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INTERVIEW WITH OSKANIAN (IV)

Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
15 December 2006 - ?KSAREN
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!ថ="justify">(The continuation of our article on the interview by New Anatolian newspaper columnist Nursun Erel with Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanian)

Oskanian has also touched upon the contentious issue of the Declaration of Independence adopted on August 23rd 1990, before the Republic of Armenia gained independence.  According to Article 11 of this Declaration “The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia”.

Turkey has objected to this declaration on two grounds. The first reason being mention of Eastern Anatolia as Western Armenia. In this manner, Eastern Anatolia is indirectly displayed as Armenian territory or to say the least the ownership of this territory is called into question. In other words, Turkey’s territorial integrity is not recognized and the fact that Armenia has not accepted to sign a document relating to the mutual recognition of territorial integrity substantiates this assertion.

The second reason of objection stems from how the Declaration designates the task of attaining international recognition of the Armenian “genocide” as a mission incumbent upon Armenia in spite of Turkey’s objection to this allegation.

In the preamble of the Armenian Constitution, adopted in 1995, the “fundamental principles of Armenian statehood and the national aspirations engraved in the Declaration of Independence of Armenia” are recognized. As such, the Declaration has become a part of the Armenian legal system. The Armenian Constitution was amended last year; however, the stipulation relating to the Declaration of Independence was left untouched.

In response to Nursun Erel’s question regarding the article relating to Turkish territory, the Armenian Foreign Minister stated in a derogatory manner that this was a general statement about their past and not necessarily a statement about their future claims. In short, while a document setting forth the Armenian Constitution’s fundamental principles and national aspirations designates Eastern Anatolia as Western Armenia, the Armenian Foreign Minister has asserted that these expressions do not equate into a demand. Herein lies a blatant contradiction. On the question of who is to be believed the Constitution should be taken in primacy.

Another issue drawing attention during this interview with Oskanian were his remarks in the way that Turkey would play a more constructive role in the Caucuses and serve as a bridge between the Caucuses and Europe. It appears that the Armenian Foreign Minister is exaggerating the importance of his country. Apart from Armenia, Turkey enjoys good relations with the remaining three countries of the Southern Caucuses- namely the Russian Federation, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Turkey is in no need of Armenia’s help to improve her relations with these countries. Furthermore, there exists no designs for Turkey to serve as a bridge between Europe and the Caucuses. The EU is consolidating its relations with these countries within the framework of the European Neighborhood Project and Turkey can serve as such a bridge between them only in the event that she becomes a member of the European Union.

The aforementioned remarks of the Armenian Foreign Minister, reflect the isolation his country is in. On this point that Armenia is in a state of serious conflict with three of her four neighbors draws attention. In spite of the existence of a cease fire, Armenia is still at war with Azerbaijan. Due to propagating genocide allegations, not recognizing Turkey’s territorial integrity and due to the occupation of Karabagh and other Azerbaijani territories there exists serious areas of conflict with Turkey.  Furthermore, it has problems with Georgia stemming from the Armenian minority in Javakhk and due to the transit pass of goods (including that of natural gas). It is the case that Armenia only shares normal relations with Iran; however, this country has little influence in the Caucuses.

When analyzing this state of affairs, it can be seen that the culprit of the existent problems in the Southern Caucuses remains to be Armenia. Therefore it is necessary that Armenia begins to contribute to the establishment of peace and cooperation in the region by way of normalizing her relations with her neighbors. To this end Armenia must abandon her historical ambitions and animosity as well as the pursuit of trivial interests born of internal affairs which are of no benefit to her and detrimental to the region.                                     

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