Ten Reasons Why Turks Won’t Allow Their Leaders to Ratify the Protocols

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

In earlier columns, I pointed out Turkey’s deceptive designs in negotiating and signing the Protocols with Armenia on October 10, 2009.

In addition to planning to deceive Armenia and international public opinion, Turkish leaders tried to mislead their closest ally, Azerbaijan, and the Turkish public, about the potential benefits of the Protocols. Even though the Protocols were clearly in Turkey’s interest, its leaders tried to oversell the benefits of the negotiated agreement in order to overcome possible objections from critics at home and abroad, particularly Azerbaijan.

As expected, the Erdogan government did get into trouble with Azerbaijan when Pres. Ilham Aliyev complained loudly that by planning to open the border with Armenia, Turkey would be abandoning its “Little Brother” which would remove the key incentive for Armenia to negotiate the return of Karabakh (Artsakh). Azerbaijani officials, not appeased by Turkish assurances, retaliated by tripling the price of gas exported to Turkey, taking down Turkish flags from public places, banning Turkish movies and songs from Azeri TV, and shutting down Turkish-financed mosques in Baku!

Meanwhile, opposition forces in Turkey, seeing a golden opportunity to diminish Prime Minister Erdogan’s Parliamentary majority, immediately accused him of betraying Turkey’s national interests by siding with their perennial Armenian enemies, rather than with their Azeri brothers!

In order to counter such accusations, Turkish leaders were forced to make a series of unsubstantiated claims, exaggerating the benefits of the Protocols to both Azerbaijan and Turkey. They assured the Azeris that they would pressure Armenia into returning Artsakh to Azerbaijan before the Turkish Parliament would ratify the Protocols and normalize relations with Armenia. Furthermore, Turkish officials reassured their own public that the Protocols would put an end to “Armenian claims” of genocide and territorial demands in Eastern Turkey.

The Turkish and Azeri publics were not fooled by Ankara’s misrepresentation of the Protocols. Here are ten major reasons why the Turkish Parliament could refuse to ratify the Protocols:

1. Despite repeated announcements by Gul, Erdogan and Davutoglu that the resolution of the Artsakh conflict is a precondition for the ratification of the Protocols, the United States, Russia, the European Union as well as Armenia have repeatedly pointed out that there is no such stipulation in the Protocols. In addition, they have counseled against linking the two issues or holding hostage the negotiations on the Artsakh conflict to the ratification of the Protocols. Armenia has steadfastly refused to link the Protocols to the Artsakh issue.

2. There is no truth to the Turkish claim that the Protocols would put an end to Armenia’s pursuit of genocide recognition and its acknowledgment by third countries. It is also untrue that the Protocols would set up a mechanism for the study of the Armenian Genocide. In fact, the Protocols have triggered renewed efforts by Armenians in recent weeks to seek acknowledgment of the Genocide by the British, Bulgarian, Israeli and Swedish Parliaments. Moreover, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee has scheduled a vote on the Armenian Genocide resolution on March 4. A similar resolution is pending in the U.S. Senate.

3. Contrary to Turkish assertions, the “historical commission” mentioned in the Protocols would serve not as a genocide review board, but as a platform for Armenia to present demands for restitution from Turkey.

4. The Turkish claim that the Protocols would end Armenian territorial demands is belied by the fact that no mention is made of any past treaty that requires Armenia to renounce such rights. Rather than abandoning Artsakh or Western Armenia, Pres. Sarkisian raised for the first time in his last week remarks the depopulation of the Armenian region of Nakhichevan, after Soviet authorities relinquished it to Azerbaijan.
5. Armenia and the major powers have rejected Turkish demands that the Armenian Constitutional Court “correct” its January 12, 2010 ruling which limited Turkey’s exaggerated interpretations of the Protocols. The Court insisted that the pursuit of Genocide recognition cannot be abandoned, and Artsakh’s status cannot be negotiated with Turkey due to the bilateral nature of the Protocols.

6. Turkish leaders have no reason to protest against the Armenian Court’s reference to the Preamble of the Constitution on pursuing the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. This Preamble is based on Article 11 of Armenia’s Declaration of Independence which has existed since 1990, long before Turkey first opened its border with Armenia. Indeed, Turkey’s leaders were well aware of this provision before signing the Protocols in 2009.

7. Turkish officials have falsely stated that the Protocols acknowledge the Treaty of Kars of 1921, which Soviet Armenia was forced to sign. There is no reference to the Kars Treaty in the Protocols. Furthermore, the Constitutional Court of Armenia ruled that only those treaties that have been ratified by the present Republic of Armenia are valid.
8. Rather than achieving its lofty objective of “zero-problems with neighbors,” the Turkish government, by signing the Protocols, has created a serious rift with neighboring Azerbaijan, where no problem existed before!

