2963) Opinions: Khakov, Papyan, Oskanian, Gulvartian, Gunaysu, Cengiz, Idiz, . . .

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  1. Khakov: Armenian-Turkish Border Can Be Opened Within Two Days
  2. Diaspora Dilemma: Time for Hard Choices Come & Gone!
  3. Is There Process Of Settlement?, Ara Papyan
  4. Oskanian Speech
  5. Former FM Oskanian Says “NO” to Protocols; Matter of “National Dignity”
  6. 10 Major Concerns Regarding Armenia-Turkey Protocols, Harut Sassounian
  7. Turks & Neo-Ottomans, Gulvartian
  8. Rethinking Diaspora’s Role In Armenia-Turkey Relations
  9. World of Protest
  10. Why Does A History Commission Scare Armenians?, Semih Idiz
  11. Nicole Pope @ Todayszaman.Com Blots On Landscape
  12. Slaves, Past Atrocities, Turkey’s Obama, Orhan Kemal Cengiz
  13. 'Can You Hear Us Now?' , Aimee Cregger
  14. Armenia & Turkey Are Not Authorized 'To Define' The Border , Ara Papian
  15. Who Does Congress Of Canadian Armenians Really Represent?, Dikran Abrahamian
  16. Rethinking Diaspora’s Role In Armenia-Turkey Relations, Simon Maghakyan
  17. Raffi Hovannisian: Turkey-Armenia & Fruits Of Genocide
  18. With God's Help: Supreme Patriarch Hails Sargsyan's Move To Talk To Diaspora, Suren Musayelyan
  19. Truth Is Somewhere Out There: Armenian President's Alleged Statement: Controversy And Confusion, Aris Ghazinyan
  20. To The Editor: Rep. Harman Responds
  21. Garen Yegparian
  22. It Comes in Threes, Tamar Kevonian
  23. Neither Yes, Nor No, Ayse Gunaysu
  24. Ideological Basis of Armenian Statehood, Ara Papian
  25. On Protocols, Authority and Resignations, Ara Papian
  26. Once More on the Pair of Unfortunate Protocols, Ara Papian
  27. Snare of Words, Ara Papian
  28. American Example, Ara Papian
  29. Three-Zero, In Turkey’s Favor, Ara Papian
  30. Letter To Armenia's Representatives In US
  31. Let’s Publicize Armenia Correctly, Tom Vartabedian
  32. Diaspora Dilemma –Time for Hard Choices Has Come and Gone!,
  33. Does Andranik Mihranyan Take His Cue From Pro-Turkey Neocons?, Appo Jabarian
  34. In Pursuit of Justice & True Friendship, George Aghjayan

Marat Khakov: Armenian-Turkish Border Can Be Opened Within Two Days 25.09.2009, Karen Ghazaryan `Radiolur'
The South Caucasus Railway plans to invest a total of RUB 1.2bn in the Armenian railroad facilities, with RUB 1bn to be invested in the infrastructure, Deputy Director General Marat Khakov told a press conference today.

He said that the company plans to invest RUB 600m in the track facilities annually during the following three years. A total of RUB 10m will be invested in the design and survey works. A technical diagnostics center will be opened at the Masis station by next May.

According to Marat Khakov, over 27,000 passengers were served by the Yerevan-Batumi train ` an increase of 40% as compared with the corresponding period last year. Inland passenger traffic reached 465,000 ` an increase of 40%.

Khakov said that two overhauled locomotives will replenish the company's locomotive fleet this October. Railway communication between Gyumri and Vanadzor will be resumed in a few months.

Khakov also addressed the three railway accidents at the Masis and Noragavit stations, as well as at the Tumanyan-Shaghali crossing. In the first two cases, it was `a human factor.' As regards the third case, Khakov said that Tumanyan-Shaghali is the most difficult section that needs repairing.

The South Caucasus Railway Company has repaired a 5-km-long section and 0Aplans to repair a 10-km-long section before the end of this year. The company replaced 60,000 sleepers and plans to replace 40,000 more.

Asked whether the company is ready for the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border, Marat Khakov said they discussed the issue at the ministry of Transport and Communication last week. According to the Deputy Director General, they are ready to open the border within two days if they get a corresponding instruction from the government.

Diaspora Dilemma - The Time for Hard Choices Has Come and Gone!, hetq.am 2009/09/25
A reader from Cyprus sent us the following commentary on the diaspora, its relationship with the RoA and the current rift over the recent Armenian-Turkish protocols - Hetq.

How ironic and sad that this pretentious flare-up between the Diaspora and the RoA remains one of the farce that took place at the Paris Peace Conference when there were two competing delegations vying for scraps at the negotiations table - one lead by Boghos Nubar Pasha, for the diaspora/western Armenia, and the other lead by Avetis Aharonian for the first RoA.

It was a farce then and low and behold some 90 years later the Armenian nation finds itself in the same predicament. We, as a people, haven't advanced one iota.

It is high time that all Armenians, whether they consider themselves western or eastern, diasporan or citizens of the RoA, realize that the current political entity called the RoA is the amalgam of both geographical sphere of historic Armenia and as such it remains the sole official representative of the entire nation and its interests.

The Diaspora, or certain elements within it, might think differently but that is the cold reality. This issue isn't new and has deep roots, but the Diaspora must face facts. It cannot directly negotiate with the Turkish state; it lacks both the institutions to do so and remains disparate collections of petty organizations and spheres of interest.

The Diaspora and those forces within it who now lambast the protocols and the foreign policy of the current RoA regime need to question their own actions in the matter.

What exactly does the Diaspora want? Who speaks for the Diaspora? These questions remain unanswered and sadly will remain so.

If the Diaspora was sincere about its present outcry and criticism of the protocols, it would need to confess that its arguments against the document are flimsy and superficial at best.

Genocide recognition; fine. Then what? Even if Turkey were to one day recognize the historical truth; then what? Will this lead to the descendants of Genocide survivors to move back to western Armenia and pick up the pieces of their interrupted historical development? Surely NOT!

The Diaspora laments the actions of the current RoA regime but takes little if no interest in changing it. On the contrary, where were the so-called leaders of the Diaspora after the fraudulent 2008 presidential elections in Armenia that ushered in the Sargsyan government?

Most diasporan organizations argued back then that it was better to remain silent rather than to destabilize the country. Dear compatriots, this is unprincipled politics. You can't have it both ways! Let the sons and daughters of the Diaspora, led by their leaders, show that they are serious about their convictions.

They should either move to Armenia or actively participate in the political process or they should create a government in exile and send its diplomats knocking on the doors of the European powers. The ARF once again attempts to deceive the uninitiated that it is the protector of the nation's interests and declares a hunger-strike in downtown Yerevan.

Does the ARF forget the infamous Treaty of Alexandropol that it signed or the fact that they requested Turkish military help during the 1921 February Uprising to battle the advancing Bolshevik forces?

Where was the Diaspora and the rhetorical nationalists of today when ASALA was taking the fight to the Turkish heartland 25-30 years ago? Back then all one heard was `Amot, Amot' (Shame, Shame).

Let's get real folks. All this sudden bluster over the protocols is just that - empty rhetoric.

People like former Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian wax eloquently about some imaginary injury to Armenian `self-dignity' if the protocols are signed and that we'd be depriving ourselves of future possibilities vis-a-vis territorial compensation. UTTER RUBBISH!

Let the sons and daughters of the Diaspora take up arms and fight alongside the PKK, that way they might have some moral justification to make territorial demands on eastern Anatolia.

BUT NO! Oskanian lives in a fairy-land of dreams just like the ARF who continue to spout nationalist rhetoric but does piss-all when it comes to real revolutionary work. They call themselves the Armenian `Revolutionary' Federation but don't have the guts to call for President Sargsyan's resignation. What utter nonsense.

At least, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, for all his faults, had the pragmatic nerve to say that the Genocide issue had no place in Armenia's foreign policy agenda. Basically, he told the diaspora to take the lead.

Ponder this as a final thought. When was the last time, prior to these recent protocols, did you hear any discussion or debate regarding the Treaty of Kars? The voices of dissent are so vociferous in Yerevan, Beirut and Los Angeles that one would assume that Armenians for the past 88 years spoke nothing but Kars around the dinner table or at the local coffee shop.

Now however, when there is a real document on the table with real consequences and requiring real decisions to be made, people have literally come out of the woodwork with a variety of opinions. It's this definition of the issue, of how to proceed into the unknown, which has so many at their wit's end. Why? Because they have nothing concrete to offer as a viable substitute and haven't seen the need to for lo these many years.

This is what really is at issue. Better to continue along the path of inaction and indecisiveness than actually sit down and hammer out a plan of action. That, however, requires time and effort, and a real set of national values.

Not one Armenian government in power since 1991, the year of independence from the Soviet Union, has ever said that Armenian has territorial claims of Turkey. This seemed palatable to the vast majority, in Armenia and the diaspora. So what has changed now to make so many predict doom and gloom if the protocols are enacted? Mostly it's the fear of the unknown and the understanding that they have nothing to offer as a substitute. They have been living a lie and are too ashamed to admit it.

I've come to the sad realization that as a people we should better concentrate on the here and now rather than continually living a lie and wallow in the dead-end of self-deception.

Historical experience proves we are competent to do no more.

Is There A Process Of Settlement? By Ara Papyan Www.Lragir.Am
In order to understand well a phenomenon or a process we need to use right words. Right terminology is if not the basis but at least a minimal precondition of any science. Political science is also a science. There have not been relations between Armenia and Turkey because of the simple reason that the present communication was either not official or a derivative of multilateral meetings. From legal point of view we do not have even commerce with each other because it is fully formulated with the help of mediator companies of third countries.

Consequently, today when the point is about a possible establishment of Armenian and Turkish diplomatic relations and some limited relations, it is not regular to dwell on the â??normalization of the Armenian and Turkish relationsâ?�. We have to register the pure phenomenon and dwell only on the â??establishment of Armenia and Turkeyâ?� relations.

The Armenian and Turkish rapprochement has to include at least existing problems if not the whole solution but at least the aspiration to it. It is this way in international relations as well as in daily life. The existing problems between Armenians and Turkish people, as well as between Armenia and Turkey have three components- territorial, material and moral. Without their solution, it is illogical and early to dwell on â??normalization of relationsâ?�.

There cannot be any normalization without the restoration of justice. There cannot be an honest dialogue without dwelling on main issues. Doctorâ??s ignorance of the causes of illness and the illness itself does not attest its absence. The affirmation of a crime against humanity is not a settlement. The result achieved by twisting peopleâ??s hands or provoking interest or buying them is not a settlement. It is just a deal.
by Ara Papyan Head of Mondus Vivendi Centre September 17, 2009

Vartan Oskanian Speech, 2009/09/22
We are facing a critical historic and political decision as a country and as a people and Civilitas believes in the importance of public debate. But in the case of these protocols, the debate is going off in the wrong direction. Not only are we presented with a fait accompli, but they’re also telling us nothing is changeable, and those documents have no preconditions.

Reading these protocols one unwillingly comes to the following conclusion: That these documents were prepared, somewhere, with Turkey’s participation, and imposed on the Armenian side, or the Armenian side really did negotiate this document having fully convinced itself that Armenia’s future development and survival is indeed completely linked to the opening of this border.

Those are the only two possible explanations. Otherwise, it’s not possible to understand the logic of these documents that unequivocally give Turkey what it has wanted for 18 years. Let’s not fool ourselves, let’s not mislead our people, let’s not trample on our own dignity, and let’s call things by their name.

For a moment, let’s assume that the border will indeed open. We will, as a nation, have to recognize that the border is being opened in exchange for important concessions of history and national honor, and of our sense of who we are and how we view our role and place in this region. We will have conceded our equal place in our future relations with Turkey.

At the base of this document is a defeatist attitude. It reminds me of the mood in 1997, when we were being told Armenia has no hope of further development, that it can’t be a stable, fully independent state if the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is not quickly resolved. The next 10 years came to disprove this. Despite the many problems and faults of that period, with the border still closed, there was in fact serious economic improvement. Our economy saw double-digit growth thanks to old and new economic reforms and their continuation. The country became more stable, with a new sense of unity, however fragile and incomplete, and with broader Diaspora inclusion.

Today, Armenia’s situation is again very difficult. We have an inexplicable 18.4% decline in growth, when the average world decline is two to three percent. Diaspora and Armenia have never been so distant from each other. Our society has never been so polarized. Our people have never felt so hopeless about our country’s future. Under these conditions, old sentiments have emerged again, telling us that Armenia can never become a fully independent state and cannot develop economically because of the closed border and the unresolved Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

Today, since we’ve already gone down this road, I can say with even greater confidence, that that’s not the case.

We must have trust in our own resources, in our people, in our country, in our future. If we successfully completed first generation economic reforms, we must move on to the second, third, fourth, fifth generations. These hold huge potential for our prosperity. We have an ever greater potential source: our unity and common sense of purpose.

Despite all this, there is also a new area where no one — not past administrations and not this one either – has seriously and honestly ventured. Very little has been done in the thorny but vital area of political reform. Unfortunately, our state is not a democratic state yet. But our whole future and security depend on that one word. We have not invested in fortifying and consolidating our democratic institutions, and now instead of going forward, we are going backwards. Our people, any people, are creative when they are free; but we have not created the conditions, the equal playing field, an assured rule of law society that protects the freedoms that enable prosperity. The closed border has not kept them out. Our succeeding governments have not nourished the seeds that are here on our land.

Our problems are here, at home. The solutions, too, must be sought here. No one says no to open borders or to an agreement on Nagorno Karabakh. But we must do so in the right way, in a dignified way, not with an imposed external solution, but a solution achieved from positions of strength among equal partners.

Signing these documents will not solve our problems. On the contrary, they will bring on entirely new setbacks and problems that can only be tackled by a unified, free, hopeful society.

That is not to say protocols with Turkey should not be signed. Of course they should. Even these two protocols, with all their major and minor unacceptable, controversial, questionable provisions would be acceptable, if at the very least, one sentence were removed, and a few words changed.

But as currently formulated, they cannot be signed.

First, if we were to assume that Turkey, after signing the protocols, will ratify them as well, we must ask ourselves, will the opening of the Turkish border be worth the price we will pay? This is the price they have been asking since 1991, when after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkey recognized and established diplomatic relations with all former soviet republics except Armenia. Since the beginning, they’ve had two demands – that Armenia renounce any territorial claims, and that Armenians renounce the international genocide recognition campaign. A third demand was added in 1993 – that Armenians withdraw from the territories surrounding Nagorno Karabakh.

Since that day, those three conditions have been consistently repeated. Today, the first two are formalized in the protocol. It’s there, black on white, and our government has apparently agreed to meet those demands. The protocol is worded such that not only do we agree to respect the territorial integrity of Turkey, but in the next sentence, we consent to renounce our historic rights as well as even the theoretical possibility of regaining historic justice.

Today there are more than 190 countries in the world, and there are nearly that many territorial disputes among them. That means that pairs of countries with normal relations with each other continue to disagree over their borders. A fourth of those disputes are in Europe. They have embassies, they trade, they have friendly relations, but their diplomats continue to talk and argue, respectfully, over their differing interpretations of history and territory. Those countries have signed protocols and have diplomatic relations.

In our region, even with our friendly, brotherly Georgia, Armenia and Georgia have not ‘recognized current existing borders.’ Demarcation is just now ongoing between us. Neither have Georgia and Azerbaijan. There, demarcation hasn’t even begun. But there are diplomatic relations. Those other 190 countries have agreed to respect each other’s territorial integrity, not their current existing borders. That is the international practice. There is a clear distinction in international relations between respecting territorial integrity and recognizing current borders. Look, we often say that we recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. But we continue the sentence and point out that Nagorno Karabakh has nothing to do with Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity since it’s never been a part of independent Azerbaijan.

Today, we can recognize Turkey’s territorial integrity. But how we continue that sentence is a right that no one can take from us or our future generations.

A protocol to establish diplomatic relations between two states sets the start for a long-term relationship during which two countries will tackle and resolve many new and ongoing bilateral problems. When the document that formalizes this relationship includes language that transforms the relationship to an unequal one, extracting one-sided concessions, one wonders about the future of such relations.

We want relations with Turkey, but we want them with a Turkey that wants equal and reciprocal relations with Armenia. We want relations with a Turkey that understands that the Europe to which we both aspire is not a Europe without disputes, but a Europe where neighbors agree to disagree while continuing to live neighborly and in dignity. We deserve no less.

The same concerns exist with the protocol provision about a historical subcommission and the ‘impartial scientific examination of the historical records’. Our neighbor, the successor to a state which committed Genocide, has not itself condemned this internationally recognized crime, yet expects to use this protocol to formalize its own unwillingness to confront history. Worse. Armenia’s government has acquiesced and agreed to be dragged into another endless process of denying and rewriting. Already, before the documents are even signed, there is talk of Turkey’s asking countries to re-visit their own statements of genocide recognition and condemnation. Turkey will cite the protocol and proceed with its efforts to rewrite history. Armenia and Armenians will expend energy and time to confirm historic facts.

These are the pitfalls that await us if Turkey intends to ratify the protocols. But what if this is all intended to show the world that they are ready to proceed with open borders, while at the same time their parliament withholds ratification until Azerbaijan is satisfied with the Nagorno Karabakh resolution?

This is the fundamental danger. These are not empty fears, this is not the product of an active imagination. Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Davutoglu remind us of this condition daily. Their demands on Nagorno Karabakh are Azerbaijan’s demands. Already, even before the protocols are signed, they continue to speak of those conditions. During the last year, there has not been an opportunity when Erdogan has spoken of Armenia-Turkey relations, without mentioning a return of the territories surrounding Nagorno Karabakh, and sometimes even return of Nagorno Karabakh itself. There hasn’t been one opportunity when Erdogan in his bilateral meetings, has not spoken about Nagorno Karabakh as an important agenda item. Apparently, Turkey is not concerned that as a consequence of such announcements, Armenia will withdraw from this process or from signing the document. Thus, Turkey is going against the letter and spirit of the document, by taking sides with one neighbor, at the expense of another.

