Conference on Armenia-Turkey Border Opening Misleading, Says ARF’s Manoyan

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–At the conclusion of a conference to discuss the socio-political ramifications of opening the Turkish-Armenian border, Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s Political Director Giro Manoyan Tuesday said the conference was misleading in its nature and purpose. Manoyan said the conference, organized by the US Agency for International Development, framed the border closure issue resolution as one where Armenia would be forced to make serious concessions. The issue was framed as if "Armenia had closed its borders with Turkey, and it must be forced to abandon its basic foreign policy principles in return for some kind of a ‘economic’ benefit," said Manoyan, describing the tenor in which this issue was presented in a misleading way. He stressed that Western governmen’s have said that the opening of the border would be economically beneficial to Armenia, thus urging the population to pressure their elected officials to make concessions in order to ensure an open border. "This is unacceptable," said Manoyan. The ARF political leader added that Turkey could one day declare that the "border is open" under some circumstance. He said Armenia’should be ready both politically and in terms of legislation to such a policy. Manoyan said that Turkey had been keeping its border closed to weaken Armenia and not necessarily as a protest to efforts to garner international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Manoyan warned that the people and government of Armenia’should be prepared to deal with a scenario whereby Turkey announces its intention to open its borders, placing unacceptable preconditions on Armenia. Turkey must establish normal relations with all its neighbors in the region without preconditions, said Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Arman Kirakosyan in his opening remarks at the conference. Kirakosyan explained that the Turkish government did not implement the European Union’s condition, whereby a candidate state must establish good-neighborly relations with all the states in the region. The deputy minister stressed that his ministry welcomed any attempt aimed at opening the Armenian-Turkish border. "Up until now the brunt of relations between Turkey and Armenia have been through social organizations and not governmental interaction," said Kirakosyan. In 2005 the Armenian President sent a letter to the Turkish authorities proposing the creation of a joint commission to establish dialogue between the two countries. Kirakosyan explained that the Armenian government had not received a response from Turkey. Kirakosyan, once again, reiterated Armenia’s willingness to establish dialogue with Turkey–without any preconditions, which are the Armenian Genocide recognition issue and the Karabakh conflict resolution process.

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