Davidian: Land Reparation: Statics and Dynamics

Many individuals conclude that geopolitical change cannot occur without resorting to violence, power, or force. This leads many to mentally and politically disengage from actively entertaining involvement in the political or democratic process. After all, what can an individual or group expect to accomplish? This viewpoint assumes a constant static geopolitical stage.

In reality, when one looks at a map of the world from only a century ago, we find profound changes, some made through force, and others through negotiation. Many of these changes, such as frontier modifications and the creation of new states, occurred during times of dynamic geopolitics, be they wars or other destabilizing events such as the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

The extermination of the European Jews and Armenians could only have taken place during times of dramatic dynamic change. The fight for Nagorno-Karabagh could only have taken place during the chaos of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s—not today. The creation of Israel would never happen today, but could when it did and was a culmination of a long process of forethought and demands.

While this may seem obvious to some, what is not so obvious is the effort expended in preparing (or even exacerbating conditions) for times of dynamic change. Too often characteristics of dynamic change are mistakenly imposed upon a static situation and a stalemate is concluded. This latter condition leads to political complacency.

A generation ago, when the ever-present subject of reparations for the Turkish genocide of the Armenians was discussed within Armenians circles or in academic settings, dynamics such as what constitute historic borders or discussing the applicability of the Treaty of Sevres were common.

The treaty was negotiated between the Ottoman Empire and Allies at the end of World War I. It eventually granted Armenia about 110,000 sq. km. of land (versus today’s Republic of Armenia, with about 30,000 sq. km.) based on demarcations by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. However, this treaty was never adopted and was superseded by the less favorable Treaty of Lausanne.

While the Sevres document is a strong reference in any land reparations settlement, to base reparation efforts today on this document would involve re-negotiating the end of World War I between “The British Empire, France, Italy and Japan, These Powers being described in the present Treaty as the Principal Allied Powers; Armenia, Belgium, Greece, The Hedjaz, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, the Serb-Croat-Slovene State and Czecho-Slovakia, These Powers constituting, with the Principal Powers mentioned above, the Allied Powers, of the one part; and Turkey, of the other part…” (see wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Peace_Treaty_of_Sèvres).

Therefore, the chances of re-legitimizing this treaty is effectively zero, despite the fact that it was a just resolution to many issues that continue to haunt us today, including the war in Iraq.

A generation ago we might have heard Armenians say, “I don’t want my grandmother’s house in Kharpert!” or “How are we going to force the Turks to give reparations?” These responses are not surprising considering they are based on the fallacy of imposing a dynamic upon a static geopolitical environment and making conclusions.

It is not one’s family home in Kharpert that is the issue. It is the ability of Armenians to prosper on Armenian land that was taken away from the Armenians by genocide and the expropriation of their land and property. The ability of Armenia to live, prosper, and determine its own future is what Armenians demand.

Today’s Armenia is not the culmination of a natural evolutionary process, but is the geopolitical repository for the survivors of that genocide. This is today’s condition. Today’s conditions can only be addressed by today’s realities. Gone is the assumption that another 80,000 sq. km. will be awarded to Armenians simply by having a just case. There are no shortages of just cases.

Land reparations, as part of a comprehensive agreement between Turkey and Armenia, would include land between Armenia and the Black Sea placed under Armenian sovereignty. Armenia could then build an economy not subject to the whims and blackmail of its neighbors. Any land awarded Armenia would also rightfully include its inhabitants. This indigenous population would be offered Armenian citizenship. For Armenians, the concept of multi-ethnic Armenian citizens must be reconciled with before any land reparations can go forward.

Movement on such a demand will only take place when it is in the greater interest of the Turkish state to provide reparations rather than to deny genocide. Clearly it is in the immediate interest of Turkey for Armenian demands to degenerate into a nondescript apology. In addition, Armenia is not going to war with Turkey for land reparations. This is the static condition.

However, any positive outcome of a developing dynamic geopolitical situation is at least predicated on a reasonable demand—that is, a clear demand—stated by Armenians. Without a demand, the chance of failure is virtually guaranteed. For a reasonable demand, see www.regionalkinetics.com.

It is beyond the scope of this article to describe dynamic scenarios; however, consider the following simplistic dynamic: Iraq disintegrates into a Sunni, Shia administrative regions and a Kurdistan. Any Kurdistan will be taken as an existential threat to the Turkish state (it should be noted that a static condition rarely slips into a dynamic one without external interests modulating events). Turkey engages in heavy repression of its Kurdish population. Israel, having strategic interests in the emerging Kurdistan, finds itself at odds with Turkey and decides Kurdistan is more important than a wavering Turkey and uses its influence against Turkish interests. Syria is at odds with Turkey because its Kurdish population becomes radicalized. Syria subsequently demands the return of the Alexendretta province (given to Turkey by the French in 1938 as a bribe not to enter World War II on the side of Germany—another event that could not happen today) and an Israeli quid pro quo supports this as Syria gives up its demand for Golan.

Azerbaijan uses this regional instability and starts making claims against Iran’s northern Azerbaijani-populated regions, but still refrains against attacking Karabagh because Russia is attempting to influence events in Georgia as centrifugal forces try to dismember Georgia. Armenians have already made clear demands on a swath of land between itself and the Black Sea. Russia supports Armenian demands using them to further strangle Georgia. Iran sees this as a trade route to the Black Sea, as does Kurdistan. Turkey is petrified that it may lose all its eastern regions and determines that it is better to concede to Armenian land reparation demands and have any border with Armenia than to have an entire Kurdistan to its east.

While this is a simplistic scenario, who in 1910 would have thought that starting in less than 5 years half of the world’s Armenian population would be murdered and survivors would be left a starving mass? Who in 1985 would have thought that in less than 10 years the aggressive Azerbaijani treatment of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabagh would come to an end?

There will be no benefit from change without participation in its process.

David Davidian manages the U.S. office of Regional Kinetics. In 2005, he produced a documentary on the genocide, which is available at www.regionalkinetics.com/documentary.html.


David Davidian

David Davidian is a Sr System Architect at a major IT firm, engaged in technical intelligence analysis. He manages the U.S. office of RegionalKinetics.com


  1. David, where the heck have you been hiding????
    This is an insightful geo-strategic analysis and exactly the type of  3- dimensional thinking our community needs to hear more about. Lets hope this refreshingly unshackled perspective will help shed light on the perils of static slave mentality and herald in a more dynamic geo-political mindset within our communities. Well done please do write again!

  2. Today’s reality is that no Armenians currently lives on the 80,000 Sq miles of land in question. The chain of events that would need to take place for Turkey to give lands back to Armenia as part of geo-political decision is so remote, that it cannot be considered even an academic excercise. Let’s come up with a chain of events where the entire world will speak French

    Today’s reality is that Armenia DOES have control over 30,000 sq miles. You want to be real visionary start thinking is possible with what we have. I completely reject the premise that the only way the economy can prosper is by having a port. Does Switzerland have a port? How about Austria or Czech Republic ? Let’s not make excuses for our own shortcomings in governing our country.

    I know its not epic, heroic, or satisfies the need to be a true revolutionary , but there is 30,000 sq miles of free land that is waiting for ideas of the diaspora who have the luxuary of time to think about improving the lives of those who live in Armenia. Let’s start with a flushing toliet in every home and tap water that one can drink. It does not even require Isreal to change its attitude toward the Kurds.

  3. Rootarmo: Switzerland, Austria and the Czech republic are European countries and don’t have Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia and Iran as neighbors. A link to be black sea could totally help Armenia, but highly unrealistic except  for people with geopolitic aspirations.  Hard times.. no leader is taking care of the 30.000sq miles… Armenia does need a link to Europe but with what cost.. opening it’s border with Turkey?

  4. The arbitration of 28-th Prezident of USA Woodrow Wilson from 22 November of1920, on power. It’s not for genocide, it is for VW I. For Genoside can be 2 or even 3 time more.
    Geopolitical situation and Changes are very very important, Baitc inchpe?s petq e menq ogtvenq, inchpe?s petq e teghabashxvenq ev gordzenq: Petq e djisht hashvarkenq naev arevmutqi ev hiusisi poxharaberuthiunnery: Aiceleq http://www.western-armenia.org

  5. Speaking of dramatic dynamic change and chaos, I think one is coming up in Iran. The current regime’s days are numbered especially given their disconnect with the people of Iran. the worst case scenario is that the Azeri regions of Iran break away in an Iraninan rebellion. More Azeris live in Iran than Azerbaijan republic. If that happens, given the huge influx of potential soldiers, nothing will stop the Azeris from war. That will be the end of Armenia, or at least the southern regions of Armenia. One way out would be that Russia annexes Armenia and becomes part of Russia. How’s that for a worst case scenario?

  6. I think we need to reunite the Artsakh  to Armenia, back then after getting red of Azeri occupation , that was the demand of the people of Artsakh,  the Armenian people asked for uniting  the Artsakh  to Armenia, they didn’t ask for independent or a separate country with a separate flag from Armenia, we need to solve this problem first, which comes ahead than anything else, also we need to remember that Armenia is a republic and not a kingdom, the government is elected by the people to serve the people, and not to do deals such as a road map, secretly or without details, even from the Armenian parliament, what kind of democracy is this, is this president still doing what was had been done at the communist times! When the people in Armenia will have their say, and what about the Armenians in diasporas, do they have a say also about all this deals or not, aren’t they are a part of the Armenian people also! To where are we going! where are our real leaders ! I think, Armenians need to come up, with better leadership than this one we have it now, with  leadership, who cares for the people more than himself. Dashnagtsouyoun. The rests don’t work.   

