Sassounian: The Show is Over… The Protocols are Dead!

The show is finally over! The international community is no longer buying the endless Turkish excuses for refusing to ratify the protocols. Armenian officials, who naively believed that Turkey would open its border and establish diplomatic relations with Armenia, are beginning to question the Turks’ sincerity and contemplating the possibility of the protocols’ collapse.

Now the blame game starts! Whose fault is it that the protocols are not being ratified? In my view, the Turks are the ones to be blamed for deceiving the international community all along. It was never the intention of the Turkish leaders to carry out their publicly stated plans to normalize relations with Armenia. They were simply engaged in a ploy to obstruct what they believed to be President Obama’s solemn pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and to facilitate Turkey’s admission to the European Union (EU), since open borders are one of the key prerequisites for EU membership.

Without taking a single positive step, Turkey created the false impression of reconciling with Armenia, thereby dissuading Obama from using the term “genocide” in his April 24 statement. Turkish leaders also succeeded in exploiting the protocols to generate favorable worldwide publicity for their country.

During long and difficult negotiations, Turkey demanded that in return for opening the border and establishing diplomatic relations, Armenia withdraw from Karabagh (Artsakh), set up an international commission to study the facts of the genocide, and acknowledge the territorial integrity of Turkey.

After Russia, the United States, and Europe applied intense pressure on both sides, Armenia and Turkey made a series of compromises. Armenia reluctantly agreed to establish an ambiguous “historical commission,” which was not explicitly linked to the genocide. Armenia also had to accept a reference in the protocols to prior international treaties that confirmed Armenian territorial concessions to Turkey, but did not specifically mention the capitulatory Treaty of Kars. Furthermore, the protocols included a clause that called for non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states, implying that Armenia could no longer support Artsakh, because that would be construed as interference in Azerbaijan’s domestic issues.

Since the protocols signed on Oct. 10 did not fulfill all of Turkey’s demands, its leaders started threatening not to ratify the protocols or open the border with Armenia until the Artsakh conflict is resolved in Azerbaijan’s favor. In other words, Turkey was trying to make up for any deficiencies in the protocols by holding their ratification hostage to its precondition on Artsakh.

The ratification of the protocols became even more complicated when Azerbaijan began to threaten its “big brother” Turkey for considering the opening of the border with its archenemy, Armenia. The Azeris wanted the Turkish blockade to continue until Armenia was forced to acknowledge Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction over Artsakh. The Azeri threat of raising natural gas prices to Turkey and redirecting some of its oil to Russia made Turkish leaders even more reticent to consummate their agreement with Armenia.

To appease Azerbaijan, Turkey demanded that Russia, Europe, and the United States pressure Armenia into making concessions on Artsakh. This Turkish request, however, fell on deaf ears. The international community realized that the attempt to simultaneously resolve two thorny issues—the Artsakh conflict and the Armenia-Turkey protocols—would lead to solving neither one.

Realizing that hardly anyone outside Turkey and Azerbaijan was supporting their demands on Artsakh, Turkish leaders set their sights on another convenient scapegoat: the Constitutional Court of Armenia. Although the Court decided on Jan. 12 that the obligations stipulated in the protocols complied with the constitution, it also issued several clarifications and limitations that restricted the Turkish government’s loose interpretation of the protocols.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Davutoglu brazenly threatened to abandon the protocols outright, unless the Armenian Constitutional Court “corrected” its decision—an impossible task under Armenian laws. The U.S. State Department quickly sided with Armenia, rejecting the Turkish claim that the Constitutional Court’s ruling contradicted the “letter and spirit” of the agreement. Of course, the State Department’s true intent was to forestall the Armenian Parliament from adding any reservations on the protocols at the time of ratification.

Since the chairman of the Armenian Parliament had already announced that he would not take any action until the Turkish Parliament ratified the protocols first, the ball is now in Turkey’s court. The protocols have been collecting dust in Ankara ever since they were submitted to the parliament on Oct. 21, 2009. The foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey had stated in their joint announcement of last August that the protocols should be ratified “within a reasonable timeframe.” Armenian officials recently reminded Turkey of that loose deadline, adding that Armenia would be forced to take unspecified counter-actions should Turkey not ratify the protocols by February or March, at the latest.

