YEREVAN (MFA)–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian over the weekend participated in the 44th annual Munich Security Conference where he gave a speech, outlining the contradictions of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks to the conference about Turkey’s role in the region.
The conference, which was presided over by Former German Defense National Security Advisor Horst Teltschik, had as its general theme: "The World in Disarray: Shifting Powers and Lack of Strategies." Several heads of state as well as more than 40 Foreign and Defense Ministers, and 500-plus members of the media and international policy makers participated in open dialogue about current and future security challenges.
In his speech Oskanian noted the ongoing paradox between Turkey’s EU ambitions and its blockade of Armenia. Erdogan had addressed the conference on Turkey’s Foreign Policy and Security Interests. Erdogan had presented Turkey as a major democratic player with a geo-strategic role in bringing peace and stability to the region and beyond.
Oskanina said that Armenia’supports Turkey’s desire to become a full member of the EU, noting that this is precisely the kind of neighbor Armenia would like to have.
"But as you know, today the border between our two countries is closed by Turkey," Oskanian said. "We’ve often raised this issue, stating that we would like to have normal ties with Turkey, open borders and diplomatic relations. Armenia’s would like to be the beneficiaries of the vision you projected here today."
"But we have heard you, loud and clear, repeating two main reasons, or excuses, for keeping that border closed. One of your reasons is Armenia’s engagement in the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, the second is our pursuit of genocide recognition," Oskanian stated. "The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict is between Armenia’s and Azeris, while Genocide recognition is our moral, historic obligation.
"Our countries are not at war, Mr. Prime Minister, and I wonder whether short of being at war, the reasons you always offer are sufficient to justify maintaining closed borders between our two countries," Oskanian remarked. "Having normal relations, open borders and diplomatic relations, will allow us together to address our differences on the genocide issue."
There are important processes going on in the region and Turkey can be a natural bridge between the Caucasus, EU and NATO, according to Oskanian, who underscored that the very issues Turkey considers to be obstacles to the normalization of relations are the ones it can play a more positive role in addressing as a neutral and equal party.
Erdogan did not respond to Oskanian’s questions about the geopolitical situation and prospects for normalization. Instead, he repeated the offer to convene a panel of historians to address genocide claims. The 1915 massacres, according to him, had no been proven historically.
Erdogan offered to use historians, archaeologists and others to study the matter, but rejected the possibility of the recognition of genocide being part of Turkish culture.
During the conference, Oskanian also held meetings with Lithuania’s Foreign Minister, and the German Foreign Ministry’s Political Director, Dr. Volker Stanzel.