Kaligian to Sarkisian: How Can You Accept These Severe Concessions?

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.

Dikran Kaligian

Dikran Kaligian

Dikran Kaligian is a member of the ARF Eastern US Central Committee and and chair of the Armenians and Progressive Politics conference. He is the managing editor of the Armenian Review. He received his doctorate from Boston College. Kaligian is the author of Armenian Organization and Ideology under Ottoman Rule: 1908-1914 (Transaction Publishers, 2009).


  1. What do you want from Mustafa Ataturk Sarkysian? He is either stupid, on the take or a CIA plant. Ask your selves why would the United states build a 100 Million dollar sprawling embassy in a small land locked country like Armenia? Sarkysian has to go!

  2.   This entire process between the Armenian government and the diaspora has been both frustrating and embarassing. Frustrating in that it is obvious that President Sarkissian is not accustomed to being held accountable by his people and that he is very uncomfortable with this approach. The gap in political behavior and tactics between the Armenian government and the diaspora is significant. This problem has to be solved if weare going to make any real headway in recovering from the damage that has been done to the diasporan relationship. Embarassing in that, at a time when our sacred issues( recognition and territorial recognition) are on the world table, we are forced into public discord with the Armenian government. Forced because we were left  few real options to impact the outcome. 
              As Armenians, we can distinguish between our disagreement with the government and our support for the nation.To the world, they aren’t able to separate it.The concept of a nation with an active diaspora is not generally understood. This allows the Turks to attempt to exploit the current
    environment by claiming this is a “diaspora issue” . They will fail in the end as willl their campaign of denial. The real failing of the government is that they have not internalized what makes up the Armenian nation and to serve it.  We have an opportunityto use this conflict and make it a better day for the Armenian people. We must finds wayto bridge the gaps.

  3. Ays polor tsootsere basdarnerov boralov 40 orva entatskin norenTAVAJANERE
    ouzatsnin gadaretzin, Giankernin anbayman karj a.

  4. It has to occur to people that the division between the Yerevan so-called government and diaspora was also part of the calculated benefits by the present day “Entente.”   Those of us who evoke historical parallels are ridiculed by the hired henchmen, including Davidian and Martirosyan, but let me draw one more parallel:
    1. Despite the Entente in force, Turkey – member of the Axis – managed to be relieved of the “burden of defeat” due to 2 significant factors: a) a negligent Russophile and nihilist Armenian government and military officers in 1920 at Kars as described in painful detail here,  and b) Bolshevik support for Kemal’s socialist pretensions and the resulting Kars and Moscow Treaties.
    2. Today Turkey has been promoted to “ally” status and is a full member of NATO, and yet we are to believe that somehow they will be “pressured” to accomodate to “international norms” when it concerns particularly the issue of genocide recognition.  One would either have to be a paid agent or utterly stupid to swallow that pill.

  5. Therefore, the parallel situation with that of post WWI is again in place where Russo-Turkish relations have been warmed to unprecedented levels where, indeed as one hired attack dog mentioned in another article’s comment section, the Russian head of state visited Ankara for the first time in 500 years, which indicates the promotion of Turkey to some sort of regional “leadership” status, the sign of a the weasel in the chicken coop scenario building, if you will.   The situation, therefore, is even worse than it was in 1920 where corruption and denationalization is rampant, where “good neighborliness of our wonderful Turkic brothers” propaganda is blaring from the state controlled media, where the oligarchy and its diasporan minions disregard all Armenian public concerns, where the dogmatic and illegitimate self-declared president is under pressure due to his own illegal ascension.   I wonder what sort of efforts there are in demoralizing the Armenian military.  The only positive I can think of are nationalist thinkers such as Ayvazyan, Papian, and so on in Armenia who , as much as their resources and constricted freedoms allow, are countering this propaganda machine.
    Gevork Yazedjian’s article on Kars has demonstrated the stark similarities during the fall of Kars today especially in the attitudes of the ruling Armenian regime.  http://www.ararat-center.org/upload/files/Razm_&_Anvtang_16.pdf

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