Sassounian: Senate Resolution Reshuffles Political Cards in Ankara, Yerevan, and Beyond

On Oct. 21, while introducing the Armenia-Turkey protocols to the Turkish Parliament for ratification, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu exposed his government’s true intentions.

Davutoglu said that Armenia’s acceptance of the agreement, calling for the study of historical archives, indicated that Armenians no longer insisted on their unilateral interpretation of history. He further stated that the protocols safeguarded Turkey’s territorial integrity from any future Armenian claims by reconfirming the present borders based on past treaties, and that the agreement would contribute to the “liberation of Azerbaijan’s territories,” meaning Karabagh (Artsakh).

While it is understandable that Davutoglu would try to put the best possible spin on the protocols in order to secure their ratification by the Turkish Parliament, the three advantages he cited are exactly the reasons why most Armenians have so vehemently objected to this agreement.

As expected, Davutoglu was severely criticized by the opposition parties in parliament that reject the protocols. The most unexpected attack, however, came from Selahattin Demirtas, head of the Kurdish faction (DTP) in parliament, who took the government to task for distorting and denying the facts of “the Armenian massacres.” Such a criticism has never been voiced before in the Turkish Parliament.

Demirtas brazenly continued: “We believe that we now need to address an issue that has caused so much suffering to the Armenian people—one of the key problems facing the Republic of Turkey. A hundred years ago, the Ittihad Party, with a policy of Islamizing and Turkifying the entire Anatolia, sought to eliminate the non-Muslims, particularly the Armenian people, from these lands through exile, expulsion, deportation, and massacres.”

Ignoring the insults hurled by members of the ruling party (AKP) and others, Demirtas condemned the government’s policy of denial that has the aim of escaping the consequences of this “tragedy,” prompting the creation of “a fake history.” He noted that the persecutions and massacres of Armenians were presented as if they never happened. “We need to speak about all of these things and correct the record,” Demirtas concluded.

Immediately after addressing the Turkish Parliament, Davutoglu flew to Baku in order to quell the Azerbaijani uproar over the signing of the protocols. Realizing the depth of their anger, Davutoglu was forced to make several outlandish declarations: “Azerbaijan’s lands are sacred for us and their liberation is Turkey’s utmost priority. We will not change our position even if the sky falls down to earth!” He also assured them that “if need be, 72 million Turks are ready to die in Azerbaijan!” Azerbaijan’s leaders, however, were not too impressed with Davutoglu’s highly inflated pronouncements. They continued to shut down mosques financed by Turkey, removed Turkey’s flags from a monument for Turkish martyrs in Baku, and threatened to raise the price of gas sold to Turkey.

While Davutoglu had his hands full in Baku, a news flash from Washington came to reshuffle Ankara’s political cards. A resolution was introduced in the U.S. Senate that called for the reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide. This unexpected development sent a powerful message not only to Turkey, but also to the leaders of Armenia, Russia, the European Union, and the United States.

To their dismay, Turkish leaders discovered that the protocols would not put an end to the pursuit of recognition and justice for the crime of genocide committed by their ancestors.

Turkey’s Ambassador to Washington Nabi Sensoy was alarmed by this unexpected development and wasted no time in condemning the Senate Resolution during a Voice of America interview. He called the timing of the resolution “regrettable” and “unfortunate,” coming just one day after the introduction of the protocols in the Turkish Parliament. The esteemed ambassador failed to indicate, however, when would be a better time to introduce such a resolution!

Turkey’s leaders are now caught in the horns of a dilemma. If they rush to ratify the protocols in order to prevent the House and Senate Resolutions from gaining political support, they would alienate their oil-rich Azerbaijani “brothers” for not having delivered on their promises on Karabagh. On the other hand, if Turkish leaders delay ratification until after April 24—waiting for Armenia to make concessions on Artsakh—they would run the risk of having either the House or the Senate or both pass the Armenian Genocide Resolution. Since 2010 is an election year for all House Members and a third of the Senate, members of Congress are usually more responsive to their constituents, raising the likelihood of the passage of the resolutions. Furthermore, even if President Obama has no intention of keeping his campaign promise on the Armenian Genocide, he would feel compelled to pressure the Turks to ratify the protocols before April 24, with or without concessions from Armenia on Artsakh, in order to provide a face-
saving cover for his next Meds Yeghern statement.

Therefore, if Armenia’s leaders stand firm on their repeated public commitments not to make concessions on Artsakh linked to the protocols, they would be in the driver’s seat in terms of controlling Ankara’s next steps.

