey has never set forth or acknowledged the issue of genocide as such, it has always dwelt on historical issues. Consequently, Turkey means the study of the genocide, and the Armenian side should understand the real implication of the statements. If the Armenian side fails to get the real meaning, this means that the document with Turkey is signed by people who have nothing to do with politics and diplomacy.
In other words, it seems to be evident that the protocols signed by Armenia and Turkey include all the three preconditions which the Turkish side offered to the Armenian side in return for opening the border and establishing diplomatic relations through leakages and Turkish high-ranking officials.
The Armenian side has always denied the existence of preconditions but after reading the text of the protocols it is difficult to believe those denials. We only need to believe that during these six weeks of consultations, which are going to be held on the protocols, the Armenian side will manage to eliminate the dangers present in the texts of the protocols. However, the fact that the text was published by the Armenian Foreign Ministry means that it did not find any dangerous points in it or it did not want to.
"Armenia And Turkey Should Form New Relations Based On New Legal Basis", Panorama.Am 02/09/2009
The Former Foreign Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Arman Melikyan told at news conference that the protocol published by Foreign Ministries of Armenia and Turkey and Switzerland as mediator state is a very interesting advancement.
If the matter is opening of Armenian-Turkish border, then the border exists and there is a contract between Armenia and Turkey.
"If Kars paper has already exhausted itself and we are long to create mutual relations then Kars resolution should be denounced and Armenia and Turkey should form new relations based on different legal basis," expert said.
Whether the protocols have any connection to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Melikyan said that NKR conflict is issue number one in the region and all the activities implemented by powerful states and our regional countries are correlated to the perspectives of NKR conflict settlement or non-settlement.
Yerevan To Host Discussions Entitled "Not An Inch Of Native Land" 02.09.2009
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ On September 3, Miatsum National Initiative will organize discussions entitled "Not an inch of native land" in connection with dangerous situation which arose around NKR upon Madrid principles' declassification. Discussions will take place in Tekeyan Center in Yerevan, Miatsum National Initiative reported.
Turkish Parliament To Ratify Protocols In Case Country's Leadership Makes Political Decision, 02.09.2009
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Preliminary signature of Protocols will be followed by internal discussions of documents, revealing variety of opinions in Armenian and Turkish societies and political circles, YSU lecturer, Turkish studies expert Ruben Melkonyan told today a news conference in Yerevan.
According to him, the main pro-opposition forces strongly criticize normalization process, as that may "infringe Azerbaijan's interests".
Ratification of documents by both countries' parliaments will impart a new impulse to the process, Armenian expert said, adding that proportion of forces in Turkish parliament shows the likelihood of ratifying the documents.
However, he did not rule out the contrary process, considering Turkish analysts' reports on Premier Erdogan's yesterday's statement that Turkish parliament will not ratify documents unless Karabakh conflict is resolved.
Turkologist Hakob Chakrian: As Armenia And Turkey Are Not Able To Solve Their Problems International Structures Do That
YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 2, NOYAN TAPAN. According to Turkologist Hakob Chakrian, the main and first result of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols is that RA President Serzh Sargsyan will leave for Turkey to watch the Turkey-Armenia football match. Declaring this at a September 2 press conference he also said that some things will be clarified after President's visit to Turkey, and it will be possible to guess what the next steps will be.
According to the agreement reached between Armenia and Turkey, after signing the protocols should be ratified by the parliaments. In this connection H. Chakrian said: "Turkish parliament's two parties will be against, there will be persons being against in Erdogan's party, as well. It may proceed easier in Armenia but we will have other problems."
According to him, the initiators of making the protocols are not the Armenian or Turkish sides but the international forces, the European Union, the United States. "As Armenia and Turkey are not able to solve their problems international structures proceeding from their interests try to do it," the Turkologist said. However, in his words, one thing is obvious: thanks to these Protocols Armenia and Turkey will get free of pressures of the international forces.
Touching upon responses in Turkey following the publication of the mentioned documents H. Chakrian said that they are different. Turkey's opposition accuses Prime Minister Erdogan of betrayal reminding that he had stated that the Armenian-Turkish border will be opened when the Nagorno Karabakh problem is settled. And Azerbaijan accuses Turkey of betrayal and exerts psychological pressure.
Heritage Party Leader: I Do Not Think That Armenian Authorities Say Truth To People On Negotiations Around Karabakh Conflict, 2009-09-02
ArmInfo. "I do not think that the Armenian authorities say truth to people on the negotiations around the Karabakh conflict," Heritage Opposition Party Leader Haffi Hovannisian told media in Stepanakert on Wednesday. R. Hovannisian is participating in the events held in the NKR on the occasion of the 18th Anniversary of the NKR Independence.
"Despite being day of proud and responsibility, the Day of NKR Independence is not a day of happiness for us, since our national interests and security are thrown into the say," he said. R. Hovannisian said that despite the continuing negotiations on Karabakh, he sees no progress. "Many people sacrificed their lives for this land. Now, in a few years, we must not discuss any concessions in the light of certain domestic political and foreign political developments," he said.
Armenian National Congress: Normalization Of Armenian-Turkish Relations Within Interest Of The Two States And Peoples As Well As Regional Peace And Stability, 2009-09-02
ArmInfo. Normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations within interest of the two states and peoples as well as regional peace and stability, says the statement on the Armenian-Turkish process by the Armenian National Congress.
"The protocols on establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey and on development of bilateral relations are tangible progress in this direction. Nevertheless, establishment of an intergovernmental sub-commission of Armenian and Turkish historians is inadmissible to us, since it casts doubt on the fact of Armenian Genocide. In addition, we are concerned about the condition on ratification of the given documents by the parliaments of the two states, which will allow Serzh Sargsyan to share responsibility for establishment of the sub-commission with the parliament and Turkey to protract the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border under the pretext of the unsettled Karabakh conflict," the ANC states.
On August 31 the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey agreed to start their internal political consultations on the two protocols -the "Protocol on the establishment of diplomatic relations" and the "Protocol on the development of bilateral relations" - which have been initiated in the course of their efforts under Swiss mediation. Earlier on April 22 the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Turkey and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs made a Joint Statement on identification of "roadmap".
Russian Foreign Ministry Comments On The Process Of Normalization Of The Armenian-Turkish Relations, 2009-09-02
ArmInfo. Russian Foreign Ministry has positively conceived the information about readiness of Armenia and Turkey to start the process of internal consultations for signing 'Protocol on the establishment of diplomatic relations' and 'Protocol on the development of bilateral relations', press-service of Russian Foreign Ministry says commenting on the event. 'Armenia and Turkey are our friendly countries. We conceive the movement towards normalization of relations between them as a logical and expected process. We shall be happy if the consultations, which are the interior affair of these countries, will result in substantive arrangements.
The preliminary analysis of the draft protocols as well as the elements and schedule of their fulfillment shows how seriously these problems were discussed, and resolute are Yerevan and Ankara to go their part of the way.
We would like to note that no step envisaged in these documents may be interpreted as damaging any third party. The serious mutual efforts taken by the leadership of Armenia and Turkey over the last period of time for rapprochement of the two countries create a real chance to change the created disadvantage and to transfer the links frozen for a long period of time into a new constructive plane. We hope that improvement o f relations between the two neighbours will lead to revitalization of the bilateral trade and economic contacts and will positively affect social and economical situation in both states, which is not less important in the conditions of the global financial crisis. The Russian official representatives were always calling Armenian and Turkish partners to strive to settle the disagreements between them just in this pragmatic way. It is important to further continue developing in the way which will lead to establishment of good-neighbourly relations between Armenia and Turkey, which will impartially promote recovery of the situation in the region, strengthening of peace and security',- the ministry comments.
Comments On The Armenian-Turkish Relations From Stepanakert, Lena Badeyan, "Radiolur"
Commenting on the latest developments in the Armenian-Turkish relations, ex-President of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Arkady Ghukasyan noted that "we have all chances to reach what we want and there is no need to give way to panic." "Some tactical changes do not mean changes in strategy," he said.
NKR President Bako Sahakyan noted that those in Karabakh are closely watching the development of events and they see no danger. According to him, there have been only positive developments, because the international community will see which nation is really committed to the normalization of those relations.
"We have to do with a country, where deception is part of policy," Bako Sahakyan said. "Turkey's controversial statements do not inspire hope for honest and sincere relations," he noted.
As for the possible developments in the Karabakh process in autumn, Bako Sahakyan noted: "We have no grounds to doubt whether the Co-Chairs are really interested in solving the issue. But there can be no activeness in the process, since the main party is not involved in the talks. We can speak about an active period only after we review the format of the negotiatoions," NKR President said.
Armenian-Turkish Process At Risk Of Delay, 02.09.2009
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ "Armenian-Turkish rapprochement is at risk of delay," political scientist, Caucasus Institute Director Alexander Iskandaryan told a press conference in Yerevan. "Developments in Armenian-Turkish relations result from negotiation process which have been going on for a long time. Obviously, Turkey is facing serious pressures by United States, Europe and Russia in terms of proceeding with the process. Besides, Turkish government is also facing pressures inside its country. Forces there are either for or against the process," Armenian expert said.
Touching upon possible risks, Iskandaryan stressed that there are threats for delaying process. "Protocols are now certain to be signed by Armenian and Turkish officials, but documents are promulgated after being ratified by countries' parliaments. Considering existing opposition-coalition ratio in Armenia, the document is quite likely to be pushed through in our parliament. With regard to the Turkish parliament, I can only say that the process there may be delayed, as seen by the documents themselves."
The Times, September 2, 2009, Bronwen Maddox, Chief Foreign Commentator Turkey And Armenia Sidestep 94-Year-Old Massacre For Tentative Peace
It's taken only 94 years to make peace. It might have taken much longer. The talks between Turkey and Armenia about whether they can manage something like normal relations are probably more symbol than substance. But they represent a gesture that might easily not have been made, particularly by Turkey. They are an unexpected step towards calm from the tense borderlands between Europe and Central Asia.
They will have an effect in the US, too, where the clash between Armenia and Turkey has played to a nationwide, passionate audience, from Congress to the singer Cher (who is Armenian). In Europe it might seem like a far-off dispute; in the US it is intimate, eating up congressional debates and national airtime.
Even in the European Union it will have an impact greater than this week's tentative moves suggest. It will ease Turkey's relations with the EU after several years of friction.
Yet the steps, so far, are small. On Monday the two said that they would sign a pact within weeks to talk about resuming ties, although that hurdle would need approval by both parliaments. If they get that far, it would end nearly a century of animosity that stems from the killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire in 1915, during the First World War. Armenia calls it genocide and wants an admission and an apology. Turkey maintains that many were killed on each side. There have not been diplomatic ties, other than when Armenia was part of the Soviet Union. The border was closed during the 1988-94 conflict over the Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Now the border might open, possibly by the new year, officials on each side suggest, although the greater impetus for a deal clearly comes from Armenia. It is landlocked, and has an urgent need for trade. As its President, Serzh Sargsyan, said yesterday: `Armenia initiated the possibility of normalising relations' - adding, grandly but justifiably, that he had done so `with dignity as it is appropriate to the civilised world of the 21st century'.
The agreement, brokered by Swiss officials and taking shape since April, baldly leaves aside history, genocide or the frozen Nagorno-Karabakh dispute (although Turkey insists progress on this front needs to happen in parallel). This is what you might call constructive evasion. We should hope that they manage at least to open the border. Allowing everyday contact would be an antidote to the understandable difficulty in forgetting who slaughtered whom a century ago.
It would also take the sting out of the repeated eruptions in American politics over the issue, powered by the US's large Armenian community. Two years ago, President Bush clashed with a Democrat-led House of Representatives committee that denounced the 1915 deaths as genocide, even though a phalanx of former secretaries of state warned about the impact on relations with Turkey, a crucial ally. If Armenia and Turkey can be talked down from the embrace of this old conflict, it is even possible that the US Congress eventually can, too.
Liberation Of Azerbaijani Lands, Restoration Of Diplomatic Relations Between Armenia And Turkey Must Go Hand In Hand: Expert Today.Az Sept 1 2009
"Establishment of diplomatic ties between Turkey and Armenia is normal," Azerbaijani parliament's security and defense committee chair Aydin Mirzazade said commenting on Turkish Foreign Ministry's statement that Turkey and Armenia will start talks to resume diplomatic ties.
"The numerous statements by Turkish official who said that Turkey-Armenia border will not reopen until Armenia withdraws its troops from the occupied Azerbaijani lands are still in force," Mirzazade said.
"It is normal that countries will be establish diplomatic relations, but as Turkey has announced strategic relationship with Azerbaijan, I think these two things should be linked with each other," he added.
"Given the fact that are intense negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijani presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, I think on this background there are parallel negotiations on restoration of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey," he said.
"But such a process is also possible that Armenia will be tasked to withdraw its troops from occupied Azerbaijani lands and at the same time Turkey will resume relations with Armenia. I see these processes in an interconnected form. I do not believe that Turkey will change its opinion for a short period of time. I also do not believe Turkey will change its friendly relations with Azerbaijan for the sake of opening the border with weak and at the same time aggressive Armenia," he said.
Opening Of Armenia-Turkey Border Is A Negative Phenomenon: Political Expert, Today.Az Sept 1 2009
"I believe the opening of border between Turkey and Armenia is a very negative phenomenon both for Turkey and Azerbaijan," Azerbaijani political expert Vafa Guluzade said commenting on Turkish Foreign Ministry's statement that Turkey and Armenia will start talks to resume diplomatic ties.
"I believe that it will certainly cause strong anti-Turkish sentiments in Azerbaijan. Because Azerbaijani people will found it difficult to understand this. Our people have not been explained so far why Turkey kneels in front of Armenia on backdrop of occupation of Azerbaijani territories and Armenia's not recognizing Azerbaijan's territorial integrity," Guluzade said.
"I believe Turkey makes this move because of pressure by Barack Obama on one hand and by Armenian diaspora on the other. Besides, Turkey seeks EU admission and believes that it is so great power that opening of borders with Armenia will not bring any negative factors against it," he added.
"By taking this step Turkey only strengthens its enemies. I have no idea if the borders between countries will reopen, who we will face Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul who promised not to open borders with Armenia until Azerbaijani lands are freed," the political expert said.
Ara Papyan: Ankara Will Get What It Strived For, 01.09.2009
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Protocols on "Establishing Diplomatic Ties between Armenia and Turkey" and "Developing Bilateral Relations" aim to force Yerevan into accepting all three preconditions set by Turkey, Head of Modus Vivendi centre Ara Papyantold a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter. "Ankara's first precondition requires Armenia to refuse territorial claims, i.e. recognize present-day borders. Clause 4 of Protocol on 'Establishing Diplomatic Ties' satisfies Turkey's claims," Armenian expert noted.
Ankara's second precondition requires that Karabakh conflict be settled based on the principle of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. "The same Protocol satisfies that claim as well, as its second clause concerns the principles that form the basis of Armenian-Turkish relations," the speaker stated.
The Protocol also satisfies Turkey's third claim - suspension of international Genocide recognition process. "The document envisages creation of sub-committees, including one dealing with historical problems between two nations. Clearly, the most problematic issue in this regard is Armenian Genocide," Ara Papyan said, adding that Armenia's acceptance of Turkish-proposed protocols will fully satisfy Turkey's desires
Why Does Life In The Middle East Remain Rooted In The Middle Ages? By Robert Fisk, AZG Daily 04-09-2009, Opinion
According to a UN report, the global improvement in living standards has passed much of the Arab world by. Robert Fisk explains why
Why is the Arab world - let us speak with terrible sharpness - so backward? Why so many dictators, so few human rights, so much state security and torture, so terrible a literacy rate?
Why does this wretched place, so rich in oil, have to produce, even in the age of the computer, a population so poorly educated, so undernourished, so corrupt? Yes, I know the history of Western colonialism, the dark conspiracies of the West, the Arab argument that you cannot upset the sheikhs and the kings and the autocrats, the imams and the emirs when the "enemy is at the gates". There is some truth to that. But not enough truth.
Once more the United Nations Development Programme has popped up with yet one more, its fifth, report that catalogues - via Arab analysts and academics, mark you - the retarded state of much of the Middle East. It talks of "the fragility of the region's political, social, economic and environmental structures... its vulnerability to outside intervention". But does this account for desertification, for illiteracy - especially among women - and the Arab state which, as the report admits, is often turned "into a threat to human security, instead of its chief support"?
As Arab journalist Rami Khouri stated bleakly last week: "How we tackle the underlying causes of our mediocrity and bring about real change anchored in solid citizenship, productive economies and stable statehood, remains the riddle that has defied three generations of Arabs." Real GDP per capita in the region - one of the statistics which truly shocked Khouri - grew by only 6.4 per cent between 1980 and 2004. That's just 0.5 per cent annually, a rate which 198 of 217 countries analysed by the CIA World Factbook bet - which stood at 150 million in 1980 - will reach 400 million in 2015.
I notice much of this myself. When I first came to the Middle East in 1976, it was crowded enough. Cairo's steaming, fetid streets were already jam-packed, night and day, with up to a million homeless living in the great Ottoman cemeteries. Arab homes are spotlessly clean but their streets are often repulsive, dirt and ordure spilling on to the pavements. Even in beautiful Lebanon, where a kind of democracy does exist and whose people are among the most educated and cultured in the Middle East, you find a similar phenomenon. In the rough hill villages of the south, the same cleanliness exists in every home. But why are the streets and the hills so dirty?
I suspect that a real problem exists in the mind of Arabs; they do not feel that they own their countries. Constantly coaxed into effusions of enthusiasm for Arab or national "unity", I think they do not feel that sense of belonging which Westerners feel. Unable, for the most part, to elect real representatives - even in Lebanon, outside the tribal or sectarian context - they feel "ruled over". The street, the country as a physical entity, belongs to someone else. And of course, the moment a movement comes along and - even worse - becomes popular, emergency laws are introduced to make these movements illegal or "terrorist". Thus it is always someone else's responsibility to look after the gardens and the hills and the streets.