In other words, if the purpose of this document and this process is to look to the future, that is not happening.

The only part about this that is surprising is that our leadership either does not hear them, does not want to hear them, or wants to believe they really mean something other than what they say.

For 15 years, Turkey has maintained the blockade, hoping for our economic and political capitulation. It didn’t happen and will not happen. Today, it is they who desperately need to come out of that political corner in which they placed themselves, it is they who need that border open, and they seem to have found a way to do it, at our expense.

Today, they need to open the border. It is they who are under great European pressure within their accession time frames. Today, they need to open the border because they are the ones who have economic issues at their eastern border that they need resolved. Today, they need to open the border because they are the ones in fear of the genocide recognition process that has been moving quickly and has culminated in great US pressure. Finally, they need the border open in order to reinforce their leadership role in this region.

Instead, our government has been making concessions, in their haste to move this process forward. From the beginning, if they were not farsighted enough to avoid being put in this position, now that this situation has been created, they must find a way to change course.

They have no choice. We are at a crossroads in our history. We have on the table the first bilateral document that the independent sovereign Republic of Armenia intends to sign with the Republic of Turkey. These documents not for and by third parties, as with the countless historical documents of the past where Armenia is a subject and not a party, but for the first time in history, a document in which Armenia is signing on to its own perceived place in history.

I wanted to make clear the basis of my criticism: we must and should move to normal relations with Turkey. But this document with these formulations should not be signed. Indeed, no one is authorized to sign this document with such formulations.

When people hear my criticism, sometimes they accuse me of jealousy. I think they do this so that they don’t have to have to deal with the substance of my criticism but instead, they trivialize it so they can dismiss it.

Nevertheless, I want to confess, I am sometimes envious. But of Turkish diplomacy. I would not dare to bring such a document to the table, I wouldn’t sign it and I don’t envy the man who will soon do so.

Former FM Vardan Oskanian Says “NO” to Protocols; A Matter of “National Dignity”, 2009/09/22 Hrant Katarikyan
I just returned from a lecture delivered by former RoA Foreign Affairs Minister Vardan Oskanian on the Armenian-Turkish protocols.

During his impassioned speech on the pitfalls he saw inherent in the document, Mr. Oskanian stressed that Armenia had come to a political crossroads with far-reaching implications for the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian nation worldwide.

I will not go into the details of Mr. Oskanian’s opposition to the protocols as presently constituted but rather point to the general thrust of his arguments against them. In short, Mr. Oskanian pointed to the stipulation that Armenia recognize the current borders between the two states and the setting up of an inter-governmental sub-committee that would look into “outstanding historical issues” between Armenia and Turkey as the main reasons for his opposition.

These two points, he argued, whether or not the protocols are eventually ratified by the respective nations are victories for Turkey and will be adroitly used by Ankara to quash any future Armenian demands for genocide recognition and possible compensation for the consequences of 1915.

Mr. Oskanian assured the assembled audience at the Yerevan Hotel, many students, that he would never have dared present the Armenian people with such a fait accompli out of personal principle and a sense of self-respect. He confessed that he could not, in good conscience, agree to the protocols as currently worded.

He stressed that Armenia had rushed head long into negotiations that would lead to a reopening of the border with Turkey, but at a very high price. The former foreign minister also noted that the publicity surrounding the talks had pushed Armenia into a corner and that Turkey was using the publication of the protocol document to its advantage, He cited that fact that Ankara was already making preparations to campaign those countries that have officially recognized the 1915 Armenian Genocide to rescind their resolutions, arguing that Armenia, by agreeing to signing the protocols, had itself called those events into question.

Of particular concern, according to Mr. Oskanian, was the fact that Turkey has obligated Armenia to reconcile itself with past historical injustices and that this was something totally unacceptable and a document unworthy to sign and thus pass on to future generations of Armenians that would have to live with the unfavourable consequences.

He noted that there are many countries, even in Europe, that have recognized the “territorial integrity” of their neighbours while not officially recognizing borders as presently constituted and that this has not prevented them from enjoying diplomatic relations, or the free flow of goods and people.

Mr. Oskanian noted that Armenia is ill-prepared to confront the consequences of an open border with Turkey given the many internal problems existing in Armenia today. He cited the existence of political prisoners, the questionable 2008 presidential elections, social upheavals stemming from the March 1st public disturbances and the lack of democracy in Armenia in general. He argued that open borders with Turkey will not resolve these internal issues and may even exacerbate them. “Armenia has survived and even made positive economic strides with a closed border,” he noted, adding that, wise Armenian foreign policy would have been a little more circumspect and patient in its dealings with Turkey.

A question from the floor concerned what steps the Armenian public should take before the parliament ratifies or rejects the protocols. Mr. Oskanian said that he had already made his views publicly known but was ready to lend his voice to any publicly organized protest. He confessed that he hadn’t had a chance to sign the ARF’s petition drive now going on in Republic Square against the protocols but that he saw no reason not to sign.

Speaking of the ARF, party MP Vahan Hovhannisyan was in the crowd and stated that he fully agreed with the views expressed by the former Foreign Minister. Someone should have asked the ARF leader why they have held back calling for the resignation of the president given that he has signed off on the protocols which the party regards as a national disaster looming on the horizon. Then too, Mr. Hovhannisyan could have been asked what concrete steps the party took to strengthen the rule of law and democratic development while a member of the ruling coalition. I am sure the ARF can defend it past positions, no matter how duplicitous they may sound.

Then too, the question of the diaspora’s role in the protocol process was raised. All agreed that the diaspora’s opinion, or more correctly, opinions should be heard but that a suitable mechanism for giving voice to those views had yet to be created.

And this is perhaps the saddest reality of all. When the nation is confronted with such a critical and historic challenge with far-reaching consequences, neither Armenia, much less the diaspora is sufficiently prepared and organized to respond.

In the case of Armenia, one could argue that there is a lack of independent news outlets and civil organizations to formulate and give voice to such dissenting opinion.

But what are the excuses for the diaspora? There democratic institutions and civil society apparently flourish. Perhaps it is a lack of will and long-term national strategy that has hindered the creation of a collective voice and unified structure able to confront such challenges and thus collaborate with the Republic of Armenia on a pan-national level.

10 Major Concerns Regarding Armenia-Turkey Protocols, By Harut Sassounian Publisher, The California Courier
In earlier columns, I had described the major negative aspects of the already initialed Armenia-Turkey Protocols made public on August 31. The concerns I had expressed dealt with two unacceptable preconditions -- recognizing the territorial integrity of Turkey and establishing a joint committee of experts to study historical archives, a not so-veiled reference to re-examining the Armenian Genocide.

Below is a more comprehensive evaluation, providing 10 reasons why the Armenian government should not have initialed, and should not sign and ratify these Protocols:

1) Armenia's leaders made the misjudgment of trying to resolve a large number of emotionally-charged Armenian-Turkish issues all at once, through20a single agreement. Decades of antagonism cannot be dealt with in such haste. Armenian officials should have proceeded cautiously and gradually, starting with the simple step of establishing diplomatic relations, followed by the opening of the border. More complicated issues should have been left for a later date.

2) Since the declared purpose of these negotiations is the opening of the border with Armenia -- which Turkey shut down 16 years ago -- there was no reason to conduct such protracted and complex negotiations, and draft an elaborate document that included many unrelated and unacceptable conditions. It may have been wiser to draft a one-sentence agreement that would have simply stated: `Armenia and Turkey agree to establish diplomatic relations and declare their mutual border open on January 1, 2010.' In fact, such a one-line agreement was adopted by the United States and Turkey in 1927, when establishing diplomatic relations.

3) Armenia did not have to make any concessions in order to entice Turkey to open its border. Since Turkey has been desperately trying to join the European Union for several decades, it has no choice but to open its border with Armenia. The EU requires that all member states have open borders with neighboring countries.

4) By rushing to shut down the border in 1993, Turkey deprived itself of an important leverage over Armenia. Should Turkey reopen the border, it would once again reposse ss that leverage, holding the threat of closing the border as a Damoclean Sword over Armenia's head. This threat becomes particularly potent, once Armenia's population is increasingly dependent on imported, cheap Turkish foodstuffs and goods.

Should Turkey decide to close the border in the future under some pretext, Armenia's leaders would not be able to reverse the damage done to the nation's interests, even if they abrogated the Protocols!

5) Prime Minister Erdogan said once again last week that Turkey would not open its border with Armenia, unless the Karabagh (Artsakh) conflict is resolved. Armenia's leaders should announce that they will not sign these Protocols, since Turkish officials have made it crystal clear that they have no intention of keeping their side of the bargain.

6) Retired Turkish Ambassador Yalim Eralp made an important disclosure during a recent interview. He stated that the Turkish Parliament, while ratifying the Protocols, could declare them to be valid only after the resolution of the Karabagh conflict. Should the Turks advance such a condition, the Armenian Parliament could retaliate by requiring that the Protocols go into effect only after Turkey acknowledges the Armenian Genocide and Azerbaijan recognizes the Republic of Artsakh!

7) The Protocols do not include any requirement that they be signed and ratified by a particular date. The oft-mentioned October 12 or 13 signature dates are not mentioned in the text of the Protocols. The Armenian government should not rush to sign and ratify these Protocols.

Armenia's leaders may yet be saved from damaging their country's interests by Turkey's reluctance to ratify the Protocols. Turkey may blink first!

8) Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian admitted last week that there is no legal requirement to submit these Protocols to Parliament for ratification. However, such ratification would unnecessarily compound the damage done to Armenia's national interests.

9) The Armenian government made no attempt during the lengthy negotiations with Turkey to consult with Diaspora Armenians, despite the fact that the Protocols addressed vital pan-Armenian issues. Months ago, when organizations and individuals expressed serious concerns regarding the preliminary text of the Protocols, they were simply ignored by the Armenian authorities. Attempts to hold discussions at the eleventh hour are futile, since the Armenian Foreign Minister has declared that the Protocols cannot be amended.

10) When the Armenian President met with leaders of more than 50 political parties in Yerevan last week, the five-hour-long `consultations' were held behind closed doors. Regrettably, only the President's remarks were publicized. One would hope that when Pres. Sargsyan goes on his planned trip in early October to Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Moscow, and Beirut, his discussions with Diaspora leaders20 would be more open and transparent, and preferably televised.

The one unintended outcome of this heated controversy is the coming together of diverse Armenian organizations to take a common stand against these Protocols. It is everyone's earnest hope that the intense intra-Armenian discord would not last long and Armenia's leaders would find the courage and wisdom to stand down from their decision to sign and ratify these Protocols detrimental to the Armenian Cause.

Turks & Neo-Ottomans By Vicken Gulvartian, Usa Keghart 21 September 2009
Never in my life have I seen the faces of so many Turks on the front pages of Armenian newspapers as I have these past three months: Erdogan, Babacan, Gul, Davutoglu, Mehmediarov, Aliyev and others. Mustachioed, neo- Ottomans in dapper suits.

Turks are on the move from Central Asia to Europe en route from their true origins to what they aspire to become, and the little country of Armenia is caught in the middle of the most ambitious national aspiration in modern times: Turkey's transformation into the world of the civilized.

If the key to what the Turks are seeking, namely, honor, respectability, and modernism, lies with us the Armenians then we must be ready to walk the walk.

But first, some facts:

Turkey is an Asian nation of 72 million inhabitants. It is a muslin state (not secular), inhabited by peoples of Turkic stock. 99% of Turkey's land mass is situated in the Asian continent. The country holds no natural resources, and a great percentage of the population live off the land in medieval settings. Ethnic divisions are acute, especially against a Kurdish minority of 15 million who do not speak the same language, and do not share the lexicon of unity that emanates >From Ankara.

The global economic boom of the past decade has been good for Turkey, as Europe sought cheap labor to manufacture shirts and underwear, and hotel rooms on beaches serving all-you-can- drink cocktails to sun-deprived Scandinavians, and hard-drinking Brits. Much similar to countries such as say, Vietnam, 80% of Turkey's economy is based on soft industries - textile, tourism, food packing, wireless telecom and finance. Industries that foreign investors will easily move out of the country in case of political turmoil or economic instability, and there's been quite a few of those these past 20 years - coup d'états and financial meltdowns, defaults on foreign loans, and currency devaluations.

Turkey's much publicized million-strong army is well trained to suppress the Kurds, and preserve an image of a democratic (that's a joke), secular (false) , modern (more like a rural-urban hodge-podge), and European (Euro-Asian identity crisis) state. It can, more appropriately, scare neighboring minnows like Kurds, Armenians or Syrians, but has never been tested against a credible military challenge. The notion that Turkey has one of the most formidable armies in the world is yet another myth.

Modern Turkey is the direct successor of the Ottoman Empire - the same entity that massacred 1.5 million of its own Armenian citizens, expelled million others, and forcefully converted generations of Armenians and Greeks through servitude and assimilation. An empire built on religious fanaticism, brute20force, cruel taxation and a dismal human rights record. Name one thing that can be attributed to the Ottoman Turks that survives to this day as their lasting contribution to civilization. Nothing, absolutely nothing!

Leave it to the Turks to position themselves as big players on the world stage these days. Look at various regional conflicts and Turkey's self-suggested involvement as mediators, and you see no effective solutions, and no genuine contributions: Azerbaijan-Armenia, US-Iraq, Iran-Saudi Arabia, Syria-Israel. I know of no world conflict - political, social or economic- that Turks have yet been able to solve or put to rest! None. But that has not diminished from Turkey's belief in its own lies: That it has actually arrived on the world scene, without the burden of its past, or the moral responsibility of the present.

Worst yet, Turks see themselves as uniquely positioned as an "emerging economy" to confront their distracters, especially those who keep bringing up "this issue of the Armenians". In reality, they are burdened by the knowledge that any admission to crimes against humans (Genocide) would be a direct betrayal of the "principals" upon which Mustafa Kemal founded their new nation in 1923- as a shining country of a very happy and homogeneous population, at peace with its Ottoman past, and ready to take on the challenges of a modern future built o n universal values of democracy. A fiction of Mustafa's imagination conceived possibly at one of his "better moments" (he eventually died of alcohol-induced cirrhosis at the age of 57). In reality, modern Turkey has not and cannot progress beyond his idea of greatness as long as it is held in place by an army that meddles in all affairs of the state, suppressing the press and the multitude of historians, authors, journalist and scholars relentlessly, meticulously and heartlessly, and assassinating some of them at intervals. The people of Turkey, on the other hand, have fear as their greatest motivation to... not talk!

Which bring us to 2009 and the current negotiations between Turkey and Armenia, and possibly the opening of the border for the first time since Armenia became independent in 1991. While Armenia must negotiate for the opening of the border as a gesture of good neighborly relations and for commercial reasons, it is continuously reminded to do so without pre-conditions of Turkish admission to the Genocide.

Under pressure from the US and occasionally Europe (led by Turkey's only true historic friend - the British) the Turkey-Armenia issue is getting to look more like a classics case of a crisis between a weaker party forcefully stripped of the only right it possesses for negotiations - the legitimacy of human rights, and the stronger party pretending to promote what9s best for everyone, as long as the best serves their own grand ambitions. Enter into this mess at the eleventh-hour the mushy obama-esque style of US mediation in disputes of the world, and the debate takes the bizarre new twist of "Let's not forget, but let's forgive", or even better yet, "Let's forget and forgive".

The key to the puzzle rests, of course, in Yerevan, where a corrupt government run by a president known for his gambling prowess not in the corridors of power, but rather in the halls of Monte Carlo runs the show. As shrewd as he thinks he may be, his counterpart is Tayyip Erdogan, himself, a risk-taker who has a string of successes in his build-up of a private financial empire worth in the billions of dollars. Mr.Sarkissian, take note!

Can the government in Yerevan be trusted? And is the Armenian acuity to eventually make a good deal out of a bad situation enough to make this a risk worth making? I don't think so. Turkey needs nothing of Armenia except for an indefinite suspension of the Genocide issue, or for at least the next 15 years until Turkey becomes, dadaaa... European. The Turks believe that the absence of a debate is the absence of the problem itself.

It is essential for Armenia to advance good relations with all its neighbors, including Turkey. This means open borders, and negotiations on all issues of interest to countries with shared borders, and that's exactly where the potential entanglement lies: What to do about the Genocide?

Do not misunderstand. My whole argument is not about what Turkey will do or must do, nor what the US can impose or must not. But rather what we, Armenians must not do, and cannot do.

What Armenia must not and cannot do is to allow the Genocide to be a topic for discussion. It is certainly a critical issue and a very vital topic...

but not for discussion. Not by anyone, not anywhere, and not at anytime.

In other words, the notion of "Let's forget" is not possible, nor any suggestion that the Genocide is "a topic" that is for future historians to discuss, dispute and conclude. The Genocide is a fact, a historically documented fact. Facts are not negotiable, nor revised. Period!

The message that goes to Turkey is loud and clear: There is no hope for their image as a genuinely modern country until all disputes of their past are settled. Mistakes of fathers have a tendency to stick with the permanence of an asterisk in most unlikely places. Mustafa Kemal knew that, but at the end he lacked the European-ness he desperately aspired to solve the case of the Ottomans right at the beginning.

The Republic of Armenia faces its biggest challenge so far because the very history leading to its creation and existence will be questio ned at each step of the way should Armenia participate in a bilateral commission of historians that will be created to, supposedly, study the Genocide. The process is nothing more than a cover for years of empty talk in light of "new archives" that Turkey will put on the table for endless discussions with no conclusions. Open-ended talks will surely stall as Turkey will insist on the inclusion of yet another "new " (fabricated) evidence of atrocities by Armenians. The same argument that has been at the core of their strategy in denying the Genocide.

