In Major Policy Shift, Armenia Demands Lands from Turkey

Harut Sassounian

Publisher, The California Courier

Ever since independence in 1991, Armenia’s leaders have been reluctant to make any concrete demands from Turkey beyond recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Only in recent years, Armenian officials have begun to speak about “the elimination of the consequences of the genocide,” without specifying the “consequences” and the means for their “elimination.”

Earlier this month, however, a major shift was announced in Armenia’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Turkey, when Aghvan Hovsepyan, the Prosecutor General of Armenia, called for the return of historic Armenian territories at an international conference of Armenian lawyers in Yerevan. This is the first time that a high-ranking Armenian government official has made such a public demand from Turkey.

In a lengthy and comprehensive speech, Hovsepyan stated that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by various countries is simply a moral and emotional issue. Calling for a switch to “the legal field,” the Prosecutor General indicated that “to eliminate the consequences of the Armenian Genocide” Turkey must “pay compensation to heirs of the Armenian Genocide, return to the Armenian Church the miraculously still standing Armenian churches and properties in Turkey, and give back the lost territories to the Republic of Armenia.”

Prosecutor General Hovsepyan insisted that unless Armenians adopt this bold approach, they will not accomplish any concrete results in the next one hundred years, just as they did not in the last one hundred years. He proposed a thorough legal review of all international agreements regulating Armenia-Turkey relations, from the Berlin Treaty of 1878 to the signed but not ratified protocols of 2009. He also declared that the region of Nakhichevan is “an inseparable part of Armenia, albeit occupied by Azerbaijan.” Hovsepyan urged the assembled lawyers from around the world to prepare the legal case for territorial demands from Azerbaijan and Turkey and present it to the Armenian government for eventual submission to the International Court of Justice (World Court).

Statements made by a prosecutor general usually do not carry much weight in international affairs, if it were not for the fact that several other high-ranking officials, including Pres. Serzh Sarkisian, President of the Constitutional Court Gagik Haroutyunyan, Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan, Armenia’s Minister of Justice Hrair Tovmasyan, and Minister of Justice of Artsakh (Karabagh) Ararat Tanielian, also made remarks on restitutive justice at the lawyers’ conference. It was clear that the Prosecutor General was the designated spokesman of the Armenian government to articulate its new tougher line toward Turkey in advance of the Genocide Centennial.

Pres. Sarkisian, using more circumspect language than the Prosecutor General, told the lawyers’ conclave: “The international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, and elimination of its consequences will always remain a salient issue. As long as the Armenian State is in existence, all efforts to deny and send into oblivion this historical reality will be doomed. This greatest crime against humanity must be recognized and condemned once and for all, and first of all, by Turkey itself.”

In keeping with the government’s new policy orientation, Constitutional Court President Gagik Haroutyunyan announced that a special committee will be formed to prepare the legal documentation necessary for the pursuit of Armenian Genocide claims.

At the conclusion of the conference, the participants issued a joint statement asserting that the priority for Armenian lawyers is not proving the self-evident facts of the Genocide, but preparing a comprehensive legal document “to remedy the consequences of the Armenian Genocide.”

This is a welcome development in terms of arriving at a consensus between the Armenian government and the Diaspora on the objectives to be pursued for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

However, in order to move beyond mere emotionally inspiring statements, the Armenian leaders must take two immediate steps:

1) Withdraw the Armenian government’s signature from the counter-productive Armenia-Turkey Protocols. On the eve of the Genocide Centennial, it would be inconceivable to move forward with fruitless efforts to improve relations with Turkey, while preparing to file a lawsuit for restitution.

2) Form a team of international law experts to begin structuring the legal case against Turkey in the World Court and/or the European Court of Human Rights.

While skeptics may not take seriously the recent policy pronouncements of the Armenian authorities, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has no such doubts. Last week, Ankara denounced the Armenian territorial demands, announcing angrily that “nobody can dare to claim territory from Turkey!”

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  1. Berge Jololian said:

    The Prosecutor General of Armenia is correct.

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

    Therefore, it should be stated: Genocide Acknowledgment with Accountability. Accountability means land, reparation and restitution. Genocide Acknowledgment without Accountability is hollow and meaningless.

    Beware of a solution (acknowledgment) that is worse than the problem.

