Sarkisian Makes Major Strategic Shift in Armenia’s Demands from Turkey

Harut Sassounian

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

President Serzh Sarkisian delivered a major speech in Marseille, France, last week, during which he introduced a new strategy for the resolution of Armenia’s demands from Turkey. Until now, the Armenian government had merely pursued the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

For the first time, the President spoke about Armenia’s demand for “justice.” To ensure that his message was received loud and clear, he repeated the word “justice” three times in three separate sentences:

— “Every Armenian demands justice, whether he or she lives in Armenia, Artsakh or the Diaspora.”
— “We were strong enough to survive the Meds Yeghern [Great Calamity], and we are just as strong now to demand justice.” The President used the term “Armenian Genocide” six times in other parts of his speech.
— “That was the joyful news for justice, not revenge,” President  Sarkisian stated, describing the joy of Marseille Armenians in 1921, when they heard the acquittal of Soghomon Tehlirian, Talat’s assassin, by a German court.
Surprisingly, not a single political commentator in Armenia, Turkey or elsewhere took note of the significant shift in the approach articulated by President  Sarkisian. Seeking “justice” for the victims of genocide is a completely different objective than simply attaining recognition. In this context, the word “justice” encompasses the undoing of as much of the damage as possible, by demanding the restitution and return of all looted assets, confiscated properties, and occupied territories.

While advancing a more comprehensive set of demands from Turkey, President Sarkisian expressed his conviction that the day would come when Turkey’s leaders would acknowledge the mass crimes committed by their predecessors: “We are confident that Turkey will repent. That is neither a precondition nor a desire to exact revenge. Turkey must face its own history. Someday, Turkey’s leadership would find the strength to reassess its approach to the Armenian Genocide. Our position has not changed — it is clear cut. We are prepared to establish normal relations with Turkey, befitting neighboring countries. For example, neighboring countries Poland and Germany led by Chancellor Willy Brandt, acknowledging his country’s terrible crimes, dropped to his knees at the Warsaw Ghetto. Sooner or later, Turkey, a self-described European country, will have a leadership worthy of being called European, which will bow its head at the Tsitsernagapert [Genocide] Memorial. The sooner the better, but, that’s the prerogative of the Turkish people. We cannot impose anything on them. They should do that for the sake of the Turkish people, just as Willy Brandt did for the sake of the German people.”

Egemen Bagis, Turkey’s Minister for European Union Affairs, perhaps not comprehending the far reaching consequences of President Sarkisian’s demand for “justice,” reacted angrily to other parts of the Armenian President’s remarks. Bagis arrogantly stated: “There is no power in the world that could bring the Turkish people to its knees. On the contrary, the Turkish people know full well how to bring to their knees those who make such ill-informed statements.”

I fully endorse President  Sarkisian’s new approach to the pursuit of Armenian demands from Turkey. Through my columns, speeches, interviews, and private meetings, I have repeatedly urged Armenia’s leaders to demand “justice” from Turkey, rather than simply seeking genocide recognition. One of my articles on this topic, “Genocide Recognition and Quest for Justice,” was published last year in The International & Comparative Law Review of the Loyola Law School of Los Angeles.

Armenia is better off presenting its claims from Turkey in terms of seeking “justice,” to avoid the danger of making official territorial demands from a powerful and menacing neighbor. Nevertheless, the demand for “justice” is a code word or shorthand for a comprehensive set of claims from Turkey. Not even Turkey’s denialist leaders would dare challenge the universally-accepted notion of “justice” based on the rule of law, specifically, international law.

While President Sarkisian’s remarks in Marseille are highly commendable, it remains to be seen how this newly articulated concept of seeking justice for the Armenian Genocide will be translated into action. What practical steps will the Armenian government, particularly the Foreign Ministry, take to demand justice from Turkey? Will Armenia back the lawsuits filed by Diaspora Armenian communities in American and European courts against Turkey, demanding restitution for Armenian losses during the Genocide or will Armenia bring its own lawsuit against the Republic of Turkey in the World Court?