There can be only one outcome to the Turkish stance on the Genocide: Admission. That, however, is a course that the people of Turkey might eventually elect to take. It will be a good idea for them to start where it's easiest- With the more that million Turks amongst themselves whose roots are to be found in their Armenian grandmothers who in 1915 were forcefully converted after their families were massacred during the Genocide.

Then what are we Armenians to do, while we wait for Turkey to open, modernize and be civilized by forces from inside, from places yet unknown?

We are all missing the point if we make Turkey or the US the frontline of our decision to a plan of action. It is time to collect our senses, wave all politicians goodbye and work on the continuity and prosperity of Armenian entities everywhere in the world as a constant reminder to Turkey as to who may be losing the battle today, but can win the war eventually. That is the course of history, and no one understands that better than the exact same mustachioed neo-Ottomans in dapper suits I have listed in the beginning of this column.

An article in the July issue of The Economist about Turkey concludes with a notation by "a Western official" saying, " when it comes to Turkey and Armenia, Turkey wins every time". The person in question has failed to notice that we Armenians are not out to defeat Turkey. They have their own people to do that for us.

Rethinking Diaspora’s Role In Armenia-Turkey Relations
Armenian diaspora’s idealist opposition to Turkey-Armenian negotiations is understandable, but an outright rejection of the dialogue process is a missed opportunity to introduce ideas and strategies that would empower Armenia.

One of world’s ancient nations and one of its youngest states, Armenia celebrated its 18th anniversary as an independent republic on September 21, 2009.
No country in history has persisted so much invasion, persecution, and genocide.

No country has continuously existed for so long as Armenia has.

And even though today’s Armenia is small, weak and has a declining population of already less than three million, today’s Armenia is one of the best times Armenia has had in thousands of years. Today is Armenia’s gift, and that gift must be used wisely.

Already a young adult, Armenia lives in a world with little room for mistakes. It must democratize, stabilize and normalize its relations with its historic foes to survive in times when today’s errors will be hard to erase tomorrow. As bad as Armenia may seem today, it has the opportunity to invest in a great future.

As the new Armenia is celebrating its entrance to adulthood, its ongoing negotiations with Turkey are in the center of international attention. There have been many articles and discussions on a subject which divides a lot of people, who I will “divide” into two camps – pragmatists and idealists.
Armenia’s current administration, and perhaps most of the citizens in the Republic, wants to normalize relations with Turkey for economic reasons. These are the pragmatists, for who Armenia is the only permanent address they have known, and who want to have a normal social life. I understand this group well. This is the group that is Armenian every second of their life. This is the group that wants to change, improve Armenia and is willing to take the risks. This is the group that ultimately takes all the risks.

I also understand the second group – the idealists. These are the diasporans for whom the Armenian genocide is the centerpiece of Armenian identity. The diaspora would never exist in the first place if there was no genocide. Diaspora’s opposition to the Turkish-Armenian ‘normalization,’ thus, is natural.

These are the people that won’t forget how Turkish governments repeatedly lied to Armenians, and how the most trusted of those, the CUP, ended up carrying out the Armenian genocide. These are also the Armenians for who genocide awareness is often the road to staying Armenian. Diasporans have to fight day and night to keep the Armenian identity – unlike the Armenians in Armenia, who – no matter what they do – are Armenians every second.
I understand both groups. I love both sides. I am a son of the genocide itself and a son of the young and small Armenia living in the Diaspora. But when it comes to making a choice for Armenia’s future, I have to be a realist.

The reality is that Armenia’s population, at its best, will stay 3 million for the next decades. Turkey’s 71 million population and Azerbaijan’s 8 million will keep growing, coupled with the rise of ethnic Turkic Azeris in northern Iran. Unless Armenia finds a language with these inconvenient neighbors, it could face the danger of a final genocide.

Finding a common language, to be clear, has nothing to do with forgetting the Armenian genocide. The pragmatists, taking a market-ly speaking neoliberal approach, think that free trade will bring dialogue, and dialogue will bring genocide recognition. The idealists, on the other hand, say that genocide recognition should come first. As noble as the latter sounds, the former seems to make most sense. “Once the border opens,” Turkish historian Taner Akcam told me a few years ago, “Armenians and Turks will find out that they have more things in common than they thought: they have the same daily problems, and none have horns.” He surely belongs in the pragmatist camp, not only in the Armenian but also in the Turkish sense.

Is it bad to be an idealist? Not at all. But the idealist opposition to the “Armenian-Turkish protocols” needs to be a constructive one. Instead of outright rejecting any normalization efforts between Armenian and Turkey, the diaspora idealists must infuse specific and stated strategies that the pragmatists have been unable to include in the negotiations:

Demand Turkish neutralization in the Nagorno-Karabakh process
Demand the US government to force Turkey to declare itself a neutral side in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Demand Turkey that by 2015 all monuments honoring the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide have separate plaques added describing the crimes they committed during WWI

While the latter is the only point that deals with the genocide, the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh is the most realpolitik task and requires immediate attention. The idealists, overoccupied with genocide recognition, have long neglected the question of Nagorno-Karabakh – the indigenous Armenian region claimed by Azerbaijan.

Turkey remains the biggest obstacle in reaching peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that will guarantee the security of the region’s indigenous population. If Turkey wants to normalize its relations with Armenia, it must stop being pro-Azerbaijani when it comes to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It must declare itself neutral in the conflict and say that it will honor any decision reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
This is the chance for the idealists to make a difference in the normalization process. It’s time to tell Turkey that for Armenians to choose the pragmatist approach – open border first, dialogue second and reconciliation third – Turkey must become objective in the Nagorno-Karabakh process.


10 Responses to “Rethinking Diaspora’s role in Armenia-Turkey relations”

Aram Hamparian on 22 Sep 2009
I was expecting better from you than a simplistic reworking of the idealist/realist false choice rhetoric that Turkey and its State Department allies march out every time they would like the Armenians to demonstrate the “vision” and “courage” to make materially dangerous concessions that threaten Armenia’s future.

This argument may have some surface appeal to the inexperienced, but test it against actual reality a few times and you’ll realize that you may very well be making a case for outcomes and interests that you would find deeply troubling.

Aram Hamparian

Blogian on 22 Sep 2009
I invite you to read the post in full before making a comment.

Silva Panossian on 22 Sep 2009
You must be in denial. After opening the border, signing the protocol, can you guarantee justice will follow? Are you dreaming? haven’t you learned anything from past? How many times Armenians were betrayed? Come on! wake up! enough of rainbow day dreams.

Blogian on 22 Sep 2009
Silva, no, I don’t think anyone can guarantee anything at this point. But the status quo is hurting Armenia. Sitting on your soft diaspora sofa you have little first-hand experience on what the people of Armenia feel and need. Progress is a process, and so is genocide recognition.

James Sahagian on 22 Sep 2009
Turkey and Azerbaijan consider themselves to be the same people – Turks and Muslims. There is a kinship between them that will never allow Turkey to objectively view Armenia in their dispute with Azerbaijan. They overtly say so!

Turkey has not matured to the point that they desire to normalize relations with Armenia. It is clear that they could care less if the border stays closed with Armenia forever.

I agree, this is unfortunate and does hurt Armenia. However, Armenia must wait until such a time that they strike a “deal” with an honest and repentant Turkey. If that day never comes (and I’m not holding my breath), the status-quo is far better than selling out our just cause for some hope backed with absolutely nothing.

Signing these protocols is beyond stupid politics, it’s treasonous to the thousands of Karabaghtsis who died to live in an independent Artsakh.

James Sahagian

Garbis Malhas on 22 Sep 2009
No mention of the protocol, tsk, tsk, indeed very disapointing.Looks like you haven’t read all that you need to read dear Simon.

J on 22 Sep 2009

I guess im a pragmatist then..

The Future of Armenia is far more important than the past.

Aram Hamparian on 22 Sep 2009
Your response to Silva seems to represent a divide/dismiss approach that judges the merit of an argument by the relative comfort of the person articulating that particular point of view.

Is it fair or, for that matter, constructive, to write off vast segments of the Armenian nation on this basis?

Simon, if you are comfortable in your life, does that mean we should not listen to your views? Or, because you sometimes sit on a soft sofa, should we only take heed when your views run in a certain direction?

What exactly is your “upholstery” rule about the correlation between comfort and opinions, and how would you apply it to yourself and others?

I enjoy your writing and hope you have time to visit when you are in DC.


David Boyajian on 22 Sep 2009
Notice that, in the minds of some Armenians, Turkey’s opening the border with Armenia will necessarily result in tremendous economic growth in Armenia.

Notice the dependency syndrome there. Notice the implicit belief in Armenian weakness. The basic philosophy is: Armenians are dependent on Turkey and must assent to Turkey’s wishes. With assent, all is well, in these people’s minds. The protocols must be ratified, most of these people think. Nevermind the details. Just sign the damn thing.

Also implicit in their arguments is the notion that if Armenia does not essentially give up any and all claims against Turkey, Armenia may be subjected to another genocide by Turkey. Thus, such people are in the backs of their minds afraid of Turkish aggression, but won’t say so. To do so would be to explicitly acknowledge danger.

Recent Turkish behavior against Kurds, and in Cyprus, for example, are dismissed. Turkey is to be depicted as “changing” and benign. You can tell these people that during the 1908 Young Turk revolution, Armenians were dancing in the streets and also declaring “change”. A few years later, there was the genocide. These people think that because they themselves are liberal minded Westerners, Turks must be too. “Dialogue” solves everything to these people. Like a kid who comes home from his first semester at college after taking Psychology 101 and declares to mommy and daddy that he now knows how the world works.
Oh, if only Turks and Armenians could sit around a table, talk, and maybe have sex afterwards, why they’d discover they were all human beings after all. Maybe what we need is a big Turkish Armenian rock concert a la Woodstock to discover that we really are all flower children?

The prospect of genocide as Turkey, as in WW I, once again thrusts to the east, is as real to them as other Armenians, but to acknowledge such a threat is also to acknowledge that their stance is taken due to fear of Turkey, and not necessarily to simply “normalize” relations with Turkey.

If and when Armenia becomes Turkified, let’s face it, these people will be very happy. I claim that if, 50 years from now, Armenia were formally absorbed into, and became a province of, Turkey, these people would simply say, “So what? What’s the harm?” That’s the underlying mindset – weakness, low levels of pride, and capitulation.

How much money do the oligarchs in Armenia stand to make from an open border? Does the present Armenian government have the requisite legitimacy and honesty to sign an important agreement like the Protocols? (No.)

Chris on 22 Sep 2009
Seems the realist is the true idealist here.

Have you actually visited Armenia recently? They’re doing just fine with a closed border, believe me. I’m witnessing it first-hand.

Armenia really has no major issues right now with a closed border; it will have them when the border opens without dialogue on the Armenian Genocide and other relevant issues to all Armenians beforehand. Take a good look at the protocols please.

Your point about Turkey needing to stay neutral in the NK peace process is certainly valid, but that’s not going to happen so long as Armenia continues to demonstrate its desperation for opening the border without clearing up some very significant things with Turkey first. This is about trust, not economics. And Turkey is showing no signs whatsoever that it can be trusted.

A World of Protest
I'm writing after a weekend of protest, which is to be sure followed by more in the weeks to come. As it stands, we are less than a month from Soccer Diplomacy II, the expected return visit of President Sargsyan to Turkey for a football game after the Turkish President visited Armenia for one last year. In the past year, while many have dreaded what this means for Armenia all along, more and more people- mainly diasporans- have grown worried as negotiations seemed to stall and even backtrack. This seems to be because as Azerbaijan became vocally angry at Turkey, Turkey changed its conciliatory tone with Armenia and take a hard line on what preconditions would need to be met by Armenia before this can go forward. These conditions included a solution to the complicated Karabakh conflict, which Armenia rightfully saw as a dagger right at the heart of Armenia-Turkey negotiations since talks have been stalled for over a decade on that front with no movement in sight. On August 31, after months of silence (outwardly at least) Turkey and Armenia suddenly announced they had agreed on protocols which would serve as a guide for the negotiations and would be agreed upon in six weeks, coincidentally (or not) the exact amount of time before the football game and Sargsyan's visit to Turkey. From there, both parliaments will have to ratify the protocols to bring them into effect- something which should be relatively easy for Sargsyan at least as his Republican party dominates the parliament. In Turkey there is a viable number of opposition forces in the parliaent, who of course are making their opposition to the protocols known, but whether Gul and Erdogan will have the political capital to push this through (along with planned reforms aimed at the Kurdish regions of Turkey) remains to be seen.

As the battle lines have been drawn in their respective countries, they too have been thrown in the Armenian diaspora. In the past few days the Armenian Assembly, AGBU, and Diocese have officially released a joint statement supporting the negotiation process with the stated hope and expectation that the issues important to Armenia will not be ignored or discounted during it. The Armenian National Committee and ARF-Tashnag, however, stated its opposition to the protocols from the very first day of it being announced and held a protest rally on Saturday outside the office of the Armenian Representation to the UN. More such protests are planned against Armenian representative offices in California over the coming weeks. A hungry strike was also instituted by members of the party itself in Armenia. A press release by the ANCA states their concerns, including their belief that Armenia is being forced to make serious concessions to Turkey in exchange for opening the border, vital to Armenia's economic survival in the coming years. They also fear one of those concessions is creating a subcommittee on discussion the Armenian Genocide issue, which they believe means it will be finally swept under the rug on an official level, making it impossible to pass another bill of recognition anywhere in the world ever again. They also decry Armenia recognizing its official border with Turkey, in their opinion ceding away land captured during the genocide, along with the potential ceding of "buffer zone" territory in Karabakh due to vague references to the conflict in the protocols.

The lines are drawn, the governments seem set on making this happen, the west is set on making this happen, but the diaspora has always been known as a major force within Armenia. What will they do if this goes through? Will they have enough leverage to enact some sort of genocide, or eventually will this be swept away in the wave of changes occurring halfway around the world from them?

If I might share my personal opinion on this matter, it is hard to say who is right. Both have valid points, though what seems to be at work is the age old confrontation between idealism and pragmatism. It seems to me that the Tashnag side is taking things a bit too far in their doomsday speculation as to what the protocols will lead to, which in the opinions I hear from them is along the lines of Armenia offering up its independence on the altar of good relations with Turkey. The cynic in me wants to say Armenia offered up its independence long ago, to Russia, but on the flip side does not an open border with Turkey give Armenia more freedom from Russia (and Georgia)? While Armenia must be careful not to be overwhelmed by Turkish goods and influence coming from that open border (which is already happening with a closed one), one has to realize that it is inevitable to a degree, a small country surrounded by superpowers cannot be fully independent and Armenia has been in that position for centuries.

Next issue is Armenia's recognition of its border. According to the Tashnag side this means ceding away claims for good to land that was largely Armenian-populated during the genocide. This is a revival of the "Greater Armenia" notion in which Armenia is entitled to large swaths of land in eastern Turkey which is now almost completely populated by Kurds. This is a longstanding issue amongst members as the diaspora, and one which is hard for me to figure out. While yes, it might feel good to not relinquish the Armenian unilateral claim to those lands, but where does that get it? If Armenia and Turkey continue to have no political relations, that means they will never negotiate any sort of deal. Seizing land without a negotiations would take an act of war, meaning the only practical way of returning that claimed land would be through Armenia making war on Turkey, which I think everyone sees as complete folly regardless of their views. In my opinion, officially recognizing the current borders of the nation of Armenia doesn't mean that perhaps, somewhere long down the line, some deals could be made over small portions of land such as Ani, or at least a sort of joint sharing plan which would make Armenia a shareholder in Ani's future, but that is only if the groundwork is laid by these protocols. Unfortunately as hard as it is to hear, those Wilsonian maps of Greater Armenia will never happen, at least not in this century, that is something you can be sure of, so is this concession which needs to be made in exchange for some things from Turkey really that hard of one to swallon? I recognize many of you will answer yes, to which I will ask if you are aware that Armenia has recognized its current borders officially since joining the UN in 1992? And that every foreign minister, prime minister, and president who has been asked about the issue since I've been following news has each said unequivocally that Armenia recognizes its current borders and has no claims on Turkey? This is nothing new, let us at least get something in return by formalizing what Armenia has long said for nothing.

Finally, the Tashnag fear is that by signing these protocols Armenia is complicit in helping Turkey deny the genocide. As long as the Armenian Genocide memorial remains in Yerevan no one can rightfully say that. Yes, it will make passing resolutions in the diaspora more difficult, but I suppose it all depends on whether you think Turkey recognizes the need to come to terms in some way with this past, which I can assure you will haunt it for years to come whether or not protocols are signed. Turkey needs a face-saving vehicle to do any sort of recognition, as the republic's very foundations are built upon the genocide and the denial of it for 90 years. It will not be easy, but I believe (whether we like it or not) Turkey will either come to terms with its past in some way through negotiations or not at all, as it is quite clear that we cannot force it into doing anything- as international recognition only makes Turks more angry and more set against denying it. And in the end, who is it that we want to recognize the genocide, the whole world (yes), but really it is Turkey.