And those who work within the state system - who work directly for the state and its corrupt autarchies - also feel that their existence depends on the same corruption upon which the state itself thrives. The people become part of the corruption. I shall always remember an Arab landlord, many years ago, bemoaning an anti-corruption drive by his government. "In the old days, I paid bribes and we got the phone mended and the water pipes mended and the electricity restored," he complained. "But what can I do now, Mr, Robert? I can't bribe anyone - so no 002, was deeply depressing. It identified three cardinal obstacles to human development in the Arab world: the widening "deficit" in freedom, women's rights and knowledge. George W Bush -he of enduring freedom, democracy, etc etc amid the slaughter of Iraq - drew attention to this. Understandably miffed at being lectured to by the man who gave "terror" a new name, even Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (he of the constantly more than 90 per cent electoral success rate), told Tony Blair in 2004 that modernisation had to stem from "the traditions and culture of the region".
Will a solution to the Arab-Israeli war resolve all this? Some of it, perhaps. Without the constant challenge of crisis, it would be much more difficult to constantly renew emergency laws, to avoid constitutionality, to distract populations who might otherwise demand overwhelming political change. Yet I sometimes fear that the problems have sunk too deep, that like a persistently leaking sewer, the ground beneath Arab feet has become too saturated to build on.
I was delighted some months ago, while speaking at Cairo University -yes, the same academy which Barack Obama used to play softball with the Muslim world - to find how bright its students were, how many female students crowded the classes and how, compared to previous visits, well-educated they were. Yet far too many wanted to move to the West. The Koran may be an invaluable document - but so is a Green Card. And who can blame them when Cairo is awash with PhD engineering graduates who have to drive taxis?
And on balance, yes, a serious peace between Palestinians and Israelis would help redress the appalling imbalances that plague Arab society. If you can no longer bellyache about the outrageous injustice that this war represents, then perhaps there are other injustices to be addressed. One of them is domestic violence, which - despite the evident love of family which all Arabs demonstrate - is far more prevalent in the Arab world than Westerners might realise (or Arabs want to adm iddle East. By all means, send the Arabs our teachers, our economists, our agronomists. But bring our soldiers home. They do not defend us. They spread the same chaos that breeds the injustice upon which the al-Qa'idas of this world feed. No, the Arabs - or, outside the Arab world, the Iranians or the Afghans - will not produce the eco-loving, gender-equal, happy-clappy democracies that we would like to see. But freed from "our" tutelage, they might develop their societies to the advantage of the people who live in them. Maybe the Arabs would even come to believe that they owned their own countries.
Armenia-Turkey Deal A Major Step Forward: Analysts By Mariam Harutunian Agence France Presse September 1, 2009
Armenia and Turkey have taken a major step forward by agreeing to a plan for establishing diplomatic ties, experts said Tuesday, but the deal does not yet mark an end to decades of hostility.
Domestic opposition, objections from Turkey's ally Azerbaijan and lingering distrust between the two countries could still derail their efforts to overcome nearly a century of acrimony, analysts said.
Most nonetheless agreed that the creation of a timetable for establishing ties and re-opening their long-sealed border was an historic moment.
"It is a very, very serious step towards the completion of the negotiating process, and the questions of the border re-opening and the establishment of diplomatic ties will be solved very soon.... It is a matter of six months to a year," Yerevan-based political analyst Alexander Iskandarian said.
The agreement announced Monday foresees the signing of two protocols on establishing diplomatic relations and developing bilateral ties following six weeks of "internal political consultations".
Turkey has long refused to establish diplomatic links with Armenia over Yerevan's efforts to have World War I-era massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks recognised as genocide -- a label Turkey strongly rejects.
Turkey also closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in solidarity with ally Azerbaijan over Yerevan's backing of ethnic Armenian separatists in the breakaway Nagorny Karabakh region.
Analysts said the agreement of a precise timetable was a sign of the seriousness of the plan.
"This is fantastic news, it seems these are very serious declarations, a very serious timetable," said Hugh Pope, a Turkey analyst for the International Crisis Group.
"Huge progress has been made, starting with intellectuals and academics and then with some business people getting involved and even ex-officials have been trying to get Turkey away from the old nationalist rhetorics," he said.
Washington and Paris on Monday warmly welcomed the deal, which followed a year of Swiss-brokered talks and a historic visit by Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Armenia for a football match last September.
Still, it is unclear how long the process of ratification could take and Turkey has already cast some doubts on the re-opening of the border.
"At the moment opening the border is not foreseen and it is not the priority," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkey's NTV channel late Monday. He later added that Turkey would take no action "that would hurt the interests of Azerbaijan".
Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesman Elkhan Polukhov said Tuesday that Baku was confident Ankara would not agree to open the border without a deal on Nagorny Karabakh.
"Azerbaijan's position is based on numerous statements from high-ranking officials in Turkey on the question of opening the Armenian-Turkish border," he told AFP. "The opening of the border without the settlement of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict would contradict the interests of Azerbaijan."
Turkey's immediate raising of Azerbaijan's interests following Monday's announcement could signal a step back on the border issue, Armenian political analyst Sergei Shakarian said.
"The border will not be re-opened, not within six weeks or six months, or in two years, because the Karabakh issue will not be resolved within this time," he said.
The agreement could also face strong domestic opposition in both countries, analysts said, and the ratification process could drag on.
"It is a very positive development, but of course we cannot say that the thing is in the bag," former Turkish diplomat Ilter Turkmen told CNN-Turk television.
"There is a long process ahead of us, first with six weeks of negotiations, then the ratification of the protocols before parliament. There is no certainty over what will happen in parliament. It is likely that the opposition will oppose this project, that there will be long arguments."
Editorial: Going On The Offensive, Hairenik, September 2, 2009
The signing of protocols on the establishment and development of relations between Turkey and Armenia on Aug. 31 was yet another adventure the Armenian authorities embarked upon without a sober analysis and calculation of the grave damages it might inflict on the Armenian cause.
And, it seems, the signals from the Turkish side that they have no serious commitment to good neighborly relations, opening the border without preconditions, or facing their past, were not picked up (or were conveniently ignored) by the Armenian authorities.
Analysts will have a lot to say about this most recent development. They will discuss potential outcomes, possible reactions in Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and beyond. Many others will take the noncommittal wait-and-see position.
But a closer look at what has transpired since "soccer diplomacy" was launched last year will show that the wait-and-see approach is in fact a stance with detrimental consequences that will only encourage further capitulations.
Armenians in the diaspora and in Armenia who are outraged-an understatement, perhaps-with the policies of the Armenian authorities should take the initiative and aggressively pursue an agenda that struggles to secure the rights of Armenians.
The time has come to take the initiative and move beyond condemning what the Armenian government is doing. In fact, that time was yesterday.
Editorial: Hopeful Signs, Arab News Sept 3 2009 Saudi Arabia
THE surprise announcement Monday night that Turkey and Armenia have agreed to open diplomatic relations and reopen a border between them that has been closed since 1927, except for a brief period ending in 1993, is to be welcomed, even though the finalization of the two protocols will be fraught with difficulties.
However, if Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan can see this agreement through, it will transform both Turkey's international standing and bring stability to the southern Caucasus. But the "if" is a big one. The protocols require parliamentary ratification and are opposed by nationalists in both Turkey and Armenia. Economically Armenia has more to gain. Since independence was restored in 1991, it has struggled in the face of Russian interference, financial ineptitude and corruption. With a falling birth rate, its 3,250,000 inhabitants have survived in no small measure on investment and remittances from the eight million Armenians who live outside the country.
Armenia's plight was worsened following the successful uprising of majority ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave of Azerbaijan. Turkey re-closed the border and landlocked Armenia struggled, with a major part of its trade having to pass expensively through its neighbor Georgia. Until Monday's agreements Ankara had insisted on the return of the enclave to Azeri rule before negotiations could be concluded. Since Turkey expects to benefit substantially from the planned Nabucco pipeline that will pass across it taking Azeri gas to Europe, it seems unthinkable that the protocols with Armenia have been made in isolation. Diplomatic sources indicated Wednesday night that the Minsk Group established in 1992, and co-chaired by Russia, the United States and France might be on the verge of a settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, possibly involving some level of autonomy for the enclave in return for Armenian recognition of Azeri sovereignty.
It would, however, be surprising if the Kremlin is backing a deal running counter to its own interests. Facilitating the Nabucco project that will give Europe an alternative to Russian gas, Gazprom is currently offering to pipe Azeri gas to Baku's new European customers via its own pipeline network. It may be, however, that Russia is tempted by the longer view that a stable and prosperous southern Caucasus will assist it as it grapples with growing Muslim unrest in the north.
Whatever the outcome, providing its nationalist right-wing politicians do not make an ugly spectacle of themselves, Erdogan's government is likely to emerge with considerable credit for grasping such a difficult political nettle as Armenia. The UN, the EU, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United States all want to see a normalization in Turco-Armenian relations. Starting with President Abdullah Gul's visit last year to Yerevan to watch Turkey play Armenia in a World Cup qualifier, it is Ankara that has been making the running -- and taking the political risks. If only past Turkish governments had demonstrated equal wisdom over the vexed issue of Northern Cyprus. But maybe the Armenian talks now presage new movement on Cyprus as well.
Turkey-Armenia Peace Talks: A Thaw In A Century-Old Feud?, Ruzan Khachatryan "Radiolur" 04.09.2009
The Times Magazine published an article today titled "Turkey-Armenia Peace Talks: A Thaw in a Century-Old Feud?" by Pelin Turgut.
"As ancient as Herodotus' Histories, the fast-flowing waters of the Aras River today trace the Turkish-Armenian border, a messy 20th century creation of broken bridges and shuttered rail tracks. In the shadow of snow-topped Mount Ararat, the river splits and narrows until it divides the verdant villages of Halikisla, on the Turkish side, and Bagaran, in Armenia. Once one, the villages are now separated by a stretch of water little wider than a double bed. Residents never meet, except to cast for trout under the watchful gaze of military guards or to return an errant cow.
Turkey and Armenia have been bitter enemies for almost a century, their tensions stemming from the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish army," the author writes.
"Turkey has always denied that the killings constitute genocide. The two countries briefly shared an open border when an independent Armenia emerged from post-Soviet Russia in 1991, but two years later Turkey sealed the border in solidarity with Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia over the contested enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Now one of Europe's last closed frontiers may finally be reopening again,"the author continues.
The Times reminds that on September 1, Turkey and Armenia announced a Swiss-mediated six-week negotiation period aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations. "The goal is for both parliaments to ratify a deal by Oct. 14 -- when the two countries are scheduled to play a World Cup soccer qualifier. The border could then reopen by the end of the year."
"There is much at stake. Securing the Caucasus region, veined with oil and gas pipelines, has become a priority for both Russia and the U.S. The Obama Administration has signaled that helping to rebuild Turkish-Armenian ties is a foreign-policy priority. But history is a potent saboteur in this part of the world, and talks have collapsed before under its weight. Already hard-liners in both countries are furiously denouncing the new peace plan," Pelin Turgut writes.
The Times has talked to a number of experts on the issue. "Both Turkey and Armenia have taken a brave and statesmanlike step," says Hugh Pope, analyst with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. "Both will win if it succeeds."
Ali Guvensoy, head of the Chamber of Commerce of Kars in eastern Turkey, estimates the regional economy could grow by 20% if the border reopens, a much-needed boon for the impoverished area. "The past is in the past. We need to look to the future," he says. "There is no r oom for fear."
"Once trade, human interaction and dialogue begin, finding common ground on more complicated issues will become easier," says Aybars Gorgulu, analyst at the Istanbul think tank TESEV.
The author of the article concludes that it will take time, perhaps years, for Turkey and Armenia to overcome decades of mutual distrust. But with the announcement of new peace talks, a long-overdue healing process may have finally begun.
The Armenian Agenda, `Aravot' September 5, 2009 Yerevan
1. The Patrimony is one and indivisible.
2. The sovereign Nation-State declared in one corner of the ancestral homeland recognizes republican Turkey and its integrity subject to Woodrow Wilson's arbitral award as issued under U.S. presidential seal in November 1920. A full and final regulation of all bilateral matters deriving therefrom is a material precondition to an equitable and enduring resolution in the case of Artsakh and Armenian-Azerbaijani relations in general. There is no statute on limitations on the crime of Genocide, however and whenever defined.
3. The nation-state recognizes republican Azerbaijan and its integrity subject to its own recognition of the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh, as constitutionally constituted, as well as release from occupation of the historic heartlands of Shahumian, Getashen, and Nakhichevan. No other territorial adjustment shall be considered or executed until the foregoing takes complete effect.
4. The nation-state recognizes republican Georgia and its integrity subject to its own acknowledgment that Javakhk is part and parcel of the patrimony and of their common security. The character of the reciprocal relationship, moreover, will turn on the efficacy of measures undertaken to demonstrate this understanding as well as to ensure fundamental freedoms for the Georgian-Armenian community and its institutions.
5. The nation-state respects the partnership of Iran, Russia, China, the European Union and the United States, and expects their respect for its absolute sovereignty and the rightful integrity of its heritage.
6. The nation-state, at Ararat and in dispersion, further recognizes that the bedrock of the points above and below is its own immediate and comprehensive transformation into a modern democratic Republic where the law rules, rights are revered, and citizen is crown. Justice in the world entails justice at home.
7. In direct consequence and for the sake of generations to come, the nation-state notes with gratitude the services rendered by all of its presidents, civil and military officials, and rank-and-file patriots, and at once requires each of them to stand equally before the rule of law. The territories, properties, enterprises, opportunities, and human lives heretofore privatized, expropriated, or sacrificed by their abuse of power must be accounted for to the fullest extent of the very same law.
8. For the first time in their long history, Armenia and its people must urgently conduct true elections for their presidency, legislature and, by extension, judiciary. Failing this, there is no national agenda, nor a manifest destiny, and so their birthright has already been squandered for good.
9. The nation-state, its every citizen, and no one else are responsible, without excuse or exception, for the burdens and blessings of their collective future.
2 September 2009
Turkey Istanbul Calling: For Turkey And Armenia, A Roadmap's Unclear Final Destination, Yigal Schleifer The Faster Times Sept 7 2009
Last week's announcement by Turkey and Armenia that they have agreed on a set of protocols that will lead towards the normalization of their relations and the opening of their borders was certainly welcome news. A previous breakthrough in Turkish-Armenian reconciliation --last April's vague declaration that the two countries had agreed on a "roadmap" for restoring relations -- quickly fizzled out when Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that there would be no progress on the Armenian front until the "full liberation" of the Azeri territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, occupied by Armenian forces since 1993.
What's different this time around is the release of the detailed protocols, which offer a clear path towards the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border and renewal of diplomatic ties between Ankara and Yerevan. But has Turkey really changed its position on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue? Will the Turkish parliament, which must ratify the protocols for them to take effect (as does Armenia's), support the move without any concrete action on the Nagorno-Karabakh front? From an analysis piece I have up on the Eurasianet website:
The Nagorno-Karabakh peace process is a complicating factor for the ratification of the protocols. Turkey is Azerbaijan's strongest ally, and Ankara imposed its economic blockade on Armenia in 1993 to support Baku's efforts to retain control over Karabakh. Currently, Armenian forces control Karabakh, along with large areas of Azerbaijan proper that surround the enclave.
The timing of the withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani lands is one of the primary sticking points in the Karabakh peace process.
The announcement last April of the existence of a "roadmap" to renew ties between Turkey and Armenia led to a strong backlash from Baku, and to what seemed like a stepping back from the deal on Ankara's part.
During a May 14 address to the Azerbaijani parliament, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared "that the border between Turkey and Armenia will be open only after the full liberation of Azerbaijani occupied territories."
Although the recently released protocols make no mention of a linkage between the normalization of Turkish-Armenian ties and the Karabakh peace process, "there's no doubt that the Karabakh issue looms over this reconciliation process," says Kiniklioglu.
"If there is no movement on Nagorno-Karabakh, it will be up to the Turkish parliament to assess the situation and judge accordingly."
Observers believe the Turkish government is now counting on international pressure to increase on Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach some kind of agreement regarding the disputed territory. Although the AKP has a majority in parliament, many observers believe that it will be difficult to ratify the protocols without any movement on the Nagorno-Karabakh front.
"Erdogan obviously feels that Turkey wants to see something on Nagorno-Karabakh before they can take it to parliament. The problem is [that the protocols are] in Turkey's interest, even if nothing happens on Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey's overwhelming national interest is in putting this Armenian problem behind it," says Hugh Pope, a Turkey analyst with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.
Over at Today's Zaman, the Brookings Institute's Omer Taspinar also takes a look at last week's announcement, saying it might be a bit to early to break out a bottle of "nice Caucasian champagne to celebrate." The protocols being ratified by both the Turkish and Armenian parliaments is a big "if," Taspinar says. Reminding readers that this breakthrough in Turkish-Armenian relations started with Turkish president Abdullah Gul going to Armenia for a World Cup qualifying game between the two countries' national teams, Taspinar writes:
The good news is that the so-called "soccer-diplomacy" is alive and well. The not so good news is that we are still at halftime, and the fanatic supporters of the two national teams can cancel the game or disqualify their teams by throwing sharp knifes on the field....
....So, last week's announcement comes just in time to maintain the facade of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation. If no sharp knives are thrown onto the field, soccer diplomacy will inch forward. It may still be too early to speak of a genuine rapprochement between Ankara and Yerevan. Yet, no one accuses the two parties of not trying. Negotiations between stubborn neighbors are never easy. But as Winston Churchill wisely said, "To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war."
