Reality Check—Talking to Turkey

Garen Yegparian


A friend posted an article on Facebook that included one of the leaked audio recordings (with an English translation appearing on the screen) of Turkish ministerial level discussions of, not to mince words, invading Syria.

Very interesting stuff, but not as interesting as the comment that the poster made. It noted that the “crazy Tashnags” get criticized every time we advise prudence in dealing with Turkey, rightly pointing to the latter’s recent actions in Kessab as evidence of its ongoing intentions of exterminating Armenians. Specifically, TARC and the protocols are cited. But it doesn’t end with those two formal efforts at bogus reconciliation.

Ankara is not home to incompetents. The Turkish diplomatic corps are good at what they do. Otherwise Turkey would not have fared as well as it has. These same seasoned practitioners put their wiles to good use in duping some among our communities. These Armenians presumably think they are very clever and helping promote our cause by agreeing to meet, usually in secret, with Turks who come calling from Ankara. Meanwhile, all they’re doing in reality is undercutting our open, largely consensual, advocacy efforts because the Turks use those meetings to argue “Hey, we’re meeting with the Armenians and we’re making progress” to the very same people we’re lobbying!

Plus, it’s not as though the ARF is opposed to interfacing with Turkey. We’re just not fond of playing the fool. We worked with the Committee of Union and Progress, pre-Genocide. We negotiated with them during the life of the first Republic. In the late 1970s, we started meeting, along with the other two parties, with Turkish representatives before the 1980 coup changed the regime in Ankara. You will recall that in recent months, the ARF was even formally present in Turkey, though that was largely a Kurdish-based interaction.

Hopefully, Turgut Ozal’s threats of invading the Republic of Armenia in the 1990s and Kessab today will jolt our naïve compatriots out of their kumbaya stupor. We must continue to organize. We must continue to strengthen ourselves politically in the Diaspora. We must continue to strengthen both Armenian republics, not just militarily, diplomatically, and economically, but internal-politically (i.e. weed out corruption and enhance citizen engagement in public life). We must continue the barely-started process of relearning the Turks—government and civic-society level. We must engage with Turks and Turkey cautiously, astutely, and always openly to disallow gamesmanship and misrepresentation of what transpires when we interact with them.


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  1. Zareh said:

    When you say “We”, are you authorized to speak on behalf of the ARF. And if that is the truth in what you claim, does the ARF really think talking to Turkey would change anything. It gives more ammunition to politicians around the world that even the most nationalistic party is talking to Turkey and we should let them talk.
    The ARF should stop all sorts of communications with the enemy.
    Miyayn zenkov gah hayots pergoutyoun.
    We did not negotiate with Azerbaijan and we will never negotiate with the terrorist state of Turkey. When the historical opportunity arrives then we will liberate our historic homeland. Until then strengthen Armenia, prevent the assimilation of the diaspora Armenians and continue our friendship with Russia and Iran and China.

    • Ana Lovesbooks said:

      How can we strengthen Armenia without windows to see?
      If ARF, or whoever, will be able to make Turkey to open the borders which will create business for Armenians, make them richer and stronger, let them do it……..(and nobody says let us accept that there was no Genocide) But can we just not talk about it and become good neighbors? before the opportunity comes when we can claim our historical land?
      We must be good diplomats, which we (ALL ARMENINA Parties just fight between each other)that is all they do! ) are not………..and never learn.

      • Zareh said:

        Don’t be naive. Turkey will never open its borders. Even if we give back Artsakh, Turkey will not open its borders. Their goal is to squeeze us economically so we leave our homeland. That has been their goal for centuries. Their purpose is to annihilate Armenians, drive them out of Armenia so they can walk into Armenia without firing one bullet.
        Miyayn zenkov gah hayots pergoutyoun.

        • Janine said:

          You might be right, Zareh, but I don’t believe in using the word “never.” If we really want to help our own people, we keep our eyes open to opportunities that are good and do what we can. The key is to continue doing that. Too much talk in the Armenian community now centers on “never,” and “nobody will ever help us” and things like that: as if a pure, disillusioned, despairing negativity will do us good. It won’t. We miss the gray zones that way, and life is a series of gray zones in which we do what we can. It’s not smart.

  2. AntoMatic05 said:

    Mr. President

    As we sit here brainstorming,
    Half-way across the world bodies are corroding.
    You shy away from Holocaustic views,
    Supply and fuse terror using different avenues.
    Started a war on Terror, oil was what Bush was after,
    Now you support that same terror, Smells recipe for Disaster.
    Voted into office as America’s great hope,
    Now we sit in our homes, with cold thoughts as we cope.
    Befriending the world’s enemies, clearly you claimed as allies,
    They can’t even join the UN, clearly there full of lies, you need to demise
    Now it’s all eyes on you as we watch you make your next move,
    You’re a sheep in wolfs clothing, behind a desk two terms loafing.
    Give the people of the states what is expected,
    No more false moves as your lies are detected.
    #SaveKessab, as Turkey pillages Christian villages,
    Either your with us or against us, 1.5 million Anonymous.

  3. Gaidzag said:

    Armenia’s president needs to revoke the Armenia-Turkey protocol as a response to the invasion and destruction of Kessab in Syria. This protocol was signed on October 10, 2009, which Turkey exploited for its own benefit and giving Turkey the opportunity to continue to remain actively engaged in the Karabagh process..

  4. Alex Postallian said:

    My comment to Garen,that he gave the jerky turks too much credit,may have been true,and forceful..Agreed..On the other hand,TRUTH WILL ALWAYS PREVAIL..So,if you want to be politically correct not , to fight fire with fire,for the LYING turks,STAND UP TO OPPRESSION….The Armenians will always be the LITTLE PEOPLE,time forgot..

  5. Budrig said:

    Lets just look at the basic facts. Turkey is allowing an invasion of another country from its soil. It seems reasonable to hold Turkey accountable for allowing this. This would be the same as Mexicans invading Mexico from the boarder of USA.

    US backs Turkey. Hence NATO backs Turkey. As long as Armenians live in an Arab country we are at risk. This is a street fight. How do you back a bully down, you take it to a level 10. Which means, Armenia need to defend Armenians in Syria and we as Armenians need to support Armenia. No matter were we live. We as Armenians should have zero trust towards the TURKS no excuse.

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