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Articles

THE DECISION TO START NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE EU AND THE ARMENIANS

Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
06 October 2005 - ?KSAREN
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!Şæ€À="justify">Diaspora Armenians and Armenia reacted differently to the decision of the European Union to start negotiations with Turkey.

In order to monitor the process of Turkish accession to the EU closely, and to work for acceptance of the Armenian claims by Turkey throughout this process, four years ago, a Committee of the Defense of Armenian Cause (Comité de la Defense de la Cause Arménienne) was established in Brussels by the Tashnaks. This Committee, which was heard as having extensive financial resources, played an important role in the resolutions adopted by the European Parliament about the Armenian genocide claims in recent years. The resolution of the European Parliament adopted on September 28, 2005, which stipulated that the recognition of Armenian “genocide” by Turkey was a prerequisite for her accession, was perceived as a victory for the Armenians. However, the Committee disappointed because of the lack of Armenian claims in the Negotiating Framework Document, which had been adopted right after the decision of the European Parliament. With a declaration, the Committee stipulated that European values collapsed since the EU decided to start negotiations with a country (namely, with Turkey) that had committed the genocide crime and now has been denying it. What is more, the Committee declared that it would continue its struggle until the recognition of genocide and the payment of reparations (money and land claims). It is easy for Diaspora Armenians to give such strong declarations because they well-established in the countries that they emigrated and they have extensive financial capabilities.

However, the Armenian government, which is responsible for the security and wealth of almost three million people, has to act carefully. In a speech on this issue, Hamlet Gasparyan, the Speaker of Armenian Foreign Ministry, said that they hope that negotiations would force Turkey, as soon as possible, to recognize the Armenian genocide and to open her borders with Armenia. As it can be seen, a more moderate language is used in Armenia, although there is a disappointment.

By the way, I would like to repeat an issue that is mentioned before. Armenian genocide claims will not come to the agenda as a common position of the European Union during the negotiations with Turkey, because in the relevant documents (i.e., Copenhagen criteria, Presidency Declarations of the 17 December 2004 Summit and the Negotiations Framework Document), there is no reference to this issue. However, countries like France, the Netherlands and Austria may raise the issue as their own position and if Turkey resists, they may decide whether to withdraw their demands or to use their right to veto, albeit a decision of high responsibility.

However, still, Turkey has to open her borders with Armenia during or before completing the negotiation process because of EU principle of good neighborly relations.

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