I am the first to admit, there is a lot of doubt and uncertainty involved in these protocols. There are so many different opinions and voices on what these vaguely-worded protocols mean, and perhaps that is by design. There are very few set statements because Armenia, Turkey, (and Azerbaijan)'s complicated pasts and present will not go away with the stroke of a pen in a couple weeks or a "yes" by their parliaments. Perhaps this situation is too complicated to ever be solved, perhaps Turkey and Azerbaijan and the west are all playing a game in which they are trying to lure Armenia into a trap to devour it. Whatever anyone says, they aren't wrong because all this remains to be seen. We need to enter with trepidation, but we must do so because this is something which needs to be tried. There is no way around it. Since this is all a complicated dance, we have heard a lot of conflicting views from the parties themselves as there are numerous constituencies which need to be appeased. This won't be easy, but nor do I think we are being practical if we just see this as an elaborate ruse to trick Armenia and destroy it. It isn't wrong to oppose these protocols but it is wrong to let your imagination wander to the extremes of this debate. What I have not heard from the Tashnag side is that: if not these protocols, then what? What is next for Armenia? Possibly another Russian war in Georgia, leaving Armenia completely cut off from the rest of the world? Another 20 years of a stifling blockade which international pressure clearly cannot make Turkey break? Will such agreements really reverse all gains in Karabakh in seconds, and will not making any agreements really contribute to keeping Karabakh secure? There are numerous questions to ponder, likely too many questions for most casual observers of Armenia to consider and so the simple slogans and labels become a refuge, but this is something which must be attempted. Because if not this, what is next for Armenia?

Why Does A History Commission Scare The Armenians?, September 24, 2009 Semih Idiz
One of the things that members of the Armenian diaspora, as well as hard-line nationalists in Armenia, hate most about the two protocols, proposing to normalize ties between Turkey and Armenia, is the fact that a joint history commission will be established to look at the events of 1915.

The feeling is that this is “a ploy by Turkey aimed at confusing the issue by creating a smokescreen aimed at undermining claims of genocide against the Armenians by Ottoman Turks.”

We have found in our personal dealings with hard-line Armenians that there is a concept they truly fear and fight against with all their might vis a vis 1915. This is the concept of “contextualizing.” Namely, the placing of events in the historic context they occurred in, rather than using selective and politically motivated “snapshots” that cut out much of the background.

The aim on the Armenian side over these past decades has been to build a specific international case on the basis of selective snapshots, regardless of the general context involved, even if that context is a World War in which millions of innocent people other than the Armenians also suffered and died.

Put another way, there are those on the Armenian side who are afraid that the proposed history commission will undermine the belief in genocide, an issue that is clearly of existential importance for them. There are facts, however, that take on the question how rational this approach is.

To start with, many historians around the world maintain that the genocide occurred and cannot be denied based on the historic evidence. In other words, the evidence is not exactly stacked on Turkey’s side, even if there are respectable historians that maintain that one cannot talk of “genocide” here in the true sense of the word.

Secondly, there is the fact that the proposed history commission will include historians from third party countries, not just Turks and Armenians. This means that this commission will not speak with one voice or have one view, but will allow for as many views, ideas and facts as possible to emerge in order to arrive at a better understanding of what actually happened in 1915, leaving such a bloody trail that still reverberating today.

From the Armenian perspective this is, no doubt, exactly where the problem lies, because it opens the door to the hated concept of “contextualizing.” That, however, is what history writing is all about. A history that we can all draw lessons from. In other words, we may all hate Hitler, but it is incumbent on us to learn about the context that led to his rise, since this clearly did not happen in a void.

There is also the fact that Turkey, represented by President Abdullah Gül, who said, on more than once occasion, that it will accept any conclusion the commission arrives at. This is a bold assertion given there is a strong belief around the world that genocide did occur in 1915. (This, by the way, is the reason why hard-line Turks also hate the notion of a history commission.)

The bottom line is that history is never linear, and to claim it is, amounts to an attempt at something other than history writing. This is why it is strange that on the Armenian side history should be quoted a lot, while the methodology that true history writing entails should be balked at.

The Turkish side is not exempt from this either, of course, given its nationalistic “founding myths” and related narratives. The simple fact to be realized on both sides of this deep divide is that history is not there to prove or disprove something to the advantage of one side or another.

In other words, while there will be historians in the proposed commission between Turkey and Armenia who assert or deny that a genocide occurred, it is very unlikely that the commission will arrive at a “clear verdict” in this respect.

Given that “genocide” is a legal term, only a court of law can arrive at such a definite verdict in the strict sense of the word. Otherwise it remains a matter of opinion based on how the available facts are used and interpreted.

What a joint history commission will do, however, is to enable us to put 1915 in better context once it begins the inquiry – if, indeed, it is allowed to – using all available material in the archives of various countries and organizations.

We believe that there are many myths on the Turkish side that will be exposed as a result of the workings of this commission. Judging by the remarks of Ara Sarafian, the British historian of Armenian origin, there are also facts that the Armenian side will have to face up to in this process.

This in fact is the best that can be hoped for from such a commission. Otherwise, it is clear that the commission will not put to rest this debate, which is nearly a century old. In other words, Armenians will continue to believe that they suffered genocide, and most Turks, but not all, will continue to believe that this is a lie.

It must be noted, however, that if the notion of a joint commission – even one that promises to be objective – creates such uproar on the Armenian side, then it is clear that we are not dealing with history as such, but a specific political agenda. The fear seems to be that it is this agenda that will be harmed.

Reader Comments
Guest - Hovhannes (2009-09-26
I am surprised at Mr. Samih Idiz for writing such an article, with such a title. No Mr. Idiz, Armenians are not scared, as you suggest, of a genuine discussion on this issue, on the contrary Armenians would love to discuss this with Turks in Turkey without any restrictions. However, Armenians are insulted for being invited to form a so-called Historic Commission which ostensibly starts from a not-so-genuine premiss that suggests Turkish ignorance on this subject. A government that shows readiness for a no-holds-barred discussion on such an important subject would first of all avoid creating muzzling mechanisms such as the criminal code "law 301". Equally important is the current mentality that permits Prime Minister Erdogan to declare that "the Turkish nation can never commit the heinous crime of genocide", this directly connects any possible actions taken against the Armenians by a non-elected and a dictatorial regime, the Ittihad ve terakki government of 1915, to that of the entire Turkish nation, thus rendering it impossible for anyone in Turkey to accept any blame for the fate that befell the Armenians citizens of the Ottoman Empire. The article of Mr. Idiz unfortunately misses the point as well as the chance to promote a better understanding between Turks and Armenians. With kind regards Hovhannes Sahakian

Guest - Bella (2009-09-26
Armenians reject a "historical commission" because there has already been one, not because we are afraid of the result. The Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) concluded that the events of 1915 constituted genocide, it was carried out by the Ottoman Turks against the Armenians, and to deny so is wrong and invalid. The ink was barely dry on the report when the Turks who participated starting backing away from the Commission. What can the Armenians - or anyone - think except that the Turks will continue to call for commission after commission until one produces the result Turkey seeks?

Guest - greg (2009-09-25 :
In answer to the question posed in the title, a question directed at me since i am a member of the "infamous" armenian diaspora, i'll tell you what scares me about this historical commission. What scares me is not discovery of the facts - facts are the point of this thing. What scares me about the commission relates to a legal principle referred to as "chain of custody". My understanding is the commission will rely on the archives of Turkey and Armenia to discern the facts. As I understand it, in this "trial", both the plaintiff and defendant will be permitted to produce what they claim as factual evidence, evidence that they have had in their own possession, in their national archives, for nearly a century. I don't know how the integrity of evidence is established in turkey, but in the US, the admissability of evidence is based on it's "chain of custody". If it is discovered at any point that the evidence has been in the possession of either the plaintiff or defendant, and in their handling of that evidence while in their possession (in this case for 100 years) it cannot be demonstrated that the evidence was NOT tampered with, then the evidence is considered tainted. It cannot be relied on as factual, and it cannot be used to prove the verdict one way or the other. If this commission is going to do what it needs to do, it must be able to access evidence which an objective 3rd party (meaning non Turkish, non Armenian) has validated passes the "chain of custody" test. Meaning validation that the evidence, since its inception, has not been tampered with or altered in any way. That is the one and only issue that scares me (and it should scare Turks too) about this historical commission that Turkey is proposing to Armenia.

Guest - Hamik C Gregory (2009-09-25
About the events of 1915, before and after, holocaust and genocide scholars including the Armenian ones have done their homework. They do not need a commission. The Turkish ones do because their studies about these subjects are distorted and incomplete. Turks need to abandon Pan Turkism taught by the leading members of The Committee of Union and Progress. After all, some leading members of the CUP joined Ata Turk and helped him create the modern day Turkey. Ankara needs to completely reevaluate what was taught and preached by these leftover Ottomans during the formative years of the republic and encourage her scholars to strictly focus on the achievements of modern day genocide scholars. I encourage Turkish politicians and historian to talk to the Turks living in eastern Anatolia. That will be an eye opener.

Guest - Aftab Khan (2009-09-25
Your article has provided the answer to the question I had in my mind all along with regard to the Diaspora and hard-line Armenians opposition about the History Commission. The key word is "Contextualizing" the events. For majority of the Armenians the priority today would be to normalize their lives and dealings with Turks and Turkey. The Armenian leadership has displayed foresight and statesmanship in resolving their dispute with Turkey.

Guest - Sammy (2009-09-25
These "genocide" claims arise from the temporary resettlement of Ottoman Armenians which was required because those very same Ottoman Armenians and their Dashnak cohorts joined Russia and took up arms against their own country. Ottoman Armenians sabotaged supply lines, massacred unarmed civilians throughout Eastern Anatolia in an effort to change the population statistics there. Armenians knew they were a minority in Eastern Anatolia and wanted to become the majority so that after WWI, they could lay claim to Eastern Anatolia and form an ethnically pure Armenian state. To date, the Dashnaks have REFUSED to open their archives. Why? Because those archives contain evidence of the atrocities they committed against the civilian Ottoman Muslim population in Eastern Anatolia during WWI. How many Turks know that Armenians claimed that the lands from Trabzon to Adana belonged to them and to them alone? How many Turks know that Armenians helped Russia occupy Trabzon and Rize during WWI and committed massacres on a scale that were so violent that even Russian officers were horrified? All of the above comments concerning the Ottoman archives are doubly applicable to Armenian and Dashnak archives which have never seen the light of day. Armenians are quick to lay blame, but refuse to admit their own complicity in the demise of peaceful relations between Ottoman Muslims and themselves. Perhaps this is so because they cannot read their own leaders' account of what happened during WWI because it is illegal to have a copy in Armenia -- Hovhannes Katchaznouni's publication that explains the Armenian Dashnak party should disband due to its leadership's catastrophic failures and miscalculations before, during and after WWI.

Guest - ragnar naess (2009-09-25
Why does a history commission scare the Armenians? Obviously because admitting the raising of the question implicitly throws a doubt on the version believed by Armerians and the majority of historians. Contrary to what mr Idiz holds, “Genocide” is not necessarily a juridical term. There exists a research tradition that operates with various applicable definitions. The commission will not be able to reach any conclusion without assiduous work aimed at establishing mutually accepted standards of procedure for conclusions. Otherwise a Commission will only reproduce existing disagreements, the most likely outcome anyhow. Personally I do not see the necessity to have any opinion on whether the central ittihadists initiated an extermination program against Armenians or not, since the experts evidently disagree, and historical questions are not decided by expert voting. But I believe there are points where the burden of proof very clearly falls on one of the parties. Since this is a Turkish paper I would like to mention one which supports the Armenian claims. Last year there was a debate between Taner Akcam and Yusuf Halacoglu about Kamuran Gurun’s claim that more than a thousand people were punished by the ittihadists for atrocities against Armenians in 1915 and 1916. Akcam listed all the relevant documents and retorted that all the verdicts in question dealt with people who had unlawfully appropriated Armenian property, not with atrocities. Halacoglu, as far I have seen, never returned with a detailed answer. At least for me as an amateur historian, this means that the burden of proof on the Turkish side increased. As we know, German and Austrian consular despatches continuously reported massacres on Armenians, but if no legal was taken by relevant authorities, what is one to believe? Ragnar Naess,Oslo

Guest - Landos (2009-09-25
Who can blame the Armenians for not wanting to accept the results of some 'historical commission' which will no doubt rely heavily on Ottoman Archives for information? Those Archives have had a century to launder out anything that might display Turkey's actions in an unfavorable light. Not that there was much documentation of the massacres to start with-the Ottomans made sure to convey a lot of their 'instructions' by word of mouth rather than written documents.

Guest - ajemian (2009-09-25
Turkish Genocide deniers and the deep state have had 90 years to manipulate, modify and malform the truth buried in the Turkish and Ottoman archives. The Armenians would be fools to put confidence in a joint commission to examine them. The archives should have been opened 50 years ago before the modifications were begun. The real scholarship is complete, the eyewitness accounts irrefutable, the conclusions indisputable. Ask forgiveness from God and the descendants of the survivors and move on with your new epoch. We will ask the same God to give us the strength to forgive your ancestors. Maybe Ararat can be turned into an international peace park with Kurds as well.

Nicole Pope @ Todayszaman.Com Blots On The Landscape
While the government is taking bold steps to promote a more democratic Turkey with measures to address the Kurdish issue and important steps toward a rapprochement with Armenia, court decisions that appear to go in the opposite direction still hamper the prime minister's efforts.

For many years, the red lines drawn by the establishment prevented the true colors of Turkey from emerging. With a few masterful brushstrokes, the Turkish government has already succeeded in blending them into a more colorful and diverse picture.

Trapped into a rigid mindset, many members of the judiciary still insist on painting by numbers instead of following the more creative approach adopted by the government. Articles 301 and 216 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and 25/6 of the Press Law, recently used to close down a publication entitled “Democratic Opening,” the law still contains plenty of articles that can be used and abused to preserve the status quo.

The latest example is the investigation launched under Article 216 against actress Hülya Avşar, who is accused of “inciting hatred and hostility in the public and humiliation of the public.” The popular actress reminisced about her upbringing as a child of mixed Kurdish/Turkish parentage and expressed her views about the government's democratic opening in an interview published in Milliyet and conducted by Devrim Sevimay, who is also under investigation.

Equally puzzling and out of sync with the more open atmosphere that is developing in Turkey is the continuing ban on YouTube, in place for nearly a year and a half. While the prime minister talks eloquently at the UN about the need to embrace diversity and to combat discrimination, zealous courts have recently blocked access to more Web sites, including the popular music exchanges MySpace and Last.FM.

Recently, the Supreme Court of Appeals also reinforced a culture of impunity when it acquitted a sergeant who had shot at a crowd of demonstrators, some of whom were throwing stones, killing one man, in Siirt in 2005. The court ruled that in view of the circumstances, the sergeant's reaction was understandable.

This flawed approach to justice and the numerous unnecessary court cases still launched to “protect the state” continue to tie the judicial system into knots and monopolize limited resources. Incidentally, it is also keeping the European Court of Human Rights very busy.

The Strasbourg court recently released statistics to mark its 50th anniversary. They show that in the past half-century, the court has issued 1,939 Turkey-related judgments and found violations of the European Convention on Human Rights in 1,676 of them.

While progress has been achieved in recent years and the worst abuses are undoubtedly in the past, it is worth nothing that of the 97,300 applications pending in front of the court as of Jan. 1 of this year, more than half were filed against Russia, Turkey and Romania. The 11,085 Turkey-related files currently pending account for 11.4 percent of the European court's current case load.

The government has declared 2010 the year of judicial reform and vowed to address some of Turkey's judicial shortcomings. This is an area where much work still needs to be done.

Changing the mentality will take time. The decision by the Ministry of Education to teach primary school children about tolerance and the fight against discrimination is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, which should ensure that the next generation grows up with a more open mind.

The canvas currently under development in Turkey could eventually show a more democratic country in all its diversity and colorful richness, provided the government succeeds in erasing the dark shadows still cast by a resistant judiciary.
25 September 2009

Op-Ed Slaves, Past Atrocities, Turkey’s Obama By Orhan Kemal Cengiz
Here in my hotel room in Washington, D.C., suffering from jet lag, wandering from one thought to another, I am ready to exaggerate my usual habit of thinking aloud.

Today I met a black lady who is extremely sophisticated, educated and intelligent. I learned that her ancestors were slaves. This thought, all of a sudden, struck me. Her slave ancestors must also have been very intelligent people. An intelligent slave and a stupid master. Did this “intelligence” factor make their relation more tolerable, or was it another thing making their relations more unbearable?

Today I looked at America from this angle. In the entrance of official buildings, I saw many black people. They guard the buildings. But when I entered the buildings to meet with officials, I did not see any senior officials who were black. This automatically reminded me of the remarks of a friend of mine, who said to me that black people in the US think that President Barack Obama is not black enough. Today I realized the meaning of being black. It refers more to this history of slavery than skin color. Has America had a full confrontation with this ugly past? I will be traveling in the US for the next three weeks, and this question will always be on my mind.

This friend of mine who communicated to me this generally held “black view” about Obama also told me that her ancestors were slave owners. “Should I feel guilty for this?” she asked. She was referring to my previous article, “Bloody Turk,” in which I discussed the Armenian tragedy and the responsibility of the Turks. I said to her that I do not think that she should feel “guilty” but that she could try to share black people's pain about their past. Honestly, this is what I think people should do regarding past atrocities. We should share the pain and suffering of the victims. But we should not identify ourselves with the perpetrators. We should condemn them together; we should open our hearts to the memory of the victims.

I started to touch on some subjects again, each of which requires lengthy analysis. I may discuss them in my future articles.

When Obama was elected president, an interesting discussion started in Turkey: Who was the equivalent of Obama in Turkey? There were various theories. A Kurd, an Alevi, a woman with a headscarf, a Christian could be deemed Turkey's Obamas. There is indeed truth to all these different options.

The Turkish Republic is based on the denial of differences, and except for a small elite group, everyone is turned into the blacks of Turkey.

However, choosing someone from the aforementioned categories as president or prime minister would be legitimately met with the same objection as Obama was: They would not be black enough! They are all black, no doubt about that, but not as black as Armenians. The US choosing a “pure black” candidate would equate to Turkey choosing a Turkish citizen of Armenian descent as prime minister or president. Will we see those days? I really hope so. And my candidate for the presidency of Turkey would be Etyen Mahçupyan, who is one of the brightest intellectuals in Turkey and who also writes a column for Today's Zaman. He would be an excellent president, wouldn't he?

