Sarkisian Should Educate Himself About Genocide

President Sarkisian at the Malatia-Sebastia campaign rally on Tuesday

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

At a presidential campaign rally in the Malatia-Sebastia district on Tuesday, President Serzh Sarkisian told his constituents that Armenia will fight for the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

It’s what he went on to say begs the question as to whether Sarkisian, who is seeking a second term in office, fully comprehends the Armenian Genocide as a human rights and international justice issue.

According to Armenpress, the president said: “The words ‘genocide’ and ‘yeghern’ are the same. By even not pronouncing the word ‘genocide,’ the U.S. President has said everything.” This was a clear reference to President Obama’s consistent use of the word “Medz Yeghern” in a transparent and obvious effort to avoid the properly referencing the Armenian Genocide in his annual April 24 statement.

To add insult to injury Sarkisian went on to add: “Perhaps due to our own incorrect emphasis, the US president uttered the word “Medz Yeghern” not in his office, but in the country’s legislature. Even if he used the word Genocide we would have been dissatisfied and said why he didn’t say it twice.”

Perhaps the president needs a refresher course—or a tutorial—on this most critical issue, so that while making empty promises on the campaign trail he does not jeopardize the pursuit of the Armenian Cause or disrespect the memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide.

Without even pointing out the factual errors in his statement about Obama (references to statements in his office or legislature are totally from left field), this pedestrian and irresponsible statement from Armenia’s president is nothing short of the manifestation of his ignorance on the matter. It is, however, consistent with his administration’s disregard to the issue of the Genocide.

The Sarkisian administration has not demonstrated, through clear action, its commitment to the constitutionally-mandated pursuit of the Armenian Genocide recognition. Shortly after taking office in 2008, Armenia signed the “roadmap” for the dangerous Armenia-Turkey protocols on the eve of the 93rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

It’s rabid pursuit of the US-orchestrated protocols also impacted the pursuit of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, with members of Congress here in the US  – and President Obama himself – using the protocols as an excuse to delay proper condemnation of this crime.

Years after the signing of the protocols – with the world as witness to Turkey’s immediate efforts to use the document as a method to derail international Genocide affirmation and force a pro-Azerbaijan resolution of the Karabakh conflict – the Sarkisian Administration, astonishingly, still remains a signatory of the document—a pathetic participant in Turkey’s diplomatic games.

Aside from two noteworthy speeches in Der-Zor and in London, the Sarkisian Administration’s role, through its diplomatic missions and its support for the protocols, has not reflected a firm priority as stated by the authorities.

Then, there’s the issue of the president’s complete misunderstanding of the term Genocide and his irresponsible game of semantics. If by now the president has not understood that the word Genocide carries a distinct set of political implications, then perhaps before stomping on the campaign trail, he should pick up a dictionary.

Sarkisian’s callous misrepresentation of the Armenian Genocide does not bode well with his argument and insistence that the international recognition of the Genocide is a national and regional security issue and shifts the paradigm from what is really the crux of Hai-Tahd.

Furthermore, by publicly making this egregious statement, Sarkisian is playing directly into the hands of those—especially President Obama—who have not demonstrated the courage to speak the truth, continue to fuel Turkey’s denial of the Genocide by shamelessly bastardizing the Armenian term “Medz Yeghern” for their own political benefit, and believe that the Armenian people can be placated with cheap semantic maneuvers.

If Sarkisian truly believes the words “Genocide” and “Medz Yeghern” are the same then he is not fit to lead a country whose current national liberation struggles are so deep rooted and directly connected with the Armenian Genocide.

Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.

56 Comments

  1. Meghrouni said:

    Do not be surprised if one day Serge Sarkissian will say Gharapagh is Gharapagh it does not mattter if it is Armanian of Ayzerbedjani they are the same.

  2. Krikor said:

    I am sad that this guy’s last name is same as mine. What a brown noser…shame that he is kissing SSSSS!

  3. Berge Jololian said:

    Genocide Acknowledgment without Accountability is hollow and meaningless.

    Acknowledgment must be accompanied with accountability; otherwise, the acknowledgment is worse than denial.