9. It is noteworthy that Turkish officials have not expressed any objection to Armenia’s demand that Turkey be the first to ratify the Protocols. This is a humiliating imposition on Turkey as it implies — for good reason — Armenia’s lack of trust in Turkey!
10. Likewise, Turkish leaders have not responded to Armenia’s threat to rescind its signature should Turkey not ratify the Protocols by the end of March — one month before April 24! This is yet another humiliating imposition by Armenia on a country whose leaders espouse grandiose neo-Ottoman fantasies!

The foregoing 10 points demonstrate a serious credibility gap between the Turkish government and its own public as well as the international community. Ankara has tried to deceive everyone within and outside Turkey by creating the false impression of wanting to normalize relations with Armenia. Turkish officials have no one but themselves to blame for this predicament. They thought that by bluffing they could extract more concessions from Armenia! It did not work. They have now fallen in their own trap and no one is too eager to rescue them!

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14 Comments

  1. Avetis said:

    With things looking much clearer for them in the political arena, our “political experts” are now beginning to run in circles trying to explain and excuse their obsessive, irrational and hysterical behavior when they foolishly attempted to derail the signing of the protocols last October. This comment is not only for Mr. Sassounian (who I have a deep respect for), it’s especially for all the other “political analyst wannabes with a podium” in our communities, especially those here within ARF circles.

    Some food for thought: Because of various geopolitical and economic factors, Ankara, against its will, has been ‘forced’ to sit at the negotiating table with Armenia by Russia and the West. Russia is the primary puppet-master here in this matter, the West is simply acting as support. Regardless of all the rhetorical gymnastics one can perform to make a self-serving point, the fact remains that Armenia desperately needs to have normal relations with its neighbors to develop properly as a nation-state. Obviously, the normalization of relations with regional neighbors cannot come at any price. Thanks to our nation’s current ruling administration and Moscow’s support, I am happy to say it has not.

    As a result of the current financial crisis engulfing the Western world and the outcome of the Russian-Georgian war in the summer of 2008, a resurgent Moscow is using Armenia as a stable and powerful platform to project its power in the region. The recent Russian sponsored rapprochement between Yerevan and Ankara is a great opportunity, economically and politically, for the Armenian state. The political stature of Armenia as a nation-state has not been this elevated for centuries. The question is: are we ready as a nation, as a people, to exploit this opportunity?

    Say what you will about president Sargsyan, official Yerevan has played its political role brilliantly – thus far. As a result of how Yerevan handled the protocols, Armenia today is in a win-win situation despite any outcome the political process may have. And despite Turkish fears and apprehensions about engaging Armenia on an equal footing, the ball is currently in Ankara’s court and Ankara will be forced to play ball.

    As I said, Armenia’s political leadership has been nothing less than brilliant in this matter. Mr. Sargsyan has again proven that the Republican Party of Armenia has more political savvy and diplomatic sophistication than all our traditional diasporan parties combined. Our hopelessly ignorant/naive people (especially here in the diaspora) are only now perhaps beginning to wake up from their genocide obsessed fantasies. But I yet have to see a well composed and seriously thought-out geopolitical analysis by one of our self-proclaimed community representatives here in the diaspora…

    • Hovsep (Osik) Movsessian said:

      Avetis,
      I don’t want to repeat what John says below in reply to you, I hope Panos reads his comments too (see my reply to Panos) you are saying what happened last week from the air and in UK was all by design and was planed by Republican Party, and you don’t see any relation between Obama’s new missile plan, don’t you see those plans made the Polar Bear mad and he opened the cage, first Kocharyan took his “Personal” trip to Iran resulting all those new contracts, then Sarkissian from the plane spat down on his Soccer friend’s face and the rest in the UK.
      Just to prove it to you, I wish Obama scraps the missile plans again (Russia came to Protocol table because weeks before that Obama scraped Bush’s missile plan in Europe) then you will see how fast everybody goes back to cage, Sarkissian will turn 180 degree back to where he was and RK will vanish again.

    • Vacheh said:

      Dear Avetis,

      If you are so proud of the brilliant policies of the current administration in Yerevan, I wonder where you are living now? In Armenia or U.S.

      I suggest that you pay a visit to suburbs of Yerevan or the villages outside Yerevan to see the severe and sub-standard conditions where the people are living in. Please watch this video clip.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eywp48oUXuo

      Exodus is a trend among educated class in Yerevan. The overall outlook of the economic situation is not as brilliant as you paint. Oligarchs are expanding their grip on economy and there is a sense of living in dead-end among young. A newly married couple needs to save two years worth of salary (both husband and wife) in order to cover the medical expenses of a new baby.