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10 Comments

    • Basil said:

      Asbarez, I understand that freedom of speech is great and that it is what makes us differ from the Turks and Azeris, however I don’t see the point of letting obvious trolls post whatever shit comes to mind and then leave it there fore days. At least if you are doing this, be able to moderate other comments in time, instead of leaving the posts of Teymour and Seymour here for days and opening up new comments only after its old news already.

      And concerning your idol Bagis, Seymur: don’t be sad when EU decides they don’t want Turkey any longer. Just remember Turkeys new stance: we were not begging for entrance for 20 years and would have easily survived without 3 million Turkish garbage men in Germany, therefore we are no longer interested. As far as I know his main job is the EU, right? :X

    • Avery said:

      Yes, Seymur-bey: We admire Bagis-oglu as well. He is a gift to the Armenian Cause. Every time he opens his mouth, he alienates more Europeans and fills them with hatred towards Turks.
      We wish him a long and prosperous life and career as a representative of the Turkish State.

    • Vrej said:

      “They [the Turks] were, upon the whole, from the black day when they first entered Europe, the one great anti-human specimen of humanity. Wherever they went, a broad line of blood marked the track behind them, and, as far as their dominion reached, civilization disappeared from view. They represented everywhere government by force, as opposed to government by law.”
      by William Gladstone (British Prime Minister) … not an Armenian.

  1. Ara Ohanjanyan said:

    Egemen Bagis still has a mentality of his underdeveloped nomadic ancestors. Apparently he is not able to comprehend the European moral standards of Willy Brandt. Turks are not Europeans – there is no clearer evidence of that fact than this Bagis character.

  2. Ararat said:

    The statement by the Turkish EU Minisiter is a typical response by chuvinistic and dillusional Turkish leaders. The world has awakened and it is closing in on Turkey and all the Turks care about is their empty prides. The Turkish pride is much like a drum that makes a lot of noise but it is hollow inside.

    The statement “Nobody has the power to make Turkey bow down” by the Turkish EU Minister is the biggest joke I ever heard. Turkey is already a servant to the West and NATO and servants customarily bow down to their masters.

  3. E.T. said:

    Kudos to Mr. Sassounian. Sargsyan stated it very well when he said “That is neither a precondition nor a desire to exact revenge”. This type of wisdom will make Armenia’s foreign policy strong.

  4. facts said:

    ‎ ‎ if there were no Turkish lead genocide of Armenians people Turkey wouldn’t react in such ‎aggressive and undiplomatically way as did Bagis. ..‎ ‎

  5. hrair said:

    PERSIDENT SARKISIAN IS TALKING ABOUT EVERY ARMENIAN’S DEMAND FOR JUSTICE,AND HE IS VERY CONCILIATORY, HE IS NOT THREATENING TURKEY HE IS SIMPLY ASKING TURKEY TO D0 THE RIGHT THING AND BE JUST AND FOLLOW INTERNATIONAL LAW AND RECOGNIZE THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE COMMITED BY TURKEY.AND COMPENSATE THE VICTIMS. MR.EGEMEN BAGIS’S STATEMENT IS A TYPICAL TURKISH RESPONSE. TO AVOID THE TRUTH AND THREATEN,THE DAY WILL COME MR. SEYMUR THAT YOU ALONG WITH THE TURKISH PEOPLE AND THE ARMENIAN PEOLPLE WILL CALL YOUR LEADERS , HELAL OLSUN AND ABRIS! ABRIS!

  6. Arn.Sweden. said:

    Well –

    n this context, the word “justice” encompasses the undoing of as much of the damage as possible, by demanding the restitution and return of all looted assets, confiscated properties, and occupied territories.

    Comment –

    Armenias Time will come !!!.

    Arn.Swede.

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