Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Turkish Officials Admit To Playing Games With Protocols

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

With each passing day, the games Turkish officials have been playing with the Protocols are becoming more obvious and ridiculous!

Throughout the long months of negotiations, I repeatedly warned that Turkish officials were not sincere in their announced intention of opening the border with Armenia and establishing diplomatic relations. By acting as if they were seeking reconciliation with Armenia, Turkish leaders simply wanted to prevent further acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide by third countries, extract maximum concessions from Armenia on Artsakh (Karabagh), and block future territorial demands from Turkey.

Turkey first dragged out the negotiations until right before April 24 to preclude Pres. Obama from keeping his promise on recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The Protocols were finally signed on October 10, to ensure that Pres. Sargsyan does go to Turkey to attend the soccer match between the national teams of the two countries.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s leaders were repeatedly announcing that they would not open the border and their Parliament would not ratify the Protocols until Armenia returned Artsakh to Azerbaijan -- even though there is no such requirement in the signed documents. More than a month has now passed since the signing of the Protocols in Zurich, but there are no signs that the Turkish Parliament would ratify them anytime soon.

Just before signing the Protocols, Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu traveled to Azerbaijan to pledge once again that they had no intention of opening the border with Armenia until Artsakh was returned to Azerbaijan.

As if these outrageous pre-conditions were not sufficient to shake Armenians’ confidence in the Protocols, Turkish officials made no attempt to hide their deceptive designs.

The October 5th issue of the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet quoted Foreign Ministry officials in Ankara as stating: “The formation of a joint history commission and re-opening the border are included in the documents. However, they can be put into effect only after a solution is found to the Karabakh issue. Without a solution to the Karabakh conflict, these protocols cannot be transferred to Parliament. Even then, Parliament would not adopt it. So, relax.”

To convince the Azerbaijanis that Turkey had no plans to ratify the Protocols, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials boasted about their success in deceiving Europeans on another agreement: “Turkey had to sign a protocol with the European Union on the Cyprus issue. What happened? Did Turkey open its seaports and airports to Cypriot vessels and airplanes, after four years?”

We now have solid evidence that these Turkish officials were not making an idle boast when they indicated that signing an agreement means nothing to them. In the Oct. 25 issue of “Today’s Zaman,” commentator Ercan Yavuz cited dozens of examples of agreements signed by Turkey, but not ratified, after the passage of many years! At present, there are 146 agreements with 95 countries, including Argentina, Azerbaijan, Libya, Slovenia, Sweden, and Syria, awaiting the approval of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission. The oldest -- an agreement signed 26 years ago between Iraq and Turkey -- is still pending ratification by the Turkish Parliament. Many other important agreements have been signed since 2004, but still not ratified!

Given the Turkish record of not taking seriously commitments made on behalf of their country, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that the Turkish Parliament would not ratify the Armenia-Turkey Protocols anytime soon. Of course, by not ratifying the Protocols, Turkey would be breaking its written pledge of August 31, to ratify the Protocols in a “timely” manner.

Interestingly, Armenia’s Foreign Minster Edward Nalbandian, in a recent interview with Reuters, asked: “Why sign the Protocols, if they are not going to be ratified?” The answer is obvious: The Turkish government is interested in creating a positive image for itself in front of the international community by appearing to want “good neighborly relations” with Armenia, without actually taking any concrete steps to do so.

Armenia’s officials are sadly mistaken if they believe that Turkey would come under intense international pressure, should it not ratify the protocols. Time and again, Turkey has proven its immunity from pressures applied by other countries, including the United States, as was the case on the eve of the Iraq war when Turkey refused to allow U.S. Troops to cross its borders to enter Iraq.

If pressured from outside, Turkish leaders would simply blame Armenia, by pointing out that it has not made any concessions on Artsakh, thereby making it impossible for the Turkish Parliament to ratify the Protocols.

Armenian officials have repeatedly stated that the Artsakh negotiations are unrelated to the Protocols and that the Armenian Parliament would not ratify the Protocols before Turkey, adding that they would scrap the agreement, if Turkey failed to act in a “timely” manner.

