Parorama.am interviewed Professor of International Relations at the University of San Andrés in Buenos Aires, Dr. Khatchik Der Ghougassian, on the issues between Armenia and Turkey with the approach of the Armenian Genocide centennial. Dr. Der Ghougassian says that Armenia should double its diplomatic efforts to ensure the presence of international leaders in Armenia in 2015, given the fact that Turkey is going to divert the attention of the international community away from it. He also says that a shift should be made from fighting for international recognition to fighting for reparations. The interview, by Nvard Chalikyan, is below.
NVARD CHALIKYAN: Dr. Der Ghougassian, how do you assess the policies pursued by the Armenian leadership towards Turkey on the one hand and the policies pursued by the Turkish leadership towards Armenia on the other hand in the context of the Genocide’s centennial?
DR. KHATCHIK DER GHOUGASSIAN: Willingly or not, the Armenian and Turkish governments have gotten engaged in a diplomatic race, the “outcome” of which will be seen next year on April 24. As it is known, the Turkish government announced that it will mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli battle on April 24, 2015, and had started inviting heads of states for the public ceremonies. Its aim, of course, is to overshadow the global remembrance of the Genocide on its one hundredth anniversary. Yerevan has no other choice but to double the diplomatic efforts to assure a high level of presence and participation of international leaders on the same day. Consciously or not, this is yet another chapter of the power struggle between denial and truth. Yet, more important is the question whether the centennial will mark the beginning of a new phase in what we might conceptualize as the Armenian Cause. In other words, will we move on from the struggle for international recognition of the Genocide to the struggle for reparations in a very broad understanding? If serious, this shift that engages both the Armenian state and Diaspora could be the best preemption to any Turkish denialist’s novel initiative in the logic of the “common sorrow” that both people share.
N.C.: What is your view regarding the fact that the President of Armenia has invited the President of Turkey to Armenia to commemorate the Genocide’s centennial? What do you think will be the result of this?
K.D.G.: It was definitely a political move, much in the style so proper to Serzh Sarkisian to make surprise announcements, answering and challenging Erdogan’s public declaration on April 24. This is the second time Sarkisian has invited his Turkish counterpart to Armenia. He made the first one on June 2008 in Moscow, it was the first step to what would later become the so-called “football diplomacy.” In that first invitation, Sarkisian gave a dangerous sign of concession to the Turkish thesis almost accepting the proposal for a “commission of historians.” This time, however, there was no concession at all; quite the opposite, much in Kocharian’s manner when he sent a letter to Gul in 2005 and rejected the offer to form a mixed commission of historians, Sarkisian clearly stated that for Armenia such a commission is out of the question. Hopefully this will become state policy. There is no room for any kind of concession when it comes to Genocide.