Oskanian Responds to Turkish Foreign Minister’s Comments

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s foreign minister Vartan Oskanian Monday called recent commen’s by his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul about Turkish-Armenian relations as "disingenuous," in a letter dispatched from the Armenian foreign ministry. Below is the complete text of the letter: We remain amazed that a letter sent by President Kocharian to Prime Minister Erdogan in April 2005 remains ignored, simply because the Turkish authorities did not like the response contained therein, and do not wish to broaden the scope of discussion beyond history. President Kocharian clearly said to Prime Minister Erdogan that the "suggestion to address the past cannot be effective if it deflects from addressing the present and the future. In order to engage in a useful dialogue, we need to create the appropriate and conducive political environment. It is the responsibility of governmen’s to develop bilateral relations and we do not have the right to delegate that responsibility to historians. That is why we have proposed and propose again that, without pre-conditions, we establish normal relations between our two countries." In that context, President Kocharian said, "an intergovernmental commission can meet to discuss any and all outstanding issues between our two nations, with the aim of resolving them and coming to an understanding." Foreign Minister Gul’s recent commen’s to RadioLiberty, insisting that the existence of flights between Armenia and Turkey, and of Armenian citizen in Turkey, is evidence that ‘the borders are essentially open’ is disingenuous. First, the number of Armenia’s from Armenia living and working in Turkey does not approach the numbers he claims. Second: open borders assume direct contacts between peoples, unobstructed relations across the border and a functioning transport infrastructure. We stand by our response, which we consider being a positive one and we wonder whether the Turkish insistence on a historical commission is genuine. After all, we have in fact agreed to discussions on all issues, in the context of open borders. Furthermore, as long as Article 301, which criminalizes mere discussion of the topic of Genocide, remains on the books in Turkey, an invitation to open dialogue cannot be taken seriously. Finally, outside Turkey, scholars–Armenia’s, Turks and others–have studied these issues and have reached their own independent conclusions. The most notable among these is the May 2006 letter to Prime Minister Erdogan by the International Assn of Genocide Scholars wherein they collectively and unanimously affirmed the fact of the Genocide and called on the Turkish government to acknowledge the responsibility of a previous government. In light of these complex realities, we can only repeat our readiness to enter into dialogue and normal relations with our neighbor.

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