    Therefore, it should be stated: Genocide Acknowledgment with Accountability. Accountability means land, reparation and restitution. A good example of land recovery is Artzakh.

    Beware of a solution (acknowledgment) that is worse than the problem (no accountability).

    Turkey might very well spring a 100th anniversary surprise offensive by offering a half-vorr acknowledgment to all the minorities that once lived in Anatolia, and announce the opening of some border crossing as compensation, they might even renovate few more old Armenian Churches.

    Imagine all the positive publicity Turkey will receive, it might even get accepted in to the EU, and the British will rally behind Turkey and act as the mouthpiece describing how great Turkey has become.

    The oil and gas (operated by British Petroleum) will then flow form Central Asia into Europe via the NABUCCO-pipelines currently being built on its way to the gateways of the Caucasus (Georgia & Armenia).

    For the sake of Armenia’s security, the president has to use the legal term Genocide that carries legal accountability for the worst crime humanity has given it a name.

    Dr. Raphael Lemkin, a lawyer of Polish-Jewish descent who is credited for coining the word “genocide” in 1943 to describe the 1915 genocide of the Armenians and then the Holocaust, has also played an important role in compelling the United Nations to adopt the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948 (after the Holocaust).

    When asked how he became interested in the Armenian genocide, Dr. Lemkin explained: “I became interested in genocide because it happened to the Armenians; and after[wards] the Armenians got a very rough deal at the Versailles Conference because their criminals were guilty of genocide and were not punished”.

    Prior to the use of the word “genocide”, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other world leaders described the events as the “Armenian holocaust.”

  4. Tsayt said:

    President Sarkisian has always been a “pedestrian” person in politics (I purposely avoid the word “politician”). Worse yet, he is an amateur, a businessman, not a very good one at that either (remember his company’s discovery of a so-called anti-AIDS cure in a bogus concoction called Armenicum? He is essentially a man who fits more of a snake-oil salesman rather than an entrepreneur). He leads his tired-old country, Armenia, from the back of a chuck-wagon.

    The saddest of all is ALL of them who are now , and have been in the past, in power are cut from the same cloth. They’re all the same S@%t.

    God, All-mighty, help us all.

  5. AraK said:

    Sorry Mr Sarkissian, when we Armenians communicate with Mr Obama we use the word “genocide” never “medz yeghern”. Mr Obama himself did some research and conveniently used that word. Mr Sarkissian don’t degrade yourself and don’t crawl unless you have some hidden agenda to please Americans…

  6. Sarkis Shahinian said:

    Although there was much superficiality from the Sargsyan administration in dealing with the Protocols issues, I don’t agree with the conclusion of this article. It is a question of morality – but also of cleverness – to “upgrade” the semantic of the word Médz Yeghérn, and this at en universal level, in order this to be unequivocally understood and used not as a synonym, but rather as a consolidated term, for the Armenian genocide. Why not taking advantage from what President Obama did himself? Actually, he opened an important way and we should develop it instead of destroying it. Sometimes, I think, we should be more ductile, to make things to turn in a more positive sense.

  7. arto said:

    It doesn’t matter what I say because I know my comment won’t be posted since Asbarez editors censor and filter comments quite often but hopefully someone at Asbarez reads this. Before you criticize the Armenian president you must first rethink of what he is saying. President Sarkissian has stressed many times that the recognition of Artsakh by the international community and the Armenian Genocide are national priorities. He has even cautioned the idiots in the diaspora not to put emphasis on the 100th anniversary because he is ensuring that the struggle continues as long as it has to until justice prevails. In regards to Obama’s use of the “G” word, he is right. Absolutely NOTHING will change even if Obama mentions it 15 times. Further more he NEVER will and neither will any other American president or Secretary of State. Stop chasing your tails and focus on nation building so there isn’t another G in the future. In regards to the Turkish protocols, I don’t expect most Armenians to understand that this was one of Armenia’s geopolitical victories since it was very well known by President Sarkissian that Turkey would NEVER sign it. It was a clear checkmate by the president of Armenia’s chess association. Just to be sure he took the discussion of the accepted borders off the table through the constitutional court mandate. Try to look a little deeper than your usual shallow diasporan Hay Dat rhetoric and know that Armenia is playing a very delicate geopolitical game and doing so quite brilliantly. They have the strongest military and state institutions in the Caucuses with great economic growth despite the Azeri billions and blockade. Furthermore, they are getting better at it as time goes on.

