NICOSIA, ATHENS (Combined Sources)—In speeches and appearance during his visits to Cyprus and Greece, President Serzh Sarkisian accused Turkey of reneging on its international responsibilities saying it “destroyed” the Turkey-Armenia rapprochement process.
Sarkisian, who arrived in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia Sunday, delivered a speech in parliament Monday with significantly harsh words for Turkey and Azerbaijan, accusing the latter’s leaders of war-mongering.
“The process initiated by our sincere offer to normalize relations with Turkey, albeit through small steps, quickly came to a halt. Turkey destroyed it with its inconsistent posture, contradictory statements, and baseless manipulation of the process,” explained Sarkisian. “Turkey stepped back from its commitments and not only failed to ratify the signed protocols, but also returned to its pre-normalization position. Our efforts and the efforts of our colleagues actively engaged in the process faced the wall of preconditions.”
The Armenian leader also expressed concern about Turkey’s posturing to become a regional power-broker, calling Turkey’s foreign policy “New Ottomanism.”
“We must face the truth. Turkey today aspires to become a regional leader by conducting a so-called ‘New Ottomanism’ policy. However, regional leadership implies a responsible approach and a responsible way of thinking, rather than practices of coercion or dictate,” said Sarkisian. “What did the Ottoman Empire bring to the peoples under its yoke other than massacres, oppression, and tyranny? Does anyone miss Ottomanism, providing a reason to deliver a ‘New Ottomanism’?”
“And what does the ‘zero problems with the neighbors’ policy mean? Does it mean that all neighbors should obediently do what Turkey wants them to do and satisfy Turkey’s preconditions? There are probably neighbors for whom it is quite beneficial, but we are certainly not among them,” added Sarkisian.
“The country which since Armenia’s independence has upon different pretexts closed the border and is trying to blackmail my people may not aspire for regional leadership,” asserted the president.
On the Karabakh front, Sarkisian forcefully articulated Armenia’s position on the matter and accused Azerbaijan of using military rhetoric and war mongering.
“We have also discussed the prospects of settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh and Cyprus issues. We concurred that each conflict must be solved based on its historical past and specifics. For that very reason we support each other’s positions regarding the resolution of these issues and believe that the principles of the right of people for self-determination and territorial integrity are not mutually exclusive,” said Sarkisian during a joint press conference with his Cypriot counterpart, Demetris Christofias.
On his Athens leg of the trip, it was Greek president, Karolos Papoulias who told Sarkisian that the two nations were “butchered” in their past by their common arch-foe. “We were butchered by the same barbarian,” he said, according to the AFP news agency.
Papoulias added that “many things have changed” since the early 20th century when the killings of Armenians and Black Sea Greeks in the Ottoman Empire occurred, and criticized a decades-old arms race with Ankara that has cost Athens billions of euros, reported RFE/RL.
Sarkisian’s criticism of Turkey was much harsher that his speech in Nicosia a day earlier, according to RFE/RL.
One of the agreements signed during Sarkisian’s trip to Athens calls for continued cooperation between the Armenian and Greek defense ministries. Sarkisian stressed the importance of that agreement at his joint news conference with Papoulias, reported RFE/RL.
Sarkisian’s speech in the house of representatives of the Cyprus Republic
Nicosia, 17 January 2011
Your Excellency President Christofias,
Distinguished Mr. Garoyian,
Dear People of Cyprus,
Thank you for receiving me in the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus. I am truly delighted and honored to speak before the Parliament of the traditionally friendly state and the brotherly people for Armenia and the Armenian nation.
I am having warm feelings each time I speak of friendship between our two peoples. This friendship has ancient roots and a rock-solid foundation. Cyprus is a place which is dear to the hearts and minds of the Armenian people. This marvelous island is one of the unique countries in which Armenians have never been considered as strangers from ancient times; rather, Armenians lived and created in this country and, whenever necessary, took on arms to fight against the enemies of this country. The vast majority of the Armenian community of Cyprus, which amounted to tens of thousands in the Middle Ages, left the country after the Ottoman invasion. However, by some irony of fate, the present-day Armenian Community of Cyprus was formed under a different set of geopolitical circumstances as a consequence of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the same empire. Here, I bow respectfully before the Cypriot people for providing shelter, opportunities for a new life, and a new fatherland to the Armenian refugees that survived the yataghan.
My fellow Armenians that settled in Cyprus can live and create freely, without concealing their ethnic identity and origin. Fully integrated in the Cypriot society, the Armenians contribute to the prosperity of their second fatherland. I am proud that the Armenians of Cyprus contribute constructively to the public and political life of this country, as best illustrated by the fact that this session, to my great pleasure, is chaired by my fellow Armenian, Marios Garoyian.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
I stand today in a Parliament that back in 1982 was among the first in the world to recognize and denounce the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire, and to demand the restoration of historical justice. The Armenian people are grateful to the brotherly people of Cyprus for joining us in commemoration and paying tribute to the memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide. One of the monuments to the Armenian Genocide located in your country was erected in Larnaca with the support of the Cyprus-Armenia Friendship Group and my dear colleague, President Christofias.
