Armenia's Roadmap to Disaster
HETQ.am - Investigative Journalists of Armenia
April 28, 2009
(Also published in USA Armenia Life, the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, and Loussapatz)
Armenia's Roadmap To Disaster
By David Boyajian
Just days before April 24, the annual commemoration of the Armenian genocide, Armenia and Turkey agreed on a so-called “roadmap” that from all indications is a betrayal of the Armenian people, both in the homeland and around the world.
The roadmap – approved by Armenia’s president - calls for the establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of the border between the two countries, which Turkey closed 16 years ago.
But the roadmap reportedly goes much further. A joint Turkish-Armenian historical commission would decide whether there really was, as Turkey maintains, no Armenian genocide. And Armenia would formally accept Turkey’s continued occupation of Western Armenia.
The Burden of Illegitimacy
An Armenian president that has not, however, been fairly and democratically elected lacks the requisite legitimacy to negotiate roadmaps, treaties, or anything else with Turkey. Such a leader is often compelled to do what certain major Western and regional countries ask of him lest they continue to point to his illegitimacy and abuse of his citizen’s civil rights.
Those countries can also threaten to stop providing Armenia economic support, much of which people close to the Armenian administration have siphoned off and become dependent upon.
Neither can an illegitimate Armenian leader tell such countries that the Armenian people will not permit him to make major concessions to Turkey. After all, those countries know very well that a leader whose authority is derived through the misuse of power, rather than through the ballot box, can make concessions without the consent of the Armenian people.
The Historical Commission Farce
Armenia’s president has given in – though we don’t know the precise details – to Turkey’s demand for a historical commission on 1915, as if even he questions the veracity of the genocide. As a result, the world now erroneously believes that the Armenian people are putting the genocide up for debate.
No serious person would ever have fallen for the idea of establishing a joint historical commission - first proposed four years ago by Turkey. (See the author’s “The Genocide Study Trap” on Armeniapedia.org.) This year, however, Armenia’s president did.
Are he and his advisors unaware, for example, that the International Association of Genocide Scholars (Genocidewatch.org) sent a letter to the Turkish prime minister explaining that “the scholarly and intellectual record” and “hundreds of independent scholars” had long ago proven the factuality of the genocide?
U-Turn on “No Preconditions”
Armenia has long stated that it would agree to a normalization of relations with Turkey only if there were no “preconditions.” Yet the president has now made a U-turn by agreeing to Turkey’s precondition of a historical commission.
The historical commission gave the new U.S. president yet another excuse to not use the word “genocide” in his April 24 statement.
Even worse, Armenia’s president recklessly undermined the decades long, and largely successful, efforts of Armenian Americans and the Diaspora for genocide acknowledgment.
It appears that the Armenian president may also agree to another Turkish precondition: formal recognition of Turkey’s borders, thereby possibly throwing away Armenian legal and historical rights and the chances of, for example, regaining much needed direct access to the Black Sea in the future. One wonders whether Armenia will also be selling off Artsakh (Karabagh) at bargain basement prices.
The Armenian president has also allowed the American president, his Secretary of State, and the international media to depict a mere border opening as “reconciliation,” as if somehow Turkey and Armenia had been “reconciled” before Turkey closed the border in 1993, and as if reopening the border would return the countries to that wonderful state of “reconciliation.” The Armenian government has done nothing to correct this absurd misperception.
Armenian political parties that have long had the Diaspora’s support must also take responsibility for the Armenian president’s errors.
The parties were warned many years ago that Armenia, buffeted by powerful outside forces, was headed down the road of losing its legal and historical rights. They were also repeatedly warned, even before Armenian independence, that allowing the Armenian national cause to be erroneously perceived as simply a matter of achieving genocide acknowledgment, rather than as also gaining reparations and territory, was inviting disaster. Now we see that disaster coming true via the “roadmap.”
The discord that the president has sown, and the injustices that the roadmap would perpetuate, must not be allowed to continue.
A strong and united response by the people of Armenia and the Diaspora is needed now to steer Armenia and its president away from the final destination of the roadmap: capitulation and yet another Armenian genocide.
The author is an Armenian American freelance writer. Several of his articles are archived at Armeniapedia.org.