    • Arto said:

      I agree with everything you say. The Arto’s are smart. Thank God Diasporan’s are not running Armenia.

      • George said:

        ………… ”it was very well known by President Sarkissian that Turkey would NEVER sign it” ?………… a lot of BS….. what would Mr.Sarkissian’s next move, if Turkey had signed the Protocol, any idea? the ball would have been in Armenia’s side with a lot of pressure from the Int’l community which Armenia would hardly resisted, or maybe he would have come with a Humbo Jumbo David Copperfield style solution. A quote from Albert Einstein : a clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.

      • Khoren said:

        Both of you need to read about the legal implications regarding the word Genocide.
        After that you both need to educate yourselves regarding the influence/importance the US, and its president, have on world politics.( whether we like it or not).
        As far as the protocols are concerned, the armenian president should have been transparent during the process with the armenian people, including the diaspora, instead of bending to the obvious pressures from the outside world. Those protocols are dangerous, a dark part of our peoples history, a diplomatic victory for Turkey. For this you both need to stop drinking Sarkissians Kool Aid…and remember we are one people..no matter where we live….

    • Daron said:

      Arto,
      I agree with your perspectives in general, except bashing the Diaspora which to a certain point it’s understandable.

  8. Zaven said:

    Sarkisian’s treasonous statements are outlandish and unbelievably ignorant. What an imbecile.

    Great editorial Ara as usual, and thank you for saying what needed to be said. Sarkisian needs more than just a refresher course on the Genocide, he needs to seriously consider submitting his resignation letter.

    NO PROTOCOLS.
    NO DOLMA DIPLOMACY.
    NO DEFEATIST MUMBO JUMBO.

    MR. SARKISIAN, WE DEMAND JUSTICE AND EXPECT YOU TO ACT LIKE A RESPECTABLE STATESMAN DEFENDING OUR NATIONS LEGAL RIGHTS ON THE GENOCIDE ISSUE NOT A SPINELESS BACKSTABBING COWARD EAGER TO CAPITULATE IN THE FACE OF INSULTING EUPHEMISMS. SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT. OUR COLLECTIVE VOICES FOR JUSTICE WILL NOT DISAPPEAR, IS THAT UNDERSTOOD?

  9. Dr. Babajanian said:

    Dear Asbarez Editor
    Of course Mr. Sarkisian knows differences, between “Genocide” and ” Yeghern” but he trying to dance with both Kazachock and Rock and Roll at once.

  10. George said:

    God help Armenians, the sides negotiating between Armenia and Turkey are as ill iterate as a 3rd grade students, that explains why ………Sarkisian Administration, astonishingly, still remains a signatory of the Protocol, IGNORANCE and TREASON. Diaspora Armenians should negotiate directly the returns of western Armenia overriding Sarkissian’s idiotig approach and establishing PRO WEST INDEPENDENT ARMENIA. Similar to North Korea – South Korea, in the past East Berlin – West Berlin,

  11. Winny said:

    Well, he needs to get some Armenian lessons! Yeghern simply means butchery, which has nothing to do with genocide (some others too who translate Mets Yeghern into Great Calamity should get those lessons too).

      • Arman said:

        Idiot…… YEGHERN = SLAUGHTER. Yeghern does not mean crime….. VODJIR means CRIME. The word genocide was not even invented yet at the time of World War One. The only way the people could describe what was to be known as the Armenian Genocide was to call it the GREAT SLAUGHTER (MEDZ YEGHERN). That was the closest way to verbally describe it because that’s exactly what it was…………a great slaughter.
        Crime, misdemeanor, offence have nothing to do with YEGHERN or SLAUGHTER!!! Go learn before you tell others they don’t know what they’re talking about.

