Frequently-Asked Questions On Armenian Demands from Turkey

Harut Sassounian


The approaching Centennial of the Armenian Genocide in 2015 raises some fundamental questions, particularly on Armenian territorial demands from Turkey. In the weeks and months ahead, this column will address these issues by presenting the rationale for these demands and provide answers to frequently-asked questions.

Question 1: Is it true that all claims arising from the crime of genocide become invalid after one hundred years?

Answer: Not true! On November 26, 1968, the UN General Assembly adopted “The Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity,” which includes the crime of genocide. Article 1 of this Convention states that “No statutory limitation shall apply to [these crimes] … irrespective of the date of their commission.” Therefore, no matter how much time has elapsed, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide, can still be prosecuted. However, for logistical reasons, it would be wise to refer such crimes to the courts as quickly as possible.

Question 2: Isn’t it a fantasy to expect that Armenians will ever regain Western Armenia?

Answer: No one should be under the illusion that Turkish leaders would voluntarily hand over to Armenians a single inch of land, let alone the territories of Western Armenia. Peaceful transfers of land are extremely rare in the practice of international relations. All too often, land is taken by force. Since Armenia is not militarily more powerful than Turkey, and is not expected to be so anytime soon, Armenians have to wait for unforeseen developments to occur in and around Turkey, such as civil war, global or regional conflict, revolution, Kurdish insurrection, natural disaster or nuclear catastrophe, to bring about a power vacuum and possible border changes in that part of the world. Meanwhile, Armenians have to keep alive and transmit their territorial demands to future generations until the opportune moment when they can claim their lawful rights.

In the meantime, it is unwise for Armenians to make minimalist demands from Turkey. Since Turkish leaders are not willing to make even the smallest territorial concession, there is no point in telling them that Armenians would be satisfied by the return of only Ararat or Ani. Armenians should ask for nothing less than “Armenia from sea to shining sea” (dsove-dsov Hayastan)! Rather than minimizing their demands, Armenians should claim the maximum, so that they can end up getting a portion of what is rightfully theirs. As all good Armenian businessmen know, you don’t start negotiating from your bottom price!

Question 3: If Western Armenia is freed, wouldn’t the overwhelming majority of the population and elected officials be Kurds and Turks, making Armenians a small minority in their own homeland?

Answer: Yes, that would be true if Western Armenia was handed to Armenians today! However, this is not likely to happen. As explained earlier, before Armenians have the opportunity to regain their historic lands, calamitous events must first occur in that part of the world. No one knows the impact of such developments on the local population. Demographic changes resulting from unforeseen circumstances in the region shall determine how many Kurds, Turks or even Armenians remain in the area. One cannot simply assume that the status quo will remain unchanged forever. Therefore, one cannot automatically conclude that Armenians would become a minority in Western Armenia.

Question 4: If someday Western Armenia is liberated, would Armenians be willing to leave their comfortable homes in the West and resettle on those inhospitable lands?

Answer: The issue here is the right of Armenians to settle in their historic homeland. Once these lands are returned, it is up to each Armenian to decide whether to relocate. This should not be a Turkish concern! Do all Jews live in Israel? Since most Lebanese, like Armenians, live outside of their homeland, do people question the reason for the existence of Lebanon as a state? Someday, when Western Armenia is freed, most Armenians who live in nearby Middle Eastern countries will probably choose to relocate there. However, there is no problem if every single Armenian from around the world does not head for the homeland. Those who remain in the Diaspora will surely play a critical role in strengthening the newly-established country economically and politically, just as Armenians worldwide are currently assisting their compatriots in the Republic of Armenia!

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  1. eseksiksian said:

    4. When will the Republik of Armenia disappear?

    We have now to wait until Syrian and Lebanese armenians will disappear. This will be in the coming two month.

    After that, Iran will have regime change. This will be in 2013.

    So it is possible earliest in Summer 2013, or start in the Winter of 2013. After armenia will be in the ring of fire, the Russians will leave the boat, as they left Assad this week.

    The reconquista of Turkish Land and the Unity of all Turan will be finished in 2 weeks after the start of the liberation.

    All armenians will live in Russia in 2014.

  2. Hovhannes said:

    Dear Mr Sassounian, I disagree with you concerning question No 3. If Western Armenia is freed, Armenians won’t be a small minority in their own homeland, because Turks and Kurds must leave, evacuate our lands, just like happened in Gharapagh. There’s no one Azerbaijani left in Gharapagh today. The same must be the case with Turks and Kurds in Western Armenia. Only Armenians should be allowed to live in Western Armenia.

  3. Hovhannes said:

    Dear Mr Sassounian, I like to point out that, concerning question No 2, you failed to mention the legal border between Armenia and Turkey is the one determined by the treaty of Sévrès, and, regarding territorial claims, we have to mention the treaty of Sévrès again and again. We don’t minimise or maximise our demands. We are asking for the legal border between Armenia and Turkey to be re-established. And, finally, each time you get the chance, dear Mr Sassounian, remind American officials, congressmen, senators, that the legal border between Armenia and Turkey was established by US President Woodrow Wilson.

    • Varmik said:

      Politically speaking, you are right. But that is only in politics. In reality, it is not enough for us Armenians. Wilsonian Armenia is only a fraction of our lands. Dikranagert and Cilicia aren’t even part of the Wilsonian Armenia. If we were to demand our land from a political point of view, we would ask the one determined by the Treaty of Sevres. But we all know that Turkey will never give an inch of land without war. That’s why when Turkey is weakened is the right time to get our lands back.

