Nalbandian Calls on Turkey to Step Up

YEREVAN—Armenia’s foreign minister, Eduard Nalbandian, said Turkey should step up and drop preconditions for normalization of ties Armenia. Nalbandian told the Austrian journal, PROFILE, that in such an instance, Armenia would resume negotiations in the now-suspended Armenian-Protocols.

Below is the English translation of the interview:

PROFILE:
Mr. Foreign Minister, the region here has been facing major changes during the last years: Iran is exerting more and more influence, Turkey is trying to establish itself as regional powerbroker, Armenia as a small country is caught in the middle: Do you worry for the future?

EDUARD NALBANDIAN: Armenia is not a small country. There is not only this small piece of land here in the region, but of hundreds of other Armenians all over the world – everywhere, Armenians live, their communities have created small Armenias which create a unity all over the world.

PROFILE: But still your direct neighbors are bigger and sometimes more aggressive countries.

E.N.: There were things to worry during our history. We strive for stability and security in our region, but it not only dependent on us. We are trying to have normal relations with all our neighbors and that’s why we initiated the process of normalization with Turkey. We have good relations with Iran, we have good relations with Georgia and we are trying to settle the conflict between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan in order to have normal relations with Azerbaijan as well.

PROFILE: At the moment the world is looking with concern on the nuclear program of Iran. Don’t you consider this a threat to Armenia as well?

E.N.: We are following the developments of this issue carefully. We hope that Iran and the international community will come to a solution with joint efforts.

PROFILE: Recently it seemed that there had been a major breakthrough in the relationship between Armenia and Turkey – meanwhile, the rapprochement is stalled again. Do you see a chance for a new dynamic in the near future?

E.N.: The Armenian-Turkish relations were in a deadlock, when the President of Armenia Serzh Sarkisian invited his Turkish counterpart President Gul to Armenia. This visionary initiative, which was met with a positive response by the Turkish President, allowed us to start the process and after several months of difficult negotiations, we made a significant step toward normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations by signing the two Protocols on the establishment of diplomatic relations, having the common border opened and development of bilateral relations, in Zurich last year.

PROFILE: Yet, the ratification has been suspended. Why?

E.N.: After the signing of the Protocols, Armenia began the ratification process having gone through several procedures, the decision of the Constitutional Court, a month in advance of the statutory deadline announcing that the Protocols conformed to the country’s basic law. In early February the president of Armenia announced in his speech at Chatham House in London that the Armenian parliament, where the President enjoys comfortable majority, will ratify the Protocols as soon as Turkey does.
The Turkish side, having easier ratification procedures has taken practically no steps to that end, except for sending the Protocols to the Parliament, and has effectively blocked the ratification process for nine months now.

PROFILE: Do you see the rapprochement continuing the near future?

E.N.: The Armenian approach completely corresponds with the position of the international community: ratification and implementation of the agreements without preconditions and within a reasonable timeframe. With this common understanding we have started and conducted this process and came to the agreements. And in the protocols there are no preconditions.

We hope that the process is not dead, but suspended. And as it was said very clearly we will be ready to move forward if there is again a partner in Turkey ready to move forward with the normalization without any preconditions.

PROFILE: Turkey on its part claims that Armenia is blocking the rapprochement: Who is responsible then?

E.N.: Turkey is trying to find baseless reasons for protracting the process, independent of its logic. At what point Armenia blocked normalization? No one could point out. All the Armenian steps on normalization process were commended by the entire international community. Even the decision on the suspension of the ratification process was met by understanding and applause.

PROFILE:
According to media reports, the most important reason for the suspension of the negotiations with Turkey is the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh. Does this mean that the rapprochement on the matter of the Genocide is already more advanced than on the issue of Nagorno Karabakh?

