YEREVAN—In an interview published Monday, President Serzh Sarkisian emphasized the importance of restoring historical justice and told the BBC what he envisions to be the course of Armenia-Turkey relations.
This interview was conducted prior to Monday’s announcement of protocols governing the establishment and development of Armenia-Turkey relations, which was publicized via a joint statement by the Armenian, Turkish and Swiss foreign ministers.
The announcement stated that political consultations around the protocols will be completed within six weeks, following which the two countries will sign the protocols and present it to their respective parliaments for ratification.
Below is the translated text of Sarkisian’s interview.
BBC: President Sarkisian will you attend the return match in Turkey?
Serzh Sarkisian: The question has two answers. The fist answer is as follows. It’s not important whether I’ll visit Turkey or not. I’d like to say that my visit to Turley should not be linked to the relations between the two countries. There are two scenarios. Let’s assume that Armenia freezes the negotiation process with Turkey and I leave for that country to watch the soccer match. The second option is that the two countries continue negotiating, but I don’t attend the match. Which is more important? This is my answer if you ask the question in the context of our talks with Turkey.
BBC: What signals is Armenia expecting from Turkey in order to resume the talks?
S.S.: I have already announced and will say once again that I will leave for Turkey only in case of opening of the border or at the threshold of the event. We have an agreement with Turkey. I think it’s the right thing for the parties to stick to the agreement reached earlier. Unfortunately, so far I have not seen a great desire and aspiration to implement those agreements. Our wish remains the same – to establish relations without preconditions
BBC: Is Armenia ready to make concessions in regard to the events of 1915 and do you believe Turkey will call the events genocide?
S.S: Of course, it’s very important for our people, for Turkey and the entire world. It’s important that historical justice be restored. It’s important for our nations to be able to establish normal relations. At last, it’s important that it never reoccurs in the future. But we do not see the recognition of genocide as a precondition for the establishment of relations.
BBC: Do you mean to say that there is an opportunity of compromise?
S.S.: It is not the case when one can talk about a compromise. We say – yes, there was genocide, and no matter whether Turkey today admits that or not, this is a fact that is recognized by all specialists on genocides in the world; it is recognized by many countries of the world. But in current conditions, we do not view it as a precondition for establishing relations with the Turks
BBC: Anyway, that problem is an obstacle to regulate ties with Turkey. A man, with whom I spoke earlier in Yerevan, recommended another solution: when you drive you should look into the rear view mirror to be mindful of what’s going on in the back, but the important aspect is what’s in front of you. How well does this example describe the current situation?
S.S.: Right, I can see quite well what the man wanted to say. He wants to say that we should look toward the future, but we do not have the right to forget the past.