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ARMENIA’S FUTURE,

RELATIONS WITH TURKEY,


AND THE KARABAGH CONFLICT
Levon Ter-Petrossian
Edited by Arman Grigoryan
Armenia’s Future, Relations with Turkey,
and the Karabagh Conflict
Levon Ter-Petrossian

Armenia’s Future,
Relations with Turkey,
and the Karabagh
Conflict
Edited by Arman Grigoryan
Levon Ter-Petrossian Edited by
Armenian National Congress Arman Grigoryan
Armenia, Armenia Department of International Relations
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
USA

ISBN 978-3-319-58915-2 ISBN 978-3-319-58916-9 (eBook)


DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-58916-9

Library of Congress Control Number: 2017946712

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018


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ACKNOWLEDGMENT

A number of individuals have made important contributions to this project.


Several of the documents have been translated by Ara Arabyan, Alexander
Arzoumanyan, Melissa Brown, Gerard Libaridian, and Rouben
Shougaryan. Meline Toumani has done a superb job editing the entire
text. Ashot Sargsyan has provided invaluable help with many of the anno-
tations. Avetis Avagyan has compiled the index, helped with editing the
text, and acted as a go-to person for any problem that has arisen during the
process of preparing the manuscript for publication. I would also like to
thank the Palgrave Macmillan team, and Alina Yurova and Ben Bailey in
particular, for their patience and dedication to this project.

Arman Grigoryan

v
CONTENTS

1 Foreword: The Struggle to Change the Logic of


Armenia’s History 1

2 The Early Challenges to the Traditional Narrative,


1989–1991 13

3 Armenian-Turkish Relations After Independence


and the Continued Struggle with the Traditional Narrative 23

4 The Karabagh Conflict and the Future of Armenian


Statehood 35

5 Views on the Karabagh Conflict and the Armenian Turkish


Relations Following the Return to Politics 61

6 The Politics and Geopolitics of the Process of Normalization


of Armenian-Turkish Relations 79

7 Peace with Neighbors Has No Good Alternatives 131

vii
viii CONTENTS

Appendix 153

Bibliography 169

Index 171
CHAPTER 1

Foreword: The Struggle to Change the Logic


of Armenia’s History

Levon Ter-Petrossian, whose select articles, speeches, and interviews dealing


with Armenian-Turkish relations, the Karabagh conflict, and the future of the
Armenian statehood are presented in this volume, was the first president of
independent Armenia. He served in that capacity from 1991 to 1998 when
he resigned following a political crisis triggered by his endorsement of a plan
for settling the Karabagh conflict.1 Ter-Petrossian had briefly served as the
Chairman of Armenia’s Supreme Soviet prior to Armenia’s independence and
adoption of a presidential system. He had assumed that post in the summer of
1990 when the Armenian National Movement (ANM) unseated the Com-
munists in the elections to the Supreme Soviet in the summer of 1990,
becoming the first noncommunist government of a constituent republic of
the Soviet Union. Ter-Petrossian was one of the leaders of the ANM, which
had started as a movement demanding the transfer of the jurisdiction of
the Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Region from the Azerbaijani to the
Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic,2 but which then transformed into a
movement for democratic rule and independence from the Soviet Union.
As such, it became an integral part of the wider democratic movement in the
Soviet Union, while Ter-Petrossian became a highly respected figure in it,
providing important critiques of the Soviet system, and forming particularly
close ties with Boris Yelstin and the Russian liberals.
After his resignation in 1998, Ter-Petrossian returned to his vocation as a
historian of the medieval Middle East,3 and maintained total silence on
political matters for an entire decade. Concerned about the direction in

© The Author(s) 2018 1


L. Ter-Petrossian, Armenia’s Future, Relations with Turkey, and the
Karabagh Conflict, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-58916-9_1
2 1 FOREWORD: THE STRUGGLE TO CHANGE THE LOGIC OF. . .

which Armenia was headed and responding to public demand, he returned


to politics in 2007 and stood as a candidate for president in the elections of
2008. The ruling regime clung to power by falsifying the elections then
resorting to force after Ter-Petrossian’s supporters launched a campaign of
protests.4 Following the crackdown, Ter-Petrossian started an oppositional
mass movement, which he christened the Armenian National Congress
(ANC), and embarked on a protracted struggle for the two things that
have defined his political career—a democratic Armenia and Armenia that is
at peace with its neighbors.
The collection of articles, speeches, and interviews contained in this volume
provides a unique window into that struggle. But it is more than information
about a single politician’s views. It is an invaluable resource for tracing the most
important issues, problems, and disputes that have animated Armenian politics
for the last three decades. This is not a memoir designed to justify controversial
decisions or to respond to accusations. It is also not something that was written
to appeal to a foreign audience. Rather the material contained in this volume is
a debate with opponents in Armenia about why Armenia needs to normalize its
relations with Turkey and to settle the Karabagh conflict. As such it reveals a
fascinating political picture of a country that has been engaged in a protracted
conflict while transitioning from communism. The picture is made that much
more fascinating by the fact that it is radically different from the one painted
in most Western media and academic writings on Armenia.
The preponderant opinion on the conflict in Karabagh in the Western
media and academia, as on “ethnic conflicts” in general, draws inspiration
from two general arguments. They differ in their theoretical logics in signifi-
cant ways, but what they have in common is the insistence that these conflicts
are always irrational as far as the “real” interests of the ordinary members of
the groups in question are concerned and that the ideas driving them are
profoundly illiberal. According to the first of these arguments, “ethnic
conflicts” are the direct consequence of nationalist narratives, which simulta-
neously contain hostile myths about certain “others” as victimizers or inferiors
and myths of martyrdom and chosenness about the group itself. These
narratives become the fuel for nationalist mobilizations especially when mul-
tiethnic states and empires collapse, taking the deterrence against such politics
with them. The Karabagh conflict features prominently in the literature as an
example of such a conflict. In what is perhaps the most straightforward
articulation of this argument and its application to the Karabagh conflict,
Stuart Kaufman maintains that the conflict was the result of Armenians’
peculiar interpretation of their history as that of victims, and especially victims
1 FOREWORD: THE STRUGGLE TO CHANGE THE LOGIC OF. . . 3

in the hands of Turks and their ethnic kin—the Azeris. Armenians, in fact, did
not even distinguish between Turks and Azeris, he further explains, and saw
the problem of Karabagh as part of a larger existential conflict with the
“Turks.” The genocide committed by Turks was seen by them as a warning
for what was in store for Karabagh Armenians. He also tells the readers about
the Armenian mythology of Christian martyrdom dating all the way back to a
sanctified fifth-century battle, which Armenians fought against Sassanid Iran as
they resisted the latter’s attempt to convert Armenians to Zoroastrianism. The
subsequent history of a subjugated Christian minority in various Islamic states
cemented the Armenian self-image of Christian martyrs. Kaufman insists that
the combination of hatreds, fears, and a sense of a righteous mission that this
narrative generated led to the bloodshed in Karabagh.5
Michael Croissant hits on all the same points and more—the importance
of the unique religious identity in the Armenian nationalist narrative, the
suffering as Christian subjects of Islamic empires, and especially at the hands
of Turks, the gaze toward Russia as a Christian savior, Armenian claims to
historic rights over Karabagh as the indigenous group in the region, the
Armenian contempt for Azeris, and, last, but not least, the overwhelming,
existential fear of Pan-Turkism combined with a desire to correct historic
wrongs ostensibly committed in the name of that doctrine.6 The conflict in
Karabagh was almost inevitable, given this narrative, or so argues Croissant.7
In an otherwise well-informed and intelligent book, which, in fact, is the
book of reference on the Karabagh conflict, Thomas de Waal writes along
similar lines:

A . . . more crucial factor in starting the [Karabagh] conflict was the ease with
which hatred of the other side could be disseminated among the population.
The Turkish historian Halil Berktay calls these mass expressions of fear and
prejudice “hate narratives.” They were the dark side of the “renaissance” of the
1960s. . . Armenian and Azerbaijani academics had been denigrating the claims
of rival scholars others’ republic for twenty years. In 1988, all that was needed
was injection of politics—of full-strength “alcohol”—into the mixture. In a war
of pamphlets, drawing on years of tendentious scholarship, sarcasm, and innu-
endo, and selective quotation incited ordinary people into hatred.8

This general outlook pervades the media coverage as well. For example,
it is difficult to find a reference to the Karabagh conflict in the New York
Times that fails to call it a conflict between “Christian Armenians and
4 1 FOREWORD: THE STRUGGLE TO CHANGE THE LOGIC OF. . .

Muslim Azeris,” implying that the conflict was a clash of conflicting


identities rather than conflicting political preferences.
The second argument propping up the conventional wisdom agrees with
the first on the role of hatreds and exclusion in certain nationalist mobili-
zations, but provides a specific mechanism focusing on the manipulation of
masses by political elites. According to this argument, corrupt, venal elites
resort to exclusionary and aggressive nationalism to divert the attention of
the masses from their social and economic problems especially in times of
political and economic transitions. The masses succumb to such manipula-
tion not because they are irrational, but because elites control the market-
place of information and ideas. Jack Snyder’s remains the most influential
statement of this logic.9 Snyder applies it to the Armenian case, among
others, insisting that the Armenian mobilization was essentially a mask for
patronage politics with “nationalist discourse [serving] as cover for [the]
corruption of democratic politics.” Snyder also mentions Ter-Petrossian as a
major culprit in that process.10 A similar argument is made by Henry Hale in
his authoritative study of patronage politics in the post-Soviet space with
Ter-Petrossian again at the center of his discussion of the Armenian case.11
The same standard opinion considers the current state of Armenian-
Turkish relations, which is characterized by intense hostility, and absence of
diplomatic relations, normal and predictable. The components of that view-
point are well known: Armenians demand recognition of the genocide com-
mitted by the Ottoman Empire against their ancestors, they seek restitution
for that crime, and they are ready to line up with any country that has
problems with Turkey and is willing to confront it. At the same time,
Armenians fear destruction by the Turks and seek protection from Russia.
As I have already pointed out, some authors even think that the
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is a manifestation of Armenians’ interpretation
of their history as victims of the Turks.12
In sum, with few exceptions,13 media and academic writings portray
modern Armenian nationalism as a monolithic, reactionary force—a force
that is responsible for the conflict in Karabagh and at least in part for
Armenia’s cold war with Turkey. In what is a particularly telling example,
Snyder credits the Armenian nationalist mobilization in the early 1990s to
the Dashnak Party,14 which indeed was (and remains) a party of revisionist,
ethnic nationalists, despite the fact that it was in bitter opposition to the
ANM and Ter-Petrossian and despite the fact that its candidate received
4 percent of the vote in the presidential elections of 1991 compared to
Ter-Petrossian’s 83 percent. Kaufman’s and Croissant’s discussions of the
1 FOREWORD: THE STRUGGLE TO CHANGE THE LOGIC OF. . . 5

Armenian mobilization show complete unawareness of any philosophical or


ideological differences between different segments of the Armenian political
class. In fact, no one else in the Western media or academia has demon-
strated awareness of such differences beyond tepid acknowledgments that
Ter-Petrossian adopted a more moderate stance on Karabagh toward the
end of his presidency, which led to his resignation.
Were there such differences, what were they, and were these differences
sufficiently meaningful? The answer to all of these questions must be an
emphatic yes. The Armenian political thought, in fact, went through a
revolutionary transformation in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and
Ter-Petrossian was one of the most important agents of that transformation.
There was indeed a nationalist narrative in Armenia, which identified Azeris
with Turks; which insisted that both Turkey and Azerbaijan were in the grip
of the Pan-Turkist doctrine; which insisted that this doctrine saw Armenians
as an obstacle to be removed; which attributed the Armenian genocide to
that doctrine; which placed the struggle for Karabagh in the context of an
existential struggle with the “Turks”; and which simultaneously saw Russia
as the protector against the “Turks” and the agent of Armenian demands
against them, including the demand for Karabagh and territorial claims
against Turkey. The problem is that the ANM unequivocally and vehe-
mently rejected this narrative and subjected every single item comprising it
to a scathing criticism.
The very first document in the current collection (Chap. 2, document 1),
which is a document of immense importance, is a full-frontal attack on that
narrative. It is a response by the ANM to a speech by a prominent propo-
nent of that narrative, where the said proponent had laid out all the earlier-
listed points. The ANM document, which was authored by Ter-Petrossian,
argued that treating the problem of Karabagh as anything other than a
problem of the rights of its inhabitants, and especially treating it as a
problem of “historic justice” or an existential conflict between Armenians
and Azeris/Turks, was exactly the wrong thing to do. The document
launched an assault against the idea that Armenians could not survive
without Russian protection or that Armenians and Russians share a com-
mon interest in combating Pan-Turkism, warning that such claims turn the
just struggle for the self-determination of Karabagh Armenians into a
manifestation of revanchism. It argued finally, that such claims were aimed
at retarding Armenian people’s aspirations for freedom and independence.
The latter argument runs through the next several documents, where
Ter-Petrossian insistently and repeatedly argues that normal relations with
6 1 FOREWORD: THE STRUGGLE TO CHANGE THE LOGIC OF. . .

the neighbors, as opposed to reliance on a great power to extract conces-


sions from them, are the most important “guarantee for any state’s exis-
tence.” In his speech during a conference on genocide that took place in
Yerevan in 1995 (Chap. 3, document 4), Ter-Petrossian attacked another
taboo: he argued that the Armenian genocide was a failure of politics, not a
clash of cultures or the culmination of the millennial Turkish hatred for
Armenians. The overarching theme in all of these arguments is that Arme-
nians have to begin to think and act like a people with a state, rather than a
stateless ethnic group, and that doing so requires pragmatism, rational
calculation, and rejection of historic grievances, including the ideology of
the Armenian Cause,15 as a basis of politics. The commitment to these ideas
was only strengthened following Ter-Petrossian’s return to politics in 2007.
In speech after speech, he defended the idea that Armenia’s future as a viable
state depends on normalized relations with Turkey and the peaceful resolu-
tion of the Karabagh conflict.
One can get the impression when reading some of his speeches in this
period that he succumbed to the political temptation of attacking the
Armenian government for its readiness to make certain concessions in
order to normalize the relations with Turkey during the so-called “soccer
diplomacy.”16 Ter-Petrossian was particularly critical of the Armenian side’s
willingness to agree to a historians’ commission that would be authorized to
investigate the claims that what happened to Armenians in the Ottoman
Empire during World War I was genocide (see Chap. 6, documents 4, 5, 6,
7, 9, 10). This, however, was a principled position based on two concerns—
(a) that the Armenian government was allowing the Armenian genocide to
become a bargaining chip; (b) and that by doing so the Armenian government
was hoping to delink the Armenian-Turkish relations and the Karabagh con-
flict, which he thought was an irrational hope. Events proved him right, as the
Turkish government eventually reaffirmed its traditional stance on Karabagh
and refused to move forward with full normalization. Ter-Petrossian also
criticized Western governments, arguing that they were willing to turn a
blind eye on the trampling of democracy in Armenia in exchange for the
Armenian government’s willingness to become more flexible in the
Armenian-Turkish negotiations, which he argued sullied that process and
raised doubts about its legitimacy. His fundamental position on the need for
normalization of relations with Turkey, however, did not change. He expressed
them clearly and forcefully in several articles and interviews (Chap. 6, docu-
ments 3, 8, 10). Ter-Petrossian also clearly expressed his overall approval for
the policy of normalization even if he was critical of its certain elements
1 FOREWORD: THE STRUGGLE TO CHANGE THE LOGIC OF. . . 7

(Chap. 6, document 3), making a special point of distinguishing between the


right and wrong criticisms of that policy (Chap. 6, document 8).
The reality was equally different from the conventional wisdom about the
Karabagh conflict and what role Ter-Petrossian and the ANM played in
it. They were staunch defenders of Karabagh’s right to self-determination,
but they insisted on drawing a sharp distinction between that right and
claims about “historic justice” or a millennial conflict with the “Turks.”
They were uncompromising on Karabagh Armenians’ rights and their
security, but they also thought that the conflict must and could be settled
through compromises. Indeed, the ANM’s new doctrine, which combined
aspirations of independence, rejection of the revisionist ideology of the
Armenian Cause and the role of a Russian garrison in the Caucasus, directly
implied a preference for a compromise solution to that conflict. Such a
solution proved elusive, unfortunately, but the responsibility for that was
largely Azerbaijan’s as the latter badly miscalculated its chances on the
battlefield and hardened its bargaining position as Armenia’s was softening
following the ANM’s assent to power in 1990.17 Turkey, incidentally, played
a very unfortunate role in that process by strongly siding with Azerbaijan and
creating an impression that Azerbaijan could rely on more Turkish support
than Turkey was in a position to provide. Ter-Petrossian addressed this
problem in one of his press-conferences (Chap. 3, document 5).
Ter-Petrossian was not able to prevent the war, but even after the
Armenian side prevailed in that war—the war ended in 1994 with a cease-
fire that left Nagorno Karabagh and seven adjacent Azerbaijani regions under
Armenian control, but no political solution—he remained dedicated to the
idea that a permanent solution based on compromises must be found to that
conflict. He made a bid for such a solution despite the fact that he faced fierce
resistance, including from certain influential members of his own administra-
tion who had hardened their positions and concluded that Armenia
and Karabagh could indefinitely maintain the post-1994 status quo.
Ter-Petrossian explained why that was, in fact, an untenable position first in
a lengthy article called “War or Peace? Time to Get Serious” (Chap. 4,
document 1) and then in a speech during a meeting of the National Security
Council (Chap. 4, document 2). Unfortunately, he was unable to break the
resistance of the hardliners and resigned the presidency in February 1998.
He has continued to advocate for a compromise solution to the
Karabagh conflict after his return to politics in 2007. Indeed, Karabagh
took up a good part of his first major speech following his return. He argued
that the decade following his resignation had vindicated his arguments and
8 1 FOREWORD: THE STRUGGLE TO CHANGE THE LOGIC OF. . .

that Armenia and Karabagh needed to settle the conflict with Azerbaijan as
urgently as ever. Even though such advocacy was politically costly,18 he kept
it as one of the central items of his agenda both as a candidate for the
presidency in 2008 and as the leader of the opposition afterward. That
advocacy culminated in a particularly important and lengthy speech on
December 17, 2016, which was delivered at a meeting of the ANC in
preparation for the parliamentary elections set for April 2, 2017 (Chap. 7,
document 3). Ter-Petrossian argued that peace and reconciliation with
Azerbaijan should become the centerpiece of the ANC’s electoral platform
and that not only the conflict should be settled though compromise but also
Armenian and Azerbaijani societies should undergo a deeper process of
reconciliation. In an important gesture to further that cause, Ter-Petrossian
expressed “equal sorrow” for the suffering the conflict had inflicted on both
peoples.
Ter-Petrossian has insisted throughout his career that peaceful and good-
neighborly relations with the neighbors have no alternative, given the
realities of power and resource constraints. Seeing him only as a realist
driven by pragmatic calculations of power is too limiting, however. It
obscures too much of what Armenian politics has been about since the
country became independent. Specifically, Ter-Petrossian and his sup-
porters have regarded peaceful and good-neighborly relations with the
neighbors not only as fundamental for Armenia’s security and economic
development but also essential if Armenia was to develop as a “normal
state.” Such a state would be tasked to protect its citizens from external
and internal predation, provide basic services and infrastructure, provide
welfare to its vulnerable citizens, and do not much else. It would have no
totalizing ideology or a mission. Its policies would reflect the preferences of
its citizens, whatever they are. “Normal,” in other words, meant “liberal.”
All of this may sound trivial to a Western reader, because liberalism as a
philosophy of governance is not seriously contested in any Western society.
Adherence to such a philosophy was not a trivial matter in Armenia. It was
and remains bitterly contested. The traditional narrative, which I described
earlier in the text, implied a very different kind of state from the one the
ANM aspired to build. The proponents of that narrative were also joined by
those who expressed explicit contempt for the idea of building a “normal
state,” calling instead for a state bound by “national ideology”—a kind of
state that would have a special mission, a kind of state that would not allow
its mission to be determined by the mundane and vulgar preferences of the
public, and certainly a kind of state that would be inspired by the aspiration
of correcting historical wrongs. Its chief proponent—Vazgen Manoukyan,
NOTES 9

who was Ter-Petrossian’s opponent in the 1996 presidential elections—


explicitly dismissed democracy as a desirable form of governance for
Armenia19 and argued that a state that simply wants to create security and
prosperity was not worth having.20
Ter-Petrossian was the most vocal critic of this philosophy. He triggered
the fury of nationalists by stating that “national ideology” was a false
political category and went on to explain why thought so on numerous
occasions. One such example is contained in this volume (Chap. 3, docu-
ment 5). But Ter-Petrossian has always been aware that the choice between
two trajectories of development—a “normal state” or a state bound by a
“national ideology”—is not a matter of mere intellectual disagreement.
Rather, Armenia’s chances of becoming a “normal state” are closely tied
to normalization of relations with its neighbors. The alternative is a state,
where every democratic challenge is menacingly described as a threat to
unity, where the public even refrains from issuing such challenges lest it wets
the enemy’s appetite, and where the defense minister is seriously pushing
the idea of turning the nation into an army (Chap. 7, document 3).
Arman Grigoryan

NOTES
1. The conflict was over the status of a region called Nagorno Karabagh, which
had an Armenian majority (79 percent), but was part of Azerbaijan as an
autonomous district (oblast) during the Soviet period. In 1988, exercising a
right granted by the Soviet constitution, Karabagh Armenians demanded a
transfer of their region from Azerbaijani to Armenian jurisdiction, which
produced mass movements both in Armenia and Azerbaijan and a conflict
between them. The conflict escalated to war in 1991 as the Soviet Union
started crumbling. In 1994, a ceasefire was signed with Armenians in full
military control of Karabagh and seven adjacent Azerbaijani districts. Parties
have been negotiating a permanent political settlement ever since without
success. They came closest in 1997–1998 when Ter-Petrossian endorsed a
plan brokered by Russia, the USA, and France, but powerful members of his
government opposed the plan. Unable to overcome their resistance, Ter-
Petrossian resigned in February 1998.
2. It was called the Karabagh movement after it erupted in February 1988 and
before it was officially renamed the Armenian National Movement in 1989.
3. Ter-Petrossian had a distinguished academic career prior to getting involved
in politics. He was a senior researcher in one of the most important academic
institutions in Armenia—the Museum of Ancient Manuscripts —when he
10 1 FOREWORD: THE STRUGGLE TO CHANGE THE LOGIC OF. . .

joined the Karabagh movement in 1988. The research he conducted follow-


ing his resignation was on the interaction of Armenians and crusaders, which
resulted in the publications of a two-volume study on the subject—The
Crusaders and Armenians, Vol. I (Yerevan, Armenia: Printinfo, 2005), The
Crusaders and Armenians, Vol. II (Yerevan, Armenia: Printinfo, 2007).
4. For a comprehensive analysis of the elections see “Armenia’s 2008 Presiden-
tial Elections,” Policy Forum Armenia. Available at http://www.pf-armenia.
org/sites/default/files/documents/files/PFA_Election_Report–FINAL.pdf
5. Stuart Kaufman, Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War (Ith-
aca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001), ch. 3.
6. Pan-Turkism or Pan-Turanism is a doctrine calling for the political unifica-
tion of the Turkic-speaking peoples, which emerged in the late nineteenth
century. Many Armenians believe that the existence of Armenians in the
region is incompatible with that doctrine and that the Armenian genocide
was a consequence of the Young Turks’ embrace of it. They also believe that
Communists administratively subordinated Karabagh to Azerbaijan rather
than Armenia in 1921 under Turkish pressure, which they interpret as
another manifestation of the Pan-Turkist plan.
7. Michael P. Croissant, The Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict: Causes and
Implications (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998), ch. 1.
8. Thomas de Waal, Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace
and War (New York, NY: NYU Press, 2003), p. 142.
9. Jack Snyder, From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist
Conflict (New York, NY: W. W. Norton, 2000).
10. See ibid., p. 230–232.
11. Henry Hale, Patronal Politics: Eurasian Regime Dynamics in Comparative
Perspective (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 104,
136–137.
12. See Kaufman, Modern Hatreds; Croissant, The Armenian-Azerbaijani Con-
flict; Thomas Goltz, Azerbaijan Diary: A Rogue Reporter’s Adventures in an
Oil-rich, War-torn, Post-Soviet Republic (London, UK: Routledge, 1999).
13. See Ronald Grigor Suny, Looking toward Ararat: Armenia in Modern
History (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press,1993), ch. 14; Eric
Melander, “The Nagorno Karabagh Conflict Revisited: Was the War Inevita-
ble?” Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 3. No. 2 (Spring 2001), pp. 48–75.
14. Snyder, From Voting to Violence, p. 223. Dashnak, or more accurately
Dashnaktsutyun, is the Armenian name for the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation (ARF), which was the most influential Armenian nationalist
party that emerged in the late nineteenth century. It governed Armenia
during the country’s brief period of independence following the Russian
Revolution in 1918–1920, and went into exile after Armenia was Sovietized.
NOTES 11

After the doors were opened to political pluralism in the Soviet Union, the
ARF reestablished its presence in Armenia in 1990.
15. Armenian Cause was born as the Armenian Question after the Russian-
Turkish War of 1877–1878. Initially it described the politics of reforms in
the Armenian populated areas of the Ottoman Empire under the supervi-
sion, and sometimes the pressure, of European great powers. When the
problem vanished from the international agenda following the Treaty of
Lausanne in 1923, the Armenian Question acquired a new meaning in the
Armenian diaspora and was rebranded as the Armenian Cause. Establishing
sovereignty over historic Armenia, which includes the territories where
Armenians were exterminated during WWI, forms the basis of that ideology.
16. The process was launched by the Armenian president Serge Sargsyan, who
published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (“We Are Ready to Talk to
Turkey,” July 9, 2008) and invited his Turkish counterpart to Armenia to
watch a match between the Armenian and Turkish national teams together.
The invitation was not only to watch a soccer match, of course, but to
attempt to restart a dialogue about normalizing the relations between the
two countries. The process culminated in the signing of protocols regarding
the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2011, but the Turkish side
reverted to the position that the normalization of Turkish-Armenian rela-
tions could only happen after the resolution of the Karabagh conflict and
refused to ratify the protocols.
17. See de Waal, Black Garden, ch. 8; Melander, “The Nagorno Karabagh
Conflict Revisited,” pp. 69–70.
18. It was costly, because positions had continued to harden in both Armenia
and Karabagh, not the least because of the relentless nationalist propaganda
during the decade following Ter-Petrossian’s resignation, which had not
been challenged by anybody.
19. Gerard J. Libaridian, Armenia at the Crossroads: Democracy and Nationhood
in the Post-Soviet Era (Watertown, MA: Blue Crane Books, 1991), p. 46.
20. Vazgen Manoukyan, “We Are a Global Nation,” Hayastani Hanrapetutyun
[Republic of Armenia] [in Armenian], December 16, 1990.
CHAPTER 2

The Early Challenges to the Traditional


Narrative, 1989–1991

1 THE DANGEROUS SCARECROW

Karabagh Committee’s Response to Zory Balayan’s Speech on Pan-Turanism1

The Armenia Committee of the Karabagh Movement [Karabagh Commit-


tee] is deeply concerned with the antidemocratic character of the current
session [of the Supreme Soviet] and with the fundamentally flawed and
shortsighted political program presented there.
Based on the sense of responsibility it has assumed on behalf of the
interests of the Armenian people, the Karabagh Committee feels obligated
to make the following statement from the podium of the highest authority
in Armenia:
Despite our bitter experience, and disregarding the many disappointments
our people have suffered, some of our intellectuals are still feverishly
preaching the politically bankrupt and dangerous idea according to which
Armenia, being surrounded by enemy peoples of another religion, can survive
only when it is under the protection of a powerful state. This mentality is
leading our people to moral bankruptcy and denying it the opportunity to
become a political partner, which is the only guarantee of success in political
life. The concept of Armenia as an obstruction to Pan-Turanic plans and,
therefore, as a political tool serving Russia’s interests, pushes the Armenian
question into the complex sphere of international relations, which has always
been pregnant with dangerous consequences for our people.

© The Author(s) 2018 13


L. Ter-Petrossian, Armenia’s Future, Relations with Turkey, and the
Karabagh Conflict, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-58916-9_2
14 2 THE EARLY CHALLENGES TO THE TRADITIONAL NARRATIVE. . .

As an ideology, Pan-Turkism was born during the First World War and at
the present has lost its value as a political factor, since Turkic-speaking
peoples have opted for the path of national development. Calls to crusade
against Pan-Turanism and Pan-Islamism are bound to again make Armenia
a political tool and turn it into a target for both.2
The Karabagh Committee, leading the popular movement for over a
year, has rejected from the start the dangerous mentality of seeing Pan-
Turkism as a permanent threat and placing our hopes on an external
savior. The Committee has consistently worked to act according to the
principle that the Armenian people can achieve their national goals by
relying on themselves, and only themselves. This political path has
already produced obvious positive results by moving the Artsakh3 issue
from the denial to the solution stage. Because of its just constitutional
struggle, the Armenian people have made a number of allies within the
international community: in Moscow, in Leningrad, in the Baltic repub-
lics, and among democratic movements elsewhere. That is the result of
the appreciation for the substantial contribution of the national move-
ment in Armenia to the process of democratization of the Soviet Union,
but it is also the best guarantee for the just solution of the problem of
Artsakh, which we should cherish above all else. Conscious of this reality,
certain forces are trying to drive the problem of Artsakh into a deadlock
and to that end they are plotting a conspiracy against our people, and
some Armenian intellectuals are participating in it wittingly or
unwittingly.
Focusing on Pan-Turkism and raising the issue of the Armenian terri-
tories occupied by Turkey at this juncture serves only one purpose: to
portray Armenians as revanchists, to discredit the just cause of Artsakh,
and to deny the Armenian people the support of its allies.
For that reason, the Karabagh Committee condemns, in the harshest
terms, the periodic attempts to turn the Armenian question into a cheap
card in the game of international relations. We are convinced that the
only available path to achieve our national goals is to guarantee the
permanence of the democratization of the country and the unity of the
Armenian people according the principles articulated by the Armenian
National Movement. We are convinced that had the ANM been formally
recognized in time and a mechanism created for the dialogue between
the leaders of the republic and the representatives of the people, we
would have avoided the political recklessness, which this statement
champions.
2 HOW SHOULD WE THINK ABOUT OUR RELATIONS WITH OUR NEIGHBORS? 15

2 HOW SHOULD WE THINK ABOUT OUR RELATIONS


WITH OUR NEIGHBORS?

Excerpt from an interview to the newspaper Republic of Armenia4

. . . The fourth key problem confronting Armenia is its isolation, which we


must overcome if we want to improve our value as a political partner. I am
talking about direct relations with foreign countries. We must embark on a
serious effort and adopt a flexible diplomatic posture so that we can establish
if not friendly, then at least normal relations with our immediate neighbors.
First of all, I have in mind Georgia with which we have an age-old tradition
of friendship, then Iran, with which we have not had a conflict since 1828,
therefore no psychological barriers either for the Armenian or the Iranian
side. The religious factor, in my view, should be irrelevant, because there are
influential actors both in Iran and Armenia who understand that state
interests are more important than religious sentiment, and that the relations
between the two states can be built on the basis of that understanding.
The establishment of relations between Armenia and Turkey are a little
more complicated from the perspective of social psychology and historical
justice. Nevertheless, old animosities should not prevent the establishment of
at least commercial, then broader economic relations, given our state interests,
and without without any compromise on the core issues. I think we should
take advantage of this opportunity for the sake of our own interests. This, in
my view, will fortify our aspirations for progress as an independent nation.
Normal relations with neighbors are one of the guarantees, and perhaps
the most important guarantee, for the secure existence of any state. We
should transcend our emotions without forgetting our valid grievances. We
must think as a state and have the people’s interests as our guide when
entering any relationship. Otherwise we are condemned to destruction. The
establishment of normal relations with our neighbors will only increase our
value as a political partner. It gives us more room to maneuver and increases
our value in the eyes of the Union, the Center.5 As long as the Center is
convinced that we are condemned to be attached to it and as long as we do
not have any access to the outside world, it can afford to ignore us. But we
have another route available to us. That is the route of reaching direct
agreements with the republics of the USSR, converting the vertical relation-
ships into horizontal ones. I particularly value direct relations with the
Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic, and some steps have already
16 2 THE EARLY CHALLENGES TO THE TRADITIONAL NARRATIVE. . .

been taken in that direction. Indicative of those steps are Yeltsin’s letter to
me and my letter to Yeltsin. They establish a baseline for certain actions and
demonstrate understanding that the interests of our republics, of our peo-
ples should not be subordinated to those of the empire.

3 THE MOST IMPORTANT GUARANTEE OF ARMENIA’S


INDEPENDENT EXISTENCE

Excerpt from a speech delivered at the Armenian Supreme Soviet (22 October,
1990)6

. . . And finally, the fifth and the most important guarantee, which is essential
for the normal functioning of any state, is our relations with our immediate
neighbors—Iran and Turkey. These relations should be built on a pragmatic
understanding of what the Armenian people want and need. This issue has
become subject to political distortion, but rational actors understand the
imperative very well. And it is the authorities of Armenia that must design
and implement this policy. I am convinced that Armenian society, which has
reached a high level of political maturity, is capable of distinguishing mean-
ingful political goals from ideas that are the product of political distortion.
The people of Armenia should aim to make our republic into a self-
governing entity both politically and economically—one that can take
maximum advantage of the propitious circumstances and withstand the polit-
ical and economic challenges of our era. It is high time to draw serious lessons
from our bitter history, to abandon the identity of an emotional, romantic
nation, and to become a rational, realistic, and pragmatic one, which takes
every step on the basis of a well thought out and careful calculation.
Flexible diplomacy and the ability to maneuver should become the most
important political weapons we possess. We must monitor the relations of
our political partners and adversaries carefully and be able to take advantage
of the smallest disagreements among them. We must, therefore, altogether
reject pompous and unserious rhetoric, which unnecessarily antagonizes
our political partners and opponents, produces no political results, and
only causes disillusionment among our people.
Politics is a system, not a simple sum of random actions. Therefore, no
elected government that is implementing its own political program can
afford to appease peripheral pressures and veer off its main course.
A systematically developed political strategy can only be confronted with a
4 REJECTING FANTASIES AND NORMALIZING RELATIONS WITH TURKEY 17

different systematically developed political strategy, not demands for iso-


lated acts that are incompatible with it. Needless to say, this does not mean
that a political strategy should be a dogma and that it is not subject to
revision as needed.
To summarize this brief analysis, I would characterize the strategy
adopted by Armenia’s current democratically elected government as fol-
lows: to create the necessary guarantees for the continued existence and
prosperity of our republic by avoiding serious confrontations, flamboyant
and rash moves, by allowing us a space for flexible diplomacy and maneu-
vering, and at the same time by taking prompt and clear decisions. We will
have fulfilled our duty if we succeed in achieving that goal, leaving the
fulfillment of our other national aspirations to future generations.

4 REJECTING FANTASIES AND NORMALIZING RELATIONS


WITH TURKEY

Excerpt from a Speech Delivered at the Second Congress of the Armenian


National Movement7

. . .Another accusation, which has a history, is that the Armenian National


Movement has given up on the Armenian Cause and on the historic claims
of the Armenian people. We have explained our position, but our explana-
tions have no effect on our opponents. Unfortunately, the nature of this
debate is that explanations have no chance of swaying the other side. The
debate, instead, is for the purpose of convincing the public. No matter how
persuasive our arguments and clarifications are, they are going to keep
repeating the same accusations, because they have no other cards to play.
What can be said about this? Our attitude toward the Armenian Cause is
unequivocal. First, there is the erroneous perception that the Armenian
Cause is the diaspora’s cause and the cause of the Western Armenians.
Not at all, because at least half of the population of Armenia consists of
descendants of Western Armenians. And the sentiments that are so preva-
lent in the diaspora are not alien to the Armenians living in the homeland.
Therefore, claiming the Armenian Cause as the diaspora’s monopoly
is profoundly wrong. That is the first point. Second, we have stated on
numerous occasions that the Armenian National Movement does not
renounce the historical rights of the Armenian people and the demand for
international recognition of the Armenian genocide, but while considering
18 2 THE EARLY CHALLENGES TO THE TRADITIONAL NARRATIVE. . .

it normal for political parties and organizations to include these issues in


their programs and agendas, they cannot become part of the state’s agenda.
This is our approach. There are 1500 national and political leaders in this
hall. You have to realize that these accusations are not going to stop, but we
cannot afford to waste our time on responding to such slander. We should
ignore them and that is the only way to make sure that they will fade away. I
am glad that our congress is being broadcast on television, which gives me
the opportunity to present our position clearly regarding this issue. The
Armenian Cause —the cause of restoring the rights of Western Armenians
in their historic homeland—will become a part of the state’s policy agenda
only when the Armenian state is in a position to solve that problem relying
on its capabilities.
There is another related question, which has become subject to political
speculation. Through no fault of our own, this question has attracted more
attention than it deserves. The question has to do with our relations with
Turkey. We do not distinguish this relationship from our relations with our
other neighbors. But for some reason people forget about the other neigh-
bors and insist only that we speak about Turkey. This is understandable, but
it has both objective and subjective causes. Objectively, it is difficult for our
people, who have internalized a certain attitude, to make a psychological
U-turn and see that it is in fact possible to have a dialogue with Turkey. The
subjective element is the exploitation of that fact by those who know very
well that relations with Turkey are of vital importance to us. The normal-
ization of these relations is not an end in itself, it is the rational thing to do,
and our society finally understands this. I think that the most important
revolution in our political thinking that has taken place in the last few years is
the rejection of the bankrupt idea of relying on third parties and pinning
hopes on protection by other countries. For 300 years our national con-
sciousness has been poisoned by the illusion that our national aspirations
will be fulfilled sometimes by Western Europeans, and more typically, by
Russia. Remaining committed to this idea has cost us dearly. It is only today
that the Armenians are giving up that fantasy, rejecting that naïve dream and
seeing that even the Soviet state, which provided certain guarantees for our
survival (and that is a reality, since in the Soviet period there were no bullets
fired across Armenia’s borders, and the Armenian people were able to live
and create in peace, despite the disintegration of the village and the horrible
losses sustained during Stalin’s terror), is no longer able to provide those
guarantees as it is on the verge of dissolution. Therefore it is we who must
seek and find more reliable guarantees for our people’s continued survival.
5 THE MAIN GUARANTEE OF OUR SECURITY IS NORMALIZATION OF. . . 19

The normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations is but one of the many


links in the chain of guarantees, but, as I already pointed out, thanks to
certain psychological factors it has attracted more of our society’s attention
than relations with other neighbors.
In order to rule out any misunderstandings, I want to emphasize once
again that normalization of relations with Turkey means first and foremost
the establishment of economic, commercial ties, and does not in any way
mean renunciation of our historic rights. At the same time, we are guided by
the principle that parties should be realistic and should avoid insisting on
preconditions for the establishment of relations given the delicate nature of
the issue (and it must be pointed out that these questions are no less delicate
and thorny in Turkey). Only such an approach would make it possible to
implement the normalization of relations with neighbors, including Turkey,
that are so important for Armenia.

5 THE MAIN GUARANTEE OF OUR SECURITY


IS NORMALIZATION OF RELATIONS WITH NEIGHBORS

Excerpt from an Interview with the Russian Newspaper Nezavisimaya


Gazeta8

– Mutalibov9 has claimed that what is taking place is “Armenian expansion.”


Some of your statements in the media containing claims about “historic rights”
can also be interpreted as intent to restore Greater Armenia. That is cause for
some concern in Turkey. . .

We have already clarified our position on that question, including in the


pages of Nezavisimaya Gazeta. I have spoken not about “historic rights,”
but about the facts of history. We do have disagreements with Turkey as far
as interpreting the facts of history is concerned. We characterize the events
of 1915 and the subsequent years as genocide. Turks think differently. But
that should not affect our current relations. That is a separate issue.
Armenia has always considered Russia to be the guarantor of our
people’s survival. During the last three years, however, Armenians came
to the bitter realization that the guarantee is not there anymore. During
the pogroms in Sumgait and Baku, the Russian army did not protect the
innocent victims.
Besides, one cannot rule out the possibility that the Soviet army will leave
the Caucasus regardless of what we want. There are precedents of that in
20 2 THE EARLY CHALLENGES TO THE TRADITIONAL NARRATIVE. . .

history. The Russian army evacuated Western Armenia during World War I
after a victorious campaign against Turkey. That happened in 1918.
We realize that we cannot, in such a short time, create a modern and
strong economy that would allow us to face all probably threats by our-
selves. For that reason alone, all the talk about “Armenian expansionism” is
pure idle speculation. The main guarantee of our security, as for any state, is
the normalization of relations with our neighbors. Consequently, we have
expressed our desire to establish mutually beneficial bilateral relations with
Turkey. The ambassador of that country visited Armenia. There are more
than a few complications we need to overcome, but what deserves emphasis
is the fact that the two peoples have begun the process of establishing
relations. We have already received verbal assurances that there will be
no political preconditions for establishing and developing economic and
cultural ties. Those ties, in fact, will create favorable conditions for the
resolution of political problems.

