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Facts and Comments

Retired Ambassador Ömer Engin LÜTEM*
Armenian Studies, Issue 4, December 2001 - January-February 2002

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In this part we will examine the most important events of 2001 under the headings of relations between Turkey and Armenia, the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission, efforts directed at the recognition of the alleged Armenian genocide and the final developments in the Karabagh conflict.

1. Relations between Turkey and Armenia

In 2001 there was no improvement in the relations between Turkey and Armenia which have been steadily deteriorating since Kocharian assumed the Presidency in 1998. The reason for this was the fact that Armenia followed a policy of contention in the face of Turkish policies which were based on certain principles.

The policy Turkey follows in her relation to Armenia is based on the principles of respect for territorial integrity, the inviolability of borders and good neighbourly relations.[1] On the other hand, Turkey demands that Armenia withdraws from territories of Azerbaijan that it has occupied and favours a solution to the conflict is found within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Finally, Turkey believes that the efforts of Armenia directed at gaining international recognition for the alleged genocide are not in line with the principle of good neighborhood, which is an impediment to the normalization of relations. Turkey argues that history should only be judged by historians.

On the other hand, the foreign policy of Armenia was described by Foreign Minister Oskanian with the following words:”Turkey continues to condition it’s normalization of relations with Armenia on the Nagorno Karabagh conflict and Armenian Genocide issues.  Armenia insists on the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of borders without any preconditions.”[2] Oskanian also said that international recognition of the Armenian genocide remained on the agenda of the country’s foreign policy. 

As a result, while Armenia wishes to open the borders and establish diplomatic relations with Turkey it, at the same time, avoids acknowledging the territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of Turkey. Simultaneously Armenia accuses Turkey of genocide and continues to occupy Karabagh and Azerbaijani territory.  It is this policy which can be summarized as taking everything but giving nothing in return that constitutes the main reason for the deadlock in Turkish-Armenian relations.

2. The Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission

It was announced that an unofficial “Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission” composed of six Turks and four Armenians had been established on 9 July 2001. The fact that none of the members of this body held official positions or titles made this initiative interesting and gave reason to hope that a framework was created to help official contacts to reach a negotiated settlement.

The terms of reference of the Commission[3] can be summarized as; developing the understanding and good-will between Turks and Armenians, promoting an improvement in the relations between Turkey and Armenia, supporting contacts, dialogue and cooperation between civil society organizations, developing proposals to be presented to the governments, promoting unofficial cooperation in the fields of tourism, culture, education, environment and other fields as well as in confidence building measures.

What is of interest is that “genocide” was not directly nor indirectly mentioned as one of the matters that the commission will be dealing with. In the same manner there is also no mention of the Karabagh conflict. It is clear that the parties have chosen to leave aside the topics that are difficult to agree upon and adopted a policy aimed at cooperation in other fields.

While there was no official Turkish reaction in response to the setting up of the Commission, the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted in a generally positive manner but also stated that this initiative could not replace direct state level contacts aimed at solving the conflict.[4]

The Dashnaks, on the other hand, reacted very negatively and harshly criticized the Commission.[5]  The main criticism was based on the idea that this Commission could harm the efforts directed at the recognition of the alleged genocide. Therefore the Commission was described as an initiative that failed to take into consideration Armenian interests and the members were deemed unauthorized.  For the Dashnaks, establishing dialogue with Turkey depended on the preconditions of Turkey’s recognition of the “genocide”, changing its “biased attitude” on the Karabagh conflict and the lifting of the embargo imposed on Armenia. This campaign which the Dashnaks directed at the Commission was effective. As a result, the majority parties in the Armenian Parliament adopted a resolution denouncing the Commission.[6]  The Diaspora press also mainly opposed to the Commission and the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs performed an about face, voicing the concern that the Commission may stall the genocide recognition process that would not deter the Armenian officials in their quest for recognition of the genocide.

