Neither the Turkish nor the Armenian foreign ministries refuted reports by the Milliyet newspaper that the dangerous Turkey-Armenia protocols are scheduled to be signed on October 13.
It is interesting that the news came from unnamed officials at the Turkish foreign ministry and, once again, Turkey—and not Armenia—is setting the course and the agenda for normalizing relations.
And what an agenda it is. October 13 is not merely the day before the scheduled Armenia-Turkey European qualifier soccer match, it also marks the 88th anniversary of signing of the Kars treaty, on which the recognition of the current boundaries provision of the protocols is based.
With neither country refuting the report on the signing of the protocols, Turkey is poised to capitalize on its past misdeeds, while Armenia legitimizes a clandestine treaty through which Turkey annexed historic territories of Armenia, among them Ani, Kars, Ardahan and, of course, Mt. Ararat.
What Serzh Sarkisian thought to be a shrewd political move when he invited his Turkish counterpart to Armenia in June 2008 has evolved into a national disaster with detrimental consequences for the future of the Armenian Nation.
Now, that nation is divided, especially in Armenia, where the authorities are utilizing the protocol-imposed six-week public discussion period to forcefully convince the people of Armenia that the protocols will not endanger Armenia’s national security nor the future of the nation.
In his customary patronizing manner, Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian, having returned from a “crucial” jaunt to China, finally addressed the parliament regarding the protocols and expressed his surprise at inquiries regarding the provisions of the protocols. In conclusion, in his often demeaning rhetoric, he simplified the matter by saying that the protocols cannot be changed because they are agreed upon documents by both sides and it is incumbent on the parliament to make the final ratification.
Similarly, on Thursday, President Sarkisian, in meeting with political forces, after acknowledging that the protocols had pitfalls, nevertheless pushed ahead with his belief that the move to normalize relations with Turkey would eventually benefit Armenia.
In his presentation to parliament, Nalbandian asserted the Turkey had made significant concessions in the final document. The foreign minister did not clarify what those concessions were.
So we are left to read between the lines of this crucial document and not to judge when provisions of the protocols call for the recognition of current boundaries, respecting of territorial integrity, the creation of a sub-commission on historical issues and now the announced date for the signing of the protocols.
In his remarks Thursday, Sarkisian said: “By inviting Turkey’s President to Armenia, I intended to open a window of the possibility to normalize relations and to demonstrate that a people who have suffered Genocide, and the Armenian nation, have enough courage and the will to be the first to extend a hand.”
Announcing of a “roadmap” on the eve of the Genocide anniversary, the provisions of the protocols and now, scheduling the signing of the defeatist documents on a day that symbolizes an historic setback for Armenia do not speak to the “courage” of a nation that survived a Genocide, but rather they demonstrate the “will” of a new generation of misguided leaders who are prepared to undermine historic justice and national dignity.
While Mr. Nalbandian is adamant that the protocols cannot be changed, perhaps he can be assertive in ensuring that when he signs the protocols he does not throw the baby out with the bath water.