  7. Ranjbar,

    It is rather lacking in astuteness to make the effort to dismiss something capriciously rather than to provide a coherent argument in response. One could ask what your suggestion is on the topic, but it seems you have already provided your acute analysis.

  8. Davidian,

    Nice try at a sincere analysis about the possiblity of Armenian Reparations/land. However, i’d have to agree more with the RootArmo here; irredentism gets us nowhere. Sure, static situations may turn dynamic, but im not sure it’ll result in land–a border opening perhaps–but not necessarily land.

    I liked this quote: “Any land awarded Armenia would also rightfully include its inhabitants. This indigenous population would be offered Armenian citizenship. For Armenians, the concept of multi-ethnic Armenian citizens must be reconciled with before any land reparations can go forward.” Not only because a multi-ethnic society works to diffuse tensions, but because it is a process that can happen in turkey as well. So although land transfer may pose a number of issues, turkey and armenia embracing a multi-ethnic model (in practice as well as officially), may be the best hope for a lasting solution.

    Although such a solution would need to eventually become political, it is often a country’s political culture will be requred to push for the direction that this eventual solution must take. There are signs of turkish civil society starting to show goodwill in being more open about discussing the genocide. There is a shared culture between both sides that cant be ignored as well. If there is goodwill, perhaps a border opening is the start for reconciliation.

  9. David: “There are signs of turkish civil society starting to show goodwill in being more open about discussing the genocide.”
    Yes, it used to be that ten years ago one could not even say “there was no Armenian genocide” because it made reference to Armenians and 1915. Now you can say it loudly.
    If there is any land reparation (I find it to be nothing but a dream), I doubt the inhabitants that come with it will simply submit and become Armenian citizens. There will be Turks, Kurds and even Azeris. I’m sure there will be uprisings and one will need to be as brutal as the Turkish army was on the Kurds. I doubt Armenia has the means and the will to do this. And how about Armenians returning to their ancestral lands? Who in the diaspora would want to move there?
    I would love to see us reuniting with our Hamshen brothers and sisters in Rize though.

  10. The article below was published in the Armenian Weekly on June 24, 2006:

    Dream to Achieve

    Confessions of an Angry Armenian – Part 3

    By George M. Aghjayan

    I remember growing up in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, those of us who believed in a free and independent Armenia were scoffed at for that belief. The Soviet Union was a world power whose dominant strength would never falter. We had the political sophistication of peasants. Others were realists while we were sentimental idealists to be ridiculed. As we all know, Armenia has now become independent, while not united and its freedom questionable.

    My objective in recalling that time in our history is not to belittle or rejoice, but instead to remind that to dream is to achieve, acceptance is failure.

    Today, I find that we are in much the same situation in regards to reparations and restitution of land. I have responded to the main objections to reparations in part 2 of this series. Here I wish instead to focus on what exactly is meant by reparations and restitution. Primarily, I wish to suggest a possibility. Not that this is a proposal, but, instead, simply an effort to expose the misconception that those who adhere to the importance of restitution of land are peasant dreamers in the world of realpolitik.

    Thus far, there has been a general hesitation to discuss reparations in terms other than all (most commonly stated as the results of the treaty of Sevres) or nothing (recognition only). By emphasizing the maximum position, it has made it easier for the “realists” to portray all talk of reparations as extremist and unworkable.

    Even within the supposedly liberal circles of Turkish academics that acknowledge the Genocide, there is strong protest against any notion of reparations for all the same tired reasons. What is particularly maddening with this approach is that Armenians are expected once again to put aside their rights in order to benefit the Turkish people.

    The strength of the Republic of Turkey is built on the blood of Armenians. The rights Armenians were striving for then, as well as the demand for justice today, are dismissed as unimportant or, worse, products of outdated concepts of nationalism.

    The Armenian Genocide is being viewed by these people solely as a way of improving democracy within Turkey on the pretext that it would also quite naturally benefit Armenia. No such guarantees can be made. Thus, acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide to these people is less about the rights of Armenians than it is about achieving some gains for Turkey.

    The phrase “adding insult to injury” is not nearly strong enough to describe this strategy for resolution.

    While it is absurd to dismiss reparations altogether on the basis of one definition, there are also fundamental problems with the approach of demanding what is perceived as the perfect outcome. Justice for the Armenian Genocide cannot be viewed as a business transaction where you bargain from ends of the continuum to meet somewhere in between.

    The Turkish government to end any possibility of an Armenian nation on our ancestral land initiated the genocide of the Armenian people. Any discussion of reparations and restitution should begin here, with the understanding that perfect justice is unattainable given the magnitude of the crime. My thought is to view the restitution of land in the context of what would be necessary to support the sustainability of Armenia – to guarantee the failure of the Armenian Genocide.

    From this perspective, I believe a port on the Black Sea is imperative.

    When one talks of the transfer of land, a number of points are made in the effort to portray restitution as unattainable, even undesirable. One such objection is that few, if any, Armenians would repatriate to restored lands and Turkey is a country of 70 million while there are only 7 million Armenians worldwide.

    Interestingly, here the “realists” are ignoring the demographic facts. The current total population for all of the Turkish provinces from Armenia to the Black Sea is only about 800 thousand. The area comprises the provinces of Artvin, Ardahan, Kars and Igdir. Thus, an Armenia which includes these provinces with their current population would still be over 75% Armenian. This does not even consider Hamshen Armenians and others who have hidden their Armenian identity while living on the land today.

    Historically and culturally, these provinces would return the Armenian capitols of Kars and Ani. In addition, Mount Ararat would once again be part of Armenia. Economically, Armenia would no longer be land-locked. Strategically, the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline would pass through Armenia. In addition, one could then also speak of monetary reparations in the context of economical development for the region.

    One concern I continue to have over the welfare of Armenia is the pan-Turanian drive eastward. Strategically, it may make sense to cede Azerbaijan the southern most region of Armenian bordering Iran so that Armenia no longer blocks Turkey’s access to the east. The resulting marginalization of Georgia would also be to Armenia’s long-term advantage. This may also make the resolution more palatable to Turkey, while also resolving the status of Artsakh.

    Ultimately, these are simply ideas to begin a discussion that is long overdue – reasonable, practical goals to strive for as we dream to achieve.

  11. To David:

    You appear to have concluded that genocide reparations in the form of land reparation is basically a dead end. Have you made such demands and failed?

    There is no reason why efforts towards making the current 30K sq km of Armenia a better place and demands for genocide reparation be assumed mutually exclusive.

    For the record: the land in question is not 80K sq mi as RootArmo suggests. Either my article wasn’t read or it was incorrectly assumed the map supplied on http://www.regionalkinetics.com  and http://www.armenianweekly.com/ the was the Sevres/Wilsonian Grant. It was not. This border delineation contains between 1 and 2M  inhabitants.  RootArmo’s 80K sq km contains somewhere under 10M people.

  12. Let me see if I understand this.
    Some of you think that Armenians can never regain land?   
    I suppose that Karabagh and, just outside of it, the huge swathes of  formerly “Azeri” territory now occupied by Armenian troops are mirages? 
    What’s that I hear you saying?  The situation in Azerbaijan is different?  Well, every situation is different.  Regaining land is possible if you don’t  take a *defeatist* attitude.

  13. Asking “but will you go live there?” stifles the valid demand for Armenian land reparations.  Diasporan repatriation to Armenia (see: http://hetq.am/en/society/armen-ayvazyan/) as well as renewed volunteerism in the Arstakh defense corps are already underway. Others will bypass these and return to their ancestral lands, no matter how treacherous the conditions. Yet others may decide to reallocate their lands in other ways. What happens to Western Armenia is for the Armenians who belong to that land to decide.

  14. Random ArmenIAN:

    I want to echo what George Aghjyan wrote…don’t confuse an illusion of Turkish “goodwill” with actual intent.

    It may not be helpful to base unanalyzed conclusions on zero-sum scenarios: there must be one winner and one loser, for every gain there is a loss. It is also not useful to assume that land reparations will fall from the sky on the heads of all concerned without warning.

    Regarding the claimed consequences of offering Armenian citizenship to the inhabitants of the lands between Armenia and the wider Black Sea coast — nobody will force anybody to accept Armenian citizenship. If somebody does not want to be a citizen of Armenia, they can continue to be citizens of Turkey, be compensated by the Turkish state and live someplace else in Turkey. There is no reason to conclude there will be mass riots, uprisings or violent repression.

  15. The Turkish government loves hearing the classic “defeatist attitude” of some Armenians regarding our legitimate irredentist demands on occupied lands. It’s a marvelous wedge issue Turkey continues to leverage in its attempt to divide Armenians. It ensures Turkey that some community members are still shackled to what a post above describes as the “static slave mentality” of some Armenians who remain pathetically enslaved to a defeatist ottoman mindset. Doonus I couldn’t agree with you more.

  16. Doonus:

    Armenians didn’t “regain” land in Karabagh. They were living in and on Karabagh when the war started. They were fighting for their actual homes. What they did was drive the Azeris out…by force. A military solution to a historic injustice.

    Who can argue the sentiment “we will never give up” but while you spend an entire liftime being angry at the Turks over lands you rightfully claim the Armenian Nation is mired in poverty and neglect.


