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Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
04 December 2006 - ?KSAREN
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="justify">During President Kocharian’s official visit to Cyprus, the Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, made remarks to the press regarding Armenia’s policy vis a vis Turkey. Oskanian began by reiterating his well known view that “recognition of the Armenian genocide is not a precondition for normal, good neighborly relations with Turkey”. However, he continued by stating that “genocide recognition is the moral obligation of every Armenian”. As such, he disclosed their  intention of continuing to level genocide accusations against Turkey even after the establishment of normal relations.

¾t recognition is the “minimum compensation” that could be afforded in this regard. Although he did not state what the highest compensation demanded would amount to, it is known that this would be the payment of a high sum of money alongside granting some land from Eastern Anatolia to Armenia. However, the Armenian Foreign Minister, asserted that what was on the Armenian foreign policy agenda was solely the recognition of the Armenian “genocide”.

The Armenian Foreign Minister expressed that “as more countries recognize the genocide”, Turkey becomes more aggressive in its policy of denial”. He added that “the Turks have never been this organized at the state level to pursue a policy of denial”. These words reflect the lately prevalent disappointment among the Armenians. All along they surmised that as the number of countries recognizing the “genocide” would increase, this would pressurize  Turkey into eventual recognition as well. However, despite a grave increase in the number of such countries alongside certain Turkish academicians acknowledging and propagating  Armenian views, the will of Turkey to confront these accusations has strengthened. As Oskanian is now aware of this situation, to further their relations with Turkey it would be better for the Armenians to abandon their policies which hinge on Turkey’s recognition of the “genocide”. 

On the other hand, in contrast to the diaspora, the “genocide” issue does not lie at the forefront of Armenia’s agenda and the opening of borders is accorded priority. As a matter of fact, Oskanian has stated that “they held little hope in the U.S.A exerting pressure on Turkey and that it must be more assertive in calling on Turkey to open the border”.

Stating that the proposal to establish a joint commission to inquire into the genocide allegations made in April 2005 by Prime Minister Erdogan was a smokescreen, Oskanian asked how this could be set up devoid of diplomatic ties between the two countries. In actuality, the lack of diplomatic ties between the two countries is not an impediment in the way of negotiations being held. Since the Republic of Armenia has been established, Armenian and Turkish authorities from all levels have carried out consultations and organized meetings. Oskanian himself has come together with various Turkish foreign ministers on many occasions. As 18 countries’ parliaments have taken decisions on the ‘genocide’ issue to date, the Armenians have been reluctant to take up the joint historical commission proposal, believing that the issue will be settled in their favor. Meanwhile the rise in the number of countries that favor the joint commission proposal reflects how such pretexts advanced by Armenia are not viewed as  convincing.

While making these explanations, Oskanian asserted that “the conflict of  Karabagh posed a major obstacle in ties with Turkey”, and that “Ankara’s unequivocal solidarity with Azerbaijan works against Turkey because it undermines their credibility and weight in the Caucuses and their claim to be a bridge between  East and West”. Apart from Armenia, Turkey’s relations with the countries in the Caucasus are positive ranging from good to excellent. Furthermore the importance attributed by the Pope to  Turkey’s role as a bridge between East and West negates Oskanian’s remarks in this regard.

In the final count it should be mentioned that although Oskanian has spoken upon the main issues between the two countries he has neglected touching upon Turkey’s probable recourse to international legal tribunals on the issue of Armenian genocide allegations.

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