BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN From the California Courier
Three recent developmen’s in Armenia and the Diaspora sharply countered claims by Armenian members of the "Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission" that most Armenia’s supported their secret negotiations with Turkish deniers of the Armenian Genocide.
Almost all of the political groups represented in the Armenian Parliament issued a joint statement on July 31 criticizing the Commission’s "shadowy process?which can endanger real possibilities for the establishment of relations" between Armenia and Turkey.
These parliamentary blocs–consisting of 83 out of 129 members or two-thirds of the Parliament–declared in their statement: "The attempt to weaken the process of garnering international recognition for the Armenian Genocide–split the efforts of the united Armenian front–and disrupt the process which has gained momentum within the international arena–is unacceptable.
The signatories announce that Armenian-Turkish bilateral relations can be established only through authorized legal representatives."
The Foreign Ministry of Armenia issued its official position the following day: "It is noteworthy that the political forces holding the majority in the parliament have assumed a unified position over the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission."
The Ministry expressed its "concern over the fact that Armenian Genocide-related issues which are of pan-national importance and have always been a uniting factor in both Armenia and the Diaspora can split the united Armenian front and suspend the Armenian Genocide recognition process. ?It should also be noted that track two diplomacy cannot replace state-level discussions–and all existing problems between Armenia and Turkey can be solved only through an inter-state dialogue."
The third important development was the joint statement issued by 21 Armenian Church leaders and community organizations in the United States on August 9–condemning the creation of the Turkish Commission.
The signatories–including the religious leaders of the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic–the Catholic and the Evangelical churches–declared that the Commission’s undertaking "could lead to results which do not correspond to the interests of the Armenian nation."
A report issued by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on August 8 stated that "the reaction from the Armenian public has been largely negative so far." It further reported that "many politicians–public figures and scholars in Armenia and the Diaspora say that Ankara wants to stem the wave of recognition by Western legislatures of the Armenian Genocide–by showing that it is engaged in a dialogue with the Armenia’s."
A statement issued by Ozdem Sanberk–a member of the Turkish Commission–confirmed Armenia’s’ worst fears. In an interview with the Azeri newspaper–"525-chi Gazet," on July 19–2001–Sanberk made the following alarming revelation: "The basic goals of our commission is to impede the initiatives put forth every year in the US Congress and parliamen’s of Western countries for the genocide issue and aimed at weakening Turkey?.The key goal is to prevent the genocide issue from being regularly brought into the agenda of the Western countries?. The significant matter for us is that the genocide issue is not discussed by the American Congress any more. Because–as long as we continue the dialogue–the issue won’t be brought to the Congress agenda. If it is not discussed in the Congress–we–being Turkey–will gain from that. The US Congress will see that there is a channel of dialogue between Turks and Armenia’s and decide that ‘there is no necessity for the Congress to take such decision while such a channel exists.’ "
To make matters worse–Rep. Robert Wexler–the co-founder of the newly-formed Turkish Caucus in the House of Representatives and one of the most pro-Turkish members of Congress–issued a "Dear Colleague" letter last month welcoming the Turkish Commission and urging his House colleagues to support it.
Rep. Wexler–in his letter–also lays all speculation aside by confirming that "the ten member commission [is] supported by the United States Department of State!"
Prof. James Russell–the Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University–in a letter to the Armenian News Network–issued the following warning about the Turkish Commission.
"Reconciliation–without prior recognition–repentance–and restitution by Turkey is an empty word at best; at worst–another cynical ploy. I hope Armenia’s won’t fall for it!"
The above developmen’s indicate that as more and more Armenia’s are learning the true facts about the Turkish Commission–they are uniting in their opposition to this "unholy dialogue."