President Sarkisian must also keep his solemn promise not to allow the protocols to undermine Armenia’s efforts for genocide recognition. A good start to demonstrate the Armenian president’s resolve on this issue is to send a letter to the leadership of the House and the Senate, encouraging them to pass the pending resolutions. It should be noted that the Turkish government has never hesitated to use its considerable political muscle to lobby against past congressional resolutions on the Armenian Genocide. Sending a simple letter of support to the U.S. Congress is the least Sarkisian could do!

The Armenian government’s backing for the newly introduced Senate Resolution would also send a message to Washington, Moscow, and beyond that Armenia is not giving up on its historic rights, even though it is being pressured to make major concessions in other areas.

It is high time for Armenian leaders to reassess the nation’s difficult predicament and take all necessary measures to avoid further missteps.

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Harut Sassounian

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

9 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, the Serj Sargsyan’s “government” (or rather elites) are clients of West and Turks, they will in the most probability kill this new House/Senate Genocide Recognition Resolution as well. This can very easily happen by a single meeting of Hillary with Nalbadyan.
    I admire Mr. Sassounian for his patriotism and courage, but he must understand by now that Serj Sargasyan and most of the 64 members of the Hanrabedakan and the other two pro-Protocol coalition parties have put Armenian for sale (as simple as that). Therefore, any presumption for analysis at this point must be based on this motif.
    We should not hope anything patriotic to come out of Serj’s government, unless of course some of his party members start to defect his foolish policy “roadmaps”.
    A simple proof of my argument comes from the diplomatic mishandling of the Genocide Recognition issue by Serj so far. Guess what? He shot his own foot with it. That’s the best he could sacrifice for our Fatherland. Don’t expect more.
    I am still trying to gather video footage of his (i.e. Serj’s), during the Artsakh war, I believe there are none that look good so far. If anyone has any video information that shows that Serj was indeed patriotically active during Artsakh, please send me a link (or put on YouTube). I believe that as a defense minister during Artsakh war, he was sleeping in his office most of the time, and his tasks were limited to simply relaying commands from Vasken Sarksyan to the field commanders, and nothing more…
    Why Vasken Sarksyan was eliminated? Well, go on YouTube and see it yourself. This brave man was so patriotic that he was dancing “sherjbar”s with his fedayies. He even sang for them before they went to battle. We need people like Vasken and not cowards and Western Komsomols like Serj.

  2. Great Article! However the Armenian Genocide Resolution will again be squashed by the Turkish infested state department and further I’m not convinced Sargsyan can even read or write.

  3. I have always been at a lost to understand why the Armenian Government has never vigorously supported the Armenian Genocide Resolutions in the US Congress. While the Turkish government works overtime and sends government representatives to furiously fight it every year, the Armenian Government has always been largely silent. Why is that? It makes no sense as affirmation of the Genocide is to the geopolitical advantage of Armenia.

  4. Good point Harut an appropriate open letter to our U.S. Rrepresentatives would help but the true patriots of Armenia should send it, not the TRAITOR that calls himself President of Armenia.

    He no longer is working in the interest of Armenia, but rather against it!