It remains to be seen whether Armenia would keep its pledge of not making any territorial concessions on Artsakh; and should Turkey refuse to ratify the Protocols after the lapse of several months, would Armenia’s leaders have the courage to declare the signed Protocols null and void?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Marashlian: Accepting the History Sub-Commission Is Like Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

By Levon Marashlian

The dangers of the sub-commission on the "historical dimension" are so obvious that it is difficult to understand why so many supporters of the Armenian-Turkish protocols do not see them. Some Armenians who support the sub-commission do acknowledge the risks, but they also see the possible benefits; some say it will provide an opportunity to discuss consequences of the genocide, others say it may encourage more open debate within Turkey, while others say it may eventually lead Turkey closer to recognition. Supporters do not seem to realize that the chances of benefiting from these possibilities pale in comparison to the probability of suffering the damage caused by the dangers.

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian emphatically declared "No, and once again, no," to accusations that "we are calling into question the fact of the Armenian Genocide, that we are obstructing the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide." Nalbandian and other defenders of the sub-commission do not see that the Armenian government's willing participation in "an impartial and scientific examination of the historical records and archives," during which the other side will call into question the fact of the genocide, will create a misleading impression that will be skillfully manipulated.

One of the consequences will be that when independent scholars and diasporan organizations continue their work for genocide education and international recognition, it will become harder because the Turkish government and some third parties, armed with or misled by the appearance of progress being made, will have the excuse to say that recognition efforts are not necessary for now, since Yerevan is already talking directly to Ankara about resolving the issue. This has already happened, as when President Obama referenced the Ankara-Yerevan talks to justify reneging on his promise last April.

During meetings of the sub-commission, meanwhile, historians and other experts chosen by Yerevan will want to discuss the consequences of the genocide and will try to reject efforts by the "Turkish side" to engage in denial. And if a debate does take place, the "Armenian side" will probably prevail inside the meeting room. Nevertheless, the process can still be a victory for Turkey outside the room-so long as the process continues-because Turkey's central objective is not to reach a consensus that it was not a genocide, but simply to further distort and delay, to hinder the pursuit of international recognition as we near the year 2015. Turkey will try, but may not expect to "win" the academic argument in the sub-commission. And eventually Turkey might pay a little price in terms of public relations if its true intentions are exposed. Still, Turkey will have succeeded in obstructing-maybe for years-the increasingly successful momentum generated by decades of dedication, sacrifice, sound scholarship, and public advocacy.

Turkish journalist Mehmet Ali Birand's CNN TURK interview in 2005 with Yusuf Halacoglu, the then-president of the Turkish Historical Society, reflected the extent to which this momentum has been succeeding.

Birand, sometimes agitated during the discussion, exclaimed that although academic work on "the Armenian Question" should continue, the time has come to take "political steps, to make gestures, to shock." Halacoglu agreed: "We are not going to change international opinion regarding Armenian Genocide claims only by publishing documents and books. It is necessary to take more serious political steps, for example, by establishing a research commission in the United States, by taking steps that will create a shock." Halacoglu added that the approach Turkey has been using has not worked, and "if things continue this way, in the end we will lose."

Two months later, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter to then-Armenian President Robert Kocharian suggesting the establishment of a commission of historians. This "gesture" by Turkey confirmed that the writing of truthful history by Armenian, Turkish, American, Jewish, and other historians, along with the diaspora's advocacy of recognition, was making impressive advances. In this context, with Turkey's back against the wall, the recommendation to form a commission was a decision by an almost-desperate government to stall those advances, with a clever trap. And President Serge Sarkisian has walked right into it.

Levon Marashlian is a professor of history at Glendale Community College.

Armenia Fund Con Job: Former Pres. of Artsakh Arkady Ghukasyan begs for donations

I trust Arkady Ghukasyan less than I trust a used car salesman. Read the story below to see how he is telling the Diaspora what he thinks they want to hear, yet a little too late so that actions can be taken to counter the damage already done by the Armenian government.

I encourage everyone to SEND A STRONG MESSAGE back to Ghukasyan and the President of the Board of Trustees of Armenia Fund, Serge Sargsyan (also the self-elected President of Armenia) BY NOT DONATING TO THE ARMENIA FUND. They are not interested in our opinion (as Serzh himself said "I did not go to the Diaspora to ask them their opinion, I went to tell them what I was going to do..."), so they don't deserve our donations, which in the past very little of it has gone to the projects they were intended for and instead ended up in their, the government workers who somehow turned multi-millionaire pockets.

Anyway, if you want to see what a two-faced kiss ass Ghukasyan is, read the story below.