NOTES
1. This document was read in the Armenian Supreme Soviet on 24 June, 1989. An
earlier translation of it was published in Gerard J. Libaridian, ed., Armenia at the
Crossroads: Democracy and Nationhood in the Post-Soviet Era (Watertown, MA:
Blue Crane Books, 1991), pp. 155–156. It was issued in response to a speech in
the Armenian Supreme Soviet by Zory Balayan, who was a prominent intel-
lectual and activist, and who subscribed to the traditional Armenian nation-
alist narrative. In that speech, he reiterated some of the most important
postulates of that narrative: (1) Turkey and Azerbaijan are inspired by the
Pan-Turkist (or Pan-Turanist, which is a term used interchangeably with
Pan-Turkist) doctrine of political unification of Turkic-speaking peoples;
(2) the existence of Armenians in the Caucasus is an impediment on the
path of realization of that goal, hence that doctrine implies the extermination
of Armenians; (3) only Russian protection can stave off that threat; (4) Russia
and Armenia have a common interest in fighting Pan-Turkism, because the
idea of political unification of Turkic-speaking peoples threatens the stability
and integrity of the Soviet Union; (5) Moscow should support the Armenian
claims over Karabagh, because of that common interest; (6) Moscow should
similarly support Armenian claims over the territories of historic Armenia,
which are under Turkish control. See, Zory Balayan, “The Threat of Pan-
Turanism,” in Libaridian, ed., Armenia at the Crossroads, pp. 151–154.
2. Some proponents of the traditional nationalist narrative argued that Armenians
had been victimized not just by Turks, but by Muslims in general, as they had
NOTES 21

endured conquest and subjugation by various Islamic states and empires


since the Arab conquest of Armenia in the seventh century. They claimed
simultaneously, and against all evidence, that there was pan-Islamic unity,
which regarded all Christians, including Armenians as enemies.
3. Artsakh is the historic Armenian name for Karabagh.
4. Republic of Armenia, 9 October, 1990; Levon Ter-Petrossian, Selected
Speeches, Articles, and Interviews (Yerevan, Armenia: Printinfo, 2006),
pp. 135–136.
5. “Center” is a reference to the central government in Moscow.
6. Ter-Petrossian, Selected Speeches, Articles, and Interviews, pp. 149–150.
7. Republic of Armenia, 28 November, 1990; Ter-Petrossian, Selected Speeches,
Articles, and Interviews, pp. 161–163.
8. Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 28 May, 1991. Interview of Alexander Banggersky
with Levon Ter-Petrossian; Ter-Petrossian, Selected Articles, Speeches, and
Interviews, pp. 213–214.
9. Ayaz Mutallibov was the president of Azerbaijan in 1991–1992.
CHAPTER 3

Armenian-Turkish Relations After


Independence and the Continued Struggle
with the Traditional Narrative

1 THE OBSTACLES ON THE PATH OF NORMALIZATION


OF RELATIONS BETWEEN ARMENIA AND TURKEY

Excerpt from a speech delivered at the Fourth Congress of the Armenian


National Movement1

The strategy being worked out with regard to our relations with Iran and
Turkey is familiar to you in its basic contours. The current Armenian
administration has adopted the position that the guarantee of the survival
of any country rests in its ability to establish normal relations with its
neighbors. That is the cornerstone of our foreign policy. We cannot create
a security system that is based on reliance on powerful but distant actors like
Russia, Europe or the United States. We must strive to solve our problems
locally, with our immediate neighbors.
The relations with Iran present no complications. On the contrary, the
parties have common interests, in addition to not having any historical
disagreements, which helps facilitate the development of Armenian-Iranian
relations. I should express my satisfaction with the pace of development of
relations with Iran, which has accelerated recently, and we will soon enjoy
the benefits of that process.
There is no question that the process of establishing relations with
Turkey is more complicated, although, as mentioned earlier, we have

© The Author(s) 2018 23


L. Ter-Petrossian, Armenia’s Future, Relations with Turkey, and the
Karabagh Conflict, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-58916-9_3
24 3 ARMENIAN-TURKISH RELATIONS AFTER INDEPENDENCE AND THE. . .

succeeded in removing psychological barriers along that path. In particular,


we have succeeded in impressing upon our people that in our relations with
Turkey we must be guided exclusively by state interests and principles of
realism.
Although our position on this question is well established, I find it
necessary to reiterate it once again: as neighboring countries, Armenia and
Turkey have overlapping interests, which can be the basis for developing
close commercial, economic, scientific, and cultural ties. Because both
parties stand to gain from acting on these interests, they should ensure
that ties can be established without preconditions.
I should point out that Turkish officials basically agree with this point of
view. Some Turkish officials, however, have gone on the record
contradicting it. This was predictable and should not put us off. There are
two issues here, which we need to analyze with cool heads and without
being surprised by inconsistencies in the Turkish position.
The first is the question of Artsakh. Naturally, Turkey was not going
to be indifferent to the fate of its ethnic kin. We should not forget that
aside from official policy, there is also public opinion and a political
opposition in Turkey, which is exploiting the problem of Artsakh for
political gain. In other words, it seems like the problem of Artsakh is
gradually becoming an internal political problem in Turkey. All political
parties and politicians are jumping over each other to prove their dedi-
cation to the welfare of their Azeri kin. This, to be sure, is a dangerous
trend. For now the Turkish government is able to withstand that pres-
sure. We should appreciate this fact, because the administration is at least
guided by the genuine interests of the country, and would in all likeli-
hood not want the problem of Artsakh to become an obstacle on the path
of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. Be that as it may, the
Turkish government is subject to a certain degree of pressure and is
forced to make concessions in response to public opinion and to lend
Azerbaijan diplomatic and PR support on the world stage.
The second issue has to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union and
with the subsequent position of Russia, which I talked about earlier, and
which has created a vacuum in the Caucasus. As a powerful state with a rich
diplomatic tradition, Turkey had the instinct to take advantage of that
vacuum. That is why it has lately moved away from the principle of no
preconditions for establishing relations with Armenia and instead has put
forward such preconditions. This happened both in Prague during the
meetings of the CSCE (Commission on Security and Cooperation in
2 THE HIGH POINT OF COOPERATION BETWEEN ARMENIA AND TURKEY 25

Europe)2 and during the last visit of the Turkish ambassador Volkan Vural.
This is also quite natural and easy for us to explain. I was compelled to be
very frank and to tell the ambassador the following: “You are trying to take
advantage of the existing situation. Seeing that the system guaranteeing the
security of post-Soviet republics is very shaky, you are trying to extract
certain statements from us.” I tried to explain to him that this was not a
realistic approach and that its ultimate consequence would be to torpedo
the process of normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations, and that this would
not be in the interests of either Turkey or Armenia. A proposal was made to
the ambassador to establish diplomatic relations on the basis of existing
international norms. Since both states are members of important interna-
tional organizations like the CSCE or the UN, they must build their
relations on the basis of the principles enshrined in the doctrines of these
organizations, putting aside the bilateral Armenian-Turkish agreements for
the time being. Clearly, those political issues deserve to be discussed, but
only in the second phase of our relationship, following the establishment of
diplomatic, economic, and commercial ties. We will discuss all the contro-
versial and thorny issues then, and I am sure the interests of both our states
will force us to find compromises and solutions acceptable to both parties.

2 THE HIGH POINT OF COOPERATION BETWEEN ARMENIA


AND TURKEY

Excerpt from the press conference on November 11, 19923

– What is Armenia’s policy toward Turkey?

In our relations with Turkey we have been guided by the strategy of


building normal relations with our neighbors, and we have been very
consistent in that pursuit since the day our movement became a political
and civic organization and articulated its guiding principles. We never
veered from this course since taking power, with the possible exception of
the speech of our foreign minister that was mentioned a little while ago.4
I should mention that we see if not a similar then an adequate attitude on
the part of Turkey, even though we should realize that this question is as
complicated for Turkey as it is for us.
The problem of the normalization of relations with Armenia has wide
public resonance in Turkey as well. It is subject to political manipulation and
26 3 ARMENIAN-TURKISH RELATIONS AFTER INDEPENDENCE AND THE. . .

political wrangling. The recent session of Turkish parliament, where the


question arose of confidence in the government for the decision to allow the
transit of wheat to Armenia, is a demonstration of that. The Turkish
government has to be responsive to the public opinion, and it has to take
into account pressure coming from the opposition. That is the reason why
we don’t see a desire on the part of the Turkish government to expedite the
process of normalizing relations. Of course, the problem of Karabagh adds
to the difficulty, because Turkish people are quite sensitive on this matter,
which is something we should also take into account.
The permission for the wheat supply was not just a manifestation of good
will, because as it became clear in that parliament session, the decision
entailed a certain risk, which means there must have been more serious
motives behind it. Turkey is also interested in normalizing relations with
Armenia. As I already pointed out, the problem of NKR is the most difficult
obstacle. Under the pressure of public opinion, Turkey is forced to sacrifice
its neutrality and manifestly act as Azerbaijan’s advocate in international
fora. But I am convinced that Turkey is interested in the peaceful resolution
of the Karabagh conflict. This is also a big opportunity for us, because if
Turkey were opposed to the process of a peaceful resolution, that is, the
establishment of a ceasefire and an end to the war, we would have been
confronted with many more difficulties. The faster we reach an agreement
on the ceasefire, the faster our relations with Turkey will develop. Despite
the existing problems, I would evaluate the state of these relations today as
satisfactory, especially given the issue of the wheat supply. As you know,
given our difficult condition, Hafez Al Assad granted Armenia 6000 tons of
wheat as a gift. We will transport that wheat via Turkey as well, in all
likelihood using their motorways.5 We would like to make the Margara6
road available also, which would make things easier. The Ministries of
Foreign Affairs have already reached an agreement on the protocols for
the establishment of diplomatic relations. If things go as planned, we should
be able to sign these protocols by the end of the year. Last Sunday, I had a
15-minute telephone conversation with Prime Minister Demirel, who had
called me. I raised another question during our conversation, which had to
do with the possibility of using Turkey as a transit route for transmitting
electricity to Armenia from Germany and Bulgaria. Technically it is possible,
and the Prime Minister promised to take care of it. He has instructed his
Ministry of Energy officials to look into the issue, and they are already in
touch with officials in our Ministry of Energy. If this initiative succeeds, we
4 INAUGURAL ADDRESS TO THE “PROBLEMS OF GENOCIDE” CONFERENCE 27

will have an additional 100–150 megawatts of electricity this winter, which


will be a great help to us.

3 RESPONDING TO ACCUSATIONS OF RUSSOPHOBIA


AND TURKOPHILIA

Excerpt from a speech delivered at the 5th Congress of the Armenian National
Movement7

One of the devastating sins attributed to the current administration is


Russophobia, and also, horror of horrors, Turkophilia. I do not want to
expand on the charge of Russophobia, limiting myself to the following
statement, even if it may seem unsubstantiated to some. In the 300-year
history of Armenian-Russian relations, our ties have never been as close, as
open, and as friendly as they are under Yeltsin and Ter-Petrossian, and that
is solely due to the fact that both countries are led by truly democratic
governments that conduct themselves according to humanistic values and
the norms of international law.
As far as the charge of Turkophilia is concerned, if that is the label
attached to the efforts to establish normal relations with Turkey as a
neighboring country, the efforts to develop mutually beneficial coopera-
tion, then we accept the label. If that is the label we have to earn for using
Turkish roads as transit for transporting grain to Armenia, then call us
Turkophiles. Only let us not forget that way back in 1918, one of Aram
Manoukyan’s8 first initiatives was to accept 20,000 poods9 of grain for
starving Armenians—from that notorious killer of Armenians, Khalil Pasha.
10

4 INAUGURAL ADDRESS TO THE “PROBLEMS OF GENOCIDE”


CONFERENCE

(April 21, 1995)11

Mr. Chairman,
Honorable Guests,
Armenians are commemorating the 80th anniversary of their national
tragedy and bow their heads to the sacred memory of the 1.5 million
28 3 ARMENIAN-TURKISH RELATIONS AFTER INDEPENDENCE AND THE. . .

martyrs. In so doing, the Armenians assert yet again their unbreakable will
to live and their determination to take their rightful place among the
family of nations.
We see this International Conference, held in the capital of Armenia, first
as an expression of respect to the memory of the victims of the genocide;
and second, as a gesture of friendship toward our new and independent
statehood.
Deeply appreciative of your professionalism and competence, I would
not dare enter the depths of the complex issues related to the historical and
legal aspects of the Armenian genocide. I merely wish to register some well-
known facts that I consider central to the formation of contemporary
Armenian political consciousness. In view of the necessity to subject history
to rational analysis and thereby avoid the mistakes of the past, I believe it is
time to assess the facts with sound judgment and to set aside sentimental
approaches and conditioned responses.

1. It is a mistake to explain the Armenian genocide by any religious,


ethnic or racial antagonism between the Armenian and Turkish peo-
ples or by economic and social competition, since the modus vivendi
that had evolved within the Ottoman Empire had secured more or
less their peaceful coexistence. Undoubtedly that modus vivendi was
based on an altogether unequal treatment of Muslim and Christian
subjects; nonetheless, the Ottoman state did establish a clearly
defined balance. The Armenian genocide was a strictly political pro-
gram dictated by the specific interests of the Ottoman Empire. Fol-
lowing the liberation of the Balkan peoples, the Armenian Question
entered the international political arena by the will of the major
European Powers, and as a program of reforms in the Armenian
provinces of the Ottoman Empire, under Article 61 of the Treaty of
Berlin. It then became clear to Turkey that in the next war it would
lose Armenia. The only way to avoid that loss was the physical
annihilation of the Armenian people, which Turkish authorities
were to achieve systematically during the years between 1878 and
1915. There is no doubt that Sultan Abdul Hamid II and the Young
Turks bear full responsibility for the conception, development and
execution of the plan for the extermination of the Armenian people.
2. During the 1878–1914 period, the European Powers, such as
England, France, Germany and Russia, not only failed to take any
steps in the direction of pursuing the implementation of reforms in
4 INAUGURAL ADDRESS TO THE “PROBLEMS OF GENOCIDE” CONFERENCE 29

the Armenian provinces of the Ottoman Empire, but also, through


their uncoordinated and unsystematic interventions, created a direct
threat to the Armenian people’s physical existence. That is to say,
while provoking the Ottoman authorities with the internationaliza-
tion of the Armenian Question, the major Powers did not give any
thought to the minimum guarantees for the physical survival of the
Armenian people. This is a measure of their moral responsibility for
the genocide and, in the case of Germany, of its share of direct
responsibility.
3. In view of the huge imbalance in the comparative strength of the
Ottoman state and the Armenian people, as well as of the antagonisms
among the major Powers, it is not difficult to admit that in that life
and death struggle, Armenians were doomed, a priori, to total anni-
hilation. Even if all resources had been mobilized, the Armenian
people would not have been in a position to abort the evil plan
developed by the Ottoman state, especially when one considers the
painful fact that Armenians lacked even the awareness of such a plan.
4. The dominant view—that the Armenian people could have escaped
the genocide by not asking for the intervention of European Powers
and by seeking the implementation of reforms by cooperating directly
with Turkish authorities—does not in any way correspond to the
reality of the situation. Regardless of Armenian actions, the
European Powers were going to meddle in Turkish affairs and use
reforms in the Armenian provinces as a pretext.
Be that as it may, we must state, for the record, that both currents of
Armenian political thought—the clerical-bourgeois and the revolu-
tionary—albeit unsystematically, did, from time to time, attempt to
cooperate with the Turkish authorities. The high point of that coop-
eration was the one between the Ittihad ve Terakke12 and the ARF.
But that cooperation served only to altogether dull the Armenian
people’s circumspection, as a result of which the period between
1908 and 1914 was not used to organize appropriately for self-
defense. As bitter as it may be, we must confess that those two
approaches not only failed to thwart the state plan for the extermina-
tion of the Armenian people, which, as stated above, was an inevita-
bility, but they also failed to take even elementary measures to
minimize its impact.
5. The Armenian people lost its last opportunity to avoid the worst
consequences of the genocide, if not the genocide itself, when, in
30 3 ARMENIAN-TURKISH RELATIONS AFTER INDEPENDENCE AND THE. . .

1914, by a decision of its World Congress convening in Erzurum, the


Dashnaktsutiun assumed responsibility for the participation of Arme-
nians in the general conscription declared by Ottoman authorities.
Regardless of that decision, the Armenian people could not have
avoided their fate. Indeed, rejecting conscription would have pro-
vided an additional pretext for the authorities to justify their terror.
However, by rejecting the draft and preserving the fighting force of
the nation, it might have been possible to organize a more substantial
self-defense in several places, especially in Taron,13 and to escape total
annihilation.
6. Still faithful to the Entente countries, the leaders of the Republic
of Armenia, in 1920, were unable to appreciate the new situation
created by the emergence of a stronger Soviet Russia and a more
powerful Kemalist Turkey. As a result, they lost the independence
of Armenia and portions of the territory of the Republic. They
could have secured a better future for Armenia had they managed
the situation through direct Armenian-Turkish and
Armenian-Russian negotiations.
7. Today, Armenia and Turkey, as neighboring states, are compelled to
establish mutually beneficial trade and economic relations, and
through good neighborly relations, to gradually overcome historic
antagonisms and restore the mutual trust of the Armenian and Turk-
ish peoples. For that, it is necessary for the two parties to display both
political will and moral fortitude.

I extend my wishes for the success of this international conference


convened on the occasion of the commemoration of the 80th anniversary
of the Armenian genocide. I am certain that this conference will be seen as
an important milestone in the scholarly inquiry into this most heinous of
crimes.
Thank you for your attention.

5 WHY IT WAS A MISTAKE FOR TURKEY NOT TO NORMALIZE


RELATIONS WITH ARMENIA AND WHY “NATIONAL IDEOLOGY”
IS A BAD IDEA

Excerpt from the press conference on September 26, 199714


5 WHY IT WAS A MISTAKE FOR TURKEY NOT TO NORMALIZE RELATIONS WITH. . . 31

– SEVAN DEYRMENJIAN, “Jamanak newspaper,” Istanbul—I would


like to inquire about the current state of Armenian-Turkish relations.
What shape will they take during your presidential term?

We have laid out our position on this question many times before. One
could even say, everything has already been said. We do not have any
barriers. We are ready today to establish serious economic and commercial
ties with Turkey, to open the borders, to make our roads available as transit
for Turkish commerce. It seems like Turkey agrees with all of that, but it has
created a trap for itself, which it cannot escape, since it has made the
normalization of its relations with Armenia conditional on the normaliza-
tion of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, and particularly on the resolution of
the Karabagh conflict. We tried to persuade them to separate Armenian-
Turkish relations from Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, but we failed.
Maybe it was our fault; we did not do an adequate job of explaining. Be
that as it may, I really think that Turkey should be interested in building
friendly relations with Armenia if it wants to contribute to the resolution of
the Karabagh problem, which it has essentially made a precondition for the
establishment of relations. It is my firm conviction, in fact, that Turkey
would have had an easier time reaching this goal if it had established
relations with Armenia. Had it done so, it would have contributed to the
peaceful resolution of the Karabagh conflict.

– ARAYIK MANOUKYAN, Armenpress—Mr. President, in recent


years many of our politicians frequently speak about national ideology
and the need for a national program, while you have on one occasion
argued that national ideology15 is a false category. Could you tell us
whether your statement was a political, scientific, or a philosophical
interpretation of that concept? Also do you think individuals can change
history, particularly during periods of state formation?

My idea was not a philosophical, political, or a scientific one. My idea was a


simple one stemming from my understanding of democracy. I have stated
that “national ideology” is a false political category, and I am prepared to
repeat it today and again tomorrow. What did my statement mean? What do
the authors of the concept have in mind when they talk about “national
ideology”? One thing only: the whole nation should subscribe to that
national ideology. It is my understanding that the entire nation accepts a
single ideology only in totalitarian, ideological states. When you have a
32 3 ARMENIAN-TURKISH RELATIONS AFTER INDEPENDENCE AND THE. . .

democracy, by contrast, nobody can force anybody to subscribe to any


ideology. All the ideologies that exist in Armenia today—whether commu-
nist, social-democratic, liberal-democratic, nationalist, extreme national-
ist—are national ideologies in my view, since the proponents see the key
to the solution of the nation’s main problems in each of these ideologies.
Imposing one national ideology on the nation means saying goodbye to
democracy. It is one or the other. Yes, it is possible to impose a national
ideology on the nation. We have witnessed such a thing. And we have seen
its consequences.

NOTES
1. Republic of Armenia, 2 April, 1992; Ter-Petrossian, Selected Articles,
Speeches, and Interviews, pp. 273–290.
2. It was later renamed to Organization of Security and Cooperation in
Europe.
3. Republic of Armenia, 14 November, 1992; Ter-Petrossian, Selected Articles,
Speeches, and Interviews, pp. 316–318.
4. In the spring of 1992 the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Raffi
Hovannisian delivered a speech in Istanbul, which diverged from the official
foreign policy line of the Republic of Armenia on Turkey. He was removed
from his post as a consequence of that speech.
5. The wheat was delivered successfully, and several months later the Turkish
railroad was used to transport 30,000 tons of wheat, which was an aid from
the European Union.
6. Margara is a bridge on the Arax River connecting the Armavir Province of
Armenia with the Turkish province of Agri.
7. Republic of Armenia, 28 June, 1993; Ter-Petrossian, Selected Articles,
Speeches, and Interviews, pp. 381–382.
8. Aram Manoukyan was the interim head of the government of Armenia in
1918.
9. Pood is a Russian unit of measuring weight equivalent to 16.38 kilograms.
10. Khalil Pasha was a general in the Ottoman Army, who had committed
numerous crimes against Armenians in 1915–1918.
11. Ter-Petrossian, Articles, Speeches, and Interviews, pp. 477–481.
12. This is the Turkish name for the Committee of Union and Progress, other-
wise known as the Young Turk party.
13. Taron was a province of historic Armenia.
14. Republic of Armenia, 27 September, 1997; Ter-Petrossian, Selected Articles,
Speeches, and Interviews, pp. 594–596.
NOTES 33

15. The proponents of this “ideology” never clearly defined what they meant by
it. Armenia was an independent state at the time, so it was not the standard
“nationalist ideology,” demanding liberation from an empire and statehood.
It was usually brandished as an implicit (and sometimes explicit) critique of
liberalism, democracy, and constitutionalism, insisting on the idea that
Armenians as a nation should have a special mission and that they all should
be unified around it. They never articulated with sufficient clarity what that
mission should be, what the process of determining that mission should be,
and what should be done to those who do not subscribe to it.
CHAPTER 4

The Karabagh Conflict and the Future


of Armenian Statehood

1 WAR OR PEACE? TIME TO GET SERIOUS

(November 1, 1997)1

My September 26 press conference, more accurately that portion of the


press conference that was devoted to Karabagh, became an occasion for
fueling intense passions in the press and at gatherings organized by the
opposition. This did not surprise me; to some extent, I had expected an
even more passionate reaction.2
What surprised me was the quality of the debate, or rather, the absence of
any debate. I must confess that I failed to achieve my objective, which was to
stimulate, in the press and at public gatherings, a serious discussion of the
thorniest problem facing the Armenian people, namely, the possible paths
to resolving the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.
The opposition’s response did not get beyond profanity, accusation,
name-calling, and distortion. No rational proposal was made, no alternative
plan was offered, no well-grounded counterargument was introduced. One
can reach two conclusions: the opposition does not have a plan for the
resolution of the Karabagh conflict or, if it has one, it is hiding it and is not
acting in the nation’s interests. I will refrain from harsher characterizations.
What did the public take away from the uproar made by the opposition?
People understood that we have shed blood for Artsakh, that returning the
occupied territories will endanger the existence of Artsakh, that the

© The Author(s) 2018 35


L. Ter-Petrossian, Armenia’s Future, Relations with Turkey, and the
Karabagh Conflict, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-58916-9_4
36 4 THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE FUTURE OF ARMENIAN STATEHOOD

Armenian people are ready once again to shed blood for Artsakh, that we
don’t give a damn about world public opinion, that we will bring both
Azerbaijan and the international community to their knees, and that the
whole nation will turn into fedayees.3
Then what? No one tried to give answers to the following simple
questions:

Will doing all of that bring about our desired goal?


How will the world react if we tell it we don’t give a damn about it?
Will it be the blood of the 500 who gathered at the Cinema House4 or
the blood of our innocent people that will be shed?

That last question, at least, has an unequivocal answer. None of the


500 who gathered at the Cinema House will lose a single hair from their
heads, despite their declarations of readiness to sacrifice everything for the
contrary. When Artsakh was in danger, when the enemy had just about
reached Gandzasar,5 not one of the 500 responded to Vazgen Sargsyan’s
appeal and none joined the mahaparts’ unit.6 Our people should have had
enough, by now, of those who seek glory and behave as heroes at the
expense of others’ lives.
Confusion within the ranks of the opposition can be explained not only
by partisan considerations but also by their ignorance. That is natural, since
there are only six individuals in all of Karabagh and Armenia who are fully
informed at the expert level about the process of the resolution of the
conflict: Arkadi Ghukasyan, Robert Kocharyan, Alexander Arzumanyan,
Vardan Oskanian, Jirair Libaridian, and I.7

1.1 The Object of the Debate


At any rate, no debate ensued. This should disappoint neither me nor our
public. Any political leader or intellectual aspiring to determine the fate of
the nation will be compelled, sooner or later, to set aside the cursing (I am
not talking about the mentally ill) and to present the people with a concrete
and reasoned plan.
Without waiting for that to happen, I am ready today to discuss seriously
any reasonable plan for the resolution of the Karabagh conflict and I agree
to participate in a public debate at any level.
But a debate will be meaningful only when it includes as starting points
the answers that the participants must provide to a few key questions:
1 WAR OR PEACE? TIME TO GET SERIOUS 37

– Should the question of Karabagh be resolved through war or through


negotiations?
– Is it possible to maintain the status quo and the unresolved state of the
Karabagh question forever or even for an extended period of time?
– What is in the interest of Karabagh and Armenia: the resolution or the
nonresolution of the conflict?
– Will the question be resolved through compromise or with the defeat
of one side? And which of the parties will be the defeated one?

I have often expressed my position clearly on these questions and still


maintain that:

– War must be off the table; the question of Karabagh, therefore, must
be resolved exclusively through peaceful negotiations.
– It is not possible to maintain the status quo for too long because
neither the international community nor Armenia’s economic
resources will permit it.
– The unresolved state of the conflict is not in the interest of Karabagh
or Armenia, because it is palpably hindering Armenia’s economic
development and, therefore, Karabagh’s; it is creating complications
in our relations with the international community and, especially, with
neighboring countries, which can have fatal consequences.

To solve the problem of Karabagh we have only one option, a compro-


mise solution, which does not mean that one side is the victor and the other
the loser; it does mean finding an agreement based on what is possible now
that the conflict is ripe for resolution.
The opposition should not mislead the people by arguing that there is an
alternative to compromise: the alternative to compromise is war.
Rejecting compromise and pursuing a strategy of maximalism (the drive
to obtain the maximum rather than the possible) is the shortest path to the
ultimate destruction of Karabagh and the deterioration of the situation in
Armenia.
This is not a debate about losing or not losing Karabagh. Rather, it is
about keeping Karabagh Armenian. Karabagh has been inhabited by Arme-
nians for 3000 years and so it must remain for another 3000 years.
The path I have chosen will secure that prospect and the means to
preserve it, to reach our desired goal. The path of recklessness will lead to
certain defeat. Already once, “having turned Istanbul into a sea of blood,”8
38 4 THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE FUTURE OF ARMENIAN STATEHOOD

we lost Western Armenia; and on another occasion, in demanding the


territories designated by the Treaty of Sevres, we lost half of Eastern
Armenia.9
Besides the substance of the compromise, its timing is also important. It
is obvious that in the case of a compromise, the stronger party has the
chance to obtain the maximum possible gains. Today Armenia and
Karabagh are stronger than ever. But in the event of the nonresolution of
the conflict, within a year or two, they will be substantially weakened. That
which we are rejecting today, we will be asking for tomorrow, but then we
will not get it, as has often happened in our history.
We must be realistic and understand that the international community
will not for long tolerate the situation created around Nagorno Karabagh,
because that situation is threatening regional cooperation and security, as
well as the West’s oil interests. Sooner or later, the parties will be presented a
compromise plan for the resolution of the conflict. This plan will provide for
a political, not legal, solution, although the major powers will be offering it
as a model articulation of international law. Neither Azerbaijan nor
Karabagh and Armenia will be able to reject the compromise, just as was
the case with the parties in the Bosnian and Arab-Israeli conflicts.
A mutually acceptable compromise should not be seen, however, as
surrender. On the contrary, the conflicting parties themselves must exert
enormous efforts to achieve it, because the alternative, as stated, is war and
new suffering for the peoples involved.
Compromise is not a choice between the good and the bad, but rather
between the bad and the worse; that is, compromise is simply a means to
avoid the worst. Parties benefit from it when they have come to understand
what the worst is and are able to display the necessary political will and
courage to avoid it.
In reaching for a compromise, parties generally are guided by a few
considerations: to liberate themselves from a conflict that is full of dangers
and hinders their normal functioning and development; to buy time, to
gather their forces and resolve things at a more advantageous moment; and
to avoid unpredictable complications, hoping that in the future, people’s
thinking and values may shift, as a result of which the issue may lose its acute
character, and borders, for example, may lose the significance they have
today. Such thinking and reassessment of values are dominant now in
Europe; tomorrow they could also become dominant in the Near East.
The Arab-Israeli peace process may be a testimony to that.
1 WAR OR PEACE? TIME TO GET SERIOUS 39

Compromise will satisfy every party to the conflict to a certain extent, but
at the same time, it will not fully satisfy any of them. President Aliyev will
present that compromise as Azerbaijan’s victory, while I will try to present it
as Armenia’s. The Azerbaijani opposition will charge that Aliyev has com-
mitted an act of treason and sold Karabagh. The opposition in Armenia will
consider that I have acted treacherously and sold Karabagh.
In such circumstances one cannot rule out the possibility of the Rabin-
Peres syndrome. One should also not ignore the Netanyahu syndrome:
despite having come to power with uncompromising positions, within a
short time, albeit unwillingly, he was compelled to continue the peace
process started by Rabin and Peres.

1.2 Some Misconceptions


As part of the propaganda campaign undertaken in the aftermath of my
press conference, the opposition has circulated a number of misconceptions,
some of which I need to address briefly.
The first misconception, or dangerously misleading premise if you wish,
is that Karabagh’s antagonist in this conflict is Azerbaijan, which can easily
be brought to its knees. In reality, however, the antagonist is the interna-
tional community before which, in fact, we are throwing down the gauntlet.
Not to understand this simple fact means making our people vulnerable to
grave risks.
The second misconception is the baseless insistence that Karabagh has
won the war and, therefore, has no need to accept a compromise. Unfor-
tunately, Karabagh has won the battle, not the war. A war is considered won
only when the adversary has been forced to surrender. Confusing the battle
for the war has brought misfortune to many.
The third misconception is that since we have succeeded in everything so
far, success awaits us in the future as well. That is, so far we have defeated
Azerbaijan, we are certain to do so in the future; we have been able to resist
external pressures in the past, we can continue to do so in the future, and so
on. This may be the most dangerous of the misconceptions because it
predicts future successes on the basis of the past experience rather than
projections of the balance of power in the future. Those who think this way
have a serious problem with the elementary rules of logic. If future victories
were predicated on past successes, then once a victor, a party would always
remain a victor. The Roman Empire, for example, should never have fallen.
40 4 THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE FUTURE OF ARMENIAN STATEHOOD

The next misconception, or rather absurdity, is the assertion that the


President of Armenia is selling out Karabagh to keep himself in power. It is
hard to imagine that even a mentally retarded person could concoct the
argument that an Armenian leader could maintain power by selling out
Karabagh.
Incidentally, I must say a word about this appetite for power. What
would have compelled me to cling to power at any cost: the benefits, the
glory, or the need to become a hero? During my presidency, I have received
neither any advantages nor wealth (you can check on that) and do not wish
to receive any.
Had I been motivated by the need to achieve glory or to become a hero,
I simply would have stayed out of the 1996 elections, and thus remained in
the eyes of future generations as a president who brought independence,
won the valiant war in Karabagh, and expanded Armenian territories,
regardless of whether my getting credit for any of this would be justified.
Why should I have been concerned about what would have happened or
who would bear responsibility for the worsening of the situation in the
aftermath? It would make no difference, my approval rating would not have
suffered as a result; on the contrary, under such circumstances, it might even
have gone up. I repeat, from a personal point of view that might have been
the best strategy, but it also would have constituted nothing less than
cowardly desertion, a habit which, fortunately or unfortunately, I do not
have. I have been reelected with a cool awareness of the difficulties facing
me and the responsibility I carry in the task of overcoming them; and I have
no regrets.
Is it possible that I am not aware of the cheap tactics of projecting myself
as a hero and as the embodiment of all national aspirations, and to please the
public at any cost? Couldn’t I have cursed the Turks night and day, raised
the issue of the recognition of the genocide at the UN, revoked the Treaty
of Kars,10 demanded from Turkey the territories designated by the Treaty of
Sevres, presented an ultimatum to Azerbaijan, recognized the indepen-
dence of Karabagh, declared that we will cede none of the territories, and
so on?
I could have used all these ploys cleverly, at any rate no less cleverly than
any one of those gathered at the Cinema House. Was it my education that
was inadequate or my wits? I could have easily earned the reputation of a
brave and great patriot, become the idol of the nation, and the symbol of
unity for Armenia and the diaspora.
1 WAR OR PEACE? TIME TO GET SERIOUS 41

What, then, is stopping me from doing all of that? Is it my lack of courage,


my cosmopolitan thinking, my essence that is indifferent to a national ideology,
or my faulty education? The only obstacle is the reality of the political calcula-
tion and the desire to keep our people safe from misfortune. If I had acted
differently, catastrophe would have been unavoidable and we not only would
have lost Karabagh but also endangered Armenia’s very existence. We need not
go far for illustrations. Let us remember the fortunes of our neighbors. We
were eyewitness to the behavior of Gamsakhurdia and Elchibey who opted for
the politics of heroism and became national idols, but brought innumerable
calamities to their nations.11

1.3 Myths and Riddles


In the arena of Armenian political thinking and public opinion, there are
also recurring claims that would be better categorized as myths and riddles.

First Myth: Armenia is exerting pressure on the authorities of Nagorno


Karabagh.
Regarding this claim, I can state with full responsibility that Armenia has
exerted pressure on Nagorno Karabagh only once. That was in 1993, to
convince it to participate in the Minsk Group12 negotiations; that partici-
pation has fully justified itself.
Armenia has no intention to exert pressure on Nagorno Karabagh
either today or tomorrow. It is the authorities of Karabagh that make
decisions in the name of Karabagh, naturally bearing responsibility for
their decisions not only before the population of Karabagh but also the
entire Armenian people. This does not mean that Armenia will not
consult with the Karabagh authorities on certain issues and try to influ-
ence them where appropriate. But the final decision remains with the
Karabagh authorities.

Second Myth: If Armenia were to adopt a tough position vis-a-vis Turkey and
confront it with the issues of genocide recognition, of revoking the Treaty of
Kars, and of territorial demands, then Turkey and Azerbaijan would make
more concessions on the question of Karabagh.
It is my deep conviction, which I can demonstrate through detailed
political analysis, that such a position would not bring any advantages to
the solution of the Karabagh problem. It would also result in new
42 4 THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE FUTURE OF ARMENIAN STATEHOOD

complications in relations between Turkey and Armenia that would further


aggravate the circumstances of Armenia and Karabagh.
It should be obvious to the naked eye that, quite to the contrary, such a
position would provide additional justification for Azerbaijan and Turkey to
charge that Armenia is an expansionist state and to thus turn international
public opinion even further against Armenia.

Third Myth: Had Armenia made effective use of the diaspora’s lobbying
capabilities correctly, then diaspora communities would not have permitted
their governments to trample upon the rights of Nagorno Karabagh.
Before commenting on this myth, it is necessary to point out that of all
the diaspora Armenian communities, it is only the one in America that
has lobbying power; other countries do not have such lobbying tradi-
tions and, therefore, there are no organized Armenian lobbying groups
elsewhere.
I do not underestimate, of course, the lobbying work of the Armenian-
American community to produce serious humanitarian assistance to Arme-
nia and to shape US congressional opinions that are favorable to Nagorno
Karabagh. But one should not forget that lobbying has its limits: its influ-
ence ends where US national interests begin. That is the case not only for
the Armenian but also for all other lobbying groups. This includes the
Jewish lobby which, despite being considered the strongest of the ethnic
lobbies, is not omnipotent.

Fourth Myth: The current cosmopolitan-minded authorities of Russia do not


understand their own country’s strategic interests (in this matter, Armenia
shares the blame, since it has failed to explain their interests to them). But soon
genuinely nationalistic forces will come to power in Russia and, turning
Armenia into the Israel of the Caucasus, will resolve the Karabagh question
in our favor.
Every one of the assumptions underlying this myth is suspect and ques-
tionable, not to say absurd.

– Are the current Russian authorities really cosmopolitan minded?


– Do they really not understand the strategic interests of their country?
– Is it Armenia that must explain these interests to them?
– Aren’t those giving lessons to Russia putting themselves in a ridiculous
situation?
1 WAR OR PEACE? TIME TO GET SERIOUS 43

– Will nationalist forces, in fact, come to power in Russia?


– Have these forces promised to make a gift of Karabagh to Armenia or
to recognize its independence? Has such a promise been made in
speech or in writing?
– And, finally, for how long will Armenia perpetuate the insanity of
making itself a plaything for Russia or any other country?

Does it require tremendous intelligence to understand that, whatever the


forces governing it, Russia could never recognize the independence of
Karabagh, because it has 20 of its own Karabaghs?

Fifth Myth: Working very actively in international fora and media,


Azerbaijan has actually won the propaganda war (which is often confused
with diplomatic victory).
This may be the only claim that is not totally baseless. Compared to
Armenia and Karabagh, Azerbaijan has, in fact, made much noise in inter-
national fora and in the media. The reason, however, is quite simple as well
as natural. What else was left for Azerbaijan to do? It had lost the military
confrontation, lost any control over Karabagh, been deprived of territories,
and was hit with the burden of taking in some 500,000 refugees. What
answer were the President and the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan to give to
their people other than pretend, by making a lot of noise, that they were
bravely struggling for control of their territories?
Even if it were true that we lost the propaganda war, we would have
to decide what was preferable: to preserve Karabagh and lose the
propaganda war or lose Karabagh and win a brilliant victory in the
public relations arena? We have won so many public relations and
moral victories in history that perhaps that sort of victory is more to
our taste. This does not mean, of course, that we should ignore public
relations and not undertake measures to neutralize the impact of
Azerbaijani propaganda.
Let us stop here with the listing of myths and move on briefly to a few of
the riddles, leaving their solution to the truly ingenious.

First Riddle: Brought to us by Vazgen Manoukian’s campaign platform13:


It is possible to achieve the goal of independence for Karabagh and at the same
time avoid war.
44 4 THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE FUTURE OF ARMENIAN STATEHOOD

What do we have here? Is it a lightning bolt in the mind of a genius,


incomprehensible to the common mortal, or is it a temporary dimming of
the brain that can happen to anyone? Perhaps President Aliyev has whis-
pered something in the ear of its author that remains unknown to us. At any
rate, this is a riddle presented to the Armenian political thought that even
Einstein could not solve.

Second Riddle: It is possible to ignore the international community yet con-


tinue receiving assistance from it.
Due to my position, I have more contact with leaders of the international
community than anyone in Armenia. I have never received such assurances
from them. On the contrary, with each step, we see the subtly disguised
linking of assistance to political considerations. Perhaps here, too, we are
guilty of being unable to explain to the international community its strategic
interests. It is true that we are neglecting our mission as a “global nation,”
that it is our obligation to give lessons to the entire world.

Third Riddle: We, the opposition, have no plan for the resolution of the
Karabagh conflict. But since the current leadership, lacking a national
ideology, is incapable of resolving that question, then give us the power and
we will resolve it, while incidentally also restoring Armenia’s industry,
increasing wages five- to ten-fold, and flooding the country with foreign
investments.
I do not know whether I should even comment on this riddle. At least
I cannot help but point out that in politics, “I swear to god” do not constitute
an argument, and the people have never turned power over to anyone only on
the basis of his good word, especially when that word, in addition to
containing a riddle, more suitably belongs to the realm of miracles.

1.4 A Package or a Step-by-Step Solution?


The opposition press is exerting every effort to convince the public that
Nagorno Karabagh supports the package solution while Armenia favors the
step-by-step solution,14 the latter being full of dangers. I might not have
raised this issue if, to my surprise, representatives of Karabagh had not made
statements along the same line.
1 WAR OR PEACE? TIME TO GET SERIOUS 45

Those who followed closely my September 26 press conference will have


noted that I characterized both—the package and the step-by-step solu-
tions—as “realistic options.” I also pointed out that Armenia accepted, with
serious reservations, the first plan proposed by the Minsk group cochair-
men, which was nothing less than a package solution to the question. It was
only after both Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabagh rejected that option
categorically and in writing that the cochairmen were compelled to propose
a step-by-step solution.
In that press conference I stated: “What, in fact, did happen? The
mediators and all the rest of us became convinced that neither Azerbaijan
nor Nagorno Karabagh were prepared to discuss the issue of Nagorno
Karabagh’s status, because each has its own conception of that status and
the two conceptions stand in sharp conflict. All concerned were convinced
of this. I believe that the choice then went to the only realistic approach. If
such an option [a package solution] is not accepted, meaning it cannot be
realized, then we must today try to realize the ‘step-by-step’ alternative”
(Republic of Armenia, 27 September, 1997).
By first rejecting the package, then the step-by-step solutions, and today
proposing to return to the package approach, the Karabagh side has put
both Karabagh and Armenia in an uncomfortable situation. Nonetheless, I
do not think that we are facing tragedy or a deadlock, since it is entirely
possible to combine these two approaches.
The main thing today is the resumption of negotiations that have been
interrupted for a year. This requires that sometime soon, the parties to the
conflict finally accept a draft document that would constitute the basis for
the negotiations. If that does not occur before the next Ministerial Meeting
of the OSCE to be held in Copenhagen in December, then we can expect
serious complications.

1.5 Conspiracy Is Ruled Out


There is also an attempt by the opposition to create the impression that the
cochairmen are organizing a conspiracy against Karabagh, in which Levon
Ter-Petrossian is participating because of his ineptitude or his treacherous
intentions. To create this impression, they especially emphasize the secrecy
of negotiations, although I believe I have discussed that aspect exhaustively
in my address to the 9th ANM Congress. I am compelled to quote the
relevant passage: “Secrecy does not mean treachery. It is simply an interna-
tional diplomatic practice that facilitates the process of negotiations,
46 4 THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE FUTURE OF ARMENIAN STATEHOOD

protecting them from unnecessary noise and propagandistic exploitation.