E.N.: The main and only reason for the suspension of the process is resumption of the Turkish attempt to link the normalization of relations with other issues. After the signing of the protocols, Turkey backtracked and started again to speak in the language of preconditions, for instance attempting to link the Armenian-Turkish normalization process to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution. Not only Armenia, but also the mediators—supporters of this process—the entier international community, have publicly made it clear that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution has no linkage to the Armenian-Turkish normalization process, and that such a linkage could damage both processes.

PROFILE:
Has there also been domestic pressure for abandoning the negotiations?

E.N.: Discontent by many Armenians, not only in Armenia, but also in the Diaspora is motivated by the lack of confidence toward Turkey’s good faith. And the reason for suspension is conditioned by the fact that Turkey today is unable to respect reached agreements, its commitments and given words.

PROFILE: For some time, Turkey seemed to be open for the normalization of the relations, but then it sharply changed its attitude. Do you have an explanation why [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan did that?

E.N.: I can’t say that nobody knows why, but I can say that almost no one understands.

PROFILE: Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan has threatened very clearly to expel 100,000 Armenians. Does this evoke remembrance of the death marches in the year 1915?

E.N.: These kinds of remarks by a Turkish leader speak for themselves. That means and it’s regrettable that some leaders in modern Turkey haven’t given up the discriminatory and racist approaches of the Ottoman period

Of course, this particular statement was a shock for everyone and not only in Armenia. The Armenian Genocide started with exactly such statements in 1914-1915. Later in the end of the 20th century massacres and deportations of the Armenian population of Azerbaijan were accompanied by such kind of racist statements.

PROFILE: Why is it so important for Armenia that Turkey accepts the word “genocide”?

E.N.: From the very beginning of this process we have told our Turkish counterparts that in no way Armenia will question the veracity of the Armenian Genocide or the importance of its international recognition.

We see the recognition and condemnation of the first Genocide in the twentieth century not only as a tribute to memory of its victims, but also as an important tool to prevent further genocides.

PROFILE: You are an optimist. Do you think future genocides will be prevented?

E.N.: You probably know, that Rafael Lemkin, the author of the term “Genocide” invoked the Armenian Genocide as a reason for his wording on the crime against humanity. Although it is very hard for us, we did not put the Armenian Genocide recognition by Turkey as a precondition for normalization of our relations. Turkey should reconcile with its own past to be able to build its future. Nelson Mandela once said. “True reconciliation does not consist in merely forgetting the past”.

At the same time, I have to mention that inside Turkey there are certain processes and movements calling for Genocide recognition. Right after we initiated the normalization process, several Turkish intellectuals started an internet campaign, which was called “Apology campaign.” In just few weeks 35.000 people signed that petition. For the first time in 95 years, this year on April 24, the Armenian Genocide was commemorated at Istanbul’s Taksim square. I hope one day Turkey will recogize the Armenian Genocide. And that is important for Turkey itself. Many in Turkey are beginning to understand this and almost no one has any doubt about it outside of Turkey.

PROFILE: The fact that Turkey refuses to do so may be connected with fears of demands for compensation and even territorial claims: What does Armenia call for aside from acceptance of Turkey’s liability for Genocide?

E.N.: Since its independence, Armenia has never made any statements on territorial claims. It is unfortunate that certain Turkish political forces are using such arguments in order to create fear in Turkish society.

PROFILE: And demands for financial reparation?

E.N.: This is a very hypothetical question. There are descendants of Armenians all over the world who lost their properties back then. They could have judicial avenues to proceed with their demands with or without recognition. This is very normal in a civilized and modern world. So where is the problem?

PROFILE: President Serzh Sarkisian told the German newsweekly “Der Spiegel,” that a joint commission of historians would only make sense if Turkey would admit its guilt for the Genocide. Isn’t this an unacceptable demand for a process intended to explore what exactly happened?

E.N.: The fact of the Armenian Genocide can not be questioned. We told this to our Turkish colleagues right at the very beginning of this process. We agreed to establish sub-commissions within an intergovernmental commission on the development of bilateral relations, and one of the sub-commissions has as its objective to restore confidence between two nations, but of course not at the expense of questioning the veracity of the Armenian Genocide. You couldn’t reach the goal of restoring the confidence between nations by putting the Armenian Genocide under question.

