Nalbandian: Turkish Denial Still Main Barrier to Ties

Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian

BUENOS AIRES—The denial by Turkey of the Armenian Genocide still remains the main obstacle in the way of normalized ties between Yerevan and Ankara, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in an interview with the Buenos Aires Herald on Tuesday.

Nalbandian said Turkey is to blame for the failed normalization of ties between Armenia and Turkey because the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded “impossible” pre-conditions.

Nalbandian was on visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, along with the President of Armenia Serzh Sarkisian.

“Our president attempted to normalize relations between our two countries. We agreed on two protocols to normalize our relations, including the establishment of diplomatic relations. Unfortunately, after the signing ceremony — which took place in Zurich in October, 2009 — the Turkish Parliament hasn’t been able to ratify and implement agreements and Turkey is now coming up with new pre-conditions,” Nalbandian told the Herald.

Nalbandian is part of a delegation that accompanied President Serzh Sarkisian to Argentina, where the two participated in the inauguration of the Armenian Genocide Museum in Buenos Aires on Tuesday, the first such museum outside of Armenia. According to Nalbandian, the opening of the museum “is a very important step and we appreciated it very much, as well as the recognition of the genocide [by the Argentine government] through a special law.”

Asked by the Buenos Aires Herald why it is so important for Armenians that the international community acknowledges the genocide, Nalbandian said: “It was the first genocide of the 20th century. And unfortunately, the fact that it was not recognized by the international community at the time made it possible for other genocides to take place. So we feel a responsibility as a people who suffered the first genocide in the 20th century not to allow new crimes against humanity in the future.”

Regarding Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge the scale of the killings, the Foreign Minister said that “it has less to do with the reparations that the Turkish state would have to pay to Armenian families, than with the fact that it would be too difficult for the Turkish state to look at its own people in the eye and say: ‘we’ve been lying to you for 99 years’.”

Armenians around the world will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Genocide next year and Nalbandian said he was confident “that many countries in the world will express their solidarity to the Armenian people.”


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