Let’s not forget that the current Arab-Israeli negotiations were preceded by
years of secret negotiations. It is clear that secrecy applies only to the
negotiating phase. But once agreements have been reached and before the
signing of final treaties, the plan for the resolution will naturally be
presented to the judgment of our people as well as of the peoples of Artsakh
and Azerbaijan. I can assure you of one thing. Armenia will never sign any
document that does not also carry the signature of Nagorno Karabagh”
(Republic of Armenia, July 15, 1997.)
It would seem that for any thinking person, for any one with even basic
intellectual abilities, everything that needed to be said has been said. But
people who are chronic swindlers and are in the habit of misleading the
public, prefer covering up the bankruptcy of their ideas with distorting the
words of their opponents and ascribing imaginary ideas to them, hoping
that they can take advantage of the gullibility of their audience.
Conspiracy is ruled out also not because either Ter-Petrossian’s or
someone else’s personal preferences, but strictly from a legal point of
view. That is, there will in effect be a clear legal mechanism for the review
of the resolution of the Karabagh conflict that will involve the following
consecutive phases:

(a) As noted earlier, once agreements are reached, but before the signing
of final treaties, the plan will be presented to the judgment of the
interested constituents;
(b) Any conflict resolution plan or treaty requires the signature of
Nagorno Karabagh;
(c) Following the signature, any plan or treaty must be ratified by the
respective parliaments of the parties to the conflict.

As we can see, both the public and the opposition will have the oppor-
tunity to review the resolution process and to influence its outcome. I would
be only too gratified if during public discussions and parliamentary debate
the opposition came forth with alternative proposals, which would give us
the possibility of arriving at the best decision, because on the question of
Karabagh, we cannot make mistakes.
Let us not delude ourselves and let us not cherish hollow illusions. On
the issue of Karabagh’s independence, we have no allies. No one will resolve
the conflict but us. We are the ones who must resolve it, and we will resolve
2 DEBATE WITH THE OPPONENTS INSIDE THE GOVERNMENT. . . 47

it to the extent that our capabilities allow us. The one thing we have on our
side is our rejection of recklessness.
It is not my intention to present a tragic picture or to sound the alarm,
because I have faith in the wisdom of our people.

2 DEBATE WITH THE OPPONENTS INSIDE THE GOVERNMENT


REGARDING THE NEED TO RESOLVE THE KARABAGH CONFLICT

Statement at the session of the National Security Council (January 8, 1998)15

Before turning to the statement itself, I don’t think it would be out of place
to summarize some views expressed here over the last two days in the
interest of fully clarifying the issue under consideration. I ask for your
forgiveness in advance if in some cases, the summaries are not word-for-
word reproductions of the views, but they are accurate in substance. Thus:

– “The blockades do not affect Armenia’s economic development.


What matters is the government doing its job and mobilizing its
resources properly” (Robert Kocharyan, Prime Minister; Vazgen
Sargsyan, Minister of Defense);
– “The Karabagh conflict is not an obstacle to foreign investment.
Attracting investors will depend on an active and large-scale marketing
campaign, in particular, on making maximum use of the potential of
the Internet” (Robert Kocharyan);
– “It would be possible to increase Armenia’s budget two or three times
over by fighting the shadow economy and toughening the process of
tax collection” (Robert Kocharyan; Vazgen Sargsyan);
– “If diaspora-Armenia relations are more improved, it will be possible
to bring in $400–500 million in assistance annually” (Robert
Kocharyan; Vazgen Sargsyan);
– “Emigration no longer represents a threat to Armenia and, on the
contrary, we can see trends toward immigration into Armenia. Evi-
dence of this is the fact that where last year there were three or four
first grade classes in schools, this year six or seven first grade classes
were filled” (Robert Kocharyan);
– “It would be impossible to completely isolate Armenia. Russia and
Iran will help us. And if for some reason Russia stops supplying arms,
we can get weapons from Iran” (Vazgen Sargsyan);
48 4 THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE FUTURE OF ARMENIAN STATEHOOD

– “The example of Israel shows that it is possible to develop even under


conditions of isolation” (Robert Kocharyan);
– “In the process of the Karabagh settlement, we should pursue a
strategy of actively freezing the situation” (Vazgen Sargsyan; Serge
Sargsyan, Minister of National Security);
– “We do not need to compromise on the Karabagh issue at this point.
We will compromise if and when we are compelled to” (Vazgen
Sargsyan);
– “The preservation of the status quo in Karabagh does not represent a
danger to us” (Arkadi Ghukasyan, President of Nagorno Karabagh);
– “It would be impossible to ensure the lifting of the
blockade—Azerbaijan might renege on the agreement with any pre-
text” (Arkadi Ghukasyan);
– “The step-by-step approach might increase the risk of war. It will be
difficult to fortify the new defensive positions” (Serge Sargsyan);
– “The people of Karabagh will misunderstand the step-by-step
approach; an exodus will ensue” (Oleg Yesayan, Chairman of
Nagorno Karabagh Parliament);
– “We are convinced that we can be independent; it is unacceptable for
us to remain within Azerbaijan” (Leonard Petrosyan, Prime Minister
of Nagorno Karabagh).

I have already remarked upon some of these views, so I do not think it is


necessary to repeat my objections. I will try to address the others in my
statement.
Let us turn now to the main subject. As I said in my opening remarks,
there are three possibilities for the Karabagh settlement:

1. The package deal;


2. The step-by-step (phased) option;
3. The preservation of the status quo.

I am not planning to talk today about the advantages and disadvantages


of the first two options, because first, you all are familiar with them, and
second, our observations and reservations regarding these options are
expressed in our formal replies presented to the cochairmanship of the
OSCE Minsk Group (we have distributed these documents among you).
Besides, it will be meaningful to discuss said variants only after we have
clarified whether we are prepared or convinced that the Karabagh issue
2 DEBATE WITH THE OPPONENTS INSIDE THE GOVERNMENT. . . 49

ought to be resolved today, or whether it is necessary to wait, in other


words, to preserve the status quo for the time being in the hope that time
will work in our favor and the Karabagh question will be solved by itself—
the world will sooner or later reconcile to the fait accompli. Since it appears
to me that many of you are leaning toward the third option, I will focus on it
exclusively.
Theoretically, I do not deny that the preservation of the status quo,
perhaps, could have been the best way out, because in contrast to the first
two options, which are based on the idea of a compromise, it presumes an
exclusively victorious solution. But this is true only in theory. In practice,
before choosing this path, we are obliged to answer the question of whether
Armenia, which is the only guarantor of the continued existence of
Karabagh, will be able to preserve the status quo for a long period of
time, while maintaining its own viability, economic prosperity, and military
power, and at the same time, overcoming the hardships imposed by the
blockades and withstanding growing international pressure. You might
consider me a pessimist but I do not believe in such miracles. And here
is why.
An analysis of the macroeconomic indices of the last years has led me to
the conclusion that in its economic development Armenia is, one might say,
already in collision with physical limits that are not dependent on the
effectiveness of government action or other subjective factors. I will talk
more about these limits later on; for the time being let us study the
macroeconomic indices.

1994 (%) 1995 (%) 1996 (%) 1997 a (%)

GDP growth compared with previous year 5.4 6.9 5.8 3


Industry growth compared with previous year 5.3 1.5 1.4 1
Export growth compared with previous year 38 25 7.2 20
Import growth compared to previous year 54.9 71.1 27 4
a
1997 data is preliminary

The table clearly shows that although there is continuing growth


according to almost all indices, the rate of growth is slowing down visibly.
And the trouble is, not only will this trend continue, but in one or two years,
a trend toward economic recession will also manifest itself.
What is the reason for this? Is it that we haven’t done our work well? Is it
the failure or slowing down of economic reforms? I do not deny that there is
50 4 THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE FUTURE OF ARMENIAN STATEHOOD

room for improvement here, and by working more effectively and speeding
up the reforms, we might achieve some positive shift. But this will not
substantially impact the economic development of Armenia, a phenomenon
which, in my opinion, is dependent upon more fundamental and deep-
seated factors.
These are the factors that I term the physical limits of the economic
development of Armenia: the deepening political isolation of Armenia
caused by the Karabagh conflict; the blockades; and the absence of foreign
investment. Unless these factors are removed, whatever government comes
to power in Armenia, whatever geniuses are at the helm of the government,
not only will they not succeed in ensuring the natural course of the country’s
economic development, but they will find it impossible to solve the present
social problems.
Salaries, pensions, and allowances will remain at the same pitiful levels,
earthquake zone reconstruction will drag on for years to come, and unem-
ployment will increase. The salary of state employees today is about $20 per
month. Even if we succeed in providing for a 30–40 percent annual increase
in this field, just imagine what salaries we will be paying in five years. Will
they be $40–50? Taking into consideration depreciation of the dram and
the inevitable inflation it is not hard to imagine that in five years this $40–50
will have the same value as $20 does today; in other words, there will be no
improvement of living standards, that is, of course, if God saves us from
their deterioration. If I am not mistaken, someone here has expressed the
view that our people will keep enduring for the sake of Karabagh, and that
there is no danger of social revolt in Armenia. I too believe that our people
will not endanger the existence of Karabagh for the sake of improving their
living conditions. But people’s social discontent will manifest itself in
another way—through the resumption of emigration.
I wonder what it is we are pinning our hopes on, when we boycott or, to
put it mildly, postpone the settlement of the Karabagh conflict. On the
conviction that the blockades don’t hinder Armenia’s economic develop-
ment, that foreign investment can be secured with the right marketing
campaign, that the budget can be tangibly increased through tighter disci-
pline on taxation, that the diaspora will be able to provide hundreds of
millions in assistance, that Russia and Iran will help us and will lead us out of
isolation, that we will succeed in what Israel has succeeded in, that we
should compromise only when we are compelled to? These assertions
seem so convincing that I think it is necessary to address them one by one.
2 DEBATE WITH THE OPPONENTS INSIDE THE GOVERNMENT. . . 51

In my opinion, the unsettled state of the Karabagh conflict has a negative


impact on Armenia’s economic development in many respects.
First, the blockades cause an approximate 30 percent rise in the cost of
cargo transportation to and from Armenia which, by itself, is a huge burden
for both our manufacturers and businessmen. This figure is neither
far-fetched, nor is it a guess; it is the result of serious economic calculation.
You can read the lengthy inquiry presented by the ministry of transportation
and the study by the World Bank, which have been prepared at my request
for our session, if you want to make sure.
And if you do not trust these documents, you can visit any factory,
construction site, or store, and ask them to what extent the blockade
impacts their work.
The blockade hinders the export of large-sized products in particular.
Strange as it may sound, at this moment, we have goods worth about $1
billion that we are unable to export because of their large physical dimen-
sions. These are molybdenum ore, building materials, bentonite, perlite,
and wine (air transportation of molybdenum concentrate and cognac still
makes some economic sense). Not to mention the Nairit plant,16 which, to
operate profitably would require one train a day to and from the plant.
Of course, our burden would have lightened if at least the Abkhazian
railroad—whose closure is not related to the Karabagh conflict—had
resumed operation. Armenia and Russia have exerted considerable efforts
in this direction, but the Georgian government has not been receptive.
Therefore, taking into consideration this bitter experience as well as the
continuing conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia, I am confident that the
railroad will not operate for at least another five years. Thus, we cannot rest
our hopes upon it, and we are forced for the time being to be satisfied with
the existing expensive transportation routes. Not only do we have no outlet
to the sea, but also we are at present, for all intents and purposes, without
access to railroads. And without railroads it is hard to imagine a reasonably
viable economy.
Second, as regards the allegation that the influx of foreign investments is
not dependent on the Karabagh conflict, and that we can reassure potential
investors if the government of Armenia pursues a more active and wide-
ranging marketing campaign, I believe that its outcome will be insignificant
even if I do not deny the need for carrying out such a campaign. No one can
deny that the possibility of the resumption of military operations in
Karabagh makes Armenia a zone of risk from the standpoint of foreign
investment. Foreign capital cannot but take into consideration this
52 4 THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE FUTURE OF ARMENIAN STATEHOOD

situation, a fact that has been repeatedly expressed by experts from interna-
tional financial organizations. In addition, I have already noted that the
blockades cause a roughly 30 percent rise in the price of cargo transporta-
tion to and from Armenia which also inevitably influences the intentions of
foreign investors; how can businesses that are vulnerable to fluctuations of
one cent remain indifferent in the case of a 30 percent rise in cost? And
finally, we must be rational and realize that even irrespective of these
circumstances, Armenia as a three-and-a-half-a-million person market is
not in itself attractive to foreign investors. In the event of the settlement
of the conflicts, a 15-million strong market can take shape in the South
Caucasus, which, undoubtedly, would become a fertile field for foreign
investment. A factory would be built in Armenia, another one in Georgia,
a third in Azerbaijan, all of which could equally service this common market.
Besides, under these conditions, it would be possible to implement large-
scale regional projects that are much more attractive to foreign capital than
investments made in one specific country—not least because such projects,
which indirectly promote regional security and stability, are politically sig-
nificant as well as economically expedient.
Third, the existence of the conflict deprives Armenia of its most natural
and favorable economic partners—Azerbaijan, Turkey, and, to an extent,
Iran. Natural and favorable, first of all for the simple reason that they are
our immediate neighbors. It is no secret that in all normal states, immediate
neighbors account for at least a 50 percent of foreign economic relations. But
in the case of Armenia, this share is practically zero. I have had opportunities
to evaluate the potential and prospects of Armenian-Azerbaijani economic
cooperation; I will refrain from reiterating. I do not think anyone can deny
the tremendous potential of Armenian-Turkish economic relations; it might
perhaps play a secondary role in the process of Turkey’s economic develop-
ment, but for Armenia, it is undoubtedly of vital importance. According to
calculations made by our Union of Industrialists, in the event of reopening
communication routes between Armenia and Turkey, the commodity circu-
lation between the two countries might reach about $600 million within a
year. In other words, in the course of one year, the foreign trade turnover of
Armenia might grow by 50 percent (today it amounts to $1.125 billion). This
means major opportunities for the development of industry, additional jobs,
and prospects for solving social problems.
It should also not be forgotten that besides being natural economic
partners—which is a value in itself—Turkey and Azerbaijan have also special
importance for Armenia as the shortest transit routes toward, in the first
2 DEBATE WITH THE OPPONENTS INSIDE THE GOVERNMENT. . . 53

case, Europe and the Arab states, and, in the second case, Iran, Russia, and
Central Asia.
Fourth, and finally, Armenia is being left out of regional organizations
and is being condemned to ever deepening isolation, which in my view is the
most unfortunate and dangerous problem. Currently, Armenia is a member
of only two regional organizations, the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS) and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC). The CIS,
with all its importance in political and security matters, in fact plays no role
in Armenia’s economic development. And BSEC has not yet moved beyond
its status as a club for expressing good intentions. As for the Armenia–Iran–
Turkmenistan and Armenia–Iran–Greece trilateral cooperation projects,
they are still in the formation stage, but even in the event that they are fully
implemented they cannot have a substantial impact on our economic devel-
opment. I believe it is clear to all of us that from an economic standpoint,
much more practical and important are GUUAM,17 TRASECA,18 ECO,19
and the international oil consortiums, whose doors, unfortunately, are so far
closed to us.
By boycotting or even dragging out the conflict settlement, we will not
only be unable to escape our isolation, but we will also deepen it further and
further. I am not talking only about economic isolation, since it is clear that
economic isolation will also have undesirable political consequences. I do
not rule out that even in isolation, Armenia might be able to participate in
certain projects of regional organizations, but I have in mind not symbolic
participation but full-fledged membership, for only then can we anticipate
tangible results.
And now let us consider the other assertions made here.
The fact that it is necessary to fight against the shadow economy and
toughen tax enforcement is unlikely to meet with objection. But that it will
make it possible to significantly increase the budget seems highly question-
able. Through such measures, it is possible at best to achieve temporary
results, since it goes without saying that budget growth depends not as
much on administrative methods as on general trends in economic devel-
opment. And such trends, as I have said earlier, cannot exist in a situation of
continuing blockades, lack of investment, and political and economic isola-
tion. In addition, I believe that getting carried away regarding administra-
tive methods in this area may be extremely dangerous. Certain measures
taken by the government lately have already aroused my concern. Bearing in
mind certain inclinations on the part of the relevant bureaucracies—the
Taxation Administration, the Customs Inspection, the Ministry of Interior,
54 4 THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE FUTURE OF ARMENIAN STATEHOOD

and the Prosecutor’s Office—I have no doubt that implementing coercive


administrative methods will lead to serious abuses of power, and as a
consequence, we will have job cuts, outflow of capital, decline in commod-
ity and capital turnover, and, ultimately, a decrease in tax proceeds; in other
words, we will get the exact opposite of what we hoped for. All this will
result in the further deterioration of the already dismal social conditions of
the people, and in a new wave of emigration.
It is not clear either what the expectation of huge amounts of assistance
from the diaspora (estimates of $400–500 million) is based upon. We are
told that so far we have not worked with the diaspora effectively, we have
not built our relations with it appropriately, and because of this, up to now
we have received insignificant assistance. Even if we consider these criticisms
to be justified, I don’t think that anyone more or less familiar with the
diaspora would claim that it is capable of providing Armenia with $400–500
million in assistance annually. The Hayastan All-Armenia Fund20 has been
able so far to secure about $10 million in donations from the diaspora
annually. Perhaps if we work better, if we conduct the relationship better,
by the most optimistic estimate, it would be possible to raise this amount to
$20 million a year. “Why so little?” you will ask. Because, in addition
to Armenia, the diaspora has numerous other concerns as well: it is obliged
to provide for the expenses of various national institutions, the church,
schools, clubs, political parties, media, hospitals, and homes for the elderly,
as well as to financially support the lobbying activity expanding from year to
year. Accordingly, the expectation of hundreds of millions dollars in aid
from the diaspora is not only mythical but also dangerous if it is viewed as
one of the important guarantees of the economic development of Armenia.
The issue of how much hope we can pin on Russia and Iran vis-a-vis the
Karabagh settlement and the economic development of Armenia also
remains an open question to me. True, Russia has hitherto provided Arme-
nia with vital help, in particular, in securing the viability of the energy
system, in the formation of the army, and in furnishing it with ammunition.
Since independence, Armenian-Russian relations have developed in a
completely favorable atmosphere and are today at their peak. Armenia has
succeeded in making optimum use of these relations, which, perhaps, is one
of the most important achievements of the independence period. But
unfortunately, this situation cannot go on forever. First, I am obliged to
repeat that Russia will never recognize the independence of Karabagh, if for
no other reason than because it has about 20 Karabaghs within its borders.
Further, today Russia has such vital links to the West, and to international
2 DEBATE WITH THE OPPONENTS INSIDE THE GOVERNMENT. . . 55

economic organizations, in particular, that it is unable to stand sharply


against OSCE or UN plans for the settlement of the Karabagh conflict.
Russia has lately manifested an absolute solidarity with the settlement plans
proposed by the United States and France within the framework of the
cochairmanship of the OSCE Minsk Group. Out of the same desire to avoid
unnecessary problems with the West, Russia will also one day be forced to
stop supplying Armenia with armaments. Moreover, I do not rule out—on
the contrary, I consider it quite natural—that taking into consideration the
matters of exploiting Caspian oil and constructing oil pipelines, Russia will
henceforth exert great efforts toward establishing good relations with
Azerbaijan, and in that case, Armenia will lose its advantage of being
Russia’s only ally or strategic partner in the Caucasus.
As for the assertion that if Russia stops supplying us with arms, we will get
the weapons from Iran; I think this, too, lacks objective grounds. True,
against the background of Iranian-Azerbaijani disputes,21 the strengthening
and economic prosperity of Armenia are in Iran’s national interest. It is also
true that during the worst period of the blockades imposed on Armenia, the
Meghri road was one of the most important factors for our survival.22 But at
the same time, one should not forget about two circumstances. First, the
limited capacity and the extreme costliness of the Meghri road cannot
provide for serious cooperation between our countries. Second, in Iran, in
addition to national interest there also exists a perception of Muslim soli-
darity. For this reason, no Iranian government will dare to provide a
Christian nation with weapons for use against any Muslim nation, unless,
of course, that government is out of its mind. And last, if Iran is able to
provide us with weapons, why has it not done so up to now?
I am not sure to what extent the comparison between the situation in
Israel and in Armenia is appropriate. True, Israel, while in a state of military
confrontation with all its neighbors, managed to secure its economic devel-
opment and military power, but it has never been subjected to the kind of
blockade that Armenia is experiencing. Israel has hundreds of kilometers of
maritime borders and several high-capacity military–commercial ports.
How can we talk about the isolation of Israel when it also gets about $4
billion in assistance from the Jewish diaspora and approximately as much
from the US government annually?
Most stunning, however, is the assertion that we should make compro-
mises on the Karabagh issue only when we are compelled to. Isn’t it clear
what forced compromise means? Forced compromise means surrender. But
when you surrender, you concede nothing, or if you do concede, you get
56 4 THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE FUTURE OF ARMENIAN STATEHOOD

nothing in exchange, but humbly and obediently accept whatever is thrust


upon you. Is our bitter experience of the past not enough? Are the shameful
treaties of Batumi and Alexandropol,23 where earlier there had been a
chance to find more favorable solutions but the individuals in charge at
the time had squandered those opportunities, not enough? I have to repeat
the simple idea of my most recent article: one must make compromises from
a position of strength. Tomorrow Armenia won’t be stronger than today.
Therefore, any solution of tomorrow will be worse than today’s solution.
Hence, all arguments against the necessity of a speedy resolution of the
Karabagh problem are, in my opinion, beneath criticism. Moreover, I view a
tendency in these arguments to stray from the essence of the matter and stir
up a technical debate about the package and the step-by-step settlement
options. Although I have promised not to touch upon these options, since a
lot has been said on the subject, I have to offer some explanations.
The issue is framed as though Armenia favors the step-by-step approach
and Karabagh is for the package deal. The fact that Armenia (true, with
certain fundamental reservations) accepted the package proposal and
Karabagh itself categorically rejected it is being consigned to oblivion.
After the rejection of the package deal we were presented with the step-
by-step option and Armenia (again with fundamental reservations) accepted
it, whereas Karabagh rejected it again and is now insisting on returning to
the package option. A question arises: why then does Armenia continue to
insist on the step-by-step solution? My response is: First, we believe that the
Karabagh problem ought to be solved today, and today there is no other
solution but the step-by-step settlement; and second, we are convinced that
an agreement between Karabagh and Azerbaijan over the package solution
will not be reached for a long time, perhaps ever. The proposal to return to
the package deal, therefore, has as its object not solving the problem but
buying time. Do you think it is hard to buy time? Do you think I cannot
preserve the status quo for three or four years until my term in office is over?
But what will happen after that? In what stalemate will the next president
find himself?
I will now conclude. The two days of discussion have given me serious
grounds to doubt whether the opponents of the step-by-step option have
the intention of resolving the Karabagh conflict at all. Many of you don’t
particularly conceal this fact, which is evident from the views I have sum-
marized at the outset of my statement. The so-called debate about the
package, the step-by-step, or other options is, I am confident, just a cover
for dragging out the settlement process, for maintaining the present
NOTES 57

situation, that is, the status quo, for as long as possible. I have a painful
premonition about what a terrible danger to the existence of both Armenia
and Karabagh this represents. Today, like in Batumi and Alexandropol
before, we are in danger of missing, perhaps, the last opportunity for an
auspicious resolution of the Karabagh conflict and for the economic devel-
opment of Armenia. And we will all be held responsible before our people.

NOTES
1. Republic of Armenia, 1 November, 1997; Ter-Petrossian, Selected Articles,
Speeches, and Interviews, pp. 625–639.
2. In that press conference, Ter-Petrossian had signaled his intention to
endorse a plan of resolution for the Karabagh conflict negotiated with the
help of Russian, American, and French mediators.
3. That is a line from an Armenian revolutionary song. Fedayee means “martyr
for a cause” in Arabic. It is the word used to describe Armenian guerilla
fighters against the Ottoman Empire. For a while in the early 1990s it was
also used to refer to the Armenian volunteers fighting in Karabagh.
4. Shortly after the press conference Ter-Petrossian refers to in the beginning of
the article, his nationalist opponents mobilized to resist his policy on
Karabagh. As part of that resistance, they gathered in the Yerevan Cinema
House to voice their opposition to the policy.
5. Gandzasar is a village in Nagorno Karabagh.
6. The Armenian word “mahapart” can be translated as someone willing to die
for a cause. Ter-Petrossian here is referring to a call in the summer of 1992 to
form such a unit by Vazgen Sargsyan—Armenia’s Defense Minister—after
Azerbaijan had launched a massive offensive and succeeded in overrunning a
number of Armenian positions in Karabagh.
7. At the time of the speech Arkadi Ghukasyan was the president of Nagorno
Karabagh, Robert Kocharyan was the Prime Minister of Armenia, Alexander
Arzumanyan was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, and Vardan
Oskanian was the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Gerard Libaridian,
who was referred to by his Armenian middle name Jirair in Armenia, had
recently retired after serving as Ter-Petrossian’s adviser for seven years and
his chief Karabagh negotiator.
8. This is a facetious reference to a line in an Armenian nationalist song around
the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
9. The Treaty of Sevres, which was signed between the victorious allies and the
Ottoman government on August 10, 1920, envisioned the creation of an
Armenian state in Eastern Anatolia that included most of the territory of
historic Armenia. By then, however, it was the Turkish nationalist movement
58 4 THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE FUTURE OF ARMENIAN STATEHOOD

led by Kemal Ataturk that had become the center of gravity, rather than the
Ottoman government in Istanbul. There is evidence that the nationalists
were willing to negotiate a deal with the government of Armenia that would
imply Armenian control over some of the territories envisioned by Sevres,
but not all. The Armenian government ended up throwing its lot with
Sevres, although there was already serious doubt about the allies’ willingness
to force the implementation of that treaty. Armenians ended up losing not
just what was promised to them by Sevres and the Kemalists, but also half of
the territory of the Republic of Armenia.
10. The Treaty of Kars was signed in 1921 between the newly Sovietized
Armenia and the Turkish nationalist government of Kemal Ataturk. It
determined the current borders of Armenia.
11. Zviad Gamsakhurdia and Abulfaz Elchibey were the first postcommunist
leaders of Georgia and Azerbaijan, respectively. They both earned reputa-
tions of incompetent radicals.
12. Minsk Group was a group of member-states of the Organization of Coop-
eration and Security in Europe (OSCE) that took up the mission of acting as
mediators in the Karabagh conflict. Russia, the USA, and France became
“co-chairmen” of the Minsk Group and the main mediators.
13. Vazgen Manoukyan was one of the leaders of the ANM, but he broke away
in 1991 and became one of the fiercest critics of the ANM and
Ter-Petrossian. He was Ter-Petrossian’s main opponent in the 1996 presi-
dential elections. Ter-Petrossian is referring to Manoukyan’s electoral plat-
form for those elections.
14. These are two alternative methodologies of settlement. The “package”
methodology assumes simultaneous solution of all the disputed issues, espe-
cially the return of territories outside of Karabagh proper held by Armenian
forces and the determination of Karabagh’s status. The “step-by-step” or
“phased” method envisions the return of territories, granting of an interim
status to Karabagh, creation of guarantees against the resumption of hostil-
ities in the first phase, followed in the second phase by negotiations regard-
ing the determination of Karabagh’s final status.
15. Ter-Petrossian, Selected Articles, Speeches, and Interviews, pp. 647–660.
16. Nairit was one of the largest industrial enterprises in Armenia, which pro-
duced synthetic rubber among other things.
17. GUUAM stands for Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Mol-
dova. It was an organization created to facilitate economic and political
cooperation among these states. It is currently moribund.
18. TRACECA stands for Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia. It was an
international transport program aiming to strengthen the economic ties
between countries of these regions.
NOTES 59

19. ECO stands for Economic Cooperation Organization, which was created by
Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan in 1985. Central Asian states and Azerbaijan
joined the organization shortly after becoming independent.
20. This was a foundation created for attracting donations mainly from the
diaspora to fund some critical projects in Armenia and Karabagh.
21. Iran is home to a large Azeri minority, and there have been periodic man-
ifestations of Azeri irredentist aspirations toward Iran. These aspirations
gained some currency in the Azeri nationalist movement in the late 1980s
and early 1990s with Azerbaijan’s first postcommunist president, Abulfaz
Elchibey, also having been reputedly sympathetic to them.
22. Meghri is the southernmost province of Armenia and the one that borders
Iran. It is a reference to a road that connected Meghri to Iran.
23. The Treaty of Batumi was signed between the Ottoman Empire and the
newly independent Republic of Armenia on June 4, 1918. Armenia was
forced to accept a territorial settlement that left only 10,000 square kilome-
ters under its sovereign control. The Treaty of Alexandropol, which was
signed on December 2, 1920, by the ARF government but under Bolshevik
pressure, created a territorial settlement, which left 30,000 square kilometers
under Armenian control, which was much less than what Armenia could
reasonably aspire to a few months prior if its leaders had not thrown their lot
with Sevres.
CHAPTER 5

Views on the Karabagh Conflict


and the Armenian Turkish Relations Following
the Return to Politics

1 THE CURRENT STATE OF THE PROCESS TO RESOLVE


THE NAGORNO KARABAGH CONFLICT

Excerpt from a speech delivered at a rally on October 26, 20071

Let me now turn to the settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict,


which, as I have underscored so many times, is the single most important
issue facing the Armenian state. Its resolution, more than anything else,
determines the future of Armenia and Artsakh, the economic development
of our countries, and the prosperity of the Armenian people. As long as that
issue is not resolved, as long as the blockades that are choking us are not
lifted, as long as relations with our immediate neighbors are not settled, and
as long as our country is not integrated in regional and international
frameworks, Armenia will be denied the opportunity of growth and devel-
opment at a pace consistent with the demands of the modern world, no
matter how many people argue otherwise.
I have always viewed the question of Nagorno Karabagh not as a matter
of land or territory, but purely as a human rights issue. A population of
150,000 lives in an isolated mountainous region, and all they want is to live
freely, proudly, happily and safely, as the French, the Germans, the British
or the Americans do. As it turns out, the international community does not
really care. The world that is so concerned about individual human rights

© The Author(s) 2018 61


L. Ter-Petrossian, Armenia’s Future, Relations with Turkey, and the
Karabagh Conflict, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-58916-9_5
62 5 VIEWS ON THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE ARMENIAN TURKISH. . .

does not view 150,000 people as humans, but rather as a mere statistic, a
national minority at best—a notion normally applied to extra-territorial
minorities. But since, to the chagrin of the international community,
Nagorno Karabagh happens to be an ethno-territorial unit, international
conventions on the rights of national minorities do not cover
it. Therefore, there remains only one solution: the realization of the
right of the people of Nagorno Karabagh to self-determination. Other
solutions are not possible—not because Armenians and Azerbaijanis are
inherently incompatible, as Robert Kocharyan suggests, or because of
religious antagonism, as others insist, but because the political reality is
that Azerbaijan is incapable of providing for the security, freedom, and
welfare of the people of Nagorno Karabagh.
In my address last month, I noted with regret that thanks to the criminal
policies of Armenia’s current authorities, the resolution of the Nagorno
Karabagh conflict in the last ten years has reached the point of near hope-
lessness, since Azerbaijan has been steadily hardening its position and is no
longer considering any compromise. What are the grounds for such a
pessimistic assessment? Not so much that Armenia’s simultaneous repre-
sentation of Karabagh in negotiations has in fact pushed the latter out of the
settlement process, stripping it of the status of a full party to the conflict
under the OSCE resolutions; and not that the Karabagh issue was unwisely
removed from the realm of self-determination, only to be dealt with as a
disputed territory. Not so much because of all of that, but because of a far
more important and extremely painful reality.
For almost a decade, Armenia’s authorities, mocking the international
community, have feigned genuine interest in a swift resolution to the
Karabagh issue, while in reality pursuing a totally different objective—
doing everything possible to hinder and abort the process. The peace-
loving pronouncements of our statesmen, affirmations of support for com-
promise, and seemingly constructive initiatives are nothing but bluff,
designed to mislead the international community and hold on to the status
quo. They must have thought that the OSCE mediators were so naïve
that they would take the bait and no longer exert pressure. But even if the
mediators have managed to pretend that they trust the sincerity of the
Armenian side, this does not necessarily mean they are not onto this
primitive ploy. The reason they have not made any great effort so far to
push the parties toward an agreement in principle is simply that on the long
list of the superpowers’ priorities, the Karabagh conflict can be found
somewhere near the bottom. Yet Armenia’s authorities spare no effort in
1 THE CURRENT STATE OF THE PROCESS TO RESOLVE THE NAGORNO. . . 63

selling this as their greatest success, since they believe it aids their program
of preserving the status quo in Karabagh.
The desire to preserve the status quo stems from the premise that sooner
or later the international community will come to accept the fait accompli
and finally recognize the independence of Karabagh. In theory, that is a
valid line of reasoning, supported from a historical point of view by several
actual precedents. Yet, as I noted on one occasion a decade ago, the real
question is whether Armenia can afford to preserve the status quo for
another twenty or thirty years, and whether our resources will be enough
to help develop the economy, overcome the obstacles of the blockade and
isolation, and, finally, sustain our competitiveness vis-a-vis Azerbaijan.
The status quo rests neither on a map, nor on a ceasefire line, but rather
on a stable balance of forces. From that point of view, let us acknowledge
with regret that we are in a very distressing, if not desperate, position. Ten
years ago, Armenia and Azerbaijan possessed more or less comparable
human, economic, and military capabilities. Today, however, there is a
large gap between the countries on all three parameters, and this gap
appears to be growing. A comparison of macroeconomic indicators dem-
onstrates that Armenia trails Azerbaijan in all areas of economic growth, and
the distance is widening from year to year. Between 1997 and 2006,
Armenia’s GDP grew by a factor of 4, Azerbaijan’s by a factor of more
than 5; Armenia’s industrial output grew by a factor of 3, Azerbaijan’s by a
factor of 5.3; Armenia’s national budget grew by a factor of 3.8,
Azerbaijan’s by a factor of 5; Armenia’s exports quadrupled, Azerbaijan’s
increased by a factor of 8; Armenia’s trade balance in 2006 was a negative
$1.19 billion, Azerbaijan’s a positive $1.104 billion. Indicators for 2007 are
going to be even more disturbing.
I do not doubt that my esteemed opponents will declare tomorrow that
“by making these figures public, Ter-Petrossian has sown defeatism, pre-
paring the groundwork for the sellout of Karabagh to Azerbaijan.” But I
beseech them: Calm down, gentlemen. Quit the demagoguery. Stop mis-
leading the public with patriotic speeches. Stop hiding the truth. The people
are more intelligent, logical, and rational than many of you.
Let us realize once and for all that no president of Armenia, even in his
wildest dreams, can sell out Karabagh. First of all, the future of Karabagh
should be determined not by Armenia or Azerbaijan, but solely by the
people of Karabagh. Secondly, the July 8, 1992 Decision of the Supreme
Council of the Republic of Armenia prohibits the signing of any document
by Armenia that would “refer to Nagorno Karabagh as part of Azerbaijan.”
64 5 VIEWS ON THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE ARMENIAN TURKISH. . .

What, then, is defeatism? Denying the public the knowledge it needs, and
numbing its senses to the point that it will wake up one day to find out that
Karabagh is gone? Or trying to unite the nation by telling it the truth and
alerting it to the imminent threat that must be prevented? Out of my great
respect for our people, I have never appealed to their emotion but only to
their reason. I have never kept the truth from them, no matter how bitter
that truth. I have never made false promises or engaged in demagoguery
and populism. And I am not about to give up these principles. Let it be
considered impolitic; let it affect my ratings. I am who I am, and that is who
I will remain. I was not any different in 1988; then, you understood and
placed your trust in me and my comrades on the Karabagh Committee, and
the result is an independent Armenia and a liberated Artsakh. I am con-
vinced that you will understand and trust me now as well.
With this lyrical digression, let us return to the Karabagh issue. The
informal document presented by the co-chairs, which Armenia has agreed
to “in principle,” is nothing other than the step-by-step proposal that was
rejected ten years ago. Armenia’s current authorities, after years of procras-
tination and diplomatic trickery, which have led to disastrous results, have
now quietly agreed to a plan that they themselves vigorously opposed as
defeatist, traitorous, et cetera. There can only be two explanations for this:
our authorities are either bluffing again, attempting to cause further delay in
the peace process, or—to give them the benefit of the doubt—they have
finally realized that there is no alternative to the step-by-step approach,
given the diametrically opposed positions of the parties on the status of
Karabagh.
The co-chairs’ document, for face-saving purposes, contains a vague
provision on some future referendum or plebiscite in Karabagh. Ninety-
nine percent of the document, we are told, has been agreed upon, and there
are only a few details that the parties still disagree on. These so-called details,
however, may be so essential as to defy consensus for quite a long time.
Azerbaijan has pinned its hopes on its oil revenues and is in no haste,
whereas Armenia, for reasons unknown, fails to demonstrate the necessary
will to resolve the issue as well. Moreover, there are serious grounds to
believe that even if all disagreements are addressed, Kocharyan, true to
himself, will fail to sign the document, avoiding responsibility, and placing
this burden on the shoulders of the next President. To speak plainly, this is a
deadlock, and Kocharyan is to blame for it, together with Vartan Oskanian,
and in part, Arkadi Ghukasyan, who yielded Karabagh’s internationally
2 REASSESSING THE LEGACY OF THE GENOCIDE 65

recognized mandate as a full party to the conflict to the President of


Armenia.2 The way out is clear, although difficult.
First, we must clean out our own stables, raise a powerful wave of popular
action, thwarting the attempt of this regime to stay on, restore the consti-
tutional order of the Republic of Armenia, and declare an uncompromising
war against corruption, nepotism, and the abuse of power, to create a
genuinely democratic, lawful, free, and just state, in the clear understanding
that the future of Karabagh depends fully upon Armenia’s strength.
Second, we must return to the earlier format of the settlement of the
Karabagh conflict, whereby Karabagh was represented as a full party to the
conflict. Clearly, this is impossible to imagine if Serge Sargsyan is elected
President, since he too, being from Karabagh like Kocharyan, will claim
some sort of entitlement to representing the Karabagh side in the negoti-
ating process.
Third, the futile and dangerous policy of Armenia’s current authorities
with regard to Karabagh must be fundamentally revised, shifting from the
mindset of delays and preservation of the status quo to one of resolving the
issue.
And fourth, it is pointless to be afraid of, or to avoid, compromises, for
there exists no other solution on earth. In politics, as in business, the only
successful deals are those in which both sides stand to win. A deal with only
one winner cannot succeed or last.

2 REASSESSING THE LEGACY OF THE GENOCIDE

Excerpt from a speech at the rally on December 8, 20073

Unable to argue against points I made in my earlier speeches, Robert


Kocharyan and Serge Sargsyan have recently discovered the most effective
way to destroy me: by branding me with the mortal stigma of “pro-
Turkishness.” They believe they have delivered me a devastating blow, after
which the people will simply tear me to pieces, and I will never recover. To
increase the delight of my former friends, I will try to fan the flames of this
argument and offer ample new evidence of my “pro-Turkishness.” Before I
do that, however, I cannot fail to point out that the people who talk about
“pro-Turkishness” are the same people who, throughout extended periods in
their adult lives, served the [Azeri] Turks obsequiously.4
66 5 VIEWS ON THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE ARMENIAN TURKISH. . .