Friendship of our peoples is genuinely sincere and strong. It withstood the test of time and upheavals of history. Destiny often subjected us to cruel tests jeopardize our statehood and leaving our peoples, bearers of a millennia-old culture, in the hands of executioners. We paid with irreversible losses and a long struggle against the common enemy for ridding ourselves of the foreign yoke, and our freedom-loving peoples regained the right to live independently and in peace.
Our peoples, who passed through the crucible, are still facing some problems. Unfortunately, in this most civilized era of human history, there are still forces and statesmen that have not abandoned the archaic way of thinking and the invader psychology, confident that even today “the strongest will dictate”. Hence, we have to multiply our common efforts to achieve just solutions for our causes and peace for our peoples.
In this respect, I would like to speak of the vital issues for Armenia and all Armenians, the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh and the stalemate in which the Armenia-Turkey relationship currently is. Speaking about these issues is important because in the modern era of information technology misinformation very often quickly overshadows the truth.
The people of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was forcibly annexed to Azerbaijan by the totalitarian regime, never put up with the status imposed on them. They witnessed the fate of the Armenians in Nakhichevan – another annexed territory, who succumbed to the oppression of the Azerbaijani authorities and had to leave the land on which they had lived for millennia. It was not by accident that throughout the Soviet period and especially in during the liberation process, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh was regularly raising the issue of their independence. In 1991, they stated their independence through a referendum that was conducted in full accordance with the legislation of the Soviet Union. Resorting to explicit ethnic cleansing and military aggression, Azerbaijan tried to kill the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. Failing to win in the war it unleashed, Azerbaijan was forced in 1994 to sign a trilateral ceasefire agreement with Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. Unfortunately, this rare opportunity to establish durable peace, which could have marked the beginning of peaceful coexistence and development for the peoples of the region, is to date being abused by Azerbaijan for preparing a new military aggression.
Hostile propaganda against Armenia and the Armenians and state-supported apparent falsifications of history, which have overwhelmed Azerbaijan, coupled with the arms race and military build-up, prove that Baku is not ready for peace. It reaches a point when my Azerbaijani counterpart declares that a large part of Armenia had been donated to us by Azerbaijan, and that Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is an Azerbaijani city. I am sure that Cyprus has dealt with a similar absurdity of history distortion.
The Armenophobic and aggressive stance of Azerbaijan reinforces our conviction that Nagorno-Karabakh has no future within Azerbaijan. Moreover, Azerbaijan has no legal, political, or moral grounds for aspirations regarding Nagorno-Karabakh. While we are determined to resolve the issue in an exclusively peaceful and negotiated way, should Azerbaijan opt for a military adventure our response will be resolute.
Unfortunately, some countries, enticed by energy interests, conduct in our intrinsically volatile region short-sighted policies. In no way is it conducive of regional stability. Moreover, simple logic proves that these very economic interests will be the first to suffer in case the regional stability is endangered.
Standing here, on the friendly land of Cyprus, I cannot sidestep the Cyprus issue. It so happened that in search for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh and Cyprus conflicts we resort to different principles of international law, because these two conflicts are different in terms of their nature, circumstances, history, and relevant facts. Each conflict has its own logic and a different key to its solution.
Many have tried to catch us in the trap of superficial interpretation of the rules and provisions of international law. However, any law is anchored in justice, and we must stand united in our righteous struggle for the restoration of justice.
Armenians have never hesitated in supporting our Cypriot brothers, at times we even fought for the territorial integrity of Cyprus. We are truly concerned with the resolution of the Cyprus issue, because, like Cyprus, the Armenian cultural legacy in Cyprus is divided; like Cyprus, it longs for reunification, for attention and care, because those, who occupy the territory of our brotherly country, do not bother to take care of the Christian cultural heritage.
Armenia has never accepted and will never accept any attempt to divide brotherly Cyprus. We have never put up and will never put up with the occupation of the North of this friendly country. We join you in remembering Famagusta and other territories occupied by Turkey. We do remember, because the failure to remember would be tantamount to putting up with the status quo and the violence exerted on this country. We are calling things by their proper names, so that the crime is not dashed off and the Cyprus issue is resolved in a just and lawful manner.
Armenians and Cypriots are not only friends and brothers, but also natural allies and we are committed to this alliance. I assure you that you will not find on the face of the Earth a single Armenian who would not sincerely share in joy of victories and achievements of Cyprus, its progress, stability, and peace.
Establishment of durable peace and stability in our region is one of Armenia’s key objectives. However, our persistent efforts in this direction came to a stalemate. I trust that you in Cyprus have closely followed the Armenia-Turkey normalization process.
The process initiated by our sincere offer to normalize relations with Turkey, albeit through small steps, quickly came to a halt. Turkey destroyed it with its inconsistent posture, contradictory statements, and baseless manipulation of the process. Turkey stepped back from its commitments and not only failed to ratify the signed protocols, but also returned to its pre-normalization position. Our efforts and the efforts of our colleagues actively engaged in the process faced the wall of preconditions.
