A constant has emerged in the suspense/surprise-filled processes that have dominated our national agenda this past year. The Wall Street Journal and the International Crisis Group have become harbingers of sort for heralding a fait accompli for Armenia.
It was in late March that the Wall Street Journal reported on the specifics of what became widely known as the “roadmap” to Turkey-Armenia rapprochement. That report was immediately—if not simultaneously—followed by a heavily biased report from a so-called independent think tank known as the International Crisis Group. Both foreshadowed a deal in mid-April that would pave the way for the normalization of ties between Armenia and Turkey. Both reports were also rife with hints at preconditions, including the need for an immediate resolution to the Karabakh conflict, by way of alluding to an agreement by Armenian and Azeri leaders about withdrawal of Armenian forces from the liberated territories and the establishment of a historic commission to study the Armenian Genocide.
Fast forward to October (the eve of a meeting between Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev on Thursday in Moldova and a previously announced schedule for Armenia and Turkey to sign the protocols on Saturday) and the Wall Street Journal prints an interview with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who says that protocols will be signed regardless of the outcome of the Moldova meeting and the ICG’s report includes a multi-point assessment, which claims that Armenian and Azeri leaders have already “broadly” agreed to a pullout and should prepare their respective public for an eventual peace deal.
Erdogan also said the two processes — a resolution of the Karabakh conflict and rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia — remain linked, and that a positive outcome at this week’s talks, to be held in Moldova, would help overall.
“This is perhaps the most important point — that Armenia should not allow its policies to be taken hostage by the Armenian Diaspora,” Erdogan told the Wall Street Journal.
Erdogan also reiterated earlier claims that an agreement has already been reached on the withdrawal from five of the seven liberated territories, with the fate of Lachin and Kelbajar, reportedly, still up in the air.
On the heels of these reports also came an announcement late Tuesday by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, inviting world historians to a commission that is tasked to study the Armenian Genocide.
“There are all sorts of allegations about what happened a century ago. It is clear that people who do not know what happened where or how are not able to take decisions on this matter,” Gul said in an interview with Agence France Presse.
“What we hope is that historians, archive specialists study this matter and we are ready to accept the conclusions of this commission. To show that we are sincere, we even said that if a third country is interested in this matter, if French historians, for example, want to take part in this commission, they are welcome,” he added on the eve of a visit to France.
President Sarkisian has spent a better part of his week on Diaspora tour telling his audiences in Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Beirut and the Russian port city of Rostov that such a commission is not stipulated in the protocols and assuring that whatever historical discussion that is to take place, within the framework of Armenia-Turkey ties, would be a discussion of post-Genocide historical matters.
Gul’s statements are seen as a direct challenge to Sarkisian’s assertions during his tour, which was met with angry protests during all but one stop: the Russian city of Rostov. There, leading Russian-Armenian organizations issued an announcement opposing the protocols’ provisions that
If an agreement is to be signed on Saturday clearly there is a major disconnect between the signatories.
While in Beirut, Sarkisian stressed that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is “not only a matter of the restoration of justice, but also a major circumstance from the viewpoint of the security of Armenia and the Armenian people.” “It is a necessity,” the president stressed.
Furthermore, he underscored: “The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will get a solution only when we see that we’ve got what our people have struggled for since 1988.”
Gul’s blatant denial of the Genocide also goes counter to President Obama’s wide support for the protocols, since he urged Turkey in March to come to terms with its own history and acknowledge the past.
At press time, official Yerevan had no comment.
It is precisely for these and other more overbearing reasons that Armenia should immediately pull out of this process and not enter into such a critical agreement so hastily.