'Can You Hear Us Now?' By Aimee Cregger, Harrisonburg Daily News Record September 24, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 12 - As a crowd of Americans placed their hands over their hearts while singing "God Bless America," Valley resident Suzanne Curran stood in awe to be a part of history in the making.

"I can't even begin to tell you about it without getting choked up," Curran said. "That moment will stay with me forever."

The Tea Party movement began on April 15 with thousands of Americans protesting government spending across the U.S. From small towns to large cities, people spoke out against President Obama's healthcare plan among other issues.

The FreedomWorks Foundation out of Washington, D.C., was formed "to educate Americans about free-market economics and limited government," according to its Web site (http://912dc.org). The organization planned a Tea Party to take place in the capital on Saturday, Sept. 12, and six buses of Valley residents traveled to be a part of the historical moment.

Estimates have been made that the crowd totaled 1.5 to 2 million people that day and at least 252 were from Shenandoah County.

"I've never been so thrilled to be a part of history," said Sue Hughes, president of the Shenandoah County Republican Women. "It was friendly, uplifting and patriotic. I saw no ugliness."

Beginning with a few people planning to attend, word of mouth reached others and buses were rented to transport individuals to the protest. According to Curran, who helped make travel plans, it began with two buses and ended with six.

"We could've filled at least two or three more buses, but all the bus companies were running out," Curran said. "Many people ended up riding the metro into D.C."

The march on Saturday began around 10 a.m. at 13th and Constitution Street. Protesters held up signs saying such things as "Can you hear us now" and "I was tired of yelling at my TV so I came here."

Once the crowd r rs of the FreedomWorks Foundation, citizens and various officials. Chanting, singing, and waving signs continued.

Hughes took along for the ride the foreign exchange student, Elen Sahradyan of Armenia, that is living with her and her husband.

"She was really excited and enjoyed it for the most part," said Hughes. "I figured, what a better way to show her how the U.S. government works."

When speaking with Curran on Monday morning, she said she was "exhilarated, inspired and hadn't come down yet."

"Everyone there was so passionate about their country. We want our country back," she said.

According to Hughes, the crowd began to thin around 3 p.m. and most people were leaving by 4 p.m. The Shenandoah Valley crowd was gathered and heading home by 5 p.m. that evening.

"I think they heard us. It can't help but do good," said the Republican women president. "I don't see how the lawmakers could ignore this."

Papian: Armenia And Turkey Are Not Authorized 'To Define' The Border By Ara Papian, Hairenik.com September 22, 2009
In the fifth clause of the protocol "on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey," the parties agree "to define the existing border."

In this regard, it is necessary to take up a very important question, even if strange at first glance: whether the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey are in fact within their authority according to international law "to define the existing border."

From the perspective of international law, any international multilateral agreement, no matter how it ends up, be it a treaty, an agreement, protocol, etc., can be altered (amended, modified, suspended, terminated, or nullified) only with the participation and agreement of all parties to the given document. This principle, in terms of treaties, is codified in Articles 39-41 of the Vienna Convention on Treaties (1969).

The "definition" of the Armenian segment of the border of the former USSR as the border between Armenia and Turkey, from a legal point of view, implies a change in the border , because the de jure Armenia-Turkey border is very different from the Soviet-Turkish border. This de jure, and thus the only legal border, was "defined" by a multilateral treaty, and consequently "to define the existing border" is in reality a change in frontiers and, in this case, falls outside of bilateral relations for the following reason.

After suffering ignominious defeat in World War I, on Oct. 30, 1918, the Ottoman Empire signed the Mudros Armistice. Legally speaking, this armistice was an "unconditional surrender, i.e. unqualified capitulation," and so the entire sovereignty of Turkey was transferred to the victors until a peace treaty was signed. That is to say, the victorious Allies were to subsequently decide which part of the Ottoman Empire was to come under the sovereignty of a Turkish state and to what degree.

From 1919-20, the Paris Peace Conference took place to discuss the conditions of the peace treaties. In April 1920, the San Remo session took up the fate of the Ottoman Empire. Naturally, one of the most important questions was the future of Armenia. Therefore, on April 26, the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers officially approached the president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, "to arbitrate the frontiers of Armenia" as per an arbitral award.

Two factors in this previous paragraph need further clarification:

a) The Supreme Council of the Paris Peace Conference was authorized and functioning on behalf of all the Allied Powers. That is, the compromis for the arbitration deciding Armenia's border, and consequently the unqualified acceptance of obligations by the award to be made on that basis, was made on behalf of all the Allied Powers. During World War I, more than 30 states formed part of the Allied Powers, and, counting the British Empire, the Third French Republic, the kingdoms of Japan and Italy, with all their dependent territories, it came to almost a hundred countries.

b) The border with the Republic of Armenia, as opposed to other borders with Turkey, was to be decided not by a peace treaty, but through arbitration. From a legal perspective, this is an extremely important detail, because treaties can always be modified, suspended, or terminated "upon the agreement of the parties," whereas arbitral awards are "final and without appeal," as well as binding. That is, arbitration cannot be altered or repealed, as opposed to treaties. Besides which, arbitration and treaties are carried out with opposite procedures. While in treaties, the agreement is first reached and only then a corresponding legal document put in place, arbitration begins with signing the compromis on unqualified acceptance of the future agreement, after which only the award is granted.

And so, as a consequence of the aforementioned compromis on April 26, President Wilson officially took on the arbitration of the Armenian-Turkish border in writing on May 17, 1920 and began to carry out the required work. It is necessary to point out here that this was almost three months before the Treaty of Sèvres was signed (Aug. 10, 1920) and so, the arbitration process commenced independent of the signing of that peace treaty and this compromis which is mentioned in it as Article 89.

In summary, one may draw this clear conclusion: The border between Turkey and the Republic of Armenia was decided based on the arbitral award that came out of two independent compromis (San Remo and Sèvres). The award was granted on Nov. 22, 1920, to come into effect that same day. Two days later, on Nov. 24, the ruling was officially conveyed to Paris by telegraph. This arbitral award has never been appealed, and is in effect to this day. The award was legal and lawful. It functions independent of the Treaty of Sèvres. The compromis included in the Treaty of Sèvres as Article 89 was and continues to be an additional, but not the basic compromis.

And so, the border between Armenia and Turkey has been decided by a multilateral instrument of international law, an arbitral award, to which almost a hundred countries are party today.

After all this, let us return to the real question at hand: Upon what basis of international law do the authorities of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey wish to dismiss their own international obligations by transgressing an inviolable international decision, the arbitral award, through a bilateral protocol?

Additionally one must bear in mind that international law does not take into account in principle any procedure or precedent for modification or annulment (nullification of the legality) of an arbitral award that has legally come into effect. Refusal by the losing party to comply with the award is not in itself equivalent to a lawful annulment. The plea of nullity is not admissible at all and this view is based upon Article 81 of the Hague Convention of 1907, and the absence of any international machinery to declare an award null and void.

Who Does The Congress Of Canadian Armenians Really Represent? By Dikran Abrahamian, BA, MD, Ontario, 24 September 2009
Traditionally, students of Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) affiliated schools automatically were considered members of the Union. If after graduation they continued to pay their dues and following a specified period, they were “upgraded” to the rank of Veteran. There was nothing grandiose about it, but one had a nice feeling for being acknowledged by a great organization. Those who personally know me are aware that I was bestowed the Veteran rank in my thirties, along with my classmates at Hovaguimian-Manoogian Secondary School for Boys in Beirut.

Over the years, my relations with AGBU were at arm’s length, due to personal circumstances. However, despite being an “inactive member”, I silently supported many AGBU projects which I thought benefited our people in the Diaspora and in Armenia.

My attitude towards the AGBU became complicated when Louise Simone Manoogian, the President of the Union (1991-2002) encouraged the emigration of Armenians from the Middle East to the United States. I thought it was a shortsighted view, to say the least. The closure of Melkonian in Cyprus was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Since that misguided decision, I have developed an aversion to the leadership of the AGBU.

At present, my dilemma is whether I am an AGBU member or not. I know many others who are also wondering about their status. I consider myself a member in spirit, and as such, I morally feel obliged to comment on the latest statement of the Congress of Canadian Armenians (CCA) regarding the Protocols. The Congress purports to be an umbrella organization of several associations or patriotic unions.

Being familiar with the views of the CCA leadership, I am not surprised by their support of the protocols. I do not share their stand; that is abundantly clear from the Keghart initiated Opposing Some Provisions in the Protocols petition. Yet, I strongly believe that every Armenian, Armenian association or party is entitled to have a say in this vital national dialogue, to define what course of action we should collectively take in the Diaspora and in Armenia.

Putting aside the analysis of what the CCA has to say about the protocols--their statement is published elsewhere in Keghart—I would like to address one particular aspect of their announcement so as to explain who the CCA might represent.

After the introductory remarks, the CCA statement goes on to say, “together with the Armenian General Benevolent Union , the Armenian Assembly of America [AAA] and many other respected organizations in the Diaspora, [it] supports normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey without preconditions.”

Superficially, the adjective “respected” used in this context appears to be an innocent qualifier. However, in politics words may have the exact opposite meaning when applied to adversaries. One gets the impression that those organizations which oppose the protocols are not necessarily “respected”. Is that the case? Am I stretching my interpretation? Are the organizations and individuals who do not approve the CCA position lacking in “respect”?

Secondly, which “other respected organizations” in Canada are we talking about?

There’s none to see in the body of the statement, although there is mention of “many of the large Canadian Armenian organizations" in the footer. I ask the question, because the CCA is a Canadian-Armenian entity and as such, it is expected to express the will of Canadian-Armenians, and not organizations south of the border.

One is left clueless, because the CCA statement does not mention any names other than the AGBU and the AAA. To my knowledge, none of the AGBU chapters in Canada is an affiliate of the CCA. On the contrary, the former chair of the Montreal chapter, along with many Canadian AGBU members, has endorsed the petition against some provisions of the protocol. Wouldn’t it be more truthful to make the distinction and identify the AGBU as that of the board in New York? By inserting the AGBU name one suspects that the CCA has resorted to confusing the AGBU members in Canada and has issued the statement without getting their consent. This is unbecoming to an organization that seeks “respect”.

That leads me to my next objection. Why is the CCA “importing” the AAA’s endorsement? Is it to impress Canadian-Armenians? The AAA does not speak for Canadian-Armenians.

On August 2, a news release on the CCA website stated, “Last week, the Armenian Assembly met with members of the Congress of Canadian Armenians (CCA) in Canada to discuss issues of mutual concern and cooperation.” It added, “The Armenian Assembly of America and the Congress of Canadian Armenians entered into a formal cooperation agreement in 2008.” … “In March of this year, the CCA sent a student delegation to Washington, DC to take part in the Assembly's 2009 National Advocacy Conference & Banquet.”

It appears that relations between CCA and AAA have matured to such an extent that the two groups are indistinguishable from each other. Hence, the CCA statement could not have been any different from that of the AAA.

The AAA’s statement, both in form and in content is akin to statements issued by the United States administration. Adding “Armenian” in front of the statement does not make it so. Ultimately, one wonders whether the CCA is playing the role of the AAA’s Trojan horse in the Canadian-Armenian community, by espousing views concocted by the American administration.

Rethinking Diaspora’s Role In Armenia-Turkey Relations, By Simon Maghakyan, Usa, Blogian, 22 September 2009
Armenian diaspora’s idealist opposition to Turkey-Armenian negotiations is understandable, but an outright rejection of the dialogue process is a missed opportunity to introduce ideas and strategies that would empower Armenia.

One of world’s ancient nations and one of its youngest states, Armenia celebrated its 18th anniversary as an independent republic on September 21, 2009.

No country in history has persisted so much invasion, persecution, and genocide.

No country has continuously existed for so long as Armenia has.
And even though today’s Armenia is small, weak and has a declining population of already less than three million, today’s Armenia is one of the best times Armenia has had in thousands of years. Today is Armenia’s gift, and that gift must be used wisely.

Already a young adult, Armenia lives in a world with little room for mistakes. It must democratize, stabilize and normalize its relations with its historic foes to survive in times when today’s errors will be hard to erase tomorrow. As bad as Armenia may seem today, it has the opportunity to invest in a great future.

As the new Armenia is celebrating its entrance to adulthood, its ongoing negotiations with Turkey are in the center of international attention. There have been many articles and discussions on a subject which divides a lot of people, who I will “divide” into two camps – pragmatists and idealists.

Armenia’s current administration, and perhaps most of the citizens in the Republic, wants to normalize relations with Turkey for economic reasons. These are the pragmatists, for who Armenia is the only permanent address they have known, and who want to have a normal social life. I understand this group well. This is the group that is Armenian every second of their life. This is the group that wants to change, improve Armenia and is willing to take the risks. This is the group that ultimately takes all the risks.

I also understand the second group – the idealists. These are the diasporans for whom the Armenian genocide is the centerpiece of Armenian identity. The diaspora would never exist in the first place if there was no genocide. Diaspora’s opposition to the Turkish-Armenian ‘normalization,’ thus, is natural. These are the people that won’t forget how Turkish governments repeatedly lied to Armenians, and how the most trusted of those, the CUP, ended up carrying out the Armenian genocide. These are also the Armenians for who genocide awareness is often the road to staying Armenian. Diasporans have to fight day and night to keep the Armenian identity – unlike the Armenians in Armenia, who – no matter what they do – are Armenians every second.

I understand both groups. I love both sides. I am a son of the genocide itself and a son of the young and small Armenia living in the Diaspora. But when it comes to making a choice for Armenia’s future, I have to be a realist.

The reality is that Armenia’s population, at its best, will stay 3 million for the next decades. Turkey’s 71 million population and Azerbaijan’s 8 million will keep growing, coupled with the rise of ethnic Turkic Azeris in northern Iran. Unless Armenia finds a language with these inconvenient neighbors, it could face the danger of a final genocide.

Finding a common language, to be clear, has nothing to do with forgetting the Armenian genocide. The pragmatists, taking a market-ly speaking neoliberal approach, think that free trade will bring dialogue, and dialogue will bring genocide recognition. The idealists, on the other hand, say that genocide recognition should come first. As noble as the latter sounds, the former seems to make most sense. “Once the border opens,” Turkish historian Taner Akcam told me a few years ago, “Armenians and Turks will find out that they have more things in common than they thought: they have the same daily problems, and none have horns.” He surely belongs in the pragmatist camp, not only in the Armenian but also in the Turkish sense.

Is it bad to be an idealist? Not at all. But the idealist opposition to the “Armenian-Turkish protocols” needs to be a constructive one. Instead of outright rejecting any normalization efforts between Armenia and Turkey, the diaspora idealists must infuse specific and stated strategies that the pragmatists have been unable to include in the negotiations:

Demand Turkish neutralization in the Nagorno-Karabakh process
Demand the US government to force Turkey to declare itself a neutral side in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Demand Turkey that by 2015 all monuments honoring the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide have separate plaques added describing the crimes they committed during WWI

While the latter is the only point that deals with the genocide, the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh is the most realpolitik task and requires immediate attention. The idealists, overoccupied with genocide recognition, have long neglected the question of Nagorno-Karabakh – the indigenous Armenian region claimed by Azerbaijan.

Turkey remains the biggest obstacle in reaching peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that will guarantee the security of the region’s indigenous population. If Turkey wants to normalize its relations with Armenia, it must stop being pro-Azerbaijani when it comes to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It must declare itself neutral in the conflict and say that it will honor any decision reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

This is the chance for the idealists to make a difference in the normalization process. It’s time to tell Turkey that for Armenians to choose the pragmatist approach – open border first, dialogue second and reconciliation third – Turkey must become objective in the Nagorno-Karabakh process.

Raffi Hovannisian Speaks Out On Protocols: Turkey-Armenia And The Fruits Of Genocide, By Raffi K. Hovannisian
Governments and commentators have hailed the two recently-announced protocols between Turkey and Armenia. If signed and ratified, they will provide a timetable for the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border and the establishment of full diplomatic relations.

Unfortunately, the exuberance in Western capitals is based on energy routes, geopolitics and the desire to smooth the way for Turkey as a regional power and EU aspirant. It ignores the sinister aspects of the deal.

Certainly, Armenia has long pushed for an end to the Turkish blockade of Armenia, an open border and diplomatic relations with Turkey without precondition. This has also been the stated U.S. and European position.

This approach acknowledges that the Armenian-Turkish relationship is complicated and burdened by the Armenian Genocide. Open borders, diplomatic relations and people-to-people contacts must come first before Turkey and Armenia can begin to sort out a very difficult legacy, issues of restitution and reparations and to what extent Turkey should continue to enjoy the fruits of genocide.

The proposed protocols, however, will serve to meet two long-standing Turkish preconditions to normalization of relations with Armenia. The first is to forestall further progress in formal international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The second is to confirm and help remove the juridical cloud from the Turkey Armenia frontier.

This frontier, which, under the Turkish blockade, is the last closed border in Europe, lacks legal status. It is an important issue for Turkey. The day after the protocols were announced, Turkey's Foreign Minister stated that recognition of the current boundary was a basic element of the proposed agreements, without which, `we cannot talk about being neighbors.'

Turkey's strategy to shirk its obligations to Armenia under international law is to marginalize Armenia and to deny the Genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed and the survivors dispossessed of most of their 3,000 year-old homeland. Turkey uses its growing strategic and economic power to enlist American and European support for these initiatives. The offending provisions in the proposed protocols are part of this process.

Armenia is small, land-locked and vulnerable. It previously resisted Turkish preconditions to normalization. However, after elections marred by fraud and political violence, the current Armenian administration has been susceptible to Turkish, European and American pressure on this issue. Given the legacy of the Armenian Genocide, European and American roles in promoting, rather than objecting to, these preconditions are outrageous.