At this juncture, neither Armenia nor Turkey is willing to back down from its recalcitrant position. Should Turkey’s leaders remove Artsakh and the Constitutional Court as preconditions, they would risk not only losing Azerbaijan as an ally, but would seriously jeopardize their party’s majority in next year’s parliamentary election. Similarly, Armenia’s leaders can neither give up Artsakh nor “correct” the ruling of the Constitutional Court. No amount of outside pressure can therefore force the two governments to reverse course. That is why I believe the protocols cannot be resuscitated.

Turkey came very close to deceiving Armenia and the rest of the world with these infamous protocols. Fortunately, they failed before causing lasting damage to Armenia’s national interests.


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.


  1. Apres Harut jun!
    Togh Asdvadz nere mer tavajunere yerevan yev mer joghovoortin artarootyan janabarhin myanan noren.

  2. Dear Aram:
    Don’t count on President Obama to work on the Armenian issues.   He has enough problems at home, especially with his plan to raise taxes and socialize Health Care.
    Bryan Haserjian

  3. I hope those protocols are dead. Now time to rid Armenia of it’s ruling thugs. ……………………………
    (to Bryan, off the subject) I’m not a big fan of Obama but he did walk into a 1.2 trillion deficit not to mention the economic collapse left for him by the previous administration that every one knew needed the wealthy tax repealed and probably a tax increase to get out of. Also the insurance industry is a scam and the grand majority of Americans were in favor of a public option to ease the heavy burden of health insurance premiums that chokes the middle class. I never understood why anyone without money votes Republican as they only champion the wealthy. Like asking the fox to watch the hen house.

  4. Harut,

    Who says? You! Granted that you’re entitled to your opinions, but that certainly doen’t mean that they’re correct! You know as well as anyone else that for someone to make a statement like yours is someone who is terrified of the truth being revealed to the world! At least your opinions were posted and not censored, as it should be.

  5. Dear Harut Sassounian; Amen… Amen… and Amen! My prayers have been answered, thank you and thank you God for answering to my prayers of ditching the harmful protocols to my beloved nation!

    I also thank you dear Harut for your above article, you put it very well!

  6. That these idiotic protocols were just an attempt to shake off the region, the balance of power in it was clear to some analysts from the beginning. It’s just language and several anti-Armenian provisions in them that made Armenians acutely sensitive and infuriated over them. Another major reason for Armenians’ anxiety was and still remains the illegitimate creeps ruling the country, narrow-minded, self-centered and inherently corrupt what-nots who’d sell the nation and its vital interests for power and money. Someone said here, and rightfully so, that our primary task as a nation is get rid of these thugs and, finally, have a government that will be relatively more accountable to the people and compassionate towards their needs.

  7. I am still surprised that Harut and many others like Harut believed for one moment that Armenia was going to agree and establish a commission to study the events of 1915 in order to determine if it was a genocide.  The protocols were bad for one simple reason.  You cannot have such a document when it can easily be read it in many different ways.  It didn’t make sense to have a document that was so vague to start with.

  8. From the beginning it was a diplomatic masquarade imposed by superpowers, those so-called Armenian-turkish protocoles and it leaded to another turkish diplomatic-criminial masquarade as expected and Armenian court reafirmed Armenians,historical rights  to Armenian lands and financial reparations of committed crimes by Genocidal Turkey from which Armenians will never give up

  9. Hye, Harut.  Thanks, you have brought us up to date on the status of the convoluted Turkish stance on their  Protocols.  Actually I too have employed the word PLOYS as the means the Turks, together with their well paid American lobbyists (unbelieveably, former members of the Congress of the USA) pursue.  And I do mean pursue, against the historically recognized Turkish Genocide of Armenians.
    Turks have used PLOYS over, over, over endlessly.  Thus  PLOYS = Turks’ desparations… 
    Hum, these same former Congressmen lobbyists for Turkey –  shall these have been party to the formation of the misdirected Protocols?
    Addendum:  Congress shall not allow the ‘retired’ members of the USA Congress to in any way shape or form take any employment with/for leaderships of other nations.  Having been privy to the 
    workings, events and more of our Congress, they shall not become in any way, shape or form in pay of other nations thus owe them allegiances – whether or not these nations shall in the past  have been an ally – or may not be an ally – in future.  Manooshag