Let me begin by saying that like many of the participants at this rally, I am
a descendant of genocide survivors. My grandfather fought in the heroic
Battle of Musa Dagh.5 My seven-year old father carried food and water to
the fighters. And my mother was born in those days in a cave. Had the
French Navy not happened to have been sailing by the shores of Musa
Dagh, I would not be alive now, and would not be speaking today from this
podium, much to the delight of Robert Kocharyan and Serge Sargsyan.
Three generations of my extended family fought against the Turks, in
one way or another. I already mentioned that my grandfather fought at the
heroic Battle of Musa Dagh. Earlier, in 1896, after the Zeitun uprising,6 he
had spent six months in Turkish prisons. My father headed the Armenian
movement against the plan to transfer the Sanjak of Alexandretta to Turkey
in 1939. And I was arrested in 1966 during a demonstration commemo-
rating the anniversary of the genocide, and was detained for about a week in
the Yerevan jail, at a time when Kocharyan and Sargsyan hadn’t even heard
the word “genocide.”
I am called “pro-Turkish” because during my presidency I, on numerous
occasions, insisted on the necessity of improving Armenian-Turkish rela-
tions, and because I am alleged to have never raised the question of the
recognition of the Armenian genocide. The first of these claims is accurate,
for I have indeed insisted on, and continue today to believe in, the impor-
tance of the expeditious normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. The
second claim, however, does not correspond to reality, to put it mildly. The
Yerevan Genocide Museum was built during my presidency. It was I who
organized for the first time in Armenia an authoritative international con-
ference on genocide in 1995, attended by many world-renowned scholars. I
was the only acting head of the Armenian state, from the days of the First
Republic7 until now, to have offered a brief yet comprehensive political
assessment of the genocide.8
It is true, however, that all of this notwithstanding, I have not placed
genocide recognition at the foundation of Armenia’s foreign policy, con-
sidering it an ill-timed and dangerous undertaking. I will try to explain why
a little later. In contrast, the second president of Armenia immediately
turned that question into a cornerstone of the republic’s foreign policy,
and right from the beginning of his term took consistent steps in that
direction. What was the underlying rationale for that policy? To examine
it, I must once again refer to memory. In 1997, when I suggested that
Prime Minister Kocharyan head the State Council for Coordination of
Armenia-Diaspora Relations, he declined, reasoning that genocide
2 REASSESSING THE LEGACY OF THE GENOCIDE 67

recognition was absent from the Council’s program of action. When I, in


the presence of Manushak Petrosyan, director of the Armenia Fund, asked
him to explain his position, Kocharyan said literally the following: “I don’t
know what genocide is, but I know for sure that the diaspora needs it. If we
include that provision, we’ll get the diaspora excited, and it will provide
greater material assistance to Armenia. Moreover, if Armenia officially puts
forth the demand to recognize the genocide, Turkey will give up, and in a
year, it will open the Armenian-Turkish border. Besides, it will take a more
unbiased position in the Karabagh conflict settlement, and will no longer
vigorously defend Azerbaijan’s position.”
In September 1998, Robert Kocharyan raised the issue of genocide
recognition from the UN podium, which, although hailed by court poets
as an unprecedented act of courage, amounted to nothing more than a
hollow and inconsequential statement. If these petty and primitive calcula-
tions were what underlay Kocharyan’s position, than it means only one
thing: trampling on and desecrating our greatest national tragedy, making it
an object of shameless speculation, especially considering that none of the
predictions made by the President of Armenia have materialized to this day.
It is clear that those declarations at the UN on the Armenian genocide were
merely intended for domestic consumption—saber-rattling of sorts, to
appear to Armenians as a hero, since no practical steps ever followed
Kocharyan’s statement. Had Kocharyan and Oskanian had more serious
intentions, they would have been required under a procedure outlined in
the UN Charter to go through a specific process toward the recognition of
the genocide, which would result in the adoption of a corresponding
resolution by that organization. As a full member of the UN, Armenia
had that right, but for unknown reasons, chose not to take advantage of
it, limiting itself to a simplistic pretense of raising the issue. The UN is not a
press club for making statements, but an authoritative political and legal
forum where nations resolve concrete issues.
Generally speaking, Armenia’s current authorities cannot tell the differ-
ence between practical policy and declarations and posturing, and forget
that policy, first and foremost, is about action, not words. When they
declare, “Karabagh is ours,” they believe the issue is resolved. When they
insist that the Kars-Akhalkalak Railway9 should not be built, they believe
that that’s how it shall happen. When they demand that the US Congress
recognize the Armenian genocide, they are convinced that that body will
fulfill their demand. When they dictate to Turkey to open the Armenian-
Turkish border, they have no doubt that our neighbor will give in to that
68 5 VIEWS ON THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE ARMENIAN TURKISH. . .

order. When they urge Azerbaijan to refrain from militaristic rhetoric, they
think it will heed their call.
In the last ten years, Armenia’s foreign policy has come down to basically
a series of such empty, provincial, and pointless declarations. The authorities
aren’t bothered at all by the ridiculous position they are putting themselves
and our country in. The impression is that they confuse the State with a
Stepanakert Homeowners’ Association, or the Bourj Hammoud10 Com-
munity Hall. Getting caught in the embarrassing cross-fire of their own
statements, Kocharyan and Oskanian argue that they have been misunder-
stood, or their statements have been mistranslated. Other than inarticulate
bluster, who has, indeed, ever heard from them a balanced, logical analysis
or a programmatic speech on foreign policy? When did they ever present a
clear position on vital and urgent foreign policy issues, such as the resolution
of the Karabagh conflict, or the overcoming of Armenia’s political and
economic isolation, or the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations,
or, if you will, the pursuit of genocide recognition, the purpose of which
remains unclear not only to the people, but to themselves as well?
If the current authorities were honest, they would admit that in the last
ten years, our foreign policy has been one of total failure and shipwreck.
They urged the US Congress to maintain the Section 907 sanctions against
Azerbaijan, but Congress repealed them. They officially appealed to the
same body to recognize the Armenian genocide, and we saw what hap-
pened.11 They urged Turkey not to condition its relations with us on the
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, and to open the border, but nothing came
of it. Originally, they presented Turkey with the condition of recognizing
the genocide, but that condition was later withdrawn and it was agreed that
relations with that country should be normalized without preconditions.
They urged the international community to block the construction of the
Kars-Akhalkalak Railway, but that railway is now becoming a reality. They
opposed the withdrawal of the Russian base from Akhalkalak, but that base
is now gone. They have boasted about Armenia’s ability to develop for yet
another hundred years under blockade, but also continuously complain
about the blockade. They have asserted that Armenians and Azerbaijanis,
as nations, are inherently incompatible, but they also engage in round-the-
clock talk of reconciliation. They claim that the Karabagh issue has been
resolved as far as we are concerned, but for whatever reason, they don’t yet
quit the negotiations. They attempted to block the decision to hold the
OSCE summit in Istanbul, but in the end, they haplessly attended the
summit, and moreover, signed its famous charter, officially acknowledging
2 REASSESSING THE LEGACY OF THE GENOCIDE 69

Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. To sum up, a whole series of preposterous


diplomatic defeats that have been beyond the abilities of Kocharyan and
Oskanian to admit or even comprehend.
Why get involved in processes that are not Armenia’s to control, and why
aspire to roles that are beyond its capabilities? The best example of such
imprudent thinking is our interference in the process of relationship-
building between the European Union and Turkey. Is it not clear that
Armenia can neither facilitate nor delay Turkey’s accession to the
European Union? What business then did we have sending out letters to
Brussels with demands to halt EU-Turkey negotiations or make the recog-
nition of the Armenian genocide a precondition for Turkey?
What is of greater importance to us—an inappropriately formulated
principle, or Armenia’s actual national interests? Had Europe wanted to, it
would have set forth those preconditions, without asking us, and believe
me, that is exactly what they would have done. If the European Union,
under different pretexts, continues to delay negotiations with Turkey,
setting forth additional conditions, it only means that Europe is not pre-
pared yet to admit that country. When it is ready, it will accept Turkey’s
explanations, putting aside whatever sharp disagreements may exist, includ-
ing the issue of the genocide.
The behavior of Armenia’s authorities on this issue, which borders on
legal incompetence, is strange in another respect as well. On one hand, they
half-heartedly declare their agreement to Turkey’s accession to the EU, but
on the other, as we witnessed, do everything possible to undermine it. How
to explain this dual game? Isn’t it obvious that Turkey’s accession to the EU
is in Armenia’s best interests in all respects—economic, political, and
security? What is more dangerous—Turkey as an EU member, or Turkey
that has been rejected by the West and has turned therefore to the East? Or,
what is more preferable: an Armenia isolated from the West, or an Armenia
that shares a border with the European Union? Our country’s foreign policy
should have answered these simple questions long ago. By the way, it is my
impression that on the issue of Armenian-Turkish relations, Serge Sargsyan
is more serious and realistic than Robert Kocharyan, for unlike the latter, he
does not suffer from the disease of narcissism.
What should Armenia’s authorities have done instead of creating obsta-
cles to Turkey’s EU accession? They should have done exactly the opposite
of what they did. Namely, they should have demonstrated goodwill and not
tried to obstruct that process in any way. Moreover, they should have urged
Brussels not to misuse the question of genocide recognition, referring the
70 5 VIEWS ON THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE ARMENIAN TURKISH. . .

resolution of that complicated problem within Armenian-Turkish relations


to the parties themselves. It is time to finally understand that by presenting
ultimatums to Turkey or pushing it into a corner, no one can force it to
recognize the Armenian genocide. I have absolutely no doubt that Turkey
will do so—sooner or later. Yet this will happen not before the normaliza-
tion of Armenian-Turkish relations, but only after the establishment of an
atmosphere of good-neighborliness, cooperation, and trust between our
countries. Consequently, emotions aside, these relations must be built on
the basis of the reality that Armenia considers the events of 1915 to be
genocide, whereas Turkey does not. The well-known offer to form a com-
mission of Armenian and Turkish historians is unacceptable and offensive to
us, first, because it casts doubt on what is for us a conviction shared
nationwide, and secondly, because the fact that the genocide has been
recognized by the legislatures of a number of countries makes the estab-
lishment of such a commission irrelevant and obsolete.
In no way does anything that has been said here about Armenia concern
the diaspora as well. Armenia has its own understanding of, and agenda for,
the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, and the diaspora has its
own. Armenia cannot, and has no right to, force its understanding and
agenda upon the diaspora. The sons and daughters of the Armenian dias-
pora, as citizens, taxpayers, and voters of different countries, have the right
to exert pressure on their governments, and demand their recognition of the
Armenian genocide. It is an internal question for these countries whether or
not to take action on their citizens’ demands. Turkey, first of all, should not
confuse Armenia with the diaspora, and secondly, it should not complain of
the latter’s conduct, for the diaspora is a consequence of the genocide. Had
they not committed genocide, there would be no diaspora.
We no longer have the right to repeat the fatal mistake made by the
Armenian political thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and on
the question of Armenian-Turkish relations rely on third parties. The tragic
consequences of that policy are universally known. It is not even a policy,
but rather a mindset—of the pitiful, the orphaned, the powerless. When you
lack the strength to punish your adversary, you rejoice when others do
so. And so we cheer when third countries make unfriendly decisions on
Turkey, and celebrate when the Turkish soccer team loses. We all know this
mentality from childhood. When someone hit us, and we were powerless,
we cheered when another boy beat up the one who had beaten us. In a
child, this is acceptable; for an ordinary person, it is fine too; but does a
statesman have the right to be guided by such a mindset?
3 “WHY ARE TURKS AND AZERIS HAPPY ABOUT THE PROSPECT OF. . . 71

Many nations and states, under differing circumstances and for different
reasons, have found themselves on the verge of national catastrophe.
Armenians and Jews were subjected to genocide. Germany and Japan, having
suffered devastating defeat, were utterly destroyed. Ottoman Turkey, Britain,
and Russia lost their all-powerful empires. Every nation believes in the unique-
ness of its own tragedy. As Tolstoy has it, the happy are all alike, but the
unhappy are unhappy each in their own way. However, almost all of these
nations and states, having suffered a national tragedy, have turned that tragedy
into a tool of healing and strength, rather than one of hopelessness and
inferiority. They have found the internal strength not only to heal their wounds
and rid themselves of historical complexes, but also to undergo revival and join
the community of the world’s most vibrant and flourishing nations. What
prevents us from following in these nations’ footsteps, instead of continuously
wailing, blaming the world, and begging for justice? We cannot become a
modern and viable nation until we overcome the mindset of the victim, set
ourselves free of the complexes of the past, and turn our eyes to the future. The
only way to overcome that mindset is to build and strengthen Armenia—a
country that today is in the hands of predators. History is a source of pride for
many nations, but the historical burden is an unnecessary shackle.
Following this speech, there will undoubtedly be those who, with the joy
of an inventor, will take my words out of context, or distort them to
attribute thoughts to me that have nothing to do with the truth. I am
responsible only for my own thoughts and my own words, and I have no
intention to respond to these kinds of tricks at all. Throughout their entire
history, the Armenian people have suffered mainly because of their rulers’
ignorance, short-sightedness, and recklessness. Good sense, however, has
never hurt us. I trust in your good sense, and have no doubt that you will
understand me correctly—even on this very sensitive subject from which,
according to the logic of the campaign, I stand to gain nothing.

3 “WHY ARE TURKS AND AZERIS HAPPY ABOUT


THE PROSPECT OF YOUR RETURN TO POLITICS?”

Excerpt from a press conference on January 11, 200812

– ZOYA BARSEGHYAN, Armenpress. My question is about the foreign


policy section of your program, where one finds the following thesis:
“implementation of constructive efforts toward normalization of
72 5 VIEWS ON THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE ARMENIAN TURKISH. . .

relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan.” I would like to ask you to detail
this and to explain what you think the constructive steps should be beyond
the offer to normalize relations without any preconditions. As an adden-
dum to this question, I would also like to ask you to comment on the
undisguised joy expressed in the Turkish and Azerbaijan media at the
prospect of your return to power, which is expected to result in the speedy
resolution of the Karabagh conflict in favor of Azerbaijan. There was an
article reflecting that position in the newspaper “Zerkalo.”

I said a little while ago that the plan is not just this, it is not just these brief
statements. In my speeches, I have spoken extensively about the questions
you raise. As for the “constructive efforts toward normalization of relations
with Turkey and Azerbaijan,” first and foremost I have the resolution of the
Karabagh conflict in mind. Constructive efforts are the ones that are the
opposite of unconstructive. I think the process up to this point has not been
constructive, i.e. our authorities have done nothing to resolve the conflict,
regardless of whether the solution would be in our favor or Azerbaijan’s.
Our authorities have not taken a single step for ten years. They have done
things in the opposite direction, which is to avoid a solution, to sabotage
negotiations in order to maintain the status quo. My conceptual quarrel
with these authorities for ten years has been entirely about that. If they were
honest, our authorities would have told our people that they had no
intention of resolving the conflict, that people should tighten their belts
and be ready to live under a blockade for another ten, thirty, forty years, that
they should get used to deprivation. They should be honest and say all of
those things. They neither say that, nor do they take any steps toward
resolving the conflict. So “constructive,” in this process, means a change
in the philosophical approach to the resolution of the conflict. In other
words, it is necessary to shift from a philosophy of sabotaging the resolution
of the conflict to a philosophy of seeking a resolution. With regard to the
normalization of relations with Turkey, there are no great secrets that I can
see. These relations will be normalized only after the resolution of the
Karabagh conflict. Expecting anything before that is futile. The Turkish
border will remain closed as long as the Karabagh conflict remains
unresolved. I am not even talking about a full resolution. I am convinced
that Turkey will open the border if there is tangible progress in the resolu-
tion process in order to help move the process toward a final resolution. As
for what they think about my possible victory in Azerbaijan and Turkey, it is
their business. We are solving our problem, and I will be elected by our
4 THE CHANGED GEOPOLITICAL REALITY FOLLOWING THE RUSSO. . . 73

people, not by Turks or Azeris. I also disagree with you, because there have
been dozens of publications in Azerbaijan expressing a preference for Serge
Sargsyan becoming the president of Armenia, ten times more than publica-
tions expressing a preference for me. I have not even seen those, although
they probably exist, I am not disputing that. Imagine for a second a situation
where impressions about our politics were formed in places like Turkey,
Iran, Russia, and France on the basis of articles in our newspapers. How
well-founded would you think these impressions were? I am not saying our
media is bad, no, but there are so many voices in it, there are so many
unsubstantiated and sensational reports, nobody could make sense of
it. Therefore, I think drawing conclusions on the basis of such articles in
the media is not the best approach.

4 THE CHANGED GEOPOLITICAL REALITY FOLLOWING


THE RUSSO-GEORGIAN WAR OF AUGUST 2008

Excerpt from a speech delivered at a rally on September 15, 200813

. . . What best characterizes our predicament is the unprecedented geopo-


litical situation Armenia finds itself in after the Russian-Georgian conflict. I
can say one thing: in the seventeen-year long history of its independence,
Armenia has never been as vulnerable to external pressure and manipulation
as it is today. There is but one explanation: only illegitimate, corrupt,
dishonest, and thieving governments become subject to external pressure.
Clean, legitimate, elected, honest, and just governments can withstand any
external pressure. So, given these pressures, which are immense, as I already
pointed out, what problem is Serge Sargsyan going to solve? Having his
legitimacy, his non-existent legitimacy recognized is going to be his only
problem, his only concern. There are three ways of achieving that. The first
is to be elected legitimately, which has not happened, otherwise there would
be no need for the convulsions we are now seeing. Second, he could acquire
a modicum of legitimacy and earn the public’s sympathy by entering into an
honest dialogue with the opposition, and by conducting radical economic
and democratic reforms. The third is to acquire that legitimacy by sacrificing
Armenia’s state interests. Unfortunately, and it pains me deeply to say this,
Serge Sargsyan has chosen the third path, which is evidenced by displays of
willingness to make concessions on the issues of the genocide and the
resolution of the Karabagh conflict.
74 5 VIEWS ON THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE ARMENIAN TURKISH. . .

We have already said a great deal about the genocide and the normali-
zation of Armenian-Turkish relations. It is one of the items in our programs,
and its essence in the final analysis is reducible to the following formula:
because the issue of the genocide is subject to dispute in our relations with
Turkey, and because it is difficult to imagine that it will be settled in the
visible future, the only possible approach is to agree to disagree. This means
Armenia believes that what happened in 1915 was genocide, while Turkey
refuses to admit it. To put it differently, we agree that our positions are
different, and we build relations while having this disagreement. This
approach does not preclude reaching agreements on other issues in the
sphere of Armenian-Turkish relations. Unfortunately, however, it is not the
issue of the genocide, but the Karabagh conflict, that is the main obstacle on
the path of normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations, which I will explain
shortly. Now, what did Serge Sargsyan do to earn the world’s favor?
Without weighing the consequences carefully, and I do not know on
whose advice, he stated that Armenia is prepared to accept Turkey’s pro-
posal to form a commission of Armenian and Turkish historians, which
would be tasked to determine whether there was a genocide or not. This is a
manifestation of both ignorance and political immaturity, especially since
this question was not a surprise for him. It has been discussed on numerous
occasions. The proposal was first made three to four years ago. All possible
opinions have been expressed about it, but the common conclusion was that
Turkey’s sole purpose in making that proposal was to halt the process of the
international recognition of the genocide. Not to understand this, and to
accept a process that casts doubt on the genocide as historical fact, is simply
beyond the pale. Now Sargsyan may give a thousand explanations. Yes, in
his subsequent interviews he tries to camouflage the problem, claiming that
he has said no such thing or that it was not what he had in mind, but what
has been said has been said. It has been said and it cannot be taken back.
Turkey has been granted an opportunity to sense the weakness of Armenia’s
current authorities, which is manifested by the fact that they could agree to
the formation of such a commission. The harm has been done. Of course,
Armenians both in Armenia and in the diaspora will never allow Serge
Sargsyan or any other president to agree to the formation of that commis-
sion. Any current or future president must forget about it. That is not going
to happen. But as I said, the harm has already been done, otherwise he
would not have needed to make such a concession to Turkey in order to
ingratiate himself to the world. And the world welcomed it. We saw the kind
of reactions his eagerness generated.
4 THE CHANGED GEOPOLITICAL REALITY FOLLOWING THE RUSSO. . . 75

The problem of Karabagh is much more complicated. We are entering a


phase of the process (if we can speak of a process, of course) that is now
more complicated than it was a month ago, i.e. before the Georgian-Russian
conflict. What is happening now? There were several frozen conflicts. Three
of them have been resolved, and they have been resolved not on the basis of
the logic that we would have presumed one or two years ago. They were
resolved on the basis of the principle of national self-determination, as the
independence of Kosovo and now Abkhazia and South Ossetia was recog-
nized. At first glance, this was an encouraging development as far as settling
other similar conflicts is concerned, because it would seem like these con-
flicts would sooner or later be settled on the basis of the same logic.
Unfortunately, however, that is not the case, because in such questions
the international community, and by that I mean the great powers first and
foremost, does not rely on the same principle. These conflicts are resolved
on the basis of two principles, either the principle of territorial integrity or
the right to self-determination. If it is in the interests of one or more great
powers to resolve a conflict on the basis of the principle of territorial
integrity, then they rely on that principle. If it is in their interest to resolve
it on the basis of the principle of national self-determination, that is the
principle they will invoke. The determining factor, therefore, is the inclina-
tion of one of the great powers to rely on one or the other principle.
Unfortunately, in the case of Karabagh I do not see any great power—and
I count as great powers the US, the European Union, and Russia—that has
an interest in defending the right to self-determination of the people of
Karabagh. Without this, without a great power being interested in it, it is a
dead letter. But that is not the only or even the biggest of our misfortunes. A
larger, a more painful process is under way. I do not want to exaggerate or
make absolutist statements, but we have the following picture: the world
complained about and criticized Russia’s recent actions in Georgia, but
eventually it seems like it came to reconcile with the idea that it was
Russia that was going to resolve the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
That’s a fact, and now the West is trying to compensate for that reaction by
an increased activity in the process of resolving the Karabagh conflict. If we
were to put it very simply, in terms understandable to ordinary people, the
West is telling Russia: you solved the problems in Abkhazia and South
Ossetia, we are going to solve the problem in Nagorno Karabagh. What is
this conclusion of mine based on? The increased activity by the West and
Turkey, and the fact that Serge Sargsyan seems to be succumbing to their
hypnosis. What do I mean? First, the proposal Turkey has made to Armenia
76 5 VIEWS ON THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE ARMENIAN TURKISH. . .

and Azerbaijan to organize a tripartite meeting with participation of the


foreign affairs ministers of Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. This is not a
new proposal. This proposal has been repeatedly made in the sixteen years
since 1992 both by Turkey and Azerbaijan. I can even share personal
memories. When I attended Ozal’s funeral, Demirel proposed to me and
Elchibey to organize a tripartite meeting. I rejected it. He then proposed to
have at least the Turkish foreign minister to sit in a meeting with me and
Elchibey, if he could not be in it. But it would still be a tripartite meeting,
and I rejected it again. I told him that I was prepared to meet with Elchibey
separately and that we could discuss whatever was necessary about the
relations between our countries. The point of organizing such a meeting
was to emphasize Turkey’s role as a mediator. And what would Turkey’s
role as a mediator have meant for us? It would have meant a two to one
situation, because the positions of Turkey and Azerbaijan on the question of
Karabagh were in absolute harmony. We were going to be against the duo
of Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Judging from the first reactions of the Armenian authorities, they are
prepared to participate in such a meeting. That is a very dangerous devel-
opment. Very dangerous not only because of the problem I just mentioned,
but also because it would endanger the Minsk Group format. The Minsk
Group is being removed from the resolution process despite the fact the
Minsk Group format has been the best format for us, because it rested on a
balance between the great powers and allowed us to make sure that the
Karabagh conflict was not resolved on the basis of the unilateral efforts of
one of them. This is endangered now. Others have proposed tripartite
meetings as well. For example, the president of France, Jacques Chirac
proposed to organize a meeting with him, myself, and Aliyev as participants.
I rejected that proposal too, stating that Armenia cannot participate in any
meeting if Karabagh does not participate in it as well. Another such meeting
was proposed by Boris Yeltsin, who was Armenia’s and my personal friend. I
had the will to say no even to him. He had proposed to organize a meeting
with me, Aliyev, and himself or Kozirev, again to discuss the Karabagh
conflict. I convinced Yeltsin and Kozirev, and they in turn convinced Aliyev
to invite Robert Kocharyan to participate in that meeting. And Robert
Kocharyan participated in it.
Now, as I said, the obeisance Serge Sargsyan pays to the West and Turkey
threatens the future of the Minsk Group, which can be quite consequential
for us. What could Serge Sargsyan have done to resist these pressures? I said
it already that only an elected president can resist such pressures, a president
NOTES 77

not buried in corruption and not subject to blackmail. I am sure that


compromising information about Serge Sargsyan will be revealed abroad if
he acts stubbornly. Sargsyan can only do one thing, which is to try to change
the atmosphere at home, to release political prisoners, to try to start a real,
rather than a fake dialogue with representatives of the public, a dialogue that
is more than a pretense. That would change the atmosphere immediately. It
would help the West understand that on issues of national interest (which
the threat to Karabagh is) Armenia is capable of uniting as one and resisting
any external pressure. If Serge Sargsyan chooses a different path, it will only
mean that he is ready to sell out both Karabagh and the genocide, and in the
final analysis, our homeland—the Republic of Armenia. I don’t know what
influence this speech of mine will have, but one could say that it is my last
call on the Armenian authorities to come back to their senses.

NOTES
1. Levon Ter-Petrossian, Return [in Armenian] (Yerevan, Armenia: Printinfo,
2009), pp. 36–41.
2. In the OSCE summit in Budapest in 1994, Nagorno Karabagh was officially
recognized a party to the conflict, which Ter-Petrossian considers the main
achievement of Armenian diplomacy. That recognition meant that (1) the
international community agreed with Armenia that the conflict was between
Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabagh, not between Armenia and Azerbaijan;
(2) that therefore it was not a territorial conflict, but a conflict about self-
determination; (3) and that Karabagh’s fate could not be decided without
taking the will of its people into account. It also created a legal and political
background, which could be favorable to Armenians in the negotiations over
Karabagh’s political status. After Kocharian came to power, he removed
Karabagh from the negotiations and insisted that he would negotiate on its
behalf.
3. Ter-Petrossian, Return, pp. 109–117.
4. Ter-Petrossian is referring to the fact that both Serge Sargsyan and Robert
Kocharyan were functionaries in the Karabagh communist youth organiza-
tion, which was subordinated to Baku.
5. This is a reference to the resistance of the Armenians in the town of Musa
Dagh and surrounding villages against the Ottoman army in August–Sep-
tember of 1915, which allowed them to survive and to escape to Egypt with
the help of the French navy. This event is the inspiration behind the famous
novel The Forty Days of Musa Dagh by the Austrian Jewish writer Franz
Werfel.
78 5 VIEWS ON THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND THE ARMENIAN TURKISH. . .

6. Zeitun was an Armenian town surrounded by Armenian villages in the


northeast of the Adana Province in the Ottoman Empire.
7. This is a reference to the Armenian independent republic, which existed in
1918–1920.
8. Ter-Petrossian is referring to his address to the conference on genocide in
1995, which is contained in this volume.
9. This is a reference to the railroad linking Georgia with Turkey, the construc-
tion of which has already been completed.
10. Bourj Hammoud is a district in Beirut, Lebanon with a large Armenian
population.
11. Ter-Petrossian is referring to the fact that the US Congress has not
succumbed to Armenian pleas and demands to officially recognize the
mass murder of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
12. Ter-Petrossian, Return, pp. 191–193.
13. Levon Ter-Petrossian, Armenian-Turkish Relations [in Armenian] (Yere-
van, Armenia: Printinfo, 2009), pp. 61–66.
CHAPTER 6

The Politics and Geopolitics of the Process


of Normalization of Armenian-Turkish
Relations

1 WHY THE WEST HAS TURNED A BLIND EYE ON SERGE


SARGSYAN’S TRAMPLING OF DEMOCRACY IN ARMENIA

Excerpt from a speech at a rally on October 17, 20081

I had promised to you during our rally on September 26 to reveal and explain
in detail the strategy of the Armenian National Congress without concealing
anything from you. Now it is the moment to fulfill that promise. Therefore, I
ask you to be patient and to listen carefully to every word of my speech.
I have already had the opportunity to draw your attention to the unprec-
edented geopolitical situation in which Armenia has found itself lately,
putting special emphasis on the fact that our country has never been as
vulnerable to external pressure in the 17 years of its independent existence
as it is today. It is in this dangerous situation that instead of thinking about
the interests of our state and the well-being of our people, Serge Sargsyan is
worried exclusively about clinging to power and having his legitimacy
recognized. What’s more, his recent steps demonstrate that in order to
attain his goals he is ready to revise Armenia’s foreign policy doctrine, and
instead of preserving the policy of maintaining a balance between Russia and
the West, gradually to lean toward the latter.
How can we explain Serge Sargsyan’s sharp turn toward the West? After
all, he was known up to recently as the most pro-Russian statesman in

© The Author(s) 2018 79


L. Ter-Petrossian, Armenia’s Future, Relations with Turkey, and the
Karabagh Conflict, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-58916-9_6
80 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

Armenia. Let us not forget that he is the main architect of the “Property for
debt” deal, which ensured the transfer of Armenia’s entire energy system to
Russia. Let us also not forget his significant activities in the context of the
“Organization of the Collective Security Treaty,”2 as well the stubborn
rumors about his connections to both the Russian intelligence service and
the world of organized crime in that country.
So what has forced Serge Sargsyan to reject this Russian orientation and
tilt toward the West? The reasons, obviously, have nothing to do with
Armenia’s strategic or state interests, but rather the simple benefit of solving
his legitimacy problem.
Russia never questioned Serge Sargsyan’s legitimacy. President Vladimir
Putin was among the first to congratulate him even before the official results
of the elections had been announced. Sargsyan, on his part, violated certain
diplomatic norms and expressed his gratitude to Russia in such an exagger-
ated form that it created a difficult situation for that country’s diplomatic
service.
Serge Sargsyan does have a legitimacy problem in the West. The US
president George W. Bush has still not congratulated him. The Parliamen-
tary Assembly of the European Council, meanwhile, continues to threaten
sanctions against Armenia, which would seriously undermine Serge
Sargsyan’s legitimacy.
What this means is that Sargsyan has no expectations from Russia on this
issue, and his only hope is to get the West’s endorsement, for which he is
ready to make any concession. And since given the absence of mineral
resources, transit routes, and an attractive market, Armenia does not have
much to offer the West except for its state interests, he has decided to
sacrifice those interests. This claim is supported not only by the conciliatory
position he has assumed on the Nagorno Karabagh conflict and on the issue
of normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations, but also—and this is even more
important—by his intention to make Armenia’s foreign policy
“orientationalist.”
Throughout the entire period of independence, Armenia has adhered to
the principle of maintaining a balance between the West and Russia. Despite
having adopted the Western values of democracy, liberalism, and a market
economy, Armenia never allowed itself to come under the West’s unilateral
influence. At the same time, having a close economic and military relation-
ship with Russia, Armenia nonetheless did not become the latter’s political
satellite. In other words, Armenia has tried to be neither pro-Russian, nor
1 WHY THE WEST HAS TURNED A BLIND EYE ON SERGE SARGSYAN’S. . . 81

pro-Western, but rather pursue a policy based solely on its own best
interests.
During my presidency this position was called the policy of “balancing.”
Under Kocharyan it was called the policy of “complementarity.” But the
difference here is mainly in terminology.
Serge Sargsyan is thus sharply changing this established order of things,
and, to protect his personal interests, he is trying to seduce the West. I
consider it a waste of time to assess the advantages or disadvantages of
Western or Russian orientations, because I consider any orientation dan-
gerous. What has convinced me of this is, first and foremost, the example of
conventional Armenian political thinking, which has had catastrophic con-
sequences for Armenia in the past. In the final analysis, both the genocide
that our people were subjected to and the territorial losses the first Arme-
nian republic incurred were the consequences of a flawed “orientationalist”
approach. What also convinces me in this is today’s reality. Before our own
eyes, we saw that Georgia’s adoption of a Western orientation led that
country into a national disaster, which it could have avoided had it pursued
a more balanced relationship with Russia. Apart from the empty demon-
strations of solidarity and the bluster of anti-Russian rhetoric, the West was
unable to do anything to help its junior ally.
The politics of orientation is not just an abstraction or a theoretical
construct for us. It has very specific and practical implications. By turning
his back to Russia and embracing the West, as represented by the United
States and its ally Turkey, Serge Sargsyan is entrusting to them the unilateral
solution to the most crucial problem of Armenia’s foreign policy, the
Karabagh conflict. We can conclude this based on the West’s obvious effort
to exclude Russia from the Karabagh conflict resolution process. It is most
clearly manifested in the transparent statements of Western diplomats, as
well as the fact of trilateral negotiations on Karabagh between Armenia,
Azerbaijan, and Turkey, especially in the context of conversations regarding
the inclusion of Turkey’s representative as a cochairman in the Minsk
Group. By the way, Serge Sargsyan is so dependent on the West now that
he would hardly be able to resist the demand to replace Russia with Turkey
in the Minsk Group cochairmanship if such a demand were pressed
upon him.
As a result, there is a threat to the very existence of the Minsk Group,
which for the last sixteen years has been the only international mechanism
for resolving the Karabagh conflict. Despite its many flaws, the Minsk
Group has been the most practical, even ideal format for us, because both
82 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

the US and Russia were represented and also partly due to the competition
that existed between them. It is no coincidence that Azerbaijan has spared
no effort in trying to discredit the Minsk Group as a forum for settling the
Karabagh conflict and to replace it with other international mechanisms.
Unfortunately, there is a real danger that the integrity of this format will
be violated and that Russia will be excluded from it, because Russia, being
preoccupied with the aftermath of the conflict with Georgia, will hardly be
able to oppose the West’s increased involvement in Karabagh. It goes
without saying that in case of a resolution to the Karabagh conflict that
has been unilaterally sponsored by the West, Russia will be excluded also
from the international peacekeeping force that will be deployed in
Karabagh. And that means, if not complete eradication of Russia’s influence
in the South Caucasus, then its substantial weakening, which entails serious
and unpredictable geopolitical consequences, such as suspension of both
Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s participation in the CIS, removal of the Russian
base and the Russian frontier troops from Armenia, and so on.
The change in the Minsk Group format thus implies a unilateral Western
solution to the Karabagh problem, with active Turkish participation to
boot; this can never be beneficial for Armenia. By the way, realism on this
issue requires us to say, also, that a unilateral Russian solution would not be
in Armenia’s interests either, since Russia has stated on numerous occasions
that it sees such a solution only within the confines of Azerbaijan’s territorial
integrity. This, however, is an abstract observation, since there is no threat
of a unilateral Russian solution to the problem, mainly because Azerbaijan
would never agree to that.
Whereas, by contrast, an exclusively Western—more specifically Ameri-
can and Turkish—solution is an entirely real prospect, as I have tried to
demonstrate.
Does Serge Sargsyan realize the dangers of jumping into the West’s
embrace and granting it a monopoly on resolving the Karabagh conflict
and that such a step could lead to a national catastrophe? There is no doubt
that he does not. He is trying to play the same game with the West that
Robert Kocharyan played for the last ten years. The essence of that game,
which I explained in detail in my speech on October 26, 2007, was to
pretend that Armenia was genuinely interested in resolving the Karabagh
conflict, but in reality to try to sabotage that process and maintain the
status quo.
And even though the OSCE mediators have, for their part, pretended to
believe the sincerity of the Armenian side, this does not mean that they have
1 WHY THE WEST HAS TURNED A BLIND EYE ON SERGE SARGSYAN’S. . . 83

failed to understand the latter’s not-very- sophisticated game. Their lack of


much effort in getting the conflict resolved is due to the fact that on the list
of great powers’ priorities Karabagh has until now had only tertiary impor-
tance. International terrorism, North Korea, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq,
Iran, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and a multitude of other questions have
always obscured the Karabagh problem.
If Serge Sargsyan thinks he can continue to play this game, he is fatally
mistaken, because he is not taking into account three substantial changes in
the geopolitics of the South Caucasus:

• However paradoxical it may seem, after recognizing Abkhazia’s and


South Ossetia’s independence, Russia’s influence in this region is
showing tendencies of diminishing rather than increasing in strength.
• Russia is being forced out of the Minsk Group format; therefore, it is
losing its role in the process of resolving the Karabagh conflict.
• In contrast to the last ten years, the Karabagh problem has become a
priority for the West today.

The logic driving the West’s policy toward Russia relies on the following
reasoning: “Very well, you solved the problems in Abkhazia and South
Ossetia; now we are going to solve the problem in Nagorno-Karabagh.”
What is frustrating about this situation is that just as the West could do
nothing to prevent Russia from solving the problems in Abkhazia and South
Ossetia, Russia in all likelihood will be unable to prevent the West from
solving the Karabagh problem. The deepening of the international financial
crisis and the threat of that crisis becoming uncontrollable may be the only
thing that could get in the way of the West’s plan for resolving the Karabagh
conflict.
Confronting Russia, however, is only one of the many motives condi-
tioning the West’s behavior, and certainly not the main one. The main
factor is Serge Sargsyan’s weakness and the unprecedented opportunity to
exploit it. The presence of such levers as the absence of legitimacy, the
degree to which he is corrupt, and the vulnerabilities that exist in his moral
character, are like a treasure the West has discovered. Which other leader of
Armenia would agree to jump into the West’s embrace so unreservedly, to
deepen the cooperation with NATO, to turn its back on Russia, to contrib-
ute to Russia’s exclusion from the Minsk group, to endorse the creation of
the forgotten proposal of a commission of Armenian and Turkish historians,
which would raise doubts about the factual truth of the genocide and
84 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

torpedo the process of its international recognition, to agree to hold trilat-


eral Armenian-Turkish-Azerbaijani negotiations, and finally, literally, to put
Nagorno Karabagh up for sale?
In exchange for all of this, the West is naturally ready to turn a blind eye
to all of Serge Sargsyan’s aforementioned flaws, to forget the scandalous
elections of February 19 and the atrocity of March 1, to pretend not to see
his dictatorial domestic policy, to tolerate the curbs put on constitutional
liberties and the wide-spread human rights violations, and to take a resigned
attitude toward the fact of the existence of political prisoners in Armenia.
Serge Sargsyan has, in essence, received a green light from the West to do as
he pleases in domestic affairs, which is evidenced by the recent escalation of
police violence against the people. This behavior of the West, aside from
being immoral and demonstrating that the West is ready to compromise on
its values for a very low price, contains an element of a conspiracy that is
being hatched against Karabagh.
Serge Sargsyan either does not feel this danger, or he cannot imagine
another method of retaining his power. He has gotten himself into the
cauldron of a geopolitical game, the consequences of which are going to be
if not catastrophic, then at least unfavorable for Armenia and Karabagh.
After the presidential elections in Azerbaijan on October 15 the West and
Turkey are going to increase the pressure on Armenia and to speed up the
process of resolving the Karabagh conflict, simultaneously, as I already
mentioned, trying to exclude Russia from it.
Russia will certainly try to counteract against such developments, which
are undesirable for it, but how effective, and how beneficial for Armenia
Russia’s steps will be, is not clear. We should not ignore the Iranian factor
either. Although it is the only country, which has to date pursued a balanced
policy in the South Caucasus, having tried to maintain normal relations with
Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, the increased Western and Turkish
activism cannot cause a certain level of anxiety there. And it has already
done so, which is evidenced by the hastily organized visit of Armenia’s
Minister of Foreign Affairs to Iran.
Only God knows how Serge Sargsyan is going to figure a way out of this
complicated geopolitical situation. If he thinks that by ingratiating himself
to the West he can win time and even evade a resolution to the Karabagh
conflict, and later somehow mend the fences with Russia, then he really
does not understand anything in politics. And if Sargsyan is pinning hopes
on the idea that being preoccupied with presidential elections and with the
problem of dealing with the financial crisis America is not going to engage in
1 WHY THE WEST HAS TURNED A BLIND EYE ON SERGE SARGSYAN’S. . . 85

a serious effort to resolve the conflict, he is going to be disappointed,


because resolving the conflict in the newly created circumstances is not
going to demand too much of the US. One also cannot fail to take into
account the possibility that the outgoing American administration would
like to crown its departure with such a success as the resolution of the
Karabagh conflict and the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations.
Thus, it is perfectly obvious that we are standing on the brink of a
resolution to the Karabagh conflict. It is also beyond doubt that the Madrid
proposal, which the Minsk Group gave to the parties in December 2007,
and which is based on the idea of reconciling two principles of international
law—the right to national self-determination and the principle of the invi-
olability of territorial integrity—will be the basis of the new proposal. As for
the essence of the resolution or the specific plan, it will consist of approx-
imately the following points:

1. Withdrawal of Armenian forces from the Azerbaijani regions sur-


rounding Nagorno Karabagh;
2. Resettlement of these regions with Azerbaijani refugees;
3. Return of Azerbaijani refugees to the territory of Nagorno Karabagh
itself;
4. Provision of an overland link connecting Nagorno Karabagh to
Armenia through the Lachin corridor;
5. Deployment of peace-keeping forces across the borders of Nagorno
Karabagh;
6. Demilitarization of the territories that have been returned to
Azerbaijan;
7. Lifting of the blockade of Armenia’s and Karabagh’s external com-
munications, and reopening of the Armenian-Turkish border;
8. Definition of an interim status for Nagorno Karabagh Republic;
9. Holding of a referendum on the final status of Nagorno Karabagh in
some undefined, future date;
10. Provision of international financial aid for the restoration of the
conflict zone.

