It has been suggested by some during the current crisis over the protocols for diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia that criticism should be tempered. The argument goes that a great deal of pressure is being exerted on Armenia to accept the protocols, thus what is most needed is unity in support of the Armenian government.
Truthfully, I fail to see the logic in that approach on many levels.
First, in any democracy, the role of government is to represent the will of the people. Thus, it is the obligation of the people to let their voice be heard. In addition, it is the role of government to engage its constituency in discussion, not to arrogantly dismiss all criticism. The breath and forcefulness of outrage over the protocols thus far should have initiated a dialogue. Instead, critics have been disparaged.
As the saying goes, the leaders of a government should not sleep in the donkey’s ear.
Second, and just as importantly, to agree unconditionally is a negotiation strategy doomed to failure. The protocols will not change if the entire Armenian nation displays complete support for what has been agreed to thus far. The parameters will adjust when it is realized that the Armenian government can not sell a false bill of goods to the Armenian people.
It is interesting to note in this regard that the existence of opposition to the protocols in Turkey is not viewed as a strategic advantage for Armenian diplomacy, at least not one that has been exposed thus far. Instead, it is being used by Turkey to further place conditions on the process. What does that tell you?
Turkey’s intractability on the acceptance of the Armenian Genocide and the independence of Artsakh are the clearest indication that they are unwilling to accept Armenia or Armenians on equal terms. In their view, Armenians are unworthy of consideration unless totally prostrate, and that is exactly the position the protocols place us in.
Lasting peace in the region cannot be built on such a foundation. The way forward is a relationship of equal partners between Turkey and Armenia, Turks and Armenians. Given the history between the peoples, it is the government of Turkey that must build the necessary trust by accepting the Armenian Genocide, atoning for that crime, and accepting the independence of Artsakh. These principles are non-negotiable.