Former Pres. of Artsakh Arkady Ghukasyan
States Protocols Were Unprofessional; Contained Many Mistakes

He also Describes Armenia's Foreign Minister as Weak and Unprepared

By Appo JabarianExecutive Publisher / Managing EditorUSA Armenian Life Magazine

The Noyan Tapan News Agency reported this week that Arkady Ghukasyan, the former President of Artsakh, currently Armenia's Ambassador-at-Large, and the Vice-President of the Board of Trustees of Armenia Fund has been visiting the United States and Canada to solicit donations ahead of the upcoming Thanksgiving Day Telethon on November 26.

Mr. Ghukasyan started his North American tour with an October 19 reception in North Jersey, New Jersey; continued with an October 24 reception in Montreal, Canada; and as of press time on November 3, he had been present in Los Angeles, in order to solicit donations for the Telethon.

According to several participants, Mr. Ghukasyan's stated purpose of his appearances was to discuss the upcoming Telethon, which will raise money for Shushi.

"However, the bulk of his comments pertained to the Protocols. Overall, his performance was reported to be fairly polished. He admitted various weaknesses and shortcomings in the Protocols throughout this process. At the same time, he defended the President's integrity and patriotism. In criticizing the Protocols, he did very little sugarcoating; in fact, he probably went beyond the call of duty. Overall, his comments left the audience slightly off-balance -- happy over criticisms that were quite strong at times, yet cynical as folks realized that his criticisms were mainly designed to placate us, not to change anything substantial," reported one participant.

Mr. Ghukasyan, who several months ago was appointed as Armenia's Ambassador-at-Large by Pres. Serge Sargsyan, said that he was aware of and understands the Diaspora's dissatisfaction with the Protocols. He further claimed that he shares those feelings, and sees them to be justified. He acknowledged that Armenia's Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian is very weak and unprepared.

Mr. Ghukasyan stated that he "realizes that dialogue with the Diaspora occurred very late in this process, and that was a mistake also; that he could not understand how bright Diaspora Armenian minds weren't included in the process, as they can offer their know-how in dealing with such issues," especially when -- as Mr. Ghukasyan underlined -- "fighting against Turks on the battlefield is easier than dealing with them in a diplomatic war. For the latter, Armenia is in serious need of advisors," he reportedly said.

Mr. Ghukasyan claimed that he "has privately expressed his displeasure about the Protocols to the President, ten times more than Diaspora's complaints." At the same time, while the Protocols are sub par, they are not fatal and "we need to develop loopholes and adopt new laws to protect ourselves."

He even noted that "it's possible that Pres. Sargsyan made a mistake, but he is a sincere and patriotic person who has taken a heavy responsibility on his shoulders," appealing to everyone "to support the President, not to oppose him."

In a related note, Mr. Ghukasyan acknowledged that Armenia went into this "not fully appreciating the impact of the Protocols, and that it must work on that; and that "Genocide recognition is something that Armenia wants and it is not negotiable."

In an attempt to relieve Armenia's current leadership of comprehensive responsibility on core issues affecting all Armenians, Mr. Ghukasyan urged the Diaspora "to continue its fight for Genocide recognition, and that no one, not even Armenia, has the right to prevent it from doing so." A donor underlined that in saying this, he evaded the question of whether Armenia itself bears responsibility for pursuing this issue, until members of the audience stated that Armenia and Diaspora should be working together, to which he agreed and moved on.

As for Artsakh, he said no one is prepared to give up a single village from the liberated territories.

Regarding fund raising, he claimed that the Azeris are watching closely, reminding his audience that "If we don't raise enough funds for Shushi, the Azeris will immediately say that Shushi is not that important for Armenians." This rang hollow -- a shallow fund raising ploy.

He concluded by lavishly praising a number of well-known sponsors in the audience, again to prepare the ground for fund raising.

While several influential members of the Armenian-American community embraced Mr. Ghukasyan's message with apprehension, there is no doubt that Armenians worldwide should rally around Armenia-Artsakh and forge ahead with their economic and moral solidarity.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ter-Petrosian Aligns Himself with Sarkisian
By Ara Khachatourian on Nov 12th, 2009

Armenian National Congress leader Levon Ter-Petrosian, in a speech to his supporters on Wednesday, said his party was ready—in principle—to recognize Serzh Sarkisian’s legitimacy if the president agreed to cooperate with his group on challenges facing Armenia. In his remarks, Ter-Petrosian also defended some aspects of Sarkisian’s policy on Armenia-Turkey relations and attacked the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and other “extreme nationalists” for their opposition to the protocols process.