The criticism led Armenian members of the Commission to feel the need to go on the defensive and make statements clarifying that the “genocide” is not negotiable and that their activities would not prevent the process of the recognition of the “genocide”. While the debates continued and pressure mounted for the Armenian members of the Commission to resign, in September the German Parliament refused to take the genocide issue on their agenda, stating as a reason for this decision the fact that there were contacts initiated on the issue between Turkish and Armenian civil society organizations.[7] This development had a serious effect on the Armenian members, as did the European Parliament’s attachment of great importance to the Commission in a decision taken about Turkey on November 15, 2001.[8] As a result, during the second meeting of the Commission in Istanbul on 23-25 September 2001, the Armenian members began demanding that the genocide issue be taken up directly or indirectly and particularly that a reference must be made to it in the statements issued following the meetings. In the third meeting held in New York on 18-21 November 2001, it was agreed that an independent organization called “International Center for Transitional Justice” would determine if the United Nations Convention on Genocide of 1948 would be applicable to the events of 1915.[9] However the words of David L. Phillips, on this matter were reflected in the press as “establishing whether the mass killing and deportation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 do or do not constitute genocide”.[10] In short, a relatively simple legal matter such as establishing whether the 1948 Convention can be applied retrospectively was transformed into an effort at historic judgment about whether the events could be considered to be genocide.

When the Turkish members of the Commission drew the attention of the International Center for Transitional Justice to this fact, the Armenian members of the Commission sent David L. Phillips a letter, stating that the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission would no longer proceed.[11]

Thus, the Armenian members of the Commission ended the work of the Commission by resorting to a simple excuse. The main reason for this course of events was the mud-flinging campaign the Dashnaks conducted against the Commission and it’s Armenian members which caused the position of the Armenian members to transform from moderation to extremism. Proof of this negative transformation can be found in statements issued by Andranik Mihranyan, a member joining the Commission from Russia and Alexander Arzumanyan, the former Minister of Foreign Minister of Armenia in which they went as far as accusing the Turkish members of the Commission.[12]

Following the official dissolution of the Commission the Dashnak Party issued a statement expressing that there could be dialogue between Turks and Armenians only following a recognition of the Armenian “genocide” by Turkey, and that the responsibility of Turkey in the genocide could not be held apart from Turkish-Armenian relations. The statement read that therefore recognition of the “genocide” was an integral part of Armenian foreign policy and that efforts directed at recognition would now be conducted in a fashion stronger than ever.[13]

Vahe Gabrielyan, the Press Secretary of the Armenian President said that they had foreseen the dissolution of the Reconciliation Commission and added that the dialogue between Turkey and Armenia must be conducted at the official level.[14] Thereby it was once again proven that there is a serious difference of opinion between the Government of Armenia and the Dashnaks on the issue of dialogue with Turkey.

The overwhelming majority of the Armenian newspapers were satisfied with the failiure of the Commission, while on the other hand, some realistic views were expressed as well, stressing that if there would be no reconciliation, feelings of hatred, spite and revenge would prevail.[15]

Turkish authorities showed no reaction to the termination of the activities of the Commission.

It is difficult to say that the Turkish-Armenian dialogue has been ended completely. Under the circumstances there seems to be no other way to settle the problems other than through dialogue. On the other hand, it is fair to say that Armenia truly is in need of normalizing its relations with Turkey. Even the members of the Commission who had stopped the work of the Commission stated in their letters on this issue that contacts between Turkish and Armenian civil society organizations were necessary for the normalization of relations. Due to strategic concerns the USA also favors stability in the Caucasus and in this connection expects the two states to resolve their differences.  Therefore, if there can be no contacts between officials, establishing contacts between civil organizations would undoubtedly be of value. Even a revitalization of the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission under a different setup could be considered.

3. Efforts for the Recognition of the Alleged Genocide

The most important development relating to the Armenian problem in 2001 was the fact that in January a law recognizing the ”genocide” was passed by the French Parliament. The law consisting of a short sentence which reads “France publicly recognizes the Armenian genocide of 1915” brought moral satisfaction to Armenian extremists. However this law did not yield any practical results as it stopped short of blaming anybody for the “genocide”, it did not request that Turkey acknowledge the “genocide” or provide for arrangements that would lead to legal action against those in France claiming that there had been no “genocide”.[16] Despite this, Turkish-French relations deteriorated and only at the end of the year was there an amelioration through some contacts in the military field.

