BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
I was privileged to attend a special program in Beirut last Friday, sponsored by the Armenian National Committee of Lebanon, dedicated to the publication of my new book in Arabic: “Armenia-Turkey Protocols: Truth or Deception?” The book is the compilation of 43 columns I had written in The California Courier in the last three years on the controversial Protocols.
After introductory remarks by George Sabounjian of the local ANC, Dr. Nora Arissian of Damascus, Syria, the translator of the book, asserted that Sassounian’s columns exposed the Turkish government’s fake intent. She reminded the audience that the author had accurately predicted at the outset of the negotiations that Turkey would not keep its promise to ratify the Protocols and lift the blockade of Armenia.
Dr. Arissian was followed by veteran Lebanese Minister Michel Edde who had written a lengthy and insightful introduction to the book. Mr. Edde had held five ministerial posts during his long and distinguished career in various Lebanese cabinets. In his remarks, the prominent Minister commended the author for his analytical columns, praised the Armenian community of Lebanon for its active role in the country’s progress, and condemned Turkey for its denial of the Armenian Genocide. At the end of his remarks, Minister Edde surprised the audience by announcing a generous and unexpected personal contribution of $25,000 to the ANC of Lebanon.
The evening’s program was conducted in Arabic, given the fact that there were Arab guests in the audience and the book was intended for Arab leaders and masses. I was gratified to be able to deliver a portion of my remarks in Arabic. Surprisingly, I still remembered the Arabic I had learned over 40 years ago as a student at the local Sophia Hagopian High School.
I reminded the attendees that the Turkish government’s true intent was to exploit the Protocols in order to pressure Armenia into giving up its pursuit of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and create a smokescreen of peaceful negotiations so that other countries, particularly the United States, would be warned not to undermine this make-believe reconciliation and budding relationship by recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
In addition, Turkey wanted Armenia to return Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh) to Azerbaijan’s control, give up its demands for Western Armenia which is currently under Turkish occupation, and to tried undermine overall Armenian unity by pitting the Diaspora against the homeland.
Doggedly pursuing its intent to extract additional concessions from Armenia, the Turkish government kept refusing to ratify the Protocols it had signed two years ago. Failing to accomplish its self-serving objectives, the Turkish Parliament recently took the final step to kill the Protocols by removing them from its agenda, citing a technicality.
This failed experiment of Armenia-Turkey Protocols clearly proves that Turkey is more interested in playing diplomatic games and creating false impressions than pursuing peaceful co-existence. Turkish commitments cannot be taken seriously and Turkey’s leaders’ signatures on international agreements are not worth the paper they are written on.
In my remarks, I pointed out that Turkish leaders have been presenting themselves as defenders of the Palestinian cause, and supporters of all Arabs and Muslims, while continuing to be Israel’s strategic partner, and covertly sharing with it some of the most sensitive military secrets of Arab countries.
In my opinion, Palestinians and Arabs in general do not need the fake friendship of Turkey’s neo-Ottoman leaders. Arab masses must demand that their own indigenous leaders, not self-serving foreign rulers, defend their national interest.
We just saw how Turkey sided with the despotic regimes in Egypt and Libya until the very last moment when the dictators of these countries were about to be toppled. This is not genuine friendship. This is crass opportunism!
Since Arabs and Armenians have both experienced horrendous suffering and atrocities under the Ottoman yoke, they can not be fooled easily by dishonest Turkish gestures of rapprochement. The survivors of the Armenian Genocide were the grateful beneficiaries of Arab hospitality throughout the Middle East. Without such humanitarian intervention, many more Armenians would have perished.
I ended my remarks by expressing my gratitude to Minister Michel Edde for writing an inspiring introduction to my book, and to Dr. Nora Arissian who had spent countless hours to painstakingly translate it from English into Arabic, as well as my previous book on the Armenian Genocide. I also thanked the Armenian National Committee of Lebanon for hosting the evening’s program at the Pyunic Hall of Aztag newspaper, and the Hamazkayine Publishing House for publishing the book. I expressed my special gratitude to benefactor Gabriel Chemberjian and his Pyunic Foundation for sponsoring the book’s translation and publication. At the end of the program, signed copies of the book were distributed to the guests.