So where is this Turkish-Armenian "roadmap" actually going to lead to? The next few weeks will give a clearer indication of that. One thing is clear: the protocols agreed upon by Ankara and Yerevan might not refer to Nagorno-Karabakh, but the "roadmap" for Turkish-Armenian reconciliation leads straight through the heart of that disputed territory.
8 September, 2009,
An Open Letter To The Swiss Government, 2009/09/07 Regarding Its Recent Mediation And Drafting Of Protocols On The “armenian Question” By Armen Kouyoumdjian
I do not know at what stage or for what reason, the Swiss Federal Government decided to get involved as a facilitator in mediating betweenTurkey and Armenia.
Contrary to Scandinavians, your country’s specialisation has been on short-term humanitarian issues in the midst of violent conflict, rather than helping to solve long-term diplomatic disputes. Contrary to many other disputes of today, this one hasemotional, moral, historical and ongoing aspects. Far from being on no talking terms, the parties involved have been talking regularly to each other, often with the help of other countries, but sometimes by themselves, on many occasions over the past two decades or so.
I am not aware of any deep involvement of Switzerland or even many Swiss people with the Armenian question. In fact, I know it from the best of sources that when, in June 1981, the Armenian ASALA organisation attacked the Turkish representation in Geneva, your foreign Ministry had so send their staff to public libraries to find out who the Armenians were, and what were their grievances. The Frankish Armenian kingdom of Cilicia fell in 1375, less than two decades after the early formation of your owncountry, and Armenians were without a country to call their own for the best part of the next 600 years or more.
Considering the nature of the proposals being made in the two “protocols”, particularly the second, I fear that you as a government, and as anelectorate to whom you always claim to be very close, have failed to follow the precepts of your own 15th-century patron saint, Nicolas de Flüe, who declared :” Don’t get involved in other people’s affairs”. Before you protest your good sentiments towards us by referring to the December 2003 recognition by the Swiss National Council, of the Armenian Genocide, I will point out to you that this was a Legislative rather than Executive power decision, and if anything, caused great official efforts at damage limitation with Turkey, of which this latest initiative appears to be the epitomy.
Now to the matters of substance. I have mixed feelings about the first protocol. I may be in a minority, at least among the Diaspora Armenians, in thinking that territorial claims for regaining lands unjustly withheld by Turkey, including a sea outlet, in the early 1920’s, cannot be reclaimed. However iniquitous this may have been, today’s Real Politik approach does not make such a wish possible. Furthermore, the government of the Republic of Armenia has reiterated that they have no territorial claims on Turkey, and insisting to the contrary would only embarrass them diplomatically.
One commentator, in a clever piece of geopolitical fiction, described how Turkey hypothetically returns these lands, which are incorporated into Armenia together with all its Turkish population. The growth of that population becomes such that they eventually obtain majority representation in the Armenian parliament, and vote to absorb the country into Turkey! However, the opening of the border with Turkey, the closure of which, only permitted by the UN in times of war or major catastrophe, is essential for the economic development of Armenia, and was
imposed by Turkey.
Completely different is the matter of the Karabagh enclave, and the access corridor between it and the Republic of Armenia. There, current practice of self-determination of people has to be applied. Here is a land peopled entirely by Armenians, which was given to Turkic Azerbaijan by Stalin as a gesture to woe Kemal Ataturk, whom old Joe mistakenly thought would be a good beach head to spread Communism in the Middle East. Both its territory and direct access between it and Armenia are rightfully ours to keep. No foreign peace force or declaration of good intent, least of all promises and guarantees, will replace physical possession. From the German help in organising the 1915 Genocide, to the non-intervention of the French fleet off the coast of Adana, and from the shameful withdrawal post WWI of British forces who let, in a modern version of Srebrenica, all the Armenians of Baku be massacred, to which we can add the broken promises of all US presidents, Obama included, to recognise the Genocide, we have completely lost faith in the promises of the West.
Now to the second protocol, a shameful act if there ever was one, concerning the creation of a historical commission from both sides, plus “independent” members, to look into the historical events related to the killings of Armenians from the 1880’s to the 1920’s. To propose such a commission means that there is something unclear to investigate. Which syllable of “Genocide” cannot the Swiss authorities understand? What you are proposing is akin to insisting that present-day Nazi parties and descendants of the Third Reich leaders, sit down with the Israeli government and Jewish organisations to discuss the veracity of the Holocaust!
Ah, I hear you say, it is not the same thing. And you would be very right. The Armenian Genocide was proportionally larger and much better documented in its time than the Jewish Holocaust. However distasteful number crunching might be (for which you only have yourselves to blame), the proportion of the Armenian race that was massacred was far greater. The events did not take place in the closed confines of extermination camps, with only rumours seeping out. Armenians were massacred in the open air, in villages, the countryside and in towns.
Photography and cinematography were both already in use, and the pictures are there. Copies of the documents that gave the orders are available. A large number of Western diplomats (at that time most countries had consuls even in the smallest cities), missionaries, doctors and teachers, were eye witnesses to what was going on. Though governments refused to do anything, there was tremendous pressure from the press and public opinion at the time. More recently, countless academics have done further research.
What is it exactly that is in doubt and requires further examination? The colours of the clothes babies were wearing when their heads were smashed against thewall of churches? This proposal, coming from Switzerland, not only contradicts the 2003 vote of your own National Council, but is a gratuitous and shameful affront to the Armenian people, both in the Diaspora and the Republic of Armenia.
Nobody who calls himself an Armenian will dare take part in such a parody of “transparency”, the only purpose of which is to cast doubt on solid historical fact. There are stories which do not have two sides, and your attitude, unfortunately shared by many international media organs, wipes out any pretence that Switzerland may have had in the past in upholding high moral principles. Whether you have acted on your own ignorance, or are fronting for some of the biased stakeholders in this matter, you are equally at fault.
In all this continuing effort to kill our historical memory, put our small remnant of an independent territory at risk, and once again preside over the victory of lies over truths, all is not totally devoid of satisfaction for us. Whatever we did in History to remain around for over three thousand years, we did it all by ourselves. We did not play on anyone’s guilt feelings to steal a territory from the only people that had treated us well throughout history, namely the Arabs. We did not try to influence world politics and economics to create a sympathy “rente de situation” for ourselves, encouraging others to pursue costly but futile wars that served our interests. We can walk any street with our heads high, which is more than I can say for the government and people of Switzerland.
Sent in a private capacity by
Adviser on International Affairs
Armenian Community of Chile
Phone (56-99) 224 1060
FAX (56-32) 261 2180
September 15, 2009
September 7th, 2009
Thank you for this open letter.. we should unmask Turkey! Turkey is not after (re)conciliation…. What Turkey is doing is nothing and nothing but legalization of a mass crime and blackmailing Armenian people, who had gone true a genocide. Shame on this Turkey! These two protocols are a second genocide and insult to the memory of Armenians, who were deported and killed en mass…
Shame on this Turkey, which made everything Turkish after Armenian people were deported and killed en mass!
Armenian Opening: The Rights And Wrongs... September 4, 2009 Sami Kohen
According to the opposition in Armenia and the representatives of the Armenian diaspora, the latest agreement between Turkey and Armenia is a massive fiasco for them. They believe that the Armenian government gave up the stance that it has adopted up to this point, and made unacceptable concessions. Therefore Turkey has gained more from this.
On the other hand, the opponents of the agreement in Turkey think quite the contrary. They believe that the real concessive party is Turkey. Ankara stepped back in basic issues and offered the advantage to the Armenian side.
Such severe reactions are natural indeed, as seen in all agreements made for the solution of hard disputes. Those kinds of agreements can only be materialized with a “give and take” approach. In the end, the point is how people look at the balance between the “taken” and “given” or the empty or full side of the glass.
The thing that the opposition in Armenia and especially the diaspora criticize the most about this agreement and blame the Serge Sarkisian government for is the genocide issue.
The initialized protocol states the establishment of a joint commission participated by foreign experts about this issue. This, as you would recall, is a suggestion that Turkey has always put forward. While accepting this, Sarkisian also gave up another point insisted by the Armenian side, namely the acceptance of genocide being a precondition in the negotiations.
This is actually a very important change of attitude by the Armenians. It is understandable that there are severe reactions in Armenia and especially the diaspora against the agreement, which brings together the study of genocide claims.
If the agreement is confirmed and put into force, the Armenian side will definitely lose its previous effectiveness about the genocide propaganda. The Armenian organizations’ already taking up attempts at the congressional level demonstrates this.
Other articles of the protocol are also criticized by some in Armenia. These circles, for instance, argue that although Nagorno-Karabakh is not mentioned in the agreement, Turkey will tacitly combine the opening of borders with this issue and create pressure over Yerevan within this process. As evidence, they point to the latest statements of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu..
The new process
In Turkey, the main complaint of the opponents of the agreement is that Nagorno-Karabakh is not mentioned in the protocol and this has not been put as a precondition for the opening of borders.
It is true that such a statement or precondition does not exist in the protocol. This, however, does not mean that Turkey will not put in any efforts for the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue in the new process and wait for some developments to take place first. Put more clearly, Turkey will adjust the approval of the protocols according to the developments in this issue. Therefore, the borders will not be opened immediately.
The Nagorno-Karabakh issue that has prevailed for years cannot be solved in a short period, of course. However, it can be expected that the Armenian forces withdraw from the seven regions surrounding it in a short time. It is seen that considerable improvement has been made in this regard thanks to the efforts of the Minsk group. This can be an important step.
Besides, Turkey’s experiencing a process of convergence and dialogue provides the best opportunity for the solution of problems between Yerevan and Baku. It is worth asking about the benefits of the lack of normal relations between Turkey and Armenia in the previous years for the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. The normalization of relations between Ankara and Yerevan will be beneficial for both countries as well as Azerbaijan.
* Sami Kohen is a columnist for the daily Milliyet in which this piece appeared Friday. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.
Yerevan Asks Tbilisi To Declare Armenian A Regional Language September, 3, 2009 Yerevan, Armenia
Armenian President Serge Sarkisian has called on the Georgian government to expand the cultural rights enjoyed by ethnic Armenians in Georgia.
“I believe that recognition of Armenian as a regional language, registering a diocese of the Armenian apostolic church and the preservation of Armenian historical monuments will only serve to deepen the Armenian-Georgian friendship,” the Interfax news agency quoted Sarkissian as saying.
Separatist tensions have long simmered under the surface in Georgian areas with high concentrations of ethnic Armenians, Georgia’s second-largest ethnic minority group. Some experts in Tbilisi said that making Armenian an official language could touch off similar efforts by other ethnic minorities in Georgia, according to a report distributed Thursday by the Eurasia.net Web site.
2009-08-30 Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan: The Clock Is Ticking
After a lengthy pause, the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement is back on the agenda. The move to normalise relations between the two neighbours first surfaced back in April, but soon stalled. Now, with the mediation of Switzerland, Ankara and Yerevan have announced plans to normalise relations through protocols on establishing diplomatic relations and developing bilateral ties, which are due to be signed into law by the respective parliaments within six weeks (news.am, September 1). The border is due to open within two months of the diplomatic relations protocol coming into force (Reuters, August 31). The stage is potentially set for a serious re-adjustment of the geopolitics of the South Caucasus.
The six week timeframe is worth noting, for two reasons. It ends on October 13, the day before Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian is due to visit Turkey for a football match between the two countries, the first leg of which began the rapprochement last September. So the plan seems to be that the visit to Turkey will see the formal signing of a peace deal, with the border being opened soon afterwards.
More significantly, the six weeks are specifically set aside for ‘political consultations’ with domestic actors. Clearly, persuading constituencies at home to support the agreement is going to be extremely difficult. For decades, Turks and Armenians have viewed each other as an implacable historical enemy, and reaction to the April thaw was fierce. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) pulled out of the ruling coalition, and can be expected to staunchly oppose the bill, as will the Turkish MHP and CHP parties. As analyst Yigal Schliefer observes, Turkish voters are also being asked to trust the government’s initiative to make peace with the Kurds at the same time (Eurasianet, September 4).
The whole peace process could conceivably be stalled by domestic pressure from nationalist groups. Armenia is arguably more at risk of this. Unlike Turkey’s ruling AKP, President Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia does not hold a significant parliamentary majority. The Diaspora, traditionally more hardline than Armenians within the country, may also exert pressure.
What may be most explosive, however, is the decision to set up a “dialogue on the historical dimension”. In other words, a commission to reappraise what Armenians view as genocide but which Turkey has only ever viewed as regrettable tragic events during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Although important for Turks, the issue is a cornerstone of Armenia’s national identity, and by signing the mentioned protocols the Armenian government will commit itself to stopping its world-wide campaign to achieve the recognition of the 1915 events as genocide. Therefore, any reappraisal will certainly be rejected by the Armenian opposition and Diaspora.
Providing that both governments pass the protocols smoothly, a host of obstacles await. Chief amongst these is the position of Turkey’s historic ally Azerbaijan. One of the main reasons that the April thaw failed was because of Baku’s opposition to any Turkish-Armenian deal which failed to pressure Yerevan to withdraw from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Turkish officials were forced to announce that the opening of the border would be contingent on the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. The new protocols, by omitting Karabakh or any reference to Azerbaijan, seem to reverse this statement. But there is little doubt that Turkey expects progress on Karabakh – even if the government has no such expectation, the Turkish parliament will. Six weeks seems a fantastically optimistic timeframe to see progress on Karabakh, and most likely Ankara would be satisfied with formal pledges of withdrawal by Armenia.
This marks a surprisingly strong intervention in the Karabakh peace process by Turkey. It is unclear whether Ankara consulted the OSCE Minsk Group of America, Russia and France, the group tasked with the conflict’s resolution. However, reports indicate that the OSCE is sending an observation group for a technical examination of the Lachin corridor, which would link Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, in late September (World Bulletin, September 5). This suggests that Turkey has done more to push the peace process forward than the Minsk Group has managed in 15 years.
If no progress is made on Karabakh by the end of the six weeks, what are Baku’s options? The first, and most damaging, would be to hold off on the Nabucco pipeline and increase cooperation with Russia, in order to reroute Azeri gas through Russia’s pipeline network. The costs would be high, and there is little appetite in Baku for becoming vulnerable to Russian political and economic influence, but such is the level of hostility in Azerbaijan to any opening of Turkish-Armenian border without the release of its occupied territories.
Russia’s own attitude to the rapprochement is hard to discern. It has expressed polite approval, but it is undoubtedly watching carefully. An open border with Turkey would allow Russia to ship material to its military base in Armenia (impossible since the closure of the Georgian land route), but would also decrease Armenia’s economic reliance on Moscow and move it towards the West. The ‘loss’ of Armenia may well be compensated by the ‘gain’ of Azerbaijan.
Ironically, this is one area where both Georgia and Russia are inclined to agree. Georgia currently acts as the sole western-oriented trade route for Armenian goods, which are shipped to its Black Sea ports. Open borders will decrease Tbilisi’s leverage in this regard. Iran, for similar reasons, may also be disinclined to approve the opening, although it (like Georgia) would not dream of publicly saying so.
The clock is ticking. Domestic political upheaval in either Armenia or Turkey is a real risk, particularly Armenia, which will have to deal with engaging Turkey and withdrawing from the occupied regions around Nagorno-Karabakh simultaneously. A serious domestic setback could stall all regional peace processes for the near future.
Victory at home does not make victory abroad. Azerbaijan’s position is crucial, and is inflexible. Exactly what it will – or can – do if Turkey opens the border without Armenian gestures on Karabakh is impossible to establish at this stage, but gas projects from the Caspian to the West are clearly under threat. This would ruin Turkey’s reputation as an energy hub, one of its key attractions for the EU. Russia would lose some of its influence over Armenia, but could gain far greater power over Azerbaijan’s energy exports, reshaping the whole oil and gas game in the region. Most strikingly, we could see an end to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ankara axis, which has proved one of the most enduring alliances in Eurasia. The next six weeks could reshape the Caucasus as we know it.
Not in Diaspora Armenians Name!
Many countries has warmly welcomed the joint statement by Turkey and Armenia, with Swiss participation, in the normalization of their bilateral relations. Foreign press bulletins sounds sweet music in the ears of oil and gas cartels, but on Tuesday 1 September: Turkish foreign minister Davutoglu said that "recognizing borders" was an important element of the protocols on "Establishment of Diplomatic Relations" and "Development of Bilateral Relations" initialized by Turkey and Armenia within the context of the efforts the two countries had been displaying under the mediation of Switzerland.
Armenian President Serge Sarkisian has no mandate to sign any agreement with Turkey on behalf of Diaspora Armenians. Present Armenian Republic does not represent United Armenian majority, there should be no doubt about this fact. Diaspora Armenians have the right to approve the final protocol, since Diaspora Armenians pursue "Hay Tad", (Armenian Lawsuit). It is well known that Diaspora Armenians have territorial claims and restitution claims, and non Armenian have any doubts that the massacres of 1915 is GENOCIDE according to the international convention, and is recognized as genocide by international scholars and by 22-23 nations.
An intergovernmental commission to determine whether the genocide was a genocide is mentioned in the protocols to be signed, Diaspora Armenians have no part in the creation of such a commission which will cast doubts about the Armenian Genocide, Diaspora Armenians with the independent International Community has already done their research part, let Turkey alone be clarified with their own history and reconcile with their consciousness (if they have one), by forming such an mythical commission, so the Turkish authorities with such an agreement (If signed) are deceiving Armenians collectively as a nation as well as deceiving the international community. Armenians have wished to reconciliation, bu no Armenian believe the deceptive Rondo La Turko dance on the international stage.
It will be wise of us if Diaspora Armenians insist to be a part of these negotiations and mobilize the Diaspora Armenians around the world to put pressure on Turkey to negotiate with United Armenians.