    • Arman said:

      WHAT DO YOU MEAN BUTCHERY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GENOCIDE????? Enver Pasha was nicknamed “the butcher” by the Arabs.

  12. Masis said:

    Unless his statements were misconstrued or taken out of context, he should be criticized. As election nears, I am sure he will increase his sycophantic stance with the great powers in order that they support his candidacy. As much as the West voices for democracy, they do like to stick their nose in other nations elections. I think he knows the difference between the 2 words but wants to suggest that the United States’ and his stance are congruent.

    Personally, I was outraged at the terminology of President Obama when I first heard it. Our president had taken our emotionally vulnerable and sensitive issue and tainted it with linguistic gymnastics with his oratorical skills. THE WORD “GENOCIDE” HAS MORAL,LEGAL, FINANCIAL, AND CRIMINAL IMPLICATIONS WHEREAS ONLY ARMENIANS KNOW WHAT ‘MEDZ YEGHERN’ MEANS. I suggest that he veer from both words if he’s not going to honor our Genocide. It would be akin to calling slavery in US history as “involuntary labor of a differing race” or racial discrimination as “preference of familiarity.” We have suffered enough and do not need our cause mocked, for lack of a better word, on the world stage.

    When they ask me if I voted this election as a US citizen, I proudly affirm, “Yes!” I voted on local issues and propositions, taking the time to go to a voting booth. However, given that both candidates had apathy to the Armenian Cause, I left the presidential vote blank.

    If Obama’s stance doesn’t change, I think ANCA and rich Armenian businessmen should threaten to invest and support industries in Russia that directly do business with Iran, weakening Obama’s embargo. The Armenians could support them through a proxy in Russia, absolving themselves of any violations, making profit, and leaving the Armenian Government out of the mess. Russia would profit and would be more than happy to upset Obama. Russian Armenians could chip in as well. It would prove Erdogan correct, that his real adversary is the Armenian Diaspora and not the Government of Armenia.

  13. Mihran said:

    Ara, this is the best article I have read to date on this subject,thanks for telling Serzh the corrupt moron he just an empty glass full of empty promises and rhetoric.

    Yeghern and genocide are not synonyms. Besides, genocide is a legal term and can be considered by the International Court of Justice. Yeghern isn’t

    Serzh go back to your corrupt Oligarch’s nest,you are just an idiot to put it mildly.

  14. Raffi Bairamian said:

    By misinterpreting the term Genocide we are dishonoring our 1.5 million Martyrs.

  15. Jacques Kavafian said:

    President Sarkissian is perfectly right. I agree that when President Obama uttered the words Meds Yeghern, Armenians should have celebrated that as a victory and should have brought those words into the lexicon. Evertime an Armenian organisation publicly discusses the Genocide they should say “the Armenian Genocide, the Medz Yeghern, was the first crime against humanity of the 20th century…” Armenians are too narrowly focused on the word “Genocide”. Time to change tactics and adopt a new strategy.

    • winny said:

      The only problem is that you can’t take Medz Yeghern to court, while Genocide is legally binding!

    • bigmoustache said:

      maybe you should read a dictionary and learn what the word genocide means. meds yeghern or great calamity is not the same.
      learn the difference between a massacre and a genocide. ill give you a hint, it has to do with intent.
      turkey tried to wipe out our race, and pretty much succeded because the only armenians left are too small to make any noise.
      actions of ethinic cleansing, changing town names are all part of genocide.

  16. Dave said:

    I agree. Sargsian is clueless.

    BTW, of course, Yeghern means Crime.

    What we also need to emphasize is that even if there had not been a genocide in Western Armenia itself, the Turks committed genocide against Armenians in what was then Russian Armenia and the 1st Republic.

    How many Hayastantsis know that? Not enough.

    And even if the Turks had not committed genocide in Eastern Armenia, they invaded with the intention of wiping out Armenia.

    Maybe we need to better explain the myriad dangers that Turkey poses, not just the Genocide in Western Armenia.

  17. Hranoush said:

    Perhaps the President is simply following Sona Tatoyan’s advice to forget the genocide and embrace his Anatolian brothers.