In the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide, President Woodrow Wilson fixed Turkey's boundary with Armenia in an arbitral award issued under U.S. presidential seal. This remains the only binding demarcation of the Turkish-Armenian frontier in accordance with an agreement between sovereign and independent Turkish and Armenian states.

Although the de jure border and the award of these territories to Armenia continue to be legally valid, the 1920 invasion of Armenia by Kemalist and Bolshevik forces sealed these lands in Turkey and gave us the current de facto border.

The great irony is that a significant stretch of the energy and transport routes that are the sources of an emerging Turkish power pass through these territories, which were also the killing fields of the Armenian Genocide. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the parallel natural gas South Caucasus Pipeline do. So will the proposed Nabucco pipeline project. These territories and projects, so vital to Turkey's goal to become a major international energy hub, are the fruits of genocide. And Armenia enjoys none of their political and economic benefits.

Sadly, open hatred of Armenians is everywhere in Turkey, in official and semi-official media, in the state school system, in state-sanctioned discrimination and elsewhere in and out of government.

Of course, the pinnacle of this hatred is genocide denial, which genocide scholars tells us constitutes the final stage of genocide. But consider the Turkish Defense Minister who asks rhetorically whether the present Turkish nation state would have been possible without the elimination of the Armenian population or the Turkish President who charges an opposition Turkish parliamentarian with defamation for alleging he has Armenian roots. Remember the murder of the Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, or the planned attacks on Turkish-Armenian community leaders by Ergenekon, the ultranationalist organization associated with what in Turkey is referred to as the `Deep State.'

With the demonization of Armenians in Turkish nationalist ideology, an official policy of genocide denial and Ankara's proven hostility to the reborn Armenian state, that the West does not actively oppose Turkish preconditions should give everyone pause.

The enduring legacy of the Armenian Genocide is not just a challenge for Turkey and Armenia. It is also a challenge for Europe and America. The West, despite growing Turkish power and influence, should encourage Turkey to take responsibility for the Armenian Genocide, not assist Turkey in compelling Armenia to agree to preconditions that humiliate the victimized party and prejudice the integrity and outcome of any future genuine reconciliation process between Turkey and Armenia.

Ultimately, the Turkish-Armenian conversation must include two thorny issues: first, to what extent Turkey should continue to enjoy the fruits of genocide and second, the integrity of the border it shares with Armenia.

Raffi Hovannisian was independent Armenia's first minister of foreign affairs.

With God's Help: Supreme Patriarch Hails Sargsyan's Move To Talk To Diaspora By Suren Musayelyan
His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, has welcomed President Serzh Sargsyan's planned visits to several centers of the worldwide Armenian Diaspora to listen to their opinions on the current Armenian-Turkish normalization.

As reported by the presidential press office, during the meeting of the two on Thursday, Sargsyan said that the process has reached `an important stage of public-political discussions.' He said that the widening debate is important because `regardless of whether the published protocols [on establishing diplomatic ties between Yerevan and Ankara] will be signed or not, ratified or not, the discussions are a good ground for talking about our relations and problems.'

`Of course, there are emotional phenomena and elements in them, it couldn't be otherwise, since a huge part of our people are the generations of those subjected to genocide. Besides, across the border are our sacred places, our churches, our capital, and for many also the remnants of their ancestral homes. I understand this, since in many cases I myself struggle with my own emotions. But, nevertheless, I am convinced that these discussions are necessary,' said Sargsyan.

During the meeting Sargsyan informed Catholicos Karekin II about his planned weeklong visits beginning October 1 to a number of large Armenian communities abroad, including Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Beirut and Rostov-on-Don `in order to listen to the opinions and viewpoints on the process of the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations from local Armenians and Armenians from other relatively close communities.'

The Sargsyan administration's yearlong fence-mending talks with Turkish leadership culminated on August 31 in two initialed protocols on establishing diplomatic ties and developing bilateral relations with Ankara.

The draft protocols, however, have drawn mixed reactions both from some political groups inside Armenia as well as across the far-reaching Armenian Diaspora.

Among the concerns presented by some Diaspora-based groups and leaders are that several key provisions of the documents are potentially damaging to the national interests of Armenia and its Diaspora as they purportedly make Yerevan-Ankara normalization conditional on several concessions, including the reaffirmation of the existing Turkish-Armenian border, the agreement to set up an intergovernmental sub-commission to discuss historical discrepancies, construed as agreement to start discussing and therefore questioning the 1915-1918 Genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, as well as making territorial concessions in a separate Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Sargsyan administration has, on the contrary, insisted that the protocols contain no preconditions and are a step forward in resolving a century-old feud with the big neighbor and historical foe.

Karekin II said he welcomed the president's initiative to hold meetings with Diaspora representatives to address the concerns.

`The Diaspora is an important and inseparable part of our people and it is only right that our sons from the Diaspora who, too, are in heated discussions about the initialed Armenia-Turkey protocols during these days, should have an opportunity to hear answers personally from you regarding questions of concern to them and also that you should learn what our sons in the Diaspora think, their viewpoints and concerns,' said Karekin II.

The Catholicos reportedly informed President Sargsyan that at its upcoming meeting the Supreme Spiritual Council will discuss the current Armenian-Turkish process, the initialed documents and will issue a corresponding statement.

`We wish you every success, Respected President. May God show His blessing and help you on this important journey,' concluded the Supreme Patriarch.

The Truth Is Somewhere Out There: Armenian President's Alleged Statement Caused Controversy And Confusion Analysis By Aris Ghazinyan
ArmeniaNow reporter
On September 21, Armenia's Independence Day, many Armenian news sites posted President Serzh Sargsyan's statement with reference to a Russian newspaper as a source.

`I committed 21 years of my life to Artsakh land and will not allow them to be lost. Karabakh has been and will stay free. The ;occupied territories' that Azerbaijan is demanding to concede to them are border settlements between us and them, it is our security zone. We will not give them up. Let them call us occupiers. I will not feel offended,' popular Russian daily newspaper Moscovski Komsomolets sited Sargsyan.

These words gave hope to many and raised concerns of as many, since the President's statement did not fit into the context of his very cautious foreign policy, totally denying any kind of radicalism even in things he says.

However, news outlets kept publishing passages from his speech and nobody disclaimed them.

`We will not go to any one-sided concessions to Azerbaijan,' said Sargsyan. `They are absolutely out of question. We are ready to find a compromise with Azerbaijan with three amendments: Karabakh will never be a part of Azerbaijan again, Karabakh's independence will be recognized on a political level and, finally, independent Karabakh has to preserve safe land communication with Yerevan. If these three conditions are met, we are ready to start a dialogue.'

So, on September 21, the Armenian authorities, on the one hand, were officially celebrating the main state holiday, and Armenian experts, on the other hand, were thrilled about the famous interview.

And only by late evening that day, when festivities were over, it became known that the Armenian president did not make any such statement, at least, not on a official level.

Nonetheless, Armenian newspapers published on September 22 placed that sensational statement on their cover pages with references to electronic media outlets. This was immediately followed by complete confusion.

It's difficult to say unequivocally whether it was a deliberate provocation on the part of Moscovski Komsomolets or violation of `journalism ethics' took place on the part of that newspaper's correspondent, who had, indeed, met the Armenian president, however, the mere fact of the current confusion completely reflects the state of things in the sphere of Armenian-Turkish relations and the perspectives of settling the Karabakh issue.

Official Ankara even more often and more unambiguously connects the perspective of possible reconciliation with the settlement of the Karabakh issue.

Just days ago Turkish Prime-Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a statement that `Turkey will not open the Turkish-Armenian border until the Armenian-Azeri conflict is settled'.

On September 20, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davotuglu, in his turn, tied the perspectives of establishing Armenian-Turkish diplomatic relations with the Nagorno Karabakh issue.

In his interview to CNN Turk, Davotuglu stressed that `the occupation of Azeri territories by Armenia is against all international norms. Something has to be undertaken.'

The Turkish Prime-Minister and Foreign Minister are currently in New York to take part in the 64th session of the UN General Assembly.

According to Turkish mass media, they are planning to discuss the issue of normalizing relations with Armenia and officially state that bilateral relations will be normalized only in case if the co-chairs of OSCE Minsk group register a serious progress in the Karabakh settlement issue and unconditionally recognize Nagorno Karabakh as an inalienable part of Azerbaijan, and if Foreign Ministries of Armenia and Turkey sign the Protocols before October 14.

It is noteworthy, that the parliamentary hearings in Armenia scheduled for September 22 on the issue of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations during which standpoints on the Protocols inked on August 31 would be presented, have been postponed till October 1.

What is Yerevan's official standpoint?
In his September 22 interview to a Russian TV program `Vesti v Subotu' (News on Saturday), President Sargsyan said:

`Everybody got to know the logics laid in the basis of the current stage of settlement, that is the Madrid principles. It is about holding a referendum on defining Nagorno Karabakh's final status, return of those territories into Azerbaijan's control, which you called and which we and Karabakh call `security zone', and normalizations of all our relations.'

This implies that the president confirmed once again, that Madrid principles suggest concession of 5 regions surrounding the former Autonomous Region of Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijan, and that by `Nagorno Karabakh' mediators and diplomats mean not the current Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, but the former autonomous region.

25 Sep 2009 Subject: To The Editor: Rep. Harman Responds
To the Editor: Rep. Harman Responds

I write in regard to the recent posting in Asbarez.com and its characterization of my position on the Armenian Genocide and related legislation. While it is certainly true that you are entitled to your own views - and to support those you choose for public office - you are not entitled to your own facts.

The facts are (1) I have never denied that a holocaust occurred in 1915, or that a cruel and systematic attempt at genocide against the Armenian people was perpetrated, and (2) the letter I sent to the late House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos suggesting it was the wrong time to consider the genocide resolution was not secret -the Armenian National Committee was provided a copy of the letter and it was posted on my official web site the same day it was sent.

I applaud and am encouraged by the recent rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey and hope it will prompt a clear view of the history surrounding the tragic events of 1915 - as Germany has done with its history. As someone who lost 2/3 of her father's family in Hitler's holocaust, I understand in very personal terms the irreversible scars that are left by mass genocide. I will always identify with the victims and families of the Armenian genocide.
Sincerely, Rep. Jane Harman (D-36)

Garen Yegparian, Sep 25th, 2009
Perhaps my title was inspired by the successful Armenians and Progressive Politics. This year’s theme was Capitalism. Participants were treated to various analyses, informational presentations, moving visuals of poverty in Armenia, and hopeful avenues for action. But of course, there’s not much of a better term to describe what we’ve seen of Capitalism, particularly over the past quarter century.

Not only did Reagan’s election lead to the implementation of horrendous policies in the U.S., but the ground he thus prepared led to the overwhelming immiseration of the former Soviet Republics and much of Eastern Europe. “Brilliant advisors” paved the way for the crony Capitalism that emerged and led to the enrichment of preexisting elites. It was nothing short of banditry.

It seems to me the same spirit permeates the current regime in Armenia as it prepares to “give away the farm” to Turkey through “football/soccer” diplomacy and the Protocols of September.

Imagine, Vartan Oskanian, the fairly low key, soft spoken former, and longest serving, Foreign Minister of Armenia is formally, publicly, calling on the government to NOT sign the protocols, at least not without major changes. He too points out the preconditions Turkey has managed to work into them. These are the same preconditions— no territorial demands, no Genocide recognition, give Azerbaijan what it wants in Artzakh— that successive Armenian governments have rightly rejected. In fact, weakness on this front helped bring down the Levon Der Bedrossian regime.

Add to this a very interesting piece written by Ara Papian titled “Armenia and Turkey Are Not Authorized ‘to Define’ the Border”. He argues that because of how the post WWI borders were set, based on international law, Armenia and Turkey do not have the standing to change the borders established by Woodrow Wilson. So even on this front, both countries are out of line.

I am outraged, incensed, furious, and countless other such sentiments. I want to really blast these guys. Let’s keep up the heat. Maybe threats of terminating Diaspora support, not just financial, but political. We’ve started. The AYF organized a protest last weekend at Armenia’s U.N. Mission. There are more actions planned. Internet petitions and Facebook communications abound.

But wouldn’t it be great if we could deliver the message directly to the rotten fish head? I wish that the President of the Republic of Armenia would come to NY for the annual hoopla as the U.N. kicks off its year. Many heads of state attend this meeting every year. Then, it would be a dream come true to embarrass him and harass him at every turn.

Let the jeering beginning. It supports and strengthens the weighty analysis. It’s a good cop- bad cop game. Let’s turn up the heat. Armenians’ national future depends on us doing so. Get off your couch and grab a picket sign, there’s some hootin’ and hollerin’ to be done.

It Comes in Threes, By Tamar Kevonian Sep 25th, 2009
Since ancient times the number “3” has held a particular fascination in society. A three sided triangle is considered the most durable shape possible, the universe has three spatial dimensions – length, width, and depth, Plato split the soul into three parts – the appetitive, the spirited, and the rational, while Aristotle had the principle of the three unities of time, place and action. Let’s not forget Freud’s id, ego and superego. The Chinese consider “3” to be a lucky number while the Vietnamese think it bad luck to take a photo with three people. We use the number to set things in motion – on the count of three, or stop them – three strikes. We prime our children with stories, nursery rhymes and fairy tales like The Three Musketeers, Three Blind Mice and The Three Little Pig. We also believe in the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, that the third time’s a charm and that death comes in threes – remember Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson and Ed McMahon all died within twenty four hours.

Death has been the main topic of conversation this week as there have been three of them in a short ten day period. “Don’t talk like that,” says Mike, uncomfortable whenever there is any talk of it.

“But it’s a part of life. Without death there can be no life and all life ends in death.”

“Yeah but we don’t have to talk about it,” he insists, choosing to ignore the inevitable end we all face.

The news of Krikor’s death was not a shock. Since his wife’s death a few years ago, he had begun his decline into dementia until his retreat from those around him became complete. He was a man of short stature whose quiet presence was in sharp contrast to his wife gregarious personality. He was the epitome of the strength and stability on which his children relied to achieve all that they did. They are now doctors, well regarded in their field, with families of their own.

“Did you hear about Rita?” Sossi asked a week later. “She passed away the other day.” She finally lost her ongoing battle with cancer which she was engage in for several years. A woman with quiet strength and determination, Rita was intricately involved in the community and contributed much to it over the years. She had an easy smile and expressed herself with a soft voice that verged on husky. She always seemed to be everywhere at once: organizing events, attending concerts, going to meetings, and taking care of her family. Despite the sad news, Rita’s passing was a final freedom from a life that had become so full of physical pain.

And now the news of the third came a mere twenty four hours afterwards, late at night. It was the unexpected and accidental death of a woman in the midst of an active life. A petite woman who always looked like she was on the verge of being blown away by a slight breeze, Jenia was a powerhouse of a person who long ago decided to dedicate her energy, time and money to actively helping children in Armenia. In the dark, early days of the republic she sought out poor children in need of help and personally made their daily existence a little easier to live. She maintained a hectic schedule of travel every season to continue what she started almost two decades ago while still maintaining her position as the heart and soul of her family of a husband and three sons.

While neither Krikor, Rita or Jenia knew each other while alive, they are now forever linked in their deaths as the three people I knew who died in the middle of this September.

With the passing of Krikor and Jenia, parents of my friends from high school, the end of our youth and our eventual mortality came into sharp focus. We are now at a stage in life where the care and well being of our parents will become our responsibility. Their passing will unequivocally thrust us in the role of adults. We will no longer have parents to rely on for the things we have always taken for granted: holiday dinners where all the children come together, the favorite dish that only Mom can make, the seat that Dad always occupied, the guidance or advice we may sought from either of them or simply the comfort of hearing the voice of the person who loved us unconditionally. All this will be gone forever.

Standing with the other black clad mourners united in their show of grief and respect, the squabbles and old hurts, machination of social interactions and struggles of jobs and positions suddenly seems small and irrelevant. In the larger workings of the universe and the brief time we have to enjoy all the good that is possible during our lifetime everything else feels like a waste of energy and mental effort.

“It’s the end of an era,” Nancy said after Krikor’s funeral. She said it in reference to a lifestyle of whirlwind of parties, holidays, and life struggles she shared with her circle of friends in which Krikor had a place.

For me and for those of my generation, it is much more than an era. It is a graduation into a new stage in life: of being the grown-ups and creating an era of our own that our children can remember with fondness until they come of age and take over for us.

It is the inevitable and natural cycle of existence no matter how much Mike doesn’t want to talk about it. By sharing our hopes, fears and concerns about death would help us be less afraid and better prepared for its eventual arrival.

Neither Yes, Nor No, By Ayse Gunaysu, The Armenian Weekly, 24 September 2009
I really cannot remember how many times I wrote that Turkey is a country full of paradoxes, where there is an unusually high number of questions you can neither say yes, nor no to. Furthermore, it generates paradoxes constantly.

For example, the government’s initiative to resolve the “Kurdish issue,” in its present form, is both acceptable and unacceptable. It is right and acceptable in aiming at peace, but unacceptable in its vagueness and the government’s contradictory practices.
The Ergenekon case, against the suspects charged of plotting against the government, is both approvable and disapprovable; it is deserves support for challenging the militaristic state tradition in Turkey, but it’s objectionable because of its doubtful final objective and lack of determination to really put an end to illegal formations within the state apparatus.

I support Islamic intellectuals in their struggle for democracy and their demand for true civilian rule, but I can’t possibly stand with them side by side as long as they continue with their anti-Semitism, using Israeli government policies and practices as a pretext.

I didn’t sign the famous “apology” petition initiated by a group of Turkish intellectuals, but would by no means campaign against the petition, knowing that thousands of people signed it with total sincerity in their protest against denialism and that the petition would, despite its drawbacks and deficiencies, ultimately serve as a step towards recognition of the genocide.

