Sarkisian Denies Support for Historical Commission

Presidential spokesman Armen Arzumanyan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—President Serzh Sarkisian flatly denied on Thursday his critics’ persistent assertions that unlike his predecessor Robert Kocharian, he embraced Ankara’s idea of a joint Turkish-Armenian study of the Armenian Genocide.

In a rare and unusually swift reaction to a media report, his press secretary, Armen Arzumanian, demanded that an Armenian online journal,, “correct” an article saying that “Serzh Sarkisian accepted something that was rejected by Robert Kocharian.” Arzumanian described that claim as “overt disinformation” in a letter publicized by the presidential press office.

The article, posted earlier in the day, referred to one of the most controversial provisions of the two Turkish-Armenian normalization protocols that were signed in Zurich in October 2009.

It envisaged the creation of a “subcommission” of government-appointed Turkish and Armenian experts who would engage in an “impartial scientific examination of historical documents and archives.” This was widely seen as an official euphemism for a joint examination of the Armenian massacres which many international historians regard as the first genocide of the 20th century.

The idea of such a study was first floated by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a 2005 letter to Kocharian. The then-Armenian president rejected it as a Turkish ploy designed to scuttle greater international recognition of the genocide.

Shortly after taking office in April 2008, Sarkisian indicated that he is ready, in principle, to accept the proposal. “We are not against the creation of such a commission, but only if the border between our countries is opened,” he declared during a June 2008 visit to Moscow.

The Armenian leader clearly changed his rhetoric after an uproar caused by the protocols in Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora. Armenian critics of his policy of rapprochement with Turkey said that the very existence of the history subcommission would call into question the Armenian genocide and make it easier for Ankara to discourage more countries from officially recognizing it.

The Sarkisian government rejected the criticism, saying that the Turkish-Armenian panel would not seek to determine whether or not the World War One-era slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians constituted genocide.

Sarkisian appeared to have gone further in an April 2010 interview with the German magazine “Der Spiegel.” “The creation of the [Turkish-Armenian history] commission would make sense only if Turkey finally confessed its guilt,” he declared. “After that scholars will be able to jointly determine the causes of that tragedy.”

“Setting up such a commission would mean calling into question the fact of the genocide perpetrated against our people,” he said, echoing a key argument of his critics.

The presidential spokesman similarly insisted on Thursday that the subcommission in question was not supposed to tackle “historical issues pertaining to the genocide.”

Sarkisian was interviewed by “Der Spiegel” amid growing indications that Erdogan’s government will not ensure the protocols’ ratification by Turkey’s parliament before a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan.

Erdogan and other Turkish leaders also linked the non-ratification with a January 2010 ruling by Armenia’s Constitutional Court. The latter concluded, among other things, that the protocols cannot stop Yerevan seeking genocide recognition in the international arena.


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  1. Tsayt said:

    This “rejection” on the part of Sarkissian is so bogus. What? he just walk up? The creation of istorical commission was discussed by the highest levels of theTurkish leadership following the signing of the Protocols, not a day after but minutes after they were signed.

    It seems our Mr. President did not really understand what it means or can mean when the Armenian representative puts his signature under an item that calls for “the establishment of a joint Armenian-Turkish historical commission to examine events during the First World War.”

    I’m afraid the truth lies in the fact that Sarkissian knowingly signed these forced protocols to keep himself in power. The alternative would not have been pretty (nor lucrative) for this businessman.

    • manooshag said:

      Absolute proof that the Serge and his cohorts are ‘learning on the job’… erring and missing at so many levels… at this most important time in the history of our fledgling Armenian nation… too, for the citizens of Haiastan, and too, for all the diasporans the world wide whose honest interest in the progress of our homeland is dismissed with such leaders as Haiastan has had all these 20 years-
      all ‘learning’ none capable… as at protocols!! Too such leaders have made it their policy to assure that the diasporans, the generations from our Survivors, whose interest and devotion to our Haiastan cannot be challenged… except that Haiastans’ leaders to this day… deem it necessary to keep the diasporans at bay… Diasporans who have so much to offer our fledgling
      nation of 20 years, our homeland… too!!