  18. Papken Hartunian said:

    The author of the article owes to readers to state what are the differences between “Genocide” and “Medz Yeghern”.

  19. Lus said:

    I’m voting for President Sarkissian. This man is always giving brilliant speeches!

  20. Robert said:

    I’d like to ask all the hysterical fools here (those who were of age in the early 90s) about what they were doing during our hayrenakan payqar for Artsakh. Until you have proven your “patriotism” and passion by putting your hide under fire, I’ll trust the man who did. I am not a fan of Mr. Sarkisyan, but at least I can respect his service to our country, more than can be said for everyone mumbling here.

  21. Hrant K. said:

    Azerbaijani writer Akram Aylisli ( labeled as the Azeri Orhan Pamuk) is stripped of his pension and title of “people’s writer” by the azeri dictator h. aliev, for writing a novel entitled “Stone Dreams”, that sympathizes with the Armenians of Artsakh(Karabagh).
    How ironic: the axe killer of a sleeping soldier is rewarded, and a truth speaker in azerbaijan is humiliated.
    This is, who the West (Mainly Britain) supports. So you can stick your “Human Rights” Mambo Jumbo B.S.up your a..! All you care is Oil, Gas, Oil, Gas & Oil, Period!!! Mr President, do your job, the way you see it compliant to the Armenian Interests, it doesn’t matter how, it’s the end result, that counts!!!

  22. Barkev Asadourian said:

    Bravo, you put required exaci points on major letters of the Genocide!!!

  23. Avetis said:

    Bravo Arto, couldn’t have said it better myself.

    PS: I wouldn’t take a “news” org that takes its “news” from a CIA front office in Czechoslovakia very seriously, nor its supporters/readers.

  24. Zareh said:

    I understand we live in a democracy in the United States and each of us has the freedom of expression about any article. however we should be very cautious in writing our opinions on this specific website because the enemy is watching and reading every post. They strategize according to the public opinion of the diaspora about every important issue. The Turkish Embassy has a separate large bureau that deals specifically with the “Armenian Problem”.
    In my personal opinion we should be extremely prudent in writing our comments about this sensitive issue.
    As we all know this is a crucial time for Armenian presidential elections and we know that the ARF has not endorsed President Sarkissian. Also name calling such as idiot and moron is disrespectful to the President.
    This much for now.

  25. GB said:

    I think Mr. President of Armenia, is looking for a friendly political support from Obama, he is repeating Barack’s smart word of “Medz Yeghern”. Unfortunately, unlike Obama, he is not ‘Harvard” graduated individual!!

    • Raffi Bairamian said:

      Fortunately President Sarkissian is a free person while obama implements the orders of his turkish masters.

  26. arziv said:

    Sarkissian is a great armenian. I suspect there is an issue of idiomatic idiosincrasy and interpretation. Also I don’t believe Sarkissian is well versed in the English language, and he has interpreters and advisers. What he means is that for us the Armenian Genocide is one and only one , but sometime is clothed in a variety of terms ; however in the translation and interpretation that Sarkissian has been lectured upon, the emphatic differences might have been lost. Also Sarkissian has been poorly advised; or seriously misinformed; He under no circumstances should speak or interpret Obamas statements in Armenian terms. Besides I have yet to find a Armenian from Armenia in the diplomatic corp who is fluent and versatile in the execution of English. Translation often go horribly wrong. Sarkissian profile is that of a political counterpuncher, an opportunistic political player; he is not a traitor, nor is he a tongue wagging liar like Petrosian a homegrown and home bred traitor par excellence.

  27. George said:

    Satanic intentions of US policy towards Armenians needs NO brainer, The proof is the ease of granting visas to immigrate Armenians to US, the way they are colaborating with Turkey and Azerbaijan with the aim of vacating the country and destroying the Armenian home land.

    • Berge Jololian said:

      Exactly! Focus on the US State Department hostile policy towards Armenia.

      For two decades, the US State Department acted in the most counter intuitive manner in its foreign policy towards Armenia. The routine goes something like this:

      Turkey blockades Armenia’s Western frontiers for 20 years, the US State Department puts additional pressure on Armenia to capitulate.

