Opposition Criticizes Armenian Attendence at Erdogan’s Inauguration

Armenia's Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian in attendence at the inauguration ceremony of Turkey's new President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

ANKARA (RFE/RL)—Armenia’s main political parties at odds with President Serzh Sarkisian on Thursday criticized him for sending a high-level Armenian delegation to the inauguration of Turkey’s new President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The delegation headed by Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian was among official representatives of around 90 countries present at the ceremony held in the Turkish parliament. Only one of those countries, Armenia, has no diplomatic relations with Turkey, a fact emphasized by critics of Sarkisian’s decision.

Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian defended the high-level Armenian presence, calling it “normal.” He also downplayed the fact that a Turkish head of state was sworn in the presence of an Armenian minister for the first time ever.

“There have been no such inaugurations in Turkey before because the Turkish president used to be elected by parliament,” Kocharian told journalists. “This ceremony is therefore the first of its kind.”

Opposition leaders dismissed these explanations. “The participation of our chief diplomat in Erdogan’s inauguration is not justified. They should have chosen a different level of participation,” said Naira Zohrabian of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the second largest parliamentary force.

The opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun) also criticized Nalbandian’s trip to Ankara. Its foreign policy spokesman, Giro Manoyan, pointed to Erdogan’s recent offensive remarks about Armenians. “Erdogan … has frankly demonstrated his feelings and thoughts about Armenia and the Armenians,” he said.

According to Manoyan, Dashnaktsutiun is worried that Nalbandian’s visit may be part of Sarkisian’s broader efforts to revive the 2009 Turkish-Armenian normalization protocols strongly condemned by the party. Dashnaktsutiun has repeatedly demanded that Yerevan withdraw its signatures from those agreements which Erdogan’s government has refused to implement unconditionally.

Levon Zurabian of the Armenian National Congress (HAK), another opposition party highly critical of the protocols, expressed similar concerns. “The fact that Armenia sent its foreign minister to Ankara is clearly connected with its desire to kick-start some diplomatic process,” Zurabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “The only diplomatic process related to Turkey is the Turkish-Armenian protocols which we have discussed on numerous occasions. This was one of Armenia’s biggest failures.”

Announcing Nalbandian’s trip last Saturday, Sarkisian said the chief Armenian diplomat will use the occasion to clarify whether Erdogan will accept his invitation to visit Yerevan next April and attend official commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.


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  1. Ohan said:

    Can some one give a logical answer to:
    Why the Turkish foreign minister did not attend Sarkissian’s “inauguration ceremony”.

  2. Hratch said:

    We’ll be discredited if we don’t attend. It only proper diplomatic etiquette. The foreign minister has already stated that he will use the occasion to invite Erdogan to visit Dzidzernagapert next year. A great way to make headlines around the world. If we refuse to attend the inauguration, we’ll miss the opportunity to embarrass Erdogan on the world stage.

  3. zorik said:

    Why we need Erdogan to attend on the commemoration of the 100 anniversary of Armenian Genocide?

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  5. Hrant A. said:

    Our Government Officials have a slave mentality. The diplomatic charade continues. Why does our Foreign Minister have to attend the inauguration of a President whose country refuses to have diplomatic relations with Armenia?

  6. Hagop D said:

    I agree this seems wrong. In one sense, this is like “showing support” to this ridiculous sultan-wannabe Erdogan. Since in his eyes it is shameful being an Armenian, this makes it especially wrong, not mention that most of the countries eager to attend the inauguration are probably the world’s rejects, bottom feeders and terrorism supporters.

  7. User1 said:

    Every action should be based on true desires. Armenian people do not have desire for fake smiles to people who does not even think that our existence might have pride in it. Every action should have pride in it!

  8. Armenian said:

    One must detach themselves from emotion. No doubt about it, Erdogan is a piece of crap, but that doesn’t mean we should miss an opportunity to put him in an awkward position. Nalbandyan did the right thing by attending. Let them remember that we are still in their community, and that we haven’t forgotten about one of the most detrimental events standing in the way of normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia.