Think Tank Report on Armenia: You Get What You Pay For

Several pro-establishment Washington think tanks, such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Brookings Institution, Heritage Foundation, Council on Foreign Relations, and American Enterprise Institute, have recently published special reports that seek to influence U.S. policymakers in favor of Turkey.

The latest such biased report, titled “Turkey and Armenia: Opening Minds, Opening Borders,” was issued on April 14 by the International Crisis Group (ICG). Serving on the ICG’s Board of Trustees are Morton Abramovitz, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey; Richard Armitage, former U.S. deputy secretary of state and member of the Honorary Council of Advisors of the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce; Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. national security advisor to the president and member of the Honorary Council of Advisors of the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce; Guler Sabanci, chairperson of Sabanci Holding, Turkey; and Stephen Solarz, former U.S. Congressman and lobbyist for Turkey. Listed among the ICG’s senior advisors are Ersin Arioglu, a member of the Turkish Parliament, and Shimon Peres, the president of Israel. Not surprisingly, the Foreign Ministry of Turkey is a major donor to the ICG. Not a single Armenian serves on ICG’s Board or on any of its advisory bodies.

The group’s 40-page report makes outrageous suggestions that are extremely detrimental to Armenia’s interests. Here is what the ICG recommends that the Armenian government do:

· Establish bilateral commissions with Turkey, which would include a historical commission on the Armenian Genocide;

· Prepare the public opinion for reconciliation with Turkey;

· “Avoid statements or international actions relating to genocide recognition that could inflame Turkish public opinion against the current [reconciliation] process”;

· “Start withdrawals from Armenian-occupied territories in Azerbaijan; and pursue peace with Azerbaijan in full consciousness that only in this way can normalizations with Turkey be consolidated”;

· “Make clear that Armenia has no territorial claim on Turkey by explicitly recognizing its territorial integrity within the borders laid out in the 1921 Treaty of Kars”;

· “Encourage universities and institutes to pursue more research on matters relating to the events of 1915, preferably with the engagement of Turkish and third-party scholars; modernize history books and remove all prejudice from them; and organize the cataloguing of known Armenian archives pertaining to the events in and around 1915 wherever they may be located.”

The executive summary of the report starts its first line by trying to perpetuate the false impression that “Turkey and Armenia are close to settling [their] dispute.” Everyone, except the “experts” who drafted this report, knows full well that the negotiations between Armenia and Turkey have collapsed and that the problem between the two countries is not a “dispute,” but committing genocide!

The executive summary makes the surprising statement that the views of Armenians and Turks on the genocide are “converging,” supposedly “showing that the deep traumas can be healed.” Continuing to present fantasy as reality, the undisclosed authors of the report state: “The advance in bilateral relations demonstrates that a desire for reconciliation can overcome old enmities and closed borders. Given the heritage and culture shared by Armenians and Turks, there is every reason to hope that normalization of relations between the two countries can be achieved and sustained.”

One of the most outrageous comments made in the report is the one claiming that “hardline” diaspora representatives “have softened” their stance, dropping their “demands that Turkey surrender territory in its north east, where Armenians were a substantial minority before 1915.”

The report welcomes President Barack Obama’s “prudent middle course,” despite the fact that he “repeatedly promised on the campaign trail to formally recognize” the Armenian Genocide. Leaving no stone unturned in favoring Turkey, the ICG also suggests that the U.S. House of Representatives abandon the pending resolution on the Armenian Genocide.

Finally, the ICP urges that the United States, Russia, and the European Union “avoid legislation, statements, and actions that might inflame public opinion on either side and so could upset the momentum towards Turkey-Armenia normalization and reconciliation.”

This report is full of faulty analysis and one-sided judgments. The sinister role played by think tanks such as the ICG should be exposed to the public at large and their reports discredited.

The document published by ICG reads more like the terms of capitulation imposed by a conquering army over a demolished nation than a professional report drafted by impartial wise men. Clearly, those who paid for it dictated its content!

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh $917 million of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. Forget about the Anatolian Festivals and Turkish Children’s Days of Aprils past and prepare yourselves for hell on earth. Think tanks like these will try to persuade US media to use April 24 to report not about the Armenian Genocide, “Armenian Rebellions”, “the Khojaly Genocide”, and/or “Remembrance Day for Slain Turkish Diplomats.”

  2. U.S. public relations firms must register with the U.S. Department of Justice when representing foreign governments and entities, according to the Foreign Agent Registration Act.  That law was first adopted in 1938 in the response to Nazi manipulation of media and lobbying efforts in the U.S. It basically states that foreign entities may indeed lobby and advocate their concerns but there must be transparency in their actions – i.e. who their lobbyists speak with, what materials they disseminate and how much they are paid to do this work.

    So the question begs – if these Think Tanks are essentially shilling for foreign masters to keep their doors open, shouldn’t they be registering with Department of Justice as well?  Or perhaps, they should be compelled to reveal their foreign funding sources every time they issue a report.  It would certainly place their work in perspective – and perhaps “encourage” some of these think tank folks to be more intellectually honest. . .

  3. Elizabeth, this is a great comment, one that should be pursued. Does anyone know any international law experts who could push for this? What about Mark Geragos? I doubt these “think tanks” would ever be more intellectually honest, but at least they would be exposed for what they really are.

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