No other country recognized the alleged Armenian genocide in 2001. On the contrary,  despite all efforts of Armenian extremists, some countries’ authorities refused to do so.

These events are listed below in chronological order:

On February 14, 2001 the Russian Duma refused a proposal on the recognition of the genocide tabled by Jirinovski’s Liberal Democratic Party.  However the 1995 decision of the   Duma which “censured those who had annihilated the Armenians” and “accepted April 24 as a day of commemoration for the victims of the genocide” remained in effect.[17]

On May 13, 2001 the Swiss Parliament refused a draft law which demanded the recognition of the “genocide” by a margin of three votes.[18] Upon this development the Armenian extremists in Switzerland took to court the directors of Turkish associations with the aim of having the “genocide” mentioned in the text of the verdict. However the court acquitted the Turkish citizens on September 17, 2001 and did not label the events of 1915 as genocide. In the face of this defeat the Armenians managed to pass a decision on the “genocide” from the Canton of Geneva on December 10, 2001 but this had little effect since the same Canton had previously passed the same decision.[19]

Answering a petition on the recognition of the “genocide” the Office of the President of Slovakia expressed that the events of 1915 should be defined by historians and did not use the word “genocide”.[20]

Armenian activists were outraged when President Bush refrained from using the word “genocide” in his annual speech delivered on April 24, 2001. The activists were not satisfied with the use of the word annihilation by President Bush, although this word is close in meaning to “genocide”.[21]  It is noteworthy that the Armenians have not presented a draft to Congress on the”genocide” this year. This development proves the difficulty of acting against Turkey after the attacks of September 11. As in previous years, some legislative bodies at State level or Governors passed resolutions on the “genocide” in 2001 as well[22] but this did not find much coverage even in the Armenian press and went largely unnoticed by the public. 

Draft resolutions aimed at the recognition of the “genocide” were presented to the Canadian Parliament by a Parliamentarian of Armenian origin in April and June. Both were rejected.[23]

In answer to a question, Baroness Scotland, the Minister for the Commonwealth of Great Britain stated in February that the events of 1915 could not be defined as genocide according the United Nations Convention on Genocide of 1948. This position was repeated in a press statement issued by the British Embassy in Ankara in July.[24]

Upon a request for the position of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a position, the German Parliament rejected the recognition of the “genocide” in September.[25]

Pope Jean-Paul II,[26] the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin[27] and the President of Poland Kvashnewski[28] made statements during their visits to Armenia which could be interpreted as a recognition of the “genocide”. If one is to consider that the Vatican recognized the genocide in November 2000 and that the Russian Duma had done the same in April 1995, it becomes obvious that the statements of the Pope and Putin were no more than a confirmation of a known fact.  On the other hand, it later became clear that the words of the Polish President were his own thoughts rather than the official position of his country.

The fact that no other country with the exception of France recognized the alleged Armenian genocide in 2001 constituted a serious setback for Armenia which believed that gaining recognition for the “genocide” was among its foreign policy priorities. It was also a setback for the Armenian Diaspora which had concentrated all its efforts on gaining recognition.

4. Developments in the Karabagh Conflict

The first months of 2001 witnessed promising developments for the resolution of the Karabagh conflict. Presidents Aliyev and Kocharian met for the resolution of the conflict in Paris in March and later in Key West – Florida in April.  There were also encounters during meetings of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Despite these contacts that could be characterized as intense, no progress was made on the Karabagh conflict and although agreed upon previously, the two sides did not meet in Geneva in June.[29] This showed that the parties had very different opinions on the solution of the conflict, as a matter of fact it was clear that their opinions were contradictory. 

According to the Armenians, Karabagh is an Armenian territory that must be annexed and due to security concerns the Azerbaijani lands surrounding it must be taken as well. However Armenia, aware that this extreme position will not find support, is willing to accept as a temporary solution independence of Karabagh and its connection to Armenia via a corridor. 

Azerbaijani opinion on the matter can be summarized as a conviction that Karabagh is the territory of Azerbaijan and that it can at best be granted comprehensive autonomy. It must be stated here that according to international law there is no doubt whatsoever that Karabagh is the territory of Azerbaijan. 