  4. Stepan said:

    Thank you Harut for bringing to light what many Armenians think about. The general topic of reparations is just beginning to emerge as the core of our justice equation. For too long our public discussions have centered around “recognition”. The heart of the reparation issue is the territorial demands of the Armenian nation.
    It is critical that we integrate Western Armenia into all educational processes and curriculum to give our emerging generations a working knowledge of the history and geography of this element of Armenian civilization that was horrifically altered by the Genocide. Camps, churches, schools and educational forums should ensure that our children maintain an identity with this land while the wheels of justice turn.
    I would also suggest that try to define western Armenia in the context of the maximum” approach. It is obviously more than the Wilsonian award from the Sevres Treaty. Is it including historic Cilicia? Sepastia? With the resurgence of our efforts in the last 20 years, defining these areas of reparations is fundamental. It begs the question of how will this be determined. RoA is not in a political position to lead such an effort. The time for the diaspora to unify and resolve these types of issues has arrived!!

    • Varmik said:

      I agree with you. Armenia can’t have such demand from Turkey. It is up to us Diaspora to lay such claims. Politically speaking, Sevres Treaty is easier to claim because it was legally bound at that time. But we all know Wilsonian Armenia is not enough. We need much more like Cilicia and the other Eastern Anatolian parts. I would even go as far as to say to get lands that didn’t really belong to us in the past like the whole Central Anatolia and some Western Anatolia parts. Why not? We deserve a little more than we used to, because of all the sufferings Armenians endured all those centuries. We should think of enriching ourselves even more. If we get victorious, we get to keep all those lands.

  5. Kevork said:

    Best article, ever! Let’s keep in mind that who lives on Armenian territory now in present day eastern Turkey is irrelevant as far as Armenians are concerned. When the time comes, that will be dealt with appropriately. It is better to have all our lands back, regardless if other people are living there. Once the terrorist Turkish government is toppled, the rest can be dealt with peacefully. However, let’s keep in mind something very important.

    Can a nation commit genocide, deny the victims a future, deprive them of multiplying, steal their lands, populate the stolen lands with its own kind, then after bribing governments and denying genocide for 100+ years claim that those people living there must stay? HELL NO! Just like Turkey populated Armenian lands with the terrorists who committed genocide, it must depopulate them in the same way when the time comes. *THAT IS TURKEY’S RESPONSIBILITY*.

    Turkey is an expert country with moving its citizens around like cattle. Case in point: Cyprus. In north Cyprus, the so called “Turkish Cypriots” there are mostly settlers from the mainland, compliments of the Turkish government.

    Also, I wholeheartedly believe that all the governments involved in WWI are just as responsible as Turkey is. If anything, they re-armed the Turks after WWI thereby allowing them to continue the genocide, and illegally invading Armenia as well – supposedly a “war of independence” (in reality both the western governments and the Soviet Union, opposing each other and wanting Asia Minor, armed Turkey, thus all together they created a terrorist state which is in existence today, currently dominated by the US for the purpose of checking the power of Russia.) No one in their right mind would believe that after just losing WWI, destitute, starving and without an army, Turkey miraculously recovered in one year by itself and came back to take over all the lands it currently occupies. Baloney!

  6. bigmoustache said:

    great points, all armenians should remember this.
    ww3 is an opportunity if it should involve russia, turkey and the kurds. we should start establishing ties with the kurds. if they ever decide to fully rebel and fight the turkish govt then armenia could provide much needed military equipment and logistics (we as a developed nation have those assets).
    the result is we share the spoils

    • Varmik said:

      I can see your point. I don’t think it really benefits us Armenians for a number of reasons. Personally, I don’t really trust the Kurds for the following reasons:

      1) Kurds helped the Turks commit the Armenian genocide.

      2) Kurds claim Western Armenia as Kurdistan

      3) Kurds are Muslims.

      Let’s not forget Kurds helped the Turks commit genocide. They are responsible as well for the genocide. Kurds also claim Western Armenia as Kurdistan. If we arm them, they may later use it against us for their own benefit as they want their Kurdistan in our lands. That’s the main reason why I oppose arming Kurds. They may turn against us and stabs us. I don’t really trust Muslim populations. They sometimes act as traitors against us Christians and stabs us in the back.

      It’s time for Anatolia to be ruled by Christians.

  7. Karen Mkrtchyan -India said:

    I always read HARUT SASSOUNIAN’S articles with pleasure. Thank you so much Mr.Sassounian for calling upon all Armenians to believe that one day Western Armenia will be liberated.
    Very informative and educative write up.
    Waiting for more on this topic.

    With best wishes and regards,
    New Delhi

  8. balyarak said:

    I am grateful that Harut has finally found a way to dealt with the Western Armenia stuff. I am sure Turks are cowards and they will disappear to allow the brave Armenians to occupy the land

  9. George said:

    Inteligent Article, We waited 100 years we can wait more, who can’t wait is Turkey, PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE,

  10. Varmik said:

    Great article!!! I’m looking forward to that day when Western Armenia will belong to us Armenians. The land of Azerbaijan will belong to us as well. Armenia will stretch from sea to sea. It will border Caspian sea, Black sea and Mediterranean sea. From Caspian sea to Phrygia in Central Anatolia, Armenia will be. Western Anatolia will belong to Greece.Central Anatolia and Eastern Anatolia will belong to Armenia. Of course, that is wishful thinking, I’m not a prophet, so I can’t predict what will happen. Let’s just hope God will give us all that land, because He will decide which land will belong to who.