ARF Expresses Concern Over Presidential Remarks on Turkey

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation announced Monday that it has expressed concern to President Serzh Sarkisian regarding recent statemen’s that signal an acceptance by the current administration of Turkey’s proposal to form a commission of Turkish and Armenian historians that would jointly study the mass killings of Armenia’s in the Ottoman Empire.

According to ARF Political Director Giro Manoyan, the party asked the president for an official explanation on whether Sarkisian’s statemen’s made in Russia last week signaled a policy change in the administration.

Last week, during a meeting the Russian-Armenian community in Moscow, Sarkisian said that Yerevan would not oppose the creation of the commission, only after Turkey opens its borders with Armenia and establishes diplomatic relations without any preconditions.

In 2005, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the proposal in a letter to then Armenian President Robert Kocharian. Erdogan said members of the proposed commission should jointly determine whether the Armenian massacres constituted genocide. Kocharian rejected the idea, saying that this and other issues of mutual concern should be tackled by the two governmen’s.

“We have received the necessary explanation and clarification from the president,” Manoyan told RFE/RL. “Also, the president’s spokesman and the foreign minister have publicly clarified that the president’s consent pertains to another kind of commission.”

In Manoyan’s words, Sarkisian believes the would-be commission should not determine whether or not genocide occurred in 1915-1918 and should instead research “various details of the genocide.”

“In any case, our approach is that there was no need to make such statemen’s and create this confusion in the first place,” he said.

The president’s statement, forced his spokesman Samvel Fermanian and Foreign Minister Eduard Nabandian to make clarifications.

“The genocide issue remains on our agenda,” Nalbandian told a press conference Friday..

“Armenia has repeatedly stated and continues to state that we are ready to establish relations with Turkey without any preconditions,” said Nalbandian. “We are also ready to discuss all issues of interest to the two countries after the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of the border.”

At a separate briefing Firday, Fermanian explained that the president’s position and policy on Armenian-Turkish relations are known and have not changed.

He said, however, that Sarkisian is not against any study even of the obvious facts and widely recognized events, but such a study cannot call into question the reality of the facts.” He went on to say that the creation of such commission will make sense only after the Turkey establishes diplomatic relations and drops its blockade.

Manoyan also indicated the ARF’s unease about Sarkisian’s stated intention to invite Turkish President Abdullah Gul to the first-ever game between the national football teams of Armenia and Turkey which will be played in Yerevan in early September. “I think that if the president of Turkey visits Yerevan, at least one part of our society will express its attitude,” he said.

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