YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Senior members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia expressed concern about the ongoing Turkish-Armenian rapprochement at a meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian on Monday night, top party representatives said on Tuesday.
Sarkisian, who is the Republican Party’s chairman, met with members of the party’s board to discuss his conciliatory policy on Turkey that has earned him praise in the West but is criticized by many in Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora.
According Samvel Nikoyan, a senior party member and deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, board members asked Sarkisian numerous questions about various aspects of that policy. “All kinds of questions were asked,” he told RFE/RL. “Including ones expressing concerns, asking for clarifications and making some points.”
“I don’t think that everyone in the Republican Party of Armenia, which has 150,000 members, can be fully informed about those protocols and fully support them,” said Nikoyan. “Of course, there are people who have concerns. Everyone, including myself has concerns.”
Sarkisian himself acknowledged that his fence-mending talks with Turkey are fraught with pitfalls for the Armenian side when he met with leaders of 52 Armenian parties on September 17. But he said Armenia should continue them and demonstrate to the outside world that it is genuinely committed to making peace with his historical foe.
Sarkisian will start on October 1 a tour of the United States, France, Russia and Lebanon aimed at explaining his policy to sizable Armenian communities existing in those countries. Many community leaders have strongly criticized the agreements and, in particular, the planned formation of a Turkish-Armenian “sub-commission” charged with studying the Armenian Genocide. Thousands of Armenians took to the streets of Los Angeles on Sunday to condemn the deal.
Razmik Zohrabian, the Republican’s deputy chairman, downplayed the Diaspora outcry. “I would be surprised if the Diaspora Armenians were silent or fully supported this policy,” he told RFE/RL.
On Sunday, September 27, the Southern California Armenian community rallied at Pelanconi Park in Glendale to express its unified and unequivocal opposition to the Turkey-Armenia protocols and, with more than 10,000 people, sent a message to Yerevan that conceding to Turkish pressure was unacceptable.
Similar demonstrations have been held throughout the world since the announcement of the protocols on August 30. A thousand Armenians from throughout the Eastern United States demonstrated at the Armenian UN Mission in New York on September 19. A number of demonstrations and protests against the protocols have also been scheduled in Canada, France, Australia and Lebanon.
The international campaign to stop the protocols has also materialized on the internet at StopTheProtocols.com and through social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook.