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Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
03 October 2006 - ?KSAREN
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.A°*="justify">President Kocharian is a political figure who does not talk much. Therefore when he does, what he has to say attracts a lot of attention even if his remarks are bereft of anything new.

t, during which he discussed Armenia’s international relations, is of significance particularly  due to it having verified Armenia’s policies vis-à-vis Azerbaijan and Turkey which are not subject to changeƒx.

President Kocharian began his interview by stating that persons who suffered damage by the “genocide” were entitled to receive compensation from Turkey. Regarding this issue two points draw attention. Firstly only those persons who suffered damage can demand compensation. In other words, it is possible to derive that the Armenian government shall not pursue such a claim. President Kocharian had touched upon this topic during an interview with Mehmet Ali Birand in the year 2001 as well asserting that as a state they could not demand compensation because the Armenian State was non-existent during the period in question (1915-1916). However, on account of having said this he was subject to sharp criticisms from the Dashnaks. Now he suffices to say that a claim for compensation can be made on the part of those who suffered damage without making any reference to the “Armenian State”.

Coming to the topic of whether or not those persons who suffered damage are legally entitled to receive compensation, as there does not exist a provision dealing with compensation in any of the agreements that resolved the problems pertaining to the First World War, in particular the Lausanne Agreement, it is not possible for Armenians to demand compensation on an individual basis. If a claim for compensation could be made, this right would have been exercised long ago and national as well as international courts would have been flooded with such cases.

At a later phase of the interview, President Kocharian, touching upon the existing problems between Turkey and Armenia listed the following issues: the non-existence of diplomatic between the two countries, the blockade (with which he is referring to how  border gates are currently closed), and the position Turkey took on the Karabagh problem in support of Azerbaijan. He also stated that they would not forget the past; however he mentioned that the two peoples should be reconciled and that this could only begin “with the acknowledgment of guilt by those who committed the wrongs or crimes-call it whichever”. This line of thought infers that the normalization of relations between the two countries is contingent upon Turkey’s acceptance of the Armenian genocide allegations. However, stating that they would like to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey, Kocharian also asserted that they would not wait for Turkey to recognize the genocide allegations to accomplish this. The contradictory aspect of this statement points to Kocharian’s need to satiate the obsession of the Diaspora with the so called ‘genocide’ whilst offering Turkey Armenia’s readiness to establish normalized political relations. He also points out that Turkey has been adamant about the precondition of the withdrawal of Armenian forces from Karabagh to which Kocharian says Armenia is not willing to comply.

It is true that Turkey has set forth pre-conditions for the normalization of relations with Armenia. This is because Armenia has not recognized Turkey’s current borders, has exerted efforts for the recognition of genocide allegations on the part of Turkey and other countries and has occupied Karabagh (legally bound to Azerbaijan) and the other Azeri lands.

If relations with Armenia were to be established devoid of any pre-conditions, as a result, Armenia would continue to not recognize Turkey’s territorial integrity, to propagate genocide allegations and occupy Karabagh and other Azeri territories. As such, Armenia would have obtained its will without paying a price.

* The full Turkish translation of this interview  can be found under the Daily Bulletin of  October 2, 2006

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