Considering also that an effort is apparently underway to resolve the


Karabagh conflict and normalize Armenian-Turkish relations in a package,
we should not rule out the possibility that the package will include the
question of the creation of a commission of historians to study the genocide.
86 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

Since Serge Sargsyan has taken the bait on this issue, they are not going to
let him off the hook.
Of course, we can discuss which of the points listed above are beneficial
for Azerbaijan and Turkey and which ones for Armenia, but this is a useless
endeavor, because the provisions can only be appreciated in their entirety
and interconnectedness. It is more essential to figure out which points are
especially likely to complicate the negotiations. Points 3, 4, and 9, which
respectively deal with the return of Azerbaijani refugees to Karabagh proper,
the definition of the legal status of the Lachin corridor, and the holding of a
referendum in Nagorno Karabagh are going to be the hardest to resolve.
But taking into consideration the latest geopolitical developments, I do not
think these difficulties will be insurmountable for the mediators.
What we need to understand is that if up to recently the co-chairmen of
the Minsk Group have followed the principle of achieving an agreement
among the parties, now the West has the opportunity to impose its preferred
solution, i.e. to implement the Dayton option. It is sad that the same
Dayton logic implies that Nagorno Karabagh will not participate in the
resolution process, and its interests in the upcoming fateful negotiations will
be represented by Armenia, as the interests of the Bosnian Serbs were
represented by Yugoslavia. Soon we are probably going to become the
witnesses of Armenia and Azerbaijan participating in a Dayton-type confer-
ence initiated by the United States and Turkey, where Russia and France, as
co-chairing countries of the Minsk Group, will participate, but as observers
at best. In this regard, I do not think the Parliamentary Assembly of the
European Council’s timing for adopting a final resolution on Armenia—
January, 2009—was chosen by coincidence. That is how much time has
been given to Serge Sargsyan to fulfill the promises he has made regarding
the resolution of the Karabagh conflict; otherwise the threatened sanctions
will finally be imposed.
Of course, Serge Sargsyan alone should not be saddled with the respon-
sibility for the current situation. In the final analysis, this is the consequence
of the Kocharyan administration’s deplorable policy on the resolution of the
Karabagh conflict and the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations.
Responsibility should be shared also by the all coalition governments that
came, one after the other, the criminalized National Assembly, the official
press, the intelligentsia that fed at the government’s trough, and the polit-
ical parties that are in the regime’s pocket. Today we are eating the bitter
fruits of that policy and of the criminal behavior of the kleptocratic system
created under Kocharyan.
2 INTERVIEW TO “NEWSWEEK TÜRKIYE” CORRESPONDENT SEMIN GÜMÜŞEL 87

2 INTERVIEW TO “NEWSWEEK TÜRKIYE” CORRESPONDENT


SEMIN GÜMÜŞEL

(December 1, 2008)3

S.G. Mr. President, can you comment on the current status of


diplomatic engagement between Armenia and Turkey?
L.T.P. The current intensity of diplomatic activity between Armenia
and Turkey is reminiscent of the situation in 1991–1993. As in
that earlier period, now the parties are sending positive signals
toward each other, expressing readiness to make the efforts
necessary for normalizing relations between the two countries.
The first attempt to establish good-neighborly relations failed
for certain reasons. Let us hope that the second attempt will be
more successful.
S.G. This new diplomatic initiative has also been accelerated by Turkish
President G€ ul’s historic visit to Armenia, and secret talks are
continuing between diplomats and officials of the two countries.
In light of this new situation, how do you see the timing of this
initial rapprochement between the two countries?
L.T.P. While I appreciate the importance of Mr. Gül’s visit, I think it
is premature to call it historic. In order for it to become
historic, the visit must produce tangible results. As far as
contacts between officials and diplomats of the two
countries are concerned, I would refrain from calling them
secret. Given the absence of diplomatic relations, such
channels of communication have always existed to enable
the two sides to deal with logistical issues. The timing of the
current Armenian-Turkish rapprochement is connected to
the new situation in the South Caucasus created by the
Georgian-Russian conflict and the prospect of settling the
conflict in Nagorno Karabagh in the near future.
S.G. In the wake of the August conflict in Georgia, the need for regional
stability became even more of a priority, prompting Turkey to
launch the Caucasian Stability and Cooperation Platform.
What is your assessment of this initiative? Will this platform
have a positive effect on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabagh
conflict?
88 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

L.T.P. I agree that maintaining stability in the region has become a


priority following the events of August. But the idea is not a new
one, especially if we take into account the fact that the Black Sea
Economic Cooperation Organization was also created with such
a mission. The idea of the Caucasian Stability and Cooperation
Platform is undoubtedly a good one. Whether it will succeed or
not, however, will depend on how impartial and constructive
Turkey’s position proves to be in the process of resolving the
Karabagh conflict. In addition, it is difficult to imagine this idea
succeeding without the participation of one of the important
regional actors affected by it, which is Iran.
S.G. Concerning the Nagorno Karabagh peace process, do you feel that
there are new signs of a breakthrough between Armenia and
Azerbaijan? Are there grounds for optimism over the current
round of talks, such as the recent signing of an agreement in
Moscow between the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders? And
does Turkey have a role in conflict mediation?
L.T.P. I do not believe that the leaderships of Armenia and Azerbaijan
will ever be able to come to an agreement on how to resolve the
Karabagh conflict, given the irrationality of the positions they
have adopted. Everything depends on the effectiveness of the
efforts of the mediators, the United States and Russia first and
foremost. The problem of Karabagh has not been a priority
either for the West or for Russia until recently, which is why
they have not made the necessary effort to find a solution to it. I
think the recent developments in the South Caucasus should
force them to revise their positions. The Moscow Declaration is
one of the manifestations of that realization, and I am sure
Western initiatives are going to follow. As for the positive role
of Turkey in the process of the settlement of the Karabagh issue,
I see it as Turkey’s ability to exercise influence over Azerbaijan
and to nudge it toward compromises.
S.G. Based on your experience, Mr. President, what is your
recommendation for the Nagorno Karabagh peace process?
L.T.P. As I see it, the problem must be resolved in phases, based on
balanced compromises, and taking into account the right of the
Republic of Nagorno Karabagh to self-determination. I think
the Madrid proposal, which was put forward by the cochairmen
2 INTERVIEW TO “NEWSWEEK TÜRKIYE” CORRESPONDENT SEMIN GÜMÜŞEL 89

of the Minsk Group, is a good basis for achieving such a


solution. Even though that proposal does not fully satisfy
either party, the differences between the Armenian side and
Azerbaijan seem to me to be surmountable, given an effective
mediation effort and the provision of international guarantees.
S.G. Sir, you are criticizing the Armenian President Sargsyan for
leaning toward the West, instead of preserving the policy of
maintaining a balance between Russia and the West. What
could be the consequences of this foreign policy change in
Armenia, especially since Russia has demonstrated its military
might in the region?
L.T.P. I consider the violation of the balance between the West and
Russia in Armenia’s foreign policy dangerous both for regional
security and for the process of resolving the Karabagh conflict.
Especially since the behavior in question is dictated not by
strategic considerations, but by the peculiarities of Armenia’s
internal politics. Serge Sargsyan is trying to compensate for his
lack of internal legitimacy by gaining legitimacy externally.
Whereas Russia has not questioned his legitimacy, Serge
Sargsyan does have a problem with regard to his legitimacy in
the West. The US president George W. Bush has to this day not
congratulated him. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe, meanwhile, continues to threaten sanctions on
Armenia, which, if carried out, may undermine his legitimacy.
In other words, Sargsyan has no expectations from Russia in this
regard, and his only hope is to gain the West’s acceptance, for
which he is ready to make any concession. And since Armenia
does not have much to offer the West other than its national
interests, given the nonexistence of mineral wealth, transit
routes, or an attractive consumer market, Sargsyan has taken
the route of sacrificing those interests.
S.G. Turning to the events of last March and the internal political crisis
in your country, can you comment on the events leading to the
violent crackdown on the opposition? And as you yourself were
placed under house arrest, do you feel that the current
Armenian government still fears you as a political leader or as a
threatening figure in Armenian politics? Moreover, how do you see
the prospects for democracy in Armenia, is it possible to move
90 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

forward toward democratic reforms while the political stalemate


remains unresolved and even political prisoners are still jailed?
L.T.P. For the majority of the Armenian public it is not a matter of
debate that Sargsyan has come to power through falsifying
elections and organizing a massacre of peaceful protesters. That
is why we consider preterm presidential and parliamentary
elections the only means of restoring democracy in the country,
which is our internal problem, and which we will solve ourselves.
Having said that, it is difficult for us not to express our
disappointment regarding the tolerance the West has shown
toward the trampling of democracy and the violation of human
rights, which can be characterized in no way other than behavior
based on ulterior motives. We are under the impression that
democracy and human rights have ceased to be nonnegotiable
values for the West.
S.G. Mr. President, your vision and polices during your administration
were hailed as groundbreaking and innovative regarding the
need to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia. But
with Sargsyan now pursuing your polices, do you have a sense of
regret that it took so long for Armenia to appreciate and recognize
your efforts?
L.T.P. I am not much interested in the assessment of my own policies
regarding the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, nor
do I bemoan the fact that my efforts are gaining acceptance after
so much delay. I only feel sorry that so much time and so many
opportunities were wasted. If the Armenian authorities are
sincerely trying to recover those losses, I can only express my
satisfaction and approval.
S.G. In your decades-long political career, can you cite any specific
mistakes or miscalculations in your past approach toward ending
the impasse in Turkish-Armenian relations? For example, your
former close adviser Jirair Libaridian mentions in his book the
shared history that has influenced the development of statehood in
both Armenia and Turkey. Can you comment on both this shared
history and common future?
L.T.P. You should probably ask the Turkish side’s opinion about my
mistakes and miscalculations with respect to that issue. I can
speak about the errors of the Turkish side, the most important of
3 RESOLUTION OF THE KARABAGH CONFLICT AND NORMALIZATION OF. . . 91

which was making Armenian-Turkish relations a function of


Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. This was partially the result of
the fact that Turkey always had coalitional governments in the
1990s, which made solidarity with Azerbaijan a matter of
internal politics in Turkey. The current government in Turkey
has a majority in the parliament, and therefore does not have the
same concern, which inspires hope that it will be more
constructive.

3 RESOLUTION OF THE KARABAGH CONFLICT


AND NORMALIZATION OF ARMENIAN-TURKISH RELATIONS WILL
HAPPEN SIMULTANEOUSLY

Excerpt from a speech at the first conference of the Armenian National


Congress (December 21, 2008)4

As for the evolving principle of resolving the Karabagh conflict and normal-
izing Armenian-Turkish relations within one package, I should say that in
terms of practical policy and methodology, it is perhaps a realistic approach.
After all, it is pretty obvious that as long as the Karabagh conflict has not
been resolved, Armenian-Turkish relations will not be normalized and the
Armenian-Turkish border will not be opened. But the realization of that
methodological principle will depend on the constructiveness of the Turkish
stance in the negotiations to solve the Karabagh conflict, expressed primar-
ily in the form of influencing Azerbaijan and nudging it toward a compro-
mise. The Turkish side apparently also wants to include the establishment of
a joint commission of historians on the issue of the genocide as part of the
overall framework of normalization. This forgotten idea, which became part
of the political agenda as a result of Serge Sargsyan’s ill-considered state-
ment, can create serious and unnecessary obstacles both for the settlement
of the Karabagh conflict and the normalization of Armenian-Turkish rela-
tions, since it is beyond doubt that Turkey, on the one hand, will not
abandon its fixation to establish such a commission, and, on the other
hand, Serge Sargsyan, no matter how badly he wants it, will not be able to
respond positively to that intention because of the pressure of public
opinion.
92 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

4 THE ERRORS OF THE ARMENIAN SIDE IN THE “SOCCER


DIPLOMACY”5

Excerpt from a speech at the May 1, 2009, rally6

The unprecedented shifts in Armenian-Turkish relations that we see today


deserve a special assessment since they concern one of the most vital issues in
the development of Armenian statehood. I should stress immediately that
with the exception of one of its member-organizations, the Armenian
National Congress is in favor of a speedy normalization of Armenian-
Turkish relations, and is ready to support all positive steps by the Armenian
authorities with regard to this issue. Our only objection is to the creation of
a special commission of Armenian and Turkish historians to study the
genocide—a project that we believe is tantamount to denial of the Arme-
nian genocide.
Now let us see how the aforementioned shifts are taking shape. It is clear
that as a result of communications between Armenian and Turkish diplo-
mats, a working document has been created, which contains the following
items:

– The establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and


Turkey;
– Mutual recognition of borders;
– The opening of the Armenian-Turkish border;
– The creation of a commission consisting of Armenian and Turkish
historians.

Subsequently this document was branded a “roadmap,” and some of its


details were made public. Whatever its name, it seems that we are dealing
with a serious intention to normalize relations between the two states,
especially when we take into account the impression that Turkey seems to
have relinquished its unconstructive policy of making the resolution of the
Karabagh conflict a precondition for the normalization of Armenian-Turk-
ish relations. But there are two factors that are casting a dark shadow over
our impressions. The idea of a commission of Armenian and Turkish
historians was obviously going to create certain difficulties for the Armenian
side; so in the end it has succeeded in renaming the commission as “inter-
governmental.” But that is just a way of pulling a veil over the issue, using a
4 THE ERRORS OF THE ARMENIAN SIDE IN THE “SOCCER DIPLOMACY” 93

euphemism meant to placate Armenians, because the intergovernmental


commission is also going to have a team of historians, which leaves the
essence of the problem unchanged. The Turkish side also cannot ignore the
pressure from the Azerbaijani public, as well as its own opposition, and
therefore it is going to be forced to return to its prior position. In other
words, despite the optimistic predictions, relations between Armenia and
Turkey are not going to be normalized and the Armenian-Turkish border is
not going to be opened as long as tangible progress has not been made on
resolving the Karabagh conflict.
We have to wonder then what the purpose of all this noise was. Unfor-
tunately, the answer to that question is going to be a bitter pill for the
Armenian people to swallow. The whole problem is that aside from the
general intention to normalize relations, Turkey had another primary and
specific aim, which was to prevent the recognition of the Armenian geno-
cide by US President Barack Obama and the US Congress. Turkey has
reached its goal, Armenia has been left empty-handed, and the diaspora has
been disillusioned. The first half of the football diplomacy match has ended
with a score of 1:0 in Turkey’s favor.
Turkish leaders presented Barack Obama with the aforementioned doc-
ument, worked out by Armenian and Turkish diplomats, and as could be
expected, easily convinced him that a serious process has been launched to
normalize Armenian-Turkish relations. With admirable candor, Obama
declared that he has not changed his view on the Armenian genocide, but
as befits a statesman, explained that he is not going to impede that process,
implying that the recognition of the Armenian genocide is being pulled
from the US agenda for now.
Is it appropriate to accuse Turkey and the US of hypocrisy? Not at all.
Turkey achieved its main goal at this stage, displaying enviable diplomatic
dexterity. And the president of the US acted as any responsible leader would
have acted in the circumstances. If there is any need to look for targets for
our accusations, the Armenian authorities of the last eleven years,
represented by Robert Kocharyan, Vardan Oskanian, Serge Sargsyan, and
Eduard Nalbandyan, should be those targets, since they are the ones who
have desecrated the memory of the genocide by turning it into an object of
political bidding and bargaining. And they did so not in the name of some
lofty national goal or in order to strengthen our nation, but exclusively for
the pitiful purpose of gaining the diaspora’s favor and scoring certain points
in our internal political landscape.
94 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

In this regard it is quite interesting to trace the evolution of their utterly


bankrupt and harmful policy:

– The first thing the Kocharyan administration did was to declare as


treasonous the previous administration’s policy of establishing normal
relations with Turkey without any preconditions.
– International recognition of the genocide was declared to be the
cornerstone of Armenia’s foreign policy, and was also arrogantly
presented to Turkey as a rational basis for normalizing relations.
– When after resisting for a long time they realized that the road they’d
chosen led to deadlock, they circled back to that same policy they had
declared treasonous, of establishing normal relations with Turkey
without preconditions, thus inadvertently exposing Armenia’s weak-
ness and giving Turkey an opportunity to harden its position.
– Both as a result of this objective reason, and in order to solve the
problem of his legitimacy, Serge Sargsyan went to an even more
dangerous extreme of agreeing to an almost forgotten proposal
made by Recep Tayyip Erdogan years ago about establishing a com-
mission of Armenian and Turkish historians to study the genocide.

It is this string of political meanderings, myopic steps, and irresponsible


actions that produced the results of Obama’s visit to Turkey. Of course, one
cannot insist that were it not for the aforementioned normalization process
underway, Obama would have uttered the word “genocide” in his April
24th address, or that the US Congress would have passed a resolution
recognizing the genocide. There have been situations like this in the past,
and things never did reach that point. But the situation is substantially
different this time, because unlike in the past, this time the formal excuse
is Serge Sargsyan’s ill-fated initiative to have a rapprochement with Turkey
at any cost, including the cost of renunciation of the genocide. Thus
without a shred of exaggeration we have to conclude: In order to keep his
hold on power, Serge Sargsyan has literally sold out the genocide. Without a
doubt his next step is going to be to sell out Karabagh, after which,
naturally, he will become the first Armenian to win the Nobel Prize.
I am being kind. I am sure Sargsyan’s behavior is going to attract much
more ruthless assessments from the radical circles in Armenia, and especially
in the diaspora.7 Justice demands, however, that we apportion at least part
of the blame to diaspora leaders, who not only never warned the Armenian
authorities about the risks and harms of putting the issue of the international
5 WHEN A GOVERNMENT HAS TO SEEK LEGITIMACY ABROAD 95

recognition of genocide on the state’s official agenda, but encouraged the


latter’s efforts and praised their “heroics” in the end getting what they got.
The enormous effort and financial resources invested by the diaspora for the
cause of Armenian genocide recognition thus were squandered in one day.
It is difficult to imagine how this situation can be remedied and the loss
recovered.
Even with all this, even with the sad result with which the current
normalization process has ended, it is not entirely devoid of positive ele-
ments. Turkey’s natural interest in normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations
on the one hand, and the linking of that normalization to expected shifts in
Armenian-Azerbaijani relations on the other, creates a certain impetus for
pushing the Karabagh conflict resolution process forward. The fact that the
circumstances have forced President Obama to assume moral responsibility
is also a positive development, obligating the country he governs to become
more actively and impartially involved both in the process of normalizing
Armenian-Turkish relations and in the process of finding a resolution to the
Karabagh conflict. Barack Obama is an idealist in the best sense of the word.
It is well known that although the world is usually governed by pragmatic
and cynical people, civilization moves forward thanks to the occasionally
appearing idealists. And by idealist I do not mean ideologues, but rather
those rare statesmen who have solid principles of morality, honor, and
justice.

5 WHEN A GOVERNMENT HAS TO SEEK LEGITIMACY ABROAD

Excerpt from a speech at the May 15, 2009, rally8

5.1 Armenia at the Intersection Crossroads of Geopolitical Conflicts


Dear compatriots,
It would seem that local elections, or in this case elections to the City
Council of Yerevan, should not be a reason to focus too much on foreign
policy issues, but Armenia’s unique situation, which is characterized by
unprecedented interconnectedness and interdependence of domestic poli-
tics and foreign policy, compels us to dwell on these issues over and over
again. And at the moment, disconcerting international developments
around Armenia create an added urgency.
96 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

5.2 The Progression of Events


Even before passions had calmed down following Serge Sargsyan’s failed
attempts at Turkish-Armenian reconciliation and his renouncing of the
genocide, during the weeks after the last rally, we have borne witnesses to
three unexpected and notable events that are impossible to ignore.

1. Armenia, whether on its own initiative or under pressure from mem-


ber states of the Organization of the Treaty of Collective Security
(OTCS), unexpectedly decided at the last minute to refuse to partic-
ipate in the NATO exercises being held in Georgia.
2. In Nagorno Karabagh, a seemingly serious movement was
launched—at the highest level and undoubtedly with the Armenian
authorities’ approval—to recognize NKR as a full party to the con-
flict, that is, to restore its status determined at the Budapest OSCE
summit.
3. On May 7, at the meeting with Azerbaijan’s president in Prague, held
in a very tense atmosphere, Serge Sargsyan hardened his position on
the resolution of the Karabagh conflict, which, the obligatory opti-
mistic statements of the Minsk group cochairmen notwithstanding,
has been exposed by the Azerbaijani and Turkish media and even
more clearly by the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (see
Armenian Times, 05.09.2009).

5.3 What Does This Mean?


How can one explain Armenia’s, or more accurately Serge Sargsyan’s, hasty
steps, which do not seem like actions based on careful calculation, but rather
like convulsions and political demarches? Apparently, the reason is Serge
Sargsyan’s feeling that he was taken advantage of by America and Turkey,
since even in exchange for renouncing the genocide, the Armenian-Turkish
border was not opened, while Turkey, after having solved its immediate
problem of preventing the recognition of the Armenian genocide in the
United States, returned to its prior position of making the establishment of
relations with Armenia dependent on the resolution of the Karabagh con-
flict. Sargsyan feels cheated like a child. He was told to make concessions on
the issue of the genocide, that is, to acquiesce to the creation of a commis-
sion of Armenian and Turkish historians in exchange for the opening of the
border. Turks got the genocide, but did not open the border. Now they are
5 WHEN A GOVERNMENT HAS TO SEEK LEGITIMACY ABROAD 97

saying surrender Karabagh and we will open the border. No head of state
has ever found himself in such a pitiful situation.
Sargsyan’s frustration and anger are perfectly understandable human
emotions. After risking his reputation and even earning the label of a traitor
both in Armenia and especially in the diaspora, he did not improve his
legitimacy or solidify his shaking rule. He was even unable to satisfy his
expectation of solving the difficult economic problems facing the country
through the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border, which, if
implemented, could have at least partially justified his ill-fated policy toward
Turkey. Frustration and anger are, of course, human emotions, but they are
not psychological states fitting a head of state, because such emotions can
cause disastrous consequences for the country and its people, an example of
which we witnessed in August of last year in neighboring Georgia.9 The
head of state must always keep his composure, not give in to the pressures of
the moment, and have the ability to avoid hasty and miscalculated decisions.
Frustration, anger, and other similar emotional reactions not only do not
contribute to the correction of the committed errors, but also become the
reason for new ones.

5.4 The West’s Responses to Serge Sargsyan’s Demarche


One would have to be naive to think that the West would have left Serge
Sargsyan’s demarche unanswered. And the answer was not long in coming.

1. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe unexpectedly


decided to include on its June agenda the question of the fulfillment
of Armenia’s commitments in the area of democracy and human
rights.
2. It was revealed that the US government has reduced financial aid to
Armenia by 40 percent in the fiscal year 2010, decided to halt
humanitarian assistance to Nagorno Karabagh, and, by contrast, to
increase its military assistance to Azerbaijan (Armenian Times,
05.09.2009; Fourth Estate, 05.09.2009).
3. And finally, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threat-
ened to make an effort to have Armenia labeled as an aggressor
country at the UN, taking advantage of the fact that Turkey is
currently a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council
(Times 05.08.2009).
98 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

These steps do not necessarily mean that the West has decided to punish
Serge Sargsyan. He is an extremely valuable and appreciated partner for the
West. It is no coincidence that Sargsyan himself recently stated that
the more he is denounced in Armenia the more he is praised in Europe.
The aforementioned steps, therefore, are directed not against Serge
Sargsyan but against Armenia and its people. And as for Sargsyan’s frustra-
tion and hurt feelings, the West has just the thing to soothe them, which is
to ignore the fact of his illegitimacy and to tolerate the violence he is
committing in his own country.
In any case, even if the West’s and Turkey’s reactions are not a serious
problem for Serge Sargsyan personally, they are a serious problem for our
country. Thus, both the Armenian authorities and the Armenian public
should be concerned and should seek appropriate solutions.

5.5 What Is the Way Out?


Serge Sargsyan has two ways out of the deadlock our country has found
itself in:

1. To unite the nation, which requires the immediate release of all


political prisoners, the launch of a dialogue with the ANC, as well as
the other opposition factions, and, taking into account the current
domestic political agenda, to ensure the proper handling of the
Yerevan City Council elections.
2. To admit his ineptitude at the task of overcoming the problems facing
the country, to resign with dignity, and to leave politics, because as
the nightmare of the past year has demonstrated, politics is not a true
calling for him, but a profitable occupation or a means of satisfying his
lust for power.

The more he delays choosing between these two paths, the more he will
contribute to the intensification of external pressures on Armenia and to the
deterioration of the country’s already dreadful situation. Stubbornness and
procrastination will only force Serge Sargsyan to make new concessions
under external pressure, as he has done during the past year of his rule,
and these will come at the expense of our national interests.
Now, you tell me: is there a link between foreign policy and domestic
politics? Is it not obvious from what was said above that every single instance
of falsified elections, political persecution, limits imposed on democracy,
6 SARGSYAN PLAYED TURKEY’S GAME 99

trampling of human rights, and corruption in the end inevitably result in


defeats for the country on the diplomatic front? The foreign policy of the
Kocharian-Sargsyan regime is thus a chain of diplomatic defeats, and all of
those defeats are explained only and only by the dictatorial behavior that
regime has adopted in Armenia’s domestic affairs. Until recently, in
response to criticism addressed to Robert Kocharyan and Serge Sargsyan,
their supporters and defenders were saying that even though elections are
falsified, democracy is ravaged, human rights are trampled, laws are violated,
and corruption is blossoming in Armenia, at least in national issues (geno-
cide recognition, the Karabagh resolution, etc.), Kocharyan and Sargsyan
are uncompromising and would never betray the Armenian people’s inter-
ests. Life has shown that this myth has also exploded and the Kocharyan–
Sargsyan regime has been left without a raison d’etre. The aforementioned
supporters and those who have been dedicating odes to the regime, in order
to escape the awkward situation they have found themselves in, are now
trying to put an equal sign between my and Serge Sargsyan’s policies, or
even characterize them as identical, particularly on the issue of Armenian-
Turkish relations. I consider it a waste of time to respond to such absurd
claims. In a few days, a compilation of my speeches on Armenian-Turkish
relations will be published and you will have the opportunity to compare
and see to what degree my policies were identical to those of Serge Sargsyan.

6 SARGSYAN PLAYED TURKEY’S GAME

Excerpt from a speech at the September 18, 2009, rally10

Turning to the challenges of Armenia’s foreign relations, it would be natural


to focus on the issues of Armenian-Turkish relations and the Karabagh
conflict settlement. Everything is crystal clear as far as Armenian-Turkish
relations are concerned. Having obtained Serge Sargsyan’s consent to
establish an Armenian-Turkish commission of historians, Turkey cleverly
succeeded in averting the danger of genocide recognition by the United
States, and in delaying the opening of the border until the Karabagh
problem has been settled, or at least, until some tangible progress has
been registered in the conflict resolution process. It follows that until the
Karabagh problem has been settled Armenia has nothing to expect in its
relations with Turkey, and is doomed to play no other role than that of a
common bystander.
100 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

Today, the main question discussed in our country is whether, within the
framework of soccer diplomacy, Serge Sargsyan will or will not visit Turkey,
as if there is nothing more important to talk about or as if his decision to go
or not to go could change anything. Levon Zurabyan and Ashot Sargsyan,11
speaking on behalf of the Armenian National Congress, have already given
comprehensive answers to this question, which I feel it necessary to repeat,
with some amendments, to the wider circles of people gathered at today’s
public rally. The issue of Serge Sargsyan’s going or not going to Turkey has
now become meaningless, since he has already made each and every possible
mistake in the field of Armenian-Turkish relations, especially by calling into
question the very fact of the genocide and by making it a bargaining chip.
Thus, his going or not going will not make any difference as things are now
beyond repair.
As you know, recently Serge Sargsyan stated categorically that not until
the border has been opened will he pay a visit to Turkey. This apparent
ultimatum exposes two realities. First, Turkey promised Serge Sargsyan it
would open its border in exchange for the signing of the so called
“roadmap” on April 22, 2009. And, second, Sargsyan feels insulted and
cheated by the Turks for not keeping their promise. However, this state-
ment cannot be considered a true ultimatum, as in the same text, Sargsyan
reckoned it necessary to add that he would still go to Turkey provided there
were positive signs that the border were “about to be” opened. Having
made this amendment, he admits—by omission or by commission—that he
has already made the decision to go, because the notion of “about to be” is
so vague that it can have any number of interpretations.
But this is not the essential thing. The essential thing is why Serge
Sargsyan feels insulted by the Turks. Let’s ask him directly: is it because
you were duped? Then why would you let it happen? Is it not clear that, if
not in human relations but in politics, no matter how unfair it may be from a
moral standpoint, it is the cheated and not the cheaters who are to blame?
Therefore, if you were cheated, you should be angry first and foremost with
yourself. Or, if Turkey really broke its promises, have the courage to speak
about it openly and make necessary corrections in your policy. But these are
just rhetorical questions and appeals, because against all odds Serge
Sargsyan will have to go to Turkey, whether he wants to or not,12 as, first
of all, he will not be given any alternative and, second, he cannot abort this
soccer diplomacy, because he was the one who initiated it. However, if by
any chance he decides not to go, which is hardly possible, he would do even
greater damage to our country and find himself in an even more humiliating
7 THE RIGHT AND WRONG CRITICISMS OF SERGE SARGSYAN’S POLICY. . . 101

and ridiculous situation. As for the Armenian-Turkish protocols made


public on August 31, today I will not go any further than the official
evaluation of the Armenian National Congress that you are familiar with,
not ruling out the possibility of analyzing them in greater detail on some
other occasion.
At this point I consider it necessary only to emphasize the following.
Even in exchange for Serge Sargsyan sacrificing the genocide, Turkey is not
going to ratify those protocols and is not going to open the border unless
the Karabagh conflict is resolved.13 As for the complaints regarding the
statement of the Armenian National Congress, I am forced to remind
everybody that everything the other political factions are shouting about
today we have sounded the alarm about several times over two years, but no
one paid attention. We spoke up promptly and did not wait to be presented
with the fait accompli of the resolution like others did. Who needs this
belated hysteria when it is almost impossible to influence the process? I am
gravely concerned that, contrary to the warnings of the Armenian National
Congress, the same thing is going to happen with Karabagh: one day they
will wake up and see that everything is signed and done, and then they are
going to become hysterical.

7 THE RIGHT AND WRONG CRITICISMS OF SERGE SARGSYAN’S


POLICY TOWARD TURKEY

A speech at the meeting of the leadership of the Armenian National Congress


(November 11, 2009)14

In my September 18 speech, I promised to discuss the Armenian-Turkish


protocols in more detail on some future occasion. I think the current
situation, which has been clarified as a result of the protocols’ signing, is
the most convenient opportunity for fulfilling that promise. I will try to
refrain from making emotional assessments and simply analyze, from a
political programmatic, what has happened and the consequences. I only
have to warn you that despite the expectations of the media, my speech is
going to be not programmatic but explanatory, although I do not deny the
need for such a speech as well.
So, despite the impressive protest rallies in Armenia and in the diaspora,
Serge Sargsyan, as was expected, signed the controversial protocols after all,
being guided not by state or national interests but by the goal of acquiring
102 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

external legitimacy and maintaining his hold on power. The unnecessary


concession he made in allowing the creation of a commission of Armenian
and Turkish historians is sufficient evidence of this, because no other motive
could explain it. There is nothing surprising in this: there was a time when in
exchange for appropriate services, Armenian kings used to receive investi-
ture from Arabs, at other times from Mongols, and now, apparently,
Sargsyan is receiving an investiture from the West.
If we are fair-minded, however, we have to point out that Serge Sargsyan
did not implement the plan of signing the Armenian-Turkish protocols
alone. In that endeavor he received unconditional support from the Repub-
lican, Country of Laws and Prosperous Armenia parties, the Supreme
Spiritual Council of the Armenian church headed by Catholicos Garegin
II, the Public Council adjunct to the president of RA headed by Vazgen
Manoukyan, the Armenian Assembly of America headed by Hrayr
Hovnanyan, the Armenian General Benevolent Union under the honorary
presidency of Louise Manoogian Simone, the presidency of the Academy of
Sciences of the Republic of Armenia lead by Radik Martirosyan, Armenia’s
criminal-oligarchic economic elite represented by all the well-known indi-
viduals with nicknames, presidents of state universities such as Aram
Simonyan, Suren Zolyan and others, and finally the entire court intelligent-
sia with the silent agreement of Zori Balayan, Sos Sargsyan, Perch
Zeytuntsyan, Ruben Gevorgyants, and others. It is indicative, however,
that none of the representatives of the listed organizations and groups,
with possible exceptions of a few republicans, had the courage to personally
defend the policy adopted by Serge Sargsyan, making instead the cowardly
choice of hiding behind collective statements and expressions of support,
which did not require taking personal responsibility. In essence, everybody
abandoned their president and left him to fend for himself. No minister, no
academic, no university president, no oligarch, and no intellectual stood by
him personally.
As for the critics of the Armenian-Turkish protocols, with different
motives and manifestations their list included the Armenian masses of the
diaspora, the catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, the Armenian
National Congress, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), the
Social-Democrat Hnchak Party, the Heritage Party, the party New Times,
the Unification and Sardarabad civic movements, some parts of the
Ramkavar Azatakan party, almost a dozen small organizations that joined
the ARF’s public protests, as well as several politicians and political com-
mentators such as Vardan Oskanyan, Tigran Torosyan, Andranik Tevanyan,
7 THE RIGHT AND WRONG CRITICISMS OF SERGE SARGSYAN’S POLICY. . . 103

Aram Amatuni, Hakob Badalyan, and others. It is important to take into


account the fact, however, that despite the apparent commonality, the
opposition camp revealed a principal difference in approaches, one of
which was articulated by the Armenian National Congress, while the
other by all the remaining forces listed earlier. This circumstance has created
certain misunderstandings and errors in interpretation, which must be
clarified.
Before that, however, it must be mentioned that aside from these two
clearly divergent camps, there was also a massive army of indifferent indi-
viduals who did not react to the protocols in any way, as they are not
reacting to the dangerous developments in the Karabagh negotiations. As
sad and disconcerting as this phenomenon is, it is not surprising, because
one can hardly expect a surge of patriotism from a public that is being
oppressed, deprived of its rights, abused, and condemned to mere subsis-
tence by its authorities. I should add that this phenomenon, which has been
studied systematically, is common to all societies and not just characteristic
of ours. It has occurred many times in history and has been one of the
reasons for the downfall of many states and even empires. The public’s
indifference, of course, suits the authorities just fine; it should first and
foremost worry the opposition. But in the end, that indifference is going
to turn against the authorities. When at some decisive moment they need
the public’s support, they are not going to get it. As important as it is,
however, this is an entirely separate question, which is outside of the scope
of the issue at hand—the assessment of the positions of the opposition.
First and foremost it is easy to see that in contrast to Armenian National
Congress, which rose in opposition to the Armenian-Turkish protocols
from perspective of political realism, the other forces shifted the problem
to the realm of ideology, that is, the realm of the Armenian Cause, which
has no relationship to real politics and the true interests of our country. The
ANC expressed two clear objections, one of which had to do with the
creation of the historians’ commission that would cast doubt on the reality
of the genocide, while the other had to do with the condition that the
protocols would still need to be ratified, which would open an opportunity
for Turkey to condition the normalization of relations with Armenia on the
resolution of the Karabagh conflict. In contrast to the ANC, advocates for
the Armenian Cause added to the aforementioned objections their own
questions, on subjects such as the unacceptability of confirming the
Armenian-Turkish border, the need for Turkey to recognize the Armenian
104 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

genocide and the Armenian people’s historic rights, and the need for
compensation of the material losses incurred by Western Armenians.
By doing so, these factions created the impression that the ANC is being
passive and unprincipled in its criticism of the Armenian-Turkish protocols
and that it is only they who are seriously fighting against Serge Sargsyan’s
“anti-national” policy. In reality, though, they undermined the argument
about the unacceptability of the creation of a historians’ commission, which
is the most dangerous point of the protocols, and at the same time provided
a great service to Serge Sargsyan by putting forward such irrational demands
that they unwittingly boosted his international credit. Despite the personal
humiliation, he was subjected to in the rallies in Armenia and especially in
the diaspora, Sargsyan has immeasurably strengthened his international
position thanks to that nationalistic hysteria, presenting himself to the
world as a realistic and decisive statesman, worthy of the twenty-first century
and prepared to make courageous and nonpopulist choices in the name of
his principles. It is not a coincidence at all, therefore, that immediately after
the signing of the protocols he was recognized as “the European of the
week,” from whence to the Nobel Prize it is only one step, and everybody
knows what that step is.
The extreme nationalists, particularly the ARF, are putting themselves in
an uncomfortable position from another perspective as well, which is that on
the one hand they defend the principle of establishing relations without
preconditions and complain against the preconditions put forward by Tur-
key, and on the other hand they insist on preconditions of their own. In
order for this charge not to seem groundless, I think it is appropriate to
quote a lengthy passage from a document called “Roadmap for the Activ-
ities of ARF’s Organization in Armenia” (10.23.2009), where we literally
read the following: “Prerequisites for establishing normal relations between
Armenia and Turkey can be established only after Turkey recognizes the
Armenian genocide and shows readiness to pay reparations, and after halt-
ing the joint Turkish-Azerbaijani anti-Armenian policy. Launching a pro-
cess of normalizing bilateral relations without preconditions is an extremely
serious and momentous step and it should be the only concession by
Armenia at this historic juncture. . . . The foreign policy of Armenia should
aim to resist the anti-Armenian policies of the Turkish-Azerbaijani tag-team
and be guided by the following principles: to assess as illegitimate and
insulting to our national dignity the preconditions put forward by Turkey;
to thwart the attempts to link Turkish-Armenian relations to the process of
Karabagh negotiations, which otherwise would result in the splitting of the
7 THE RIGHT AND WRONG CRITICISMS OF SERGE SARGSYAN’S POLICY. . . 105

complete package of demands comprising of the Armenian Cause; not to


sign any agreement that could result in nullifying the international legal
force or compromising the significance of the decision of US president
Woodrow Wilson; to make the problems of the recognition of the Arme-
nian genocide and reparations for it integral elements of Armenia’s foreign
policy until the rights of the Armenian people, which are not subject to any
statute of limitations, are restored; to rule out any action that would harm
the process of the international recognition of the Armenian genocide, and
by doing so to neutralize Turkish efforts at denying it.”
Looking at this pile of words, which has nothing to do with politics and
which is full of internal contradictions, one can only despair. If this were not
regarding a problem as serious as Armenian-Turkish reconciliation, one
would think we were dealing not with the platform of a political party,
but with a political pamphlet. Be that as it may, despite its internal contra-
dictions and impenetrability, the meaning of what is said is absolutely clear:
according to the ARF, Armenia should build its relations with Turkey on
the basis of such an agreement, which would not rule out the possibility of
making demands in the future that Turkey recognize the genocide and
compensate Armenia materially and with territory. Since it is a given that
Turkey will never agree to such conditions, the goal of such a position is
clear: to do everything to thwart the normalization of Armenian-Turkish
relations no matter how many times the ARF repeats that “it is not and
never has been against the normalization of Armenia-Turkey relations”
(Proposed Changes by ARF, Yerevan 2009, page 2). As the ARF and others
who advocate for the pursuit of the Armenian Cause envision it, Armenian-
Turkish relations must be normalized not on the basis of mutual conces-
sions and the expression of goodwill but on the basis of Turkey’s uncondi-
tional capitulation; and since it looks like Turkey has no intention of
capitulating, they must have the courage to state openly that they are against
the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations no matter what. After all,
why do we need that normalization if, according to Vardan Oskanian’s15
brilliant judgement, Armenia can develop for the next 100 years without a
lifting of the blockade?
Aside from all of this, the position of those groups advocating for the
Armenian Cause lacks seriousness and is also vulnerable from an ethical
standpoint. It is completely incomprehensible, for example, that the ARF is
protesting against the current Armenian-Turkish border when it is that
party that drew those borders by signing the Treaty of Alexandrapol. Or,
how is it demanding that Turkey recognize the historic rights of the
106 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

Armenian people when by signing the aforementioned treaty it renounced


the Treaty of Sevres? The same is true in Vardan Oskanian’s case. Why has
he suddenly remembered Western Armenia and his native Marash, when
during the period of holding high office he did not in any way react to
Robert Kocharyan’s statement about not having any territorial demands
from Turkey? Why did he not say then that it was treason or that it trampled
on the historic rights of the Armenian people? And if all of this is so, who is
going to believe the ARF and Oskanyan that their current position is sincere
and that it is not aimed at scoring cheap political points? Perhaps it is also
worth mentioning that according to the majority of the public it is hard to
get the impression of sincerity when looking at the fake rallies organized by
the ARF and the efforts to shift the responsibility for signing the Armenian-
Turkish protocols from Serge Sargsyan to Eduard Nalbandyan.16
Finally, the criticism of Serge Sargsyan couched in terms of the Armenian
Cause is also groundless from the perspective of historical truth. It was not
Sargsyan who first recognized the existing Armenian-Turkish border; the
ARF and the Bolsheviks did that before him with the treaties of
Alexandropol and Kars. He was not the one who renounced territorial
claims against Turkey; Robert Kocharyan did that. He was not the one
who demanded that Turkey recognize the Armenian genocide, receiving in
response the proposal to create a commission of historians; Kocharyan and
Vardan Oskanian did that. He was not the one who excluded Karabagh
from the negotiating process; that was Kocharyan’s, Oskanian’s and Arkadi
Ghukasyan’s wrongdoing. And finally it is not Sargsyan who can call the
Madrid principles17 his “achievement”; he has inherited them from
Kocharyan and Oskanian. Sargsyan is responsible for all of this only to the
extent that he was a member of Kocharyan’s regime, and he is no more
responsible than those groups who were supporters of or active in that
regime—some of which are pretending to be in the opposition now in
order to evade their share of responsibility.
The impression that the ANC is passive or does not have a principled
position in criticizing the Armenian-Turkish protocols can be explained by
the fact that its position is viewed in a misleading comparison with the
seemingly more hardline and radical stance of the advocates of the Arme-
nian Cause. The comparison is misleading, first and foremost, because a
simple truth—that it is the effective and the rational, not the radical and the
hardline, that is of value in politics—is being ignored. Whatever they think
about the ANC, as a strictly rational political movement, it could not have
joined the choir of nationalistic hysteria that came after the signing of the
7 THE RIGHT AND WRONG CRITICISMS OF SERGE SARGSYAN’S POLICY. . . 107

protocols, and that only strengthened Serge Sargsyan’s position in the


international arena. For many members of the Congress and myself person-
ally, joining this choir was also impossible from an ideological standpoint,
especially because of our essential reservations about the ideology of the
Armenian Cause. The Armenian Cause, or the ideology based on territorial
demands, is a doctrine fitting only for a stateless nation. A nation that has a
state should be guided by entirely different priorities. It is high time we
understood that there is no notion of “historic rights” in politics or inter-
national law, and one cannot use such language with the rest of the world
without leaving appearing mentally incompetent. No matter how hard we
try, nobody understands or will ever understand this language. The term
“historic right” belongs to the realm of propaganda, and propaganda,
important as it is, cannot and should not be a substitute for policy.
It was mentioned earlier that the ANC has considered and continues to
view the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations not as a matter of
ideology, but as a political issue. Therefore, we had to evaluate the signed
protocols from a purely political angle, which we actually did. Based on that
approach, from the viewpoint of real politics, there is only one provision in
the protocols unacceptable for the Congress, the one that speaks about the
establishment of the joint commission of Armenian and Turkish historians.
Why would we deem this question to be so important? The answer is as
follows:

– Notwithstanding the official propaganda claims and assurances, its


main, if not only, topic of discussion will be the genocide issue, or
else Turkey would not have considered the establishment of this
commission to be its groundbreaking achievement.
– It will inevitably lead to calling into question the very fact of the
Armenian genocide and to putting an end to the process of its inter-
national recognition. We are far from believing, of course, that the
parliaments of the countries that recognized the Armenian genocide
in the past would declare their resolutions void, but at the same time,
there is no doubt that no other country would adopt such a resolution
in the future.
– This will also be a moral and psychological blow for the diaspora,
whose identity, whether we like it or not, because of the tragic
circumstances, is built upon the genocide, although I would have
personally preferred it to be built upon the idea of the strengthening
of Armenian statehood and on universal values.
108 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

No matter from which angle we look at this issue, it becomes obvious


that Serge Sargsyan has made an unforgivable mistake by granting his
agreement to establish the commission of historians, a mistake that probably
can never be corrected. It is noteworthy that this mistake is unforgivable not
only in political but also in a practical sense. If the commission of historians
is established with the aim of assisting the process of Armenian-Turkish
reconciliation, it could hardly serve this goal, because most probably it will
provide a stage for an endless debate, which will only deepen the differences
between the two nations. If, however, the Armenian diplomacy has an
expectation to trade its consent to establish this commission for an open
border with Turkey, such a concession is absolutely unnecessary, because
the opening of the border has nothing to do with this issue but is linked
instead to resolving the Karabagh conflict. It follows that whether the
commission of historians is established or not, after the Karabagh issue has
been settled, Armenian-Turkish relations will also be normalized and the
border will be opened anyway. Thus, even if we consider the establishment
of the commission of historians to be a matter of commercial trade-off, it
will appear to be a failed undertaking, or, at least, not the one that envisions
the establishment of the commission in exchange for the open border, but, at
best, a trade-off that presupposes the establishment of the commission in
exchange for the recognition of Serge Sargsyan’s legitimacy.
As distinct from other political parties that started to voice their concerns
about the establishment of the historians’ commission mainly after the
protocols had been made public (August 31, 2009), the ANC repeatedly
alerted the public at large about it long before that. During the last two
years, I, myself only, addressed this issue in detail in seven of my public talks,
first speaking about it as far back as on December 8, 2007 (also see
September 15, October 17, December 21, 2008; May 1, May 15, and
June 12, 2009). I am not registering these facts with the aim to reproach
others, but I am doing so with pain and, let me stress again, with political
intentions. I think that had the rest of the political parties responded to the
alarm raised by the Congress and had they focused solely on this issue
without vulgarizing it with an ideology based on territorial claims, it prob-
ably would have been possible to prevent the inclusion of the provision on
the establishment of a historians’ commission into the protocols.
Besides the principal objection to the establishment of the historians’
commission, the ANC, as mentioned earlier in the text, expressed its
concern regarding the procedural condition that calls for ratification of
the Armenian-Turkish protocols by the parliaments of both countries.
7 THE RIGHT AND WRONG CRITICISMS OF SERGE SARGSYAN’S POLICY. . . 109

Such a condition by itself would not have been a problem, had it not
enabled Turkey to link the ratification question with the demand to first
settle the Nagorno-Karabagh issue. The fact that this concern is not
groundless is confirmed by the style and the atmosphere of the debates
recently started in the Turkish parliament on the ratification of the pro-
tocols, as well as by the countless statements made with regard to this issue
by high-ranking Turkish officials. With all this proof to the contrary, it is
ludicrous to continue claiming that the settlement of Armenian-Turkish
relations is not linked to resolving the Karabagh conflict resolution. More-
over, these stubborn claims, which are incessantly voiced both by Armenian
and Western diplomats, testify to the opposite, that is, to the fact that the
Armenian-Turkish problem and the Karabagh conflict will be resolved in
one package. I predicted that as far back as in my October 17, 2008, public
speech, having added that “an attempt will be made to include in the
package the establishment of an Armenian-Turkish historians’ commission
with the aim to study the genocide”—which became a reality.
To further clarify the position of the Congress on the issues discussed
earlier, I deem it necessary to once again stress the following basic points:

– We support both the quick normalization of Armenian-Turkish rela-


tions and the settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict, which
should be based upon the principles of compromise and balance.
– At the same time, we are categorically against the establishment of the
joint commission of Armenian and Turkish historians, which aside
from calling into question the fact of the Armenian genocide, will
not only fail to help the process of Armenian-Turkish rapprochement
but will definitely hamper it.
– As for the Karabagh issue, any settlement plan that does not outline a
mechanism for the deployment of peacekeeping forces, that fails to
define the status of the Lachin corridor, and that falls short of elabo-
rating the conditions of the referendum will remain problematic
for us.
– The dangerous developments in Armenian-Turkish relations and the
Karabagh conflict settlement can only be aborted by a turnover of
power in Armenia, which cannot be done as long as this truth has not
been realized by all political factions, and as long as a significant part of
our society remains indifferent to these national issues.
110 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

– The dividing line between political factions is the question of Serge


Sargsyan’s resignation. Those who demand it are the true opposition,
while those who do not are backing the authorities no matter how
hard they pretend to be concerned about the undesirable develop-
ments mentioned above.
– As for the questions of the turnover of power and the restoration of
the constitutional order in the country, we are ready to cooperate with
any political faction, even those subscribing to different ideologies,
with the exception of external groups.