  5. This  is to Haro.I would like to make a slight comment.You probably know that there was this AIM Armenian magazine,publisshed in L.A and then simultaneously in RA.Well, I presume you know edito-establisher  of which  was V.Oskanian and Salpi Ghazarian.That is besides the point.Main issue i would to bring to your and others´attn: John Hugh a contributing correspondent to AIM, at that point of time sent a report -with photos- also printed in same magazine , stating  that  V Sargsyan-later  defense Ministre and shot at  even further ahead…went to Nagornyi Karabagh NK/Artsakh after war  was over there  ,at the head of a column of a convoy carrying food etc., to the people  there.WHO  TO BELIEVE? YOUR REPORT ABOVE AND/OR jOHN hUGH´S..FOR God´s sake..
    Whereas I also saw on H1 Armenian T.V.(then) how serj was directing operations in NK…how´s that?
    You see  I try to be impartial..but then there are so many such -probably erroneous concepts -of who did what .Best  is to refer to such photos,magazines and see for oneself.It is easy to dig up AIM from old offices…at L.A  or Armenia offices  in Yerevan…
    One thing  that the Armenians  worldwide can be happy about  is that when in 1923 at Lausanne they did not(the powers to be  then) allow Avedis Aharonian and Boghos Nubar to enter therein.NOW THE TRIUMPHANT ENTRY OF CHARLES AZNAVOUR AND OTHER ARMENIANS, was shown on Int´l T.V.s in short  at a meeting where Hillary flew in, Javier Solana ,Lavrov et al present  they gave us ATTENTION T  THOSE….YOU FIGURE OUT  WHOthis time over.Because we ARE THERE NOW ON THE INT´L POLITICAL SCENE AS WE HAVE A BANAG-ARMY-not so big as the turkish one -well fed , well trained and well armed by  you figure out who? but we are there….
    SO, INSTEAD  OF CRITICIZING OURS,  TALK ABOUT  WHAT  they have brought upon us and we still believe  that they will be clement to us…I insist  we understand , if we aspire and believe  that we are an  educated people(not yet  with social formation though) and respect  and tolerate ea  other to be very patient and await the outcome of these protocols.I can rest assured  that the Armenians  both in Homeland and Diaspora  ,are at  least  united  in persueing our rights.No any chief, pres. or the like can go AGAINST  THEIR PEOPLE´s  WILL.
    SO TAKE CARE AND BE PATIENT.WE ARE FAMED TO BE  AN OVERPATIENT PEOPLE…
    ONE THING WE OUGHT TO DO THOUGH IS BEGIN RE-ORGANIZING THE DIAPOSRA-OUR OWN HOUSE  IS IN SHAMBLES…FRAGMENTED CENTRIFUGAL..READ ME PLEASE,if  you so wish in my web  page…www.ARMENIDAD-worldwide.org             THANKS
    BEST AND
    HAMAHAIGAGANI siro,
    GAYTZAG  PALANDJIAN

  6. My dear brother GAYTZAG,
    First, please understand that your information about AIM will be very useful for me to put the pieces together. Your information is yet another prove on how Serj came to power. I have personally asked some questions in the past to Salpi and was not even taken worthy to be answered. My questions back then to her was exactly the Nostradamus that came true today. I do not insult Salpi by my remark here, it’s just that she did not really understand the depth of my questions back then. As for Mr Oskanyan, I have prove that he is the bigger client of the West. Dig in his recent conferences et al to convince yourself.
    But again, I want very much to believe in what you, Gaytzag, are telling. Yes, it will make my heart so happy and proud to believe that underneath all these Western and Turkish slaps, the great Armenian “wolf” Serj has a clever hidden plan. But alas, the truth is truth, it’s not just the Protocols that is the issue here. It’s the last 20 years of history of Armenia getting on her feet. Yes, my critical analysis is based not only on Serj, but LTP, Vazken Manukyan, Kojaryan, Oskanyan, Serj and a large part of the elite in the current government. They are all Western clients, it all started with LTP who introduced them to the club.
    I believe we have waited too long. Twenty years of corruption is enough for all of us to convince that we Armenians deserve more. For, when in the history of Armenia ever, the Armenians left their houses in shambles? When? We were a generation of builders, cultivators, poets, musicians, scientists and finally fighters. And now, our Fatherland is still in shambles, and that after twenty years of independence. Don’t try to find reasons, because I have already exhausted all possible answers to these questions. The answer is summarized in my previous comment.
    Gaytzag, my dear compatriot, I don’t have to tell you more. Because, I know that you will know in time about the truth. I only hope that by then it will not be too late, just like Sardarabad Battle could have been Van Battle if we were not late, and the 1.5 million Armenians that perished would have been 40-50 MILLION Armenians now living on their Armenian Highland (besides the 10 million now, please do the math and then proclaim what being late means).
    As for all Armenians on the Globe:
    UNITED WE STAND, EVEN WHEN SERJ AND THE ELITE OF THE THIRD REPUBLIC BETRAYED US IN THIS NEW AVARAYR.