Kindest Regards From A Diaspora Armenian
Sep 4, 2009, Are We Using The Momentum Fully, If Not; Why? Forum Commenter
Is it possible that Azerbaijan will launch an "offensive" on Artzakh or at least perform large scale military drills?, just for propaganda reasons and take advantage of the present international spotlight which is on Armenia after Turkey and Armenia have come so close to the agreement to start consultations on forging diplomatic ties and developing bilateral relations. Such a trap scenario could be prepared by Turkey to put forward Artzakh issue on the agenda?.
Armenian is missing the momentum, Armenia has become the center of Gas and Oil pipelines. Russia is an ally to Armenia as well as Artzakh. Americans and EU are eager to open borders between Armenia and Turkey but have given nothing to Armenia rather than opening the border for their own interests. Armenia can use the momentum by demanding West Armenia, since the present border is an occupied border, why Turkey open a border that initially does not belong to them. What will the West do to such a scenario, support Azerbaijan waging war over Artzakh?. Do the West really afford to start III World War?,I don't think so. We do not need the West, They need Armenia more than ever, since Georgia has become too vulnerable. The Russian card is interesting too, is Russia ready to betray Armenia?...
Turkey And Armenia Vow To Heal Past Wounds (Hugh Pope*), Today's Zaman 3 September 2009
It's been a long time coming, but Turkey and Armenia's vow on Aug. 31 to establish diplomatic relations, open their long-closed border and begin to talk seriously about the past is excellent news.
As laid out in our April 14 report “Turkey and Armenia: Opening Minds, Opening Borders,” normalization between Turkey and Armenia will benefit not just their bilateral relationship. If successful, it could win back for Turkey and its Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government much of their recently faded prestige as domestic reformers, as regional peacemakers and as a country seriously intending to push forward with its accession process to the European Union.
The brief joint announcement from Ankara, Yerevan and the Swiss mediators in Bern said that two protocols had been initialed on the establishment of diplomatic relations and the development of bilateral relations. The two sides committed to seeing the protocols through to parliamentary ratifications within six weeks -- that is, two days before an Oct. 14 World Cup qualifier match between Armenia and Turkey due to be played in the western Turkish provincial city of Bursa. Turkey hopes that Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan will accept its invitation to attend, just as Turkish President Abdullah Gül initiated the current process by attending the first round match in Yerevan in September 2008.
Texts of the two protocols circulating in Turkey and Armenia set out a fully rounded and reasonable plan. In a "Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations," the two sides promised to establish diplomatic relations on the first day of the first month after ratification, to exchange diplomatic missions, to reopen the border within two months of ratification and to mutually recognize the existing border. In a "Protocol on Development of Relations" -- to go into effect simultaneously with the diplomatic opening -- the two sides promised to promote cooperation in all areas from energy infrastructure to tourism; to set up a mechanism of regular foreign ministry consultations, including a main intergovernmental commission and seven sub-commissions; to act jointly to preserve the cultural heritage of both sides; and to establish consular cooperation. The protocols are accompanied by a detailed timetable, in which all steps and commissions would be fully implemented and in motion within four months.
On the vexed question of how to describe the Ottoman-era massacres of Armenians in World War I -- widely known as the Armenian genocide, a label rejected by Turkey -- the "Protocol on Development of Relations" agreed to "implement a dialogue on the historical dimension with the aim to restore mutual confidence between the two nations, including an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archives to define existing problems and formulate recommendations." The timetable adds that this dialogue will be conducted under the aegis of the main intergovernmental commission in a "sub-commission on the historical dimension … in which Armenian, Turkish as well as Swiss and other international experts shall take part."
In short, Turkey and Armenia have taken a brave and statesmanlike step. Both will win if it succeeds. Armenia will overcome the sense that it is surrounded and under siege, will open a new commercial and psychological gateway westward to Europe, will be able to look better after the interests of the many tens of thousands of Armenians working in Turkey, will be able to market its electricity surplus and have easier access to the many Armenian cultural and religious sites in eastern Turkey. For Turkey, the gains are just as significant: the ability to show European and Western partners that it is working toward closure with Armenians on the contested matter of the World War I massacres; to add a new plank in its efforts to bring stability, prosperity and cooperation through relations with all three of its Caucasus neighbors; and, finally, to achieve the satisfaction of full and public Armenian recognition of its borders.
The Aug. 31 step towards normalization was originally expected in April, but Turkey backed away from the deal. All that could be announced on April 22 was a vague road map. This hesitation was apparently due to pressure from Azerbaijan -- a major supplier of cheap gas to Turkey, and with which Turkey shares close linguistic ties -- and continued nationalist opposition to compromise with Armenia inside the Turkish political system. This coincided with a period in Turkey in which reforms towards EU accession had virtually halted; in which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an appeared disengaged with EU ambitions and to be pursuing alternatives in Russia and the Middle East; and in which Turkey appeared to be taking sides in Middle Eastern issues, with notably harsh criticism of Israel. Turkey also appeared to side fully with Azerbaijan against Armenia, and it remains unclear what will happen to Erdo?an's May 14 promise to the Azerbaijani National Assembly that there would be no opening of the Armenia-Turkey border until there is an Armenian withdrawal from occupied Azerbaijani territory.
The news that normalization with Armenia is back on track, therefore, is a signal that Turkey may be changing direction again. In the past few months, Turkey and the AK Party leadership have also begun to push hard for progress on two other difficult dossiers, coming to terms with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq and firmly setting out a framework of reconciliation with its own substantial Kurdish community. Progress towards Turkey-Armenia normalization has also been helped by the unusual way that the US and Russia appear to have been working separately toward a similar compromise outcome and pushing more actively for progress toward a settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The fact that Turkey is now leaning back towards a reconciliation with Armenia will do much to clear doubts about the country's posture and the priorities of Prime Minister Erdo?an. It will also do proper credit to the polls that showed 70 percent of the Turkish population supported President Gül's gesture of visiting Armenia for last September's first round soccer match, and the great strides Turkey's intellectual and political elites have taken in the past decade to dismiss the old-fashioned narrative of nationalist denial towards the catastrophic Armenian massacres of 1915. Normalization with Armenia will also give real substance to new Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu's stated goals of "zero problems" and "peace in the neighborhood." However, while reconciliation with Armenia will rightly attract great positive attention in Europe, the next test will not be long in coming.
Turkey has to find a way to expedite a solution to the long-running Cyprus problem in the next several months or see its EU accession process effectively grind to a halt.
*Hugh Pope is the director of the Turkey/Cyprus Project at International Crisis Group and the author of "Sons of the Conquerors: the Rise of the Turkic World" (Overlook Duckworth, New York: 2005). This article was originally published on the International Crisis Group Web site on Sept. 1.
What Does The Recent Protocol With Armenia Mean? (Gökhan Bacik*), Today's Zaman 3 September 2009
Turkish-Armenian relations have entered a new phase with the declaration of a protocol for the establishment of diplomatic ties. This protocol, which goes beyond the mutual gestures and symbolic steps taken thus far, will lead to a text that is able to create some concrete results that could potentially become the objects of international law.
Naturally, this should be seen as a strong indication of an announcement concerning the will and intentions of the parties. The ongoing friction and clashes between the parties since World War I and the overall situation of the Caucasus region will be changed after the implementation of the protocol. In a way, this sends a strong and decisive signal to resolve history, which has been frozen.
The most striking aspect of the protocol, which was partially published in the media, is undoubtedly the mutual agreement concerning the opening of the common border within two months after the protocol is implemented, as explained in Article 1. This announcement of the intention of the parties confirms that the current stage of Armenian-Turkish relations is irreversible, considering that the preservation of the status quo with respect to the borders was perceived as the biggest obstacle and barrier before making any progress in bilateral relations. Many attempts have been inconclusive because of this barrier. After opening the border, an important obstacle that serves as a tool to perpetuate the problem will have been eliminated. More importantly, the protocol underlines that the parties will make their archives and historical resources available to researchers. With such an engagement, the parties declared that they have adopted a lenient and constructive approach with respect to such a delicate issue. Lastly, the parties' eagerness to open diplomatic missions as underlined in the protocol should be mentioned.
How should this briefly explained text be interpreted? Above all, this short text gives the impression that the parties are eager for an integration deal. In addition to resolving their problems, the parties want to cooperate in the fields of culture, education, economy and transportation. The reason for the emphasis on such concepts in a protocol between two countries whose border still remains closed is obvious: Turkey and Armenia need each other, considering the recently developed projects that will affect the destiny and prosperity of the region. However, two points should be underlined: Turkey and Armenia are not equals in terms of international relations. For this reason, assuming that the protocol will work well, it would not be wrong to argue that Armenia will fall into the sphere of influence of Turkey. Undoubtedly, this will have serious consequences for the entire Caucasus region as well as for Russia and other actors. Secondly, Armenia gets back into international relations with the protocol. At the moment, Armenia is practically separate from the international system because of its isolated profile and weak economy, despite officially being a part of the international world. Relations between Armenia and the international system are carried out via limited channels controlled by Russia. Like Syria rejoined the international system via Turkey, Armenia is trying the same means to integrate with the global world. This may have serious impacts on the culture and political life of Armenia.
Thirdly, Armenian political elites who attempted to improve relations with Turkey likely initiated a process in their country. Rapprochement with a country like Turkey, which is obviously able to integrate and communicate with the world and has visible influence in the web of international relations, will lead to some radical changes in the social and political structure of Armenia. The sub-region that has been emerging under the lead of Turkey is expanding to include Armenia. Fourthly, close ties with a country like Turkey, whose economy attracts a great deal of attention, will provoke the emergence of a more liberal environment in the Caucasus. Considering relations between Turkey and Georgia and the ties between Russia and Georgia, this protocol may start a process of liberalization in the entire Caucasus region. The emergence of an effective and influential Turkish presence that will touch upon Armenia will trigger the political fault lines of the entire region.
The protocol has started a fairly critical psychological process concerning relations between Turkey and Armenia. It should be recalled that any international problem may create fertile ground for some political actors. For this reason, it is possible to expect attempts to disrupt the process of rapprochement between the parties. There are actors whose survival depends on the presence and substance of such problems in both Turkey and Armenia. These actors will try to rely on propaganda suggesting that the protocol is detrimental to their national interests. There is one way to deal with such obstacles: acting swiftly and protecting the process against external harm.
*Assistant Professor Gökhan Bacy'k is an instructor at Fatih University.
Tricky Part Of The Armenian Initiative (Abdulhamit Bilyici) Today's Zaman 3 September 2009
It seems as if the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is compensating for the hesitant policies it followed in 2005 due to internal and external causes. These days, it is launching one initiative after another: the Kurdish initiative, the Alevi initiative, the Halki Seminary initiative, the Armenian initiative and so on.
Those who have long lost their hope in the government might be eagerly waiting in anticipation to see if these processes lead to the suicide of the AK Party. But, it seems, they do not calculate what might happen if these issues, some of which date back to 80 years ago or some even 400 years ago, are settled.
The opposition should lend an ear to the following statement by Gürsel Tekin, the head of the Y'stanbul provincial branch of the Republican People's Party (CHP): "If Turkey becomes democratic and if the Kurdish issue is settled, I assure you, Turkey's great potential will come out. ... Whoever or whichever party solves this national issue will be etched in history."
Nevertheless, the government should keep in mind that managing so many initiatives properly will require extraordinary effort. Just have a look at the confusion about which name to use to address the Kurdish issue. During the latest speech by Interior Minister Be?ir Atalay on the issue, I noticed that three TV channels broadcasting it live gave the initiative different names: "the Kurdish initiative" or "the democratic initiative" or "the brotherhood and peace initiative."
Moreover, the government should also refrain from giving the general public the false perception that such complicated issues can be solved easily and in a short time.
Another important point is that such a challenging issue cannot be readily solved while the country's politics remain extremely politicized. It is already a good development in that the National Intelligence Organization (MY'T), the military, the police and other state organizations support the process. But something should be done to make sure that the opposition, too, is involved in it.
Returning to our hot topic, the Armenian initiative, the goodwill of those who devise and implement it is unquestionable. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu dreams of turning our disorderly region into a peaceful basin. The fact that he had to address questions about the Armenian initiative during a trip to ease tension between Iraq and Syria is a sign of his sincerity. During an interview he gave to the private NTV channel in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), he referred to World Peace Day and explained how a peace that is not comprehensive, as seen in the case of the Israeli-Syrian conflict, will be very fragile. It is hard to effect a reconciliation between Israel and Syria while Gaza is victimized.
Likewise, we cannot think of the Armenian initiative independently of the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territory. I cannot speak about other initiatives, but the success of the Armenian initiative is dependent on Karabakh. And Azerbaijan is perfectly entitled to demand that its sister country Turkey not open the border before this occupation is terminated.
The Turkish officials I spoke to say that Baku is informed about the process, that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an has discussed it with Azerbaijani President Y'lham Aliyev and that a Foreign Ministry undersecretary has visited Baku to explain the details of the protocol. Nevertheless, the preliminary statements made from Baku about the initiative remind us of the process we experienced back in April. Yerevan's statement that "Karabakh is not a prerequisite" adds to the doubts felt by our Azerbaijani sisters and brothers.
For this reason, everyone should understand the tricky part of the Armenian initiative. The tricky part is not the signing of the protocols concerning the recognition of borders, the opening of border gates or the establishment of a commission of historians, but the entry into force of these protocols. If psychologies can be managed, the matter is about giving a chance to peace with goodwill. Thanks to these protocols, the issue will be discussed in both countries up through Oct. 14. Thanks to these protocols, Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan, who had refused to come to Turkey, will come to watch the soccer game between the national teams of the two countries. The protocols will be initialed and the legal approval process will start when they will be sent to Parliament for final approval. If a positive development occurs with respect to the Karabakh issue, Parliament will approve it, and if not, it will be shelved away as was the case with the opening of Turkish ports to Greek Cypriots.
To refuse to establish dialogue if the occupation in Karabakh is not terminated is an easy option for Ankara, but one without benefit. Obviously, this does not help Turkey or Azerbaijan in the least. Now, Turkey is experimenting with the idea of helping Armenia to reconcile with Baku by not closing its doors in advance. Davuto?lu is telling his US, French and Russian counterparts that they should provide assistance for the settlement of the Karabakh issue if they really want the Armenian issue to be solved. This matter should be correctly understood lest we return to where we started.
Comment: Omer Engin Lutem, Turkey-Armenia: Signing Of The Protocols, Avim, 2 September 2009
Turkey, Armenia and Switzerland –which assumed the mediator role between the two countries-, have made public a joint statement to declare that they initialed two protocols.
The First Protocol is on “The Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Armenia and The Republic of Turkey”.
The Second Protocol concerns the development of relations between the two countries and defines on which fields the cooperation will took place. To this protocol a timetable is attached showing the time of implementation of the elements of the protocol.
Since Karabakh is not a bilateral problem between Turkey and Armenia, the issue was not included in either of the protocols.
However, Karabakh problem exists in the background as Turkey promised Azerbaijan that unless this problem is solved, Turkey would not normalize its relations and open its border with Armenia. Therefore it seems that the implementation of the protocols would depend on developments of the Karabakh issue.
The entry into force of the protocols will take place according to some timetables. Among them political consultations that will last six weeks are rather important as end of this time protocols will be signed. The six-week period coincides to the Turkey-Armenia football match that will take place on 14th of October. Therefore, one can assume that these protocols would be signed during or same days earlier or later of President Sarkisian’s visit to Turkey, who would have no more excuses for not making this visit.
Afterwards, the protocols will be presented to the parliaments for ratification. In our view, to fulfill the promise to Azerbaijan TGNA’s ratification will take place only after a solution of the Karabakh problem is founded or at least Armenia and Azerbaijan would be seriously engaged for the achievement of a lasting peace process.
After the parliaments ratification the protocols will come into effect on the first day of the first month following the exchange of the ratification documents.
Opening of borders –an issue of utmost importance for the Armenian side- will take place two months after the protocols become effective. Therefore even in case of the solution of Karabakh issue in this short period of time, the opening of border would only be possible after four months from now. In fact, the solution of the Karabakh issue would require more time than that, which in turn would postpone the opening of borders.
As to the advantages of these protocols for two counties, Armenia will be able to overcome its long-term isolation by establishing diplomatic relations with Turkey, the opening of borders and beginning cooperation in several fields. Since the implementation of the protocols is dependent on a solution of the Karabakh issue, relations with Azerbaijan would also improve.
Turkey for a long time has had two basic demands from Armenia. First is the recognition of its borders. Second concerns genocide claims. Turkey expects that genocide accusation ceases; at least these claims not used for political purposes and historical events be studied by scholars not by politicians.
In the protocols, it becomes clear that Turkish expectations are realized.
In the protocol on “The Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Armenia and The Republic of Turkey”, it’s noted that the two countries confirm that the existing border mutually recognized. We consider that the borders recognition issue is resolved.
The second protocol on the development of relations indicates that the sides agree to establish “an intergovernmental bilateral commission which shall comprise separate sub-commissions”. One of the sub-commissions will deal with the “historical dimension” in order to implement “an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archives to define existing problems and formulate recommendations.” Therefore, we conclude that Turkey’s proposal of 2005 concerning the examination of the incidents in 1915 by a group of historians and other specialists is accepted.
In conclusion, it seems that these protocols meet Turkey’s demands. On the other hand if implemented the protocols would positively contribute to peace and cooperation in the South Caucasus. On this occasion we think that we own a great deal to Turkish diplomats whose determination and efforts (not only recently but since the independence of Armenia in 1991) opened the door of the normalization of relation between the two countries.
on August 29, 2009 By Levon Chorbajian
Below is the text of the talk given by Prof. Levon Chorbajian at the conference on Turkish-Armenian relations held in Stepanakert on July 10-11. The Armenian Weekly thanks Prof. Chorbajian for the text.
