Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau members Vahan Hovanessian and Dr. Viken Hovsepian–along with ARF Executive Council of Armenia chairman Armen Rustamian met with Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian Wednesday to discuss the so-called Turkish-Armenian reconciliation committee.
The ARF delegation urged the foreign minister to clarify the government’s position on the self-proclaimed commission–which claims to spearhead a dialogue between Armenian and Turks.
In response to the ARF inquiry–the foreign minister stated that based on his limited knowledge and information about the topic–neither he nor any facet of the foreign ministry have been involved in the formation of this commission.
Following the meeting–Dr. Hovsepian sat down with an ARF Press Office correspondent to address some the issues related to the commission–as well as the government’s posturing regarding the matter. Below is the translated text of that interview
ARF Press Office: What was the purpose of the ARF delegation’s recent meeting with the Armenian Foreign Minister?
Dr. Viken Hovsepian: We met with Mr. Oskanian to express our deep disappointment regarding the "Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission" and–in this regard–the Foreign Ministry’s direct or indirect complicity in that initiative.
APO: Why do you expect an explanation from the Foreign Minister?
V.H.: The various facts at our disposal–including statemen’s and announcemen’s by commission members and the Armenian Assembly of America–show that Mr. Oskanian had a clear role in the creation of this group–despite the best efforts of Foreign Ministry spokespeople to leave the impression that neither the Foreign Minister nor the Foreign Ministry had anything to do with the "Commission." Finally–the basis upon which this Commission was created poses fundamental dangers in the face of which the "we are aware but not participants" explanation is unacceptable. Mr. Oskanian’s statement today reiterating that the Foreign Ministry was not involved in the process–makes it all the more imperative that the Foreign Ministry clarify its exact position on this matter.
APO: Why does the ARF disagree with this initiative?
V.H.: We reject the "Commission" and its mission–both in substance and form.
In principle–the committee’s agenda is unacceptable because in it we see Turkey’s attempts to evade the moral imperative of Genocide recognition or minimize its importance. Especially now when Armenian Genocide recognition efforts have gained momentum on the international political stage–to lessen pressure on Turkey is absolutely reprehensible. Turkey’s culpability and the Armenian Genocide cannot be bartered or negotiated away. The facts of the Genocide and its deep moral–psychological and political meaning for the Armenian people are such that the perpetrator of the genocide cannot be considered a participant in dialogue until they admit their crime.
The format of the committee is also unacceptable because its representatives do not enjoy the mandate which is imperative for a committee on such a similar mission.
APO: Did your meeting with the Foreign Minister meet your expectations?
V.H.: There are clear contradictions between statemen’s by the Minister and others on this matter. We consider the official statemen’s by the Armenian Foreign Ministry–to date–insufficient. They do not reflect the gravity of this situation. The creation and proposed agenda of this "Commission" are of such a serious and potentially debilitating nature that we cannot afford them to be the subject of diplomatic experimen’s and political maneuvering.
We demand that the Armenian government’s foreign policy representatives adopt an immediate position on this initiative directed against the Armenian Cause and just deman’s of the Armenian people.
APO: What do you expect from the Armenian public regarding this issue?
V.H.: We call upon all Armenian political parties and leaders to join together in condemning this "Commission." The Armenian Genocide and the deman’s that stem from this crime are among the few national issues that historically has united all sections of our people. We cannot allow this extremely vital agenda item for all Armenia’s to fall victim to the political calculations of our opponents.