Should preconditions be set, then we had considerably more moral and legal grounds for presenting preconditions. We did, however, find the strength to overcome all psychological obstacles and to move forward. We do have many problems with Turkey, including, first and foremost, the problem related to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
However, instead of setting preconditions, we opted for a dialogue as a civilized way for resolving problems.
We must face the truth. Turkey today aspires to become a regional leader by conducting a so-called “New Ottomanism” policy. However, regional leadership implies a responsible approach and a responsible way of thinking, rather than practices of coercion or dictate. What did the Ottoman Empire bring to the peoples under its yoke other than massacres, oppression, and tyranny? Does anyone miss Ottomanism, providing a reason to deliver a “New Ottomanism”?
And what does the “zero problems with the neighbors” policy mean? Does it mean that all neighbors should obediently do what Turkey wants them to do and satisfy Turkey’s preconditions? There are probably neighbors for whom it is quite beneficial, but we are certainly not among them.
The country which since Armenia’s independence has upon different pretexts closed the border and is trying to blackmail my people may not aspire for regional leadership.
We consider ourselves bearers of the European values and a member of the European family. Armenia is currently implementing wide-scale reforms with the significant support of the European structures. We are greatly interested in having neighbors committed to the democratic and European values, neighbors that resolve issues by means of dialogue and negotiations, rather than threats. We hope that Turkey will understand and appreciate the importance of these values for its own stability, development, and prosperity.
The Armenian-Cypriot friendship is anchored not only in deep-rooted historical, cultural, and social ties, but also in mutual trust, respect, admiration, and a shared system of values.
My presence in this hall today, as well as productive reciprocal visits by the senior officials of our countries, bear testament to the depth of our relationship and to the determination to deepen them further. The Armenian-Cypriot relationship has progressed significantly in the last two decades. Our countries are now engaged not only in the active political dialogue, but also in vibrant cooperation in virtually all, including the inter-parliamentary, military-industrial, cultural, educational, and other areas. I would like to see further progress in the economic area as well; we are exerting joint efforts in this field. I think that in this sphere too we will achieve major progress in the years to come.
As I speak here in the House of Representatives of Cyprus, I could not circumvent the importance of active inter-parliamentary cooperation for the Armenian-Cypriot relationship. I am delighted to note considerable progress in the inter-parliamentary cooperation field. I wish also to emphasize the role of parliamentary diplomacy and the need to support one another on vital matters in the international parliamentary structures.
One can state with confidence that new achievements are enriching the spectrum of the Armenian-Cypriot cooperation every year. As natural allies, we are keen on each other’s political, diplomatic, economic, and social strengthening.
Our peoples and countries are connected not only by history and culture, but also the future. I am confident that through close cooperation and joint efforts, we can secure the sovereignty of our states and a prosperous future for our peoples. I have no doubt that together we will forge history of millennia.
Long live Cyprus!
Long live Armenia!
Long live the Armenian-Cypriot centuries-old friendship!
Thank you for your attention.
Sarkisian’s statement at a joint press conference with the President of Cyprus
Dear Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank President Christofias for the warm welcome and substantive talks we have held. I am happy to be hosted in friendly Cyprus.
We have had interesting and substantial discussions with President Christofias.
Strong relations established between our countries are based on centuries-long friendship of our two nations, while in modern times they are also solidified by common European democratic values.
The Armenian-Cypriot friendship has huge potential for development, and four agreements signed today will propel them further.
We have agreed to maintain the high level and intensity of our political dialogue.
I would like to note with satisfaction that recently cooperation between our defense structures has been developing vigorously. For me it bears also personal significance, since it was I – the then Minister of Defense of Armenia, who signed this Agreement back in 2002.
Speaking about the current state of our trade and economic relations, President Christofias and I agreed to take further steps to fully realize the existing potential of cooperation. I am confident that the Business Forum, held in the framework of this visit, will facilitate that cooperation, as will the first session of the Armenian-Cypriot intergovernmental commission held in Yerevan a couple of days ago.
We view as promising cooperation in the areas of tourism and food processing.
Further development of cultural ties established between our two states is essential, particularly through the active culture exchanges. Strengthening of the ties in the area of education is another component of our cooperation in which deepened cooperation among the higher education establishments has a special role.
We have certainly spoken about the Armenian-Turkish and Cypriot-Turkish relations.
Just like our friend Cyprus, we don’t resort to threats and political blackmail to solve our problems. I believe you do know that despite Armenia’s readiness to normalize relations, the Armenian-Turkish border remains closed and the two countries still do not have diplomatic relations.
Armenia is not opposed to neighboring Turkey’s membership at the EU. At the same time, we are confident that Turkey will not be able to pave a road toward the European Union without coming to terms with her past and without establishing normal relations with the neighboring states.
We have also discussed the prospects of settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh and Cyprus issues. We concurred that each conflict must be solved based on its historical past and specifics. For that very reason we support each others’ positions regarding the resolution of these issues and believe that the principles of the right of people for self-determination and territorial integrity are not mutually exclusive.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Armenian-Cypriot relations have brilliant future, and I would like to assure you all that President Christofias and I will do everything to get there.