WASHINGTON—The Armenian National Committee of America Tuesday shared with Members of Congress the reservations of the Armenian American community regarding a recent set of secretly-negotiated, Swiss-brokered, protocols between Turkey and Armenia regarding the normalization of their bilateral relations.
In a September 1 memo to Senate and House offices, ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian reviewed these concerns, alerted these offices to the undue pressure applied to Armenia to accept dangerous concessions, and informed legislators on both sides of Capitol Hill about Turkey’s rapid backtracking from even the minor commitments it had undertaken in these agreements.
In the note, Hamparian stressed that, “Among [the ANCA’s] primary concerns is that Armenia, blockaded by Turkey and under intense economic and diplomatic pressure, was forced into accepting terms that threaten her interests, rights, safety, and future – very notably in the form of a proposed ‘historical commission.'” He added that, “This provision, a tactic long pursued by Ankara to cast doubt on the historical record of the Armenian Genocide, is intended to serve Turkey’s drive to roll back the growing tide of international recognition of this crime against humanity. There can be no enduring relationship between Armenia and Turkey that is not built upon the foundation of Turkey’s acceptance of a true and just resolution of this crime.”
The memo closed with a set of four ANCA recommendations for U.S. policymakers, including both Presidential and Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
The full text of the ANCA memo is provided below.
To: Foreign Affairs Legislative Aide
From: Aram Hamparian, Executive Director
Date: September 1, 2009
RE: Reservations regarding Turkey-Armenia protocols
I am writing to note that our community is seriously concerned regarding the substance of the recently signed Protocols between Armenia and Turkey, to share with you our alarm over the pressure applied to Armenia to accept dangerous conditions that prejudice the security of Armenia and the rights of all Armenians, and, finally, to inform you of Turkey’s nearly immediate backtracking from its commitments in these agreements.
Among our primary concerns is that Armenia, blockaded by Turkey and under intense economic and diplomatic pressure, was forced into accepting terms that threaten her interests, rights, safety, and future – very notably in the form of a proposed “historical commission.” This provision, a tactic long pursued by Ankara to cast doubt on the historical record of the Armenian Genocide, is intended to serve Turkey’s drive to roll back the growing tide of international recognition of this crime against humanity. There can be no enduring relationship between Armenia and Turkey that is not built upon the foundation of Turkey’s acceptance of a true and just resolution of this crime.
It’s worth noting that, at the same time that Turkey is seeking to gain credit internationally by appearing open to dialogue, its government is enforcing Article 301 and other laws criminalizing even the discussion of the genocide.
Just hours after yesterday’s signing of this secretly-negotiated deal, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, had already started walking away from his country’s commitment to end its 16-year-old blockade of land-locked Armenia, a country that rose from the ashes of Ottoman Turkey’s genocidal campaign during and after the first Word War.
Here is Mr. Davutoglu’s quote, as reported by AP, and a Wall Street Journal report on Turkish and Azerbaijani resistance to opening Turkey’s border with Armenia.
“Ahmet Davutoglu said, however, that opening the border was out of the question for now, “A longer process is required for that,” he was quoted by Turkey’s NTV television station as saying Monday.”
–Turkey Armenia agree to establish diplomatic ties
Associated Press, August 31, 2009
“[Davutoglu’s] comment on Tuesday reflected strong opposition to opening the border with Armenia in both Turkey and Azerbaijan, opposition that could still delay or derail reconciliation.
— Azerbaijan Casts Doubt on Turkey-Armenia Pact
Wall Street Journal, September 1, 2009
In what has become a troubling pattern – at the expense of U.S. credibility and Armenia’s very viability – the Turkish government is once again playing a double game: Claiming public credit, on the one hand, for progress on Turkey-Armenia relations, while, on the other, assuring Azerbaijan that Ankara will only lift its blockade with Baku’s approval.
This duplicity complicates the prospects for the actual establishment of Turkey-Armenia ties and undermines prospects for a durable peace in Nagorno Karabakh.
The lack of good faith by Ankara underscores the need for decisive action on the part of our government:
1. The President should honor his repeatedly stated pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
2. The Obama-Biden Administration must affirm that it will not, in any way, support a “historical commission” or any other effort calling into question the Armenian Genocide.
3. The State Department must hold Turkey accountable for its failure to honor its commitments.
4. The U.S. Congress should move quickly to pass the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.252.