The Minsk Group whose mandate is to resolve the Karabagh conflict attempts to reconcile the opinions of the two parties. The three co-chairs that operate in the name of the Group are trying to create a formula for autonomy that is acceptable to both parties. While doing so they must take into consideration the UN and OSCE Lisabon Summit decisions which are based on international law. They must also consider the categorical position of Azerbaijan. In this context the co-chairs came up with a proposition according to which Karabagh is considered to be a common state, connected  to Armenia via a corridor leading through Lachin whereas Nahchivan is connected to Azerbaijan via a corridor running through Megri. However this project failed due to the inflexible attitude of Armenia, causing the Minsk Group to become dormant as of the second half of 2001.

The Minsk Group, established in 1992 with Turkey as a member as well, handed its authorities to the co-chairs Russia, France and the USA after some time. However these three countries all had different degrees of favorable bias towards Armenia.

It is commonly accepted today that Armenia was the victor of the hostilities that had erupted due to the Karabagh conflict in the early 90’s because Russia had supplied the Armenian side with all forms of assistance, including weapon deliveries worth over 1 billion US Dollars. In exchange the Russian Federation was given military bases in Armenia. Russia has also placed numerous troops in the country with the pretext of securing the borders. Russia’s special relationship with Armenia allows the Russian Federation to continue exercising influence on the Southern Caucasus. It must be for this reason that President Aliyev has recently been pursuing friendly relations with the Russian Federation. As a price for this he has had to agree to rent the Gabala radar installation to the Russians for 10 years.[30]

France has no particular interest in the Caucasus. The interest that this country shows in the Karabagh conflict is directed more towards satisfying its small but highly active Armenian minority. The influence of the Armenians in France is so strong that the French Parliament risked upsetting Turkey as well as the cancellation of some certain military contracts and went on to pass in January 2001 a law on the alleged genocide. The most striking example attesting to the fact that France cannot be neutral on the Karabagh issue was witnessed when President Chirac sent President Kocherian a message on the occasion of the assumption of the duties of the new French Ambassador in which he stated that he hoped that 2002 would be a year of dialogue in the Southern Caucasus and that he wished that the problem be resolved “on the basis of the Paris principles”.[31] These statements of the French President were striking since Azerbaijani authorities had been insistently underlining that no principles for the solution of the Karabagh conflict were agreed upon during the meeting in Paris in March.[32] Following Presidential and parliamentary elections this year, in other words once the influence of the Armenian minority has diminished, one might expect that France will display a somewhat balanced attitude towards the Karabagh problem.

Concerning the USA, it is fair to say that this country too is under the influence of its Armenian minority. Despite the fact that following the hostilities other Azerbaijani territories alongside Karabagh were occupied as well and that close to a million Azerbaijanis were forced to flee and live in miserable conditions, the Congress stopped all aid to Azerbaijan as if it were the Armenians who had come under attack.  Efforts of US Administrations directed at reversing this decision by pointing out the importance of Azerbaijan’s oil reserves brought no results. As the strategic importance of Azerbaijan increased following the terrorist attacks of September 11, this decision was lifted temporarily with the initiative of President Bush and despite all efforts of the Armenian lobby. Thus the USA found an opportunity to follow a more balanced policy in the Karabagh conflict.

Even if they are to follow more balanced policies than in the past, for reasons mentioned above it is clear that the USA, Russian Federation and France will have to favor the Armenians.  Today it is clear that the Karabagh conflict cannot be solved without the consent of the USA and the Russian Federation. On the other hand, France has no role or power in the region. Therefore the Minsk Group would have a better chance of success if France were to be replaced by a country such as Turkey, which would defend the views of Azerbaijan. If France is to be kept within the Group, chances of success would be increased if two other states close to Azerbaijan are added to the group.

Bearing in mind that the Minsk Group has been in existence for 10 years, we believe that it will be in the interest of Azerbaijan to no longer ask for the mediation of this body if it once again fails to achieve any concrete results this year. In this case the matter could be taken to the United Nations which in fact is an organization designed to solve international conflicts. This way the support of over 50 Muslim states in the U.N. could be utilized as well.