PROFILE: Are you pleased by the fact, that four years ago the National Assembly of France has adopted a law that penalizes the renouncement of genocide against the Armenians? What is the sense of adopting such kind of laws in countries that have nothing to do with the genocide?

E.N.: It is the same as is the case of adoption of laws and bills on Holocaust by countries that have nothing to do with it. We still remember the chilling words of Hitler: “Go, kill without mercy. After all, who remembers the Armenians?”

Genocide is a crime against humanity. As such it concerns humanity as a whole, and not only the people who were its victim.

PROFILE:
Germany still refuses to use the word “genocide” in its official description of the events of 1915, although it bears joint responsibility for the massacres by looking the other way and being dormant. What does Armenia expect of Germany?

E.N.: In the German Bundestag’s resolution entitled “Commemorating the expulsion and massacre of the Armenians in 1915” adopted exactly five years ago, we can read the following: “The Bundestag deplores the disgraceful role played by the German Reich which, in spite of a wealth of information on the organized expulsion and annihilation of Armenians, made no attempt to intervene and stop these atrocities.”

I believe that this wording speaks for itself. Every time the German leaders visit Yad Vashem Memorial and pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust are gaining the sympathy and veneration of the world community for that gesture. Germany has reconciled with its own past and we hope that Germany will serve as an example to Turkey to accomplish the same.

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24 Comments

  1. john papazian said:

    This simply boils down to Turkey acknowledging historical fact.Until the political landscape changes they will not.Reperations of any kind will be deliberated in courts for decades and there will be calls for restitution by Armenian politicians to garner votes at elction time.In the mean time the borders are closed and Armenia is still dealing with hostile Turks on both sides.

  2. Edward Mouradian said:

    My dear namesake calls the deaf dumb and blind to do what???You can knock on the deaf man`s door forever -the results would be the same.Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me- that would be the answer.

  3. Abbe said:

    Very funny that he is not very clear with the terretorial and financial demands.
    I find it wothless if Turkey just recognizes the Genocide and dosn’t get to give back everything they took.
    Then it would be like if someone did a crime and then the police said “if you say sorry to victims mother then it is OK”.
    Funny and irritating… but I hope it is tactics..

  4. Nairian said:

    Abbe:

    You are quite right. After all, even though Germany was not Israel and millions of Jews lived and flourished in Germany; but after the Haulocaust, Germany remunerated all the survivor Jews with a great deal of money (blood money). In Armenians’ case, Western Armenian Highlands was Armenia for 6-8 thousands years until the belligerent Mongolians came to our country and sat on it for 600 years before they annihilated more than two thirds if not 75% of our Armenian population from 1915 through 1923 and they successfully threw us out of our anscestral homeland of 6-8 thousand years. Armenia and Armenians must be renumerated not just with money but with our lands and houses and farms. Western Armenia must be returned to the owners (THE ARMENIANS) and that is Armenians’ blood money.

  5. Arman said:

    This article and the fact that Armenian signature still remains under so called protocols shows that Armenian government is eager to continue this process. If we can survive 2 years from now until the parliamentary elections of Armenia and we can wine Armenia will be in a great danger. Or else we should be ready for loosing Armenia at any given time.

  6. Barkev Asadourian said:

    You have been known before April 22nd 2009 when came out the ROAD MAP this was the begining of
    TRAITORITY to Whole Armenians in the World, you could’t share your People’s history with No.1 enemy,
    therefore you get proccesing with same bases ,until Oct.10th ( Black Saterday ) were you signed most
    dangerous Protocols,these all preface info that you are not capable for the position which you occupying it
    Armenians and Armenia wants you to RESIGN and this requirments been because you fail to FAITH
    OUR COUNTRY for BRIGHT FUTURE !!!
    LONG LIVE A.R.F.
    LONG LIVE ARMENIANS

  7. Vacheh said:

    Someone needs to use a loudspeaker to tell Mr. Nalbandian that he has failed us, especially the Armenians of Diaspora by giving up our territorial demands and brushing aside the Armenian Genocide issue. No Armenian can take a “go alone approach” and put Armenian signature on a piece of paper which would confirm the disgraceful Treaty of Kars (October 1921).