    You can lose a lot by asking/demanding land back. You can hang your hat on taking the morally pure route..but that is about the only victory your going cliam. Going into it you know its low percentage shot…and your going to ruin all possible hope of economic growth for the sake of what? A moral victory…

    You have thought it all out as to what the population on reclaimed Armenian land will or will not do. Could you possibly engage in more meaningless exercise. While you spent all this time write your article there are orphans in Armenia waiting for someone to adopt them, there is a village which does not have a working toilet, there is son or daughter who is planning on leaving the country for good because there is no economic hope.

  17. The article below, “The Armenian Land Question: Misunderstood Terrain,” concerns the Armenian territorial issue.
    It was written by me in the summer of 2004.   It was originally published in several Armenian media, including the Armenian Mirror Spectator, Armenian Reporter International, Armenian Weekly, and others  Hopefully, it can contribute to the discussion of the worthwhile articles above.
    The Armenian Land Question: Misunderstood Terrain
    By David Boyajian
    Geography, someone once said, is destiny. If so, the present geography of Armenia poses major challenges for its future.
    Small and landlocked, Armenia is outflanked by Turkey to the west and Azerbaijan to the east. To the north, unreliable Georgia controls Armenia’s routes to the Black Sea and Russia. To the south, thankfully, lies friendly Iran. Unfortunately, the Iranian provinces just to Armenia’s south contain millions of Azeris who might someday blockade Armenia by forming an autonomous pan-Turkic corridor from Turkey to Azerbaijan.
    To endure and prosper, Armenia must somehow break out of its geographical straightjacket by reclaiming the lands of historical Western Armenia, which, as we know, lie mostly within what is now called eastern Turkey.
    That territory was the primary site of the 1915-1923 Genocide, and much of it was to be incorporated into the Armenian Republic in 1920 by the Treaty of Sevres, which Turkey signed but later renounced. Perhaps four times the size of the current Republic of Armenia, the treaty territory constitutes about 15 percent of present-day Turkey. Significantly, it included a coastline on the Black Sea.
    Today that coastline would provide Armenia with a direct sea route to Europe and Russia. Georgia would lose the potential to deny Armenia access to much of the outside world, and Armenia would be less vulnerable to a Turkish land blockade. Armenia’s economy and national security would be strengthened.
    Eventually Armenia might develop an ocean-going navy, including submarines that could endow the country with a stealthy, survivable defense capability.
    Present-day Armenia with its limited, rocky soil has trouble feeding itself. Regaining its well-irrigated, traditional breadbasket in Western Armenia would clearly be beneficial.
    Recouping territory is also simple justice, restoring what Turks took from Armenians in the carnage of 1915 and by centuries of massacre, deportation, confiscation, onerous taxation, abduction, rape, and forced Islamization.
    Says political scientist Khatchik Der Ghougassian, Turkey in 1915 “intended to redefine the geopolitical situation by eliminating Armenians from Asia Minor. Thus, a response to the Genocide must deprive Turkey of the geopolitical map it made possible by committing genocide.”
    Additionally, Turkey has come to believe that it can get away with killing huge numbers of Armenians and seizing their land. It bodes ill for Armenia’s future if Turkey is not made to unlearn that lesson.
    But there are misconceptions about how and when Armenia can regain territory.
    Contrary to what some may think, no serious Armenian analyst has ever suggested that Armenia can march over the Turkish border next week and retake what rightfully belongs to it. Armenian land can be resettled only in the long term, perhaps decades from now.
    The most plausible scenario is war, unfortunately, though not necessarily between Armenia and Turkey.
    Instability breeds war, and there are few regions more unstable than eastern Turkey where, for instance, on and off warfare between Kurds and the central government has taken place for centuries. Though the most recent war ended in 1999, some Kurdish groups (Pkk/Hadek/Kongra-Gel) just announced a resumption of that conflict.
    Future military cooperation between Armenians and Kurds, perhaps with Russian assistance, and a subsequent division of the spoils—even if less than Armenians would like—is a possibility.
    Also possible is a conflict between Turkey and Russia, who have fought at least eight wars in the last three centuries. Some of the battlegrounds were in eastern Turkey. During World War I, for instance, the Russian Army advanced deep into the Western Armenian heartland. Only the Russian Revolution brought about a withdrawal. A similar scenario, with Armenia itself possibly retaking some territory, cannot be ruled out.
    Neither should one underestimate the ability of Armenians themselves to retake land. Against all odds, Armenians not only won the battle for Karabagh in 1993, but also captured a buffer zone of about 2,000 square miles within what is now Azerbaijan, where comparatively few Armenians lived at the time.
    Currently, the West and Turkey’s only route into Azerbaijan and the Caspian region that avoids their Russian and Iranian adversaries is through unstable Georgia. Were Georgia to become further destabilized, Armenia would, in theory, possess considerable leverage as the only remaining route. Might some land concessions then be offered Armenia in return for its cooperation?
    Another misconception is that Armenians could never repopulate Western Armenia since surviving among its several million Turks and Kurds would be unrealistic. Again, no serious analyst has ever suggested, nor would Armenians consider, repopulating territory while it remained under Turkish control. Armenia or a friendly power would need to administer the territory for it to be safe for resettlement.
    What about the Turks, Kurds, and others, many of part Armenian descent, who now occupy homes, property, farms, and towns in eastern Turkey that 90 years ago were Armenian? Admittedly, the question has no simple answer.
    There are, however, many precedents for large-scale population movements. For example:
    Azerbaijan’s attack on Karabagh more than a decade ago led hundreds of thousands of Azeris in Armenia and Armenians in Azerbaijan to flee in opposite directions. This was a tragedy, yet a peace accord may someday allow many of these people to return to their homes or be compensated.
    After their war ended in 1922, Greece and Turkey “exchanged” 1.5 million people—most Greeks in Turkey were sent to Greece, while lesser numbers of Turks in Greece returned to Turkey.
    Kurds are currently repopulating districts in northern Iraq from which the former regime had removed them, though not always in ways that are fair to the present Arab residents.
    The Council of Europe is demanding that as many as 100,000 Meshket Turks, whom Stalin deported from Georgia to Central Asia, be settled near Armenians in Georgia’s Javakhk region. Turks deserve to be resettled, but not Armenians?
    No one underestimates the difficulties. Even in 1920, the Sevres Treaty in hand, the destitute survivors of the Genocide and the impoverished Armenian Republic would have encountered difficulty in returning to and administering their land. Indeed, Turkey confiscated Armenian property and nearly eradicated Armenians in 1915 precisely to make it hard for the survivors and other Armenians to ever return.
    To totally dismiss the goal of Armenian resettlement is, therefore, to reward Turkey for having created the problem in the first place. Ultimately, the criminal, not the victim, bears responsibility for setting things right.
    Armenians do not, of course, wish hardship on others. Still, Armenia deserves a measure of justice and security. If Turkey wants to talk about that, Armenians have always been willing to sit down at the table.
    Admittedly, just holding onto Armenia and Karabagh now is difficult, especially in view of the menacing Turkish-Georgian-Azeri axis backed by the US. Frankly, it is even conceivable that Turkey, in its ongoing drive into the Caucasus and Central Asia, will someday overrun a piece of Armenia before the latter gets even one inch of its territory back.
    Armenia’s present state of affairs does not, however, preclude us from considering how best to address the land issue in the future.
    Some Armenians have, unfortunately, convinced themselves that even mentioning the land issue is too provocative. As if the Genocide and subsequent land theft were not themselves the ultimate provocations.
    Remember, too, that Turkey—a relative newcomer to the region, incidentally, and nowhere near as old as the Armenian nation—is itself beset by political and economic problems and nearly surrounded by less than friendly nations including Greece, Cyprus, Iran, Russia, and others.
    Just as few foresaw the independence of Armenia and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, no one can predict whether or how the land issue will be resolved.
    Ottoman Turkey has, however, been shrinking steadily for hundreds of years. Moreover, as it occupies Armenian territory and rules over Kurds, Turkey can still be regarded as an empire. Be they Roman, Byzantine, British, or Soviet, empires inevitably contract and fall.

  18. David Davidian,
    I’m not sure if what I wrote came across clearly. Is should have written “Today in Turkey you can hear
    ‘there was no genocide’ loudly, when 10 years ago one would not even say that because it would mean bringing up the subject.” I have no illusions about the “goodwill”. Even Akcam is against land reparations.
    As for citizenship to non-Armenians post-reparation, people living there are as attached to the land as we are. And I doubt they see themselves living on Armenian land. I doubt even the Kurds, who have the most to sympathize with us, despite the checked Armenian-Kursdish past, see the lands they live on as belonging to Armenians. I’m just not expecting things to go over smoothly post-reparation.

  19. Rootarmo:
    I guarantee if you make no reasonable claim today, when geopolitical change occurs, not only will you get nothing, but it will be more difficult the next iteration. This is because those who participated in the change have already taken advantage if your miscalculation. I find an dismissive Armenian position painfully close to serving the interests of our enemies.
    The argument that fixing conditions in Armenia takes unconditional priority over the pursuit of justice also happens to resonate well with the interests of our enemies. There is no way of you knowing that those who are participating in this discussion have contributed, including their lives, to the betterment of the conditions in Armenia and at what level of success or failure. Yes, it hurts to see poverty in Armenia, yes it hurts to see rusting skeletons of useless factories all over, it hurts to see a country that runs by mafias, but you have not provided an argument that if all efforts were aimed at fixing conditions in Armenia they would result in sustained self-development in Armenia.
    There is plenty of work to engage in acrosss the board, and to claim that pursuing the just cause of the Armenia should be abandoned for parochial reasons is self-defeating.