  7. Dear Haro Mherian,
    I do sympathize with you and beleive in some parts of your post,mostly that  is.However,like you yourself write LTP and his supporters brought this on, in our Homeland.Who planted who later, is history.As to  corruption,just take a look around,it abounds  in every corner  of the world.By this I am not condoning it or in favour  of it. Far from it.But then facts are facts.I wrote an essay-post only yesterday to Armenianweekly,which they deleted,saying your writing is bad and w/ many errors.I forgot to mention at bottom E.& O. excepted.Which I always do, since I am older than most  here online and have abad habit of typing fast.Time factor for me also ,in this respect ,very precious.
    Now then,be informed that the “wolf” you mention, may have with his  aids, something up his sleeve.This I like to believe, since  up to this moment the “ball is in their(great Turkey¨s )goal or side.Since they are  not so far responding as to ratification and trying hard to renege on their signing of the   latter , i.e. “without any preconditions”.You see this signifies (in the eyes of those present in Zurich,viz. Hillary,Lavrov,Solana et al) that Armenia stands its ground!!!
    1. If you have read about the “Hazgerd” ,famous for his dealing and wheeling-old time style-then this might be  his goal, to make the West understand that ARMEMNIA complies with their wishes..let´s see if the other side does too! Now about what I wrote to …and they brought that excuse that it is not to their standards. My English and bad typing i.e.,I don´t think I am writing in Chinese though…
    2.This is the core  of what I wrote:-I don´t  know  if you are aware of two or three movements in France that they declare about their demands/claims of Western Armenian territories.I urged these ,one being “Haybachdban” the other Ararat Institute(pres. of which an old friend of  mine doctor Hagop Kirkasharyan, who by the by, is famed ,for he operated 30 hours continually, after earthquake..etc.,)a patriot indeed,but he also urges the Western Armenians to unite,which in my view is another fragmentation and yet another one  likewise  and all this because of the April 30(beginning of Armeno turkish rapproachement).Anyhow  I urged  these to at least be smart enough to unite their forces and also join up with ARF-the one in the forefront of land-claimers..-not that I beleive  in that.
    4.I am a stout advocate of pressing-through our int´l attorneys(we have a500 strong BAR Association) to lodge a serious ,well prepared claim at the Int´l Court of Justice demand from great Turkey  for “Blood Money”,which has precedent,witness the Jews agaisnt Germany and why go far..the very recent  very successful Armenian claim -won-viz., New-York Life Insurance company.This is relatively easier to realize and win.We  have plenty of proof  that- wise.
    I also “suggested” that ARF contemplate  making some amendments in their Dogma(ganonagir-dzragir) ,first -this is aesthetic-ALTER their name to “Hay Yeghapokhagan Dashnagtsutyun”,i.e.”Armenian Evolutionary Federation”,also educate the Homeland people especially,that  theirs is a replica-follower of Euro-Socialism.For in Armenia, where I have delved into this particular issue, most there think or thought, when the 2008 election was at its peak,ARF kept repeating word Socialism..which for them is synonimous  of soviet Socialism..In fact,they should have resorted to mentioing  “Ungervar” and also explain in detail that they follow the LINE of the European Socialism ,viz. all those in Western Euorpe,especially Sweden,Denmak,Finland and in extension Spain,France and Italy where  the Socilaist Internationl is anALTERNATIVE  political  party that is still in power in some countries  there.Alas ,this was not to be andour Homeland brothers still think what with  their Red Flags  in droves,ARF,i.e.(those  meetings of electoral time)left impression that soviet socialism is back at work with a different face…
    4.Bygones are bygones ,but hopefully the ARF leadership will consider above-like “suggestions”,since their own Rupen Ter Minassian has mentioned  that their party listens to people´s voices.
    To surmise, you seem to be  dismayed and betrayed-like  many many others.I am not!!!! and I still hope that our  present “hazgerd”s  may have something up their sleeves.But the thick of our people,whether in Homeland or Diaspora,are apt to make quick overtures and become easily disappointed:    Politics is the art of  wheeling and dealing and being very alert and patient.
    This much for now.Take care and..
    Hama Haigagani SIRO,
    P.S.Do visit my site, http://www.ARMENIDAD-worldwide.org   and especially read on top of it Pre conference 2002 and Bulletin No 7.this last one is re “A New Concept of Electoral System and Governance”…
    friendly and kindly ,gaytzag palandjian

  8. Thanks Gaytzag, your comments make great sense although it’s true that your English is almost non-readable. I had to translate it back to Armenian to understand what you wrote. By the way, how is your Armenian? Maybe you should rewrite your article in Armenian and submit it to The Armenian Weekly?
    Anyways, about ARF, yes, I have had similar thoughts in the past, and did make some suggestions myself. Not so much about the symbolic issues (e.g. flag and what not), but more about their governing infrastructure. Although, I should say that in the last few months, they have made some improvements (but yes, it is too little too late). One good point about the traditional parties, like ՀՅԴ, Ոամկավար and Հնչակեան, is their solid and stable patriotic framework (i.e. գաղափարախօսութիւնը). In contrast, the other new parties in Armenia are more or less based on the will of their individual leaders. For example, the Armenian Congress is nothing but LTP’s followers (նախիրը), there are no well-formed framework. So if LTP goes bad, the party goes bad. Or if LTP retires, the entire party disintegrates.
    The same is true for Hanrabedagan and the Bargavach parties, they are more or less, Serj’s or Gagik’s one-man parties. They have no well-formed patriotic framework (գաղափարախօսութիւն).
    Such one-man party systems are very dangerous for any nation, and even more so for the Armenian Nation.
    Finally, I really did not understand your point about “hazgerd”. Are you talking about the Persian Shah Hazgerd, in analogy with Vartan being taken hostage in Persia?
    Again, it’s not the Armenian people that all of sudden got emotional and became easily disappointed. It’s what happens if you pock a spear in the heart of the Armenian identity. There are limits that the Nation will tolerate, and what Serj did goes beyond this limit, which proves that he does not understand what being Armenian is all about. If he wants to save us all by converting every one of us to a Turk, then of course he has done the most wise decision. But, is that what you want? Is this what any Armenian would want?