      I am not an ARF member, but having seen the track record of the ARF in Diaspora and the effort that they have put to preserve our identity and existence throughout several decades and in many countries and communities, it is offending to see your narrow minded approach and divisive mentality which you promote or you address towards the Armenians of Diaspora.

      Dividing Diaspora and Homeland is one of the major goals of current or past (Ittihadist) Turkish governments. I am sorry to see that you or your so-called brilliant politicians of homeland are intentionally or unintentionally helping it to make happen.

  2. John said:

    Avetis,

    Most Armenians on this planet are against the protocols in its current form. No one denies the fact that an open border will be beneficial, but mostly for the Republican Party oligarchs which is what you mean by the “Armenian State”. However, true reconciliation and lasting peace must come first by including and then resolving the Armenian Genocide issue which the Turks have no desire doing. The border was illegally closed by the Turks and not Armenians so the ball has always been in their court.

    The protocols in its current form are a major political blunder secretly hatched by a phony elected self serving thug that has very little credibility and trust by most Armenians. You give Sargysian way too much credit. It was the constitutional court that had to clarify Armenia’s position on the genocide or he was all to happy to not only concede the borders but send the Armenian genocide into a “historical commission” abyss, forever burying it while all the time falsely maintaining a position of “no preconditions”.

    Last, you give the Diaspora, which was genocidal created, way too little credit. There are over 20 countries that recognize the genocide today because of the sweat of the Diaspora. The Armenian lobby in the US plays an important role in securing millions of dollars for Armenian Aid as does all other Diaspora organizations. The Lindsey foundation alone donated over 250 million US dollars for road building, schools etc. All this was done without anything in return other then the betterment of Armenia and its people. Your beloved Russia gives to Armenia but always for its own benefit. It’s giving is self serving and always has strings attached. There is nothing from Russia without something in return. Nothing is for free. Nothing. Sargysian on the other hand, rules to fill his own pockets as well as those of his friends. He lives lavishly while most Armenians live in poverty. His self appointed rule cost the Armenian nation 60 million US dollars alone from the millennium package and anyone who apposed him received beatings and lengthy jail time.

    You do have a right to your opinion but before calling people “ignorant” understand that very few Armenians agree with your point of view.

    • Hovsep (Osik) Movsessian said:

      John, would you please in your third paragraph highlight, make it bold + Italic where you are saying what Diaspora has done in Armenia and give in a reply to Panos to make him stop repeating LTP’s stupid comments about Diaspora.

  3. John Karasarkissian said:

    Սերժ Սարգսյան aka Քաջ Նազար, որ մին զարկի, ջարդի հազար. Somehow he is a diplomatic genius now. LMFAO

  4. Panos said:

    I agree that Armenia’s political parties did a better job than the traditional Armenian parties in the diaspora, who easily allow emotion to get in the way of politics. There is no way that the Armenian government would have allowed Artsakh and the Genocide to be sacrificed for opening the common checkpoint border. The Armenians living in Armenia are the real Armenians who have kept our nation alive and running for this long. We diaspora Armenians need to support them and lower our saber rattling.

    • Hovsep (Osik) Movsessian said:

      Panos,
      I’m sorry to say that you are repeating the mother of the stupid comments part from “The Stupid Comments” book of the LTP, that’s all I can say.

      If I confused you I’m referring to so-called “Real Armenian”.

  5. Avetis said:

    John,

    I would like to make a point that America was also once (as a matter of fact, it still is) run by corrupt “oligarchs” that unlike Armenia’s insignificant “Dodi Gagos” and “Nemets Rubos”, were for a long-long time engaged in worldwide slavery, segregation of all non-WASPs in the states, genocide against American natives, economic exploitation of all, annexations of neighboring countries, illegal wars and the accumulation of war plunder…

    This is essentially how America (as well as every other wealthy/civilized Western nation) became immensely wealthy. With the aforementioned acquisition of wealth coupled with relative peace and stability, America’s international trade flourished. Naturally, this prosperity initially helped the bigwigs in the country; the Duponts, the Morgans, the Rockefellers, the Bushes, the Kennedys, the Carnegies… Within several generations, however, this wealth eventually, due to laws of nature, trickled down to the masses… The Western world’s financial elite is so immensely wealthy today that even the crumbs that fall of their tables are fully sufficient to sustain hundreds of millions of people under their rule.