1. Turkish-Armenian Relations

Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit paid an official visit to the USA in mid-January. According to the press reports[33] the Prime Minister told President Bush that Turkey has four conditions for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia and listed them as follows: Armenia must abandon it’s accusations of genocide, Armenia must evacuate Karabagh unconditionally, it must allow the people the right to return to these lands from which they had been expelled and a corridor must be opened between Nahchivan and Azerbaijan.

According to the same report, Ecevit told the US President that the practice of issuing visas to Armenian nationals had been reinstated. In return President Bush told the Prime Minister that; “your decision will strengthen our position towards the Armenian lobbies”.

The practice of issuing visas to Armenian nationals had been terminated in October 2000 and according to the new practice Armenians wishing to come to Turkey from then on had to obtain a visa from a Turkish diplomatic mission abroad. Due to this measure that was intended to be an answer to the activities of the Armenians who were trying to pass a resolution on the alleged genocide in Congress, Armenian nationals had to travel to Tibilisi or Moscow in order to obtain a Turkish visa. The result was a decrease in the number of Armenians that were coming to Turkey.

Turkey’s decision to return to the previous visa practice was welcomed in Armenia and a spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated ; “this will have a positive influence on the contacts between the peoples and improve the general atmosphere of the Turkish-Armenian relations which is rather tense”[34] The Spokesman of the Secretary of State said that they thought Turkey’s decision on this matter was positive, adding that the USA believed this would contribute to the improvement of Turkish-Armenian relations and that they encouraged initiatives of private or government agencies directed at the normalization of relations.[35] One of the leading organizations of the Diaspora, the American Armenian Assembly, thanked the Bush Administration on this issue[36] while the organization of the Dashnaks known as the American National Congress of Armenians (ANCA)  stated; “Turkey, the perpetrator of genocide against the Armenian people will need to go far beyond such token gestures and that a meaningful dialogue between the Armenian and Turkish Governments will only be possible after Turkey abandons it’s denial of the Armenian genocide, fully lifts the blockade and ceases its military assistance to Azerbaijan”. As can be seen, the new visa regime satisfied everyone but the Dashnaks.

In retrospective we see that the decision taken by Turkey in October 2000, making it more difficult to obtain a visa did not in fact reach its intended aim which was the Government of Armenia of which Turkey was weary due to the prior policies on claims of genocide, Karabagh, and the occupation of Azerbaijani territories. Instead, it was seen that the decision was harming ordinary citizens of Armenia, who had the intention of coming to Turkey. In fact these were the same people that would help establish friendly relations with Turkey and their potential contact with Turkey should not be prevented or made more difficult, on the contrary, it would be of greater use if their contact to Turkey is facilitated.

It was perhaps due to the conducive environment created by the new visa regime that the Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Armenia met while they were in New York on the occasion of the World Economic Forum. In an interview on this matter the Armenian Foreign Minister said “I think that there will be a follow-up to this meeting in the near future”. He also stated that “both sides are in the mood to try to address our bilateral issues through a direct dialogue”.[37]

No statement was made in Turkey about this meeting.

2. The Eçmiyazin-Antilyas Competition

The center of the Gregorian Armenian Church is in Eçmiyazin which is close to Yerevan. The Patriarch, seated here is in principle the spiritual leader of all Gregorian Armenians. The Patriarchs of Istanbul, Jerusalem and Antilyas (Lebanon) are also answerable to him. 

The fact that Eçmiyazin was located on Soviet soil and that the Patriarch here had no choice but to act according to Soviet views led to the “Cilica” Patriarch in Antilyas – Lebanon to follow an independent policy from Eçmiyazin and to start making appointments to local diocese. In time two Patriarchs came into existence in the Gregorian sect.[38] Some Armenian Churches in Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, and Iran as well as some churches in the USA became attached to the Patriarch in Antilyas.

Some say that in reality the Dashnaks are behind this split that was a result of the Cold War.[39] Furthermore the most serious sources confirm that the Antilyas Patriarch has close ties with the Dashnaks.[40] In fact the occasional extreme statements of the current Patriarch of Antilyas, Aram II about Turkey are sufficient to prove this proximity. On the other hand, the fact that there is a Church, which unconditionally supports them also explains the control of the Dashnaks over the Diaspora. 