  9. Dear  Haro,
    Firstly, I think  in Armenian, as well as in Spanish,(lived there 24 yrs)Persian and some French.In short a melange of these and thence my English:Though near 60 yrs ago I went to school In London,but that is besides the question.You seem to follow the line of this forum¨editor,who deleted one of my comments.Never mind ,I can guess you are a tough Dashnagtsagan,that also in view ,I would like topoint out to you  that I am non-partisan and will stay so.Witness my own articles and posts in  my own http://www.Armenidad-worldwide.org…  My main concern is to get the Spyurk re-organized(like we tried back in 1979 at Paris,viz Armenian Congress).This indeed may not be of total approval or interest of existing Armenian political parties and /or other establishments who afre at the forefront-though I never write anything against them-fact is, I do respect all of them for work done so far and wish them success and continuance…thinking we are or aspire to be atolerant non-jealous people.Alas it is not so as yet…
    Nonetheless I suspect(now about your post to me)that you are totally disappointed as to what´s going on in Hayastan.I agree with  you it should not be as is,but then,where were our Diaspora org.s when they brought on the LTP (Western-style,rather American style Democracy-i.e,read “wild” -my view “Free market economy”.Armenia ,plus the other 14 other ex-soviet republics should have gone through a transitional  period,much like Greece,Portgual and Spain did, before joining the EU.All three were disctatorships,but they chose the mild Swedish,Danish etc., Euro-Socialsim and after some 12-13 years  of said rule by and by adapted to the “free market economy” Not so, with the 15 ex-soviet republics.They turned overnight from harsh dictatorships to said “free -market” wild one.
    Now my response to you  anti-chronologically.:-
    Hazgerd is famed for his cunning,so I hope will be Serj´s -and it  so far is following that line,the ball is in great Turkey´s field-please follow  the news and what I wrote up above..shall I repeat?Their Parliament has to come forth and ratify.<O.<K.?’ Now then, if they don´t then the world diplomacy will put the blame on them.Your remarks ,as to he wanting to convert us into turks is irrelevant.He is Armenian 100% don´t worry about that.
    I agree Armenian political parties in RA(remember  they started  off with 60  or so, now reduced to two dozen.Pretty much  like the press there.At one time there were over  300 ,now reduced considerably.But then this is characteristic of Armenians..forget about that.Time will redress that. Most important now for us Armenians is to have better relations with RA-Alas,the newly(a year old) Mindiaspora,though is following a line that I “suggested” that  of inviting classiifed groups of Professionals in stead of droves  -like,  2000 to the Hamalir-it falls short of appointing alongside -on a yearly basis-One,at least , co-president,co- Ministre, vice Ministre,whatever  and this each year -on a rotative basis:-
    A .One  from N.America, B. next year from Europe(France actually) C.Middle East,able and seasoned  activists-politicians to be THERE in RA.For little do they know about the Spyurk and its policies etc.,Thus a real (LI-Irav)full-fledged(hosw´s my English  now,sparing you from translation)partnership will surface-result. Otherwise,when the present Ministre or any other  visits any of those countries  and that for short stunts-a few days, or even one day stops..nothing tangible can be achieved.
    As regards my contributing to Armenian weekly in Armenian,I regret  though my Armenian -both <Western and Eastern, may be considered more or less up to standards of say “Haratch”Armenian daily´s,- now stopped being published,hopefully to beocme a  weekly soon-might do,but then I did not learn to write on line in Armenian letters.I do now and then as  in my web  page write in Latin letters,but Armenian.I am afraid I cannot go any further.Am to attend my own daily chores etc.
    with kind regards and
    Hama Haigagani SIRO,gaytzag palandjian

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