YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Armenia has been defeated in the Turkish-Armenian dialogue process because of key concessions made by Yerevan, declared Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau chairman Hrant Markarian, who urged Armenia to pull out of the talks immediately.
“The Armenian side must acknowledge that it has been defeated in this stage of Turkish-Armenian fence-mending negotiations,” said Markarian who was speaking at a conference Wednesday dedicated to the Turkey-Armenia relations and organized by the ARF Supreme Council of Armenia.
Markarian expressed concern that a tentative agreement reached by the two governments earlier this year envisions the creation of a joint commission on the Armenian Genocide.
He also called on Armenia’s leadership to abandon the talks if the preliminary principles envision the creation of a joint commission to study the Genocide and an explicit recognition of Turkey’s current borders by Armenia.
“If there were some agreements on forming some commission of historians ; and if there was any intention on Karabakh and the recognition of Turkey’s territorial integrity and the existing border, we must abandon all of that,” he said.
The ARF repeatedly warned Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian last year against agreeing to the creation of such a commission which was proposed by the Turkish side in 2005 and rejected by then President Robert Kocharian. The warnings came after Sarkisian indicated that he does not object to the proposal in principle. Analysts close to the issue have long seen the commission as a Turkish ploy designed to deter more countries, notably the United States, from recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
“One year ago we were saying that Armenia stands for normalizing relations with Turkey without preconditions while Turkey sets preconditions. We presented ourselves to the world as a peace-loving nation, whereas Turkey was seen as a crude and inexplicable state,” Markarian said.
Markarian’s remarks follow growing indications that Ankara is again linking the establishment of diplomatic relations with Yerevan and reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border with a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict favoring Azerbaijan.
Markarian said that the Armenian side itself allowed the Turkish government to renew that linkage. “One year ago, Turkey did not have a moral right to even express views on the Karabakh issue as it wasn’t considered a party [to the conflict,]” he said. “Today it is being presented as a party. It is already becoming clear why the Karabakh issue should be solved also for normalizing Turkish-Armenian relations.”
The ARF leader said that the shift occurred when Armenia stopped looking at all national issues as one totality and throughout this process has slowly conceded in several key areas.
“We need to understand that the issues of Karabakh, the Genocide, Javakhk, the liberation of Western Armenia and Armenia’s independence, are all intertwined and are a totality. They all must be tackled as parts of a whole, in which one cannot be sacrificed at the cost of another,” said Markarian. “We fall into a trap when we believe that we cannot make any concessions on the Karabakh issue, but that we can make concessions elsewhere.”
“Armenia has lost out since it conceded certain principles that the Armenian government had adopted since 1990. If we had held on strong to those principles, today the Turkish side would be perceived as the guilty party. Today Turkey has changed its image and is represented as a country seeking friendly relations with its neighbors,” Markarian said.
The ARF Bureau urged President Sarkisian’s administration in December to exercise caution in this process, saying that the Turks are exploiting it to scuttle greater international recognition of the Armenian genocide.
Among the other speakers at Wednesday’s conference was ARF Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Armen Rustamian who spoke about the unrealized possibilities of Armenia’s dialogue with Turkey, noting that negotiations could have bore fruit if Turkey did not impose conditions on Armenia.
“Armenian and Turkey should move toward normalizing relations, only if our national interests are not jeopardized as a result of imprudent steps,” said Rustamian, adding that Turkey never makes a move that does not benefit its national interests.
“Turkey has managed to create the impression that the process of normalizing relations between Armenia and Turkey exists and is proceeding in a constructive manner,” he said.
At the conclusion of the conference, a five-point declaration was presented that reiterated the aforementioned views, but specifically warned against any efforts that could cast doubt on the veracity of the Armenian Genocide.