  10. I agree 100% with Robert. Just because Sassounian says it doesn’t make it so. It is sad to see some deluded commenters celebrating the end of the protocols without any solid reason to believe they are gone except someone telling them so.
    Just notice the double-speak between the beginning of the article and the end:
    Beginning: “The show is finally over!”
    End: “That is why I believe the protocols cannot be resuscitated.”
    That’s a huge difference between declaring it dead at the beginning and ending it by merely stating one’s belief that they are dead. Just because you say it doesn’t make it so! Hillary Clinton and all the others did not go to Switzerland in October for nothing, don’t act like because Turkey makes a fuss about the court ruling all the world leaders will just throw their hands up and say “oh well, we tried”. This is just another page turning in this convoluted story- not the end by far.

  11. As a Kurd who lived almost 60 years under brutal turkish occupation, I believe that I have a right to make a comment here.

    To: Philadelphia Armenian Historian
    Right after kemal ataturk took office, his first priority, of course, was to continue the Genocide against the remnants of the Armenian and Greek communities. kemal was extremely busy during the early and all throughout the 1930s, destroying truckloads after truckloads of Ottoman archives that would incriminate turkey in the future.   kemal destroyed about 99% of Ottoman archives that related to the wholesale slaughter of 2-3 million defenseless women and children, and kept some unimportant documents that basically are worthless to a historian,
    It just boggles the mind to see how some Armenians are easily duped into thinking that through these protocols, turks will behave and act civilized.
    Armenians have absolutely no reason to prove  to the world that the Genocide happened. It would be a treacherous and criminal act to even suggest that Armenians have to prove the Genocide.

    If the Armenian government, through divine intervention, won this battle of protocols, and eventually won Artsakhs union with Armenia…then I will convert and become a Christian Armenian, and live in Yerevan.

    Why pay homage to the Turkish state, which has lied and killed non stop since time immortal is beyond me.


  12. Hye, is (no name) Philly ‘Armenian historian’ either a proProtocolite or, like robert, a turk?
    Artashes Bashmakian, only our dim-witted, inexperienced current Armenian leaderships were to read the Protocols… and being dim-witted, inexperienced (pockets filling) politicians they didn’t even had the intelligence to have any patriots in Haiastan join them in ‘reading’ the Protocols which favor only the Turk… Manooshag

  13. To PhiladelphiaArmenianHistorian: Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission also was a creation of the State Department, heavily encouraged and supported by the highest echelons of the U.S. administration, as well as several leading Western power centers. Just recall what happened with it in the end. The initiative has died. The ‘deluded commenters’ here, as you stigmatize them, are not celebrating the end of the protocols based on what a diasporan Armenian has said. They calmly and soberly evaluate the situation that clearly must indicate to illuminated commenters like you that the way these stupid protocols were intended to work simply doesn’t work. They are, indeed, dead in this sense. And I believe this is what posters here meant by ‘death of the protocols,’ i.e. death of the negotiated documents in their original form and purpose. Whether or not they will evolve into something else, no one knows, but as things stand, Hillary Clinton and all the others who went to Switzerland in October, got essentially something very different from what they, presumably, planned at the outset.

  14. This will be a long political process but in the end Ankara will be made to kneel and open its borders with Armenia… And this political process is a result of serious geopolitical shifts that have occurred in the region as a result of Georgia’s defeat in the summer of 2008. With the West effectively expelled from the region (see current developments in the Ukraine as well) Georgia and Azerbaijan are now vulnerable and at the mercy of the Kremlin. Moreover, Ankara is growing increasingly dependent on Russian trade and energy as well. The good news is that Russia, who fears Turkic/Islamic expansion in the region just as much as we Armenians do, is using Armenia as a regional platform from which to project its political and economic power. Nevertheless, the current political processes going on the region presents Armenia with an opportunity the kind of which Armenia has not had in centuries. Armenia needs to beco0me a regional player, and it has begun to be as of late. The only question that remains is – are we as a nation ready to manipulate and/or exploit this historic opportunity for the benefit of our beloved republic?