    Turkey’s intentions today are clean and clear for us. The Neo-Ottomans are as active as they used to be 100-120 years ago. Their eyes are on Zangezour, as the first piece of land to be grabbed (by force or by purchasing land from Oligarchs).

    How much and how long the Armenians throughout the world should get up in the morning and taste the poison of protocols like a harmful medication refilled by people like Nalbandians.

  8. Cristina said:

    People! People! People!

    You are loosing an important thing out of sight here.
    Who closed the border?? When? And most importantly, WHY???
    The border was closed by Turkey, in 1993, because it wanted to show solidarity with Azerbaijan, because of the conflict of Artsakh.
    So, how can you talk about re-opening the border or keeping it closed without talking about Artsakh at all…?

    About the Genocide – the following words resume very well my opinion ( i saw them on a poster carried during the march on april 23, in Yerevan):
    Փաստը քննարկման առարկա չէ:, meaning: FACTS ARE NOT A SUBJECT OF DISCUSSION!
    End of story!

  9. Gelat said:

    Nairian
    Don’t you dare compare your bogus genocide to the Holocaust. Jews were living peacefully in Europe when Germans systematically massacred them. Armenians were far from innocent, they sided with the enemy forces and started massacring Turks prior to the Turkish decision of deporting them, stop trying to turn a war Armenians started into a genocide against Armenians. You were the losing side of a war, not a genocide victim or anything. Move on
    Cristina
    You are right,please tell your naive Gov that without Karabakh,you will only see in your dreams that the border is opened.

  10. Vacheh said:

    Gelat,

    I suggest that you leave this web site, as you keep repeating the same parrot-type comments (betrayal, defeat, etc. ) over and over. Post your comments when and if you have something different to say. As Nairian has mentioned appropriately, your people and especially your government have a lot to learn from Germany. She is darn right.

    As I have told you a few days ago, our future generations will speak in a different language, i.e the language of weapons, as people like you don’t seem to understand or willing to consider the language of logic.

    Regarding the open borders with Turkey: Hell to that border. Your villages in Eastern Anatolia are in more need of open borders with Armenia, as they can purchase food and other agricultural goods from Armenia at a lower cost. Your government is unable to feed them from 1000 miles away.

    Regarding the Ararat Mountain, Kars, Ardahan, and other territories immediate to the current-day Armenia, we will get those back once your country loses its value for NATO. Don’t forget that Kurds also have the same campaign against your government. Karabagh should serve as a prime example to your people. Azerbaijani government has been crying from time to time over the past 17 years to get some of the land back. They know pretty well that Armenian side will not give an inch away until they sign the independence of Karabagh.

  11. Gelat said:

    Vacheh
    I though you are little bit fine but you are as same as Edward Mouradain(Mourad is Turkish name)..
    probably you didnt my comment on another topic,..Your Next generation will find deiffernet language?where they will find that language?Dont be naive,see you current situation then talk about victory(Armenia wrapped up two Turkic nations from east and west,from south Armenia attaches Iran which has 30 million Turks live and under UN sanction,if sanctions applys,it will be death for Armenia,and from North you have neighbour Georgia which was,is and will never be your reliable partner)(copy)…

    i am writing same comment as i put another topic:
    This is the comment of one Armenian guy who wathced youtube video(At Turkish border, Armenian villagers eager for trade )and decided to mention the current situation in your homeland:HayaserForeveer:open borders
    OPEN IT NOW
    LET ARMENIA BREATH ONCE AGAIN
    DON’T ALLOW GOR GOR SPYURKS TO DESTROY HAYASTAN
    DON’T ALLOW THOSE TRAITORS IN AMERIKA/CANADA/EUROPE TO PISS ON HAYASTAN
    SERJ DID GOOD, HE SIGNED PROTOCOLS
    SOON BORDERS WILL OPEN
    AND TRADING SHALL BEGIN ONCE AGAIN
    AND ARMENIA SHALL BREATH ONCE MORE
    I DONT GIVE SHIT ABOUT GENOCIDE
    MY HOMELAND COMES 1ST
    NOT GENOCIDE GENOCIDE GENOCIDE