As far as I know, no other political faction does have such a clear-cut,


realistic position, based on the real interests of Armenia and Karabagh.
From my perspective, slogans like “not an inch of land,” “no concessions,”
or “no reconciliation,” no matter how clear they seem, do not qualify as
political positions and could lead our people to national disaster. And when
these slogans are not accompanied by demands for resignation and a change
of power, they also become false and Pharisaic.
Now let us see what is in store for us. Although it is difficult to make
predictions, approximately the following scenario seems likely to me:

– The Turkish parliament will delay the process of ratification of the


protocols, or will ratify them with certain reservations. By doing so, it
will try to speed up the settlement of the Karabagh conflict.
– The Armenian parliament will be guided by the wait-and-see
approach, and will try to start the ratification discussions only after
the protocols have been ratified by Turkey.
– To come out of this deadlock, with the Karabagh problem perceived
as a stumbling block on the way, the international community will
spare no effort to speed up the Karabagh resolution process, which is
in full accord with the Turkish position.
– Serge Sargsyan, pointing out the harsh protests and opposition in
Armenia and the diaspora to the signing of the Armenian-Turkish
protocols, will ask the mediators to give him a time-out in the
Karabagh conflict resolution process. His argument will be that it
will be difficult for him to withstand another wave of such protests
within a short period of time.
– Understanding Serge Sargsyan’s argument, the international commu-
nity will nevertheless deny his request, and, taking immediate
7 THE RIGHT AND WRONG CRITICISMS OF SERGE SARGSYAN’S POLICY. . . 111

advantage of his weakness, will, on the contrary, increase pressure on


Armenia with regard to the Karabagh problem.
– It is quite probable that the interested parties will urge Armenia to be
the first to ratify the protocols, claiming that after that Turkey will find
it difficult to further delay the ratification process.
– The logic of the situation implies that in the coming months, it will
not be Armenian-Turkish relations but rather the Karabagh settle-
ment where main developments are to be expected, because the main
precondition for Armenian-Turkish reconciliation is not the genocide
problem but the resolution of the Karabagh conflict.

As you see, the situation is extremely delicate and sensitive, and requires
great prudence both from the authorities and the opposition, who face
difficult issues and challenges as well. On the one hand, it is important
that internal standoffs do not harm the processes of normalization of
Armenian-Turkish relations and the Karabagh conflict resolution; on the
other hand, it is necessary to make sure that these processes are secured
against dangerous and undesirable outcomes for the Armenian people. The
ANC has always been and will always be guided by this prudent mind-set,
avoiding reckless actions and political maximalism, and taking into account,
first and foremost, the nation’s best interests. Unfortunately, one cannot say
the same about the authorities, who stubbornly refuse to use the most
valuable resource for withstanding external challenges, which is the
strengthening and consolidating of Armenia’s position by solving domestic
issues and establishing national solidarity.
The following puzzle does not make any sense to me. Since there is no
doubt that to gain legitimacy from the outside world Serge Sargsyan makes
unnecessary concessions with regard to the normalization of Armenian-
Turkish relations and the Karabagh conflict resolution, what is it that pre-
vents him from requesting legitimacy from his own people, instead of being
so humiliated and obliged to make such concessions? In the seventeenth
century, there lived a priest in Turkey named Eliazar of Ayntap, whose
vanity and hunger for power knew no limits, and who, by giving bribes
and through schemes managed to be declared the Catholicos18 of Turkish
Armenians, thus gravely jeopardizing the unity of the Armenian Church and
people. The Echmiadzin19 brotherhood of that time summoned a meeting
and addressed him with the following offer: “Brother, if you wish to become
a Catholicos, come and be the Catholicos of All Armenians, only don’t
divide the church and bring such a disaster upon our nation.” Eliazar
112 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

accepted the offer and comfortably ruled in Holy Echmiadzin for ten years
(1681–1691). So the imminent and disastrous threat to the Armenian
Church was averted. In the entire history of the Armenian people, I don’t
know of another example of such truly national thinking that would match
the wisdom and open-mindedness of the decision made by that brother-
hood of Echmiadzin. Why would Serge Sargsyan think that Armenians are
unable to show once again such wisdom and open-mindedness for the sake
of the nation?

8 WHEN THE GENOCIDE IS TURNED INTO


A BARGAINING CHIP

Excerpt from the Speech at the March 1, 2012, rally20

On January 23, the French Senate voted on a law criminalizing the denial of
the Armenian genocide. For understandable reasons, that news was greeted
with great enthusiasm among various segments of Armenian society, espe-
cially in the diaspora. Serge Sargsyan and Eduard Nalbandyan, meanwhile,
expressed their gratitude to the leaders of France and chalked it up as a
major victory for Armenian diplomacy. Only god knows what the contri-
bution of Armenian diplomacy was to that decision, since it is clear that
French politicians initiated the move independently, with the aim of
improving their appeal for French Armenian voters in an election season
and also perhaps with the larger goal of impeding Turkey’s accession to the
European Union. In other words, the Armenian question has become
subject to foreign manipulation irrespective of our wishes yet again with
all the predictable consequences. Two days ago, it also became clear that the
jubilation had been premature, because the French Constitutional Council
judged the Senate’s decision unconstitutional, which you can comment on
better than I. I think, therefore, that instead of getting excited and cele-
brating a “victory,” it was necessary to ask whether the Senate’s “historic”
decision was going to have a positive or negative effect on the normalization
of Armenian-Turkish relations, because nobody can deny the vital impor-
tance of that issue for Armenia’s security and economic development. Let us
hope then that the “victory” that was won a month ago does not turn out to
be like the “victories” of Armenian diplomacy at the peace conferences of
Berlin in 1878 and Paris in 1920, which resulted, respectively, in the
destruction of Western Armenia and the loss of exactly half of the territory
9 ABOUT THE ARMENIAN-TURKISH RELATIONS AND THE PROBLEM OF. . . 113

of the Republic of Armenia. The comparison may seem contrived and


exaggerated, but accelerating emigration, which is partially the result of
this problem going unresolved, has the potential to be no less of a national
disaster.

9 ABOUT THE ARMENIAN-TURKISH RELATIONS AND THE


PROBLEM OF KARABAGH

Excerpt from the Speech at the April 20, 2012 Rally21

Something strange is taking place during this campaign. Problems of for-


eign policy have been completely left out of the debate. Neither the author-
ities nor other political factions talk about them. But if a political faction has
ambitions of entering parliament and assuming power, it ought to present
its foreign policy doctrine to the public. Armenia’s foreign policy has two
outstanding problems: the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations
and the resolution of the Karabagh problem. We have no problems with
any nation in the world other than these two. Even when problems arise in
our relations with Russia, the United States, the EU, Georgia, and Iran,
they are the consequences of these same two problems. In other words, if
these problems were resolved, Armenia would have no disputes with any
country in the world. As such, Armenia could become the happiest state in
the world. The world and the great powers see Armenia only through the
lens of these conflicts. Armenia is not interesting to them for any other
reason. Why are they so focused on these two problems? For a simple
reason: yes, the world pays attention to resource-rich countries, to countries
that have large populations and markets. But not only. If, despite being
small, a country creates problems for regional security and international
cooperation, it becomes the world’s problem. Today, the problems of
Karabagh and Armenian-Turkish relations, which should have been mostly
Armenia’s problem, have become problems in the foreign policy agendas of
the United States, the EU, and Russia. This is not an accusation. Their
concern, their interest in these problems is understandable, and should even
be welcomed. We also want to see these problems resolved and we will be
grateful to all who help find just and principled solutions to them. What
have our authorities done instead? They have complicated both the land-
scape of Armenian-Turkish relations and the process of resolving the
Karabagh conflict.
114 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

Robert Kocharyan’s demand, made from the UN’s podium in 1998, that
the world recognize the Armenian genocide, was the biggest mistake by
Armenian authorities in the process of normalizing Armenian-Turkish rela-
tions. Our intelligentsia was fainting it was so happy and excited. There were
celebrations, people sang Robert Kocharyan’s praises—he was such a tough
guy, he was not afraid to say whatever needed to be said from the UN’s
podium. But what were they going to do to him regardless of what he said
from the UN’s podium? Were they going to hang him, kill him, arrest him?
The UN’s podium is the place that requires the least courage; it is there that
the ultimate coward can play a hero. The leaders of all countries say
whatever comes to their minds from that podium. Iran gets criticized so
much, then Ahmedinejad goes to the UN and issues a challenge to the
whole world; the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, makes a mockery
of that podium by ridiculing the US president. Khrushchev struck at the UN
podium with his shoe. Now Robert Kocharyan has gone and done this
thing. Who is he, Andranik, Njdeh, David of Sassoun?22 And what did he
get for his adolescent behavior? I consider it an immature, unserious act, a
means of scoring easy points.
If Robert Kocharyan wanted to raise the issue of recognition of the
Armenian genocide in the UN, he should have done it based on the pro-
tocols of the UN. Armenia should have prepared a meticulous file, appealed
to the UN according to the official protocol, and the UN could not have
refused to take up the issue. Robert Kocharyan did not demand that the UN
take up the issue of the Armenian genocide and condemn it. The UN is an
organization that has to satisfy the appeals for deliberation of its member
states. It would have accepted the appeal for deliberation; and if, then it
issued a resolution, good. If not, it would have at least had a discussion of
the issue. Kocharyan did not do that, instead putting on a ridiculous show,
which then turned out to be a disaster for the Armenian people.
As soon as Robert Kocharyan demanded to recognize the genocide on
behalf of the state, Turkey made a countermove. Before 1998, Turkey had
never demanded that we create a historians’ commission tasked with deter-
mining whether the genocide happened. It did not make such a demand
and it could not have made such a demand, because we had not made that
issue a part of our foreign policy agenda. As soon as Robert Kocharyan
turned it into the cornerstone of our foreign policy, Turkey made a shrewd
move, saying: “Very well, you say it was a genocide? No problem. Let’s
create a commission of Armenian and Turkish historians and examine
whether it happened.” Robert Kocharyan gave what he thought was a clever
9 ABOUT THE ARMENIAN-TURKISH RELATIONS AND THE PROBLEM OF. . . 115

answer, saying “You know what, let’s first normalize our relations, open the
borders, and then, instead of such a commission, we can create a big
governmental one that will take up all the issues together.” In other
words, he gave consent to the creation of that commission, but as part of
the governmental, state commission, rather than a separate one. And that is
exactly what was affirmed in the protocols signed in Switzerland: to create a
subcommittee as part of the intergovernmental commission, which would
examine whether the genocide happened. What is more, they praised this as
a great agreement, which, and I remember it verbatim, “reflects the interests
of Armenia and Karabagh,” and which does not diverge from our national
interests.
With respect to Karabagh, our authorities, or more accurately Robert
Kocharyan, committed one fateful error, which we are never going to be
able to correct. It was not Serge’s error; at the time, he was the minister of
defense. He is responsible for it only to the extent that he was part of that
government, but the decision was the president’s to make. And Robert
Kocharyan bequeathed that error to Serge Sargsyan. The error was the
decision to deprive Karabagh of the status of being a party to the conflict,
to throw Karabagh out of the format of negotiations. What did Robert
Kocharyan say? I was Karabagh’s president, and now I am Armenia’s,
therefore I can represent both Karabagh and Armenia, and there is no
need for Karabagh to participate in the negotiations. This was such a gift
to Azerbaijan and the international community that they were shocked. He
was so naïve, he could not even sell that gift, he gave it away for free, he gave
it cheaply, for a penny, just to look like a guy who is broad-minded and who
wants to solve the problem.
In the 1990s, Azerbaijan’s struggle against us, against our diplomacy was
to do everything in their power to prevent Karabagh’s participation in the
negotiations. In 1992, when Raffi Hovannisyan was the foreign minister
and when the Minsk Group was formed, we succeeded in pushing through
the following formula in the Minsk Group: the participants in the negoti-
ations are Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the “elected authorities” of Nagorno
Karabagh. With that—the expression “elected authorities”—the founda-
tion for the status of Karabagh was laid. And after a long struggle, or more
accurately, after the victorious conclusion of the war in 1994, the interna-
tional community was forced to recognize Karabagh a party to the conflict
fully equal in its status to Armenia and Azerbaijan. It meant that any plan of
resolution presented by the Minsk Group or the international community
116 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

would have to be simultaneously approved by Armenia, Karabagh, and


Azerbaijan. It was implemented and it was put into practice twice.
In 1997, the chairmen of the Minsk Group presented to the parties to the
conflict—Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Karabagh—the so-called “package
deal.” Armenia and Azerbaijan gave their approval, but Karabagh vetoed
it. That was it, and nobody complained, there was no commotion, because
Karabagh had the right to a veto, and the plan was scrapped. Several months
later, the “phased plan” was put forward. Again, Armenia and Azerbaijan
gave their approval, but Karabagh said no. They said OK, and recalled that
document. They brought one last document in 1998—the “common state”
solution. This time Armenia and Karabagh gave their consent, but
Azerbaijan rejected it. Karabagh has not participated in the negotiations as
a party to the conflict since 1998, that is, as a diplomatic or a negotiating
entity, it does not exist, as far as the international community is concerned.
Now all the proposals are presented only to Armenia and Azerbaijan. I am
sorry, but this is irreversible.
What are we going to do now? With regard to Armenian-Turkish rela-
tions, as I said already, if the question of ratifying those protocols is put on
the table, we are going to oppose the article on the historians’ commission.
We are not putting forward any other demands, we are not making any
revisionist demands. But we will do everything to prevent the creation of the
commission of Armenian and Turkish historians. I know how to do it,
which I will detail later, but it is a problem that can be solved. Only one
thing is necessary for solving that problem, and that one thing is the
replacement of Armenia’s illegitimate government with a legitimate one.
As for the Karabagh question, we are obliged, as is any political party
participating in elections today, to clearly present our position on the issue
to the public. You must demand the same of everybody.

10 ON THE COMMEMORAITON OF THE CENTENNIAL OF THE


ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

Excerpt from an article23

Serge Sargsyan addressed this question in detail during the May


27 meeting this year of the governmental committee coordinating the
events planned for the centennial of the Armenian genocide. Judging
from his talk and the set of planned events, which I am familiar with,
10 ON THE COMMEMORAITON OF THE CENTENNIAL OF THE ARMENIAN. . . 117

Sargsyan envisions not a reassessment of the problem of the genocide and


elevating it to a level that is consistent with the interests of the Armenian
statehood, but a cheap show aiming to bolster his own reputation by
manipulating the patriotic feeling of the citizens of Armenia and the Arme-
nian diaspora. That is a pity, because the centennial of the genocide could be
the best opportunity for reaching a new stage of national unity, an oppor-
tunity to set us on a new path, as the commemoration of the 50th anniver-
sary of the Great Calamity did by bringing out thousands to the streets
of Yerevan and setting the stage for the desperate struggle of the diaspora
youth, which in turn triggered the process for the international recognition
of the genocide. Wasting this rare opportunity will mean waiting for another
fifty years, and only God knows what the situation of Armenians and our
country will be then.
In addition to the aforementioned, there are certain elements in
Sargsyan’s speech that are disconcerting and that I feel compelled to
address. First, after some time, there is once again an attempt to make
international recognition of the genocide the cornerstone of Armenia’s
foreign policy, evidenced by the following excerpt of Sargsyan’s speech:
“On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide we call on
all states and the international community to recognize and condemn that
crime. We, as a state and as a people, will continue our struggle both for the
international recognition and the condemnation of the Armenian genocide
and against that most horrible of crimes, no matter in which corner of the
world it is committed.” I seriously doubt that this position has been prop-
erly calculated as far as its effectiveness is concerned. After all, the highest
number of recognitions by other states took place when Armenia refrained
from adopting such an approach.
Strangely, in his speech Serge Sargsyan also complains that “the official
Ankara continues to talk about the commission of historians and about
opening the archives,” then mocks that position and declares it absurd. The
complaint is strange, because from the Armenian side it was none other than
Serge Sargsyan himself that gave his blessing to the formation of such a
commission during the meeting with representatives of the Russian-Arme-
nian community on June 23, 2008, stating the following: “The Turkish side
is proposing to form a commission that would investigate the historical
evidence. We are not opposed to the idea of forming such a commission,
but it should happen only after the borders are opened.” Realizing but not
having the courage to acknowledge his error, Sargsyan is forgetting—or
wants others to forget—the scandalous fact that it was he, again, who gave
118 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

his agreement to the inclusion of the article on the historians’ commission in


the Armenian-Turkish protocol initialed in Zurich, and today he is speaking
out against it as a vocal opponent. As they say, better late than never.
As for the invitation to the Turkish president to visit Armenia on April
24th, which he extended in the same speech, I disagree with those who
ascribe it to Serge Sargsyan’s infantilism. I am more inclined to agree with
those few who think it was the result of mediation by third parties. There-
fore, I do not rule out the possibility that the Turkish president could in fact
visit Armenia and even put a wreath on the genocide monument. Despite its
continued denial of the genocide the Turkish government, with Prime
Minister Erdogan’s speech on April 23rd of this year, has acknowledged
the fact of the “massacres” of thousands of Armenians among other nation-
alities of the empire during WWI and even offered sympathy to the relatives
of victims. Therefore, the leader of that country will have no difficulty
attending the wreath-laying ceremony. The Armenian side can accept it as
a partial recognition of the genocide, while the Turkish side can frame it as
respects paid to the memory of their own citizens. It bears mentioning that
such a visit could usher in the second stage of Armenian-Turkish reconcil-
iation, assuming, of course, that the passions, which inevitably will be high
as a result of mutual propaganda-counterpropaganda campaigns, do not get
so heated as to make such a visit impossible.

11 THOUGHTS ON THE PUBLICATION OF THE “PAN-ARMENIAN


DECLARATION ON THE CENTENNIAL OF THE ARMENIAN
GENOCIDE”24
The “Declaration on the 100th Anniversary of the Genocide” has gone
unnoticed because of the tragic events in Gyumri,25 the barbarism commit-
ted in Berdzor,26 and the impressive protest by the representatives of small
businesses, whereas in other circumstances it would have undoubtedly
attracted broad public interest. In order to fill that gap, I would like to
make some observations and to share some concerns regarding the content
of the declaration, without any intent to accuse anybody or to make the
issue subject to internal political speculation. My sole intent is to help
improve this important document.

1. It is stated in the very first paragraph of the declaration that “the State
Commission on the Coordination of Events Dedicated to the 100th
11 THOUGHTS ON THE PUBLICATION OF THE “PAN-ARMENIAN. . . 119

Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in consultation with its


regional committees in the diaspora,” expresses “the united will of
the Armenian people” (the same idea is repeated in paragraph 6 of the
declaration). I cannot imagine how a commission with purely orga-
nizational functions, tasked with “Coordination of Events Dedicated
to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide,” can express the
collective will of the Armenian people, no matter how representative
it is. And in general, is there any entity that could represent that will?
For better or worse, no entity or organization can speak on behalf of
all Armenians. The presidents of Armenia and Karabagh have the
authority to speak on behalf of their governments, the leaders of the
church on behalf of their flocks, and the leaders of political or civic
organizations on behalf of their members. Only a pan-Armenian
referendum could express a legally binding collective will or opinion
of the Armenian people, and for obvious reasons that would be
impossible to organize. The declaration is not a polemical or a polit-
ical manifesto but a legal document, and as such its content should
correspond to its character.
Because it is primarily addressed to the international community,
somebody from that community could ask: “How do you know
that you are expressing the collective will of the Armenian people?”
Responses like “Is it not obvious?” or “It is self-evident” will only
provoke sneers. Accordingly, the declaration would have been con-
siderably more serious and would have been a far more valuable
document, if it was published with the signatures of the presidents
of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh, the Patriarch of all Armenians,
the Patriarch of the Great House of Cilicia, as well as of the leaders of
the Armenian Catholic and Evangelical churches instead of the stamp
of authority of a faceless commission with pretentions to speak on
behalf of all Armenians.
2. In paragraph 3, the Commission expresses gratitude “to those states
and international, religious and non-governmental organizations that
have had the political courage to recognize and condemn the Arme-
nian genocide as a heinous crime against humanity and even today
continue to undertake legal measures to that end, also preventing the
dangerous manifestations of denialism.” This is nothing more than a
manifestation of provincialism, which is humiliating for the Armenian
people. The recognition and condemnation of the genocide does not
120 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

require courage from any state or international organization, because


the recognition and condemnation of such crimes against humanity
are their obligation ascertained in international conventions. Being
thanked for that should be insulting for them. As natural as this kind
of outpouring of gratitude is for lobbying organizations of the dias-
pora, they are wholly inappropriate for a declaration issued on behalf
of a state.
The section of the declaration (paragraph 8) in which the Com-
mission offers its solidarity “with those segments of Turkish
civil society whose representatives nowadays dare to speak out
against the official position of the authorities” should be consid-
ered inappropriate for a different reason. The aforementioned
citizens of Turkey are undoubtedly behaving courageously,
risking being prosecuted for acknowledging the Armenian geno-
cide, but the solidarity of the Armenian side, in my view, is going
to hurt, rather than help them, because it will give the authorities
and the reactionaries the excuse to portray them as agents of
foreign interests.
3. Another section of the same paragraph, which calls on the Republic of
Turkey “to recognize and condemn the Armenian genocide commit-
ted by the Ottoman Empire, and to face its own history and memory
through commemorating the victims of that heinous crime against
humanity and renouncing the policy of falsification, denialism and
banalizations of this indisputable fact” is even worse in its strangeness
and its lack of seriousness. What is this if not an ultimatum issued to
Turkey, and a lame ultimatum at that, because it lacks the other
indispensable attribute of an ultimatum, namely the spelling out of
consequences in case the recipient fails to satisfy the demands
contained in it? It is shocking how this absurdity has found its way
into a document as serious as the “Pan-Armenian Declaration on
the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide” is, or rather, could
have been.
How many times must it be repeated that the recognition of the
Armenian genocide by Turkey is not our concern, but that of the
Turks themselves? In that regard, I feel compelled to cite the follow-
ing statement from one of my speeches on the issue: “It is high time to
realize that nobody can force Turkey to recognize the Armenian
genocide by cornering it or by confronting it with ultimatums. I
11 THOUGHTS ON THE PUBLICATION OF THE “PAN-ARMENIAN. . . 121

have no doubt whatsoever that Turkey is going to do it sooner or


later. But that is going to happen not before, but after the creation of
trust and friendly relations between our countries. Consequently, one
has to leave aside emotions and build these relations on the basis of
the reality that we consider those events genocide, while Turkey does
not.” (08.12.2007, Return, p. 115). Calls on Turkey to face its
history may be made and are made by other countries, but Armenia
has no right to do the same under any circumstances, because first, it is
beneath its dignity, and second, because it does not contribute to the
normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations.
4. Now, for the most disconcerting problem in the declaration. It is
commendable that the authors of the declaration have avoided
using the term “historical right,” which is so popular in polemical
writings in Armenia, since no other concept is as malleable as that,
with every nation applying its own interpretation to the concept,
and more importantly, since it is not an accepted concept of inter-
national law. At the same time, the term has been replaced by the
equally malleable and even more abstract “historical justice,”
which has been used in the declaration twice. What the authors
of the declaration have in mind becomes clear from the following
condensed formulations: “The role and significance of the Sevres
Peace Treaty of August 10, 1920 and US President Woodrow
Wilson’s Arbitral Award of November 22, 1920 in overcoming
the consequences of the Armenian genocide,” and “point of depar-
ture in the process of restoring individual, communal and
pan-Armenian rights and legitimate interests.” In other words,
the declaration contains the full repertoire of the contemporary
interpretation of the Armenian Cause—recognition and condem-
nation of the Armenian genocide by Turkey, material and moral
compensation to be paid to the descendants of Armenians who
lived in Western Armenia and other parts of the Ottoman Empire
in 1915, return of properties to individual and communal (church)
owners, mass repatriation of Armenians to areas where their ances-
tors resided, and finally, expansion of Armenia’s borders to the
lines demarcated by the Treaty of Sevres and Woodrow Wilson’s
Arbitral Award.
Leaving aside the question of how realistic the implementation of this
“coveted” plan is, except restoration of individual and communal
122 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

(church) rights, I would like to state the following. If starting from


1998 genocide recognition was made the basis of Armenia’s foreign
policy, which resulted in Armenia being forced to agree to the crea-
tion of the commission of Armenian and Turkish historians, the
“Declaration on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide” is now
making irredentism the basis of the country’s foreign policy. Only
God knows what consequences such a sharp turn may have, but for
now it is clear that it will seriously complicate and freeze for a long
time the process of the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations,
which is so important for Armenia’s future.
5. In a word, we have in front of us a document that is, if not dangerous
from the political point of view, then at least sterile, which is not at all
fitting for the indispensable purpose of raising the issue of the Arme-
nian genocide internationally. Whereas if the genocide were
addressed in the contexts of human rights, crimes against humanity,
and the necessity of Armenian-Turkish reconciliation, the declaration
would not only have found wide international resonance, but also
could have produced political dividends for Armenia and Nagorno-
Karabagh.
The 100th anniversary was the best opportunity for finally moving the
problem of the genocide from the realm of emotions to the realm of
political thinking. Therefore, it would not be a bad idea at all to
fundamentally revise the declaration to bring it into compliance
with the standards of international law and the accepted rules of
coexistence between states and peoples. As a state, we cannot com-
municate with the world in any other way.

Finally, it bears mentioning that the State Commission on the Coordi-


nation of Events Dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian
Genocide has obviously exceeded its authority, violating both Armenia’s
Declaration of Sovereignty as well as the Constitution of the Republic of
Armenia, which, except for provisions for supporting the international
recognition of the Armenian genocide, have no provisions implying support
for the Armenian Cause or for irredentism.
12 A MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE THE POLITICAL ATMOSPHERE IN. . . 123

12 A MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE THE POLITICAL


ATMOSPHERE IN ARMENIA27
On the afternoon of February 12 of this year, I sent an missive to the iLur.
am website and to the Fourth Estate newspaper with the goal of having it
published the next morning. However, when Serge Sargsyan delivered his
well-known speech against Gagik Tsarukyan in the evening of February
12, I recalled the text from their editorial offices, because under the cir-
cumstances, the purpose of publishing the text could have been misunder-
stood. But after carefully considering all the pros and cons, I came to the
conclusion that independently of the domestic political processes in the
country, I do not have the right to conceal from the society an issue that
affects the vital interests of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. Therefore,
albeit with a delay, I want to make that missive, which I had titled “An Open
Letter to Serge Sargsyan,” available to the public. Here is the full, original
text of the letter:

First, I would like to apologize for addressing you not through confidential
channels, but with an open letter. There are two reasons for doing so:
a. Considering our deep political disagreements, such a step on my part, the
content of which I will reveal below, would not have escaped the risk of
setting off all kinds of rumors and speculation;
b. My letter is motivated by a problem as important for the state and the
nation as the raising of the issue of the Armenian genocide internationally
on its centennial, which, in my view, should be above any political
calculations.

Yesterday I had expressed my concerns regarding the content of the ‘Pan-


Armenian Declaration on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide’ through
the press (iLur.am, ‘Fourth Estate’, 11 February, 2015), emphasizing the need
for revising it and making it consistent with the norms of international law, as
well as the rules of the peaceful coexistence between states and nations, since,
in my opinion, because of that scandalous document Armenia would not only
not gain the sympathy of the international community, but would even lose
the support of friendly states.
And now, thinking that a mere expression of concern is inadequate, I
would like to put forward a practical proposal, which is to meet with you one
on one at your convenience in order to exchange views on the matter. And if
that meeting is to be effective, it is worth considering the creation of an
advisory committee, which should have the task of final clarification of the
position of the Republic of Armenia on the question of the genocide. That
124 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

commission, then, should produce a new document on the basis of the


declaration on the centennial of the genocide, which, on behalf of the
President of Armenia, should be addressed to the General Secretary of the
UN, the acting president of the OSCE, the president of the European Union,
and the leaders of all the states of the world. Consequently, the declaration
1. must be completely consistent with the UN Charter, the Helsinki Act, and
the international obligations Armenia has assumed;
2. must not contradict the constitution of the Republic of Armenia;
3. must avoid taking positions characteristic of a stateless nation;
4. under no circumstances should create obstacles for resolving the most
important problems Armenia is facing—the normalization of Armenian-
Turkish relations and the settlement of the Karabagh conflict.
It goes without saying that the proposed commission should consist
of people who have already proven that they can see beyond the tradi-
tional outlook and look at things from the perspective of Armenia’s state
interests and the principles the modern world has adopted. I would
suggest the names of the following individuals, who satisfy these criteria:
Babken Ararktsyan, Vazgen Manoukyan, Gagik Harutyunyan, Vano
Siradeghyan, Vardan Oskanyan, Stepan Demirchyan, Arman Grigoryan,
Rouben Shougaryan, Alexander Arzoumanyan, Ashot Voskanyan, Ara
Sahakyan, Rouben Vardanyan, Ashot Sargsyan, Hrant Ter-Abrahamyan,
Ktritch Sardaryan from Armenia; Gerard Libaridian, Khachig Tololyan,
Rouben Adalian, Ara Sanjian, Hambik Sarafian, Raffi Ourfalian from the
United States of America; Armand Sarian, Jirair Malkhasian, Michel Mar-
ian, Raffi Kalfayan from France; Levon Zekiyan from Turkey; Rouben
Mozian from Argentina. These are the people I know. You can supply
additional names.
As the originator of the idea, I am prepared to participate in the work of the
commission myself. It does not matter how my ‘sworn’ critics will interpret
my unexpected proposal. The most important thing is to make sure we make
no mistakes on this important matter at the state and national level. Every-
thing else is unimportant and secondary.
It is possible that I will surprise you like this again if complications arise in
the process of settling the Karabagh conflict. If the future of my nation and
state is endangered, I cannot sit idly by, and I am ready to knock on any door
(02.12.2015).

I am sorry that this idea of mine, which I proposed with only the
nation’s interests in mind, is now unworkable because of the political
score-settling and the brutality unleashed against Gagik Tsarukyan, the
Prosperous Armenia party, and the opposition in general. 28 I should also
13 WHY IS EVERYBODY SILENT? 125

add that I am not concerned at all about the howls from both left and
right that the publication of this letter is going to provoke, because it
could not be delayed given how close we are to the centennial of the
genocide.

13 WHY IS EVERYBODY SILENT?

Excerpt from a speech at the March 1, 2015, rally29

Dear Participants,
The next topic of my speech, which I consider one of the most important
topics of the day, is the concern generated by the “Pan-Armenian Declara-
tion on the Centennial of the Genocide.” I have reflected on that topic
twice last month (see Fourth Estate, 02.11.2015, and Ilur.am, 02.11.2015,
02.17.2015), and I have even had a public debate with Serge Sargsyan (see
president.am, 02.20.2015, and Ilur.am, 02.21.2015). I will refrain from
delving into details, since you can get them in the aforementioned publica-
tions, and will instead focus on the most dangerous point in the declara-
tion—the latest sharp turn in Armenia’s foreign policy.
As you know, Armenia’s authorities in the 1990s, distancing themselves
from the traditional ideology of what then was a stateless nation, adopted a
realistic policy that was in harmony with the foundational principles of
international law and was derived solely from the interests of the state.
And it is no accident that all of Armenia’s foreign policy successes coincide
with that period. It should be mentioned that this is not only my opinion.
This obvious fact has been acknowledged by none other than Vazgen
Sargsyan, Robert Kocharyan, the Chairman of the National Assembly of
the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh Arthur Tovmasyan, and others (The
Republic of Armenia, 09.19.1996).
After 1998 the international recognition of the Armenian genocide was
made the bedrock of Armenia’s foreign policy, which resulted in our
country being forced to agree to the creation of the commission of Arme-
nian and Turkish historians. At the same time, the Kocharyan regime
committed an even bigger blunder by removing Nagorno Karabagh from
the negotiating process as a legally recognized party to the conflict and
turning the problem of Karabagh Armenians’ right to self-determination
into a territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
126 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

And now the “Pan-Armenian Declaration on the Centennial of the


Armenian Genocide” is making, as the foundation of Armenia’s foreign
policy, demands for restitution with all of its elements—recognition and
condemnation of the Armenian genocide by Turkey, material and moral
compensation for the descendants of Armenians who lived in Western
Armenia and other parts of the Ottoman Empire in 1915, restoration of
individual and communal (church) property rights, mass resettlement of
Armenians in the lands of their ancestors, and, finally, the territorial expan-
sion of Armenia to the borders designated by the Treaty of Sevres and the
Arbitral Award of Woodrow Wilson. This transition from realism to
demands for restitution is what I had in mind when on February 3, 1998,
in my resignation address I said: “The dispute over the different approaches
to the settlement of the Karabagh conflict in the crisis of power was only a
pretext. The problem is a much deeper one and it has to do with the
foundations of our state.” (Levon Ter-Petrossian, Articles, Speeches, and
Interviews, (Yerevan, Armenia: 2006), p. 661).
It is not difficult at all to predict the consequences of such a turn. Even if
it does not produce a disaster, the declaration is going to create serious
problems in Armenia’s dealings with the world, and particularly creating
obstacles in the processes of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations
and the settlement of the Karabagh conflict. There is also a concern that
Armenia may not only fail to win the international community’s sympathy
as a result of this document, but is likely to lose the support of even friendly
states.
I know that those who think like me are not few in number. But I cannot
understand why they are silent. Where are the followers of Rafael
Ishkhanyan, may his memory be blessed? Why are they not speaking out?
Are they afraid to be labeled Turkophiles and traitors? Why were they not
afraid in the 1980–1990s, when the entire Karabagh Committee and the
Armenian National Movement were proudly and selflessly defending the
view that we should free ourselves from nationalist obscurantism and look at
problems from a state’s perspective, being convinced that the high point of
healthy nationalism is the achievement of an independent statehood and
nothing else. When people in the diaspora who share our views keep silent,
it is understandable, because expressing such views is dangerous for them.
Some of them have expressed their support to me through private letters,
asking me not to make those letters public under any circumstances. I have
no intention of criticizing these people, because they have before their eyes
the sad example of courageous and dignified Hrant Dink, who had been a
13 WHY IS EVERYBODY SILENT? 127

target of hatred for both Armenian and Turkish nationalists until he was
murdered by a Turkish criminal and only then was lionized and eulogized
by his Armenian detractors.
Unlike most people, I have developed immunity to criticism over the
decades, so I have no fear of being criticized and labeled yet again. My
“critics” have already pinned all the possible labels to my name—cosmo-
politan, defeatist, agent of a Judeo-Masonic conspiracy, traitor,
pro-Turkish, Turkophile, even Turk, etc. And I have earned all these labels
for the following deadly sins:

– I have supposedly not been aware of the liberation of Shushi,30 which


has taken place against my desires;
– I have not guided the successes on the battlefield in 1993–1994,
preventing the capture of Baku and forcing capitulation on
Azerbaijan;
– At the moment of Armenia’s victory I have agreed to sign the cease-
fire agreement in May 1994;
– I have considered the settlement of the Karabagh conflict possible
only through rational compromises achieved in negotiations;
– I have consistently and continuously pursued normalization of
Armenian-Turkish relations;
– I have insisted and I continue to insist that Armenia has no prospect of
development and secure existence in our problem-laden region with-
out normalization of relations with Turkey and the settlement of the
Karabagh conflict
– I am thwarting the almost accomplished goal of an Armenia that
would stretch from sea to sea by criticizing the “Declaration on the
Centennial of the Genocide”;
– Thank God that the imagination of my critics has not reached the
point of blaming me for the defeat in the Battle of Avarayr.31 Of
course, I do have an alibi, since I was not quite borne yet in 451.
But that may not help in the end, since if they really want, they can
easily forge my birth certificate as well, and the National Assembly will
ratify the forgery with a special law.
128 6 THE POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE PROCESS OF. . .

