Below is the text of the comments made by Dr. Dikran Kaligian during the Oct. 3 meeting with President Serge Sarkisian in New York.
Mr. President, I am here representing the Armenian National Committee of the Eastern U.S., but I am also a historian. As a historian, one of the most disturbing parts of these protocols is the establishment of a historical commission. The text of the protocols calls for an “impartial scientific examination of historical records and archives.” This implies that decades of research on the genocide by Armenian and non-Armenian scholars was not impartial or scientific and undermines its credibility. And, as genocide scholar Roger Smith wrote in an open letter to you, this call for a historical commission is offensive to all genocide scholars and especially to those non-Armenian scholars who have spent their lives documenting the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide.
In spite of anything that Armenian members of such a commission may or may not do, the mere existence of a historical commission will be exploited by the Turkish government to discredit the scholarship of Dadrian and Hovannisian, Charney and Smith, and all the others who have written on the subject. Turkey will exploit it to undermine the campaign for international genocide recognition and to dismiss the consensus among all genocide scholars that the events of 1915 constitute genocide. In your opening remarks, you spoke of the need to educate the population of Turkey. Yet the Turkish government will use the protocols to sabotage the process of educating the Turkish people about the Armenian Genocide that has been started by a few brave Turkish scholars—they will be discredited and endangered. This is an extremely harmful proposal and should be dropped from the protocols.
A second disturbing feature regards Artsakh [Karabagh]. We know from press reports that Turkey has consulted with the government of Azerbaijan throughout the negotiation of the protocols. The lack of an Azeri outcry when the protocols were announced, as opposed to what happened in April, shows that they are certain that their demands regarding Artsakh will be satisfied—there is no other way to interpret it.
The protocols are flawed in that they not only speak of a general principle of territorial integrity without mentioning self-determination, but go much farther by including a mutual recognition of existing borders. This shows that Azerbaijan is right: the protocols threaten the independence and self-determination of Artsakh. Not only that, but a mutual recognition of borders strips the Armenian people of our rights to the return of our Western Armenian lands. This is a dangerous and foolhardy concession to Turkey.
We in the diaspora have been confronting Turkey for generations. We understand the Turkish government’s tactics and we have succeeded in putting Turkey on the defensive around the world—they cannot appear anywhere without being confronted by the Armenian demand for justice—and now this is being signed away.
We saw how, when Turkey’s entry into the European Union was being made contingent on its recognition of the genocide, the State Department and Turkey created the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission to give the semblance of dialogue and reconciliation. Thus the European Commission was conned into dropping all mention of the Armenian Genocide. Mr. President, how are these protocols any different? Are they not just another con game cooked up by the State Department?
Mr. President, I do not understand how you can accept the severe concessions contained in these protocols. I do not understand how you can place the future of Artsakh in jeopardy.
I do not understand how you can deprive the Armenians of the diaspora of their rights. I do not understand how you can adopt protocols that will have such a terrible impact on the diaspora without giving the diaspora any voice, until now, at the eleventh hour, when we are told that they are to be signed in a week and changes cannot be made.
I do not understand how these protocols provide any benefit whatsoever, to Armenia or to the Armenian people. Mr. President, I truly do not understand.