I can mention many more instances where one, in the very chaotic environment of Turkey, can say both yes and no to an initiative, a practice, or an undertaking of a political nature.

The detailed reasons for this inability to take an unconditional stand in major questions, the sociological, economic, cultural, historical factors playing part in this state of being always paradoxical, is a subject to be studied by academics. But looking at the big picture, it is easy to see that the change Turkey has been undergoing is generating a potential to move the foundation stones of the already- poorly built structure of the establishment, leading to shifts in certain balances and turning the traditional positioning of political wings upside down.

The signals of a normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia is one of such questions that I feel myself saying neither no, nor yes, to, or saying both yes and no at the same time.

The matter has many dimensions and many levels to discuss. It has many facets, all of which bear different significance and meaning. It is certainly not the same if you are an activist who has devoted his/her life to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide; or if you are a citizen of Armenia who desperately needs the border to be opened to earn a living; or if you are an Armenian but a Turkish citizen who has given all of his/her life to maintain and promote Armenian language, culture and educational, social and religious institutions in Turkey, a country where ethnic, religious, and cultural uniformity is constantly upheld; and it is surely a different case if you are a person in Turkey who sees his/her meaning of life in contributing— no matter how tiny the contribution might be— to the democratization of the country and to the defeat of a denialist culture.

On my part, I say yes to the normalization process because we in Turkey, who refuse Turkish nationalism, are desperately in need of anything that would weaken Turkey’s deeply rooted traditional way of seeing Armenia as a hostile country. I say yes because we cannot lead a decent life when our Armenian friends here are continuously harassed by such nationalism. I say yes because Turkish nationalism sees the protocols signed between the two countries as a threat to their existence. I say yes because erasing the name of Armenia from the maps at schools, including the Armenian schools, was among the first practices of the military dictatorship of 1980. I say yes because Delal Dink said if the border is opened, her father would rise from the sidewalk where he has been lying since the moment he was shot dead.

But at the same time, I say no to the protocols because the organizations of the Armenian Diaspora, the children and grandchildren of the genocide victims, were excluded from the process as a whole. In this way, the protocols, regardless of whether or not it was done intentionally, play in the hands of the Turkish public’s widespread “good Armenian” (Armenians of Turkey and to some extent Armenia) and “bad Armenian” (Armenians of the diaspora) pattern of thinking. I can’t applaud the signing of the protocols as long as the textbooks with which children in Turkey are raised contain expressions instigating feelings of animosity and hatred towards Armenians. I can’t possibly be happy with the so-called “normalization process “ as long as the websites of not only government institutions, but also semi-official and non-official organizations still embody a historiography full of lies and anti-Armenian propaganda, and as long as well-known academics, retired ambassadors, and popular opinion makers audaciously express views dishonoring the memory of genocide victims and damaging the dignity and honor of their grandchildren living in Turkey and elsewhere. I can’t support the protocols because it does not include a commitment on the part of Turkey to put an end to all of these and other manifestations of denial, not only of the genocide but also of the all-round suffering inflicted in this country on Armenians in the past and at present as well.

But I can’t possibly— even if I wanted—campaign against the protocols because I see this initiative as part of the process of change presently underway in Turkey. The official ideology has been for generations reinforcing the anti-Armenian feelings in Turkey. Even the declaration of a will to establish friendly relations with Armenia is in total contradiction with this ideology that has been internalized by the Turkish public. So it feels good to see the mainstream press publishing news items and articles in favor of the normalization process. But it still hurts and infuriates to know that the culture of denialism is as strong as ever.

The Ideological Basis of Armenian Statehood, Sep 25th, 2009 By Ara Papian
Ten days of discussion have already passed from the forty (of traditional mourning) granted to that dark pair of protocols. It is evident that the “internal discussions” are not working out. Naturally, they would not come to pass, given the circumstances. The current situation makes nothing work, and nothing will work in this scenario.

Due to my own circumstances, I am participating in these discussions as Vladimir Ilyich once did, in the form of “Letters from far away”. Even with some hindrances, this does have its advantages. I am free from the influence of any faction and can act solely in accordance with my own beliefs, which have been formed as a result of years of inquiry.

Comprehensive research and experience in the diplomatic world have lead me to the following conclusion: The solution to the Armenian Question lies in the singular opportunity of consolidating the Armenian State, which is the only way for the Armenian people to endure. A question may immediately crop up: what is meant by “the Armenian Question” and also its “solution” at this stage?

Commencing as an issue of the individual and collective security and dignity of the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire, it gradually grew into an issue of Armenian statehood and the reaffirmation of the rights of that statehood. Today, the Armenian Question is the re-establishment of the territorial, material and moral rights by international law pertaining to or retained by the current Republic of Armenia.

One must have the courage to view the bitter truth and be clearly aware that we find ourselves without any options. The Republic of Armenia, as a singular and dignified political entity, can either exist only by the affirmation of its unalienable and permanent rights, or it cannot exist as such.

This is the very perspective from which one must analyse the current processes and the pair of protocols that go along with it. Is it that signing the protocols benefit the consolidation of the existential factors of Armenian statehood and increase the strength of the nation and state, or can it, as an opposing expectation, have a destructive effect?

I may immediately say that, in my opinion, the end result will be negative. The current protocols include clauses whose official recording will render settling the Armenian Question impossible even in future. We must not forget that both the struggle for Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and that of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide have never been separate and the majority of Armenian society has viewed and continues to view it, whether consciously or not, as components of resolving the Armenian Question. The desire to settle the Armenian Question has been the greatest goal of Armenian survival for more than a century now. Regardless of inconsistent opinions that are sometimes raised nowadays, it remains the only national goal of the Armenians.

Giving up on the demand for Armenian rights with regards to Turkey, which is indicated in the two documents, implies giving up on the sole goal which brings Armenians together, which in turn would result in a core weakening of the Republic of Armenia, and its eventual destruction. In order not to resemble the many witch-doctors who are concocting their potions under the Armenian sky nowadays, let me present my thoughts scientifically.

Political science has long since developed a formula to measure the strength of a given state. This is known as the Jablonsky formula in American political science.1

Pp = (C+E+M) x (S+W)

In this formula, Pp is Perceived power, C is critical mass (population + territory), E is Economic capability, M is Military capability, S is Strategic purpose and W stands for the Will to pursue national strategy.

It is clear from the formula that the strength of a state depends as much on the presence of long-term goals and the state’s goal-oriented practices, as the population, territory, economic and military strength. The strength of a state is not merely the sum of some indicators, but it is the product of tangible, material indicators with the sum of the goal and the willingness to achieve it. Regardless of territory, population, economic or military prowess, if the state does not have a goal, and consequently the will to attain it, the strength of the state would then be nothing, as any number multiplied by zero is zero.

Today, the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is not considered to be a pan-national goal, due to some disputable and not-so-disputable circumstances. The political process to get recognition of the Armenian Genocide, as a pan-national goal, cannot essentially serve as a goal of the state, because there is an absence of a clear path to reach some core result through this goal.

Therefore, not only is settling the Armenian Question a singular opportunity to strengthen Armenian statehood and the only way for the Armenian people to endure, but also the very goal-oriented process of resolving the Armenian Question, that is to say the presence of such a goal and the political will to act on it, is an indispensible factor in consolidating the strength of Armenian statehood.

We must not take steps which could weaken Armenian statehood and deprive it of its preservation simply because the Homeland, which does not have a goal in itself, is merely a place to live.

On Protocols, Authority and Resignations, Sep 25th, 2009, By Ara Papian
A question has been raised a great deal lately, to which a clear answer has not been given. Why is the Armenian Revolutionary Federation demanding the resignation of the foreign minister, but does not demand the resignation of the president? Although I am not a member of the ARF, I shall try to answer this question, because it is bad form, in principle, to leave questions raised by society unanswered.

According to the current Constitution (Article 55, clause 7), the president of the Republic of Armenia shall “… execute the general guidance of the foreign policy …”. That is to say, as the leader, he has the prerogative of generally directing foreign policy, but not carrying it out. As a part of the executive branch, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has, in turn, the prerogative of actually implementing foreign policy. Moreover, the Foreign Ministry is bound to be lead by the directives of this “general guidance” and take corresponding steps only within the given directives. Officials of the Foreign Ministry do not have the right to work outside presidential directives and negotiate on other issues, much less take on additional liabilities in the name of the country.

What is our current situation? The president of the country has on many occasions stated explicitly in public the normalization of relations with Turkey without preconditions as a prime directive of foreign policy. The foreign minister has also publicly repeated the president’s position, emphasizing the main characteristic of the policy being “without preconditions”. What is more, both the president and the foreign minister have clarified more than once that normalization in the current stage will essentially have two directions: the establishment of diplomatic relations with Turkey, and the opening of the – so-called, as I like to put it – border between Armenia and Turkey.

There are no concerns on the first point. Naturally, we have expectations from Turkey, and therefore we must establish diplomatic relations so that we negotiate our expectations or equivalent reparations. There are some questions pertaining to the second point. However, there are no disputes really. We shall open the border and we shall see that our expectations are not coming through, and we shall be disappointed.

Now let us look over the current two protocols and see how exactly they correspond to the president’s directive without preconditions. I shall yet have the opportunity to discuss the said documents and to reveal the more than ten unrelated liabilities in place, point by point. Unrelated, because they do not have anything to do with establishing diplomatic relations and to open the so-called border.

For now, let me bring up only one point, the presence of which testifies as such to the dismissal of the policy directive and is enough to render the entire document useless. The fifth clause of the protocol on establishing diplomatic relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey says the following, word-for-word: “Confirming the mutual recognition of the existing border between the two countries as defined by the relevant treaties of international law”.1

Putting aside in general the question of the relevance of such legal treaties, let me simply stress that the aforementioned clause is well beyond any precondition. This is a non-negotiable, sovereign duty of the Republic of Armenia. That is to say, the parties have based the establishment of diplomatic relations on “the mutual recognition of the existing border”.

Clearly, the negotiators have acted ultra vires, that is to say, it is evident that they have surpassed their own authority and ignored the president’s directive. In a word, the negotiators acted in an area which fell outside their legal authority.

How to salvage the situation? Armenia must not ratify the signed protocols, citing that they do not reflect the intent and essence of the negotiations as they were announced from the very beginning. The Republic of Armenia must reaffirm its willingness to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Turkey without preconditions and to open the crossing points at the frontier, signing brief and pointed documents which consists solely of those clauses.

Once More on the Pair of Unfortunate Protocols Sep 25th, 2009 By Ara Papian
Through their own dubious analysis and that of others, certain Parteikanzlei (party leaderships) are attempting to equate opposition to signing the pair of unfortunate protocols and the establishment of Armenian-Turkish diplomatic relations with opposing the opening of the so-called border. Personally, I am one hundred percent for establishing diplomatic, as well as consular, relations and fifty percent for opening the so-called border. At the same time, I am one hundred percent against signing, much less ratifying, the aforementioned protocols as, apart from the establishment of diplomatic relations and the lifting of the blockade on Armenia, they consist of more than ten very serious, even historically critical, liabilities, which are not even so much preconditions in nature, but are designated demands to be fulfilled.

Establishing diplomatic relations is not a self-serving prospect. It is a means to resolve present and potential problems, disputes and disagreements between countries through negotiations. If we are adopting final compromises on all issues of principle, what are we to discuss with the Turks in future? The preservation of Armenian cultural monuments or regulations on importing Toyota spare parts?

A brief observation on how there supposedly isn’t any mention of the Treaty of Kars in the protocols. Firstly, could someone please explain to me what the parties mean by, “the existing border between the two countries as defined by the relevant treaties of international law”? Perhaps even the Treaty of Alexandropol, seeing as how the word “treaties” is in the plural.

Politically speaking, what was the Treaty of Kars? It was a bribe by Bolshevik Russians to those generals of the Ottoman army – already defeated by the Armistice of Moudros (on the 30th of October, 1918), condemned by their own legal authorities, declared as criminals by their own allies – who were ready to annihilate Armenian and Greek “imperialism”.

Despite its rapacious nature and illegal status, the Treaty of Kars does consist of some beneficial clauses. In particular, articles 11, 17 and 18 refer respectively to rights of foreign nationals, unimpeded communication and trade, regulating them to a certain extent.

Putting aside the legality of the Treaty of Kars, as well as those of Alexandropol and Moscow, or rather, the question of their illegality, let me briefly turn to the liability mentioned in the fifth clause of the protocol “On the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey”, which is, “the mutual recognition of the existing border between the two countries as defined by the relevant treaties of international law”.

One can assert with conviction that it would have been better to directly mention the Treaty of Kars instead of such convoluted, but simultaneously clear, citations. In the second case, we are legally stating and recording the territorial occupations by rebel Turkish forces against a legally-recognised state, the Republic of Armenia, without even making note of the advantages brought about by the Treaty of Kars.

I would like to believe that the more than ten anti-Armenian mistakes found in the unfortunate protocols are the result of the negligence of the bureaucracy, or else one may blame the heat for affecting the minds at work. It is summer, after all.

A Snare of Words Sep 25th, 2009 By Ara Papian
It is simply incredible how innovatively the snares have been woven into that unfortunate pair of Armenian-Turkish protocols. Let us take up but one of many.

Many drew attention to the fact that the vagueness in deadlines in the protocols for parliamentary ratifications can cause the parties to drag out the actual enforcing of the protocols. This is a very valid concern. Even more so, when those in power in Turkey have announced on numerous occasions that the protocols would not be carried out “without significant progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”.
Progress, naturally, à la Turquie.

However, the protocols themselves contain two more loopholes for procrastination on acting on them. The penultimate clauses of the protocols clearly state that the protocols would be enforced “following the exchange of instruments of ratification”. In general, international or inter-state ratification of documents proceed as follows. Upon parliamentary approval (which, for some reason, is referred to as “ratification” in the Armenian Constitution), the protocols have to be ratified by the heads of state, as is the order, and only then would instruments of ratification be exchanged. International law does not take into account any deadlines when it comes to exchanging instruments of ratification and the ratification itself by heads of state of documents that have been approved (or “ratified”) by legislatures. Since that process, even in general terms, has not been clearly outlined in the pair of protocols as well, then it turns out that the protocols contain a three-tier possibility of delay: parliamentary approval (“ratification”), presidential ratification, and the exchange of the instruments of ratification.

For example, the ill-reputed Treaty of Moscow (of the 16th of March, 1921), had a provision of the exchange of instruments of ratification “as soon as possible”. The Treaty of Kars – even more ill-reputed – demanded it “within the shortest possible time”.

Of course, it is possible that the Turks not delay at all the parliamentary approval of the protocols and the exchange of the instruments of ratification. Ultimately, they are working towards the complete fulfillment of their demand, that the Republic of Armenia “confirm[…] … the existing border between the two countries”. The rest – the Genocide issue, Nagorno-Karabakh, etc. – are simply bonuses. If they pull it off, all well and good. If they don’t manage it now, even then it comes to the same thing, as they are to hold the reins to the Armenian state from now on.

If some people are ready today to pay a high, an unjustifiably high price in order to lift the blockade on Armenia by Turkey, then they need to act such that the delivery on the paid goods be made on time and that there not be any further, hidden costs.

The American Example Sep 25th, 2009 By Ara Papian
In 1927, the leadership of the United States was considering the same dilemma as the authorities of the Republic of Armenia face today. The administration, giving in to the interests of the business community, intended to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey, while public opinion and a majority of the Senate remained against such a move. It’s not that they opposed it in general, but that the cost seemed unacceptable. It was felt that it would be inappropriate to work for one’s interests through treachery.

The problem was the following. Although there was no formal declaration of war between the US and the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, the Turks had withdrawn their diplomatic relations with America on the 20th of April, 1917. Ten years after the end of the war, it seemed natural that the parties would works towards re-establishing diplomatic ties, especially because American companies held increasing economic interests in Turkey. A bi-lateral treaty had been signed on normalizing relations as far back as the 6th of August, 1923, in Lausanne, Switzerland. According to the US Constitution, that document could only enter into force upon the approval of the Senate.

And so, in December, 1926, the White House sent on this treaty to the Senate. Although well aware of the major economic stakes that America had in Turkey, the Senate declined to approve the said treaty on the 18th of January, 1927. It turned out that the 1923 treaty had very convoluted wording, which could have been interpreted as a denial of the arbitral award of President Woodrow Wilson (granted on the 22nd of November, 1920). Let me once again state that this is the very document by which the common frontier maintained to this day between Armenia and Turkey was decided. The Senate of the United States did not dismiss its own international liabilities and did not deny the territorial rights of the Republic of Armenia for the sake of economic interests.

Now, this was 1927. There was no longer a Republic of Armenia, and no-one knew whether Armenian statehood would ever rise again. However, American lawmakers decided not to close for good the only door to salvation for the Armenian people.

It is due to this vote that, to this day, we have influential political and legal means, the skillful utilization of which can not only lift the blockade on Armenia, but can also bring about real security guarantees for the country as well as immense monetary income.

After the Senate rejected the treaty, the Americans, as a practical people, were quick to act and, one month later, on the 17th of February, 1927, diplomatic relations between the US and Turkey were re-established with the exchange of diplomatic notes. Naturally, the territorial rights of the Republic of Armenia were not considered. The diplomatic notes only served their own direct purpose, and thus did not consist of dense or ambiguous wording. An excerpt follows:

The United States of America and Turkey are agreed to establish between themselves diplomatic and consular relations, based upon the principles of international law, and to proceed to the appointment of Ambassadors as soon as possible.1

And not a single superfluous word. I would like to suggest following the American example both with regards to the conduct of their lawmakers, and also in the contents of any document establishing diplomatic relations. If the Turks are sincere and really willing to normalize their relations with us, they would not hesitate to establish diplomatic relations and lift the blockade on Armenia. If their real intent is to extort the denial of our rights from us, then they would play at their games and the issue would move to other circles.