NOTES
1. Ter-Petrossian, Return, pp. 287–303.
2. This is the Russian-dominated collective security organization, which in
addition to Russia, includes Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmeni-
stan, Kirgizistan, and Tajikistan.
3. Ter-Petrossian, Return, pp. 309–314.
4. Ter-Petrossian, Return, p. 319.
5. In an article published in The Wall Street Journal on July 9, 2008, Serge
Sargsyan invited the Turkish President Abdullah Gul to visit Yerevan in
September to attend a match for the World Cup qualifying stage between
the Turkish and Armenian national teams. Of course, it was not just an
invitation to watch soccer together. The main agenda was to restart the
conversation about establishing diplomatic relations between the two coun-
tries. But since the soccer match had provided a convenient excuse for the
invitation, the process launched by it was unofficially dubbed “soccer diplo-
macy.” See Serge Sargsyan, “We Are Ready to Talk to Turkey,” The Wall
Street Journal, July 9, 2008.
6. Ter-Petrossian, Return, pp. 357–361.
7. This prediction was on target as Serge Sargsyan faced intense protests in the
diaspora with several organizations boycotting the events where he spoke
during visits to several countries with large Armenian communities.
8. Armenian Times, May 16, 2009.
9. The reference is to the impulsive action of President Saakashvili, which
resulted in Georgia’s loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
10. Armenian Times, September 19, 2009.
11. Levon Zourabyan was a member of the National Assembly of Armenia and is
the Deputy Chairman of the Armenian National Congress. Ashot Sargsyan is
a former member of the National Assembly and member of the governing
board of the Armenian National Congress. Sargsyan is also a historian.
12. This prediction was also on target as Sargsyan did later visit Turkey.
13. Indeed, Turkey never ratified the protocols and the border has remained
closed.
14. Armenian Times, November 12, 2009.
15. Vardan Oskanian served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia in
1998–2008.
16. Edward Nalbandyan became Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia in 2008.
He remains in that post as of this writing.
17. “Madrid principles” are the foundational principles for the resolution of the
Karabagh conflict put forward by the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group
(USA, Russia, and France) in 2007. They form the basis of the negotiations
to resolve the conflict. The most important principles in this document are
NOTES 129

(1) respect for territorial integrity and the right to self-determination,


(2) return of occupied territories, and (3) commitment to a peaceful reso-
lution of the conflict.
18. Catholicos is the title of the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
19. Echmiadzin is the Holy Seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
20. Levon Ter-Petrossian, The Armenian Genocide: A View from the State’s
Perspective (Yerevan, Armenia: Antares, 2015), pp. 92–93.
21. Levon Ter-Petrossian, Armenian Genocide, pp. 94–98.
22. Andranik and Njdeh were Armenian military commanders who fought
against Turks and Azerbaijanis at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
David of Sassoon is the mythical hero of the Armenian national epos.
23. Fourth Estate, June 6, 2014.
24. Fourth Estate, February 11, 2015.
25. A soldier from the Russian base in the city of Gyumri had killed a family of 7,
which caused protests all over Armenia.
26. The reference is to a clash between veterans from Armenia and Karabagh in
Berdzor, which is a town on the border of Armenia and Karabagh.
27. Ilur.am, February 17, 2015.
28. Gagik Tsarukyan is a wealthy Armenian businessman, who established a
political party sometime in the early 2000s. It complained about certain
things, but usually acted in concert with the government. Quite unexpect-
edly, in 2014, it started cooperating with Ter-Petrossian’s Armenian
National Congress, which the government correctly perceived as a serious
threat. The government responded with a campaign against him, even
summoning him to a meeting with Serge Sargsyan and some other leaders
one February evening in 2015. Right after the meeting, Tsarukyan made a
statement announcing his exit from politics and from the party he had
created. He has since returned to politics, but is behaving a lot more
circumspectly.
29. Ilur.am, March 1, 2015.
30. Shushi was a strategically important town in Karabagh, which local Arme-
nian forces captured in May 1992 in what was one of their most important
initial victories in the war.
31. The Battle of Avarayr took place in 451 AD after Armenians refused a
Persian demand to convert Zoroastrianism. The battle was a military loss,
but the Armenian resistance was fierce enough for the Persians to abandon
their demand. It is one of the most iconic events in Armenian history and
mythology similar to the Battle of Kosovo in the Serbian mythology or the
siege of Massada in Jewish mythology.
CHAPTER 7

Peace with Neighbors Has No Good


Alternatives

1 VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS1


Even though I have reacted to the “Declaration on the Occasion of the
Centennial of the Armenian Genocide” three times already (02/11/15,
02/17/2015, 03/01/2015), I find it necessary to again raise an alarm
about the dangers contained in that document, which, I have no doubt, will
create serious problems for Armenia in the near future. At the root of my
concern is the necessity of realizing that the Declaration should be seen not
only as an appropriate statement on the occasion of the centennial of the
genocide but also as a document with extremely important implications for
solving key problems of Armenia’s foreign policy, that is, as an important
document with respect to Armenia’s state interests.
I have had many opportunities to point out that the two most important
problems facing Armenia’s foreign policy are the normalization of
Armenian-Turkish relations and the resolution of the Karabagh conflict.
Why do I consider these problems vital, separating them from the other
problems of Armenia’s foreign policy? Because the failure to normalize
Armenian-Turkish relations and to resolve the Karabagh conflict, as well
as the resulting blockade of Armenia

– created obstacles for the economic development of Armenia and


Nagorno Karabagh;
– prevent Armenia from being included in regional economic projects;

© The Author(s) 2018 131


L. Ter-Petrossian, Armenia’s Future, Relations with Turkey, and the
Karabagh Conflict, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-58916-9_7
132 7 PEACE WITH NEIGHBORS HAS NO GOOD ALTERNATIVES

– make Armenia less attractive for foreign companies that would other-
wise want to invest in the country;
– force Armenia to allocate a large portion of its meager resources to
military spending;
– contribute to emigration from Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh,
which has already taken on the proportions of a demographic catas-
trophe; and
– complicate Armenia’s relations with almost all countries, even
friendly ones.

Thus, the “Declaration on the Occasion of the Centennial of the Armenian


Genocide” is not only not aimed at solving these problems but is inevitably
going to create new obstacles on the path of resolving them. This docu-
ment, which is written in a spirit of confrontation, will force Turkey to
assume a harder line both in the process of normalization of Armenian-
Turkish relations and the resolution of the Karabagh conflict. And that, in
the best-case scenario, means the preservation of the status-quo with all the
aforementioned bad consequences for Armenia and Karabagh, that is,
economic decline, decline of investments, exacerbation of the problem of
emigration, and so on. In the worst-case scenario, the inclusion of territorial
claims in the preamble of the Declaration is going to give Turkey and
Azerbaijan an opportunity to complete the distortion of the essence of the
Karabagh problem and to present it as not a manifestation of the right to
self-determination, but as a consequence of Armenia’s expansionist aims.
There may be an impression that I am exaggerating, and that contrary to
my concern, both Turkey and the other countries of the world will be
tolerant of the government’s hardened rhetoric, given the naturally emo-
tional state of the Armenian people on the occasion of the centennial of the
genocide, and will not attach too much importance to the declaration in
question. I doubt that will be the case for two reasons. First, foreign
embassies operating in Armenia are following all the events related to the
centennial of the genocide and meticulously reporting what they see to their
governments. Second, Turkey is undoubtedly going to study the Declara-
tion with a microscope, shining light on all its details and presenting them to
its foreign partners. That this is not a mere conjecture is evidenced by the
scrutiny to which Turkish diplomacy has subjected our Declaration of
Independence and our constitution. Let me cite just one example. The
former Turkish ambassador to the Soviet Union, Volkan Vural, states in
one of his interviews: “Turkey was worried about certain developments,
2 DRAFT OF AN ADDRESS BY ARMENIA TO THE INTERNATIONAL. . . 133

such as Armenia’s new constitution and its declaration of independence. . ..


Armenia’s declaration of independence contained numerous hints about
Western Armenia, i.e. about Turkish territory and about efforts to be made
toward the international recognition of the genocide. One could get an
impression that Armenia had territorial claims against Turkey. . . People may
demand certain things at the level of rhetoric. They can dream about Great
Armenia. There is no limit to dreams. The reality is obvious, however. Can
Armenia take territory from Turkey? Which reasonable person can entertain
such a thought? Our armed forces are larger than Armenia’s entire popula-
tion.”2
It is obvious from every perspective that the “Declaration on the Cen-
tennial of the Armenian Genocide” has no relation to the real problems of
Armenia, that it is in conflict with the national interests of Armenia, that it
creates new complications in Armenian-Turkish relations and in the process
of resolving the Karabagh conflict, and that the regime has designed it
exclusively for the purpose of scoring political points by exploiting the
patriotic feelings of the Armenian people. Therefore, the declaration cannot
be characterized with any epithet other than reckless, because it is no
different in terms of the dangers it contains from the reckless endeavors of
Gum Gapu (1890),3 the Ottoman Bank (1896),4 Shushi (1920),5 Olti
(1920),6 and the February Rebellion (1921).7 Let us hope that its conse-
quences will at least not be as disastrous as those of the aforementioned
endeavors.

2 DRAFT OF AN ADDRESS BY ARMENIA


TO THE INTERNATIONALCOMMITTEE ON THE OCCASION
8
OF THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

On February 17 of this year, I published an open letter to Serge Sargsyan


proposing that a consulting committee be formed for the purpose of
providing a final clarification on the position of the Republic of Armenia
regarding the issue of the genocide. The work of that committee, in my
concept, should have created a new working document based on the
Pan-Armenian Declaration on the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of
the Armenian Genocide; this new document would have been sent in the
name of the President of the Republic to the General-Secretary of the UN,
the chairman-in-office of the OSCE, the President of the European Union,
and the leaders of all nations. Although Serge Sargsyan rejected this
134 7 PEACE WITH NEIGHBORS HAS NO GOOD ALTERNATIVES

proposal, I nonetheless consider it useful and necessary to present to the


public my vision for such a declaration addressed to the international
community.

1. The Congress of Berlin, convened for the purpose of finalizing the


results of the 1877–1878 Russo-Turkish war with the participation
of England, Russia, Austria–Hungary, France, Italy, and the Otto-
man Empire, adopted Article 61 of the Berlin Treaty signed on July
13, 1878. That article defined the responsibility of the Sublime Porte
in the implementation of reforms in areas inhabited by Armenians
and ensuring the security of Armenians. Article 61 also demanded
that the latter report regularly to the states signatory to the treaty on
measures undertaken toward the implementation of such reforms.
2. The Ottoman Empire considered this verdict as interference in its
internal affairs and, thus, a manifestation of danger threatening its
territorial integrity. Thereafter, it not only failed in its obligations
but also changed, step by step, through periodic massacres, depor-
tations, and forced conversions the demographic situation in the
Armenian-inhabited provinces; in 1894–1896, the Ottoman Empire
organized the massacre of 300,000 Armenians, which invited much
anger within the international community.
3. The monstrous Ottoman plan to exterminate the Armenian people
reached its apex with the genocide that began on April 24, 1915,
and was nearly completed that year. That genocide claimed some 1.5
million victims; roughly another half million, having lost all their
belongings and properties, somehow managed to reach neighboring
countries and became refugees there.
4. On May 24, 1915, England, France, and Russia came forth with a
joint declaration that condemned the fact of the deportations and
massacres of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire while
warning that the members of the Young Turk Ittihadist government
would be held personally responsible and would be severely
punished for these crimes.
5. After the armistice signed at Mudros, throughout 1919–1920, the
Ottoman government, under the pressure of the Entente states, put
on trial the leaders of the Young Turk government. As a result many
high level functionaries and officials of the Ittihad party and govern-
ment accused of the extermination of the Armenian population of
2 DRAFT OF AN ADDRESS BY ARMENIA TO THE INTERNATIONAL. . . 135

the empire were condemned to various terms of imprisonment, and


some were condemned to death.
6. The extermination of the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire
corresponds fully to the definition of the UN “Convention on the
Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” that was
adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1948, and
went into effect on January 12, 1951. Article 2 of that Convention
defines the essence of the crime of “genocide” in five points, all of
which apply to the nationwide tragedy that befell the Armenian
people between 1915 and 1923.
7. Recognizing the UN Convention on Genocide as a basis, a number
of countries have recognized and condemned the Armenian geno-
cide at the parliamentary level. These are: Uruguay (1965), Cyprus
(1975), Russia (1995), Canada (1996), Lebanon (1997), Belgium
(1998), France (1998), Greece (1999), Vatican (2000), Italy
(2000), Switzerland (2003), Slovakia (2004), the Netherlands
(2004), Venezuela (2005), Poland (2005), Lithuania (2005),
Argentina (2006), Chile (2007), Sweden (2010), and Bolivia
(2014).9 The Armenian genocide has also been recognized by a
number of parliamentary chambers, committees, provinces, auton-
omies, and city governments as well as international political, eccle-
siastic, and humanitarian organizations.
8. Faithful to the “Declaration on the Independence of Armenia”
adopted on August 23, 1990, the Republic of Armenia contributes
to the international recognition of the Armenian genocide. At the
same time, considering this obligation strictly in the context of a
crime committed against human rights and humanity and therefore
within the context of obligations derived from international conven-
tions and assumed by states, Armenia does not make the problem of
the recognition of the genocide the basis of its foreign policy.
9. Simultaneously, the Republic of Armenia emphasizes that it does not
intend to force its agenda on the Armenian diaspora because the
children of the Armenian people spread over the world have the
right as citizens, taxpayers, and voters of different countries to exert
pressure on their governments and demand from these governments
that they recognize and condemn the Armenian genocide. Whether
these governments accede to such demands from their own citizens
or not falls within the confines of their domestic affairs.
136 7 PEACE WITH NEIGHBORS HAS NO GOOD ALTERNATIVES

10. Armenia also does not present a demand of Turkey to recognize the
Armenian genocide and to face its own history, considering these a
matter of internal affairs for the latter as well. This does not refer, of
course, to the reparation to descendants of the victims of the geno-
cide for legally documented financial losses suffered by their ances-
tors and to the restitution of lost family and communal (church)
properties.
11. Addressing the governments of Europe, the Republic of Armenia
requests that the recognition of the Armenian genocide not be
considered a precondition during the ongoing negotiations related
to Turkey’s membership in the European Union. With respect to
Turkey’s integration into the European Union, Armenia considers it
as a prospect that would improve regional security and open up
alternative avenues for cooperation with the outside world, which
would contribute to Armenia’s development.
12. Armenia is ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey and to
develop multidimensional economic, cultural, and political cooper-
ation between the two countries on the basis of the Protocols signed
in Zurich on October 10, 2009, having reservations only with
regard to the appropriateness of creating a commission of Armenian
and Turkish historians that would examine the factuality of the
genocide. Such a reservation is based on two concerns. First, there
is as yet no precedent in international practice where a political
conflict is resolved by a commission of historians; and, second, a
commission of Armenian and Turkish historians may be turned into
a theater of sharp disputes and the stoking of passions which, instead
of creating an atmosphere of trust between the two peoples, would
inevitably present further complications for their cooperation.
13. Considering in a particular sense the interconnection between
Armenian-Turkish relations and the resolution of the Karabagh
problem, Armenia is ready to resolve that conflict as well, on the
basis of the Madrid principles and through peaceful negotiations,
with the condition that until such time that a timetable for the
resolution of the conflict is implemented, there is a clarification of
the conditions, deadlines, and legal consequences of the planned
referendum aiming at the determination of the future status of
Mountainous Karabagh as well as of the issues related to the place-
ment of international peacekeeping forces in the area for the purpose
of providing security for the Karabagh population.
3 PEACE, RECONCILIATION, AND GOOD-NEIGHBORLY RELATIONS 137

By publishing this strictly personal draft of a statement that Armenia could


make to the international community on the occasion of the 100th anni-
versary of the Armenian genocide, I am not inclined at all to consider it the
truth of a higher court and I am ready to listen to and take into consider-
ation the proposals, remarks and additions of all interested parties. In all
cases, I am certain that a message written in the spirit of this draft would be
much more beneficial for Armenia than the “Declaration on the 100th
Anniversary of the Genocide” that I have criticized many times. That
would be true, of course, if the purpose of a statement is to win the
sympathy of the world rather than irritating it and turning it against
us. The 100th anniversary of the genocide is the best opportunity to
transmit to the international community positive rather than negative sig-
nals. Losing this opportunity may cost us dearly in the future.

3 PEACE, RECONCILIATION, AND GOOD-NEIGHBORLY


RELATIONS

Speech at the second convention of the Armenian National Congress


(December 17, 2016)10

In one of my recent speeches, I stated that “the root of all problems in


Armenia, including the extremely difficult socio-economic conditions, pov-
erty, mass emigration, the problems with how well-equipped our armed
forces are, unlawful elections, the non-existence of a justice system, the
trampling of democracy and human rights is corruption, the insatiable
plunder of our national wealth by state officials” (Ilur.am, 10.19.2016,
Fourth Estate, 10.20.2016). That, however, is just the tip of the iceberg.
The invisible part is the political philosophy that has been laid at the
foundation of state-building in Armenia since 1998, according to which
we can maintain the status quo in Karabagh for another 100 years and
develop despite blockades. I find it unnecessary to explain what disasters this
philosophy has already produced. The fact is that we lived in one country in
1998, and today we live in a completely different one. It means that the
most important problem that we could have solved when we were a lot
stronger, we have to solve now when we are much weaker. And if we wait
any longer, we will find ourselves in an even worse position, having repeated
the adventurism of 1920, when striving for maximal territorial gain, we lost
nearly half of the territory of the Republic of Armenia.
138 7 PEACE WITH NEIGHBORS HAS NO GOOD ALTERNATIVES

One would think that the still lingering consequences of the economic
crisis of 2008, the increasing scale of emigration, our foreign debt which has
assumed menacing proportions and the resulting threat of a default, and
especially the April War, would have a sobering effect on our authorities and
would force them to radically revise their disastrous policy over Karabagh
and to adopt a completely different strategy to deal with the challenges we
face. Judging from the regime’s reaction, however, it looks like we are going
to be disappointed in this case as well, because instead of proposing rational
measures, it has put forward a new nonsensical ideology, which will lead us
into a new deadlock. I am referring to the idea of forming a “nation-army,”
which unfortunately has even been included in the program of the govern-
ment. Putting aside the moral aspect of the issue, which has to do with the
introduction of a new tax as a first step of giving life to the concept, I will
concentrate only on its political content.
To that end, we first need to find out what hides inside this concept. If we
ignore the Amazons, history knows three successful cases of a “nation-
army,” the first two in medieval Mongolia and Switzerland, and the third
in modern Israel, bearing in mind, of course, that the word “nation” cannot
be used literally in the medieval context. In order to get a basic picture of the
phenomenon, I think it is necessary to give a brief account of each of these
cases.
In the early years of the thirteenth century, Genghis Khan unified by
force the dozens of different Mongol tribes, which had been fighting
amongst each other for centuries, and replaced the old system of inter-
tribe relations with a well-organized system of an army. All the men were
subject to conscription to fight in units made up of 10, 100, 1000, and
10,000 (tumen) men. This simultaneously awakened a sense of “national”
unity among the Mongols and created an awesome military force that
allowed a people as small as the Mongols to create the largest land empire
in the world stretching from the Pacific Ocean to Poland and Anatolia and
to rule over a combined population 200 times as large as them. That massive
empire, however, survived only for five–six decades, splintering into four
parts following the death of the Great Khan Kubilai (1294), because the
military energy of the Mongols was spent, because they were unable to form
a unifying ideology for the empire, and because the Mongols were small in
number.
As I already pointed out, the next successful example of forming a
“nation-army” is the Swiss case, which, however, is different from the
Mongol case in its motives and aims. If in the Mongol case it was designed
3 PEACE, RECONCILIATION, AND GOOD-NEIGHBORLY RELATIONS 139

as an instrument for their expansionist goals, in the Swiss case it was dictated
by the imperative of defending themselves in a hostile environment. For
500 years (1291–1815), the feudal lords of the alpine valleys, which had a
mixed population of German, French, and Italian origin, had to rely exclu-
sively on themselves and to see the creation of a combat capable army their
ultimate priority in order to repel the constant attacks from their powerful
neighbors—France, Germany, and Austria. And even though Switzerland
has not been subject to external dangers, given its status of a neutral state in
the last 200 years, and even though it has avoided involvement in all wars on
the European continent in that period, including World War I and World
War II, the army, where every healthy male between the ages of 18 and
50 serves either on active duty or in reserve, is still cherished by the Swiss
society because of tradition. This is why some consider Switzerland the most
militarized state in the world because of the size of its army relative to its
population and because it can increase the size of the army tenfold in a
couple of days thanks to its very well-prepared reserve.
Since the Armenian proponents of the “nation-army” concepts consider
the Israeli example the object of emulation, it is necessary to discuss it in
more detail. In essence, Israel’s motives for creating a “nation-army” are not
different from those of Switzerland as it was also dictated by similar
demands of national security and ensuring the continued existence of the
state in a hostile environment. Palestine was divided into two equal parts—
14,000 square kilometers each—on the basis of a UN resolution adopted on
November 29, 1947. Israel recognized that resolution, and on the day of
the expiration of the British Mandate—14 May, 1948—it declared inde-
pendence. Palestinian Arabs and Arab countries refused to recognize the
resolution and on the very next day declared war on Israel, but were forced
to agree to a cease-fire after suffering a crushing defeat. Thus, having been
denied the prospect of peaceful coexistence, Israel was forced to rely exclu-
sively on its own military power and to improve its army in order to ensure
its continued existence, which then allowed it to score victories in the
subsequent wars. The atmosphere in the Arab-Israeli conflict improved
radically after the signing of the Camp David accords in 1978–1979 and
after the ratification of the peace treaties Israel signed with Egypt and
Jordan. In 1993, Israel was recognized by the Palestine Liberation Organi-
zation (PLO), which laid the foundation for the process of Israeli-Palestin-
ian reconciliation, which has not been concluded yet. It should be added
that in addition to its core mission of guaranteeing the state’s continued
existence and security, the process of building the Israeli army has indirectly
140 7 PEACE WITH NEIGHBORS HAS NO GOOD ALTERNATIVES

contributed to the solution of other national problems: in particular, the


army has served as an instrument for forging a unified modern nation that
would speak the same language and would have common culture from a
diverse mass of people who had immigrated from various countries and who
were the carriers of different languages and cultures; it was an instrument for
scientific and technological progress in the country, as well as for transfer-
ring technologies developed in the military-industrial complex to the civil-
ian economy. Another specificity of the Israeli army is the fact that not only
men but also women are subject to conscription, and the fact that over the
last 60 years, three out of the eight prime ministers of the country were
generals (Rabin, Sharon, Barak), while two others (Begin and Shamir) were
legendary commanders of the paramilitary organization Irgun.
Time constraints prevent me from a more detailed analysis of these
“nation-army” precedents, to go deeper into the specificities of each of
them and their influence on economic, demographic, and societal processes.
I think even this brief account, however, gives an idea of the kind of motives
and factors that have given rise to the idea in each case, taking into account
the human and material resources available to them. I spoke about the
motives. There is no need to discuss the availability of resources, since
they clearly must have been available as these are cases of success.
These introductory remarks imply that as first order of their business, the
architects of the Armenian version of the “nation-army” must answer the
three following questions: What forces us to adopt such a program? What
problem is it designed to solve? What resources are necessary for
implementing it? Ignoring the sequence of these questions, let us first deal
with the available recourses. In contrast to Israel, which is used as an
example, and which saw its Jewish population grow from 600,000 at inde-
pendence to about 7 million today, the population of Armenia has been
declining since the 1988 earthquake and the opening of the closed Soviet
borders—a trend that is not showing any signs of reversing or even slowing
down. The Armenian authorities are pinning big hopes on the Diaspora in
terms of human resources. As a Diaspora Armenian myself, I feel I have the
right and the obligation to tell you that this hope is an absolute chimera and
a form of self-deception. It is enough to recall that only 12 Diaspora
Armenians participated in the three-year war in the 1990s. This fact was
publicized by none other than Vazgen Sargsyan, who was in command of all
the details having to do with the war.
As far as the material resources are concerned, the picture is as sad here
as it is with the human resources. After the period of some growth in the
3 PEACE, RECONCILIATION, AND GOOD-NEIGHBORLY RELATIONS 141

period between 1994 and 2008, the Armenian economy is going through a
period of horrible decline, and what is even worse, there is no prospect of
improvement. As they say, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It is not
to say that no wealth is being created in Armenia. Wealth is being created,
but it is being plundered by high-ranking officials and being spent on the
development of their businesses, on mansions, on lion hunts in Africa, and
what is left over is parked in foreign bank accounts. Just to give you an idea
of the size of the plunder, I can assure you that it would be sufficient for
having a Karabagh with 300,000 inhabitants and an army equipped with
supermodern weapons. If the state of the Armenian economy was not
catastrophic, the authorities would have never passed the scandalous law
of begging the people to pay 1000 drams11 per month for the care of
wounded soldiers and the families of soldiers killed in action, which, as a
first step toward the “nation-army” concept did nothing but discredit it and
which made us look ridiculous in the eyes of the world. No one should pin
substantial hopes on the Diaspora for material assistance either. First, why
should the Diaspora help Armenia if the country’s wealth is being plundered
by its rulers? Second, while being grateful to the major benefactors and the
ordinary Armenians of the Diaspora for their humanitarian assistance during
the period of independence, we should not forget that that assistance has
never exceeded 2–3 percent of our annual budget. You have to agree that
that is an insignificant contribution for such a costly endeavor as building a
“nation-army.” Even if Armenia’s entire budget was dedicated to that
program, it would have been insufficient.
Let us now answer the following question: what is the imperative dictat-
ing the creation of a “nation-army” and what are the motives behind the
idea? As we saw, in the case of the Mongols, the motive was conquest, while
in the case of Switzerland and Israel, it was ensuring the security of those
peoples and the continued survival of their states. To speak of plans of
conquest is ridiculous, if we ignore the delusional nonsense about capturing
Baku, Western Armenia, and creating an Armenia from sea to sea. As far as
ensuring the security of our people and the survival of our state is
concerned, the Swiss example is irrelevant, because the medieval period is
long behind us, and the relations between states are regulated on the basis of
totally different principles of international law. Armenia’s problems then
seem to be comparable to Israel’s. They are, but with some serious caveats.
I pointed out already that the root of the protracted Arab-Israeli con-
frontation was the reality created by the Arab states’ refusal to abide by the
UN resolution of November 29, 1947, about the partition of Palestine and
142 7 PEACE WITH NEIGHBORS HAS NO GOOD ALTERNATIVES

the war they launched against Israel the day after the adoption of the
resolution. Israel, therefore, had no choice but to rely on its own resources
and to embark on the creation of the “nation-army.” In other words, Israel
was forced to do so from the very beginning, rather than coming to the idea
as a matter of a choice. By the way, Israel’s concerns have not been fully
ameliorated after the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, because 21 Arab
and Islamic states still do not recognize Israel contrary to the spirit of the
UN Charter.
Let us now see whether Armenia is compelled to follow Israel’s footsteps
even if resources are available. Unlike Israel, Armenia is recognized by all
the member-states of the UN, with the exception of Pakistan. Armenia does
not have diplomatic relations only with two of its four neighbors—Turkey
and Azerbaijan. The relations with the other two neighbors—Iran and
Georgia—have been warm and friendly from the very beginning, and
these relations are not only unlikely to be disrupted, but they show all the
signs of becoming deeper and more effective, given the mutual interests and
the geopolitical reality. Since its independence, Israel has fought six large-
scale wars with four of its neighbors—Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon
(1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, and 2006)—not counting its massive
strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. In contrast, Armenia has
been in a military confrontation only with one of its neighbors—Azerbaijan.
In this regard, it is worth remembering that Armenia’s current situation is
different not only from Israel’s but also from the situation of the first
Armenian republic, which during the two and a half years of its existence
fought wars with three of its four neighbors—Azerbaijan, Georgia, and
Turkey.
The elimination of disputes with Turkey and Azerbaijan and the estab-
lishment of good-neighborly relations with them depends on the resolution
of only one problem—the Karabagh conflict—which I will address in more
detail shortly. It is also not unimportant that despite the unconditional
support Turkey has granted Azerbaijan on that issue, it has not committed
any hostile act against Armenia, other than the blockade, and it has not been
able to prevent the territorial expansion of Karabagh. Moreover, and this
may sound paradoxical, by encouraging Azerbaijan to become more intran-
sigent with its verbal support, Turkey has in a way contributed to the
successes of the Karabagh army. Had it adopted a neutral stance in the
conflict, instead of siding with Azerbaijan and nudging it toward intransi-
gence, the latter would not have lost the other five regions following the loss
3 PEACE, RECONCILIATION, AND GOOD-NEIGHBORLY RELATIONS 143

of Kelbajar.12 Turkey’s unconstructive intervention has contributed to the


increase in the tension around Karabagh, rather than reducing it.
Be it as it may, the aforementioned implies that Armenia does not face
the kind of dangers threatening its very existence that Israel has faced for
forty years following its independence and continues to face even today.
Therefore, our country is not forced to follow Israel’s example of building a
“nation-army,” which does not mean strengthening of the army should not
be a priority. Compared to the problems Israel has with the Arab and
Islamic worlds, the problems of Armenia and Karabagh are much more
local and solvable. That is one of the reasons why the international com-
munity does not think of them as urgent priorities. It should also be pointed
out that copying of Israel’s example is problematic for another, methodo-
logical reason: it is not obvious at all that an effective system developed in
one county can be employed with equal effectiveness in another. For
example, the miracle of the Chinese economic reform could have only
taken place in China.
In short, in our case “nation-army” is a foolish, dangerous, ill-considered
idea, which is only going to intensify emigration and the depopulation of
Armenia and Karabagh. One gets an impression that the ruling regime
intends to implement this program at the cost of eliminating one of its
components—the nation. In other words, after some time we may have a
powerful army, but is there going to be a nation left to protect?
A question arises naturally: if Armenia is not forced to resort to the extreme
measure of becoming a “nation-army,” then what are our government’s
motives for putting it forward? Of course, we can think, and many do think,
that this is yet another one of the ruling party’s pseudo-patriotic slogan in
anticipation of the election campaign from the same category of fairy tales as
“we should all become freedom-fighters,” “we are a global nation,” “we are a
nation-organization,” “Armenia from sea to sea,”13 “Kura-Arax republic,”14
“pan-Armenian bank,” “the Gyumri technopark,”15 “making Dilijan a finan-
cial center,”16 “Istanbul should become a sea of blood,” and so on. If that is
what it is, the idea of a “nation-army” is not that dangerous, because it will be as
consequential as these other fairy tales.
But if the regime’s intentions are serious this time, it deserves an equally
serious treatment. One does not need to be a genius to understand that this
idea is the same strategy of prolonging the status quo, just with a different
packaging. In other words, if we were to use the logic of marketing, which
our government likes so much, a brand that has been discredited, that has
been worn out, and that has become boring for consumers, has been
144 7 PEACE WITH NEIGHBORS HAS NO GOOD ALTERNATIVES

replaced with a better sounding and more attractive brand. More specifi-
cally, not having drawn any lessons from the bitter experience of the past
18 years, the regime has decided to continue with the failed policy of
permanent confrontation with Turkey and Azerbaijan, which has already
visited many social, demographic, and psychological disasters on Armenia
and Karabagh in that short period. This program means enduring these
disasters for another 18 years until nothing will be left of Armenia and
Karabagh and the problem will be solved by becoming irrelevant.
It has been said many times that the main guarantee for Armenia’s
security, economic development, and the improvement of its demographic
situation is the resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict and the nor-
malization of Armenian-Turkish relations. It turns out, however, that even
the past 18 years were not enough for grasping this elementary truth. In
reality, there is only one problem—the resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh
conflict. After that the Armenian-Turkish relations will be normalized
automatically. And no method other than the phased solution for that
conflict exists. The proposal for a compromise solution that is on the
negotiating table today is in essence the same proposal that was on the
table in 1997—in exchange for ceding certain territories Karabagh receives
an internationally recognized transitional status, leaving the determination
of the final status to the future and guaranteed by the deployment of
peacekeeping forces on the line of contact between Armenian and
Azerbaijani armed forces.
The modern world does not recognize the right of the conqueror and
the law of the jungle, and no method other than compromises exists for
resolving conflicts. The example of Israel, so admired by our hardliners who
still think in the “Bank Ottoman” terms and keep shouting “not an inch of
land,” proves that as well. In order to conclude the peace deal at Camp
David, Israel returned the approximately 60,000 square kilometers of ter-
ritory of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and granted autonomy to Arab
Palestine in exchange for recognition of its statehood by the PLO, being
also prepared to recognize Palestine’s full independence after the resolution
of certain problems. These were difficult and painful compromises for which
Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin even paid with their lives. So, if there is a
lesson to learn from Israel, it is not the “nation-army” lesson but the lesson
of its Peace Now movement. Only superpowers are “allowed” to violate the
rule about compromise solutions to conflicts. Saddam Hussein, who did not
understand this, destroyed both himself and his own country by conquering
Kuwait.
3 PEACE, RECONCILIATION, AND GOOD-NEIGHBORLY RELATIONS 145

The claim that the alternative to compromise is war, which is supported


by countless examples, cannot be disputed. There is also no need to explain
how tragic the consequences of war can be. Even the mere threat of war,
rather than war itself, is rife with such consequences, the most prominent of
which is mass emigration. Armenia is being depopulated not so much
because of the difficult socioeconomic conditions, poverty, injustice, and
corruption, but because of the permanent threat of the resumption of war.
This is not a phenomenon specific to us, and it is no reason for having an
inferiority complex. Right in front of our eyes, in the last couple of decades,
millions of people have emigrated from Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Lebanon,
Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan Ukraine, and a score of other countries because of
war or the threat of war.
We could have obtained the resolution to the Karabagh conflict that
Armenia can aspire to now back in 1998 and with much better terms. If that
had happened, we could have not just avoided the unnecessary suffering and
losses of the past 18 years, but we would have a totally different, prosperous,
populous, developing country and a secure Karabagh. It is unfortunate that
my colleagues at the time did not grasp these simple truths, and we lost the
best opportunity to resolve the conflict. I hope you will see this not as
criticism directed at certain people, but rather as a warning that if we waste
more time, we are going to have to resolve the problem on even worse terms
and from positions that have been weakened further. The cause of the
disastrous consequences of the change of power in 1998 must be located
not in the change of personalities, but in the disruption of the continuity of
our policy.
Putting the past aside, it is obvious that today we are again facing the
imperative of not squandering the opportunity to resolve the conflict, which
is evidenced by the serious efforts Russia has made in that direction. I have
stated on one occasion that the key to the resolution is in Russia’s hands and
these efforts prove the veracity of that claim. The West, which, as I argued
does not regard the resolution of the Karabagh conflict as a priority, not
only acknowledges, but appreciates Russia’s special role in that process. The
Armenian National Congress, like its predecessor—the ANM—is the only
political party that has not only not hidden but has clearly articulated its
commitment to compromise and peace on numerous occasions. Therefore,
the Congress should participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections
with a program of halting the arms race, eliminating the threat of war,
resolving the Karabagh conflict, and normalizing the relations with Turkey,
which is not only a matter of principle but also an agenda dictated by reality,
146 7 PEACE WITH NEIGHBORS HAS NO GOOD ALTERNATIVES

and which is fully consistent with the vital interests of the people of Armenia
and Karabagh. Of course, that program can be implemented only if the
Congress wins the elections or secures a sizeable presence in the parliament.
But since the elections are still far in the future, and even after that
Armenia will remain a presidential republic till April 2018, we must take
into account the fact that Serge Sarsgyan’s administration and the parties
that form its base will have the responsibility for resolving the Karabagh
conflict. The other political forces, including the Armenian National Con-
gress, have no levers of influence over that process other than expressing
their opinions. That certainly does not mean that they should not assume
moral responsibility, even if they cannot assume legal responsibility, and that
therefore they should step aside. On an issue as important for the entire
nation as the resolution of the Karabagh conflict, political forces, civic
organizations, and the intellectuals who support peace and reconciliation
must lend their support to the authorities regardless of their attitude toward
them. We have always been guided by this principle whenever there has
been an external danger or a danger of domestic instability as evidenced by
our stance during the events of October 27,17 the April War,18 or the crisis
brought about by the actions of the Mavericks of Sassoon.19
The other political forces are either the proponents of no compromise
and “not an inch of land” positions, or they keep silent out of fear that they
will be called traitors. Even though most of the people screaming “not an
inch of land” have had no connection to the acquisition of those lands and
even though many of them are warming their hands on the blood of soldiers
and freedom fighters as Varuzhan Avetisyan20 has correctly observed, we
should not consider their existence out of the ordinary. Such extremist
forces exist even in developed democracies, including in Israel, which has
been amply discussed in this speech. What is out of the ordinary is the
behavior of the representatives of the Republican Party and the parties of the
coalition. No member of that party and no member of the government has
made public statements on the prospects for a compromise solution beyond
vague and general words. In essence, they have abandoned their president
in the task of countering opponents and preparing the public for peace.
That should indeed have been their task, not the task of the Armenian
National Congress. It is high time to realize that in order to succeed in
resolving the Karabagh conflict, Serge Sargsyan must emerge as a leader
who enjoys the support of the majority of the public, political forces, and
civic organizations, not as a weak leader with serious problems in his own
country. He should be encouraged to make the decisive move toward the
3 PEACE, RECONCILIATION, AND GOOD-NEIGHBORLY RELATIONS 147

resolution of the Karabagh conflict, instead of undermining him with cheap,


“patriotic” bluster. Otherwise, his negotiating partners are not going to take
his arguments seriously.
Nations are grateful not to leaders who give them wars, even if the wars
are victorious, but to those who give them peace. This is not just true for the
modern world. This was understood even in medieval times. As much as
kings and sultans were praised for their victories and for their martial
prowess, statesmen who achieved peace and prosperity even at the expense
of compromises were appreciated more. In the Armenian case, this is clearly
manifest in the writings of Aristakes of Lastiver and Hovhannes of Yerznkah
in the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. “It is the duty of the king to secure
peace and prosperity,” writes Aristakes. Incidentally, the Armenian word
shinutyun has two meanings—peace and prosperity, which means that the
two concepts are inextricably linked in the consciousness of our people. In
other words, if there is no peace, there can be no prosperity. Serge Sargsyan
must follow the sage advice of our ancestors and yield to the demands of
rational politics, which the nation will not fail to appreciate.
In order to prevent the possible, or rather inevitable, distortions of my
speech, I feel compelled to issue the following two warnings:

First, the readiness to stand by the authorities when there are external
threats and when there is a need to insure domestic stability is a
principled stance, and in no way means cooperation with the regime.
We have been their toughest, most principled, and consistent critics,
and we shall not stop, ruling out any possibility of entering a coalition
with the Republican Party, which has brought countless disasters
upon the Armenian people. We are completely different, or rather
we are complete opposites in terms of our ideological, political, and
moral principles, therefore our relations can never be outside of the
government-opposition format.
Second, the leadership of Azerbaijan will be deeply mistaken if it
interprets the conciliatory spirit of this speech and the Armenian
people’s desire for peace as a sign of weakness and if it decides to
harden its position. I think the April War should have proven to them
that in times of danger, the Armenian people are capable of uniting
and striking back at any aggression in the most forceful fashion.
Whenever it happens, Azerbaijan will suffer a bitter defeat and lose
several more regions if it initiates a war. And what will happen after
that only God knows. Despite his belligerent rhetoric, I consider
148 7 PEACE WITH NEIGHBORS HAS NO GOOD ALTERNATIVES

Ilham Aliyev21 a rational statesman capable of taking adequate steps


toward peace, which his compatriots also need, as his late father—
Heydar Alieyev22—reacted to my “War and Peace” article at the time
with a judicious speech.23

I can only imagine the commotion that is going to follow my speech in


the Armenian political field and the media. We are going to bear witness to
yet another parade of ignorance, myopia, and boastfulness. We are going to
earn yet again already worn-out labels and we are going to be pilloried again
in confirmation of the following paradoxical syllogism that defines the
originality of the Armenian political thought:

(a) You cede the part to be able to keep the other part
(b) You cede nothing, you lose everything
(c) Those who keep the part are declared traitors, while those who lose
everything are lionized as patriots.