After the dissolution of the USSR and particularly after the founding of independent Armenia it would be expected that Antilyas would once again subordinate itself to Ecmiyazin. However, Antilyas, who by now had gained a political personality, did not do this. Although he recognized in principle the spiritual superiority of Karekin I, Aram II took every opportunity to prove that he was the equal of the former. This became particularly evident during the celebrations commemorating the 1700th anniversary of the founding of the Armenian Church.[41] On the other hand, it was seen that some states and authorities fueled the competition between the two Patriarchs almost on purpose. For example alone in January the Patriarch of Antilyas was personally invited by Prime Minister Tony Blair to a meeting on Christian-Muslim dialogue. Aram II also had a meeting with the Prime Minister while attending the activity.[42] On the other hand, Pope Jean-Paul II invited Aram II to Assisi on January 24, 2002 to take part in the “Day of Prayer for Peace” which was attended by representatives of well established religions. 

The competition between Ecmiyazin and Antilyas peaked in January, when Antilyas created a local diocese in Canada. Ecmiyazin stated that this action proved that the attempts of Antilyas to create its own Churches, which had started in 1956 was still continuing. Ecmiyazin added that this action could stall the improvement of relations between the two Churches while Antilyas played the incident down and claimed that the new diocese was only the result of a new administrative setup. There were also claims that the new diocese had been created by Aram II as a result of the instructions received from the Dashnaks.[43]

3. The Report of the European Parliament on the South Caucasus

The report prepared by the Swedish member of the Group Greens/ European Free Alliance, Per Gahrton showed in many ways that he was deeply influenced by Armenians. Taking into consideration the principles of territorial integrity and inviolability of borders and, also, various resolutions of the United Nations Security Council with regard to Karabagh it is widely accepted that Armenia has to abandon the occupied territories of Nagorno Karabagh, Gahrton, however, did not mention openly this fact in his report. Gahrton only calls upon Armenia to refrain from all measures in the occupied Azerbaijani territories that might be interpreted as aiming at making the Armenian control permanent, meaning that as long as the dispute over Karabagh continues the Armenian occupation is justified according to Gahrton.

In the pertinent part of this report, which is directly related to Turkey, the European Parliament:

“…calls upon Turkey to take appropriate steps in accordance with its European ambitions, especially concerning the termination of the blockade against Armenia…[and] reiterates in this respect the position in its resolution of 18 June 1987 recognizing the genocide upon Armenians in 1915 as a fact and calls upon Turkey to do the same.”

The use of the term ‘blockade’ in the report is not correct in the legal sense. Turkey has never banned imports to and exports from Armenia. Since the border between Turkey and Armenia is closed to commercial goods, there is no direct trading between Armenia and Turkey.  Armenia trades freely via its other neighbouring countries. Furthermore, the abundance of Turkish goods at the Armenian market demonstrates that Turkish firms trade with Armenia indirectly via Georgia or Iran. The border closure prevents transit passage, but this still does not cause harm to Armenia which does not have much to sell. In addition, Armenian Airlines fly directly to Istanbul and other international airlines use Turkish airspace on route to Armenia. Most importantly Armenian citizens are given Turkish visas at the borders as mentioned above. These clearly demonstrate that Turkey does not implement a policy of blockade against Armenia. Contrary to this fact, Armenia is stressing intensively that it has great losses because of the ‘blockade’. Per Gahrton, who seems to regard all Armenian claims as facts without questioning, included a phrase in the draft resolution calling Turkey to terminate the ‘blockade’ against Armenia.

Per Gahrton also included the well known Armenian view that Turkey must recognize the so-called genocide in his draft report. The facts that there was no reference to the recognition of the “genocide” in the criteria to be met by Turkey for the full EU membership and Turkey was extremely sensitive to the genocide allegations were taken into consideration when the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs discussed Gahrton’s report on 23 January 2002. As a result of the objections and lenghty discussions the phrase calling Turkey to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide was replaced by a call “upon Turkey to create a basis for reconciliation” while a reference to the European Parliament’s “resolution of 18 June 1987 recognizing the genocide upon Armenians in 1915” remained.

