Khachatourian: Armenia Needs New Approach to Protocols

The tacit rebuke by Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian of the forceful comments made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to Washington signaled official Yerevan’s ambivalence to the political goings on around it and further reinforces the need for a new approach to diplomacy by Armenia.

In remarks on Dec. 9, Nalbandian once again reiterated his tired line that there are no preconditions guiding Armenia-Turkey relations. He cited President Obama’s similar statement as the reason why Turkey may be out of line in continuously pressing for such prerequisites.

Reports after the Erdogan-Obama meeting indicate that the Turkish prime minister has privately and publicly pressed his country’s unequivocal insistence on a resolution to the Karabagh conflict before the ratification of the protocols. Similarly, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutolglu while in Washington also echoed those sentiments.

Another report, attributed to the Hurriyet newspaper, asserts that the U.S. pledged to secure “withdrawal from occupied territories” by April, with Obama promising to personally push the OSCE Minsk Group to accelerate the peace process.

The Turkish and Azeri authorities have mounted a full diplomatic and propaganda attack on Armenia, whose authorities’ reaction seems more like dodging bullets than asserting their position on a singularly critical matter that has ramifications beyond the technicalities of the ratification process.

It is quite obvious to all observers and laymen alike that in this dubious process, Armenia has been forced to make concessions and take steps that satisfy the Turkish, U.S., or Russian agendas. At every such juncture, Armenian reaction has been to assert that they have acted without outside pressure and in the interest of the Armenian nation.

We have seen this process unfold in front of our eyes. The disastrous “roadmap” announcement led to the protocol signing in Zurich, which has led to unprecedented pressure on Armenia to resolve the Karabagh conflict to the benefit of Azerbaijan. Yet, official Yerevan’s line has not changed.

What has happened since then is that the effort to garner international recognition for the genocide has reverted to where it was 25 years ago, with media, political circles, and Turkish authorities using the same language of denial that was rampant in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. At the same time, Azerbaijan has mounted a campaign to paint Armenia as an aggressor.

Armenia needs a new approach. With continuing declarations of preconditions and unabashed—and unpunished—military threats , Armenia should stand firm and set its own preconditions: recognition of the genocide; a solution to the real refugee problem that arose as a result of vicious Azeri pogroms of Armenians in Sumgait, Kirovabad, Shahumian, and Baku, not to mention the legal ramifications of perpetrating those acts; and finally, the right to self-determination of the Armenians of Karabagh as expressed democratically through referendum.

Nalbandian’s reserved logic that preconditions create a vicious cycle to which Armenia does not want to be a party has clearly proven illogical in the face of the ground being gained by Turkey and Azerbaijan in the international community. Armenia’s adversaries are not preserving any moral high ground in this process.

The Armenian government must show its teeth or step aside before the entire Armenian nation—its past, present, and future—is compromised due to its inept governance and skewed understanding of diplomacy.

Enough is enough!

1 Comment

  1. Mr. Khachatourian, all discussions on “policy” and “approaches” are wonderful and I obviously encourage them — but they are irrelevant and distracting from the real issue:
    Armenian policy has not been run by national or state interests for awhile — it has been run according to the financial and power needs of the ruling elite.  Take the huge chunk of Armenia’s industry sold to Russia by Kocharian at below market prices.  Or, take Serge Sarkisian’s pursuit of external legitimacy via “protocols.”
    He’ll do what they want him to do — as long as they don’t challenge his authority.
    People like you who should know better are distracting us from the real conversation we should be having.  Serge would love for us to talk about “approaches” as if Armenia is a normal country and can have these normal conversations.  It brings the issue down to a simple disagreement over policy — a conversation he is much willing to have over the other one.

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