Switzerland-Armenia Association Opposes Protocols ; Issues Position Paper

BERN—The Switzerland-Armenia Association issued a position paper Wednesday criticizing the protocols on the establishment and development of relations between Turkey and Armenia.

In the announcement, the organization fleshes out the contentious points of the protocols and dangers it poses to Armenia and its national security. It is significant since Switzerland is mediating the talks between Turkey and Armenia.

Below is the position paper:


Switzerland – Armenia Association (SAA) Position Paper on the Protocols for the Establishment and Development of Diplomatic Relations Between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey Protocols intended to be ratified by the Parliaments of Armenia and Turkey


If ratified by the respective Parliaments of the two Republics, these Protocols will have the value of an international treaty; they will be legally valid under international law, and the parties will assume obligations among themselves. It will not be possible to object to these obligations unless a new treaty, with different content is ratified.

The following items and clauses of the Protocols are to be disputed:

I. Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Armenia and Republic of Turkey

3rd point:

“Reconfirming their commitment, in their bilateral and international relations, to respect and ensure respect for the principles of equality, sovereignty, non intervention in the internal affairs of other states, territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers.”

• Armenia has already subscribed to these principles by signing the UN Charter at the time of independence.

• Armenia will no longer have the right to negotiate for Karabakh. Under international law, the region of Karabakh is currently, legally part of Azerbaijan territory. Karabakh runs the enormous risk of no longer being supported by its mother country (the Republic of Armenia), thus being left alone in its claim for self-determination, part of the Principles of Madrid.

• It is unclear as to why the Protocols expressly cite the principles of sovereignty, non intervention in the internal affairs of other States, territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers, but do not make any explicit or implicit reference to the principle of the right of self-determination. This right does not appear in this, or in any other paragraph within both this Protocol and the one on the Development of Relations Between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey. In fact, the indirect reference to it, by citing the Final Act of Helsinki (which includes the right to self-determination, quoted in point 2 of the same protocol) does not imply that the Protocol could make reference to it. It implies that the issue of self-determination cannot be raised unless the Republic of Azerbaijan agrees to refer to it. If raised, the right of self-determination under these Protocols would be subordinate to territorial integrity.

• By not mentioning it separately, and not asking Turkey for a clear reference to it, the right to self-determination and the reaffirmation of this principle which has the value of an “imperative norm of international law” will loose its prevalence over any other principle; there is an acquiescence by the signatory, that this principle does not apply to the subject matter because the subject is not open for discussion. The reference to the final Act of Helsinki, whose dogma of territorial integrity prevails, is nothing more than a direct intention to undermine this willingness.

• Armenia will no longer have the right to raise concerns about the possible abuse of Armenian cultural patrimony in Turkey and as part of its claims in relation to its historical properties. It is indirect acknowledgement of the effective legislation applied by Turkey since the events of 1915 to render ineffective any claim on such properties.

• Directly related to this point is that as a signatory of the Protocols in question, Armenia will no longer have the right to hold Azerbaijan accountable in front of an international authority for the destruction of the Khatchkars (Cross-Stones) of Djougha (Nakhitchevan), the Armenian cemetery in Baku and many other Armenian monuments on Azerbaijani territory.

• In addition, the destruction of Armenian monuments and churches in Georgia, especially in Tiflis and in the Armenian populated Region of Samtkhe Djavaketi (Djavakhk), will never be subject to international condemnation. Moreover, by signing these protocols Armenia will not have the right to defend Armenians in Djavakhk, this is a direct reference to the Vahak Chakhalian case.

5th point:

“Confirming the mutual recognition of the existing border between the two countries as defined by the relevant treaties of international law,”

• This is a direct reference to the Treaty of Kars (1921) and the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), but not the Treaty of Sèvres (1920), which was signed by the Ottoman Empire on August 10, 1920, but has not been ratified by the Ottoman Parliament. Armenia was not present during the negotiations leading to the Treaty of Lausanne and could thus advance the reserve that it did not sign this treaty. Armenia could also make the point that Soviet Armenia was forced to sign the Treaty of Kars. It is vital to note that President Wilson got a Mandate from all of the Powers present in Sèvres in order to establish the new territorial boundaries for Armenians, the Kurds and the Turks. The definition of these boundaries did not depend upon ratification. An international arbitration on these boundaries has been rendered, and as a judicial instrument, is still in force. If Armenia signs this Protocol, it will put an end to the existing judicial controversy and the Republic of Armenia will permanently loose all of its claims to land in Turkey.