In comparison to Gahrton’s first draft report, this looks more positive, yet Turkey is not satisfied since there was a refence to the so-called genocide. It could be said, furthermore, that the report is somewhat absurd because it requires only one side, namely Turkey, to create a basis for “reconciliation” not the Armenian side. This would have been overcome had an amendment proposed by some Liberal and Green members of the Parliament been accepted. The amendment was written in a more balanced manner which included no reference to the “genocide” and urged Turkey and Armenia to work together to reconcile their historical differences. The proposal was rejected by 391 to 96 votes on 28 February 2002 in a plenary session.[44]      

The adoption of Gahrton’s report and a resolution by the European Parliament caused serious reactions in Turkey.

All the political parties with a group in the Turkish Grand National Assembly issued a joint declaration on 28 February 2002 as soon as the European Parliament adopted its resolution.[45] In short, the declaration expressed that the European Parliament denied historical facts on purpose, the resolution was unfounded and finally that this resolution would not hinder Turkey to work on full European Union membership if to discourage Turkey was its aim.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a press release on the same day,[46] in which the Ministry pointed that the blockade allegations and the reference to the 1987 resolution which recognized the so-called Armenian genocide were unacceptable and the resolutions of the parliaments on the incidents of the past served to nothing but to distort the truth. A footnote of Gahrton’s report claimed that Atatürk accused the Union and Progress regime of committing an Armenian genocide in a speech in the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 10 April 1921. It is also pointed out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement that the Assembly did not convene on 10 April 1921 and this alone is enough to prove that the allegation is totally unfounded and far away from being serious. [47]

Turkish politicians, too, criticized the resolution of the European Parliament. The Deputy Prime Minister, Y?lmaz stated that the resolution was an unacceptable mistake and of no avail. He added that “such contradictory resolutions damage the credibility and reliability of the European Union”.[48] The leader of the MHP and Deputy Prime Minister Devlet Bahçeli called the European Parliament’s resolution “a new expression of the prejudicial and racist approach”.[49] Prime Minister Ecevit, in response to a question in his press conference of 2 March 2002, stated that this resolution does not deserve to be given full consideration, the European Parliament is stuck in the past and has not adequate knowledge of history, Turkey will work on correcting the inadequate knowledge that the Parliament has and finally the resolution will create an obstacle in the settlement of the differences with Armenia.[50] President Sezer called the resolution regrettable and stated that it was unfortunate for the European Parliament to make a judgment on history which could only be judged by historians.[51]

Apart from these reactions, the resolution also caused a great criticism in Turkish media. This, one more time, proves how the Turkish public opinion is so much sensitive about genocide allegations and makes it clear that how the Armenians and those who support them would be disappointed in expecting Turkey recognizing the “genocide”. Unfortunately, this issue, which coincides with Karen Fogg’s actions, has strengthened the negative feeling against the European Union among some circles in Turkey. It has created another obstacle in the way of the European Union membership.

With regard to Armenia, as the minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Oskanian, mentioned that this resolution which would have negative effects on the Armenia-Turkey relations as a result is not favourable for Armenia either, since they want to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey and want Turkey to open its borders to commercial goods as well. Nevertheless, the resolution would mark a success for the Armenian Diaspora whose aim is always and under any circumstances to harm Turkey even in the expense of Armenia.

Finally it must be stated that the adoption of the resolution points out instability in the European Union’s relations with Turkey. On 14 June 1987, the European Parliament recognized the so-called Armenian genocide, which was just after Turkey’s application for the full membership. On 15 November 2000, the Armenian “genocide” was again included in a regular report on Turkey’s progress, shortly after Turkey was announced a candidate of the European Union membership. The EU, however, did not include the “genocide” in the second report on progress issued on 25 October 2001.[52]  In contrast, another resolution recognizing the “genocide” has been adopted just only four months later. These contradictory developments lead one to conclude that the European Union does not have a strong position on the so-called genocide and the personal attitudes of the reporters as well as political balance of power in the Parliament are the most important factors to crystallize its resolutions.

