BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
All eyes are on the upcoming nuclear summit in Washington, not because new policies for international nuclear proliferation will be decided, but for the fate of the Armenia-Turkey protocols, as President Serzh Sarkisian and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be among the participants. Of course, Erdogan was dragging his feet about attending the summit, acting like a wounded socialite whose dilettante ego was wounded because the House Foreign Affairs Committee paved the way for the Armenian Genocide Resolution to be considered by the entire House of Representatives.
Earlier this week, word came that Sarkisian will meet with President Obama, while State Department spokespeople said that Obama does not have a meeting scheduled with Erdogan; however the two will be seated next to each other at one of the sessions of the summit. Then came a visit by Erdogan’s envoy to Yerevan with a personal invitation for Sarkisian to meet the Turkish leader. Sarkisian agreed. But where is Azerbaijan? Turkey is upset that Azerbaijan was excluded from this important international summit. The aforementioned envoy went to Baku to let Ilham Aliyev know that his boss would be meeting with Aliyev’s arch nemesis, Sarkisian.
On the eve of this summit, the outcome of which can be nuclear indeed, attention should be focused on the rhetoric from Yerevan and Ankara leading up to next week.
For the past several months, Armenian authorities have been asserting Yerevan’s position and garnering international attention. Sarkisian has gone on record as saying he wants Obama to recognize the Genocide, that Der Zor was a precursor to Auschwitz, the proposed “historical commission’ had no business addressing the Genocide and that no Karabakh peace would be achieved without the acknowledgement of Karabakh’s right to self-determination.
Meanwhile, Ankara—Erdogan—called back its ambassadors from the US and Sweden after Genocide resolutions were approved in those countries, said it would cut ties with the US, threatened to deport Armenians from Turkey, reasserted that without a Karabakh peace plan that favors Azerbaijan, the protocols would not go forward, and claimed there was no Genocide to speak of.
From the Azeri front came more threats of war, the approval, albeit with conditions, of the new so-called “Madrid Principles,” and a new interpretation of history by Aliyev when he said Azerbaijan already ceded control of its territories to Armenia once before, in 1918, when it allowed the formation of an independent republic.
The stage is set for a dramatic turn of events next week.
Washington’s aim is to bring Turkey and Armenia together and strong arm their leaders into ratifying the dangerous protocols on the eve of April 24. We all remember, too well, what happened last year on April 22, when the “roadmap” was introduced and hailed by the US, whose leaders’ cowardly efforts to backpedal on campaign promises have resulted in alienating the Armenian-American community.
The Armenian government, it seems, has been on a path to correct its regrettable mistake of entering the protocol process and has been vocal in outlining Armenia’s position on the matter.
In Washington, President Sarkisian should not fall prey to US efforts of forcing the protocols down his throat and should remember his assertive statements to Chatham House in London, Der-Spiegel, Euronews, Le Figaro, and, finally at Der-Zor.
Mr. President, on the eve of the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian nation is looking to you to honor—and not deface—the memory of the 1.5 million victims.