• The recognition of borders would put an end to the debate; the victims of the Armenian Genocide were subject to a massive ethnic cleansing campaign and are entitled to reparations. Accepting these boundaries leaves by definition, the question of liability aside. Responsibility under international law leads by definition to appropriate reparations; this is what would have happened with recognition of the Genocide. Here Armenia recognizes the borders, recognizes the Treaty of Lausanne, and the crime is left in the hands of a “sub committee”, whose decisions will not be considered a judgment having relevance under international law. At best, this committee will recognize a historical fact. Therefore, Armenian claims of any nature whatsoever, territorial, legal etc. will be waived and no longer considered.

6th point:

(…) Reiterating their commitment to refrain from pursuing any policy incompatible with the spirit of good neighborly relations.” (…)

• This point is a direct intention, and Turkey’s aim, to definitively block international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Furthermore, this point would be used against any claim or issue Armenia should make concerning the destiny of Armenian cultural and architectural patrimony in Turkey, bilaterally or under international law. Although indirectly, this point could be used against Armenia’s role in the Karabakh conflict, given the close ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan.

II. Protocol on the Development of Relations Between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey

6th point:

“Reiterating their commitment to the peaceful settlement of regional and international disputes and conflicts on the basis of the norms and principles of international law,”

• The Karabakh conflict is directly implied here as is the issue of Armenian Genocide reparations. Clear reference is made to the Karabakh conflict, and implies that the Republic of Armenia is no longer entitled to support, help, or contribute to the defense of the Republic of Karabakh.

• Karabakh: what are the criteria under international law for defining the legitimacy of a region within an existing country, giving that region its independence? As mentioned previously, under international law the right of self-determination prevails over any other principle, including that of territorial integrity. However, by signing these Protocols where such criterion is not included, is a clear indication that this principle is to be excluded from this issue; it would therefore be impossible for the Republic of Armenia to make any reference to it, in relation to the conflict at stake.

• Reparations: As long as: Turkey will not sign a document recognizing the Genocide, or an international criminal court does not condemn Turkey (as successor of the Ottoman Empire) for the Armenian Genocide, the General Assembly of the United Nations will have no reason to condemn it; as a consequence, there will be no instrument under international law to pursue Turkey — as legal successor of the Ottoman Empire, for this crime (even only to require that moral reparations be met).

• Directly related to the former is a decision of a court case in the United States on 20 August 2009, where the absence of such an instrument, as well as the absence of legal recognition by the U.S. Government that the Armenian Genocide occurred, was fundamental in the ruling by a federal appeals court. The ruling found that Armenian American descendants of the victims of the 1915-18 massacres by Ottoman Turks, are not permitted to sue foreign insurance companies for unpaid claims. Amazingly, the appeals court did not take then US President Ronald Reagan’s speech commemorating and recognizing the Armenian Genocide in 1981 into consideration, and did not take into consideration both joint resolutions passed by the US House of Representatives in 1975 and 1984, textually recognizing the Armenian Genocide. However, the recognition of this crime by more than 20 national Parliaments and five Governments (France, Greece, Argentina, Uruguay and Canada), the Swiss Supreme Court in condemning the denialist Dogu Perincek, and the Whitaker Report (on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, approved by the UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities) is tangible evidence of heightened sensibility and international law in this sense.

2nd agreement, 2nd paragraph:

“Implement a dialogue on the historical dimension with the aim to restore mutual confidence between the two nations, including an impartial and scientific examination of the historical records and archives to define existing problems and formulate recommendations;”

• This item is one of the most controversial points in this Protocol, and puts Armenia at great risk with respect to its relations with the Diaspora: Armenia does not have the right to speak on behalf of the entire Nation, which includes the Diaspora (this point in the Protocol specifies “Nations” and not Countries, and holds true for the remainder of the text).

• The SAA does not concur with following phrase in the Protocol: “to define existing problems”. Is the Genocide an existing problem that needs to be redefined? Or is the problem in fact that the Genocide has not yet been recognized by the Republic of Turkey? Or is it that relations between the two Nations cannot move forward because of the unresolved issue of the Genocide? Mutual confidence between Armenia and Turkey on the “historical dimension” cannot be restored but by Turkish recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Affirming that an “impartial and scientific examination” is needed leaves the assumption that such work did not take place before the drafting of this Protocol — such an intention is flagrantly untrue.

• The conclusions by a Sub-Commission on the “historical dimension” will not be a binding resolution for Turkey; only recommendations are foreseen. Given Turkey’s track record, it would be highly unlikely that the Republic of Turkey will take any responsibility for the Armenian Genocide based on simple recommendations. Worthy of particular note however is that if the Protocols are ratified, it will be the first time that the Republic of Turkey has participated in a commission, at an international level in relation to the 1915 events. The following is certain: the commission’s conclusions will have no impact or effect under international law; the objective of the commission being explicitly defined, is to study “the historical dimension”. The SAA finds it evident that the commission shall no
t be allowed to deviate from this objective, nor entitled to conclude in a manner different from that of mere historical appreciation.

