Turkey And Armenia Seek Good Relations

The animosity between Turkey and Armenia is rooted in events of the past, particularly the genocide committed against Armenian people in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Turkey has relied on the process of historical denial to confront a terrible event in its past, but President Abdullah Gul has decided it is time to reach out to the Armenians. Neither nation has diplomatic relations with the other, but Gul will go to Yerevan in hopes of beginning the process of normalization of relations. Armenian President Serge Sarkisian’s invitation to Gul to watch a football game on Saturday was a gesture of good will that is being reciprocated.

Recent Russian moves in the Caucasus may be a factor that has made even more important the need for Armenia and Turkey to come closer together. Both leaders undoubtedly will discuss maters other than football players and hopefully, the visit is a first step in resolving ancient angers and disputes. The presence of a powerful Russia in the Caucasus region increases the need for other nations to work in a collaborative manner.

  • Concerned person

    Armenian National Committee of America
    1711 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
    Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 * Email.anca@anca.org

    PRESS RELEASE

    For Immediate Release ~ 2008-09-04
    Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian ~ Tel: (202) 775-1918

    ANCA OUTLINES CONCERNS ABOUT GUL VISIT TO ARMENIA

    http://www.anca.org/press_releases/press_releases.php?prid=1578

    “For this initiative to succeed, Turkey’s leaders need to view this as a true opportunity for enduring peace, not simply as a photo opportunity to help alleviate the growing international pressure it is under to recognize the Armenian Genocide.” – ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian

    WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), today, expressed hopes and reservations regarding Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul’s impending visit to Armenia, at the invitation by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisyan, to watch the September 6th Turkey vs. Armenia soccer match in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan.

    “We are, as you can imagine, watching this matter with vigilance, mindful of the risks that Armenia is taking for peace, hopeful that Yerevan’s diplomatic initiative will bear fruit, yet cautious regarding the realistic prospects for progress given Ankara’s longstanding and deeply troubling track record of antagonism toward Armenia,” explained ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian, in a September 4th letter to House and Senate Members.

    Recognizing that this visit cannot, by itself, substitute for real progress in improved Armenia-Turkey relations, Hachikian remained hopeful “that Armenia’s pro-active diplomacy, if matched with real movement by Turkey, can serve as a first, cautious step toward a true reconciliation based on truth and justice.”

    To that end, Hachikian outlined some immediate and long-term steps President Gul could take to demonstrate his sincerity in accepting President Sarkisyan’s invitation, including showing the “willingness to walk the mile from Armenia’s national soccer stadium to the “Dzidzernagapert” Armenian Genocide Memorial, a tradition long honored by foreign dignitaries visiting Yerevan.” In the days and weeks following President Gul’s departure from Armenia, Hachikian urged:

    “* Lifting domestic restrictions on the study, discussion, and recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and abandoning opposition to international recognition and commemoration of this crime against humanity – including by the White House and the U.S. Congress.

    * Lifting its blockade of Armenia, allowing free Armenian access to its traditional transportation routes, ending its opposition to the incorporation of Armenia in regional and international initiatives impacting the Southern Caucasus, and removing restrictions on Armenian stewardship of cultural and religious heritage sites within Turkey.

    * Publicly and in practice adopting a truly neutral position as a member of the OSCE Minsk Group charged with mediating a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict, ending military support for Azerbaijan’s armed forces, and openly calling on all parties to reject any non-peaceful resolution to this conflict.

    * Lifting all restrictions on the collective rights of the Armenian community in Turkey.

    * Accepting Armenia’s offer to negotiate the establishment of normal diplomatic relations without any preconditions, and agreeing to resolve all outstanding bilateral issues in a peaceful, non-violent manner.”

    The complete text of the ANCA letter to Congress is provided below.

    #####

    TEXT OF ANCA CHAIRMAN KEN HACHIKIAN’S LETTER TO SENATE AND HOUSE MEMBERS REGARDING TURKISH PRESIDENT ABDULLAH GUL’ IMPENDING VISIT TO ARMENIA

    Dear Senator/Representative _________________:

    In light of the announcement this week by Turkish President Abdullah Gul that he will accept Armenian President Serj Sarkisyan’s invitation to watch the September 6th Armenia-Turkey World Cup qualifying match in Yerevan, we wanted to share with you the Armenian American community’s perspective on this new and potentially significant development, and to reaffirm our community’s fundamental commitment to universal recognition and a just resolution of the Armenian Genocide.

    We are, as you can imagine, watching this matter with vigilance, mindful of the risks that Armenia is taking for peace, hopeful that Yerevan’s diplomatic initiative will bear fruit, yet cautious regarding the realistic prospects for progress given Ankara’s longstanding and deeply troubling track record of antagonism toward Armenia.