  2. GB said:

    USSR does not exist any more, any collaboration between Bolshevik Lenin, and paedophile Ataturk, over Western Armenia is not valid either! Wilsonian Armenia must be returned back to her rightful owner, Armenia.

  3. Padova said:

    Turkey talks with a big mouth against returning the Armenian Ancestral lands. Who gave Turkey the current power and land? Europeans and the US did it. Well, Armenia can use the same powers to return the lands that belongs to her. Turkey is doomed to failure and to disintegration land and government. Too many anti Government communities live in current Turkey.

  4. Robert said:

    Thank you for this story. I haven’t laughed this hard in ages!! Please Armenia, try to attack us and take our lands! Just give us Turks an excuse to over run your pathetic country, and then give it as a gift to our Azerbaijani brothers (we understand that they have some “unfinished business” with y’all)!! I doubt highly that your Russian protectors then will do much to interfere with our right to kick your butts!

    • Shant Melkonian said:

      Arrogance will get you nowhere… Your parasite Azeri brothers underestimated us 20 years ago… We would welcome the same mistake from your country’s criminal dictator regime. Oil money may buy weapons but can’t buy courage or wisdom, you foolish imbecile…

    • GB said:

      Since the fall of Ottomans, lazy Turks have never involved with any war, but barking and shooting sh##.

      In 1918 Armenia defeated and thrown Ottoman Turks out of Eastern part of Armenia without Bolshevik Russia’s help,

      Armenia practically involved in 2-nd world war, where Turks were hiding in their harems.
      In today’s modern warfare, Armenian army perfectly qualified, experience and quality is the most important factor, for a victory. Quantity VS quantity does not work any more!!

      During Sardarabad war, t, there were no
      Bolshevik Russian soldiers, where few thousand brave Armenians defeated mighty Ottomans army!!

      During liberation of Artsakh 20 years ago Armenians repeated the same tactics against Afghani and Chechen Islamic fighters, and frightened Axeri soldiers drinking Turkish raki and smoking pure Turkish hash in their hideouts!!

      And finally, If a war break up today, most probably Armenia will liberate Western Armenia, as long as NATO stay neutral!!

    • Setta said:

      Well, I know I’m impressed with the way Turkey has “run over” Syria after declaring Assad a sadistic dictator who must be overthrown by any means possible. It’s been mesmerizing – the courage your Fearless Leader has demonstrated – with the whining, shouting,and overstrung energy he’s expended begging the US and the EU to step in and do his fighting for him. And all the while the jihadis volunteered by the Saudis and Quataris have been fighting and dying, the redoubtable Turkish military has been fiercely guarding the refugee camps on their own side of the border.

      What’s revealing about your comment is the article and comments refer to the Armenians taking legal action in the courts and you automatically threaten the Armenians in a knee-jerk reaction to a non-existent threat about an”attack” on – forgive me for pointing out your wee, bitty error – OUR lands in Western Armenia.

      If you need your anxiety mitigated, perhaps the Azeris can explain to you their belief that wars are won by pouring billions of dollars into expensive technology. The sight of their Dear Leader – who was of military age during the Artsakh War of Liberation but never put on a uniform, never picked up a gun – leading that corrupt, third-world pissant of a former Persian province to glorious victory over the most battle-hardened leadership in the world will certainly be a thing to watch. Unless of course, he delays action to a time when it’s not him but his wife we’ll be watching fulfill her destiny as Commander in Chief of a people who don’t have the guts to overthrow their own thieving, petty tyrant.

      Oh wait. I won’t be watching. Along with many if not most of the other 1.5 million Armenian-Americans, 500,000 French Armenians and hundreds of thousands of Australian, South American and Middle Eastern Armenians who will be flooding into Hayastan, I’ll be in my ancestral Homeland doing whatever I can do.

      You’re not the only ones daring us to take our lands back. The Ghosts. You’ve forgotten about the three million Armenian, Assyrian and Pontus Greek Ghosts. The ones waiting nearly one hundred years for the restoration of a free, independent Christian Armenia. If you’re wondering where they are, just look around you. You’re surrounded by them.

    • Alex Postallian said:


    • George said:

      Armenia needs a dozen f22’s and a handful of f35’s and we should be set. A couple of M1 Abrams wouldn’t hurt either. Were comming for you turkey. Dont blink.

