Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Alex Yenikomshyan : Armenia and Turkey Aren’t Ready for Relations

[ 2009/10/05 18:06 ]

Member of the “Miatsum” National Initiative Responds to Hetq Questions Re: Protocols

My evaluation of recent developments in Armenian-Turkish relations is negative for a few very clear reasons. It has been stressed that in the protocols, that really have the content of a treaty, there exists al the preconditions that Turkey has sought over the years regarding normalization of relations with Armenia or the opening of borders. There are three such preconditions: issue of the Genocide, recognition of current borders and Artsakh. It appears that Armenia must make major concessions for all three.

Exactly what points in the protocols do you see such preconditions?

Where it talks about the opening of the border it clearly states that the two countries recognize their mutual borders, based on bilateral and international agreements. Here, everything is clear.

Of course, regarding the Genocide, the actual term “genocide” is not noted. But the main focus of the historical sub-committee will be the Genocide. It is not important that the word “genocide” is not stated.

Just the fact that this point exists signifies that the two parties, voluntarily or involuntarily, agree that the Genocide is a topic of debate. This is rejected as a matter of principle by Armenians. When the Armenian side accepts this, it is a slap in the face to the Armenian people.

This will put a halt to all those processes that have taken place all these years internationally for the recognition of the genocide. Such lobbying overseas is essential given that, in the end, it might pressure Turkey in recognizing the Genocide.

The most crucial is the Artsakh matter. Is the matter of Artsakh raised in the so-called protocols or not? The point in the document which states that the two countries agree to recognize the territorial integrity of other nations clearly refers to Artsakh and Azerbaijan.

In addition, if the party representing Armenia believes that it can come to an agreement with Turkey without raising the issue of Artsakh, it is sadly mistaken.

Turkey, which has entered this process, and the international powers that be (which are not only sponsoring but directing this process); see little strategic importance in the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border if it isn’t linked to the Armenia-Azerbaijan stalemate. Thus, whether or not it is literally written in the protocols or not, it essentially exists.

Let us for a moment assume that the borders have opened, that the protocols are put into practice, but that the Artsakh conflict isn’t yet resolved as a result of Armenia-Azerbaijan diplomatic relations.

In that case, we will be faced with a reality where, as a result of the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, the influence of Turkey in the region, especially in Armenia, will be greatly expanded.

And we will wind up in a process where negotiations with Azerbaijan will continue but Armenia will find itself in a new set of circumstances.

In other words, up until the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border we had negotiations with Azerbaijan in one set of conditions and later, we will be in another situation where the influence of Turkey, Azerbaijan’s ally, will grow with all the consequences of that growth. Thus, it’s totally ludicrous to state that the Artsakh issue and relations with Turkey are not linked together.

Naturally, given these conditions, a nation that has been subjected to genocide and lost its homeland cannot foster normal relations with the government that represents the nation that perpetuated that crime and still refuses to accept what it has done.

In the set of relations between those two peoples, Armenians will always be in an inferior situation psychologically. And a people belittled cannot come out victorious in future relations.

Furthermore, as long as Turkey refuses to recognize the Genocide it means that it is always able to repeat what it has done. Given such conditions, the crafting of relations poses dangers for Armenia.

After the publication of the protocols many political forces expressed their opposition and some are continuing to organize public actions against their possible signing. President Sargsyan also called a meeting of the country’s political leaders and forces. Do you believe that any of this will have an impact on the authorities in terms of their signing the document or not?

Everything shows that all this has not and will not have an impact on the decision of the authorities. This doesn’t mean however that such actions aren’t warranted.

On the contrary, such protest actions must be continuous. The protocols will be signed around October 10-11. But later there’s the issue of parliamentary ratification.

Given today’s situation, we can have no illusions but that the Armenian parliament will ratify the protocols. Here we come back to the Artsakh issue since for Turkey and the West the issue of Artsakh is directly linked.

They openly state that their parliament will not ratify and that the protocols will not be enacted until Armenian forces pull out of the liberated territories.

Here lies the crux of the matter. If we are able to put a halt to the defeatist and concessionary solution of the Karabakh Issue that is being forced on Armenia, then I believe that the two projects will fail simultaneously. That is to say that if they don’t get the solution to the Artsakh conflict that they demand then the protocols will not be enacted either.

If this is the case, then naturally Turkey will not reopen the border. And many believe that an open border is in our favor.

It is my opinion that Armenia and Turkey aren’t ready for relations today; and it is not only because of the existence of those preconditions.

Even if those preconditions didn’t exist, it is not in Armenia’s best interests to foster relations with Turkey today.

Regardless of the preconditions, Armenia today is sadly in an unfavorable situation in all sectors – economic, social, morally, demographically, etc.

In every sense of the word, Armenia finds itself in a weakened position and there’s a huge difference in the populations of Armenia and Turkey.

One is a huge nation; the other quite tiny. And if we enter into relations with Turkey today, we do so from a position of defeat from the outset.

The case would be different if Armenia was in a healthy position for relations with Turkey.

Given today’s situation we are destined to experience setback and defeat; even without the preconditions. Thus, I believe that when they expect economic growth as a result of the opening of the border this isn’t merely an illusion but outright fraud.

They were saying that for the past six years we have witnessed double-digit economic growth. And this took place with closed borders. What economic calamity are they now referring to when they claim that we can’t experience growth without open borders with Turkey?

If we were able to in the past we can do the same now. Of course we realize that the double-digit growth of the past didn’t go to improving the welfare of the common people but merely lined the pockets of a narrow class at the top.

Now, these same oligarchs wish to expand their financial possibilities via the opening of the border. Thus, the border opening will change little for the country and the bulk of its populace.

There will be changes for that narrow class at the top and they will certainly gain from any border opening. Their imports will grow cheaper but the prices paid by the people will remain the same.

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