  20. Hye Tad is essentially a 4-pronged national agenda:

    1. caring for, developing, democratizing today’s Armenia
    2. helping NKR gain independence/merging with Armenia
    3. securing autonomy and improving minority rights for Armenians in Georgia (Javakhk)
    4. ending the Armenian Genocide and pursuing moral, financial, security and territorial reparations from Turkey.
    All members of the Armenian Nation should be working on and helping promote these four main goals simultaneously.

    Picking and choosing “my Armenia” over what “your Armenia” is gets us today’s divisions, discrimination, authoritarianism, corruption,  opaqueness,  regression and destruction!

  21. I agree with those who call for both territory and reparations. 
    Like a number of Armenians, I have long questioned the notion that “genocide acknowledgment” alone is sufficient.  I also agree with Davidian and others above that land/reparations and helping the Republic of Armenia are not mutually exclusive.  Obviously, however, Armenia and Artsakh must hang on to what they have now, and prosper, in order to take advantage of developments down the road to achieve future goals.  I wrote the article below in 2005.

    Hetq Online
    Yerevan, Armenia
    April 2005

    By David B. Boyajian
    Worldwide Armenian political demands on Turkey have always included land, restitution, and Genocide acknowledgment. Over time, however, the demand for acknowledgment has eclipsed the other demands. In view of the obvious obstacles the land and restitution issues have faced, that’s understandable.
    Genocide acknowledgment is different. Armenians, and many non-Armenians, have readily rallied around such a straightforward and relatively non-aggressive demand. Moreover, a Turkish confession – apparently a mere sentence or two – has seemed achievable.

    Suppose, therefore, that Turkey’s Prime Minister announced today that “Turkey acknowledges that 90 years ago, during a time in which both Turks and Armenians were murdered, some individuals in the Ottoman regime committed genocide against Armenians. Let us and Armenia now begin a new era.”

    Dead End

    Would that really heal our collective psyche? Would it be sincere and signify a genuine shift in Turkish attitudes? Would Turkish organizations and individuals cease their Genocide denial? Would the remaining survivors and their descendants receive restitution/reparations?

    Would Armenia’s security be measurably enhanced? Would Turkey open its border with Armenia? Would it end its pan-Turkic thrust – similar to the one that spawned the Genocide – into the Caucasus and Central Asia? Could Armenians resettle in Anatolia/Western Armenia? Would Armenia recover even small amounts of that territory?

    That the likely answer to each question is “No” should cause us to rethink our emphasis on acknowledgment. Among the political scientists doing that are Dr. Simon Payaslian, Nicolas Tavitian MS, and Dr. Khatchik Der Ghougassian (Armenian Forum, Vol. 2, No. 3, Gomidas.org).

    Rethinking Acknowledgment

    The “essential component” of “historic Armenian lands,” says Payaslian, has been “redefined as, or totally replaced by, recognition.” Western countries’ “commemorative statements that ignore the territorial issue should be rejected.” He lists four goals of acknowledgment: territory, emotional healing, restitution, and enhanced international standing for Armenia. Only the last, Payaslian concludes, is realistically achievable through acknowledgment. He is troubled by “the lack of public debate” on the “purposes and problems” of “Genocide recognition.”

    So is Tavitian: “Striving for genocide recognition has long been a reflex rather than an action toward a goal … Armenians should rethink their approach.”

    However, acknowledgment could be a “security guarantee” for Armenia if it can “transform Turkey [and] the West’s understanding of Armenia’s security.” The quest for acknowledgment, Der Ghougassian believes, maintains “vigilance against the Turkish threat.” Acknowledgment might be a “first step” towards “normalization of relations.” Nevertheless, “A response to the Genocide must deprive Turkey” of the land it took in the genocide. Clearly, then, we need to rethink the pursuit of acknowledgment. If not, we may regret it.

    Land and Restitution

    The European Union (EU), which Turkey aspires to join, is asking Turkey to recognize the Genocide. Suppose Turkey complies. The EU and the US would likely conclude, since the land and restitution issues are not now prominently on the table, that Armenians had received everything they had asked for. For Armenians to subsequently try to drag those two issues into the spotlight would be difficult. And, as argued above, acknowledgment alone is unlikely to benefit Armenia much anyway. Worse, an educated guess is that the West would accept a sham acknowledgment, such as “Turkey regrets the wrongful murder of Armenians in 1915 by the old Ottoman regime.”

    Frankly, acknowledgment, in the absence of the restoration of Armenian rights, may be undesirable. The pursuit of acknowledgment, rather than acknowledgment itself, helps to maintain a strong defensive posture against Turkey and is a valuable tool to keep Armenia’s foe off balance.

    Placing restitution and territory near the front of our agenda, therefore, serves two purposes. First, Turkey is unlikely to issue an acknowledgment at all, for fear of the consequences. Second, if an acknowledgment does come, Turkey and the West would less able to close the book on the Armenian case. In the meantime, efforts are underway to undermine the restitution and land issues.

    State Department Trap

    John Evans, the US Ambassador to Armenia, and David L. Phillips, a State Department consultant and moderator of the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC), recently toured the US gleefully claiming that Armenians cannot ask for restitution or land from Turkey.

    They cite a 2003 “report” sponsored by TARC. The report affirmed the factuality of the genocide, but deviously asserted that the UN’s1948 Genocide Treaty cannot be applied retroactively to 1915 and that “legal, financial, or territorial” claims are invalid.

    Indeed, Phillips hints that four years ago it was he who arranged for President Robert Kocharian to tell Turkish TV that Armenia will not press for restitution or territory.

    This, then, is the trap being laid for us: the US, and possibly Turkey, may someday issue a Genocide “acknowledgment”, but Armenians must abandon all claims, particularly territorial ones, against Turkey.

    Why is America worried about Turkish territory? Because the State Department, not to mention
    Europe and Israel, regards eastern Turkey as a vital path to the Caspian Sea region’s oil and gas. By disposing of Genocide acknowledgment and trashing Armenian land claims, the State Department hopes to both protect eastern Turkey and more easily penetrate the Caucasus.

    The Future

    Genocide acknowledgment is a vital, and perhaps permanent, weapon in Armenia and the Diaspora’s arsenals. It must not be dealt away cheaply. Armenia and the traditional Diasporan political parties should immediately place land and restitution alongside, or close to, the acknowledgment demand.

    Realistically, of course, Armenia cannot recover territory anytime soon. Still, that territory is vital for long-term security. For example, Armenia requires a secure path to the Black Sea and, therefore, to Europe and Russia. Needless to say, to attain that goal, Armenia must become much stronger.
    (See “The Armenian Land Question: Misunderstood Terrain,” Armenian Mirror Spectator, Boston, July 31, 2004.)

    Recovering territory and obtaining material restitution someday will heal our wounds more than all the Turkish acknowledgments in the world. Notice, for example, that as Armenians now control Karabagh and the surrounding territory, the repression and massacres that Azerbaijan inflicted on Armenians in the last 100 years take a back seat.

    Winning, therefore, is the best revenge, though we will always honor those who perished and suffered in the Genocide.

    Lastly, we need to better educate ourselves about land and restitution. Genocide related
    commemorations, lectures, and conferences should emphasize the ongoing geopolitical consequences of 1915: loss of historic lands and individual and historical property, and an adversary that remains committed to a dangerous, pan-Turkic philosophy. Younger generations, particularly – by nature action-oriented – crave such meaty political issues.

    And if Turkey never acknowledges the Genocide?   Security, and the restoration of rights and the Armenian homeland are more important.

  22. I would like to clarify that “land reparations” is a misnomer. Armenians may indeed rightfully seek compensation for human and material loss in the form of reparations for the genocide. However, when it comes to stolen and confiscated Western Armenian lands, homes, properties, cultural monuments and the like, we are talking about “land return” from Turkey.
    The Azeri and Turkish press allege that Artsakh Armenians have been persuaded to “return” Azeri lands, such as Kelbajar, that were conquered during the Artsakh War.  By contrast, does anyone recall Turkey or Azerbaijan EVER “returning” lands to the Armenians?  Let us not act in haste.

  23. Some people tend to think Armenian’s legitimate reparations case for the period of the genocide is sufficient. However, when seeking lasting regional peace and genuine reconciliation it is critical to emphasize that the Armenian Genocide is a crime composed of two distinct stages: 1) the phase of the genocidal crime itself (the actual killing) and 2) the denial and distortion phase. Many will agree that this denial timeline continues to inflict a significant toll on Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora to this very day. Surely, this second phase of state sanctioned denial for almost a century must also be properly acknowledged and accounted for when pursuing a comprehensive compensation strategy.

  24. Harry,
    No misnomer, nor should we engage in semantics. If one were to take, for example, the swath of land as seen on http://www.regionalkinetics.com, some of that land never belonged to Armenians, much of it did. However, providing Armenian sovereignty over that entire area will restore the ability of Armenians to survive even if blockaded on all sides. Restoring Armenia’s ability to survive is what must be restored and that is through land reparation. Regarding “stolen and confiscated Western Armenian lands, homes, properties, cultural monuments and the like” they may be demands that are made along with monetary indemnity.
    Nobody is acting in haste.

