Obama Backs Sarkisian Efforts on Armenia-Turkey Thaw

WASHINGTON (RFE/RL)–U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his support for the Armenian leader’s efforts to achieve normalization of relations with Turkey as the two spoke on the phone recently.

As reported by the Armenian president’s press office, the phone conversation took place during President Serzh Sarkisian’s stop in Los Angeles, California, where he was on Sunday as part of his continuing tour of major Diaspora Armenian communities to discuss his latest initiative for Armenia to end the century-old feud with its big neighbor and historical foe, Turkey.

Obama reportedly reaffirmed the United States’ official position that Armenian-Turkish normalization should proceed without any preconditions and should not be linked to the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

During the phone talk with Obama, Sarkisian also reportedly thanked the U.S. president for “the huge mediatory work” conducted by the United States as part of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that advances international efforts on settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As reported by his press office, Sarkisian emphasized Armenia’s readiness to move forward on the way of achieving a peaceful settlement of the problem. He said the basis of this settlement should be “the decision by Nagorno-Karabakh’s people about their ultimate legal status by the free expression of will, which is the basis of the Madrid principles of settlement presented by the Minsk Group mediators.”

Sarkisian was quoted as expressing his gratitude to the U.S. leader for the support in the process of Armenian-Turkish normalization and also as presenting his impressions of the Diaspora tour.

According to the release for the media, the Armenian president emphasized that “the concerns and fears of the Armenian Diaspora regarding the process are natural, considering the fact that the Armenian people was subjected to genocide by Ottoman Turkey, about which Obama has repeatedly mentioned in his public speeches.”

Sarkisian last week embarked on a weeklong tour of major Diaspora communities, including Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Beirut and Rostov-on-Don, to try and gain support for the beleaguered Turkey-Armenia Protocols, which have been met with resounding rebuke by Armenians around the world. Sarkisian has already completed his meetings with prominent Diaspora members in Europe and the United States and is in Lebanon now, after which he will fly to Southern Russia.

More than 12,000 Armenian Americans from throughout California converged on the Beverly Hilton Hotel to protest Sarkisian on Sunday. Hundreds more gathered at the Genocide Memorial in Montebello the next morning to stand guard the monument in the case Sarkisian attempted to use the site for a photo-opp. Thousands similarly protested the president when he visited New York, forming a picket line at his hotel. The mass demonstrations against the president began in Paris Friday, where a thousand Armenians who were holding a peaceful sit-in at the Gomidas genocide memorial were violently attacked by Police, clearing the way for Sarkisian to walk u to the statue to get his photo taken.

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5 Comments

  1. David Boyajian said:

    President Obama and Hillary Clinton would not be calling Sargsian if it were not important to the US to get the Turkish – Armenian – Azeri borders open so that the US could more easily penetrate all the way to Caspian Sea gas and oil (especially given that the Georgian – Russian war cast doubt on Georgia’s future as a host for western-bound pipelines).

    I say this because some Armenians are continually telling us that Armenia has no importance to the West and that it is “weak” and has nothing to bargain with. The fact – FACT – is that Armenia has tremendous geopolitical importance. The sad part is, even Sargsian seems to be unaware of these facts, star-struck by being courted by the likes of Obama and Hillary (both of whom are liars when it comes to the Armenian genocide), something else some Armenians tend to forget.

    Another point: Even many Armenians seem to believe that Turkey is perfectly entitled to link its relations with Armenia to a settlement of the Artsakh issue. On what grounds? Well, we are told Azerbaijan and Turkey speak languages that are in the same language group, have similar ethnicity and so forth.

    Let’s suppose that Armenia refused to have relations with Turkey on the grounds that Turkey occupies the northern half of Cyprus, and has displaced Armenians and Greeks (the latter are co-religionists of Armenians who speak a related Indo-European tongue).

    You see, too many of us Armenians simply swallow whatever line the West and the mainstream media feed us. Thus, Armenians accept as correct behavior what the Turks do while denying that Armenians should have the same rights. The Azeri – Cyprus analogy is one such example.

    Another is the fact that Turkey put forth a number of preconditions that, in one form or another, found their way into the Protocols, while Armenia put forth NO CONDITIONS AT ALL. This is capitulation, not negotiation. And when one questions that sort of imbalance, these same Armenians declare that Armenia can never make any demands because it is so “unimportant” and “no one cares about it.” That is not true, as I pointed out in my first paragraph. Armenia’s leaders are weak though. Funny, you never hear THAT from defenders of the Protocols.

  2. John K said:

    Of course Obama would support the thawing of relations between Turkey and Armenia. This would give him an excuse not to keep his campaign promise of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

  3. Samvel Jeshmaridian, PhD said:

    Mr. Obama wants to transmit U.S.-Iraqi war into Turkey. That is why he still uses comparatively nice words to both sides of Armenia-Turkey Protocols. The Protocols will enable U.S. to be critically active in Turkey and to push the latter into the wars of its own. I am not sure Turkey does not understand this. I think Turkey will not either endorse or ratify all 3 Protocols. In this deal, Sarksyan administration is zero. What can be of some value is Artsakh-Armenia-Diaspora Friendship.
    jeshmarid@yahoo.com

  4. Gary said:

    I appreciate our President’s efforts to mediate between Armenia and Turkey. Clearly the USA is pursuing its own interests and that is what is expected of the President. In this instance US and Armenia interests converge. I recognize many in the diaspora don’t share the same perspective with what seems to be the majority in Armenia but in the end it is their country and their call.

  5. Mihran Keheyian said:

    USA has and is putting immense pressure on Armenia, first with the 22 April statement of the so called road map, secondly the state department official recently went to Yerevan and was in the office of Nalbandian(AFM) for 14 hours in order to put pressure so that Armenia to except Turkeys preconditions in these protocols, also the English text which is the official text is somewhat differs from the Armenian text for internal consumption and spin, namely to fool the public.

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