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JOURNAL NUMBERS

Facts and Comments

Retired Ambassador Ömer Engin LÜTEM*
Armenian Studies, Issue 2, June-July-August 2001

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1. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS ON KARABAKH ISSUE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ORGANIZATION OF ISLAMIC CONFERENCE AND KARABAKH

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

2. TURKISH – ARMENIAN RECONCILIATION COMMISSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. A NEW CONDITION FOR ESTABLISHING DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH ARMENIA

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

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

4. THE STATES THAT RECOGNIZED AND NOT RECOGNIZED SO CALLED ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

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

THE UNITED STATES

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

CANADA

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

BRITIAN

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

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

5. THE CROSSING OF BAKU – CEYHAN O?L PIPELINE THROUGH ARMENIAN TERRITORY

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

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

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



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

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* Director of AVIM - oelutem@avim.org.tr
- Armenian Studies, Issue 2, June-July-August 2001
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