  25. Davidian, was not Trebizond assigned to Armenia in the Treaty of Sevres?
    What is the ARF’s position today on territorial return of W. Armenia?
    Is it in the ARF’s domain to pursue the return of  confiscated homes in W. Armenia, or is that a job for the Armenian Bar Association?

  26. Congratulations, David Davidian, for researching and presenting this thought-provoking article. Who else is involved in Regional Kinetics besides yourself?

  27. No question Armenians are entitled to reparations. But like anything in life, nobody’s going to grant us reparations if we just sulk in our self pity dwelling on reasons why it will never happen. If we had followed this despairing creed I guarantee you we wouldn’t have an independent Armenia nor a Karabagh under our belt. Of course it will be an uphill battle but nothing happens without sweat and tears. The battle for recognition remains an uphill battle and reparations won’t be any different, but that doesn’t mean it should be castigated to the realms of impossibility! Demanding justice in the form of reparations for the Armenian genocide is definitely our right and is attainable contrary to what doomsayers may think.  The notion of demanding reparations from Turkey for the denial period, raised by someone above, in addition to reparations for the genocide itself is an interesting line of thinking. The time, effort and money allocated to countering denial of the armenian genocide over 90 odd years could have been used to address Armenia’s economic, security and social woes  like poverty or state fragility. This would bring the idea of attaining justice for our cause through reparations together with the mutually important goal of alleviating poverty in Armenia and raising the standard of living.

  28. Harry:
    Trebizond was part of the Sevres Treaty/Wilsonian Grant. In reiteration, pursuing the Sevres Treaty (noted here and suggested by the Armenian Bar Association) is tantamount to renegotiating the end of WWI. This would be a colossal waste of time. It might make a good PhD thesis topic, however.

    Regarding ARF’s position on Western Armenian land reparations — to be fair — I suggest you ask them.

  29. Patil,
    Thank you for your kind comment. I am glad you found the article stirring. Regarding Regional Kinetics, it is best to say that it is a distributed effort and virtual in structure. It is clearly not the effort of one person.

  30. The points made by David D. are not out of the realm of possibility. Who in the 60’s or 70’s would have entertained the idea of an independent “term used loosely here” Armenia? Land restitution and reparations can only account for a portion of the injustices brought upon the Armenian nation.
    Restitution of lands, as all have implored, is rather tricky. The Sevres Treaty, is certainly a powerful option, which Ara Papian has done significant work on.  However, it has its own problems given the parties involved and the lands it covers and their current residents. the foot print that David D. writes about circumvents some of these issues, but it’ll require some serious dynamic shifts to materialize.  Given the volatility of the region, such shifts will happen, it is only a matter of when and whether we are ready to deal with them when they come.
    George is very correct in his  article that the Turkish intelligentsia will and does entertain the idea of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide,  yet they will support no part of a land restitution.  They view the AG acknowledgment as an effort to shepherd Turkey down the road to real democratization.  They’ll even be happy with throwing some coin in our way to feel “cleansed”, but land is a whole different issue.  A sovereign route to the open seas is paramount to the future survival of Armenia as an independent  nation, rather than a Russian vassal state, and one that survives on handouts from other nations and remittances from abroad.
    Folks have brought up the examples of Switzerland and Austria as examples of thriving landlocked nations. Aside from the obvious points about where these countries lie,   Zuerchers pride themselves on having the world’s money under Bahnhoffstrasse (a wee bit exaggeration here), but none the less, Armenia and Switzerland are by no means in the same category or league. Austria is the successor to the Austro-Hungarian empire and has Germany committed to her and standing behind her, again not a similar situation to that of Armenia. So, these examples are far from convincing.  Armenia’s location, its neighbors and its dependence on the most basic of needs, dictates an open access to waters for any chance of survival (even then it’s not a guarantee given the numb **ts that are in charge there).
    Others have alluded to the need to get our house in order first, so to speak, before reclaiming our lost lands. This is a very reasonable assertion.  Umfortunately, neither this nor reclaiming of lost lands will happen under the watch of the current Armenian Governent.  Their recent activities by way of the Turkish-Armenian recociliation and the Artaskh issue speak  volume of their priorities.  For all we know, all this argument will be for naught in a few months. Living conditions in most of Armenia are terrible and need serious effort. We all bear direct responsibility for this.
    Given at the state of the nation, biilding a prosperous nation, without sovereign access to open waters is that much more challenging.  this doesn’t mean that we stop trying till we have the water route, but it alters the game plan significantly.
    One of the folks who commented that the ARF is the only hope for such changes in Armenis is correct to some  degree, but with ARF polling at less thn 5% in Armenia, this is a very tall order at best.

  31. Great article and interesting comments.
    Now, how do we claim those lands? Anyone ready to get to work on that? I am going to make an educated guess and say no one is about to lift a finger. I can’t imagine anyone in the Armenian diaspora or in Armenia for that matter getting off their comfortable chairs to make such a plan happen. Especially in Armenia.
    Let’s stop talking and dreaming about laying claim to lands and actually do something about it. Reading articles such as this one that address the topic of land reparations as well as comments to them is indeed educational and even entertaining, but if no one is truly, emphatically ready to work, the words are wasted. People read them, think “Wow, what a great, refreshing idea!” and then forget about the premise by losh kebab and pilaf time at 7 pm.
    To work or not to work, that is the ultimate dilemma of the Armenian cause. Get warmed up by moving to Armenia and immersing yourself in Armenian society. While your at it, start a grassroots movement to support the aims of Regional Kinetics. Once you get about a million people signed on to the plan, convince the Armenian diaspora to do the same. Before you know it, you have some more lands and a port on the Black Sea. It’s going to take a lot of work, though. Lots of work during several years. Anyone ready?

  32. What is the ARF’s position on land reparations? Does the ARF recommend that personal property claims be handled by the Armenian Bar Association? Is CGarbis or the ARF suggesting that Regional Kinetics mobilize the masses in tandem with the ARF?

  33. Ara Nazarian –  Read some history, historically speaking Europe has been one of the most violent continents/regions in human history.
    Davidian –  The people who have to make this “resonable claim” of land is the Armenian Government..and by extension the Armenians who live in Armenia.  The Turks are certainly not going to regard any claim as “resonable”  and all talk about openning borders and econmic activity will come to stand still.
    Can reparations really be handled exclusively of econmic development.  In Armenia’s case probably not.  Whether we like it or not we need our neighbors to trade with.  As people in the Diaspora sit comfortable in their suburban homes typing away about Armenia should or should not do…the people in Armenia continue to suffer.

  34. It should noted that our comments are public.
    Root: Yes, it is easy to sit comfortably in the diaspora and type. For many of us a diasporan existence was forced on us and not a choice. In contrast, many interests in Yerevan fault diasporans for not investing in Armenia, while simultaneously reaping the benefits of a mafia infrastructure. So we have your dilemma Mr. Root. The most capable diasporans have concluded they better things to do than to reinforce corruption in Armenia, and when they do engage in better things — you criticize them.
    Please provide us a structured plan by which diasporans can end suffering in Armenia, Armenia not preparing for any dynamic geopolitical change (that is, the future), and concerned parties drop all political and historical demands so we can engage in friendly trade with our enemies. This is not rhetorical but is a logical request based on your argument.

  35. I think Ara Nazarian hit on something very important with
    “Others have alluded to the need to get our house in order first, so to speak, before reclaiming our lost lands. This is a very reasonable assertion.  Umfortunately, neither this nor reclaiming of lost lands will happen under the watch of the current Armenian Governent.  Their recent activities by way of the Turkish-Armenian recociliation and the Artaskh issue speak  volume of their priorities.  For all we know, all this argument will be for naught in a few months.”
    What Davidian is proposing could be mute if the recently reveald Madrid points go in to effect. Returning the areas surrounding Karabagh while Azerbaijan is building up its miliatary and making explicit threats of war is suicidal. Returning those areas will mean a longer contact line to protect and thus a weaker defense. We all know that any war a second time around means all civilian deaths will be Armenian. Nobody can stop Azerbaijan from atacking Karabagh. Russia cannot get into what is officially and internationally an internal Azeri affair. Armenians are being set up to loose land before our eyes. Is it too late?! What’s going on right now a threat. I also believe that if Azeris are succesful in a war, they will try and take southern regions of Armenia. This is an immediate threat!

  36. Davidian:
    There are plenty of extremely capable Diaspora Armenians who are engaged in “better things” regarding Armenia that I have extreme admiration, support and respect for.  These Armenians  are not sitting around thinking about “reinforcing corruption”.   They are there, on the ground, face to face,  making Armenia becoming a better place.  The reality is the mafia is not interfering in their work nor I they using the mafia as an excuse not go there and do something meaningful.
    What I am actually criticizing are intelligent people such as yourself who choose the spend their time thinking about topics that will require you to do nothing more then pontificate about what should be done.  Moreover,  the  burden of executing your ideas will  fall  solely on Armenians living in Armenia.  I think your idea of “preparing” for  “dynamic geopolitical change”   amounts nothing more then making “reasonable claims”.
    I dislike  Turkey as much as anyone. I don’t like them, and have no plans to befriend them. The difference is I don’t have to live next to them.  Armenia does. I am not going to dictate to people living there what they should or should not feel about their neighbors.  It was Turkey who closed the border with Armenia.
    The Diaspora existence is not forced on anyone anymore.  Many people from the Diaspora have moved there.   You CAN move there if you wish.  So when your article gets criticized don’t think of yourself as in the same camp as others who are acting for a real change.
    Furthermore,  if someone disagrees with the ideas in the article does not automatically mean that is what the enemy wants us to do.  No nation or people think alike.  Not sure why we would be any different.  Sorry but not everyone is impressed.
    Has it ever occurred to you that Turkey actually wants Armenia to press for reparations and land.  By Armenia do so it can galvanize its own population to continue to keep us at arms length. Continue to isolate us economically.  As long as Armenia is economically weak it is no threat.  If it ever became an economic powerhouse  then it would have real problem on its hands.
    Turkey is much more comfortable dealing with an active PKK on its land or a thriving Kurdistan on its border.