  2. The Truth said:

    There is no need to fool the nation by repeating the same wrong arguments any more- Maybe ‎President and people in his administration being trained to read over certain parts of protocols ‎and simple to skip other parts related to recognition of borders etc.. These protocols were ‎simple a trap and have quicken since then the appetite of officials in Ankara and Baku!! ‎
    ‎ ‎
    This not important and of any value what President Serzh Sarkisian or an official of his ‎administration announces or writes in news paper of says in his interviews. Any interview of ‎president etc is forgotten next day but the so called “Armenian-Turkish normalization ‎protocols” will remain as an official document! important thing is what has been signed , ‎important is the text of shameful protocols and impotent is how the administration in US , EU ‎‎(and so on) does interpret the text of protocols regarding “historian commission” to study ‎unbiased this and that! !‎

    ‎ The problem there are not enough talented and independent “pan Armenian” politicians ‎and EXPERTS ( -in administration) who could deal with such important pan Armenian issues ‎‎- I mean politicians , experts and ambassadors who are not related to any party and are able ‎to meet t, listen and to develop ideas and come with pan Armenian solutions!

    • manooshag said:

      Truth… the leaderships for these 20 years of our Haiastan has been, from Der Bedrossian until today the ill prepared, misdirected and “learning on the job” selff-seekers who were/are filling their own pockets – and to hell with the our citizens of our homeland. Patriots, as we have had in our Armenian history are needed to lead our Haiastan from the morass… all these leaders these 20 years have foisted on the citizens of Haiastan, and too, upon all the diasporans who have been and are prepared to advance our ancient and advanced nation… without the Serge and cohorts of today. In ONLY two years Aram Manougian accomplished more than all these
      current leaders have accomplished for our citizens of Armenia (obviously those beyond the borders of Yerevan who await honesty in government…. and thus the return of many to our Haiastan when honesty in government shall exist.

    • John said:

      relax, take a deep breath. this is all BS nothing will ever come out of this. you should learn to relax.

  3. hatsakorzian nerses said:

    It’d be better if Hayasdan leader call himself Hayasz not Armenian, Now u asking why? probably; I’ll tell you, He and his nation would be relieved of a Genocide issue , than they can live peacefully with their giant neighbour, genocide has committed towards Armenian’s (Western) tribe who settled present day Turkey which( We) Armenian’s had close ties with Hayasz! as for us our Id no Country well; get ready to accept it California is much better than (Anadolou)…

  4. Somebody said:

    Not supporting a historical commisions shows, you have no facts about any genocide. So shut up and let the congress do their duty for our nation, the U.S.A. !!!!!
    You armenians wasting lot of our time.

    • Basilius said:

      Your Turkish time? Too bad.
      The American time? The genocide issue aside it would be of great use to the US to understand that there is never anything good coming from a partnership with Turkey. Never did, never will. Didn’t work for the Germans, didn’t work for the Soviets, won’t work for the US. History repeats itself, its already clear: now that the US is getting weaker (while Russia is restabilizing, China coming, Iran not being damaged by the steps against them) Turkey is already going back to a partnership with Iran, dealing with Russia and the Arab states. A very good indicator on whether or not the US is able to help them surive a bit longer or not.

  5. ed said:

    Still shame on Serjic and others whio do send people like “Presidential spokesman Armen Arzumanyan
    ” to tell us agian and agian the same lies!

  6. MK said:

    If you believe slippery Serzh you believe anything.
    He is an outright liar.He will soon be giving the 7 liberated regions of Artsakh back to the Azeris in order to keep his power.

  7. facts said:

    ‎ is right simple delete –delta what our officials in bagarmian str and even or selfish clerics in ‎Antalis/Linabon (dashanks co) who do try to mislead us .. all are mostly corrupt and ‎thinking only to stay on power,‎

    As longs as our traditional Armenian church is not united and as long as our government in ‎Yerevan has not the courage to demand a revision of treaty pf Lausanne- this all means that ‎have an anti Armenian administration! . -Therefore the rest is simple emptily talks -We ‎should not forget even dasnhank were for 10 years part of a corrupt and oligarch regime in ‎Yerevan…. Give me a break !‎

    well since lot of people in administration are uneducated they do thing they could fool the ‎rest or nation simply by giving stupid interviews and “patriotic speeches” .. ‎