      The International Association of Genocide Scholars repeatedly calls on Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, the US State Department fires its ambassador to Armenia for uttering the word genocide.

      The International Monetary Fund evaluated Armenia’s loses due to Turkey’s hostile border closure at the tune of US $1 billion per year, the US State Department lowers US “aid” to Armenia each year to its now current meager $40 million.

      According to the warped logic of the US State Department foreign policy, if country A (Turkey) closes its borders with country B (Armenia), Protocols are needed to apply pressure on Armenia to open borders.

      If the US State Department does not succeed in convincing Turkey to stop its billions of trade with Iran; then the US State Department flexes its muscles to arm-twist Armenia to stop its economic survival-dependent trade with Iran.

      Extreme Islamic terrorists attack US Embassies in the Arab world, the US Embassy in Christian-Armenia goes on high security alert.

      The US State Department and Europe have done nothing substantive about Turkey’s blockade of Armenia.

      No reason exists, therefore, to believe the West will ever truly press Turkey on that issue. Historically, the US and Europe have done nothing for Armenia as it faced massacres and genocide – betraying and breaking promises and leaving Armenians prey to Turkey.

  28. George said:

    “Medz Yeghern” = Big happening, such as a flood that kills the half of the population of a country = “Medz Yeghern” , London’s burning in 1666 = “Medz Yeghern”

  29. Missak Keleshian said:

    Every victory is in need of special plan and strategy

    Nobody is going to offer us a silver platter full of Armenian rights

    For 98 years the Diaspora did not create a legal representation body

    Even our main three political parties plus the three religious entities including both Catholicosats, our Patriarchates or religious associations have not devised plans what to ask and how to strategize on religious assets…

    Even more the Republic of Armenia and the Diaspora together do not have a clear road-map of Armenian demands…

    Why on earth Turkey, The United States or even the European Union should give us our rights?

    Yet tiny Armenia has produced more Chess grand masters than China or India whose populations are in the billions…

    It is so sad that we produce chess masters a game all about strategy yet we do not have strategists either in the Armenian Republic or the Diaspora…

    • MGL said:

      And all our chess masters were produced in Armenia and former USSR, not in Diaspora. :-)

      • Avetis said:

        Very true! Armenia’s greatest minds – without exception – have come from Armenia and from the Armenian community in Russia.

        You would think Diasporans for once would shut-the-hell-up and rally behind their very capable government in Armenia.

  30. Panos said:

    MR. ARA KHACHATOURIAN:

    Think before you speak! The President is playing chess yet again and he must be diplomatic in this unforgiving world. We Diasporans do not have the right to sit back in our comfy homes and dictate this or that to the ones that actually live in Armenia and keep the homeland. We need to give Armenia our full support for success and the prevention of another Genocide.

  31. MGL said:

    Everyone, who lives outside of Armenia and Karabakh, needs to educate himself about today’s reality in Armenia and be helpful.

  32. vagharshak said:

    I resist the diasporan-Armenian knee-jerk rejection of Sarkisian’s melding of the term Medz Yeghern and Genocide.

    There may be wisdom in Sarkisian co-opting Obama’s co-opting of the Armenian term Medz Yeghern. It is a point-counterpoint that asserts our right as Armenians, the owners of the language that Obama borrowed, to translate or interpret to the world what the term means. At least that’s what I want to believe.

    On the other hand, with the news of vote-fraud allegations surrounding Sarkisian’s re-election, I fear that what has been co-opted is a free and democratic Armenia.

    May it be God’s will that Armenians, whether in the Republic, Artsakh or the diaspora, work together for the good of the nation.

  33. hmretard said:

    Medz Yeghern means absolutely nothing internationally. Genocide is both a historical and legal term and the only thing that matters. Even the we-caught-5-corpses-on-film-in-Khojaly-this-is-a-genocide!!!-screaming Azeris understand this.

    The only good thing Sarkisyan has ever done politically is cutting ties with Hungary. But, then again, that was inevitable.

*

Top