Bern, 8 September 2009


Related posts

Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.


  1. John K. said:

    Excellent paper. I hope the Armenian leadership in Armenia read this paper and find out what they are getting into and decide not to ratify this dangerous protocol.

  2. Hye Toog said:

    Khoujan asker zorken e hanel
    yegel hayotz tzorn e m’del,
    Soultan gouze tchenchel mezi
    zartir lao mernim kezi

  3. Darwin Jamgochian said:

    Incidentally, Switzerland stopped Armenian Genocide recognition in its tracks after their lower house of parliament passed a resolution condeming it. It seems that the Swiss buckled under the pressure of the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Agence France Presse

    “December 16, 2003 Tuesday 1:46 PM Eastern Time

    ANKARA, Dec 16 — Turkey on Tuesday condemned the Swiss parliament for
    recognizing as genocide the killings of Armenians under the Ottoman
    Empire during World War I and warned that the move would lead to

    “We strongly condemn and reject the decision adopted by the lower
    house of the Swiss parliament on the so-called Armenian genocide,”
    the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

    It added without elaborating that Switzerland would “bear
    responsibility for the negative consequences” triggered by the
    decision which the statement said was taken without consideration
    for bilateral ties.

    The resolution by the lower house of the Swiss parliament, which
    goes against the Bern government’s advice, was adopted adopted by
    107 votes to 67.

    Unlike an earlier motion rejected in 2001, it does not formally
    require the Swiss government to recognize that a genocide had indeed
    taken place.

    Instead, it asks only that the government acknowledge the decision
    and transmit it to Turkey.

    Ankara hit back by saying that the Swiss resolution was a distortion
    of historical facts.

    “It is unacceptable that events which took place under the special
    conditions of World War I and which caused great pain to both Turks
    and Armenians, be distorted and presented as genocide of one party,”
    the Turkish ministry statement read.

    Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen were massacred in
    orchestrated killings nine decades ago.

    Turkey categorically rejects claims of genocide, saying that 300,000
    Armenians and thousands of Turks were killed in what was a civil
    strife during World War I when the Armenians raised up against their
    Ottoman rulers.

    b. Armenian genocide

    Dec 16 2003

    The Swiss parliament has officially recognised as genocide the
    slaughter of up to 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from
    1915 to 1918.

    The government now has to inform the Turkish authorities of the
    House of Representatives’ decision, but it does not have to take a
    position itself.

    Earlier proposals to recognise the killings as genocide had been
    rejected for fear of harming relations with Turkey.

    A planned visit to Turkey in October by the Swiss foreign minister,
    Micheline Calmy-Rey, was cancelled by the Turks following the decision
    of a cantonal parliament to recognise the genocide.

    Swiss lawmakers recognize Armenian genocide
    by IRENE HARNISCHBERG; Associated Press Writer

    Associated Press Worldstream
    December 16, 2003 Tuesday 12:55 PM Eastern Time

    BERN, Switzerland — Swiss lawmakers on Tuesday voted to recognize
    as genocide the mass killing of Armenians during and after World War I.

    Some 107 members of the Alpine country’s lower house backed a
    resolution condemning the actions of Ottoman Turkish forces eight
    decades ago. Sixty-seven lawmakers opposed the move and 11 abstained.

    Switzerland is the 15th country to label the killings as genocide,
    a step already taken by France, Argentina and Russia – as well as 11
    U.S. state governments.

    When the resolution was first proposed in March 2002, Switzerland’s
    ruling Cabinet said it feared a vote could harm links with Turkey,
    which is deeply sensitive about the issue. Swiss Foreign Minister
    Micheline Calmy-Rey spoke against the resolution in parliament Tuesday.

    Armenians say a 1915-1923 campaign to force them out of eastern Turkey
    amounted to a genocide and some 1.5 million people were killed.

    Turkey says the death count is inflated – although it acknowledges
    hundreds of thousands died – but denies genocide. Turks say Armenians
    were killed or displaced along with others as the Ottoman Empire
    tried to quell civil unrest.

    In a statement, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said it “strongly condemned
    and rejected the decision.”

    “It is unacceptable to unilaterally present as a genocide … these
    events that came out of the special conditions of World War I and which
    caused great pain for both Turks and Armenians,” the statement said.

    “Parliament took this decision by considering domestic politics
    and by ignoring relations between Turkey and Switzerland and the
    feelings and thoughts of Turks in the country,” it said. “It bears
    the responsibility for the negative consequences that the decision
    can lead to.”

    Swiss-based Armenian groups welcomed the vote.