    while you cannot find enough Oxygen to give your population to Breath,where you will find DIFFERENT LANGUAGE?
    About half of Armenians live in poverty and two out of ten of them are extremely poor-World Bank

  12. Cristina said:

    Gelat,

    the current Govt. of Armenia is not MY Govt. I do not agree with it’s existence, nor did i elect it. but that is another discussion.
    BUT…Jews were not living peacefully in Europe. that is where i disagree with you. The Holocaust, or Shoah on its jewish name, was not the first act of aggression against jews and you very well know it.
    And no matter how you call it, holocaust or genocide or whatever, it still remains a crime against humanity and should be punished as such.
    Armenia was not on anybody’s side, we were caught in between. tell me what kind of betrayal did children of 2 to 9 year old, for example, or grandma’s who could hardly move??? what kind of betrayal???
    let us be serious here…
    And yes, regarding the border i agree with Vacheh: to hell with it! And you know why? Because The Kars treaty was signed by Soviet Armenia (which was not an independent country, no soviet country was independent), and the Treaty of Lausanne was not signed by Armenia.
    So the occupation of your state over the lands in question does not legally stand.
    And it is not me to say this thing for the first time.
    And one more thing: i don’t really know who dreams more of the border being open..the group of money-hungry oligarchs who is at power in Armenia, or the people.
    The people survived so far with a “closed” border and in even worse conditions, so there is no big deal. And honestly, how closed is that border if there are flights between Istanbul and Yerevan and if certain businessmen can do their ‘affairs’ unbotheredly…???
    About the Turks supposedly killed by Armenians before the Genocide started…can you give me a list or any kind of document supporting it? Come on….

  13. Cristina said:

    While i agree that the opening of border would be good for those people that you talk about in your post..Please give me an answer on this:
    Whether you call it genocide or not, the point is that you did us an immense wrong, impossible to forget and forgive. So, in this condition…do you blame us for not trusting you…???

  14. Cristina said:

    One more thing.
    On a forum, once i was asked this: “Let us say we will get back all those lands from Turkey. In that case, the new Armenia will be over 60% Turkish-Kurdish. Is that what you want? Not to have a majoritty in your own country???”.
    secondly, i am a “spyur gor gor’ myself and i agree with many of the diaspora’s positions, in a certain measure. Sometimes totally, sometimes a little, sometimes not at all.
    But i have to wonder, how many would leave the confortable life they have in order to help make their beloved Homeland stronger?
    I have to wonder, again, how many would actually come back to the native villages or towns of their ancestors, in Western Armenia (today’s Eastern Turkey), and start a new life over again…?

  15. Vacheh said:

    Gelat,

    I would like to have a civilized discussion, but you keep repeating the same words.

    Regarding the quotation statements above: Where did you get them? Is there a video clip in Armenian or English that I can watch? If you know, please let us see it. Secondly, are you willing to consider the opinion of others and review the evidence and facts that we Armenians present? At least you can think about what you read or what you see and question yourself that there might be truth when we talk about Armenian Genocide.

    I suggested to you several weeks ago that you can visit UCLA library and check for books written by non-Armenians about Armenian Genocide. Review their references. Are all of those people wrong? You are an educated Turkish lady. I have come across Turkish people at my job. They appear to be more open-minded than you and willing to consider different opinions.

