BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
At a presidential campaign rally in the Malatia-Sebastia district on Tuesday, President Serzh Sarkisian told his constituents that Armenia will fight for the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
It’s what he went on to say begs the question as to whether Sarkisian, who is seeking a second term in office, fully comprehends the Armenian Genocide as a human rights and international justice issue.
According to Armenpress, the president said: “The words ‘genocide’ and ‘yeghern’ are the same. By even not pronouncing the word ‘genocide,’ the U.S. President has said everything.” This was a clear reference to President Obama’s consistent use of the word “Medz Yeghern” in a transparent and obvious effort to avoid the properly referencing the Armenian Genocide in his annual April 24 statement.
To add insult to injury Sarkisian went on to add: “Perhaps due to our own incorrect emphasis, the US president uttered the word “Medz Yeghern” not in his office, but in the country’s legislature. Even if he used the word Genocide we would have been dissatisfied and said why he didn’t say it twice.”
Perhaps the president needs a refresher course—or a tutorial—on this most critical issue, so that while making empty promises on the campaign trail he does not jeopardize the pursuit of the Armenian Cause or disrespect the memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Without even pointing out the factual errors in his statement about Obama (references to statements in his office or legislature are totally from left field), this pedestrian and irresponsible statement from Armenia’s president is nothing short of the manifestation of his ignorance on the matter. It is, however, consistent with his administration’s disregard to the issue of the Genocide.
The Sarkisian administration has not demonstrated, through clear action, its commitment to the constitutionally-mandated pursuit of the Armenian Genocide recognition. Shortly after taking office in 2008, Armenia signed the “roadmap” for the dangerous Armenia-Turkey protocols on the eve of the 93rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
It’s rabid pursuit of the US-orchestrated protocols also impacted the pursuit of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, with members of Congress here in the US – and President Obama himself – using the protocols as an excuse to delay proper condemnation of this crime.
Years after the signing of the protocols – with the world as witness to Turkey’s immediate efforts to use the document as a method to derail international Genocide affirmation and force a pro-Azerbaijan resolution of the Karabakh conflict – the Sarkisian Administration, astonishingly, still remains a signatory of the document—a pathetic participant in Turkey’s diplomatic games.
Aside from two noteworthy speeches in Der-Zor and in London, the Sarkisian Administration’s role, through its diplomatic missions and its support for the protocols, has not reflected a firm priority as stated by the authorities.
Then, there’s the issue of the president’s complete misunderstanding of the term Genocide and his irresponsible game of semantics. If by now the president has not understood that the word Genocide carries a distinct set of political implications, then perhaps before stomping on the campaign trail, he should pick up a dictionary.
Sarkisian’s callous misrepresentation of the Armenian Genocide does not bode well with his argument and insistence that the international recognition of the Genocide is a national and regional security issue and shifts the paradigm from what is really the crux of Hai-Tahd.
Furthermore, by publicly making this egregious statement, Sarkisian is playing directly into the hands of those—especially President Obama—who have not demonstrated the courage to speak the truth, continue to fuel Turkey’s denial of the Genocide by shamelessly bastardizing the Armenian term “Medz Yeghern” for their own political benefit, and believe that the Armenian people can be placated with cheap semantic maneuvers.
If Sarkisian truly believes the words “Genocide” and “Medz Yeghern” are the same then he is not fit to lead a country whose current national liberation struggles are so deep rooted and directly connected with the Armenian Genocide.