    Dominique de Buman, one of two Christian Democrat parliamentarians who
    proposed the resolution, said a vote was needed to reflect historical
    truth. “Time cannot heal all wounds,” he said, adding that he did
    not want to provoke a dispute with modern Turkey.

    But Radical Democrat Johann Schneider-Ammann, president of a Swiss
    industrial federation, said he feared the vote could damage trading
    links with Turkey.

    In 2001, Turkey canceled millions of dollars worth of defense deals
    with French companies, after lawmakers in France recognized the

    Lawmakers should leave the issue to historians, Schneider-Ammann said.”

  4. Moris said:

    I will be not surprised, if – not only Turkey- but the ruling elite too, to take attempts/actions and try to manipulate the situating in the country, even on the frontiers to Azerbaijan just shortly before a vote in parliament, in order to spread fear in the society and justify a fast and uncomplicated ratification!

    Turkey is just imposing these two documents on Armenia!

    I didn’t know that a small party like “Rule of Law Party (Orinats Yerkir) ” has the mandate to speak in the name of whole Armenian people!

    As “nations” – as written in protocols- I understand (Armenia + Diaspora) but Armenian has NO right to speak in the name of Diaspora…

    The world has changed not Turkey; Armenian nation has to deal with the same Turkey of 1915!

  5. Svetlana said:

    The time will come when nations will ask for a permission to recognize the Armenian genocide.
    Meanwhile Armenia has to recognize that it has an extremely important geopolitical international value today. This is very carefully washed out from the scene and hidden in discussion by “smart” politicians and “skillful” dealers. For receiving nothing, Armenia is welcomed to allow running of “international” highways through its territory ; weakening of soul – giving up unification behind realm of Artsakh-ashkharh; lost of memory – creating committees for creation of history.
    Armenia has to refute any country from a right to discuss or “being concerned” about Armenian Genocide. Let this horror to rest for a while. The time will come when nations will ask for a permission to recognize the Armenian genocide.

  6. jerry sabounjian said:

    This so called protocol seems to be drafted exclusivly by Turkey. Where is the protocol drafted by Armenia?

  7. Gayane said:

    This is a great piece.. I have shared this article with all of my friends, Armenian and NON-Armenian.. I want to spread the word not only among ourselves but also with our American friends.. We need to make sure we educate everyone on what is truly going on.. Majority is hearing and reading what is being handed over by the media and media does not expose too many insight history as our newspapers do.

    I truly received goosebumps and my heart beat 1000 time faster when I read this article.. We are walking into the devil’s den without heads down and without resistance if we accept these protocols..

    We need to open Armenia’s president’s eyes and tell him to wake up and see what will happen to his people and country if he does not do what every President should do.. Stand behind his people and nation and try to protect with whatever he can.

    Long Live Armenia and Karabach

  8. Darwin Jamgochian said:

    Incidentally, the United States should not participate in the assembly of any protocols for Turkish-Armenian negotiations as a disinterested party either since their Federal courts state that there was no genocide. The so-called Ottoman (Turkish) archives have been proven to be mere fabrications and distortions. No commission can possibly take it upon itself to weigh the so-called facts! Isn’t it interesting that only a handful of survivors are still with us to refute Turkey’s tall tales? Did Turkey plan it this way thinking that dead men tell no tales? Did the Swiss think we Armenians do not honor “thy father and mother”?

  9. Grish begian said:

    I was so surprise, when foreign ministry of Turkey announced, that they are willing to open boarder with Armenia. Do Armenians have an experienced politician?? Nalbandian to me act like a “yes” man of the West and Turkey!! I bet Nalbadian is going to open a carpet waving company for millions of faithful in Turkey. It is sooo good for a Turk to pray on a Christian made carpet and eat Armenian dried apricot as Turkish delight.

  10. Darwin Jamgochian said:

    Sadly, it must be understood that outside of Yerevan proper, not much has changed. How long must our people suffer at the hands of the great powers and their oil interests? Most in Armenia have sacrificed their well being to stand up for a higher cause. And why haven’t these great powers challenged Turkey more vehemently over the border closing without preconditions? These so called mediators should be challenged for putting obstacles in the path of Armenia’s recovery. The west’s offer to help Armenia is full of “GAS”.

  11. Norair said:

    Armenia should proceed and claim damages (reparations) from both Turkey and Azerbaijan for, inter alia, keeping Armenia’s border shut for so many years pursuant to Art. 36(2) of International Court of Justice Statute, referring to the nature or extent of the reparation to be made for the breach of an international obligation. It appears that a number of principles of International Law as stated in the UN Charter and beyond have been violated by both Turkey and Azerbaijan. In the meantime, Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan are signatories to the UN Charter, and all three explicitly agreed to ICJ’s jurisdiction. I simply do not understand why Armenia does not wish to pursue its rights as stipulated by international law.