WASHINGTON (Combined Sources)—President Serzh Sarkisian on Monday met with President Barack Obama and held talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of an international nuclear summit.
Sarkisian also attended an event at the tomb of President Woodrow Wilson, where after laying a wreath, he made remarks at the National Cathedral addressed to community members and Armenian Genocide survivors who had gathered for the event.
“Turkey cannot speak to Armenia and the Armenian people in a language of preconditions,” President Serzh Sarkisian remarked at a gathering at the Woodrow Wilson Monument, moments after his meeting with Erdogan.
He also emphasized that Armenia was not willing to make the fact of the Armenian Genocide a matter of discussion, nor did he believe that Turkey would have a positive role in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member Dr. Viken Hovsepian, who attended the National Cathedral event called on Sarkisian to rescind his signature from the Armenia-Turkey protocols.
“We heard President Sarkisian’s speech, which primarily honored President Wilson’s memory and his friendship with the Armenian people,” he said during interview with our sister publication, the Armenian Weekly.
“The symbolism of President Wilson goes far beyond the friendship aspect. Wilson is the architect of what became known as ‘Wilsonian Armenia’—an independent Armenia which included Armenian provinces of the Ottoman Empire. We are mindful of the symbolism of President Sarkisian’s visit to Wilson’s tomb and his speech today,” explained Hovsepian.
“The real expression, however, of this symbolism—and its logical continuation—would be President Sarkisian’s rescinding his signature from the Turkey-Armenia protocols,” said Hovsepian.
“President Sarkisian’s remarks — both in timing and in substance — are greatly encouraging,” ARF Central Committee Chairman Antranig Kasbarian told the Armenian Weekly. “The symbolism of honoring Woodrow Wilson — a champion of Genocide survivors and guarantor of Western Armenia — was not lost on those assembled. Nor was the President’s assessment of current political relations, in which he clearly rejected any preconditons by Turkey toward normalizing bilateral ties,” Kasbarian added.
“But the true test will come behind closed doors, when Mr. Sargsyan encounters the inevitable pressure from Washington and Ankara to come to terms,” added Kasbarian. “If he follows the path set out today, then we can reasonably hope that Armenia will retreat from the Protocols and the dangerous course they represent. If not, then we may see Armenia’s predicament go from bad to worse.”
Obama discussed with Sarkisian, prospects for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations and the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during their first-ever talks held in Washington on Monday, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
A “read out” issued by the White House statedt: “The President commended President Sarkisian for his courageous efforts to achieve normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey and encouraged him to fulfill the promise of normalization for the benefit of the Armenian people. President Obama also urged that both Armenia and Turkey make every effort to advance the normalization process and achieve legislative ratification of the protocols of normalization. President Obama also expressed his support for Armenian democracy.”
Sarkisian’s office said only that the two leaders spoke about “the course of normalizing relations between Armenia and Turkey” and “exchanged thoughts” on the current status of the Karabakh peace process. They also discussed “prospects for the development of bilateral Armenian-American relations,” it said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has been personally involved in the Turkish-Armenian diplomacy, and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian were also present at the talks. The Tert.am news service reported from Washington that Clinton is due to hold a separate meeting with Sarkisian during his visit.
According to RFE/RL, a White House source, who asked not be identified said prior to the meeting that President Obama has expressed hope that through the reconciliation process that began in 2009, Armenia and Turkey would be able to improve relations and address long-time “disagreements.”
Sarkisian and Erdogan met Monday morning. Turkish sources indicated that the brunt of the discussion focused on a letter, which was delivered last week by Erdogan’s envoy.
The NTV news agency, quoting Turkish delegation members, reported that the two leaders agreed that Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers will focus on the ratification process of the protocols.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Deputy Chief of Staff to the President of Armenia Vigen Sarkisian were joined by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu, at the meeting, diplomats said.
No officials announcements were made at the conclusion of the meeting.
During opening remarks at the George Mason University’s new Center for Global Islamic Studies on Monday, Erdogan voiced his anger at the approval, last month, of an Armenian Genocide resolution by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“History does not get written in parliaments and it cannot become a subject of condemnation by a parliament,” said Erdogan.
“We opened our archives and suggested the formation of a historical commission, however we didn’t receive a response. Decisions adopted by parliaments will not benefit Armenia,” said Erdogan.