  15. Congratulation to all armenians all over the world
    There is an arabic idiom that says ( The truth will stay truth & the blood never become water )
    First thing i said at the start of this manipulated treaty that  if the Armenians in Armenia will be profiting from this agreement  let them decide that &  go Ahead with it .
    That because if something bad happens after they will benefit the bad & if something good happened after they will benefit the good . at last the black cloud dissapears & the justice acknowledged.
    Long live ARMENIA ( Great poeple old history ) 

  16. AVETIS above wrote this:
    “The good news is that Russia, who fears Turkic/Islamic expansion in the region just as much as we Armenians do, is using Armenia as a regional platform from which to project its political and economic power. Nevertheless, the current political processes going on the region presents Armenia with an opportunity the kind of which Armenia has not had in centuries.”

    Avetis, please prove what you say.   Explain what you mean by power projection by Russia, and why should Armenia be a tool of any country?   What power is  being projected and where?   We want What exactly is the “opportunity” you speak of for Armenia and why is it so good?
    Your explanations have been vague so far.  Most Armenians do not trust Russia, and with good reason.
    Here is what an infamous Russian said in 1895:
      “Yes, Russia wants Armenia, but without the Armenians!”
    – Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky, Russian Foreign Minister, 1895

  17. Rich, I have written a lot on this topic here and elsewhere. I am not going to waste my time by “proving” any of my statements for an irrational Russophobic propagandist like you. Many people have said many things throughout history. Your selective use or a single comment, true or not I do nor know, is utterly and completely meaningless when looked upon against the vast background of Armenia’s centuries long relationship with Russia. And trust me, there have been thousands of comments by Russians, Czarist and Communist, about Armenians that would make an insecure genocide obsessed Armo like you have an orgasm… why not mention them as well, Rich? Yes, our secessionist revolutionaries had some political problems with the Czar at the time. The Czar even temporarily closed Armenian schools in 1905… But these were merely political problems in a very volatile time and place that were eventually fixed. Nevertheless, our nationalists at the time would not even have existed had it not been for Czarist support. As a matter of fact, from David Bek’s nationalistic movement in the 18th century, to our revolutionary movement in the 19th century, to our Soviet republic in the 20th century, to Artsakh and modern Armenia at the turn of the 21th century – we as a nation have been able to exist in the Turkic/Muslim infested region only and only as a result of our close relationship with Russia.
    Armenians don’t trust Russia? Well, yes I agree, ideally we should only trust ourselves. But seeing many ignorant, irrational and absurd individuals representing our nation, when it comes to Armenia’s long-term survival – I have trained myself to trust Moscow instead. As I have been saying, you prove once again, that Armenians may be brilliant scholars, businessmen and artists (not that you are any of the aforementioned), but are total idiots when it come to politics…

  18. Hey avetis,
    Your medication is running low. Are you that insecure about yourself and position that you need to call everyone who disagrees with you “idiots’? There is no such thing as permenant ally. No one in essence has helped the Armenians. To the contrary. Not the Europeans, Americans or Russians. The Russians have a monetary vested interest as they own parts of Armenian infrastructure. To that degree they help the Armenians however things always change and therefore it would be unwise to assume they will come to the rescue in case of war.  Yes the self serving Armenian oligarghs also need to go. However, reyling upon others is a mistake and would lead one to believe that we have  not learned the lessons of the past. Trust none other then ourselves.

  19. Hey Ferhat,

    As for many of you (except for Philly and one or two others), you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about, do you? The protocols were the first main step for normalization of relations between not only Turkey and Armenia, but with Armenia and Azerbaijan. What would this have meant for Armenia? Well, if you’d take off the blinders of hate and turn off a century of propaganda, you might be able to see the vision of the future. This future consists of better relations with ALL Moslem nations (this is a test case for them, if you still haven’t figured it out!). This would lead to an increase in trade and economy, better exchanges of culture and ideas, more commerce and travel, just to name a few. All of this would have been a boon to Armenia’s economy! Your President Sarkissian saw the potential of this and wanted to move forward. But, with your selfishness and hate indoctrination (which has long since been ingrained into your very beings), all you’ve really accomplished is the slitting of your own economic throats on an international scale! You talk about Russia. Okay. How long do you believe Putin and Russia will stick by you? Basically, only until you’re no longer of any use to them! As for Iran, they’re simply paying you “lip service”. They’re an Islamic theocracy and will go with other Islamic nations before they have anything to do with you. As for the French and other European nations, Once their bribed officials are out of power, that’ll be the end of them blindly cow-towing to you. You’ll soon find out that you’re going to be pretty much all alone in the world. But hey, that’s what you wanted, and that’s what you’re all going to get. Instead of coming up with hate-filled excuses, how about trying to listen to the voices of reason for once. Fools, you’re your own worst enemy and you don’t even know it!! What am I getting so excited about anyway…it’s not my country!

