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Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
26 December 2006 - ERAREN
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The article “Inspite of Genocide” written by the Armenian Minister of Defense, Serj Sarkisian, advocating the normalization of relations with Turkey devoid of any preconditions, was published in the Wall Street Journal. This proposal has been voiced on numerous occasions by President Kocharian and Foreign Minister Oskanian.

¨>Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of the Republic of Armenia in 1991 and has later on requested that the two countries mutually recognize each others territorial integrity (or the inviolability of their borders). However, the Armenians have not approached this matter giving the impression that they could make territorial claims over Turkey. Furthermore, they have endeavored for other states to recognize the genocide allegation which has become a clearly implemented policy under Kocharian’s term of presidency. During this same period, Armenia occupied Karabagh (legally a part of Azerbaijan) and subsequently the Azerbaijani provinces surrounding this area. With a view to ending the occupation, Turkey closed its land border with Armenia. As such, the single problem of the mutual recognition of borders was now compounded with the additional problems of the occupation of Azerbaijani territories and genocide allegations. Despite several warnings, the Armenians, retaining a chauvinistic stance, failed to pursue a policy that would contribute to the establishment of peace and cooperation in the region. In response, Turkey did not establish diplomatic relations with Armenia.
When Turkey applied to the European Union, the European Parliament and Commission requested that the candidate countries resolve the outstanding issues with their neighbors and that in this context Turkey open its border with Armenia. Taking advantage of the support granted to it by the European Union and with a view to presenting Turkey as uncompromising, Armenia began advocating that relations with Turkey be normalized void of any preconditions set forth by either country.
In the light of how Turkey has been setting forth certain conditions for the normalization of relations, the Armenian position in this regard may appear as a conciliatory stance and engagement in rightful action. If this formula were to be applied, however, it would be detrimental to Turkey and beneficial only for Armenia. To explain, in the event that Armenia established diplomatic relations with Turkey devoid of any preconditions, it shall be able to continue propagating Armenian genocide allegations and will be disinclined to recognize Turkey’s territorial integrity. Furthermore, as the issue of opening the land border between these two countries shall come to the fore once diplomatic relations are established, the only concrete issue that could be used to exert pressure onto Armenia with respect to the Karabagh conflict shall be consumed whereby the recalcitrant stance displayed on her behalf would become all the more uncompromising.
As mentioned above, the idea of the normalization of relations devoid of preconditions is not a novel one. What is new is the expression of this idea by Sarkisian in an renowned newspaper. All along Sarkisian, in control of the armed forces up to the security forces, has been known as the main force behind Kocharian. According to the Armenian Constitution Kocharian cannot be re-elected as President once again. Despite rumors of corruption , Sarkisian is the strongest contender for the upcoming elections and should he be elected, the fact that he has already espoused Kocharian’s views with respect to the policies to be implemented towards Turkey, no change in the present state of affairs or Turkish-Armenian relations should be expected.

[1] Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2006
[2] Forbes Magazine has cited Sarkisian as Armenia’s 8th most wealthiest man with a fortune of approcimately 150 million dollars. President Kocharian ranks in at 7th place.
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