  16. Gelat said:

    Vacheh
    I am doing pretty civilized conversation unlike your buddies,you are cursing in your every sentences(Edward,Begian)
    Vacheh several weeks ago i was not writing to Asbarez so no way you can suggest anything.If you need statements from independent sources,here you go:

    “Nearly everyone who touches upon the kernel of the nation learns to respect and love Turks, to humiliate Greeks, to hate and despise Armenians… Everywhere justifies the proverb, that the Greek defrauds 2 Jews, but the Armenian defrauds 2 Greeks. Certainly, if you have been defrauded in Anatolia, so you had a business with an Armenian”
    “When I had business with Turks, I didn’t need a written document, because his vow was enough. When I had business with Greeks, I was in need to sign the written document, because it is important for them. But when I had business with Armenians, I didn’t sign any documents, because even the written document can’t provide a barrier for their mendacity and intrigue”
    German traveler, from the book “Outlines of Anatolia,” p..6, p.188-191

    “Their loyalty, their unblemished honesty, their endless hospitality, their religious tolerance, their moral elegance, and natural tact do give affectionate deposition for the Turks in front of the tribunal of humanity.”
    “To speak about the Armenian race, is for me, more painful than one would believe, because their unfortunate ‘incidents’ render me almost scared.”
    Pierre Loti, French writer and traveler

    “We have first hand information and evidence of Armenian atrocities against our people (Jews). Members of our family witnessed the murder of 148 members of our family near Erzurum, Turkey, by Armenian neighbors, bent on destroying anything and anybody remotely Jewish and/or Muslim… Armenians were in league with Hitler in the last war, on his promise to grant themselves government if, in return, the Armenians would help exterminate Jews. Armenians were also hearty proponents of the anti-Semitic acts in league with the Russian Communists.”
    Elihu Ben Levi, Vacaville, California, letter, San Francisco Chronicle (December 11, 1983). [Armenian guerillas rounded up and massacred Jews in the area of Hakkari; in Trabzon and vicinity they massacred thousands of Greeks. The idea behind these atrocities was to secure an Armenian majority. (Kara Schemsi, Tures et Arméniens devant l’Histoire, Gèneve, Imprimerie Nationale, 1919, p. 49, 41). Jews were attacked everywhere; the Commander of Gendarmerie Regiment at Van recorded: “Some three hundred Jews trying to escape from Akaridan were captured at the village of Sil and cut into pieces. Then (the Armenians) stacked the corpses.” (Aspirations and revolutionary movements of the Armenian parties,. pp. 298-309) ]

    “The great Turk is governing in peace twenty nations from different religions. Turks have taught the Christians how to be moderate in peace and gentle in victory”
    Voltaire

    “Under no other foreign rule could the Greek interests find a protection equal to that offered them by the Turks.”
    M. Politis, foreign minister in the Greek government led by Prime Minister Venizelos, Revue Politique Internationale, 1914

    “America should feed the half million Turks whose hinterland was willfully demolished by the retreating Greeks, instead of aiding the Greeks and Armenians who are sitting around waiting for America to give them their next meal. The stories of Turk atrocities circulated among American churches are a mess of lies. I believe that the Greeks and not the Turks are barbarians.”
    Colonel William Haskell, the American Red Cross; returning from a tour of investigation in the Near East. Source: The Turkish Myth, 1923

  17. Grish Begian said:

    Dear friends,
    This (Gelat lady) is a spy for her AK Party and her job is to neutralize the truth of Armenian Genocide…her job is to mess up everything between Jews, Armenians and Greeks..
    New Turkey’s world policy toward world affairs has been changed so for, they love to create dark atmospheres among those nations who are opposed “Turkish way”…

    It was in Asbarez news where Mr. Davatuglu promises will deal with Diaspora Armenians, civilized way, and deal with Armenia differently…here we go right now we have a (lady) name Gelat, who is Turkish, Jew, and Greek but not Armenian.. I can see she will bring more false information with her/his phony friends to disrupt and misguide Armenians for their bloody dirty politics…….

  18. Cristina said:

    Gelat,

    Are my questions too unconfortable? Why don’t you answer to them, like a civilized person that you pretend you are??? 😛

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