I would like to thank the organizers for calling this conference at this timely moment. And I would especially like to pay my respects to the people of Karabagh and Armenia for courageously challenging Soviet and Azerbaijani authority and reversing the clear injustice of assigning this territory to the Azerbaijan S.S.R. in the early 1920’s. The result is an independent Karabagh and it is a great achievement. I am not unmindful of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made and continue to be made to keep this reality afloat. My purpose is to call those sacrifices to mind and to argue that we should not participate in a process that would cause them to have been made in vain.
I am not going to be entirely critical of Armenian diplomacy regarding Karabagh. It has had its successes. If it had not, we would not be able to be here. But I do want to say that Armenia and Karabagh have clear historical and ideological resources on their side which have not been put to full use or—even worse—been put to any use at all. When Azerbaijan and Turkey negotiate, they negotiate from maximalist positions, and they are very reluctant to make concessions. Armenians do not seem to follow suit. Why have governments in Yerevan, for example, acted to assure Turkey that they have no claims on that nation, as though we were the guilty party and had, therefore, to reassure others of our good intentions?
Concerning Karabagh, and also the opening of the Turkish border, I would say first that there has to be a recognition that pan-Turkism is not a marginal ideology in Turkey or Azerbaijan. The Turks and the Azeris have their differences, but they have both long coveted Armenian territories to fulfill their ambition of an unbroken territorial link between them. This should not be underestimated, and what follows from this observation is that the Karabagh Question is not, as the Minsk Group insists, a narrow dispute limited to Nagorno-Karabagh. No, it is about Karabagh but also about the fate of Armenia and the Armenian people on an independent Armenian homeland. That is what is at stake.
My focus is on bargaining strategies that I believe have not been effectively used by the Armenian side and need to be used. The first, and I will not have a lot to say about it because it has been noted by several previous speakers, is the exclusion of Nagorno-Karabagh from the negotiating process. This is the single greatest flaw in the negotiating process and, to my knowledge, without precedent in the history of conflict resolution.
The second is that territorial claims have traditionally been decided on the basis of three criteria: Who has lived there historically? Who lives there now? And what do the people who live there now want? It is actually unusual for all three of these to fall on one side. Consider the case of Northern Ireland, a colonized territory, but one where the Catholics are a minority in their own land and have been for a long time. But in the Karabagh case, all three criteria favor the Armenian side. I think this point—that Karabagh presents one of the world’s strongest cases in favor of independence—should be stressed repeatedly and there should be no compromise on it.
The third issue concerns borders. The current borders of Nagorno-Karabagh are much smaller than the territory that Azerbaijan received in 1923. At that time Karabagh and Armenia shared a border. Territories were taken from Karabagh and from southern Armenia (Siunik was wider at that time than it is now) to form Red Kurdistan, and as soon as the goal of that change (which was never to territorially recognize the Kurds but rather to aggrandize Azeri territory) was accomplished, the Kurds were quickly abandoned and Red Kurdistan disappeared to became a part of Azerbaijan proper. The northern Armenian-populated areas of Shahumian and others were also separated out of Karabagh and made part of Azerbaijan itself. The transfer of parcels of land from Armenia and Karabagh to Nakhichevan and Azerbaijan continued into the 1930’s. These territories transferred from Armenia to Azerbaijan included but were not limited to three mountain lakes near the village of Istisu and the villages of Istisu, Zar, and Zivel. Furthermore, Armenian villages in Kelbajar and the Lachin Corridor were, shall we say, ethnically cleansed. I think it is incumbent on Armenian negotiators to study maps from the 1920’s and 1930’s and to document these changes, especially now that the fate of the occupied territories is still in the balance. The point must be forcefully and repeatedly made that the so-called occupied territories, at least those between Karabagh and Armenia, are, in fact, Armenian and should remain so. And also that this is essential to the national security of Armenia and Karabagh.
The fourth issue is that Azerbaijan repeatedly makes preposterous claims that Armenians do not confront and challenge, thereby lending them a credibility they do not deserve. The entire claim of Azerbaijani historians that the Azeris are descendents of the Caucasian Albanians and therefore a nation of longstanding with a prior claim to Karabagh is utterly baseless and false. It needs to be challenged rigorously whenever it is raised.
Or let us consider the argument that Shoushi is an Azerbaijani city. It was briefly in the 18th century, but part of the 18th century is a only a small slice of history. By 1900, Shoushi was the third largest city in the TransCaucasus after Baku and Tiflis, and the majority of its nearly 40,000 inhabitants were Armenian. The Armenians of Shoushi operated a printing press, schools, and a theater complex. Of the 21 newspapers and magazines published in the city at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution, 19 were in Armenian and 2 in Russian. And consider how the Armenian city of Shoushi was turned into an Azeri city in March and April 1920: The Armenian section of the city was destroyed by Azeri and Turkish forces and 20,000 Armenians were killed. The ruins of these buildings stood as a silent testimony of Azerbaijani intentions until they were razed in the 1960’s.
The next point concerns international law. Whenever it is claimed that self-determination has a lesser standing in international law than the territorial integrity of national states, it should be aggressively pointed out, and correctly so, that this is not true. Their standing is unequivocally equal. On a related issue, the West insists that self-determination can only occur when it does not clash with territorial integrity; yet, in fact, the West supports the creation of new nation states whose independence does violate the territorial integrity of existing states. The West has recognized the former East Pakistan as Bangladesh, as well as Eritrea in the Horn of Africa, and now Kosovo. I think it is useful to confront Western negotiators and to insist on answers to the questions: Why the double standard? And why not Karabagh?
As I understand it, the re-settlement of refugees is also a condition of settlement. Here Azerbaijan has benefitted by the West’s very narrow definition of this struggle as a struggle about Karabagh only, instead of seeing it in its historical context as the latest phase of a struggle between Armenian national security and Turkish imperial ambition. Seen in this light, we should be able to understand that there are hundreds of thousands of Armenian victims and refugees, not only Azeri ones. Will Armenians who so desire be able to return to Baku and other parts of Azerbaijan and reclaim their properties and be able to live in peace, or only Azeris from Karabagh and the liberated territories? There is a terrible imbalance here that ought to be pointed out.
An offshoot of the refugee and re-settlement issue is what I call the demographic time bomb. Many Armenian families in Karabagh produce one, two, or three children while many Azeri families produce five, six, or seven. I do not have a solution for this, but I point out that even in the best of settlements, the Armenian population of Karabagh will be diminished over time rather quickly as was already happening prior to 1988. Has the Armenian side given proper attention to the implications of the re-settlement of Azeris, at least in Karabagh, Kelbajar, and the Lachin Corridor?
Finally, I have alluded to national security issues for Armenia and Karabagh, and I wish to say a few more words about them. These are essential considerations for the future of the Armenian people if we are not to become the equivalent of a South African bantustan under the apartheid regime. I point out that Armenian national security is not the primary consideration of any parties to the conflict or the settlement except Armenians. The West wants a quick fix to enable the flow of investment and commerce, and to protect its oil investments and pipeline flows. So Armenians need to insist that any international peacekeeping forces be adequate in number, fully funded, and for the long term. On the basis of the tremendous expense alone, the West resists this, and this is not to the advantage of Armenians.
I will conclude with these two points. The first is that the territories are the only real leverage that Armenians have. There cannot be any workable settlement of the Karabagh Question that surrenders territory without the declaration and international recognition of an independent Karabagh with defensible borders. The second point concerns Azerbaijan’s most generous offer to date: the return of territories for the promise of the highest degree of autonomy for Karabagh within Azerbaijan. Armenia and Karabagh should never waver from the position that this is not good enough. After all, de jure autonomy is exactly what Armenians had in the Ottoman Empire in 1915.
Levon Chorbajian is a professor in the department of sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. He can be reached by emailing Lchor@comcast.net.
By Manooshag on August 30th, 2009 at 8:59 pm
Hye, Professor Chorbajian, thanks for acquainting the Armenian leadership in Haiastan what is required of them, and, as well, to know this when they make decisions for the future of the Armenian nation and Karabagh today. Manooshag
By Bob Avakian on August 31st, 2009
Thank you for your cogent and competently laid out commentary citing the most significant elements of the Nagorno-Karabagh negotiations. Over the past several weeks the Diasporan press has covered what appears to be a one-sided unfolding of events – to the detriment of the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabagh. We, in the Diaspora have noted the geopolitical shift tilting toward Turkey. The loss of the historic territories back to Azerbaijan would be the first step in a renewal of pan-Turkism. I applaud your linear argument detailing the flaws in the current negotiations and support you in this critical analysis and outreach agenda.
By Professor Joan Hagopian on September 1st, 2009
Bravo to Profressor Chorbajian. Keep up the good work. I am very upset about the turn that the current negotions are taking between Turkey & Armenia. We will lose in the end. Thank you for your efforts.
By Siamanto on September 5th, 2009
Dear Professor Chorbajian:
This was an excellent assessment and your recommendations are practical, insightful and frankly well informed. I hope someone in Yerevan heeds this advice.
I recall listening to you speak in NY a few years back at the Armenians and the Left Conference. We came down from Canada for those very interesting and informative sessions.
You raised a very important question in your opening paragraphs above that I’ve pondered over for years: Why have governments in Yerevan consistently acted to ensure unrepentant Turkey that Armenia has no claims on that nation, acting like we are the guilty parties trying to reassure Turkey of our civilized intentions??? In all honesty, I see it as a callous reminder of some Armenians who are still enslaved by ottoman masters and unwilling or unable to unshackle the chains of appeasement.
At this point in time I’m not expecting much from our compatriots in Armenia and I’m really doubting that anyone in Yerevan has ever had a firm grasp on reality let alone a BATNA…
By Bagrad Nazarian on September 5th, 2009
An ecellent update on the remarkable “Karabagh Knor” (Zed Publishers) of a few years ago; hopefully helping Yerevan to wake up to the fact that it is now a state and must act like one, with historic responsibiliteis towards the entire Armenian people in its long dark and difficult struggle against Turkey. Unlike the Berlin Congress and all the others where there was no Armenian state voice and led to the tragic destruction of our people, culture and land now we have a state that is at least nominally an equal member of the international political system. What a pity it does not appear to be aware of it or realsie its rights and responsibilities! In most respects it acts like a virtual or fictitious state, especially in its dealings with Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Yavuz Baydar @Todayszaman.Com A Good Neighbor
“There is a shockwave moving around the world, and we're just at the beginning. If we can manage this shockwave moving around the world appropriately and inform public opinion in a healthy way, then we can pass on to the approval process more comfortably.”
With these words, Özdem Sanberk, a highly esteemed former diplomat, paints the background of the overwhelming change signaled by Ankara, here on the specific issue of rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia. But the comment applies fully to all of the issues of a new neighborhood policy to ease the tensions in the region.
For those who have known Ahmet Davutoğlu, none of the Turkish foreign policy promises would come as a surprise. I was most probably the first journalist to invite him to give a long, live interview at the state-controlled TRT television channel in the mid-1990s, soon after he had returned from Malaysia and had started to impress us all with his analysis in the Yeni Şafak daily. It was a different period and I remember, too, that there was a politely expressed “discontent” at TRT for my choice of what was seen as “someone marginal.”
Times change and now that he has been given full power to exercise foreign policy, much more than he had under the title of adviser, Davutoğlu is bound to walk the way as his vision dictates.
His presence solidified the line that has been represented by Abdullah Gül for a long time. With his skills of persuasion, Davutoğlu seems to have boosted the emerging notion that in order to overcome obstacles to acting like a regional power, as part of the strong, global democratic family, Turkey must move on to completely new paradigms. There are two premises: a) The reform process and change in foreign policy will have to continue, independent of a weakening, external (European Union) drive, because the domestic dynamics are already powerful and inevitable enough, b) Internationally, no other time better justifies a full-scale leap toward a “zero problem neighborhood policy” and Turkey with a single-majority government is better equipped to adapt to the swiftly changing realities in its vicinity.
Suat Kınıklıoğlu, the deputy chairman for external affairs for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), is talking about the “shock” among his European colleagues. I would call it a perplexity and carefully exclude those within the EU who not only follow the remarkable signals from Turkey closely, but have for along time believed in her prospects and capabilities because they were able to sense the promises (for better or worse, but never the same), that both Turkish sociology and politics have offered for some time. Certainly it is an ongoing momentum, kept, somehow, against all odds and undemocratic pressures.
“When you look at the overall picture, the Kurdish issue, the Armenia move, the Cyprus negotiations, Turkey's bid to resolve the recent dispute between Iraq and Syria; all of these moves give a clue about Turkey and its foreign policy establishment's capacity to undergo different processes at the same time. I sense a feeling of disbelief when I speak to my European friends. They are still trying to understand and comprehend these moves. Some European friends may have difficulty digesting Turkey's role and determination in foreign policy initiatives but, at the end of the day, they will have to accept the reality that Turkey has been undertaking all of these moves both for itself and its region,” says Kınıklıoğlu, and underlines the gap of understanding and traps of miscommunication between the distracted (some self-centered) European politicians, at a time when the focus on Turkey will have to intensify.
Because, how Turkey will (be able to) shape its regional policy will, to a great extent, shape the overall foreign policy and security of the EU. The counter-arguments against Turkish EU membership will, no matter what, have to be replaced the more successfully Ankara deals with Iraq, Armenia and Cyprus. (If the Panhellenic Socialist Movement [PASOK] win the Greek elections, the prospects for a solution will possibly rise even on the irrational dispute over the territorial waters of the Aegean, a nuisance that preoccupies both NATO and the EU.) Do not say later that you have not been warned. Expect moves, not only on Armenia, Cyprus and Iraq, but also on the Halki Seminary deadlock. As I return from my relaxing vacation, I will not hesitate to call the upcoming autumn an intense time, open to all sorts of surprises.
07 September 2009, YAVUZ BAYDAR
dimitris kipouros , Sep 07 2009
Dear Yavuz, you say : (If the Panhellenic Socialist Movement [PASOK] win the Greek elections, the prospects for a solu...
i.dagi @todayszaman.com Turkey And Armenia: The Match Is Not Over Yet
It has been a year since Serzh Sarksyan and Abdullah Gül met in Yerevan, starting the process of high-level diplomatic contact between the two countries. The meeting increased expectations that normalization between the two countries was on the way.
It, however, appeared that a speedy process for normalization was not realistic, particularly due to public sensitivities. Time was needed to win public support for a rapprochement. There could be no better ground to do so than soccer.
The soccer match that brought Sarksyan and Gül together last year highlighted the will at the political level for the rapprochement. Besides, it gave a perfect opportunity to draw the attention of the public to the need and the end results of the process of normalization. And this has been achieved to a very large extent.
Moreover, “soccer diplomacy” has laid the deadline: from September 2008, when the two teams played in Armenia, to October 2009, when the second leg of the tournament is due to be played, some concrete steps had to be taken.
Given this deadline drawn by the match schedule of the two countries, the announcement of the protocol last week was a relief indicating that normalization efforts are still on the table. We now have a road map clearing the way for establishing diplomatic contact, recognizing the existing border, opening the border to trade and setting up an expert commission to look into the history.
But a key to normalization at the regional level is missing in the protocol, which is the settlement of the Karabakh issue. The Turkish government declared many times that normalization between the two countries depended on progress on the solution of the Karabakh issue. It is, of course, not directly related to bilateral relations, but the position of the Turkish side is that “normalization can only be sustainable if the conflicting issues are addressed in the region from a systemic point of view.”
This implies a comprehensive perspective to regional conflicts and that it is hard to achieve peace between Turkey and Armenia while the latter occupies a significant portion of the Azeri territory, a friend of Turkey and the Turks.
This shows the interdependent nature of peace and conflict in the region. They both reinforce each other. While sustainable peace requires the establishment of cordial relations at the regional level, conflicts have the potential to spread into the region as a whole due to deep interconnectedness at state and society levels in the Caucasus. It is hard to maintain “bilateral peace” in a zone of conflict. That was in fact the idea behind the Turkish proposal for the Caucasian peace and stability pact.
Therefore, true normalization between Turkey and Armenia requires the normalization of politics and social psychology in Armenia and Azerbaijan, which requires addressing the Karabakh question, a question that has been poisoning the public psyche and the political struggle and legitimizing an uncompromising nationalistic reactionaryism. Apart from this, if Turkey and Armenia wish to normalize their relations they should move fast. An overextended debate spread over months and years on such a sensitive issue may be victim to nationalistic reactions that are strong both in Turkey and Armenia. While there is a strong political will in both capitals, and while the public is prepared to see some progress take place, we should not wait for the nationalists to increase tension and bury the current initiative. Instead the government should pick up the pace in burying historical animosities.
07 September 2009,
firstname.lastname@example.org Turkey And Armenia Inch Closer
Last week's joint declaration that Turkey and Armenia had initialed two protocols -- one for the establishment of diplomatic relations, the other for the development of bilateral relations (opening of the border) -- came as a welcome surprise to many analysts, including myself, who had started to lose faith in the normalization process.
Just as I was getting ready to uncork a nice Caucasian champagne to celebrate, I realized that the two sides have also declared that the protocols will have to go through parliamentary ratifications. If all goes well, and that may prove a big “if,” this ratification will take place after an “internal consultation” process of six weeks. Again if all goes according to the plan, the legislative approval will arrive just two days before the Oct. 14 World Cup qualifier soccer match between Armenia and Turkey, due to be played in the western Turkish city of Bursa. Ankara and Washington hope that Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan will accept the invitation to attend, just as Turkish President Abdullah Gül initiated the current normalization process by attending the first round match in Yerevan in September 2008. No need to mention who won that first game, since we are all winners in this win-win process, right? OK, Turkey won, but who cares?
So where do we stand now? The good news is that the so-called “soccer-diplomacy” is alive and well. The not so good news is that we are still at halftime, and the fanatic supporters of the two national teams can cancel the game or disqualify their teams by throwing sharp knifes on the field. A bit of history may help you understand the logic of my skepticism. A full deal seemed imminent in April of this year when the two countries initialed a similar preliminary agreement, including a plan to reopen the border. That declaration of April 22, like this current one of Aug. 31, had also come after several months of Swiss mediation and arm-twisting by Washington.