  5. Vrej said:

    Turkey thanksgiving is right around the corner get ready we are comming.

  6. Parsik said:

    why so drastic change of policy now?, I am afraid this is just another political manouvering to cool down unprecended growing resentments against Russia and Russians in general due to their unwise and untimely pressure applied on people of Armenia by increasing abruptly the price of delivered natural gas and even more sensetive issue of providing Baku with modern offensive missiles and tanks and aircrafts in worth of 3 billion dollars during last three years to attack any point in Armenia when hostilities resumes, a capabality that Azeri leadership wished to have back in 1992 Karabakh war

  7. Darwin Jamgochian said:

    Finally, Armenia’s leadership shows some meat on the bone.

  8. ed said:

    I am not a expert but .. I would suggest that: Armenian FM should first of all sent a diplomatic protest note to all powers which where a party to the Lausanne Treaty and demand to nullify all parts which concerns gifting of Armenian territories and wealth to modern Turkey. The Lausanne Treaty not only did ignore the rights of Armenian people but far worse ,the LausanneTtreaty is still legalizing and justifying the Turkish lead genocide of Armenian people . Beside this in Berlin Treaty of 1878 Turkish Ottoman government had agreed to security guaranties and reforms for Armenians … In promised reforms in 1914( shortly before start of Genocide!) the same Ottoman Turkish government had agreed to carry out reforms in Western Armenian ( well know 6 Armenian provinces ) The internationally agreed reforms of 1914 were going to be monitored and supervised by Swedish and Norwegian diplomats! Therefore Swedish and Norwegian governments should prepare a reports regarding so called reforms , which without doubt was the annihilation of a big portion of Armenian people in there historic homeland

  9. Papken Hartunian said:

    On the top of the stated demands, Turkey must be sanctioned to its gratest crime of the centurey.

  10. arziv said:

    Acknowledgement and restitution is sine qua non. The premise of acknowledgement precedes the restitution, compensation and redresses. The main reason why Turks deny the genocide is that if it is acknowledged, then the consequences shall follow.No one can blame turkey for not having fulfilled the Berlin treaty of 1878, nor the reforms in 1914. They did carry out these reforms, thoroughly, and comprehensiveley. The genocide, and the wiping out of Armenians from their ancestral lands. The reforms, turkish style were carried out. Talaat famous sentence regarding the Armenian question, was without Armenians there would not be a question. The treaty of Sevres needs to be resurrected. However the treaty of Sevres presuppossed assistance and backing by Europe and the USA. Neither Armenia , nor Greece on their own had the military capabilities of implementing its terms. During the Wisonian project Armenia was offered as a mandate for the USA. The project ( 120 M at the time ?) was shot down by Congress under the leadership of someone Warburg, Blumberg or something like that. That was the end of Wilsonian Armenia. Modern turkey is a creation of the West at the time of its birth. Ataturk was just an operative which happened to be at the right place at the right time and a good puppet of the West. The West created Turkey, not only by destroying Armenia, but also by destroying the Greeks of Asia minor. On the corpses of mainle Armenians, and Greeks modern Turkey was birthed. Even today , turkey is the darling madonna of the West, a member of Nato, a potential candidate of the EU and a key role player in the USA-Israel geopolitical game. Recognition , acknowledgement , restittution, compensation , redress, is a sworn vow which can never be forgotten neither in time nor space..

  11. Yiğit said:

    Turkey already responded with a joint military exercise in Azerbaijan which began in 12th of July.

    And Turkish Foreign Minister said. “those who dare to take a pebble from Turkey” to know their limits, “Apart from offering such a thing, it is out of question to think about it,” the top diplomat said.

    • ARMENIAN said:

      yes but you turks will soon have no choice.. but to offer it.. :)

  12. Ara said:

    Making demands without the power to back these demands is useless, this is an obvious reality. This is just a political exercise to enlist support from those who can’t think for themselves. What leverage does Armenia have in its requests? Do we have anything that is valuable to the US, Europe, etc? No. Our lobby can only get us so far.

    On the other hand, Turkey and Azerbaijan have much to offer in terms of M.E. security (Iran, Syria) and energy alternatives for Europe. Armenia on the other hand is pro Iran (our only viable trade partner) and pro Assad (his enemy Islamist are a threat to Syrian Armenians).