[1] The booklet on Turkish foreign policy which was distributed while Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem presented the 2002 draft budget to the Turkish Grand National Assembly Planning and Budgetary Commission on November 2, 2001 was used  for reference during the writing of this section.
[2] Armenpress News Agency, January 8, 2001
[3] Armenian Studies, Volume 2, pages 267, 268
[4] Noyan Tapan News Agency, July 13, 2001
[5] Asbarez Online, August 3, 2001
[6] Asbarez Online, July 31, 2001
[7] Armenian Studies, Volume 2, p. 17, 18
[8] Armenian Studies, Volume 2, p. 26, 27
[9] Gündüz Aktan, Radikal, 12.12.2001
[10] RFE/RF Armenia Report, 28.11.2001
[11] Armenian Assembly of America, Press Release, 11.12.2001
[12] Arz Daily, 24.11.2001 and Noyan Tapan News Agency, 12.12.2001
[13] Yerkir, 13.12.2001
[14] PanArmenian News, 14.12.2001
[15] Aravot, 14.12.2001
[16] Armenian Studies, Volume 1, p. 10-12
[17] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 18-19
[18] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 16-17
[19] Hyetert-Arz-Am, 11.12.2001
[20] Armenian Studies, Volume 1, p. 39
[21] ibid
[22] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 32-33
[23] Armenian Studies, Volume 2, p. 26
[24] ibid
[25] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 17-18
[26] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 13-15
[27] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 18-19
[28] Armenian Studies, Volume 3, p. 19-20
[29] Armenian Studies, Volume 2, p. 9-12
[30] RFE/RL Russia/ Azerbaijan: Radar Deal: Win-win situation or fools bargain?
[31] Asbarez Online, 23.01.2002
[32] This statement drew strong criticism from the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayet Guliyev. Guliyev said that “there are no Paris principles and it is not possible to resolve this conflict through the use of legendary principles.” Asbarez Online, 23.01.2001
[33] Hürriyet, 20.01.2002
[34] RFE/ RL Armenia Report, 16.01.2002
[35] ANCA Press Release, January 16, 2002
[36] Medimax News Agency, January 16, 2002
[37] RFE/ RL Armenia Report, 02.02.2002
[38] The official title of the patriarch seated in Eçmiyazin is Catholicos or Catogicos in Armenian. The Patriarch of Antilyas took the same title in 1956 with the aim of showing that he was equal of Eçmiyazin. As this is not a religious study we used the title “Patriarch” for both authorities as the word does not have a corresponding definition in Turkish.
[39] Tatul Hakobyan, Arz Daily, 22.06.2001 and La Lettre de l’UGAB, 19.01.2002
[40] Encyclopedia Britannica CD-Rom 2001
[41] Rafik Hovanisian, Arz Daily, 23.01.2002
[42] Press Release: Daily Press – Catholisicate of the Great House of Cilicia, 22.01.2002
[43] La Lettre de l’UGAB, 19.01.2002
[44] Sabah, 01.03.2002
[45] This declaration can be found in the DOCUMENTS section
[46] This statement can be found in the DOCUMENTS section
[47] In a footnote in Gahrton’s report it is stated that the director of the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan and the Head of the Armenian Parliament’s Legal Matters Committee told him that Atatürk accused the Union and Progress regime of committing a genocide towards Armenians in a speech in the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 10 April 1921. Although it is known that Ataturk never delivered such a speech, the archieves of the Turkish Grand National Assembly has been checked again. The registers of The Turkish Grand National Assembly show that Atatürk did not take floor on that day. The Institute for Armenian Research sent Per Gahrton and the members of the European Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee e-mail messages in which the Institute explained what Gahrton’s report stated is unfounded and further pointed out that Atatürk never used the term “Armenian genocide”. Per Gahrton did not take this into consideration and it seems that he did not give consideration similar messages of others. In the present issue of Armenian Studies there is an article by ?enol Kantarc? titled “Speeches on the Armenians Attributed to Atatürk and his Help to the Victims of Armenian Terrorists and ‘Court Martials’”. In this article you will find detailed information on the speeches attributed to Atatürk and further Atatürk’s general view on this issue.
[48], 1 Mach 2001.
[49] Hürriyet, 3 March 2001.
[50] CNN-Türk, 2 March 2002.
[51] Hürriyetim 1March 2002.
[52] For these reports: Armenian Studies, vol: 3, pp. 25-27.

* Director of AVIM -
- Armenian Studies, Issue 4, December 2001 - January-February 2002
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