Main Page       Contact  
   
Türkçe

Daily Bulletin Subscription

To receive our Daily Bulletin please fill out the form below.
Name:
Surname:
Email:


JOURNAL NUMBERS

Facts an Comments

Retired Ambassador Ömer Engin LÜTEM*
Armenian Studies, Issue 3, September-October-November 2001

 .uÀ‰ ="justify">

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

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

A legal provision that did not permit the USA to deliver aid to Azerbaijan was revoked pending certain conditions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 10th anniversary of the independence of Armenia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 1700th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 2783rd anniversary of the founding of Yerevan.

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

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

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

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

2. THE PAPACY AND ARMENIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. STATES THAT RECOGNIZE THE GENOCIDE AND STATES THAT DO NOT

Switzerland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Germany

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

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

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

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

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

Russia

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

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

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

Poland

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

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

4. DEVELOPMENTS REGARDING KARABAGH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. THE TURKISH-ARMENIAN RECONCILIATION COMMISSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE ALLEGED ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

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

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

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

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

The European Parliament in these two articles:

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

And

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

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

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

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

The European Parliament by these articles

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

And,

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

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

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

7. SECTION 907

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. THE CROSSING OF THE BAKU-CEYHAN OIL PIPELINE THROUGH ARMENIAN TERRITORY

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

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

9. ARMENIAN TERRORISTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

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

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

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

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



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

 ----------------------
* Director of AVIM - oelutem@avim.org.tr
- Armenian Studies, Issue 3, September-October-November 2001
    Comment on this Journal    Print    Recommend

   «  Back
Comments

At present, there are no accessible commentaries.


 
 
ERAREN - Institute for Armenian Research

This site is best viewed at 1024 x 768 pixel resolution.