  37. Root:

    It is a poor assumption that participants in this discussion have not tried to better conditions in Armenia or NKR. That is, do not assume that I or others simply sit around and pontificate. If indeed I am wasting time, it’s my time to waste.
    Pontification, or to speak in a pompous or dogmatic manner, does not carry with it a burden of execution. You can not have it both ways: either Armenia’s caravan continues — while the diasporan dogs bark — or you find logic in this geopolitical claim and its execution scares you.
    You claim Armenia’s economic isolation will be alleviated, with the current Armenian-Turkish border opening, without providing any analytic evidence in support. And “Has it ever occurred to you that Turkey actually wants Armenia to press for reparations and land.” — NO, it has not! You also state, “By Armenia do so it can galvanize its own population to continue to keep us at arms length.” Your statement shows a lack of understanding of the Turkish socialization and the myth of the founding of the Turkish state. The only thing the Turks hate more than Armenians are Kurds. A majority of Turks are already against the border opening. See: http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=174775
    We are in agreement that a nation consists of many opinions, not all members think alike. It can be argued that the strength of a nation is in the diversity of its thoughts and actions. There is no mutual exclusivity between striving for a better Armenia and demanding an indemnified Armenia that can survive on its own . However, we differ in that I articulated a prevalent Armenian political position, and you would rather this articulation disappear. If I never published this article, you would have had nothing to say. You never provided a constructive negative rebuttal. My article represents a political claim and you simply don’t like it.
    If you wish to respond to this, feel free, I have no intention of restating my position again.

  38. Random Armenian suggested, “What Davidian is proposing could be mute if the recently reveald Madrid points go in to effect.” Hmm…Why? We really don’t know how this latest episode in the Karabakh drama will end, how much of the Madrid protocol, if any, will be adopted and interpreted. Even if Armenia ends up in a compromised position, resolve towards historical indemity and the long term survival of Armenia will not decrease.

  39. Davidian
    Its  self-evident  that if  borders opened between Armenian and Turkey, there would be an increase in economic activity.  No David,  keep the borders closed, its working out so well. Point to any thriving economy and you will see an open border.   No, lets not change anything.  Let’s just go with your “prevalent Armenian political position” and wait for that port.

  40. The argument that all of Armenia’s economic hardships will be resolved after the Armenian-Turkish border opens is a misguided one. Anyone living in Armenia knows that most non-food items made for human consumption and convenience available here are produced in Turkey, including clothing, construction materials, home goods and so forth. This trade is one-sided–Turkey is not buying a thing from Armenia and there are no signs that it ever would. If the border opens, there will be a virtual blanketing of cheap Turkish products, most likely foodstuffs as well, driving competing Armenian companies out of business. As a result, Armenia will be totally economically dependent on Turkey, while now it is only partially dependent on the inferior goods and services being imported into the country via Georgia. The border is virtually open–why don’t diasporans understand this?
    Armenia’s economy by the way is doing just fine, considering the global recession. Even with the shrinkage in the growth rate (Armenia’s GDP fell 15.7 percent from January to May), things appear to be relatively stable on the surface. How long that will persist, however, is anyone’s guess, but the downturn would not continue to spiral because the border is “closed,” that I’m certain of.

  41. Maybe the proponents of opening of the Armenia-Turkey boarder are right after all.   Maybe most basic necessities etc. in Armenia being imported from Turkey via Georgia isn’t enough for the needs of Armenia.   Maybe it is self-evident that more one-sided trade will be much better for Armenia than the current level of one-sided trade.   Maybe a virtually open border isn’t good enough for us.   Maybe inundating the Armenian market with more goods is good for the consumers of Armenia.   Maybe Armenian companies need to be driven out of business because they will henceforth learn how to operate successfully.   Maybe a modicum of mutual acceptance of  coexistence/survival isn’t necessary for more trade and maybe the latter will come around by itself.   Maybe political aims of states and how much they are in common between any two state have no relevance in trade.  For example, Russia and Turkey or US and China are trading extensively and thriving, right?
    In short, there hasn’t been a single study by the Armenian government, other governments, international bodies, or diaspora organizations to prove that this trade would be harmful to Armenia.   If there were any negative aspects of this trade, maybe they would have told us by now.

  42. Yes, and maybe we should surrender Nagorno-Karabagh and the surrounding regions under Armenian control to Azerbaijan and while we’re at it, become an autonomous territory of Turkey. That will also be good for the needs of Armenia too, right? That way we won’t have to worry about governmental or economic issues whatsoever, we will be entirely dependent on Turkey’s historically stable economy. Maybe social life and our culture will be affected, but after all, it will be better for the livelihood of Armenians to be as close to Turkey as well as Azerbaijan as possible by having open borders and free trade with our sincere, friendly neighbors, who wish the Armenians no harm.
    Hagop, do you realize what you are saying? I cannot believe that there are Armenians like you who think this way. Your comment is perhaps the most unpatriotic, defeatest, careless text I have ever read regarding the Armenian cause and Armenia’s statehood. Free trade across an open border is not the end-all solution to historically bitter Armenian-Turkish relations; anyone with any rational, common sense would realize this.  Clearly it is Turkey’s economy that will reap the benefits of an open border, not Armenia’s–think about it. Turkey at will could always impose another embargo whenever it wants to cripple Armenia economically–what’s to prevent it? Has any government or international body successfully prevented any kind of aggressive, destabilizing actions in the past by Turks against Armenians? Am I the only person who thinks this way, or do other fellow Armenian diasporans living in Armenia agree as well?
    I’d better stop leaving and reading comments in this forum. As they always say here, good luck.

  43. Garbis,
    I have no claims to patriotism or any other label.  However, I am truly sorry you took my highly cynical words at face value.  Just extrapolating what the proponents of border opening have been saying, we have interconnected yet utterly incoherent ideas like the above floating around.  I am merely putting them together, not advocating the opening of the border.
    This brings about a second point.  Blaming this situation solely on the successive iterations of the government-mafia duo since Armenia’s independence is a woeful misreading of the problem.  There is an abject failure for all intents and purposes of all Armenian institutions in Armenia and Diaspora to attempt to comission a single serious (even non-serious) economic (forget about political, social or any other field) feasibility study, or even a  honest non-professional assessment of the situation.  There is also an abject failure on the part of individual thinking Armenians to foster debate on the issue.
    Since there is no real debate, anything I or someone else says goes critically unchallenged.  So, I can continue saying:  Trade just happens in a vacuum; the market is the real arbiter; readiness to trade has no political implications; there is no internal/external political will associated with countries’ economic success and so on.

  44. Dear RoomArmo;  You are right that Europe has had a bloody past.  But, give the last two WW’s, they have made serious efforts towards establishing continued peace.  Europe has been free of major bloodshed for the past 50 or so years.  They ought to be commended for that .  My reference to Europe is that of today and not of the foregone days.
    Hagop’s point is well taken, and one that has been discussed previously as well.  No effort has really been made to conduct an in depth analysis on the opening of the border and its effects on the Armenian economy, strategic interests and standard of life of Armenians.  A handful of partisan reports have been carried out by groups with dogs in the race to ‘prove’ their point pne way or another.  It is truly a shame that we all have failed to truly analyze and understand the impact of the border  opening on Armenia.
    It is of critical importance for a country to live in peace with its neightbors and develop successful commerce and other bilateral relationships that benefit both parties.  Unfortunately, the Armenian government, besides beating the drum of border opening, has done none of the hard  work required for the borcder opening to be a success.  This is, I think, where a large chunk of the resignation about the folks here who care to write and think about this issue comes from.

    The recent banning of the YAN “juice” exports from New Zealand is something that will not be fixed no matter whether the Turkish border is open or not. These and similar issues are things that need to be worked out if we were to be serious about export economy, if and when the border is opened.

  45. TO Ara Nazarian:

    Regarding Europe: By the end of WW II most of Eurpoe was devistated. Including Austria. One can argue by the end of WW II Armenia was actually better off then many Eurpoean countries that we hold up as models now. Yet in the past 50 years or so those countries were able to rebuild, become stronger then ever. While Armenia wilted under the rule of the Soviet Union. By the way in the past 50 years much of Eastern Europe was only at peace because they were essentially controlled by the Soviet Union. An artifical peace.
    Also you forgetting about the Bosnian/Serbian war that resulted in NATO forces to intervene. So the long and short of it is many countries have had to overcome nasty neighbors. If Germany and France can make amends… there just might be hope for us.