Ter-Petrosian criticized the ARF for asserting that by signing the protocols the Sarkisian administration has relinquished its right to demand reparations and territorial claims resulting from the Genocide. Ter-Petrosian claimed that such a posturing has allowed Sarkisian to “present himself to the world as a realistic and resolute statesman worthy of the 21st century.”

The former president said that the principle of “historical rights” was unacceptable within the context of international relations and norms, adding that ARF’s positions, which he characterized as calling for “Turkey’s unconditional capitulation” are aimed at aborting the normalization process, which he said was extremely critical for Armenia.

Ter-Petrosian said he prefers the normalization to take place on the basis of mutual concessions and a display of good will, stressing that for his Armenian National Congress the only unacceptable provision of the protocols was the creation of a historical commission, which he said, will cast doubt on the veracity of the Genocide. He also explained that the commission would alienate the Diaspora, whose existence depends on the Genocide recognition issue. He added that it was “unfortunate” that the Diaspora was so focused on the Genocide issue, since he would prefer for the Diaspora to exert its energy on strengthening Armenia’s statehood.

Ter-Petrosian downplayed Sarkisian’s role in some of what the ARF and others have been criticizing him for and instead shifted the blame to Robert Kocharian, Vartan Oskanian and through his own distorted view of history he accused the ARF of relinquishing territorial claims by adhering to the Kars Treaty. Ter-Petrosian said that Sarkisian inherited the territorial issues, as well as the so-called “Madrid Principles,” on which the Karabakh peace process is based from his predecessors.

The former president reiterated his firm assertions that Sarkisian has made “unforgivable” concessions in order to gain support from the West, at a time when he lacked domestic legitimacy. While repeating his call for Sarkisian’s resignation, Ter-Petrosian signaled that it was not too late for Sarkisian to seek legitimacy by agreeing to cooperate with his forces.

Two top Armenian National Congress officials confirmed that Ter-Petrosian’s speech was, in fact, a call for cooperation.

The ARF’s political director Giro Manoyan on Thursday hit back at Ter-Petrosian saying his overtures to Sarkisian have displaced him as a top opposition leader.

Manoyan also said that Ter-Petrosian was willing to make a deal with his long-time adversary because he supports the defeatist protocols and sees no role for himself as an opposition force and is eager to ensure his survival in the political arena.

Perhaps his own accusation that Sarkisian’s concessions were made to secure legitimacy from the West is propelling his current stance, which he emphasized was the only genuine political assessment of the current situation in Armenia.

For a historian, Ter-Petrosian demonstrated quite a skewed grasp on historical facts beginning with his accusation that the ARF signed the Kars Treaty and concluding with his now militant opposition to the historical commission.

He seems to have forgotten that what led to his resignation was his willingness and readiness to relinquish land for a Western-backed peace deal for Karabakh. Who can forget his ill-conceived Meghri-Lachin land swap deal?

It’s glaringly evident that the person seeking legitimacy is Ter-Petrosian himself. His polarizing rhetoric, which contradicted his own presidential policies, has reached a dead end and he must now sit down with his former defense and interior minister Serzh Sarkisian to discuss what else but the Turkish-Armenia rapprochement, which was a focal point of his own failed policies, of course with the requisite vitriol directed at the ARF.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Oct 30 2009

Armenian journalists had a first chance of interviewing RA FM Edward Nalbandyan after the Protocols' signing in Zurich due to his Belorussian counterpart, Sergey Martynov's visit to Yerevan. Time was limited as usual, but Nalbandyan managed to make several thrilling statements, correspondent reports.

Asked whether he felt himself "embarrassed and insulted" during the Protocols' signing, when those opposing the documents and pressurizing the signing were standing behind him, Nalbandyan said: "I do not know who is supposed to feel embarrassed. Probably the one suffering from masochism."

According to Nalbandyan, those standing behind (U.S. Secretary of State, French and Russian Foreign Ministers and EU were the "mediators and allies, but by no means the pressurizers."

"All states except for one or two supported the process and did not pressurize us. It was Armenia's initiative. We reached the agreement jointly with Turkey," Nalbandyan underlined. "The days when one could think that Armenia can be forced to do something under the pressure are gone," RA Foreign Minister stated.


If the signing of the protocols was a non-pressured act by the present day Armenian government as FM Nalbandyan claims it was, then we need a change the government and look for one that is looking out for the peoples interests not their personal gains.