    Regarding Armenia: It’s still a developing/fledgling nation. And, as a matter of fact, even with all its socioeconomic and political problems it is still better off today that most fledgling nations on earth are, or have ever been. When the nation’s financial elite/political get fatter and fatter – so will eventually the nation’s middle-class that essentially services the upper class. During the past ten years or so we have actually witnessed this process in our natiuon. What Armenia needs today is political evolution not a CIA sponsored revolution. What Armenia needs today is peaceful/normal coexistence with all its neighbors, especially Turkey, Georgia and Iran. The Russian imposed political process we are currently seeing in the region is a historic opportunity for Armenia, an opportunity to potentially/eventually break out of its isolated third world existence.

    Anyway, I put it as simple as possible. I’m not going to be giving you an in-depth lessons in human nature, economics or history. These are things you should have learned growing up. However, I do realize that you, being an Armenian, will have a natural tendency toward irrational and emotional outbursts, which may be why you are not seeing the big global/objective picture around you. Don’t worry, however, you are not alone in your emotional blindness; individuals like you represent the majority of us today.

    Moreover, one day you will realize that there are two basic categories of nations that have recognized the Armenian Genocide:

    1) nations that do not have significant geopolitical/financial relations with Ankara; nations such as Argentina, Venezuela, Canada, Slovakia…

    2) nation that have political/geopolitical reasons for them to do so; as in the case of Cyprus, Italy, Greece, France and Russia…

    Another news flash, John; bedsides the fact that the money sent to Armenia from Washington is merely used to impose American interests in Armenia and not help the nation, per se… Washington sends money to Armenia for the simple fact that it does not want to see Armenia ‘fully’ retreat into the Russian (and Iranian) camp…

    So, trust me, even if an Armenian lobbying group like the ANC did not exist, the US State Department would have created one for us. There are many examples of this. The very close relationship between the American government and Albanian-Americans today are a perfect recent example of what I am trying to make you understand. The US government instantaneously created American-Albanian “friendship” organization as a result of what it was planing to do in the Balkans…

    Assuming that you people here are adults, I’m embarrassed that I have to even mention all this…

    PS: I am not here to make friends. I am just troubled to see the low intellectual caliber of diasporan Armenians. And I am a diasporan :-)

  6. Johanas M said:

    The role of Armenians in this world is not to undue the crimes of the Turks. This can not be undone. If every Turk on earth got together and got on their knees and admitted the genocide and begged for forgiveness it would not bring back our loved ones. If we had full admission and complete restituition of our lands it would simply place us right in the game with the wicked self serving powerful nations. Then our crimes would be exposed. No thanks. I’d rather force the Turks to pay and pay and pay to lobby the American congress to promise not to vote on the Genocide Resolution, and then to bend over for their true American rulers and take it like a Turk so America can get on with the real agenda, keep the Russians and Iranians off balance by having American military bases in Turkey. As we say in America, Turkey is our be-otch and always will be.

  7. Giro Manoyan said:

    Dear Harut,

    Your article leaves the impression that you’ve changed your position re the protocols. I don’t see why “The Protocols were clearly in Turkey’s interest!” What has changed? Why aren’t (as opposed to were) they in Turkey’s interest anymore? If your response will be the Armenian Constitutional Court’s decision, I think you’ll agree with me that it doesn’t change the protocols, so long as the Court’s decision’s main points are not included in the ratification instrument by the Armenian parliament.

    Anyway, I’m glad you “remain steadfastly and staunchly opposed to these defeatist Protocols!”, but with this article, that’s not the impression of some here in Armenia.

    I believe the only reason Turkey is not willing to ratify the protocols in a “the timely progression,” is not because they were “forced to make a series of unsubstantiated claims, exaggerating the benefits of the protocols to both Azerbaijan and Turkey,” nor because “The Turkish and Azeri public was not fooled by Ankara’s misrepresentation of the protocols,” but rather because they have a lot of other, more pressing issues on their plate right now (internal and external Kurdish issues, problems with the army, constitutional changes, etc.), and because the AKP government is steadfast in its announced policy of not establishing diplomatic relations with Armenia and not lifting the blockade, so long as the Karabagh issue is not resolved to their satisfaction. This is a policy declared by Erdogan before, during and after the signing of the protocols. I don’t agree with your “ten points,” because if I do, then I’ll have no reason to be against these protocols. I think in their present form, that is as they were signed on October 10, 2009, the protocols are against Armenian interests and benefit only Turkish interests. Turkey will never get anything better, ever. For Turkey, establishing relations with Armenia is not a priority, but keeping the process running is; that’s why Armenia should tell the world that because of Turkey bad faith approach this process has failed and there’s no reason for anyone to wait for Turkey’s next move any longer.

  8. Samvel Jeshmaridian, PhD said:

    Excellent analysis, Dr. Sassounian. Thank You. Now, let me give only one reason why the Armenian Government went into secret negotiations with Turkey and then signed the Armenia-Turkey Protocols — because 10/27/99 terrorists were trained in Turkey!

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