    It’s completely unrealistic is it that any major western organization would back Armenia in this case. Why would they help Armenia acquire lands which are currently offensive to the West’s enemies when the same lands, when handed over to Armenia, would be friendly to the West’s enemies? There is no Western strategic interest in such a scenario.

    • Harut Sassounian said:


      No one is talking about Armenia invading Turkey or asking other countries to support us to get our lands back. The only topic under discussion is Armenia considering its legal option in terms of seeking justice for the genocide. Are we that docile that we cannot even think about defending our rights in court?
      You also did not need to make the case for Azerbaijan and Turkey. Let’s not do their work. They are fully capable of doing that themselves.

      • Ara said:

        I’m just stating the facts and how this may impact our chances, as I see them.

        Maybe we should look at other cases with similar backgrounds, though I can’t think of any precedent. The closest would maybe be Palestine taking Israel to the ICC, though this is all relatively modern time wise and I have yet to see any outcome from it. To make things more complicated, Armenian claims would be against an overthrown empire and on a 100 year timescale. I think such a scenario leaves a lot of gaps for the defense to exploit, that’s assuming we can even hold the current government liable for the Ottomans actions, taking in to account that the Ottomans were overthrown and have not existed or governed for quite some time.

        We must have some lawyers on here that can weigh in on this.

    • Vahe said:

      Inch hanchar tgha es du !!! ov karogh er qo nman khor dattel yev strategy unena ?
      Hayastane` is not pro Iran , but we have very friendly relation with Iran. In early days of 1992 it was flow of food and goods from Iran which kept us going. Our major trade with Asia goes through Iranian ports. I think enough said for Iran.
      I support the opinion of Mr. Sassounian and urge you to think it over.

  13. nazo said:

    My turn, assuming Turkey gives back 100 per cent the land, what would we do with it, remember people what we have we can not keep, every year 100.000 people living the country, in 10 years only 70 years old will be left in Armenia and that is in farming community, I am from US I lived in armenia for 5 years, I just brought my fiancee here, all her girlfriends age 25 to 30 are begging us to find men here in US so they can come here too, If American embassy makes garage sale for visa to US for 24 hours, I bet you half the women if not more will be on the list to emigrate, of course Mr. Sahnasarov will not be on the list he is living the high life kick backs and every time he puts his signature on a piece of paper he gets another lucrative deal but god help the farmer. So Mr. Davutoglu please if we bag you for our land, do us a favour and do not listen to us, since we don’t even know how to govern ourself with what we have.

    • Setta said:

      Do you not understand the concept of stranglehold? Do you actually believe that things would be the same if we had Kars, Van and Trebizond in our possession again?

      Symbolism has an enormous impact on the human psyche and emotions. Do you not understand how things would be different if Mt. Masis and Ani were back in the hands of the only people on earth with any right to them?

    • Vahe said:

      No. But Turkey should worry about their hi-jacked governing system and resume of Kusdish uprising over again. I doubt that Kurdish and Armenian problems will be solved the way AK party is planning.

  14. ARMENIAN said:

    I support the Armenian government and am willing to sacrifice my life if needed…

    • Setta said:

      “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.”

      General George S. Patton

  15. Gazzo said:

    With that kind of mercantilist and bazaar mentality we certainly will not get a grain of sand back. The issue here is not what we may or may not do with the lands, whether we have enough people or not. The issue is justice, retribution for crimes committed. Next time if anyone of you has her family murdered, don’t bother to pursue the murderers, what for ? The dead will not come back .

  16. Armen said:

    I think in this case, we all need to support and encourage the Armenia’s leadership, for taking a good step to the right direction, by taking our just legal case to the World Court, and demanding our legal rights from Turkish and Azeries governments.

  17. Asbed Melkonian said:

    we have to stop crying and explaining, we have to start fighting

  18. G. Koyounian said:

    To be realistic, we cannot sit here and hope that the return of ancestral lands will come at the same time as the recognition of the genocide. Ceding lands to another is a highly sensitive political issue, and the country in question would have to be in such a situation that it cannot do otherwise. Sadly, for Turkey, such a situation looks far away. However, genocide recognition is much closer to completion and we can hold high hopes for that.