    Stop becoming hyseterical and relaize not everyone agrees with you. Those that don’t agree with you are not traitors. Your basic claim is if the borders open then it will have an adverse impact on Armenia and then Turkey will close the border and thus have another adverse impact. Take your pick.

    Remember Turkey shut down the border. So now we are advocating that the Turks continue to do what was orginally designed as a punative measure..and we want to do it to protect us from ourselves. Because Armenians will just go buy anything that Turkey wants to sell us. All of this will cause mass unemployment and Armenian business which currently sell wares in this closed economy will go out of business. How provincial is your thinking.

  46. Root wrote to CGarbis: Remember Turkey shut down the border. So now we are advocating that the Turks continue to do what was orginally designed as a punative measure..and we want to do it to protect us from ourselves. Because Armenians will just go buy anything that Turkey wants to sell us. All of this will cause mass unemployment and Armenian business which currently sell wares in this closed economy will go out of business. How provincial is your thinking.”

    Provide us with a political and economic analysis that demonstrates opening the border between Armenia and Turkey will benefit anybody. This has been requested several times already. You may actually have an argument and not even know it. All you have provided so far is a wishful affirmative inference for such a border opening.
    Such a comprehensive study must include a competitive analysis of all major Armenian industries covering at a minimum: management team expertise, product sales & marketing, product planning, market channels and development, government relations, cross-border transportation, international business planning, credit and banking reviews, and yes, accounting practices. Then one must compare these industries with their Turkish counterparts and using Armenian and Turkish demographic buying patterns, determine the viability probability of each industry assuming free and open competition with the added affects of partial and severe protectionism. Past, current and projected trading patterns must be evaluated. In parallel, a comparative study must be done with the only other country having a similar geo-political and economic position and that is Georgia. Such a study must determine why Georgia’s GDP is down nearly 40% from a year ago considering it has free and open trade with Turkey, Azerbaijan, and has many Black Sea ports. This is economics 101 and barely scratches the surface. As far as I have researched no such study exits in the public domain, yet individuals such as yourself claim they can make solid conclusions without any studies. If the study is not accurate, such as not taking into account: general corruption, influence pedaling, nepotism, fraud, racketeering, graft, extortion, cartels, blackmail, potential EC-centric liability and product quality issues, exit strategies for subsequent blockades with a change in the Turkish government, Georgian and Iranian reaction, changes in employment patterns and the consequences of any subsequent brain drain, etc, there is every chance of a failed endeavor. This is no different than starting a war with zero planning or analysis and assuming “our side” will win for no apparent reason.
    Turkey has reiterated that a solution to the NK conflict must precede any border opening. Such a solution will vastly change any subsequent Turkish border opening and an equivalent study must be done with Azerbaijan as the target including the combines affects of both border openings. None of this effort even takes into account historical issues which served as the basis for this entire commentary.

  47. Great article for discussion;
    GDP poor evaluation of livelihood- commenting to someones post
    Land Reparations is feasible for Armenians since, there is tons of documentation regarding this issue (Hilmar Kaiser’s analysis looks the best). Geno recognition and $$ would definitely suffice Armenia’s poor (if the money did go there). Territorial Shifts is out of question- especially en route to Black Sea- who’d be crazy enough to give up port territory- That’s the central trading mechanism. Look, Karabakh’s territory is the kentical issue- define the new borders and enforce them internationally- we want the people to be safe; Armenians were defending ourselves (still are).  Any aggression is against Armenians is defense- but the Azeri Idp situation needs to be examined in correlation with sociocultural issues. Anyhow…
    Regional Kinetics is very nice idea but its application in this article is not what I expected, given the well written article. Regional power dynamics is worth examining however, for example; Russian influence.  The idea is dependency; Armenia relies on Russia Azerbaijan on Turkey; each with their own sets of relationships.
    There is however, regional power dynamics, which is more covert.
    Why would turkey want the border reopened? Here are my suggestions and I do think more extensive research should be done before opening the actual border.
    -Oil pipelines (from the Caspian),
    -Money, not “flooding the market place.” But another consumer market that has some sophistication and attraction to Western Goods (possibly). Neoliberalism will DESTROY Armenia’s people and organic business market; so tougher state policies should be considered for the welfare of Armenians and our businesses. (not socialism).
    -E.U. prospects/make turkey look good blah blah, ‘democratization,’ etc.
    -A corridor to push Kurds (or any ethnicity)  into Armenia? Or open borders to allow warfare for the future?
    -Turkish scholarly and intelligentsia appeal on a global scale
    -University connections
    -Turkey has vast amounts of land; I don’t see any infrastructural development really happening right away- .
    -We have to ask ourselves, not only what the benefit for Armenia is- but also the regional benefits for state governments (turkey in this case)
    How does this help open border benefit Armenia?
    -First, I think Turkish economic penetration will be limited considering Russia’s influence in region.  Supposedly, there are already turkish goods in Armenia- so don’t know the correlation unless these companies develop in Armenia too.
    -Business wise, the rich Armo’s from Turkey can network and develop relations with the motherland.
    -Armenia’s committment to Turkey’s border relations.- political sphere
    -Oil tax revenues from pipeline development.  (but have to be careful where the $$ goes!!)
    -oil companies also employ many fields;
    -exchange of academia
    -appeal to the Karabakh issue?
    -well, I can’t think of many solutions. This is some sociocultural political significance.  Could potentially disintegrate ethnic hatred for the future (maybe). It makes for an interesting case to really examine the benefits for Armenia right?
    But like some posts I’ve seen on here, Armenia needs independent solutions to growing problems; especially Karabakh peace settlement. Why? Our people just need to be safe, live sustainability. Armenians don’t care about all the crazy luxuries, we’re all about our culture, people, identity, history, music, etc. . Keep things simple within the confines of “regional kinetics”
    For example, since Armenia is landlocked it is dependent on other countries. Stronger investment in social capital creates long-term stability. Start with energy for example, Armenia needs to invest money in energy development; getting gas is a pain in the ass—and we’re a pretty small country. Eco-friendly solutions should be on the table within the energineering community. Also, if the border is opened and there is oil pipeline/station development- the job rate will definitely grow; you need engineers, architects, planners, construction, etc. With the help of careful investment we can use Armenian arrchitects and engineers to design more culturally appealing and eco-friendly solutions that target the populations needs. We also need to build more sustainable buildings in the wake of devasting Earthquake in the 90’s. We’re in an area of high seimic activity. So even though Armenia has invested in $$ construction- redevelopment should be considered.
    -Karabakh is such a fascinating issue- and it scares me to think Armenians are in a dangerzone. This region would be the real solution to regional kinetics—Because— its development is dependent on  us.  Karabakh’s development is in our hands- its terrain so unique to its current Armenian inhabitants. A peace settlement might push some more Armenians into this once thriving region; i.e. textiles,  (rug-making in my interests), commodities (wood), and rock types (for home), mining (less intensive scale), wine (if im not mistaken), etc. It’s tourism would be a benefit to local residences, embodying a rich cultural legacy (which needs to be settled with the azeris- their stuff is still in ruins). You get my point even though its romantic. Border settlement could also entice World Bank, IMF development (the good guys hopefully).
    Work with what you got.

  48. David Davidian:

    Your opinions are strong as mine. Where is your analysis ? Let me guess if someone agrees with your insights then no analysis needed…if someone does not agree with your analysis they better come to the table with excel spreedsheets.

    All the GDP’s of countries in the region are down. Furthermore, I would guess ( and no I have not done an full analysis) that the war with Russia last year might have a slight effect on Georgia’s economy… would effects of war on an economy be included in an economics 101 class? Is your Georgia example a sample of your analysis ? I know you want facts to fit your conculsions but give it another try.

    Show me an example or as you would like to say analysis that closing borders between two countries is beneficial.

    Do I think an open border with Turkey will solve all of armenia’s problems. No. Not even close. Do I think demanding land from Turkey is going get us anywhere..No.

    By the way, you mentioned earlier that if you didn’t write this article I would have nothing to talk about. That is an extremely presumtious remark. I am not the one who is writing articles in the weekly and putting up websites. I am sure if someone commended your for laying down some sort of intellectual basis for great victories in the future you wouldn’t disagree. Or perhaps you would politely disagree but be thrilled at the sentiment. So, you need to accept the reality that people, even people you deem intelliectually inferior to you, are going to think you are completely in your own world.