Then, as now, the declaration had come as a surprise because Ankara always insisted that normalization with Armenia was impossible until Yerevan made peace with Baku. Turkey had recognized Armenia as an independent state after the Soviet collapse in 1991 but sealed its border two years later during Azerbaijan's war with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mainly Armenian enclave within Azeri territories.
So why did Turkey agree to normalize relations earlier this year? The decision on April 22 was driven by a political calendar over which Ankara had no control. The main reason behind Ankara's decision to prioritize relations with Armenia, despite Azeri objections, was to stop the American Congress and the White House from adopting language labeling the mass slaughter of the Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as genocide. The April 22 declaration only partially achieved its mission. The White House issued its traditional Armenian Remembrance day letter on April 24 without referring to the “g” word as Turkish diplomats call it. This time, however, it was the “m” word that caught the Turkish nationalist establishment off guard. Barack Obama once again displayed his authenticity by using the Armenian term “Meds Yeghern” meaning “Great Catastrophe” -- a heart-felt way of referring to the more generic notion of genocide.
Needless to say, Turks were not impressed. It did not take very long for Ankara to revert to their previous policy. In early May, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Baku and promised the Azeri Parliament that Turkey would never normalize relations with Armenia without a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Erdoğan's about face reflected two political concerns. First, and most important, was the nationalist opposition at home. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) felt vulnerable because it lost some votes to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in the March 2009 local elections. Second, the fear that Azerbaijan would turn towards Russia.
In the meantime, the domestic reaction against Armenia's President Sarksyan has also been very harsh. Both the hard-line Dashnak nationalist opposition at home and the Armenian diaspora in the West accused him of agreeing to a joint historical commission that might call the genocide into question. Making things worse, Erdoğan's words in Baku provided ammunition to Sarksyan's opponents who now accused him of selling out Karabakh. Under such difficult circumstances, the Armenian President retaliated by saying he would not attend the soccer match on Oct. 14 unless normalization was clearly under way. So, last week's announcement comes just in time to maintain the façade of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation. If no sharp knives are thrown onto the field, soccer diplomacy will inch forward. It may still be too early to speak of a genuine rapprochement between Ankara and Yerevan. Yet, no one accuses the two parties of not trying. Negotiations between stubborn neighbors are never easy. But as Winston Churchill wisely said, “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.”
07 September 2009
Turkey Could Experience Another Shock
The protocol to “open borders” between Turkey and Armenia is attracting interesting reactions. In Turkey, the opposition in particular is reluctant about protocols.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) announced that it would oppose it if it came to Parliament for approval. If there is strong public pressure, there may be a drop in support from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) as well. If that happens, the protocol will have to be shelved. One concern the government has in return is that the Armenian parliament will reject the agreement. Armenia does not have a well-established state tradition or a strong democratic culture. Armenian presidents Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarksyan are both from Nagorno-Karabakh. Their power came as a result of the war. The anti-protocol Dashnaks and the diaspora have strong public support. Under current conditions, Turkey could face another Annan plan shock. Even though Turkey has agreed, everything may be left up in the air. However, Turkey could still benefit from the process. First, foreign pressure to recognize genocide and to open its borders will decrease. Second, the entire world will confirm that Ankara is a country that promotes peace, not crises. In other words, even if the protocol is not signed, Turkish diplomatic activities and Turkey's international weight are going to increase.
05 September 2009,Bugün Erhan Başyurt
Please Don't Jinx Me
I have been closely observing reactions from within the country and outside on the initialing of the protocols seeking to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey and starting diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Turkey is trying to solve some fixed foreign and domestic political problems and consequently consolidate its internal peace as well as promote it in the region. Armenia may be a small country whose name is rarely mentioned, but even it can create trouble for Turkey in the world. The fact that this problem can be solved through fair and reasonable methods poses no harm to anyone but has benefits. However, in our own country, it seems that not only politicians but columnists as well feel they have the responsibility to disapprove of the government's operations and are therefore slowly sharpening their blades.
05 September 2009, Radİkal İsmet Berkan
m.kamis @todayszaman.com The War Between The Status Quo And Change
Turkey has turned into a battlefield between the status quo and change. There are two roads ahead for this country: Either old hostilities, fights and regime crises will continue and Turkey will fall behind the developing world while the current status quo remains the same or long-standing problems will be solved, peace and security in the country and the region will be ensured and Turkey will become a part of the developing world.
The government's steps to eliminate the Kurdish problem and the state's antidemocratic practices are hitting the status quo's walls. There is also strong resistance from the status quo against the steps taken to solve the Cyprus and Armenian issues. Circles that severely oppose the government for seeking to solve the Kurdish issue are showing the same intense opposition to efforts to mend relations with Armenia. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Republican People's Party (CHP), which act as the mouthpiece of these circles, have no solutions to offer, either. It is almost as if they are saying don't you dare solve our problems.
Anti-democratic state practices in the region, especially after the Sept. 12, 1980 coup d'état, served the interest of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the southeast and pushed a portion of the Kurds into joining the terrorist organization. It is for this reason that ethnic nationalist Kurds are as disturbed by the democratic initiative as the deep state. As for improving relations between Armenia and Turkey, the Dashnak Party and Armenians living in the diaspora are more bothered by it than circles in Turkey. These groups which appear to be adversaries are actually the elixir of life to each other. They lean against each other and grow in that way. They won't allow their rival's existence to be jeopardized because that will put their own existence into jeopardy.
The Turkish Republic built the state structure over an enemy concept. According to this mentality, the country was surrounded by domestic and foreign enemies. In the south, Syria was a very big enemy and Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Russia were also big enemies that wanted to annihilate Turkey. In the west, Greece was our biggest enemy. Inside the country Kurds, Alevis, religious people and leftists were on standby to divide the country.
The state sustained its existence over this enemy concept and did not allow any democratic initiatives because of these reasons. This was nothing more than putting shackles around the country's hands and feet. Turkey could not establish any trade or political relations with neighboring countries because of hostilities.
After coming to power, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government first mended relations with Syria and then with Iraq and Iran. Today Turkey is one of Russia's biggest strategic partners. It has been exerting a lot of effort to build good relations with Greece, and it has been successful so far, and the stressful days with Bulgaria are long gone.
Inside the country there are efforts to end problems with Alevis. To achieve this, workshops attended by members from all Alevi groups were organized.
There were two problems left in Turkey: one was the ethnic terrorist problem and the other was relations with Armenia and these two issues were virtually the status quo's last two trump cards.
The elimination of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) means the elimination of the deep state and the eradication of the deep state means the eradication of PKK terrorism. The relations between these two structures became clearer with the Ergenekon and the Kurdish Democratic Confederation (KCK) operations. Now any effort to solve the problem in the southeast is disturbing both sides very much and they are behaving in ways that agitate the public. The steps taken regarding relations with Armenia are no different. The status quos of both sides want to scratch old wounds so the pain can be kept alive.
05 September 2009
i.kalin @todayszaman.com Football Diplomacy In Full Swing In The Caucasus
The announcement by the Turkish and Armenian governments that they expect to normalize relations came at the most unexpected time, when Turkey was bogged down in a heated debate about the new Kurdish initiative.
Stalled by Azerbaijan's concerns over the future of the Karabakh region, negotiations were frozen for a while. So we thought. As it turns out, the Turkish and Armenian sides were in full swing, working through the Swiss.
Let's get the facts right first. The official declaration of the agreed protocol between the two countries is an expression of will and only the beginning of open negotiations between Turkey and Armenia. There is a general road map, but its details are to be worked out. From what we know so far, diplomatic relations will be established gradually and within a certain timeframe. Both countries will officially recognize their borders, i.e., Armenia will abide by the 1921 Kars Agreement. Embassies will be opened. Trade and other relations will be improved. Finally, a commission of historians will be formed to look into the events of 1915-1916. As you may remember, Armenia has rejected this Turkish proposal before.
But there are also concerns on all sides. Armenia insists on keeping its relations with Turkey strictly bilateral, i.e., no injection of the Karabakh issue, which relates to Azerbaijan and not to Turkey. Turkey insists on opening up a new page in the Armenian genocide claims. On the Azerbaijani side, they are concerned that they will be left out in the cold if Turks and Armenians reach an agreement without a settlement on the Karabakh issue, a settlement that will be accepted in Baku.
Can Azerbaijan stall the process again? It is difficult to predict because the Azerbaijani-Armenian track is still a big riddle. The Minsk group will play a key role. So will Turkey. Turkey does not and will not want to lose the Azerbaijanis in order to make peace with Armenia. It is both a matter of national pride and domestic politics. That's why Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in Cyprus that “no process is more important that the Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship.”
The real test of the new Turkish-Armenian protocols will be the resistance of domestic politics. According to the agreement, the protocols will have to be approved by the respective parliaments of the two countries. The bitter battle between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the opposition over the Kurdish issue will not help the process in the Turkish Parliament. As a habit, both the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will oppose the new plan for purely domestic political considerations. The Erdoğan government will have to undertake football diplomacy with the opposition parties, too!
At any rate, this new phase in Turkish-Armenian relations is extremely important and shows Turkey's growing abilities to deal with crisis situations and launch new initiatives at the same time. The new Kurdish initiative was off to an excellent start until it hit the concrete wall of the opposition. Let's hope the same thing will not happen with the Armenian process.
04 September 2009
s.kiniklioglu @todayszaman.com Normalization And Changing The Status Quo
Yesterday's international media outlets were perplexed by the mind-boggling speed with which Turkey is dealing with some of its decades-long intractable issues.
Watching Al Jazeera's prime time news last night, one could not escape noticing that Turkey is getting to the bottom of two tough regional issues at the same time. On one hand, Turkey is progressing on the “democratic opening,” which aims to end terrorism and address some of the grievances and concerns of our Kurdish citizens; on the other, we announced protocols aimed at normalizing our relations with Armenia. Some of our foreign friends are shaking their heads: some in disbelief, some with interest and some with discomfort.
The protocols announced mean a number of things: First, they confirm Turkey's genuine desire for normalizing its relations with Armenia. The government confirmed at the highest level that there is political will behind this process. Whatever will happen from now on, these protocols will confirm the desire of these two countries to establish diplomatic relations and deal with each other seriously. That said, the road ahead of us is also full of risks. Although, not mentioned in the protocols, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict looms over the normalization process. The protocols underline that the two countries “bear in mind … the importance of peace, security and stability of the whole region … to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.” The protocols also “confirm the mutual recognition of the existing border between the two countries.” We always said the conflict resolution process and the normalization efforts are “mutually reinforcing each other.” However, this dimension should not be the central focus of what has been achieved.
Instead, the focus should be on the fact that Turkey and Armenia confirmed their desire to change the status quo in the South Caucasus. They reaffirmed that the status quo is not sustainable. With these two protocols Ankara and Yerevan signaled their willingness to change the status quo.
We are now entering a period in which opposition to the protocols will be articulated loudly in both countries, and the challenge will be to stand firm. By asking for ratification by their respective parliaments, the leadership on both sides widens the scope of the debate and seeks further legitimacy by seeking parliamentary approval. This should be a healthy period, but it also puts considerable responsibility on the shoulders of the two governments, particularly in view of communicating to their public. If, in the coming weeks, there will be positive developments on the Nagorno-Karabakh side, we would enter a very optimistic period for the South Caucasus -- an important part of our neighborhood. If there is no movement on Nagorno-Karabakh, it will be up to the Turkish Parliament to assess the situation and judge accordingly. Regardless of how these steps will be played out, Turkey demonstrated clearly its will to stabilize this part of its diverse neighborhood. It did so in 2004 when it convinced the Turkish Cypriots to vote in favor of the UN referendum, and it does now when it pushes forward with this normalization process in the midst of a domestically charged period around the democratic opening. On three fronts, Turkey is thriving to change the status quo: Cyprus, Armenia and the Kurdish issue. No doubt, all three of them present serious challenges, but Ankara is determined to take them on with a proactive approach and change the status quo. Turkey has again entered a pro-reform cycle after the difficulties experienced domestically in 2007 and 2008. On the foreign policy front, we are determined to push forward with an aggressive agenda. These are times when we expect our friends and allies to be supportive of us.
04 September 2009
f.zibak @todayszaman.com A Win-Win Case
Just as Turkey is making intense efforts to solve one of its most pressing problems, the Kurdish issue, with a democratization initiative announced by the government last month, a statement released by the Foreign Ministry late on Monday boosted hopes that Turkey is readying to solve yet another critical issue, the normalization of ties with Armenia.
The Foreign Ministry's statement noted that Armenia and Turkey agreed to start internal political consultations on the two protocols -- the “Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations” and the “Protocol on the Development of Bilateral Relations” -- which were initiated during the course of the two countries' efforts under Swiss mediation. The border between Turkey and Armenia has been shut since 1993, after Turkey objected to Armenia's war with Turkish ally Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Neither country has embassies in the other's capital. Turkish-Armenian relations have also been overshadowed by the dispute over the massacre of ethnic Armenians in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, more than 90 years ago. Armenians accuse Ottoman Turks of committing genocide, killing more than a million Armenians starting in 1915. Turkey categorically rejects these allegations. Now that bilateral relations are set to normalize between the two countries, a win-win situation emerges for both sides, many analysts say.
According to Zaman's Mustafa Ünal, Turkey and Armenia reaching a “historic deal” in a bid to develop bilateral relations is no surprise because there have been ongoing efforts behind closed doors to reach a deal for a long time. The talks began in Switzerland one year ago, and Turkey's initiative determined the course of the process while President Abdullah Gül's visit to Yerevan for a soccer match between the national teams of Turkey and Armenia accelerated the talks. “The atmosphere is optimistic, but a solution to the problem is not easy because every problem has its roots in history,” says Ünal. In the case of the normalization of relations, he says Armenia will give up its allegations of genocide, recognize Turkey's territorial integrity and the genocide issue will be taken off the agenda of the politicians and left to the agenda of the historians. “There is democratic initiative [aimed at solving the Kurdish problem] on the one side and there is the Armenian initiative on the other. Turkey is confronting its historical problems, and the responsibility to deal with these problems is on the shoulders of the Justice and Development Party [AK Party] government. The risk is big but the hope is bigger,” suggests Ünal.
Milliyet's Sami Kohen talks about the advantages which the normalization of relations with Armenia will bring to Turkey, noting that the lack of relations between the two countries and the tense wind which has been blowing in the region has brought no benefits to Ankara, Yerevan or Baku so far. “The establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia and both countries participating in dialogue on a range of subjects, from the genocide issue to all other regional and bilateral issues, will create new advantages and opportunities. The genocide propaganda, which frequently puts Turkey in a difficult position in the world, will lose its influence, and it will be possible for Turkey to play a more active role in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue and be more influential in Armenia,” explains Kohen.
“The protocol eliminates two preconditions. Armenia did not want the Karabakh issue to be a precondition, while Turkey did not want the recognition of the genocide issue to be a precondition. The demands of both countries have been met to a large extent,” says Bugün's Erhan Başyurt, who thinks normalization of relations with Turkey will enliven economic life in Armenia. “Turkey will have solved a problem which it always faces in relations with Europe and the United States. There is just a win-win situation in question,” he says.
03 September 2009
k.balci @todayszaman.com Who Cares About Nomenclature?
Names do not have external existences. They are signs. They are useful only if they signify something other than themselves. There are names that, in their origin, do not correspond to an external reality or an external existence, but the mere fact that they exist forces us to create “imagined realities” for them.
“Ego” is a good example at hand. Ego is a Freudian construct. It does not correspond to an external reality. It signifies only itself. It has a definition, but that definition defines the term itself and not an external existence that needed to be named. The natural course of naming unnamed realities starts with the existence of that reality and follows with the perception of that reality with senses or subtleties, the need to communicate about that perceived reality, and ends with the naming of that reality. The name “ego” was created before any such existence or perception, and a whole history of psychoanalysis passed with trials to give that sign a significance.
History is full of examples of names surpassing the meanings they are created for.
The “Armenian genocide” is one such name. It does correspond to shameful massacres and the forceful displacement of over a million people, but the name itself, once invented in the social vocabulary of the Armenians, surpassed the meaning signified. Armenians can forget the events of 1915, but they cannot give up the g-word. In fact many young Armenians have no idea of what happened back in 1915, but the g-word is a part of their identity-making language. The “Meds Yeghern” (Great Catastrophe) is more Armenian than genocide is, but it does not have the same resilience. Turks may face the dark pages of the 1915 events in their history, but they will never utter the g-word.
The same is true for the Turkish labeling of Abdullah Öcalan as a terrorist. Of course, in my perception as a Turk, the name “terrorist” does correspond to an external reality in the case of Öcalan. But this does not change the nature of the naming trap. Once he is named terrorist, it is almost impossible to rename him as “mister.”
Last week Israeli Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar announced that the term “nakba,” which means “catastrophe” in Arabic and is used by Arabs to name the creation of the State of Israel, would be dropped from textbooks for the new school year. Sa'ar concedes that what Israeli Arabs experienced during the 1948 War was a tragedy for the Arabs. “But the word ‘nakba,' whose meaning is similar to Holocaust in this context, will no longer be used. The creation of the State of Israel cannot be referred to as a tragedy, and the education system in the Arab sector will revise its studies,” he said.
Arabs call the 1948 war “nakba” not because it paved the way to the establishment of the State of Israel, but because it demolished the hopes of the Palestinian people to live an honorable life in their own lands. It was a great catastrophe for the Palestinians, indeed. They were expelled from their homes and became refugees in neighboring Arab countries, while those who remained are still in a miserable situation.
Will the next generation of Palestinian Arabs stop calling their national catastrophe “nakba”? The preservation of religious texts proves that what is forbidden is even better preserved. By turning the term “nakba” into a dogma, Israel may have triggered a process to load the name with extra meanings which have no external realities.