    As you know, since Armenia’s independence in 1991, successive Armenian governments and the worldwide Armenian Diaspora have – despite the unresolved legacy of the Armenian Genocide and Ankara’s ongoing and deeply painful denial of this crime – consistently sought sincere and sustainable progress toward improved Armenia-Turkey relations. President Sarkisyan’s invitation represents only the most recent such outreach on Armenia’s part, although by no means the only one. Both of his predecessors visited Turkey in their official capacities as president, although, sadly, neither of their visits resulted in any moderation of Turkey’s policies toward Armenia.

    Armenia’s invitation represents a pro-active gesture by Armenia – a small country populated in large part by the descendents of Armenian Genocide survivors – to reach out to a large and heavily armed neighbor that, as heir to the Ottoman Empire, denies this horrific crime, blockades Armenia, and pursues a broad array of anti-Armenian policies – both at home and abroad. President Gul has accepted the Armenian President’s invitation even as his government has made it clear that they do not plan any changes in these policies, which, it is worthwhile noting, include:

    * Turkey’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide, continued threats against other nations that consider recognizing this crime against humanity, and continued allocations of tens of millions of dollars annually for lobbyists, academic mercenaries, and outright fabricators to attempt to rewrite this profoundly important chapter in world history.

    * Turkey’s continued efforts to silence any recognition of the Armenian Genocide within its own borders through Article 301 and other provisions of its criminal code (e.g. Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk), continued intimidation and unofficial acts of violence (e.g. Hrant Dink), and the perpetuation of a deeply flawed educational system that indoctrinates successive new generations of Turkish students to believe that the Armenian Genocide is a lie and that all Armenians are inherently enemies of Turkey.

    * Turkey’s continued attempts to economically weaken and isolate Armenia through its illegal 14-year blockade; its attempts to exclude Armenia from regional and international initiatives that provide economic benefit to the Southern Caucasus; its continued attacks on Armenia within the United Nations, the OSCE, and other international venues; and, its ongoing military, economic, and political support for Azerbaijan over the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.

    * Turkey’s continued mistreatment of its remaining Armenian population as second-class citizens, continued enforcement of unfair and burdensome restrictions on the Armenian Church, and the continuation of policies intended to drive out the remaining Christian minorities within its borders.

    We are, given this record and Turkey’s past efforts to manipulate public opinion, profoundly concerned that President Gul’s visit will be used by Ankara to advance its short-term “public relations” interest in creating the image of movement, at the expense of the broader and far more meaningful interest of the United States and the international community in actual progress toward a durable improvement in Armenia-Turkey ties. For this initiative to succeed, Turkey’s leaders need to view this as a true opportunity for enduring peace, not simply as a photo opportunity to help alleviate the growing international pressure it is under to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

    Recognizing that this visit cannot, by itself, substitute for real progress in improved Armenia-Turkey relations, we do, however, remain hopeful that Armenia’s pro-active diplomacy, if matched with real movement by Turkey, can serve as a first, cautious step toward a true reconciliation based on truth and justice. At the same time, we remain deeply concerned that if, as may very well be the case, Turkey treats this visit as a superficial undertaking – yet still garners undeserved credit internationally for an essentially empty gesture – we may in fact witness a tragic setback to the worthwhile cause of a real and enduring peace between Armenia and Turkey.

    In this spirit, we respectfully ask that you look beyond Ankara’s rhetoric concerning this visit, and focus instead on the substance of the Turkish government’s real-world policies toward Armenia. The best – and most immediate – test of President Gul’s sincerity will be his willingness to walk the mile from Armenia’s national soccer stadium to the “Dzidzernagapert” Armenian Genocide Memorial, a tradition long honored by foreign dignitaries visiting Yerevan. In the days and weeks following his departure, we urge you to track Turkey’s movement toward:

    * Lifting domestic restrictions on the study, discussion, and recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and abandoning opposition to international recognition and commemoration of this crime against humanity including by the White House and the U.S. Congress.

    * Lifting its blockade of Armenia, allowing free Armenian access to its traditional transportation routes, ending its opposition to the incorporation of Armenia in regional and international initiatives impacting the Southern Caucasus, and removing restrictions on Armenian stewardship of cultural and religious heritage sites within Turkey.

    * Publicly and in practice adopting a truly neutral position as a member of the OSCE Minsk Group charged with mediating a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict, ending military support for Azerbaijan’s armed forces, and openly calling on all parties to reject any non-peaceful resolution to this conflict.

    * Lifting all restrictions on the collective rights of the Armenian community in Turkey.

    * Accepting Armenia’s offer to negotiate the establishment of normal diplomatic relations without any preconditions, and agreeing to resolve all outstanding bilateral issues in a peaceful, non-violent manner.

    Progress in each of these vitally important areas – not the level of skill of Turkey’s public relations firms in spinning this visit – will represent the true benchmarks of progress toward improved Armenia-Turkey relations.

    Thank you for your consideration of the points we have raised in this letter. We would, of course, welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this matter in greater detail.

    Sincerely,

    Kenneth V. Hachikian
    Chairman

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    Good luck between Armenia and Turkey