It would be most prudent not to render the establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of the so-called border a self-serving act.

Three-Zero, In Turkey’s Favor, Sep 25th, 2009 By Ara Papian
Until now we were saying and they were confirming, that diplomatic relations were to be established with Turkey without preconditions. Many believed it. They believed it perhaps because it would have been impossible to imagine otherwise. The opposite would have simply demeaned Armenian statehood it would have turned blood into water, debasing our land. Today we can say that the reality is more startling than even the most pessimistic predictions. The current protocols propose that the leadership of the Republic of Armenia accepts all three preconditions of Turkey.

The first precondition set by Turkey is relinquishing our rights and abandoning the territorial demands we have with regards to Turkey, that is to say, recognising the current border. The fourth clause in the protocol “On the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey” fulfills this Turkish demand.

Turkey’s second precondition is the insistence on a Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan, that is, a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute solely on the basis of the principle of territorial integrity. The same protocol fulfills this demand as well, since the second clause, reconfirming those principles upon which international relations are based, fails to mention the right to self-determination of peoples.

The third precondition for Turkey is doing away with the process of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. This demand, too, is fulfilled. The protocol “On developing bi-lateral relations” calls for the creation of sub-commissions, including one “on historical issues”, which has to deal with “defin[ing] existing problems … between the two nations”. And which issue is the most controversial issue, exactly, which requires such definition? Certainly, the Armenian Genocide.

It is evident that, if Armenia were to accept the proposed protocols, then Turkey would entirely acquire what it desires. And what are we to expect in return? Are we that short-sighted as to legalise the illegal occupation of territories of the Republic of Armenia and the illegal possession of our national property by the Republic of Turkey, ultimately sacrificing the future of our people?

If the aforementioned protocols get ratified, then we will need a new Movses Khorenatsi (Moses of Khoren, the classical Armenian historian and chronicler), to write, “I lament thee, o Armenian world, for thy king and clergy are undone, and ignorant decadence reigneth”.

Letter To Armenia's Representatives In The US, Asbarez, Sep 23, 2009
Dear Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, Ambassador Tatoul Markarian, General Consul Grigor Hovhannissian, I would like to express my concern regarding the Turkish Armenian protocols.

Accepting the current borders between Armenia and Turkey and agreeing to take part in a historical commission discussing the Armenian Genocide, signifies that Turkey is undermining the historic validity of the Genocide. Therefore no reparations will be made and any hope of getting Mount Ararat, the city of Ani, and rest of our homeland back will be lost forever.

I find these protocols very detrimental to Armenia and the state of Nagorno Karabakh. Although I along with millions of others Armenians live in the Diaspora, I do not wish to see such decisions being reached, because you cannot forgive your enemy until they admit their crimes and make reparations.

Some might believe it is useless to wait for Turkey to recognize the Genocide, because they never will. However I don't think that opening the border with Turkey will be the solution to Armenia's economic problems. As a descendant of Genocide survivors, I find these protocols not only to be dangerous, but I find them insulting to Armenians all over the world.

In a recently published article the Asbarez quoted Erdogan as saying that, "The Diaspora does not bring any advantage to Armenia. On the contrary, it takes away from Armenia."

On the contrary the Diaspora is always ready to help Armenia, because it is not only the homeland for Armenians living there, but the homeland for Armenians everywhere. It is with the help of the Diaspora that we are able to build a new Armenia one step at a time.

These protocols are only beneficial to the state of Turkey, because Armenia is freeing them from the pressure of recognizing the Genocide, making reparations, and returning lands. We cannot let history repeat itself and let Turkey fool Armenia through false pretenses.

If such protocols are passed, the consequences will be enormous. The current policies and mentality of Turkish leaders today reminds us of the Young Turks in 1915 and Ataturk in 1921. I honestly hope that such risky actions will not be taken and the protocols will not be passed. We have worked too hard and we cannot throw it all away and let Turkey win.
Sincerely, Talar Kossakian 12th Grade Ferrahian High School

Let’s Publicize Armenia Correctly, By Tom Vartabedian Sep 25th, 2009
Being in the newspaper business all my life, I know the true value of good public relations. And publicizing Armenia correctly continues to be an ongoing struggle.

It’s too bad that every journalist in America wasn’t Armenian or sympathetic to our cause. But I’m afraid that is not the case. We must create our own PR vehicle.

Public relations is really an art — giving the public what it likes to hear and creating awareness. A good public event often deserves publicity, but is more often created by it.

Not long ago, I was being interviewed by a reporter of a small town journal. Now that’s a switch. It’s usually me asking the questions and others giving the answers.

Being in charge of publicizing our church picnic, I took it upon myself to draw up a press release and send it off electronically. Nothing to it. A day or two later, I followed up with a note to each paper with the idea of going a step beyond and having a feature story done. What’s there to lose, right?

Church picnics don’t ordinarily call for extenuating stories but a graph or two at the bottom of the lifestyles page and perhaps a blurb in the coming events column.

But this was no ordinary picnic. Our Armenian church was joining forces with the Catholic Church next door and hosting a combined picnic. Masses were being involved. Two churches of different spiritual backgrounds were uniting in the best Christian spirit.

Moreover, we were dedicating a new patio area in memory of deceased pastor Rev. Vartan Kassabian. The agenda was full of cultural activity. Two Armenian children troupes were coming to dance. There was a band. And enough food to feed two parishes and then some.

A reporter called some days later, looking to embellish the story and turning it into a front-page piece. I had succeeded in drawing some interest. Now here comes the debate. What I considered important to the piece, she puffed off.

“Tell us something about your Armenian church,” she asked.

“How much time do you have?” I replied. Her question was rhetorical, or so it seemed.

I went on about how we were the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301 AD and how our church was still a catalyst in the Armenian community after more than 1,700 years.

“I did not know that,” she answered.

I assumed she knew something about the Genocide. Wrong again. Despite all the articles that have been written and published in the media, it really amazes me that there are people out there in the dark.

It’s the old question, “Armenian? What’s that?”

Then, the reporter expressed her ignorance even more.

“You want people to attend your picnic?” she added. “History doesn’t attract people to a social event. A genocide isn’t going to conjure up interest. It may stifle it. What sells is food. They want to know what’s on the menu.”

Say what! The fact we have the oldest Christian nation in the world and lose 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 can’t hold up to a piece of baklava.

I wasn’t about to tell the woman her business but if I knew nothing about a genocide and someone called me about a picnic, I might consider the sympathetic factor. The human interest quality. I might also point to the resilience of a nation in getting a genocide recognized by the rest of the world.

Okay, so food is a common denominator among cultures. Maybe I have blinders on but how can we allow kebabs to overshadow the death and revival of our sacred land.

The reporter needed a lesson in reporting.

Then came the obvious thought. If she was callous and unaware of our history, how many more were there like her encrusted into the journalism fields of America? Perhaps the fault lies with us. Maybe we’re not pushing the right buttons enough.

As conscientious Armenians, we must act as our very own publicists and make the newspapers aware of our heritage. As the 95th anniversary of our genocide approaches next year, the time to act is now. Just writing an article won’t cut it.

A better approach might be to set up a meeting with the editors and ask for equal play. I find it incongruous that one church would get an entire page of colored photographs for their picnic and another church like ours receives zilch.

When all is said and done, the worst thing you can say about our cause is NOTHING.

Diaspora Dilemma – The Time for Hard Choices Has Come and Gone!, 2009/09/25
ARF, Heritage MP’s Defend Their Political Positions Re: Armenian-Turkish Relations 2009/09/24 Natasha Harutyunyan

Today, MP’s Rouzan Arakelyan from the ARF and Zarouhie Postanjyan from the Heritage Party, expressed their views regarding recent developments in the process of Armenian-Turkish relations.

Ms. Arakelyan stressed that the Armenian people had entered a historic juncture and that, contrary to popular belief, the politically conscious segment of the Armenian population had expressed their agreement with the proposals put forth by the ARF regarding the negotiations process. She noted that there were lines of people waiting to sign the ARF petition against the Armenian-Turkish protocols set up by the ARF in Republic Square.

When asked why the Heritage Party, also bitterly opposed to the protocols, hasn’t expressed a desire to form a united front with the ARF, Ms. Arakelyan argued that each political party has its own political will and is free to join any movement it so desires.

Ms. Arakelyan stated, “Today the ARF will go it alone and stand by its principles. You must go and ask the leaders of Heritage why that haven’t joined our protest actions. Everyone knows, however, that Raffi Hovhannisyan, the most popular of the Heritage Party figures, cam and signed our petition.”

Zarouhie Postanjyan from the Heritage Party stated that the stance of the ARF is known to all concerned and that it was a pity that the ARF has only started to become active now and not ten years ago. She continued that the underlying legal pinnings for the current dictatorial regime were laid during the time when the ARF was a part of the government and that the party had a hand in its making.

“Now when the ARF does not demand the resignation of Serzh Sargsyan but only that of the foreign minister, it signifies that the party has no ultimatums of its own,” she said. Ms. Postanjyan said the Heritage Party had a clear policy directed against the protocols.

“We have organized parliamentary hearings on the matter that will take place on October 1. This is a practical initiative of the Heritage Party,” she said.

In response, Ms. Arakelyan argued that the ARF had been active in the process of nation building since the first days of the independence of Armenia back in 1991 and unlike the Heritage Party wasn’t a newcomer to the political scene. She claimed that the ARF was always ready to confess its mistakes as well.

“The ARF was a part of the ruling government because we realized that many national problems would confront the newly independent republic and that by working from the inside we could prevent the government from making decisions that would come back to haunt us later on. For the ARF, remaining in the government was never a self-fulfilling prophecy,” the ARF MP said.

She countered the criticism of Ms. Postanjyan, regarding not demanding the resignation of the president, by stating that the ARF wouldn’t go down the road of taking destabilizing measures.

“To take any eccentric measures today would only bring a smile to the face of our enemies,” she argued.

Zarouhie Postanjyan countered by stating, “It is to be welcomed that you are trying to correct your political role at this moment and your policies. But many more average citizens would be signing your petition if they had faith in the sincerity of your political leaders who raise a hue and cry in the parliament but cast their votes quite differently.”

Does Andranik Mihranyan Take His Cue From Pro-Turkey Neocons?, By Appo Jabarian Executive Publisher / Managing Editor Usa Armenian Life Magazine
September 25, 2009
In a September 19 article in Azg Daily of Armenia, Hasmik Harutunyan reported Mihranyan as saying that "The Genocide and the issue of Armenian-Turkish relations are a rotten nail in the head of the Armenian people." Harutunyan then goes on listing Mihranyan's diatribes about the worldwide Armenian activists that are opposed to the Armenia-Turkey Protocols.

Long-established is the fact that Mihranyan is a devoted apologist of failed presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossyan's damaging foreign policy during the latter's tenure as President until his resignation in February 1998. Ter-Petrossyan fell from grace and lost his mandate because he officially toyed with the idea of surrendering major chunks of newly liberated Armenian territories of Artsakh to Azerbaijan, and of outright handing over Meghri, Armenia to Baku.

Apparently, Mihranyan has either forgotten or refuses to recognize the fact that Ter-Petrossyan's self-defeating policies and ideas caused him the loss of power. And now, he is eager to liken Ter-Petrossyan to the current President, thus giving Pres. Sargsyan a suffocating political bear hug by attempting to misguide Pres. Sargsyan into the newest Turkish trap by sugar-coating the content of the grossly unfair and unjust preconditions imposed by Turkey?

Mihranyan has also characterized Armenia's Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian as a veteran diplomat who is widely criticized for having initialed the Protocols.

How can anyone forget the fact that Mihranyan is one of the individuals who attempted to promote the defrauding "Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission" in early 2000? Thanks to a worldwide outcry by Armenians in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora, TARC was derailed.

How can a clear-thinking Armenian ever accept Mihranyan's false notion that the signing of the Protocols will constitute a victory for Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora and their Cause?

According to Azg Daily, Mihranyan went on to criticize former Pres. Kocharian for not giving in to the Washington-based neocons, alleging that Kocharian "lost" a historic opportunity in Key West, Florida in April 2001 on settling the Artsakh (Karabagh) conflict with Azerbaijan. But in reality, to his credit, Kocharian refused to give into the pressures applied on him by the neocons to "return" Artsakh to Azerbaijan.

I hope Mihranyan remembers that he was an active member of the same Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission which produced the conclusion of a 3rd party report that TARC had commissioned on "whether the actions of the Ottoman authorities constituted genocide." The conclusion of the International Center for Transitional Justice report was that yes, it did.

So, how can Mihranyan convince the Armenians to accept the current Protocols agreement which calls for the establishment of a joint commission between Armenia and Turkey to find out "whether the actions of the Ottoman authorities constituted genocide."

Contrary to TARC I members' repeated assurances that it has terminated its activities, it apparently was kept alive, well, and plotting in the "comfort" of total darkness.

In TARC II's days in 2004, it was TARC I all over again. Now it's all too clear that neither TARC I nor TARC II ever vanished into oblivion and somehow continued to join forces with Ankara in order to produce the current Protocols.

Finally, one wonders if Mihranyan takes his cues from pro-Turkey neocons in Washington and elsewhere?

In Pursuit of Justice and True Friendship, By George Aghjayan
On Sat., Sept. 19, a demonstration against the Turkey-Armenia protocols was held in front of the Permanent Mission of Armenia to the United Nations in New York. The demonstration, organized by the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), brought together close to 800 protesters. Among the speakers at the demonstration were ARF Eastern USA Central Committee member George Aghjayan. The article below is based on his speech.

For over 90 years, we have been waging a war for justice.
Justice for the over one and a half million Armenians murdered at the orders of the Ottoman Turkish government.

Justice for the thousands of Armenian cultural monuments destroyed by the governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan and continuing to this very day.

Justice for the hundreds of thousands of survivors whose lives were never the same after the horrors they witnessed and endured.

Justice so that future generations of Armenians can grow up without fear of persecution and Armenia can truly be free, independent, and united.

Today, we have entered the final battle of that war. This battle will not end today, but it surely has already begun. The Turkish government understands this well. As with any war, the final stage is marked with extreme aggression and tactics born of desperation.
This is not the time for us to blink and most definitely is not the time to capitulate on our demands. Tragically, the protocols agreed to for the development of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia do just that.

The protocol commits to "territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers." The right of self-determination is not mentioned. The people of Artsakh fought long and sacrificed much to guarantee their rights and security. We have an obligation to ensure those sacrifices were not in vain.

The very law Azerbaijan used to secede from the Soviet Union allowed for autonomous regions within seceding republics to choose their own path. Artsakh chose independence from Azerbaijan. The territory of an independent Azerbaijan has never, nor should it ever, include Artsakh.

The protocols call for the creation of an historical commission to "define existing problems." The existing problem is the Armenian Genocide and it is a crime requiring justice not an historical commission with the sole aim of questioning the indisputable facts.

The protocol commits to "refrain from pursuing any policy incompatible with the spirit of good neighborly relations." Turkey will use this provision to stifle all efforts at international recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the diaspora.

For years, Turkey has portrayed resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide as racist and detrimental to efforts at rapprochement between Turks and Armenians. In addition, today the United States legal system is being used by Turkish advocates to further limit any discussion of the genocide.

It is Turkey's decades of denial that constitute unfriendly relations. As esteemed scholar Israel Charny notes, "Denials of genocide make no sense unless one sees in them renewed opportunities for the same passions, meanings, and pleasures that were at work in the genocide itself, now revived in symbolic processes of murdering the dignity of the survivors, rationality, truth, and even history itself."

To argue the facts is to misinterpret the true motives of denial and supply a victory for the deniers. Lasting peace in the region cannot be based on the humiliation of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and their descendents.

The protocol confirms "the existing border between the two countries as defined by the relevant treaties." This is a clear reference to the Treaty of Kars and the Treaty of Lausanne. The former signed under duress and the latter Armenia was not a party to.

As former Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian noted, Turkey is currently noncompliant with the Kars Treaty. Thus, through the ratification of this agreement and initiation of diplomatic relations, Armenia would make the Treaty of Kars ironclad and be relinquishing any rights to western Armenia granted through the Treaty of Sevres.

Some have claimed that the current border is a fait accompli, that borders between nations only change as a result of war. However, in 1932 Turkey acquired a border with Nakhichevan from land exchanged with Iran. In 1939, Turkey acquired a portion of the Haleb province. Neither were the result of war.

The protocol emphasizes the decision to open the common border between Turkey and Armenia. This implies that the border was closed by mutual agreement. In fact, since 1993, Turkey has unilaterally enforced an illegal blockade of Armenia. Turkish officials have stated clearly that the objective of closing the border was to create such economic hardship so as to result in the large-scale emigration of Armenians and thus to serve as a continuation of the genocidal process.

The Armenian Genocide was meant to end any possibility of an independent Armenia. The current economic and political difficulties for Armenia are a direct consequence of the genocide. It is thus logical that any just resolution to the genocide would require ensuring the sustainability of Armenia-economically, culturally, and demographically. A truly remorseful Turkey would accept that the current borders of Armenia are morally unacceptable.

Our opponents would like to portray us as extremists, as lacking pragmatism. However, the lessons of history have shown that lasting peace and prosperity can only be accomplished through mutual respect, trust, and cooperation-none of which can be achieved through deception and lies. This is the case whether we are discussing relationships at a personal level or between countries.

As I have said previously, the protocols are a disaster for Armenian foreign policy and are meant to relegate Armenia to the dustbin of history. We demand a different path, one that will lead to true friendship between Turks and Armenians and peace between Turkey and Armenia.
Armenian Life


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