Why are we then creating this headache for ourselves? Because there is no
other force in Armenia that is willing to stare truth in the eye. If we go silent,
the light of reason will be extinguished completely. Therefore, regardless of
the labels we are going to earn, I propose that the Armenian National
Congress stands in these elections with “Peace, Reconciliation, and Good-
neighborly Relations” as its slogan. It cannot fail to be appreciated by the
majority of our people, because there is no other path toward the salvation,
security, and development of Armenia and Karabagh. Authoritative political
scientists and economists, including a fellow Armenian—Daron Acemyan24
—are already classifying Armenia as a failed state along with Afghanistan,
Somalia, Libya, Yemen, South Sudan, Iraq, and other similar states. The
“Peace, Reconciliation, and Good-neighborly Relations” platform creates
an opportunity to leave that unfortunate company in a short period of time.
As regards the tactics of the Armenian National Congress, I think it would be
desirable to participate in the parliamentary elections in an alliance formed
around that political slogan or platform. Our doors must be open to political
parties that want to form such an alliance.
Concluding my speech, I would like to clarify the position of the Arme-
nian National Congress on the issue of the resolution of the Karabagh
conflict, even if it is going to involve some reiteration of what already has
been said. That position rests on the following objective starting points:
NOTES 149

(a) Armenia and Karabagh are less secure and are deprived of a chance of
developing and prospering without a resolution to that conflict. The
past 18 years were a sufficient proof of that.
(b) There is no other solution that what is on the negotiating table
today. If we lose the opportunity, the next solution will be worse
than what is available today.
(c) The parties should not perceive themselves as winners or losers
following the resolution, otherwise there will be a permanent danger
of resumption of the conflict.
(d) The Armenian National Congress, as was already pointed out, has no
levers of influencing the process of resolution other than expressing
an opinion.
(e) The responsibility for resolving the conflict rests with the current
administration and the political forces forming its base. Do they want
to pay attention to what we are saying? Good. If they don’t, may
God be with them.
(f) If our government succeeds in getting a better, more victorious
solution, we will only welcome it and we will apologize to them.
(g) We equally mourn the losses and suffering the conflict inflicted on
the Armenians and the Azerbaijanis and we sincerely believe in the
peaceful coexistence and the establishment of good-neighborly rela-
tions between the two peoples

Perhaps my speech turned out to be too depressing, but my goal was not to
demoralize people. To the contrary, it was motivated by the desire to show a
hopeful and dignified way out of the current situations to our people, whose
only source of joy and pride today is Henrikh Mkhitaryan.25

NOTES
1. Fourth Estate, March 20, 2015; Ilur.am, March 20, 2015.
2. (See forum.hyeclub.com 11.09.2008.)
3. Armenian revolutionary parties pursued a strategy of attracting European
great powers’ attention after they emerged in the late nineteenth century by
engaging in demonstrative and provocative behavior. Gum Gapu refers to
the kidnapping of the patriarch from the main church of the patriarchate by
members of the Social Democratic Hnchak Party, which was located in a
square under that name, and forcing him to deliver a petition to the Sultan.
150 7 PEACE WITH NEIGHBORS HAS NO GOOD ALTERNATIVES

They were arrested on their way to the Sultan’s palace. Repressions against
Armenians followed.
4. In 1896 members of the ARF took over the main office of the Ottoman
Bank and issued a set of demands. They were evacuated thanks to the
mediation of several European ambassadors, but the Ottoman government
responded with a massacre, which killed 6000 Armenians.
5. In 1920, Armenian paramilitaries attacked the barracks of an Azerbaijani
army unit in Shushi. The Azerbaijani unit repulsed the attack and went on
the offensive against the Armenian districts of the city, killing more than 500
and expelling 25,000 Armenians.
6. In the summer of 1920 the Armenian government launched an offensive to
capture the coal mines near the town of Olti on the Armenian-Turkish
border, which led to a war ending in Armenia’s defeat in November 1920.
Armenia lost 30,000 square kilometers, which was half of the country’s
territory, as a result.
7. In February 1921, the ARF, which had been ousted from power by the
Bolsheviks three months earlier, launched an armed insurrection, which led
to a civil war.
8. Ilur.am, 24 March, 2015.
9. Three more states—Austria (2015), Luxemburg (2015), and Germany
(2016)—have recognized the Armenian genocide since the publication of
the article.
10. Ilur.am, 17 December, 2016.
11. That is the equivalent of slightly more than $2.
12. Kelbajar is one of the two Azerbaijani districts that separated Karabagh from
Armenia, Lachin being the other. Lachin was captured by Armenian forces in
May, 1992. Kelbajar was captured in early 1993 in what became a prelude of
a larger military operation resulting in the capture of five more Azerbaijani
districts outside of Nagorno Karabagh.
13. This is the catchy refrain of Armenian revisionism, claiming territories that
stretch from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
14. This is a somewhat more reserved version of Armenian revisionism, claiming
territories between the Kura and Arax rivers.
15. This is a reference to a claim by former Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan that
the second largest city of Armenia, which still has not recovered from the
consequences of the 1988 earthquake, should be turned into some kind of a
technology center.
16. This is a reference to another statement by the same Tigran Sargsyan about
turning the town of Dilijan into a banking center.
17. On October 27, 1999, terrorists killed eight members of the Armenian
parliament and government during a session of the National Assembly,
including the prime minister and the chairman of the National Assembly.
NOTES 151

18. Azerbaijan launched a surprise attack against Karabagh on April 2, 1016,


which resulted in the most serious case of fighting in Karabagh since the
cease-fire of 1994. It lasted for four days and is now referred to as the April
War in Armenia.
19. For several weeks in August, 2016, a group of armed men who called
themselves as Mavericks of Sassoon took over and held a police installation
in one of the districts of Yerevan, calling on people to rise up against Serge
Sargsyan’s government.
20. He was a member of the Mavericks of Sassoon.
21. Ilham Aliyev is the current president of Azerbaijan, who has held that post
since 2003.
22. Heydar Alieyev was the long-time Soviet era Communist boss of Azerbaijan.
He spent the early years of Azerbaijani independence on the margins of
Azerbaijani politics as the governor of the autonomous region of Nakhiche-
van. After the catastrophic performance of Abulfaz Elchibey in the post of
the president of Azerbaijan he was welcomed back in 1993 and held the post
till his death in 2003 when he bequeathed the presidency to his son, Ilham.
23. It must be mentioned that this time also there was a positive reaction to
Ter-Petrossian’s speech from Azerbaijan in the form of a statement by
Azerbaijan’s first president Ayaz Mutallibov. See Appendix 5.
24. Daron Acemyan is the prominent MIT economist Daron Acemoglu. He was
born and raised in Turkey, which is why his last name is Turkified. He is an
ethnic Armenian and the Armenian version of his last name is Acemyan,
which is how Ter-Petrossian preferred to refer to him.
25. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a soccer star playing for Manchester United in
England.
APPENDIX

1 SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 76: RELATING


TO DEMOCRACY IN ARMENIA

(November 12, 1991)1

Mr. Lieberman submitted the following concurrent resolution, which was


referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations:
S. Con. Res. 76
Whereas, in February 1988, the Armenian people engaged in mass public
protests against their oppressive communist government, thereby creating a
model for other anti-communist protest movements throughout Eastern
Europe and the Soviet Union;
Whereas the Armenian protests and similar protests throughout Eastern
Europe and the Soviet Union have caused the communist system to collapse
and led to the liberation of millions of people;
Whereas the Armenian people yearn for and are striving for the estab-
lishment of democracy and a free-market economic system in their country;
Whereas, on September 21, 1991, in a national referendum held in
compliance with the Soviet constitution and monitored by international
observers, the people of the Armenian republic voted overwhelmingly for
independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic;

© The Author(s) 2018 153


L. Ter-Petrossian, Armenia’s Future, Relations with Turkey, and the
Karabagh Conflict, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-58916-9
154 APPENDIX

Whereas, on October 16, 1991, the Republic of Armenia held its first
multiparty presidential election selecting Levon Ter-Petrossian, a former
political prisoner, as its first president; and
Whereas these elections have been recognized as being free and fair:
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That
the Congress:

1. congratulates President Levon Ter-Petrossian for becoming the first


democratically elected president of the independent Republic of
Armenia;
2. commends the people of Armenia for successfully executing
Armenia’s first free, fair, and democratic presidential election and
encourages them to continue their course toward democracy and
free-market economics; and
3. urges the President of the United States to recognize Armenia’s
declaration of independence, extend full diplomatic recognition to
the independent Republic of Armenia, and support Armenia’s appli-
cation to join international organizations, including the United
Nations and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, historians may well say that the
collapse of communism in the Soviet bloc began not in the heart of Russia
or Central Europe, but in Armenia. In February 1988, the Armenian people
engaged in a courageous protest against the corrupt Communist regime
that had been imposed on them by the Kremlin. This revolt against Com-
munist rule in the USSR served as a model and inspiration for the uprisings
that took place in Central Europe later in the year.
Having inspired the people of Central Europe, the people of Armenia
were emboldened in turn by the collapse of the Berlin Wall. In August,
1990, Armenia’s democratically elected parliament passed a declaration of
its intent to become independent; in September 1991, the Republic voted
overwhelmingly to become independent; and on October 16, Levon
Ter-Petrossian was elected President with 83 percent of the vote. Observers
from the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe praised these
elections.
President Ter-Petrossian deserves not only our admiration, but our
support. He has adopted a path of moderation and cooperation with the
Soviet authorities. Under his leadership, Armenia has been the only
APPENDIX 155

Republic to follow the complex procedure for secession that was set forth by
President Gorbachev. Armenia has also decided recently to join the newly
established Soviet economic community. As Ter-Petrossian stated before
the Armenian parliament, Armenia will pursue “complete political indepen-
dence,” in addition to “the maximum participation in all constructive
processes” going on in the former Soviet Union. President Ter-Petrossian
has also played a constructive role in the negotiations over the status of
Nagorno-Karabagh.
At the same time, President Ter-Petrossian recognizes that the Soviet
Union cannot be put back together again. If individual republics want full
sovereignty, as Armenia does, neither the Soviet central authorities nor the
international community should stand in its way.
Mr. President, given our belief in democracy and self-government, the
manifest desire of the Armenian people to be independent, and the respon-
sible policies of President Ter-Petrossian, I am introducing a resolution
today, with Senator Pressler and Senator Simon, which expresses the sense
of the Senate that the U.S. government should extend formal diplomatic
recognition to the Republic of Armenia and support its application to join
international organizations, including the United Nations and the Confer-
ence on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The Armenian people deserve such recognition. Their march toward
independence demonstrates that they are as dedicated to freedom as any
of the peoples of the former Soviet Union. This dedication and sense of
purpose has existed for centuries. It survived their long and lonely period of
suffering as involuntary members of the Czarist, Ottoman, and Communist
empires, including the horrors and genocide that were visited upon them
during World War I. We owe this courageous people our support, admira-
tion, and diplomatic recognition.

2 LETTER OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES


GEORGE BUSH

(January 13, 1993)2

THE WHITE HOUSE


WASHINGTON, January 13, 1993
156 APPENDIX

Dear Mr. President:


As I prepare to leave office, I would like to thank you for your many efforts
to establish strong ties between Armenia and the United States. I have
enjoyed working with you during the first year of Armenian independence,
and I am certain that together we have built a solid foundation for the future
of the U.S.-Armenian relationship.
As I wrote to you recently, the United States is concerned about the
difficult economic problems that Armenia is experiencing this winter. I hope
very much that the emergency U.S. food and medical supplies will provide
relief to those in need.
I also remain deeply disturbed by the continuing bloodshed over
Nagorno-Karabagh. As you know, President Yeltsin and I issued a joint
statement on January 3 calling for all parties to dedicate themselves to
productive negotiations to end the fighting. I am hopeful that the next
round of CSCE negotiations will find a peaceful and enduring solution to
this longstanding conflict. An end to this tragedy would allow you to turn
your attention to the great challenges of building a democratic and pros-
perous nation.
Armenia holds a special place in the hearts of Americans. I am confident
that the United States will continue to provide strong support to Armenia in
the future, as we have in the past.
Sincerely,
George H. W. Bush
His Excellency Levon Ter-Petrossian
President of the Republic of Armenia
Yerevan

3 LETTER OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES


WILLIAM J. CLINTON
(February 17, 1998)3

Dear Mr. President:


As you depart the office of President, I want to convey the high regard I
have for you and express my appreciation for the role you have played as the
first President of Armenia. You and I have worked closely to strengthen
Armenian-American relations and to advance a settlement of the Nagorno-
Karabagh conflict.
APPENDIX 157

As newly independent Armenia faced a myriad of challenges, you played


a key role in Armenia’s development as an independent, sovereign nation.
You will be remembered for your lasting contribution to reforming
Armenia’s economy and improving the lives of all Armenians. I especially
appreciate your courageous leadership in working toward the eventual
achievement of the peace so vital to the future of Armenia and the Caucasus
region as a whole.
Hillary joins me in extending to you and Ludmilla our best wishes for
your future endeavors.
Sincerely,
William J. Clinton
H.E. Levon Ter-Petrossian
c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yerevan

4 LETTER OF THE PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY


SÜLEYMAN DEMIREL

(February 9, 1993)4

ANKARA, February 9, 1993


Your Excellency,
I am indeed pleased to have had a frank exchange of views with your
distinguished representatives. It is also an encouraging indication that we
both share the conceptual necessity for normalization of bilateral relations. I
am sure your representatives have already informed you in detail concerning
my ideas and analyses on our bilateral relations and on the issues of our
region.
My Government, while facilitating the flow of the humanitarian aid to
Armenia will continue to exert every effort to find a peaceful solution to the
existing conflict that would lead to the normalization of the climate of the
Caucasus. In this framework, we would expect the Government of Armenia
to do its utmost for a rapid settlement of the conflict between Armenia and
Azerbaijan in accordance with the relevant decisions of the CSCE. The
Government of Turkey, for its part, strives to maintain an objective and
helpful attitude toward the problems between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Finally, it is my sincere conviction that the mutual trust and goodwill
would open the way for the prosperity and welfare of the region to the
benefit of the present and future generations.
158 APPENDIX

Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest


consideration.
Sincerely,
Süleyman Demirel
His Excellency Levon Ter-Petrossian
President of the Republic of Armenia
Yerevan

5 AYAZ MUTALIBOV, THE FIRST PRESIDENT OF AZERBAIJAN


ON THE 12.17.2016 STATEMENT OF TER-PETROSSIAN

(March 30, 2017)5

I know Ter-Petrossian as a pragmatic politician, and if he is making such


statements, it means he understands that the path to Armenia’s develop-
ment lies through peace with Azerbaijan. I have had numerous opportuni-
ties to meet with him. He is a very intelligent person, and I must say, that I
have never sensed hatred toward Azerbaijan coming from him. If he is
extending his hand, we should not reject it.
Yes, our territories were occupied under his watch, and we should under
no circumstances forget those tragic episodes of our history. But at the same
time, we must evaluate the situation realistically. Our peoples must look
ahead, they must think about a prosperous future for our countries and for
our region. There is no other option: either we will indulge in enmity
forever or we must find the strength in ourselves to find a peaceful
resolution.
I have always maintained that there is no alternative to peaceful coexis-
tence. Both our side and the Armenian side must have the political will to
resolve this painful problem. Nobody is going to do it for us—not the Minsk
Group of OSCE, not any other group. We all must prepare our peoples for
peace.
APPENDIX 159

6 INTERVIEW OF FORMER TURKISH AMBASSADOR TO USSR


VOLKAN VURAL TO TARAF NEWSPAPER’S CORRESPONDENT NEŞE
DÜZEL

(September 8, 2008)6

N.D. In response to an invitation by the president of Armenia, President


Abdullah Gul went to Yerevan to watch the soccer game [between the
Turkish and Armenian national teams]. We have a dispute with
Armenia over historical events. Was not the Armenian president’s
invitation to Gul before the resolution of this dispute a political risk
for himself?
V.V. Of course it was a risk. The decision to invite the Turkish president to the
soccer game was not an easy decision for Armenia. We view the world solely
through our own lens. We must also look at events from the perspective of
others. There is a neurosis about Turkey in Armenia. Consequently, it is
not easy to make any decision related to Turkey. Politicians may have to
pay—indeed have paid—a high price for such decisions.
N.D. Who paid such a high price?
V.V. Former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan was ousted from office because he
sought a solution to the Karabagh problem and to establish ties with
Turkey. They made him pay the price of establishing ties with Turkey.
Today, even though a major portion of the people of Armenia want
relations [with Turkey] to develop and the borders [between the two
countries] to open—the Turkey dossier is not so easy to handle as it is
thought.
N.D. Is it easy to handle the Armenia dossier in Turkey?
V.V. It is also difficult in Turkey. However, the reality is that the problem
between us and Armenia is not something that can be resolved by
historians alone. That is because this is psychological and political issue
rather than a historical matter. There is a certain psychology, distrust, fear,
and terror that the events of the past have created among people.
N.D. Do you not think that Armenian and Turkish historians can solve this
problem if they discuss the events of the past freely and describe them
objectively?
V.V. A solution to this problem cannot be found via history alone, because a
solution requires overcoming the psychological problems this issue has
created among people. A solution requires the creation of a climate of
trust in which the two peoples can draw closer with affection and respect
and where they can talk to each other with ease. This is not a situation that
160 APPENDIX

historians can overcome. The Armenian question is a problem that needs to


be solved by politicians, not historians. History can only shed light on
certain issues and play a role that facilitates a solution. That is all.
N.D. Do you think that any diplomatic steps will be taken in the aftermath
of the [Turkish] president’s visit to Armenia?
V.V. I expect and hope that they will be taken. This visit may serve as the
foundation of a new beginning between Turkey and Armenia.
Diplomatic relations between the two states must be established without
delay.
N.D. What do you mean by “diplomatic relations”?
V.V. “Diplomatic relations” means Turkish diplomats are resident in Yerevan
and Armenian diplomats are resident in Ankara. This would mean a normal
relationship between the two states, which would mean the opening of
borders between them. The first step in the normalization of relations must
be the exchange of representative missions in the two countries. We have to
sign an agreement and say that “we will exchange embassies with each
other.” The opening of the borders is not a necessity just for the
Armenians. I have seen that border gate.
N.D. What did you see?
V.V. I went to the Alican [Margara] border gate [from the Armenian side]. I
waved to our soldiers from afar. This gate is 10 to 15 kilometers away from
Yerevan. Look, we have been in contact with Armenia, which gained
independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, since 1991.
N.D. How so?
V.V. For example, I am the first Turkish ambassador who visited Armenia. At
that time I was [Turkish] ambassador to Moscow. This was the time when
Armenia was on its way to becoming independent. Shnork Kalustian, then
the Armenian patriarch in Turkey, had died during his visit to Yerevan. I
sent a message to the Armenian president. I wrote in my message that
“taking an interest in the funeral of the patriarch, who is our citizen, and
facilitating the return of his remains to Turkey is my duty” and that “I am
prepared to contribute in every way, including attending any ceremonies
that may be held.”
N.D. Did you do this in consultation with Ankara?
V.V. No, I did it at my own initiative, because the patriarch was a Turkish
citizen. He was the spiritual leader of one of our religious minorities.
There was no relationship whatsoever between Armenia and Turkey. At
that time, Armenia was one of the constituent republics of the Soviet
Union. As Turkish ambassador to Moscow, it fell within my purview like
the other Soviet republics. [Kalustyan’s] funeral rites were conducted in
the Armenian Church in Moscow. I attended that ceremony to the
astonishment of the Armenians who were there. They were really taken
APPENDIX 161

aback by the presence of a Turkish ambassador at a funeral ceremony in an


Armenian church. This was my first contact with Armenia as ambassador.
N.D. Did these contacts with Armenia continue? If they did, how did they
go?
V.V. The contacts continued. They invited me to Armenia on a winter day.
Ter-Petrosyan was president. Armenia was in dramatic conditions. It was
suffering tremendous deprivations, including the lack of any electricity. I
had a long and very useful meeting with President Ter-Petrosyan about
ways of developing Turkish-Armenian relations and dissipating hostility
between the two nations. Ter-Petrosyan shared my views.
N.D. What did Ter-Petrosyan, who is the leader of the main opposition
party today, tell you?
V.V. He said: “I cannot forget the agony of the past, but I do not want to be
stuck in the past. As a responsible statesman, I have to think about the
future of my grandchildren. I sincerely want the development of relations
with Turkey.” At that time, Turkey was perturbed by developments such as
Armenia’s new constitution and declaration of independence.
N.D. Do certain expressions in the Armenian constitution and its
declaration of independence still annoy Turkey?
V.V. They still annoy Turkey. However, Ter-Petrosyan gave me the impression
that these issues can be overcome and I conveyed this situation to Ankara in
a lengthy report. Subsequently, republics seceding from the Soviet Union
declared their independence. At that point, I returned to Ankara and all this
information was evaluated.
N.D. Yes.
V.V. During those meetings, it was decided that Turkey should recognize the
independence of all the republics and that it should establish diplomatic ties
with all of them except Armenia. Unfortunately, Turkey did not establish
diplomatic ties with Armenia. This is a period that I have always seen as
“lost years” for Turkey and that I have found most regrettable. This is the
year 1991 and immediately after that. By 1993, matters were completely
out of control, and Armenia occupied Nagorno Karabagh.
N.D. Had diplomatic relations with Armenia been established then, what
would be happening now? Would the Armenian question have been
resolved?
V.V. There would still be an Armenian question in Turkey, but Turkey would be
a country that has normalized its relations with Armenia. Both sides would
have benefited from this normalization. In other words, we would have had
a different evolution and a different game, and this would have had an
effect on the Diaspora Armenians. However, we could not create this
equilibrium like a great power. I also think that this normalization would
162 APPENDIX

have helped to improve ties between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The


occupation of Nagorno Karabagh could perhaps be prevented. However,
we did not pay the necessary attention to Ter-Petrosyan then; we failed to
help him and to seize the moment. Later, Ter-Petrosyan was ousted and
[Robert] Kocharian became president. Kocharian pursued radical policies
of Armenian nationalism. Had we helped Ter-Petrosyan to alleviate the
deprivations in his country, nationalism in Armenia might not have been so
rabid.
N.D. At that time [Turgut] Ozal was president and [Suleyman] Demirel
was prime minister of a True Path Party-Social Democratic People’s
Party coalition. Who opposed the establishment of diplomatic ties
with Armenia? Was it the bureaucrats or the politicians?
V.V. Many people within the bureaucracy of the Foreign Ministry opposed this.
Ozal was very upset that this opportunity was missed. The [Armenian]
declaration of independence naturally made many references to western
Armenia—that is Turkish soil—and pledged efforts to win recognition for
the genocide. That gave the impression that Armenia has territorial claims
on Turkey. All these could have been overcome with the establishment of
diplomatic relations. I already had prepared some proposals to change the
declaration of independence. However, there was opposition to this at
the time.
N.D. Why was there opposition?
V.V. I see that as a lack of courage. I reported my meeting with Ter-Petrosyan
but [. . .]. Had we established diplomatic relations, Turkey would not be in
the tight corner it is now across the world over the Armenian question. It
would not have been so easy to condemn a Turkey that maintains very
good relations with Armenia. We should not be too preoccupied with the
matter of genocide on this issue.
N.D. So what must we do?
V.V. We are an important country of this region. Peace and stability in this
region is to our advantage. From a wider perspective, the normalization of
relations between Turkey and Armenia are very important in terms of the
interests of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. When I say “we should not
be too preoccupied with allegations of genocide,” I mean the following:
Allegations of genocide have become a vehicle of survival for the Diaspora.
The allegation of genocide has become an industry; it has created its own
people, entrepreneurs, politicians, artists, and money mechanisms.
N.D. Has not Turkey become too obsessed with genocide by not
establishing relations with Armenia?
V.V. In effect, yes. The development of relations between Turkey and Armenia
would not entirely push aside allegations of genocide but [. . .].
APPENDIX 163

Ter-Petrosyan once pointed at the Alican border gate and told me: “Look,
if this gate is opened, people will see and know each other; they will
commingle with each other. We will end up buying many things we need
from you. This will help the resolution of the problems of the past.”
However, we have a strange reticence. We are a country with too many
red lines and taboos. We are told that “Armenia is hostile to us” and that “it
has territorial claims on Turkey.” It is time to distinguish between rhetoric
and the realities of life.
N.D. What are the realities of life?
V.V. People may say, demand, and dream certain things rhetorically. They may
dream about a very large Armenia. There is no limit to dreaming. However,
the realities are evident. Can Armenia take any land from Turkey? Which
sensible person can contemplate that? The number of soldiers in our armed
forces is as big as the entire population of Armenia. We must have more
confidence in ourselves.
N.D. The man in the street may harbor fears or may be made to harbor
fears, but how do you explain the phobias and red lines of military and
civilian bureaucrats who know the realities?
V.V. This is Turkey. The Foreign Ministry is cautious, as expected. Acting with
extreme caution is a rule of that profession, but no problem can be solved
without taking any risks. This also partly reflects a desire to avoid the risk of
being criticized by the Turkish public. The entire problem is this: There is a
certain circumstance and you can either become the slave of that
circumstance or find ways of changing it. We became a slave of the
circumstances.
N.D. Turkey became a slave of the Armenian question.
V.V. Yes. We should have sought another equation to solve this issue, but the
risk was not taken out of fears of making mistakes and facing criticism at
home. As a result, we reduced ourselves to the point of doing nothing.
N.D. As diplomatic relations develop with Armenia, will the events of the
past be discussed?
V.V. They will be discussed inevitably. In my opinion, this is not an impediment
blocking the normalization of relations. The term “genocide” is a
descriptor that was created long after our historic events. However, this
descriptor has become largely banal today. Every inhuman act is termed
“genocide” at some point. There is little doubt that the events we went
through had very painful and tragic aspects. There is also little doubt that
the Armenians see them as a tremendous act of injustice against them. It is
fact that they think that they were forcefully uprooted from the places
where they were born and raised. You cannot erase those sentiments. You
cannot tell them not to think this way. Nonetheless, you can tell them:
“Yes, these events occurred, but we cannot spend our lives on those events.
164 APPENDIX

We have another life ahead of us. Let us build that life together in
friendship.”
N.D. Does Armenia really expect only this little from Turkey in connection
with history? Is it enough to say these to them to establish peace?
V.V. The Armenians will of course stir up the issue of genocide. They will seek
ways of doing that. There will always be movements to make the entire
world accept this position. In the meantime, the establishment of a “joint
history commission” between the two countries may, at first glance, be a
good step forward, but I think that Armenia is not in a position to make a
significant contribution with respect to history. In my opinion, the
problem is not in history. I do not share the assumption that the
historical facts are not known. The facts are known. Very many things are
known. The whole problem is how these known facts are perceived, what
marks they have left, and how those marks can affect the future.
N.D. I did not understand.
V.V. An Armenian may sincerely think that what happened to his nation was
genocide. We may think otherwise. If we get stuck on this, we cannot get
anywhere. Arguing that “the historians should clarify this to us” means
giving too much importance to historians. Every historian has a different
interpretation of every event. The problem revolves around how the
psychological problem will be overcome. Ter-Petrosyan told me: “Let us
put that issue to one side. Let us look at the future. It is obvious that we will
not reach an agreement on this issue. We should allow the two peoples to
commingle by other means. Let us bypass the genocide issue this way.” I
also think that this is what needs to be done. There is no point in delving
too much into this issue.
N.D. There is a very large Armenian Diaspora, mainly in the United States
and France. Will they not insist on the recognition of the genocide?
V.V. Of course they will. However, if relations between Turkey and Armenia
improve, the Diaspora cannot have its present influence. This is because the
people of Armenia will see the concrete benefits of good neighborly ties.
When the borders open, trade will grow and they will become rich.
N.D. Could Turkey acknowledge that the Ittihadists perpetrated a great
massacre of the Armenians?
V.V. That would be hard. I think that we painted ourselves into a corner.
Initially, we acted as if nothing like this happened. Now we are saying
that “yes, some things happened but they were reciprocal.” I do not know
where these discussions may go tomorrow, but I think certain
psychological steps may be taken on this issue.
N.D. What can be done?
V.V. What would I do if I was in a position of authority? I would say: “All
Armenians and members other minorities who lived within the current
APPENDIX 165

borders of Turkey at the time of the Ottoman Empire and who were
subjected to deportation in one way or another—even if this deportation
was to other regions of the Empire—will be admitted to Turkish
citizenship automatically if they request it.” I do not know how many
people would take up this offer, but, at a minimum, people who were
driven out of their villages, towns, or cities by force would have been told:
“The republic is granting you and people of your ancestry the right to
return and to become citizens of this country.” People who apply would be
granted this right.
N.D. So what would happen to the properties and assets the Armenians left
behind during the deportation?
V.V. These can be discussed. A fund may be established. The return of the
properties and providing a full accounting for them is now very difficult,
but a symbolic reparation is possible. What matters is that we show that we
are not insensitive in the face of a painful situation, that we empathize with
the situation, and that we are considering certain ways of compensation as a
humanitarian responsibility. I would actually apologize. It is quite
debatable under what conditions but [. . .]. Regardless, if someone is
forced to leave this country [. . .]. I do not mean this only for Armenians.
I also mean it with respect to people who left after the 6–7 September
[1955] incidents. I mean it with respect to our Greek citizens.
N.D. When you say “apologize,” what form of apology do you have in
mind?
V.V. These events are unbecoming for Turkey. We do not approve them. The
people who were forced to leave this country have our sympathy. We see
them as our brothers. If they wish, we are prepared to admit them to
Turkish citizenship.
N.D. And we apologize for the pain we have caused them.
V.V. Yes. For the pain [. . .]. Yes. These are the best steps that can be taken. This
is what a state like ours should do.

7 ARTICLE BY THE NEW YORK TIMES CORRESPONDENT


FRANCIS X. CLINES

(April 15, 1991)7

Armenian Chief Steers with Subtlety


YEREVAN, USSR—The Armenian counterrevolution of Levon
Ter-Petrosyan is quiet—mercifully, strategically quiet—and this is all the
more reason for President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and the rest of the world to
pay close heed.
166 APPENDIX

While so much else in the Soviet nation is reeling with political fury and
dire warning, Mr. Ter-Petrosyan, the new President of the Armenian
republic, is carving a different path to the very same full independence
that far more celebrated republics like Lithuania and Georgia are seeking
in headlined confrontations.
President Ter-Petrosyan is a 46-year-old Oriental scholar, once
imprisoned by the Gorbachev Government, who has lately been giving
lessons in finessing the Kremlin rather than railing against it. Behind the
Scenes in Lithuania.
He was a critical figure in volunteering as a behind-the-scenes mediator
in calming the January crisis in Lithuania after Soviet troops killed 16 civilian
independence demonstrators.
He successfully disarmed his own republic’s spirited nationalist guerrilla
gangs rather than pander to them for short-term populist gains and face
long-term law-and-order headaches.
He barred, without melodramatic comment, Mr. Gorbachev’s vague
national unity referendum from his voting booths last month as an obvious
act of propaganda rather than self-determination. Far more, he counter-
moved by scheduling a September independence plebiscite here.
The plebiscite would appear to be a minor masterpiece of political
craftsmanship, for it is the first to be composed within the legal require-
ments of the Soviet Constitution, with a six-month advance notice to the
Kremlin. It therefore is less easily dismissed by Kremlin strategists steeped in
techniques of legalistic diktat.
The Ter-Petrosyan plebiscite also has the candid premise that Armenia
will, unlike other republics, be glad to take years to complete the break, to
build the free-market economic underpinnings Mr. Ter-Petrosyan views as
critical to surviving independently on something more than oratory.
New-Era Soviet Politician.
“Mr. Gorbachev was trained by our competitors,” Mr. Ter-Petrosyan
says, assessing him as a worthy leader of a lost, dangerously terminal, cause,
a leader who must be prodded for his own sake now, he stresses, by Western
governments trapped in the time warp of Gorbomania.
“Right now Western aid is strengthening the position of the central
Government conservatives,” he says, warning that the West must accept a
basic fact that Mr. Gorbachev helped sow and now is resisting: “The very
idea of the Soviet Union is now unthinkable in any other form but a
partnership, like the European community.”
APPENDIX 167

The Armenian leader is the sort of new-era Soviet politician who can
smile as he concedes casually that Mr. Gorbachev, in trying to ride the tired
tiger of Communism, might yet resort to some return to totalitarianism.
“But it must fail,” he said in an interview, turning his cigarette holder as if
fine-focusing the future. “Sooner or later Mr. Gorbachev and the central
Government will have to accept the new reality that the republics already are
exercising real power out here, and that bloodless political ways are begin-
ning to be found to solving problems.”
Here on the streets of this dusty, downtrodden capital, the success of
President Ter-Petrosyan’s fresh new politics is undeniable in rallying the
popular spirit of this southern republic. Slow, Quiet Success.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees were created by the 1988 earthquake
and by the explosion of inter-ethnic violence in Baku, the capital of the rival
Azerbaijan republic. Mr. Ter-Petrosyan agrees his agenda includes such
seemingly intractable issues as Nagorno-Karabagh, the embattled,
Armenian-populated enclave ruled by Azerbaijan. But he claims slow suc-
cess in building new contacts with Azerbaijani officials on a quiet basis.
In Armenia, Mr. Ter-Petrosyan’s chief critic is Parvir Airikyan, a charis-
matic fellow dissident. He arrived from American exile after
Mr. Ter-Petrosyan’s political success was forged and he has criticized the
President for not confronting Moscow enough.
“As long as people see we are pursuing realistic policy, they will remain
on our side,” says Mr. Ter-Petrosyan.
The closest run-in they had was over Mr. Airikyan’s attempt to seize a
city Communist Party building in what he called fair compensation for his
years in prison as a dissident nationalist. President Ter-Petrosyan sent militia
to evict him on the grounds that the new Armenia had to demonstrate more
lawful ways if its drive for independence is to be taken seriously. Taking on
Tradition.
In the highly energized, newly insurgent Parliament, the President went
against the grain of traditional Armenian politics on the subject of Turkey,
which brutally uprooted Armenian civilians in World War I, when vast
numbers of them died by starvation and massacre. He urged that a heated
denunciation of that history be deleted from some early independence
legislation, keeping in mind that a truly free Armenia would want a new
era of closer relations with its neighbors.
He lost that legislative fight but suffered little in public esteem as a man
looking for fresh ways to engage the future. The Armenian leader’s style is
168 APPENDIX

to resist, then reject Mr. Gorbachev’s initiatives but not make a habit of
announcing it. “We are not subordinate to Soviet law,” he says simply.
But his technique also is to keep splitting the difference with the Kremlin.
For example, while Lithuania dramatically used the draft issue to order its
young men not to serve in the Soviet army and turned them into pawns who
were arrested and prosecuted, Mr. Ter-Petrosyan has gradually negotiated a
workable compromise directly with military officials. It lets most young
Armenian men serve within the republic, but protects the careers of others
who wish to serve elsewhere. Avoiding Confrontation.
“We did not act as the Lithuanians did,” He says. “We try and avoid
unnecessary confrontation. Our policy is more flexible. The only lesson that
could be drawn from the Lithuanian event was that policy had to be more
flexible,” he said, referring to his mediator’s role there as a member of a
presidential panel.
Characteristically, Mr. Ter-Petrosyan got appointed to it by privately
contacting Lithuanian and Kremlin officials so that finally it could be seen
as Mr. Gorbachev’s calming idea.
“I met with Gorbachev, and after that meeting I understood that the
worst had been left behind,” he says. He concluded that while
Mr. Gorbachev had decided to let the hard-line centrists crack down in
Lithuania with “an attempted coup,” he at least was smart enough to
retreat. Mr. Ter-Petrosyan estimates that by the fall even Mr. Gorbachev
will begin conceding the de facto rise of republic power more realistically,
and to the point where the republics will find the tables turned and begin
worrying about the central Government’s stability.
“We see that the Soviet Union is no longer a reliable guarantor of our
future,” he says. “That is why we have to create our own guarantees of our
existence.”

NOTES
1. Congressional Record, 102nd Congress (1991–1992), pp. S16459–S16460.
2. Archives of First President, folder 03/3.13.01.1993.
3. Archives of First President, folder 03/5.17.02.1998.
4. Archives of First President, folder 03/3.09.02.1993.
5. haqqin.az/news/96114, March 30, 2017.
6. Translated by Ara Arabian: forum.hyeclub.com, 11.09.2008.
7. The New York Times, 15.04.1991.
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Democracy and Nationhood in the Post-Soviet Era, ed. Gerard J. Libaridian.
Watertown: Blue Crane Books.
Croissant, Michael P. 1998. The Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict: Causes and Impli-
cations. Westport: Praeger.
de Waal, Thomas. 2003. Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace
and War. New York: New York University Press.
Hale, Henry. 2015. Patronal Politics: Eurasian Regime Dynamics in Comparative
Perspective. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
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Cornell University Press.
Libaridian, Gerard J., ed. 1991. Armenia at the Crossroads: Democracy and Nation-
hood in the Post-Soviet Era. Watertown: Blue Crane Books.
Manoukyan, V. 1990. We Are a Global Nation. Hayastani Hanrapetutyun [Repub-
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Melander, Eric. 2001. The Nagorno-Karabagh Conflict Revisited: Was the War
Inevitable? Journal of Cold War Studies 3 (2): 48–75.
Sargsyan, S. 2008. We Are Ready to Talk to Turkey. The Wall Street Journal, July 9.
Snyder, Jack. 2000. From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist
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INDEX

A Armenian economy, 141


Acemyan, D., 148, 151n24 Armenian expansionism, 20
Aliyev, I., 39, 44, 76 Armenian genocide, 5, 6, 17, 28, 30,
April War, 138, 146, 147 66–70, 78n11, 92, 93, 95, 96,
Arab-Israeli confrontation, 141 103–7, 109, 112–14, 116–23, 125,
Arab-Israeli negotiations, 46 126, 133–7
Arbitral Award of Woodrow Wilson, Armenian National Congress (ANC),
126 2, 8, 79, 91, 92, 98, 100, 101,
Armenia 103, 129n28, 137, 145, 146,
Declaration of Sovereignty, 122 148, 149
economic development, 50–4, 57 Armenian National Movement (ANM),
flexible diplomacy and maneuvering, 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 14, 17, 23, 27, 126,
16, 17 145
foreign policy, 68, 81, 89, 125, 131 Armenian politics, 2, 8, 89, 90
macroeconomic indices, 49 the Armenian question, 13, 14, 28, 29,
political strategy, 16 112
self-determination, 132 Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, 31, 68,
state-building, 137 91, 95
Armenian Cause, 6, 7, 17, 18, 103, Armenian-Iranian relations, 23
105–7, 121, 122 Armenian-Russian relations, 27, 54
Armenian diaspora, 17, 40, 54, 70, 71, Armenian-Turkish relations, 15, 18, 19,
102, 104, 110, 116, 135, 140, 141 23–5, 68, 74, 113

Note: Page numbers followed by “n” refers to notes.

© The Author(s) 2018 171


L. Ter-Petrossian, Armenia’s Future, Relations with Turkey, and the
Karabagh Conflict, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-58916-9
172 INDEX

Armenian-Turkish relations (cont.) D


diplomatic engagement, 87 Dashnak Party/Dashnaktsutiun/
diplomatic relations, 142 Armenian Revolutionary Federation
economic relations, 52 (ARF), 4, 29, 102, 104–6
issue of, 69 Dayton-type conference, 86
national ideology, 30–32 declaration of independence, 132, 133
normalization of, 90–2, 107, 109,
112, 144
normalizing relations, process of, 26 E
process of normalization, 132 Echmiadzin brotherhood, 111
protocols, 101–4, 106, 108, 110, Economic Cooperation Organization
118 (ECO), 53
reconciliation, process of, 108 European Powers, 28, 29
settlement of, 109 European Union (EU), 69, 75, 112,
Artsakh, 14, 21n3, 24, 35, 36, 46, 113, 124, 133, 136
61, 64
Arzumanyan, A., 36
Al Assad, H., 26 F
Avetisyan, V., 146 February Rebellion, 133
Azerbaijan, propaganda war, 43 foreign policy agenda, 113, 114

B G
“balancing,” policy of, 81 Genghis Khan, 138
Battle of Avarayr, 127, 129n31 genocide, 3–6, 17, 19, 27–30, 40, 41,
Battle of Musa Dagh, 66 65–71, 73, 74, 77, 78n8, 81, 83,
Berlin conference, 112 85, 91–6, 99–101, 103–25, 131–7
Black Sea Economic Cooperation geopolitical conf licts, 95
(BSEC), 53, 88 Georgian-Russian conf lict, 75, 87
Budapest Summit, 77n2, 96 Ghukasyan, A., 36, 48, 64, 106
Bush, G. W., 80, 89 Gum Gapu, 133
Gümüşel, S., 87–91

C
Camp David accords, 139 H
Caucasian Stability and Cooperation Hayastan All-Armenia Fund, 54
Platform, 88 Helsinki Act, 124
Chavez, H., 114 Heritage Party, 102
Commonwealth of Independent States historians’ commission, 6, 103, 104,
(CIS), 53, 82 108, 109, 114, 116, 118
“complementarity,” policy of, 81 historical justice, 121
Congress of Berlin, 134 historical rights, 17, 107, 121
INDEX 173

I M
international community, 14, 36–8, Madrid principles, 106, 136
44, 61–3, 68, 75, 77n2, 110, mahaparts’ unit, 36, 57n6
115–17, 119, 123, 126, 134, Manoukian, V., 8, 43
137, 143 mass emigration, 137, 145
international law, 27, 38, 122, 125, Minsk Group, 41, 45, 48, 55, 58n11,
141 76, 81–3, 85, 86, 89, 96, 115, 116
Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, 139 modus vivendi, 28
Mongols, 102, 138, 141
Moscow Declaration, 88
K Muslim solidarity, perception of, 55
Karabagh conflict, 1–3, 6, 7, 26, 31, 75,
76, 91–3, 95, 99, 101, 103,
108–10, 113, 126, 127, 133, 148 N
compromise plan, 37–9, 55 Nagorno Karabagh, 1, 7, 35, 38, 41, 42,
constructive efforts, 72, 73 44–6, 61, 63, 75, 77n2, 80, 84–8,
existence of Karabagh, 49, 50 96, 109, 115, 119, 123, 125, 131,
foreign investments, 51, 52 132, 144
misconceptions, 39–41 self-determination, 62
national ideology, 44 Nalbandyan, E., 93, 106, 112
politics of heroism, 40, 41 national ideology, 8, 9, 30–2, 41
press conference, debate, 35, 36 national self-determination, 85
resolution process, 110, 145 principle of, 75
resolution, phases, 46 nation-army, 138–9
settlement of, 47, 48, 50, 53, 54, 61, NATO, 83, 96
109, 124 Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 19, 21n8
strategy of maximalism, 37
Karabagh Committee, 13, 64, 126
Karabagh movement, 13 O
Karabagh negotiations, process of, 62, Obama, B., 93–5
77, 81, 103, 104, 115 Olti, 133
Kars-Akhalkalak Railway, 67, 68 Organization of Cooperation and
Kelbajar, 143 Security in Europe (OSCE), 45, 48,
Kocharyan, R., 36, 47, 48, 62, 64–9, 76, 55, 58n12, 62, 68, 77n2, 82, 96,
77n4, 82, 86, 93, 94, 99, 106, 114, 124, 133
115, 125 Organization of the Treaty of Collective
Kublai Khan, 138 Security (OTCS), 80, 96
Oskanian, V., 36, 64, 67–9, 93, 105,
106
L Ottoman Bank, 133
Lachin corridor, 85, 86, 109 Ottoman Empire, 4, 28, 57n3, 120,
Libaridian, G. J., 20n1, 36, 90, 124 121, 126, 134, 134n2, 135n6
174 INDEX

P T
package deal, 48, 56, 116 territorial integrity, principle of
package methodology, 58n14 inviolability, 85
Palestine Liberation Organization Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-
(PLO), 139, 144 Asia (TRACECA), 58n18
Pan-Turanism, 13, 14 Treaty of Alexandrapol, 56, 105,
Pan-Turkism, 3, 5, 14, 20n1 106
Paris conference, 112 Treaty of Batumi, 56
Peace Now movement, 144 Treaty of Berlin, 28, 134
phased plan, 116 Treaty of Kars, 40, 41, 58n10,
“Problems of Genocide” Conference, 106
27–30 Treaty of Sevres, 38, 40, 57n9, 106,
pro-Turkish, 65, 66, 127 121, 126
Putin, V., 80 Turkophilia, 27

R U
Rabin-Peres syndrome, 39 UN Charter, 124
Ramkavar Azatakan party, 102 UN Convention on Genocide, 135
Republic of Armenia, 15, 30, 57n1, 63,
65, 77, 102, 113, 123, 133, 135–7
Republic of Turkey, 120 V
Republican Party, 146, 147 Vural, V., 25, 132
“roadmap,” 92, 100, 116–18
Russian-Armenian community, 117
Russo-Georgian War, 73–77 W
Russophobia, 27 “War or Peace,” 35–47
Russo-Turkish war, 134 Wilson, W., 105, 121, 126
Woodrow Wilson’s Arbitral Award, 121,
126
S
Sargsyan, S., 36, 47, 48, 57n6, 65, 66,
69, 73, 74, 76, 77, 79–86, 89–91, Y
93, 94, 96–112, 115–18, 125, Yerevan Genocide Museum, 66
128n5, 129n28, 133, 146, 147 Young Turks, Ittihad ve Terakke, 28,
Section 907, 68 29, 134
Sevres Peace Treaty, 121
Shushi, liberation of, 127, 133
soccer diplomacy, 6, 92–5, 100 Z
Social-Democrat Hnchak Party, 102 Zeitun, 66
step-by-step solution, 44, 45, 56, 64 Zurich, Protocols signed in, 136
Sultan Abdul Hamid II, 28