No Palestinian equated the term with Holocaust. It seems that Israeli Minister Sa'ar has already laid the first brick to turn what the term “nakba” signifies into a Holocaust-like dramatic event.
The Israeli Education Ministry responded to the criticism of their decision to drop “nakba” by reaffirming that Israeli Arabs have the right to learn about their culture and history. “But the word ‘nakba' itself is problematic,” the ministry's response read.
Why is this obsession with nomenclature? Doesn't that obsession turn all our problems into linguistic phrases with no or little touch with reality?
03 September 2009
h.gulerce @todayszaman.com Let Us Not Push The Tired One Uphill
It is as if we are in a season of initiatives. Now, the Armenian initiative is on the agenda. The weight of the foreign outlook on the topic can be felt easily. As with other issues, two different perspectives are affecting the general public.
Circles led by the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) tend to regard the current situation as "an imposition from outside." Furthermore, they accuse the government of acting as a subcontractor of "others," and even of treason.
Turkey has been feeling the impact of this external world since the Tanzimat era. Turkey did not introduce the multi-party regime of its own volition. We wanted to be a NATO member, and they imposed it on us, saying, "If you want to be a member, then you must start to democratize and introduce a multi-party regime." There is no need to list many examples, but let me give you a few.
The US caught terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan and handed him over to Turkish authorities. "We are delivering him to you, but you will not hang him," they said. During its election rallies, the MHP took a rope and waved it, claiming that they would "hang him." MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli became the deputy prime minister. The decision to hang Öcalan was never brought by the government to Parliament for final approval. It was kept at the Prime Ministry. Then, the death penalty was abolished. Mr. Bahçeli did not resign from government. If you act as a bully in a place without a balance of power, you will not obtain any results, but you will allow your dignity to be damaged.
Of course, there are external influences both in the Kurdish initiative and in the Armenian initiative. These two issues are essentially the ones that primarily concern us. If the US has failed to achieve its ends in Iraq or if the European Union wants these issues to be solved, then is it logical for Turkey not to solve these issues? There are many examples from the past, aren't there?
Like it or not, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is the only party that can settle these fundamental issues. There is no party other than the AK Party that can embrace the entire country. The CHP and the MHP are virtually nonexistent in the East and Southeast, having garnered only 5 percent of the vote. The pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) is represented only in the East and the Southeast. This makes it possible for the common wisdom of the state to step in and take initiatives. Even if the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) goes on making unwanted statements about these initiatives, as was customary for it, the National Security Council (MGK) supports the process. In a nutshell, we can say that like the external outlook, the internal outlook is also suitable. The people in the region are still hopeful. Even nongovernmental organizations which have traditionally been at odds with the AK Party are now supporting the process.
Frankly, a new situation is at hand and there is no turning back from it. If the AK Party fails, the next government will be a coalition government of the CHP and the MHP. But if it succeeds and settles this issue and opens new horizons for democratization, then things will be harder for the CHP, the MHP and the DTP. This new platform will help Turkey see new political mentalities and new political formations. Mindsets will change in Turkey, dispensing with old habits. Democracy, the rule of law, human rights and freedoms will make their impression everywhere.
This initiative is full of potential, but its sincere proponents should be careful. The key words that will help this process succeed are patience, moderation, persuasion, style and procedures. If the process does not proceed gradually and slowly, by taking the majority of the general public into consideration and by taking measures against psychological warfare tactics, then things may come to a standstill. Considering how the funerals of martyrs, a well-known Ergenekon trick, are being held again, we feel the need to caution the government. There are some who act in haste out of enthusiasm. Haste makes waste. Some are trying to use the issue as an occasion to show or voice illogical proposals. And some fail to keep their mouths shut.
The government, too, should be careful. When the prime minister said, "Our interior minister will make a statement on Monday," what did you understand from this? Mr. Beşir Atalay provided no details in his speech. Why are the public's expectations being raised? To cause people to listen to Mr. Atalay and say, "The mountain gave birth to a mouse." We learned that the initiative will be discussed in detail when Parliament opens. This is the right thing to do.
Turkey is tired of the Kurdish issue. Let us not push the tired one uphill.
03 September 2009
a.bilici @todayszaman.com Tricky Part Of The Armenian Initiative
It seems as if the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is compensating for the hesitant policies it followed in 2005 due to internal and external causes. These days, it is launching one initiative after another: the Kurdish initiative, the Alevi initiative, the Halki Seminary initiative, the Armenian initiative and so on.
Those who have long lost their hope in the government might be eagerly waiting in anticipation to see if these processes lead to the suicide of the AK Party. But, it seems, they do not calculate what might happen if these issues, some of which date back to 80 years ago or some even 400 years ago, are settled.
The opposition should lend an ear to the following statement by Gürsel Tekin, the head of the İstanbul provincial branch of the Republican People's Party (CHP): "If Turkey becomes democratic and if the Kurdish issue is settled, I assure you, Turkey's great potential will come out. ... Whoever or whichever party solves this national issue will be etched in history."
Nevertheless, the government should keep in mind that managing so many initiatives properly will require extraordinary effort. Just have a look at the confusion about which name to use to address the Kurdish issue. During the latest speech by Interior Minister Beşir Atalay on the issue, I noticed that three TV channels broadcasting it live gave the initiative different names: "the Kurdish initiative" or "the democratic initiative" or "the brotherhood and peace initiative."
Moreover, the government should also refrain from giving the general public the false perception that such complicated issues can be solved easily and in a short time.
Another important point is that such a challenging issue cannot be readily solved while the country's politics remain extremely politicized. It is already a good development in that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), the military, the police and other state organizations support the process. But something should be done to make sure that the opposition, too, is involved in it.
Returning to our hot topic, the Armenian initiative, the goodwill of those who devise and implement it is unquestionable. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu dreams of turning our disorderly region into a peaceful basin. The fact that he had to address questions about the Armenian initiative during a trip to ease tension between Iraq and Syria is a sign of his sincerity. During an interview he gave to the private NTV channel in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), he referred to World Peace Day and explained how a peace that is not comprehensive, as seen in the case of the Israeli-Syrian conflict, will be very fragile. It is hard to effect a reconciliation between Israel and Syria while Gaza is victimized.
Likewise, we cannot think of the Armenian initiative independently of the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territory. I cannot speak about other initiatives, but the success of the Armenian initiative is dependent on Karabakh. And Azerbaijan is perfectly entitled to demand that its sister country Turkey not open the border before this occupation is terminated.
The Turkish officials I spoke to say that Baku is informed about the process, that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has discussed it with Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev and that a Foreign Ministry undersecretary has visited Baku to explain the details of the protocol. Nevertheless, the preliminary statements made from Baku about the initiative remind us of the process we experienced back in April. Yerevan's statement that "Karabakh is not a prerequisite" adds to the doubts felt by our Azerbaijani sisters and brothers.
For this reason, everyone should understand the tricky part of the Armenian initiative. The tricky part is not the signing of the protocols concerning the recognition of borders, the opening of border gates or the establishment of a commission of historians, but the entry into force of these protocols. If psychologies can be managed, the matter is about giving a chance to peace with goodwill. Thanks to these protocols, the issue will be discussed in both countries up through Oct. 14. Thanks to these protocols, Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan, who had refused to come to Turkey, will come to watch the soccer game between the national teams of the two countries. The protocols will be initialed and the legal approval process will start when they will be sent to Parliament for final approval. If a positive development occurs with respect to the Karabakh issue, Parliament will approve it, and if not, it will be shelved away as was the case with the opening of Turkish ports to Greek Cypriots.
To refuse to establish dialogue if the occupation in Karabakh is not terminated is an easy option for Ankara, but one without benefit. Obviously, this does not help Turkey or Azerbaijan in the least. Now, Turkey is experimenting with the idea of helping Armenia to reconcile with Baku by not closing its doors in advance. Davutoğlu is telling his US, French and Russian counterparts that they should provide assistance for the settlement of the Karabakh issue if they really want the Armenian issue to be solved. This matter should be correctly understood lest we return to where we started.
03 September 2009
Soccer Diplomacy With Armenia On The Boil
Efforts to reach a consensus with Armenia disappeared from our radar after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan surrendered to pressure from Baku.
However, the national game to be played against Armenia in Bursa in October will bring the issue back onto our agenda. While Turkey has not been talking about negotiation efforts in recent months, the situation is quite different in Armenia. The issue has been the topic of harsh debate ever since the game played between the national soccer teams of Turkey and Armenia in Yerevan, which President Abdullah Gül attended upon President Serzh Sarksyan's invitation. Concisely, accusations of “treason” and “submission” are flying through the air. The intensity of debate is rising as we approach the day of the game, and all eyes are watching Sarksyan. Whether he will attend the game in Bursa is a subject met with curiosity. Sarksyan actually reproved this, saying, “There is no point in going if Turkey will not open the border.”
01 September 2009, MİLLİYET SEMİH İDİZ
a.finkel @todayszaman.com The İstanbul View Of The World
A map is the obvious place to see where Turkey fits into the scheme of things. It is, famously, at the intersection of overlapping regions -- the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle and Near East, and the Eastern Mediterranean. However, the maps made by satellite imaging are not necessarily the maps people have in their minds.
Cartoonist Saul Steinberg's “View of the World from 9th Avenue” graced the cover of The New Yorker magazine in 1976 and parodied the provincialism that lurks beneath Manhattan's inner conviction that it the most sophisticated place on earth. From a New Yorker's solipsistic universe, the Hudson River flows deeper than the Pacific Ocean, New Jersey looms larger than Japan. How would a Turkish Steinberg depict the view from İstanbul?
It was a question I asked indirectly to the head of one İstanbul-based 24-hour news channel. Or at least, I listened to a reply of sorts as he complained about overstretched resources. And of course when you think about it, the number of stories he has to cover on his viewers' behalf was vast. There are between 3 and 4 million Turks living in Europe and Turkey is a candidate for the European Union, so what happens in Brussels and the rest of the continent matters. Turkey has an emotional interest in the Middle East and has full diplomatic relations with Israel. There have been Turkish peacekeeping troops stationed with NATO in the Balkans, in Afghanistan and even Somalia. No country on earth can ignore what happens in the United States, and Washington's invasion of Turkey's neighbor Iraq has left Turks on edge. Ever since the end of the Cold War, Turks have taken an interest in their ethnic cousins in energy-rich Central Asia. Conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan concern Ankara as well. Georgia has a common border, so when Russian troops march in, Turks sit up. As for Russia, it has become Turkey's largest individual trading partner, vital to Turkish efforts to be a key transit hub for gas and oil, but not always a comfortable neighbor. The Gulf states are investors in Turkey and go on shopping sprees for İstanbul real estate. Turkey has another border with Syria and one with Iran. Just before the collapse of its communist regime, ethnic Turks fled from Bulgaria to a country where they would be welcomed. Relations with Greece have historic ups and downs. Turkish businessmen are busy discovering the continent of Africa. And so the list goes on.
According to the harassed news editor, the average Turkish viewer was far better informed about the world they inhabited than the average American or European simply because they had to be. Yet I still had a niggling doubt. It seems to me that climate change and environmental concerns do not command the same headline space in Turkey they do elsewhere; they are still not headline news, and these are the sort of “one globe” issues that take as their first principle the world's interconnectedness.
So I called a Turkish cartoonist to ask his opinion. Gürbüz Doğan Ekşioğlu speaks no English and is from a small Black Sea town which is about as far from the Manhattan skyline as you can get. Yet he was the one whose gentle drawing appeared on the New Yorker's cover for the second anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the city. It depicted a Manhattan where every building has its twin, with each twin reflected in the dark autumn colors of the water off shore. It is clear that he possessed a sensitivity that did not stop at national frontiers.
So what was the İstanbulite's view of the world? “It depends whom you ask,” he began diplomatically. His view was of a people very divided by great cultural chasms -- that many Turks may have a clearer and more sympathetic view of what was happening on the continent that of what was happening in the neighborhood across town. Conversely, many were so obsessed with the divisions within their own society that they could not see beyond its own boundaries. The “headscarf” issue or “the Kurdish overture” were like the buildings without planning permission that litter so many Turkish cities, structures that appear from nowhere which obstruct the panorama.
So I am left with the somewhat paradoxical picture of a society which enjoys an Olympian view of the world but which sometimes forgets to look out the window. In order to overcome its own problems, it needs the artist's most rudimentary tool -- perspective.
01 September 2009,
GlobalPost September 5, 2009 Opinion: The Turkey-Armenia Detente by Ian O. Lesser
WASHINGTON - This week, Turkey and Armenia announced their intention to establish diplomatic relations, open the closed border between the two countries and launch a series of talks and confidence-building measures aimed at resolving long-standing disputes and fostering closer cooperation.
To be sure, these protocols will need to be ratified in Ankara and Yerevan, and some important political hurdles remain. But these new accords, reached with the help of Swiss mediation, could prove transformational for regional stability in the Black Sea region. They are also very good news for American and European interests.
These positive developments are a direct result of the opening established last September when Turkeys president, Abdullah Gul, took up an invitation from the Armenian president, Serzh Sargysan, to attend a Turkish-Armenian soccer match in Yerevan. The visit was unprecedented and groundbreaking.
In a more fundamental sense, this weeks announcement flows from years of quiet, unofficial dialogue among senior intellectuals and opinion shapers on both sides. The changed atmosphere also shows the influence of business leaders keen to capture the benefits of bilateral trade, and enlightened policy figures anxious to take a long-standing problem off the table.
The normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations will produce clear benefits for the region and transatlantic security interests. First, an open border will contribute to the economic development of Armenia and rebalance the countrys position between East and West. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict pitting Russian-backed Armenia against Turkish-backed Azerbaijan, and the closure of Turkeys border with Armenia in 1993, Yerevans ties to the West have remained underdeveloped. Open links to Turkey will give Armenia new options on the international scene and contribute to the economic development and stability of the country. (Substantial numbers of Armenians already work and trade in Turkey on an undocumented basis.)
Second, improved relations between Armenia and Turkey can have an important demonstration effect. Multiple flashpoints and Å`frozen conflicts around the Black Sea underscore the dangers of resurgent nationalism against a backdrop of economic strain. The conflict between Russia and Georgia, and looming tensions between Russia and Ukraine, highlight the risk. Open borders and confidence-building measures can encourage the emergence of a more integrated Black Sea region, rather than a retreat to inward-looking, nationalistic postures. If Ankara and Yerevan can change course and resolve disputes long seen as intractable, this can set a positive precedent for crisis management and conflict resolution from the Balkans to the Caspian, and beyond. Could the Å`intractable Cyprus dispute be next?
Third, for Turkey, a genuine opening to Armenia will reinforce the countrys new approach to foreign policy. In recent years, Turkish leaders have pursued a Å`zero problems approach to relations in the Balkans, the Aegean, the Black Sea and the Middle East. By and large, Ankara has succeeded in transforming its often troubled relations with neighbors as diverse as Greece, Bulgaria and Syria. Western observers may be ambivalent about some aspects of this Turkish strategy, not least Ankaras improved ties to Iran and Russia. But Turkish-Armenian detente is another matter. Like the rise of Turkish-Greek detente over the last decade, normalized relations with Yerevan should be an undiluted benefit for Turkeys transatlantic partners. At a time when Turkeys European Union candidacy faces serious challenges, the opening to Armenia can also remind Europeans that Turkey is a producer rather than a consumer of security in Europes neighborhood.
Finally, the roadmap set out by the parties envisions the establishment of an international commission to review the contentious history of 1915 and its aftermath that has bedeviled Armenian-Turkish relations for nearly 100 years. It would be surprising if this group manages to reconcile strongly held and competing historical narratives. It would be even more surprising if detente between Ankara and Yerevan ends the perennial debate in the U.S. Congress on an Armenian genocide resolution - feelings run too high on this matter, especially among the Armenian diaspora.
Yet a formal dialogue about the tragic events of 1915 will extend the trend of recent years, in which both societies have become more comfortable with frank discussion about Armenian-Turkish relations, past and present. From the perspective of American regional interests, there is much to be gained from a climate in which pressing bilateral issues, including Iran, Russia and energy security, can take center stage in relations with Ankara - and Yerevan.
The prospect of genuine Armenian-Turkish detente can help make this a reality. The process deserves continued and unreserved support from Washington.
Ian O. Lesser is a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington.
o.taspinar @todayszaman.com Where’s The American Conspiracy In All This?
Certain beliefs and reactions in Turkey are very predictable. The fact that the opposition decided to portray the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) Kurdish opening as a “Made in the USA” plan is a perfect example of such predictability.
Three weeks ago I argued in this column: “The last thing the Obama administration wants is to provide ammunition to those who are willing to see an American conspiracy behind every effort at democratization. Given the persistent anti-Americanism in Turkey, Washington will do its best to maintain a low profile while Turks discuss their own Kurdish problem.”
Well, it looks like maintaining a low profile was not enough to keep conspiracy theorists like Deniz Baykal or Devlet Bahçeli at bay. They seem genetically predisposed to seeing an American hand behind everything. Their belief that Washington has the power and competency to control, manipulate and determine the outcome of the Kurdish debate only shows how detached they are from the reality of Washington. One can only wish that Washington was so powerful. The American war machine would certainly have encountered less embarrassment in Iraq and Afghanistan. American officials can only wish they were as powerful as all the conspiracy theorists believe.
Make no mistake. Washington supports the opening. There are think tanks, analysts and statements from officials that support more democratization in Turkey. But there is nothing hidden or conspiratorial in this. The fact that Turkey is discussing a democratic initiative for the Kurdish problem is good news for Washington. The reason is simple. The Kurdish problem has been the most important issue poisoning Turkish-US relations and the persistently negative image of the US in Turkey. American officials familiar with Turkey know that the real reason fueling a negative perception of Washington is the strongly held belief that the United States wants an independent Kurdish state in Iraq and thus foments Kurdish nationalism in the region.
