Although our collective national shock might not have worn off over last week’s disturbing announcement of protocols for the establishment and development of relations between Armenia and Turkey, it is high time to begin accepting the unacceptable and look ahead, because time is running out.
Almost two weeks have passed already of the six-week public debate stipulation of the protocols, after which the two countries will have to sign the documents and, based on a more impermissible provision, await the approval by the parliaments of the two countries.
Last week, it became evident that this so-called public discourse on the protocol was going to be lopsided at best. The authorities and their supporters have already begun a campaign to water down the inherent dangers of the document. Also, as expected, former president Levon Ter-Petrossian and his Armenian National Congress threw their support for the protocols, making one conclude that the dust they’ve been raising for a year and a half was nothing but a self-fulfilling power play by a man whose true national intentions have already been exposed. And now, by parroting the Turkish talking points that Karabakh is not mentioned in the protocols they are well on their way to insulting a nation that is more intelligent and more aware of its national values.
The time has come for us—the people—to set the tone of the debate and take that opportunity away from an otherwise misguided government, which stood by and did nothing while its Azeri and Turkish counterparts were setting the stage for the ill-fated protocols. A similar effort has already begun on the eve of a scheduled visit by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen who have pledged to introduce a “revised” version of the so-called Madrid principles.
The machinations of this rapprochement process also clearly demonstrate the Armenian authorities’ deliberate disregard for the Diaspora and the critical—if not organic—role it plays in the Armenian national arena.
During a meeting late last year at the Armenian Consulate in Los Angeles, the newly crowned Diaspora Minister Hranoush Hakopyan declared that her, and the government’s, mission was to present a united Armenian nation of 10-million strong. Her effort to re-brand Armenians from what she called a “victim” nation to a “strong” collective seems to have hit a brick wall, since we did not see her engaging the Diaspora in any pre-roadmap/protocol debate. In fact, attempts by Diaspora leaders to covey concerns were brushed aside not only by Hakopyan, whose dubious past as an LTP crony made her a questionable candidate for the post she occupies but also by Armenia’s chief diplomat, Eduard Nalbandian.
It is critical to understand the urgency of the moment that has resulted from the Armenian authorities’ self-righteous approach to this and other national issues and to ensure that our collective national resolve is not ignored in favor of Turkey’s policies.
In the next four weeks, all Armenians in Armenia and Diaspora—regardless of their political persuasion—must rise up and express their unequivocal opposition to the protocols in the same manner that we have demonstrated our unity around the veracity of the Armenian Genocide and the pivotal relevance of Karabakh. In their current form, the protocols will not only undermine and discredit decades of hard work in advancing the Armenian Cause, they will endanger Armenia’s national security and rob future generation of their national dignity.