By Khatchig Tazian
The recent events surrounding the Turkish-Armenian football diplomacy with the declared aim of normalizing relations between the two countries may yet have a more sinister aim on the Turkish Side.
From all that we have been able to gather in the past few weeks about the declared protocols, and more importantly, the Turkish approach to the issues at hand i.e. opening the border with Armenia, normalizing relations, dealing with the Genocide issue etc. The protocols are front loaded to the benefit of Turkey where the Kars treaty would demark the border, the Genocide issue comes under a question mark, the border opening gets tied to the resolution of the Karabakh issue thus stays closed, and finally the Turks have a piece of paper they can point to in their negotiations with the EU that they are working to resolve all their issues with their neighbors in good faith.
On the Armenian side things are a bit different. Armenia gives up any and all land claims by asserting its agreement with the Kars treaty. Armenia, by its own doing puts a question mark on the validity of our claims on Genocide. Armenia alienates further its own population from its government. Armenia alienates its Diaspora from the country…all this while the border remains closed awaiting on the resolution of the Karabgh issue.
Smart move on the Turkish side not such a smart one from the Armenian side. For Armenia, there are a few scenarios that could come to fruition that have to be taken into account before ratification, from the most “benign to most severe”
General discontent leading to more migration out of the country which could be a final blow to the viability of the country;
General discontent within the country, and the Diaspora which could lead Diasporas Armenians to distance themselves, and their dollars from Armenia;
Violence in the streets that could get out of hand and turn into a civil war;
Violence in the streets on a large enough scale that would instigate an incursion by Azerbaijan into Karabakh;
Civil War in Armenia, Azeri-Armenian war in Karabakh, mass migration out of the country, demoralized Diaspora, collapse of the nation and the economy.
We know there are precedents for all but one of these scenarios in the recent history of independent Armenia, namely the civil war.
Let us not forget the mass migration that took place from 1993-1998 to the tune of one third of the population.
Let us not forget the Levon Ter-Petrosian days when the Diaspora was alienated and a golden opportunity for advancement of the country was missed due to mutual mistrust.
Let us not forget the violence that was perpetrated against the opposition after the most recent elections by the government which could have in itself sparked more violence on both sides had there been a more potent catalyst such as the protocols.
Let us not forget the test that Azeri side conducted of the Armenian defenses when there was uncertainty and violence on the streets due to the latest elections.
Let us hope, and pray that we don’t see the day where the last and most severe scenario comes to fruition. That would mean not only the end of Armenia, but the total realization of Turkish objectives delivered by non other than the president of Armenia, and his ruling minions.
Armenia and the Diaspora are living decisive days in the future of Armenia and the Armenian nation worldwide. The positions of power of a few elite in Armenia and their perceived gains from the opening of the border should not be allowed to dictate the future of the Armenian Nation.
All of the above can be averted by the simple rejection of the protocols no matter where the pressure is coming from, and how much. This is an opportunity for Armenia to show its geopolitical importance in the region. Simply put the countries pressuring for concessions on the Armenian side are the ones who need the border open, not Armenia. Let them do what it takes for Armenia to normalize relations with Turkey for the benefit of the pressuring countries. Let the United States, Russia, and EU think about how to get the Turkish side to atone for its long standing denial of the Armenian Genocide, pay reparations, return Ararat and Ani, and stay out of Karabakh for us to guarantee passage of their cherished NABUCCO pipeline. This is the opportune time for long ignored issues not to be buried at the hands of our Armenian government, but to be brought to the forefront and dealt with just as the Turkish side is doing by mandating borders through a long forgotten non binding Kars treaty, the silencing of the Genocide issue and insisting on the pro-Azeri resolution of the Karabakh issue. We have waited for 94 years for the normalization of relations with Turkey; there is no rush on our part to do it now.
The people have spoken with a united and unequivocal NO to the protocols; it is their destiny in the balance. Neither this president, nor his minions have the right to dictate defeat on the Armenian Nation. The time has come for these parasites to look in the mirror and see themselves as who they are; strong arming hoodlums who cow tow the enemy at the expense of their people. Mr. Sarkisian, if you feel that you have bitten more than you can chew by opening this Pandora’s Box please step down. Let your mistakes stand on their own rather than take the whole Armenian Nation with it.
The Armenian Nation is a resilient one; we have and can overcome any obstacle that has been put in front of us. Let us once and forever say YES to normalized relations with Turkey, but not at the expense of our rights, not at the expense of our history, legacy to our children, and future generations. The time is now, stand up and get counted.