  49. Root:
    You wrote: “Show me an example or as you would like to say analysis that closing borders between two countries is beneficial.” I am not making an argument for keeping the Armenian border closed. However, you can conclude that I am suggesting keeping it closed because no rational argument exists for opening it. I am asking those who claim any good can come from such border opening to provide analysis for such a claim, not wishful thinking.
    You wrote: “Is your Georgia example a sample of your analysis ?” No, it’s not sample analysis. It’s a question that those who want an open Armenian-Turkish border need to answer. Having an open border particularly with Turkey apparently hasn’t helped Georgia, even in light of a Russian blockade and world-wide recession. Why this is and what conclusions can be drawn from it must be established.
    You wrote: “By the way, you mentioned earlier that if you didn’t write this article I would have nothing to talk about. That is an extremely presumtious remark.” I have never seen anything authored by RootArm in opposition to land reparation or in opposition to preparting for dynamic geopolitical change. This means that an effort was put forth in active affirmation and you are simply in reactive opposition.
    Our discussion has become meaningless. Feel free to have the last word

  50. To Rootarmo:
    Repeating a true statement pertaining to a totally different case (Franco-German) or a general statement about closing borders adversely affecting trade may sound reasonable to you but it doesn’t help explain our particular case or it doesn’t provide an automatic example of conflict resolution.  Everybody (I believe including you) agrees there is no serious and detailed study to prove or disprove the benefits of the open border.   So, what is the sense in repeating “no, you prove that border opening harms Armenia”?
    I believe if people look at the Regional kinetics proposal for what it is what it isn’t, they’ll soon or later will see it isn’t for victories, pound of flesh to be ripped away from Turkey, proof of intellectual superiority, etc.  We know that a number of other Armenian individuals (a couple of whose articles were posted above) also think that an access to the Black Sea is crucial to Armenia’s survival. To me, this proposal is trying to make the Armenian individual think about what is best for the survivability of Armenia.  It has no outlandish claims that it can be achieved easily, soon, or under all circumstances.   It is challenging people to debate it, add to it, come up with your own improved one, or completely debunk it.   However, what the proposal isn’t inviting people to do is dismissing altogether because it is difficult to achieve given the current equilibrium of forces, because of it generality, or because of it doesn’t contain things you may or may not wish to see.
    Your continued references to “winners and losers”, “your proposal versus mine”, other Armenians’ “provincialisms” etc. is making me and possibly others think that this is the window through which you are viewing your interactions here and possibly this is what’s really important to you.  I am not sure if you honestly think these distractions help in any way to the discussion.  What happens next when you get to say the last word, say just anything and rebut everybody, what’s next?

  51. Minchev aysor sireli paregamner, asonk ashgharen ge bardatren erentz eravoonke. Ov DER mer kaghoote inch gesbase?
    August 2, 2009
    Hurdles in Eastern Europe Thwart Restitution Claims

    PRAGUE — Seventy years have passed since members of the Thorsch family fled German-occupied Czech lands in 1939. They left behind a lucrative oil refinery business that was seized by the Nazis, nationalized after World War II and then taken over by the Communist government.

    Marie Warburg — granddaughter of Alfons and Marie Thorsch, who owned the Privoz refinery and escaped the Holocaust by emigrating to Canada — laments that her family has received no compensation for its loss. She says the Thorsches are blocked by a law under which only Czech citizens can qualify for restitution of businesses or homes.

    Twenty years after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, restitution experts say the countries of Eastern and Central Europe are still lagging in compensating for private property seized during the Holocaust. For example, Poland, home to the largest prewar Jewish population in Europe, has not enforced legislation on private property restitution, fearful that it would prompt tens of thousands of claims.

    Efforts at restitution in other countries, like the Czech Republic, remain hampered by the reluctance of governments to relax requirements the way Germany has in an effort to remove daunting or unfair legal obstacles.

    “Providing proof of citizenship is a problem for the heirs of Holocaust victims, whose families were expelled or fled from Czechoslovakia or ended up in a chimney at Auschwitz,” said Ms. Warburg, an American citizen who lives in Berlin and whose German-born father was a member of the Warburg banking dynasty.

    Czech officials declined to comment on the specifics of Ms. Warburg’s case. Jiri Cistecky, a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted that in the last 20 years alone, the Czech Republic distributed roughly $185 million to Nazi victims, including money to care for elderly Holocaust survivors. Still, Mr. Cistecky acknowledged that Czech laws could complicate restitution efforts in some cases.

    As part of an effort to improve the system, the Czech Republic held a conference in late June in Prague in which 46 countries backed the formation of an institute in a former Nazi camp, Terezin, aimed at tracking the return of Jewish property stolen by the Nazis. While the conference ended with a declaration calling for restitution, Holocaust education and improved provenance research, critics complained that it had no legal enforcement mechanism to prod recalcitrant nations to take action.

    A number of Western European countries, led by Germany, carried out far-reaching measures to provide restitution of Nazi-looted properties in the aftermath of World War II, including setting up commissions to deal with heirless property and communal property illegally seized during the war. But similar efforts were stymied in Eastern Europe, where, by the end of the 1940s, the very basis of property ownership had been supplanted by socialist ideology and the nationalization efforts of Communist regimes.

    Even after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, restitution experts say, establishing moral and legal certainties of claims has proved elusive in a region where not only citizens but also governments view themselves as victims of Nazism and Communism.

    “They say, ‘Let the Germans or Austrians do it, they were the bad guys,’ ” said Stuart E. Eizenstat, who was deputy treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton and has led the international restitution drive. “It is hard to create the political will for restitution to take place.”

    Another major hurdle, many experts say, is a visceral fear among governments that citizens who had nothing to do with past crimes will be thrust out of homes or businesses or face financial liabilities for properties they acquired legally. Some countries are loath to part with artistic treasures said to have been looted by the Nazis that were long ago incorporated into national museums.

    Michal Klepetar, the great-nephew of Richard Popper, a Czech who was killed in the Holocaust, said that a few years ago he learned that several pieces of his great-uncle’s old masters art collection were in the hands of the National Gallery in Prague. But according to the Holocaust Act of 2000, he does not qualify for restitution, because he is not a direct heir, even though Mr. Popper’s wife and daughter were also killed by the Nazis. His disqualification, Mr. Klepetar asserted, conflicts with Czech inheritance law, which allows nephews and nieces to claim property. The National Gallery declined to comment.

    Ms. Warburg said her efforts were a matter of principle as well as a responsibility toward her mother’s family, the Thorsches, who have roots in the Czech Republic dating from the 16th century, when family lore suggests that they emigrated to Prague from Toledo, Spain, during the Inquisition.

    In the 1880s, the Thorsch family provided financing for the establishment of Privoz, the refinery eventually bought out by her grandfather, Alfons Thorsch. The family had moved to Vienna from Prague in the 1870s, when Jews were being persecuted, and became prominent bankers.

    By the 1930s, Privoz had 10 percent of the Czech energy market and owned 202 rail cars to export oil.

    One month before Austria was incorporated into Nazi Germany in March 1938, Alfons Thorsch, his wife and one of their five daughters, Marie’s mother, fled from Vienna to Canada. Her uncle, a Czechoslovak who was living in Prague and had been director of Privoz, fled Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia one year later.

    Within weeks of her family’s escape, Ms. Warburg said, the oil refinery in Moravia — a region east of Prague with important industries — was occupied by the Nazis, who fired all of its directors, some of whom ended up in concentration camps. The Nazis then invested tens of millions of dollars in refurbishing the plant to help fuel the German war effort.

    When World War II ended, Ms. Warburg said, the refinery was nationalized under the Czechoslovak government of President Eduard Benes.

    Ms. Warburg said the family’s efforts to gain restitution during the Communist era had proved fruitless because the state was ideologically opposed to private property. In the early 1990s, after the fall of Communism, the Czech Republic established restitution laws that required those seeking compensation for homes or businesses to be citizens of the Czech Republic, effectively pre-empting Ms. Warburg from making any legal claim.

    Legal experts say she could file a case in a Czech court under the so-called Benes Decrees of 1945, which are still legally valid and stipulate that those whose property was nationalized by the state and were victims of National Socialism should receive compensation.

    Yet experts say the Czech government has thus far proved ill disposed to enforce the decrees for fear of unleashing a torrent of claims from Sudeten Germans, millions of whom were driven from their homes in Czechoslovakia after the war.

  52. This is a little more than a pipe dream, im afraid. Armenia can barely hold on to the small territories we have. You’re talking about regaining historical Greater Armenia and repopulating it with Armenians, yet Armenia is rapidly losing people due to emigration and low birth rate. Who’s going to settle . Diasporans in California and elsewhere are going to move to Armenia to enjoy the lower living standards there?

  53. Hayko,
    This is a demand to restore Armenia’s ability for self-sufficiency. With such self-sufficiency, Armenia ceases to become a place where living is a daily challenge for the non-oligarchs. Please note I am not calling for regaining Greater Armenia which generally encompasses what is know as Sevres/Wilsonian Armenia perhaps even extending to the Mediterranean.
    If clear demands and preparations are not made now, if and when conditions exist where those demands might in part or in whole materialize, another interest having though this through will fill that vacuum.
    If and when the conditions exist when this land could be returned to Armenian sovereignty, it will not be returned on a silver platter. It will include about a million people, some who have an affinity to Armenians, other who don’t. Most likely its jails will be emptied of criminals with more shipped in, for most likely Turkey reluctantly returned this land. The inclusion of the land area noted in the map will not result in simply a larger Armenia with the the same problems, but an Armenia, because it both has native access to the sea and has at least a minimum of genocide reparations, has the ability to prosper on its own terms.
    Although highly desirable, not a single Armenian from LA need return.

  54. While Armenians have been busy over the last 95 years bickering over whether land reparations and justice are necessary as a form of redress for the Armenian genocide, Holocaust survivors and their descendants have been very actively pursuing justice on many fronts. Securing reparations through legal means and ensuring the prosecution of unrepentant perpetrators is an objective they achieve to this very day. Another Ex-Nazi SS was put on trial in Germany today. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has a most wanted list. Restitution claims continue to be brought before the courts to this day.
    And while all this justice abounds under your noses, some people still cling to the Armenian genocide recognition only mindset. While Holocaust survivors race to hunt for the last Nazi’s and collect their rightful belongings, Armenians remain indecisive about justice as indicated by the comments above and the Armenian governments own implosion to turkey’s campaign of denial.
    Justice, not recognition, is what you should be chanting about in April.

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