Sixty percent of Turks, according to recent opinion polls, believe that Washington and Europe are enemies of Turkey and that they are helping the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Turkey's current verbal commitment to solve the Kurdish problem is a step in the right direction for Washington precisely because it shows that Ankara has at least some willingness and courage to focus on its own most crucial problem. US officials hope that with more democratization and specifically with more openings on Kurdish cultural rights, the PKK will lose political support. This, in turn, will pave the way for more peaceful Kurdish alternatives and political movements. It is with the same spirit that Washington has been supportive of improved relations between Ankara and the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq.
This is why any attempt of the Turkish government to recognize that there is a domestic Kurdish problem in Turkey and that the solution requires more democratization is good news for the United States. This is good news for Washington for an additional reason having to do with Turkey's regional ambition to play a high-profile mediation role in the Middle East and beyond. US officials are very familiar with the vision and narrative of the AK Party foreign policy, now under the direction of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. This vision puts Turkey at the center of major regional issues and promotes the geo-strategic and political importance of Turkey as the only country that can talk to conflicting parts with a regional voice and the experience of history. As a result, the Turkish government believes it is playing a very effective role in mediating between Israel and Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Hamas and Fatah, Sunni Iraqis and Shiite Iraqis, Russia and Georgia, etc.
Washington is certainly appreciative of this Turkish vision and effort. It is also willing to support it when necessary. However, there is also a sense among US officials that this regional vision and ambition of Turkey takes away time and intellectual energy from Turkey's own foreign and domestic problems. In other words, there is a certain belief in Washington that Turkey should focus a bit more on solving its own major problems instead of spending so much time and energy on other countries' issues. The list of domestic issues Turkey could focus on is long. It starts with the Kurdish question, but it certainly does not end there. The normalization of relations with Armenia, the Cyprus question, more EU reforms and the democratization of civilian-military relations are additional areas where Washington would like to see a more engaged and forthcoming Turkish government. So the question is simple: where is the conspiracy in all this?
31 August 2009
Today's Think Tanks Turkey And Armenia: Soccer Diplomacy Shifting Rules Are Creating A Zero-Sum Game
By Amberin Zaman -- ANKARA -- On September 6 of last year, Abdullah Gül, Turkey’s president, became the first-ever Turkish leader to set foot in Armenia. The occasion was a World Cup pre-qualifier match pitting Turkey against Armenia.
Many viewed Gül’s decision to accept his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargysan’s invitation auguring the establishment of formal ties between the traditionally hostile neighbors and the re-opening of their long frozen border.
Normalizing relations between Turkey and Armenia has been a pressing goal for successive American administrations. Friendship between the two countries would arm Washington against long-running attempts by the Armenian-American diaspora to push through a Congressional bill that would formally classify the mass slaughter in 1915 of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide. With anti-American sentiments in Turkey riding high, adoption of such legislation would be certain to trigger another crisis in Turkish-American ties at a time when Turkish support is crucial to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Additionally, peace between Turkey and Armenia would draw the landlocked former Soviet Republic out of Russia’s orbit and help cement Western influence—and stability—in the southern Caucasus.
A Turkey that is engaged with Armenia would be in a stronger position to coax the latter into a settlement with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia would not only blunt Russian influence but Iran’s as well.
Finally, there is a moral dimension. Extending the hand of friendship to Armenia would help mitigate if not erase decades of bitterness harbored by millions of Armenians across the globe.
Over a year ago, these arguments propelled Turkish policymakers to abandon the position that peace with Armenia would only be possible if Armenia made peace with Azerbaijan. Aided by Swiss mediation and American encouragement, Turkish and Armenian diplomats held a series of secret talks aimed at establishing ties and re-opening the border.
Peace at last?
Gül’s September visit to Yerevan gave the process a big boost. Six months later, on April 22, the two countries announced that they had initiated a “roadmap” setting out the parameters for formalizing ties. The roadmap called for a set of joint commissions that would, among other things, examine the events of 1915, and foresaw the eventual re-opening of the border without preconditions. The timing of the announcement, however, raised suspicions in Yerevan, as the roadmap had been initiated well before April 22. Was it meant to prevent U.S. President Barack Obama from using the term “genocide” in his April 24th statement, marking the anniversary of the killings? Obama’s use of the phrase “Medz Yeghern,” which means “Great Catastrophe” in Armenian, provoked deep anger among American-Armenians who recalled his campaign pledge to recognize the genocide. Turkey wasn’t thrilled by the reference, but at least the G-word had been averted. The expectation in Washington was that Turkey would now sign off with Armenia.
Ankara shifts the goalposts
Armenia’s suspicions may well have been right. Within days of announcing the roadmap, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s prime minister, declared before the Azerbaijani Parliament that Turkish-Armenian peace would not be possible until Armenia withdrew from Nagorno-Karabakh and its surrounding region. His announcement hit like a cold shower in Yerevan, Washington, and Ankara alike. What had triggered it?
There were several reasons for the policy change. First and foremost were the cries of treason from Azerbaijan. Despite the theoretically cozy ties between Ankara and Baku, the Azeris were apparently unaware of the precise wording of the roadmap. Azeri threats to turn to Russia and an unexpected gas deal signed between the two countries led to panic in Ankara. Turkey’s ambitions to become the main transit hub for natural gas from Central Asia and Azerbaijan hung in the balance. Erdoğan’s trip to Baku soothed Azeri nerves, but in the words of a senior Turkish diplomat “immense damage to our relations” had been wrought.
This begs the question of how Ankara failed to foresee Baku’s reaction. The conventional wisdom was that Azerbaijan
needs Turkey more than Turkey needs Azerbaijan. With the September presidential elections out of the way, it was widely assumed that Azerbaijan would relent. What no one accounted for was Moscow exploiting the opportunity to increase its leverage over Azerbaijan.
But there was another aspect to Turkey’s behavior. Reconciliation with Armenia was primarily driven by the dovish Gül. Erdoğan was never fully on board. Nor was Ahmet Davutoğlu, who before becoming Turkey’s foreign minister in May, had served as Erdoğan’s chief foreign policy advisor. Davutoğlu has long maintained that peace with Armenia would not be sustainable unless Karabakh were resolved. Should the conflict resume, would Turkey be forced to reseal its border with Armenia? It’s a thin argument. Armenia won the war, so it is unlikely to reignite it.
Meanwhile, Turkey keeps raising the bar. It insists that any deal with Armenia needs to be ratified by the parliament. This would be a first. When Turkey recognized and established diplomatic relations with Kosovo, for instance, the parliament was not involved. All of this has placed Sargysyan, Armenia’s president, in an increasingly untenable position at home, where there is already widespread anger at the government for going along with the creation of a joint historical commission. For many, this amounts to calling genocide into doubt. The ultra-nationalist Dashnak party, which pulled out of the government following the announcement of the road map, is now baying for blood. Their target is, Eduard Nalbandian, Armenia’s foreign minister.
In a bid to stanch their anger, Sargysan declared that he would not attend a Turkey-Armenia football match scheduled for October 14 unless the border was re-opened or was close to be being re-opened. Amid fears that the rapprochement process will crumble, Swiss mediators have resumed efforts to get each side to agree on a path that would clear the way for formal ties and re-opening the border. Turkey’s reported refusal to cede to Armenia’s demands to reiterate that the deal is unconditional (i.e. not linked to progress on Karabakh) temporarily stalled the process. Armenia has now dropped this demand but wants something concrete from Turkey. Otherwise Sargysan will not come. At the time of publication of this analysis, there were widespread reports that compromise had been struck and that Turkey and Armenia would issue respective declarations underscoring their commitment to the implementation of the April 22nd agreement. The declaration, was expected among other things, to outline a time frame for political consultations that would precede the signing of that agreement. However, qualms from Armenia that Turkey would drag out the process are yet to be overcome.
A Turkish hold out for concessions on Karabakh would be equally unrealistic. When former Armenian President Levon Ter Petrossian tried this in 1998, he was pushed out of power. Few policymakers in Ankara seem to understand Armenia’s internal dynamics, which are usually ignored by the Turkish press.
The noises coming out of Ankara suggest that Turkey will not abandon its efforts to get the Armenians to move on Karabakh as a quid pro quo for normalization. Indeed, Turkey seems bent on rallying Washington to its position. The U.S. administration continues to insist that Turkish-Armenian normalization should proceed independently of Karabakh. In private, American officials warn that a Congressional resolution on the term “genocide” may not only be revived but approved this time. The trouble is that Erdoğan, who has final say on foreign policy, is steeped in efforts to solve Turkey’s biggest headache, its Kurdish problem. Many of the proposed measures are a hard sell. Erdoğan’s nationalist opponents are already accusing him of talking to terrorists. A deal with Armenia that sidelines Azerbaijan would give them further ammunition.
So the question is whether a no show from Sargysan on October 14 will spell the end of Turkish-Armenian peace? Probably not. Realpolitik will once again prevail and diplomacy will intervene. But unless Ankara softens its stance, it may take a long time before Turkey and Armenia shake hands.
* Amberin Zaman is the Turkey correspondent for The Economist and writes a weekly column for the Turkish daily Taraf. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF).
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31 August 2009, AMBERIN ZAMAN * GMF ON TURKEY www.gmfus.org
By Haytoug Chamlian
Bravo Mr. President
2 September 2009, by Ara / armenews
Bravo, Mr. President!
But what are we complaining about ... exactly?
While noting some still ambiguous silence, apparently, almost all Armenians of the Diaspora would oppose the new foreign policy of the Republic of Armenia vis-à-vis Turkey.
The arguments of the most common protest against the policy are a) there would be a fundamental distinction between the Armenians of Armenia and the current Armenian Diaspora, and b) there is a gap between the Armenians [including those in the Diaspora, re: the above distinction] and the Armenian government.
Notwithstanding any ideological concept, being confined only to facts and reality, it is quite obvious that these two arguments are hollow, false and misleading.
If there were such a distinction between "Armenians from Armenia" and "Armenians of the Diaspora", then they ought to mind their own business, rather than diving in with both feet - as was the case in several Armenian communities of the world - in the opposition movement LTP-ist, to overthrow the present regime in Armenia - but only succeeded in destabilizing the Armenian state in the throwing and grazing to foreign forces , weakened, neutralized, vulnerable to thank you for the slightest pressure or manipulation -.
Before enjoying some believe this, arguing that, precisely, it validates the argument b) above, namely that the current ruling government of the Republic of Armenia are out of step with the people they formally direct the destiny, it would be good to remember that foreign policy is causing this analysis is fully in the program repeatedly announced, declared and hammered the same Levon Ter-Petrossian, not only during his reign past, but also during the recent election campaign. Only now it has changed disk, according to his whims of megalomaniac, coupled with fluctuations in the grossest demagoguery. (The funny thing is, however, that Sarkisian is in cahoots with LTP ...).
Thus, in light of the above proof, already, much of the Armenians of the Diaspora are very badly from now complaining of new political relations between the Republic of Armenia and Turkey.
Alas, the problem is not limited to this single policy dimension, or about the last presidential election.
What this Sarkisian is now is exactly and completely in line with what many Armenians, especially and mainly in the Diaspora, advocating, preaching, said, wrote and did the same, since a good decade.
Fashion Was not the approximation between Turks and Armenians, the "mutual understanding (sic)," clear dialogue, reconciliation hasty approach to the gentle, sensitive and subtle to the "common history" these two peoples? For the susceptibilities, pride, dignity of the Turks, give them time to "change from within, kindly keep their hands on the path of awareness, etc.. Etc..
Those of us who, under the principle of constant struggle, were in favor of maintaining traditional activism, firm and hard, demanding, do not they went to fanatics, extremists, ultra-je-ne - know-what, in short, unsustainable and harmful elements? Or, pitiful nostalgia ...
We've got now.
Duduk playing in a duo and tavlou to otouzbir shots, drink raki, humming songs, Turkish - available soon in the cafes of Yerevan - doing the business, the borders wide open (the Armenian people that goes enjoy, oh, for sure, not greedy hyenas gravitating around President ...), and go, do not worry, all will work out in the calm, peace and brotherhood. In mutual respect. So courteous and civilized. We are in the 21st century after all. At one point, it must evolve.
And then ... Istanbul. Aaaah, the beautiful, wonderful, wonderful city with all the beauties and pleasures ... To train, prepare the shuttles as soon aerial and terrestrial, that no Armenian is no longer deprived of the opportunity of a lifetime to visit this magical place, sacred and wander languidly, baklava hand, in the streets where it seems he might be past certain things, there are a hundred years ... But that will be seen that the committee of historians will tell. Beware of spoilers.
In short, thank you, Mr. Chairman. Finally, finally, you understand, you've heard the voice of reason, wisdom, moderation, of LTP, which commemorates those Turks with the event-that-don't-need-more-appoint of those who take care not to use the term evil, that ugly word, so offensive to the Turks - which indeed are all Armenians, they were loud and clear - and so on. etc..
Here, you have succeeded, ladies and gentlemen. Congratulations. It's you that our leaders have listened. The Diaspora has saved the blockade of Armenia, but above all, the genocidal lock.
The fact is that if the Diaspora had not so suddenly softened, drowsy, bending, kneeling and prone, as his masters that Sarkisian would at least hesitate to impose the capitulation we present historical, unprecedented in our modern national history. And even if they would have done anyway, we would have had the strength, resources and certainly much more credibility to resist and to counter it.
Not doubting the ability of artistic, literary and academic of some diaspora concerned, I presume they will find pretty sophistry to evade their responsibility in the current fiasco. After all, is what everyone is doing, that too is good in the air. Nobody is ever responsible for anything. Or, everyone is guilty.
But then conclude with a proof irrefutable.
If today Hrant Dink had been alive, he would have applauded with both hands, jumping for joy, tears in his eyes, in a typical state of jubilation and exuberance, seeing what the Presidents Sarkissian and Erdogan are being do. However, like all of our great visionaries reported in the text are also fans of Dink, they should seek to respect his sacred memory, applauding them as warmly Sarkissian.
By cons, always referring to the same fire Hrant Dink, although in all cases the damage is enormous, there is still hope that all these draft documents are suddenly torn apart, and that we avoid this epilogue and ultimate disaster ( or maybe this new "1915", called "2009", like ...).
The only hope, it is the Turks.
Me Haytoug Chamlian, Montreal
A step towards peace if ...
3 September 2009, by Ara / armenews
Should we welcome the views of Armenian Memorandum of Agreement between Turkey and Armenia, which has just been released? Pour la première fois en tout cas la Turquie a marqué un recul qui n'est pas seulement de façade par rapport à son hostilité traditionnelle à l'égard de l'Arménie et du monde arménien. Not so much by agreeing to establish diplomatic relations or by opening the border, which are two measures that will ultimately benefit both countries, but venturing to waive the doctrine of nationalism, the keystone of modern Turkey.
She took first the risk of displeasing Baku, Ankara had threatened breach of its hydrocarbon supplies in case of opening the border with Armenia without the imposition of a settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh. She then actually reverse resigning himself to participate in a "Subcommittee" to "historical dimension" created to restore confidence between the two nations. Even if this structure is in the minds of Turkish leaders to both the lesser evil, a maneuver to buy time and stop the process of international recognition of genocide in the name of Turkish-Armenian dialogue under the principle of the sanctions committee nevertheless the failure of Turkish denial, pure and hard.
Undermined by the many recognitions of genocide by both the community of historians more than two dozen state and parliaments worldwide, and pressured by Obama's promise to recognize the turn Crime, Ankara tent with the workshop to save face and find a graceful way to accusations that he is subject. While keeping the hope of casting doubt on the reality of historical fact, insofar as it is now subject to discussion.
While it is clear that the Armenian diplomacy suitable for this operation facilitates politico-historical attempts of Turkey to break the impasse which had resulted in a denial increasingly untenable. The mortgage also recognition of genocide by the U.S., which could be the final blow, the thunder shook things up and bringing the main U.S. ally in the region to a drastic revision of this taboo. That scenario now seems compromised. But was it realistic? Turkey occupies an increasingly prominent place in international relations. It is not at all on the road to Canossa. In contrast to Armenia, exposed on all four borders (Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran) to a regional environment of conflict or anxiety, is struggling in a difficult and dangerous plus its internal instability.
So in these circumstances that the Armenian diplomacy ruled that it was time to capitalize on the gains, both in Karabakh as genocide, attempting a diplomatic breakthrough. Taking the initiative with the football diplomacy began last year, it was offset by moderation in the international depreciation of its image undermined by the events of 1 March (10 dead following a disputed presidential ) and its democratic shortcomings. Very criticized domestically for having embarked on a political adventure involving historical issues, without any kind of popular mandate in the matter, but it can now claim to have achieved a breakthrough: in theory the 'Armenia is no longer under embargo.
There are still far from the cup and the lip between the draft Protocol and its ratification, which must be submitted to the Armenian and Turkish Parliaments. And we are not immune to a turnaround, particularly in Turkey, given the prevailing ideology and pressure Azeri. But if the agreement had become real, it would mark a success which would be a credit to both decried this diplomacy, including in our pages. Especially that Armenia, by the voice of Edward Nalbandian during a press conference last April in Paris, was prepared to pursue whatever happened, his struggle for international recognition of genocide . With or without the commission. And he will obviously true for the diaspora, to which nobody has asked the opinion, which can not be bound by commitments made without his knowledge.
The real novelty is that now exists across the device dialog established a framework which can turn the darkest pages of history of the twentieth century, which Turkey could consider how the Germany on the factors that led to criminal behavior, an area where we can do justice to the Armenian people, work towards building a peaceful future in the region. Provided of course that Turkey's leaders have the means to be the rendezvous of history and able to replace the existing Kémalo-Fascism, Islamism "moderate and tolerant" they claim to embody.