    Hey editorial staff, are you going to censor this too? Nothing vulgar or deragatory in this post. But, you’ll probably delete it as usual. Let’s wait and see.

  20. Armenia should not have friends or enemies, just interests. As a landlocked, tiny, impoverished nation surrounded by enemies in one of the most hostile geopolitical environments on earth, Armenia’s survival interests dictate a close strategic partnership with Russia – for the foreseeable future. Armenia’s pro-Russia policies coupled with its unique geopolitical positioning in the Caucasus today serves Moscow’s long-term geostrategic interests, as it has been for the past several hundred years. The worst that can happen in this scenario is if Moscow one-day wants to incorporate Armenia into its federation.

    From billions in investments in the Armenian economy to providing cheep nuclear fuel and gas/oil, from protecting Armenia’s border with Turkey to providing Armenia’s military with cheep (often free) military hardware and training, from giving Armenia diplomatic protection in the UN to making sure Azerbaijan does not attack Artsakh, from recognizing the Armenian Genocide to giving Armenian migrant worker easy access to their economy – what more do we want from these people? What the hell has America, “the beacon of freedom and democracy”, done for Armenia other than conspire with our enemies? What the hell have we big talking Armenians of the diaspora done to compare with what Russia has been doing for Armenia?

    As long as Turks and Muslims, not to mention Zionists and Globalists/Internationalists, infest the regions south of the Caucasus, Russia will have a vested interest in allying itself with Armenia. Nevertheless, had it not been for Kremlin officials not only would we be lamenting the loss of Artsakh today we would probably be lamenting the loss of the Armenian Republic as well.

  21. Notice two of the irrational comments above.    They speak for themselves”

    By Avetis:  Armenians “are total idiots when it come to politics…”.

    And by Robert:  “As for many of you (except for Philly and one or two others), you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about, do you? … Instead of coming up with hate-filled excuses, how about trying to listen to the voices of reason for once. Fools, you’re your own worst enemy and you don’t even know it!! What am I getting so excited about anyway…it’s not my country!”

  22. Russia needs Armenia more than Armenia needs Russia. The reason is that there are more Russian pointers in Armenia than Armenian pointers in Russian. For  example: the Russian military base in Armenia. Russia cannot tolerate Turkey as its neighbor. Because Turkey is basically an Islamic nation. All Islamic nations under Russian’s realm are still communist. They are not fanatic as Turkish people. Therefore, it is easy for Russia to manage them. Once, they grow into radical and fanatic Muslims like the Turkish people, they will create big problem and they will want freedom and independence.  As a result, the Turkish empire will become a realty. Never, expect that you can f**k with other ‘s tool. What ever we have today, we have earned it and paid very high price for it.
    Long Live Armenians and Armenia! Amen!

  23. To Arsen,

    You’re wrong! If you re-read my post, you’ll see that I’m actually trying to help your country by pointing out the economic importance which the protocols and historical commission will lead to.

  24. Robert, I should have specified. My comments were not directed towards you, they were meant for  “Rich” and “John”.

  25. Robert, I forgot to add. This is not about Putin. This not about individuals, it’s about long term national policy. This is where geopolitics come into play. As long as the Caucasus is flanked by Turkic, Islamic and Western interests, Moscow will continue looking at Armenia favorably, regardless of who’s in the Kremlin, as long as the Kremlin is occupied by Russians. Besides which, Moscow was the party that bought the unwilling parties, Yerevan and Ankara, to the negotiation table – not the West. After defeating Western backed Georgians in the summer of 2008 and making political headway in Ukraine since then, as well as taking advantage of the economic crisis currently engulfing the West, Moscow is now attempting to project its economic and political power in the region via its most trustworthy and stable regional partner, Armenia. As far as the West is concerned, since it seeks regional stability and desperately needs access to its energy resources, it is following Moscow’s lead for now. If you closely follow regional developments you will see this.

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