On the Genocide Conference in Yerevan, H.Res.252, and the Armenian Government

The Armenian government recently hosted an international conference on genocide prevention, condemnation, and elimination in Yerevan. Genocide scholars from around 20 countries gathered in Yerevan in what could be considered as one of the Armenian government’s rare acts aimed at proactively seeking international acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide. While we can’t but applaud this initiative, we also can’t help but say it was a belated effort and not enough on its own.

Professors Taner Akcam (L) and Richard Hovannisian at the genocide conference in Yerevan.

The conference was helpful in inviting public attention to the issue not only in Armenia and the diaspora but also internationally, given the level of international participation in it. Once again, it dealt a blow to denialists in Turkey and abroad by providing an opportunity for high caliber genocide scholars of different nationalities to throw their support behind the truthfulness of the Armenian Genocide. It was a slap in Turkey’s face and its attempts to undermine the historical truth of the Armenian Genocide through such attempts as setting up a historians’ commission to discuss historical issues between the two nations.

However, the initiative was belated, because while successive Armenian governments since Robert Kocharian’s presidency at least have declared that recognition of the Armenian Genocide is on Armenia’s foreign policy agenda, this can be considered as the first major proactive (emphasis on the word proactive) initiative of its kind undertaken by Yerevan.

More than coming late, however, this conference is not enough effort on the part of the Armenian government to show that it takes this matter seriously. Notwithstanding public declarations on the importance for international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, little government action has been seen on this front so far. Yes, almost all official dignitaries, diplomats, and foreign government officials who visit Yerevan are taken to the Genocide Memorial in Dzidzernagapert. Yes, the issue has been raised on a few occasions in presidential speeches to the international community, including at the UN. However, little has been seen or at least made public in terms of consistent and serious efforts to pursue genocide recognition.

Robert Kocharian’s administration at least smartly avoided falling in the cunning Turkish trap of “leaving history to the historians” by rejecting a proposal for setting up a commission of historians that first surfaced in a letter by then-Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul in April 2005. It’s silly to say Sarkisian was not smart enough to avoid the trap. By then, the idea had been discussed so much that no one in their right mind could deny its implications on the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Sarkisian did it anyway, though. In 2009, he signed the infamous Turkish-Armenian protocols, one of the stipulations of which was the formation of exactly such a commission. His reasons? Unprecedented international pressure, continued blockade and economic isolation, continued deadlock in the Nagorno-Karabagh peace talks, coupled with intense militarization in Azerbaijan, awareness of growing Turkish influence in the region, and perhaps to some extent a gradual shift in Russia’s attitudes due to military and energy deals with Turkey and Azerbaijan.

With the failure of the protocols in the face of consistent Turkish efforts to tie Armenian-Turkish normalization to the resolution of the Karabagh conflict and what Sarkisian has started to consider as a lack of sincerity towards reconciliation in Turkey, the genocide conference could have signaled renewed effort on behalf of the Armenian government to assure that it stands on moral high ground when it comes to this issue. Could have, but as far as I’m concerned, it did not.

In fact, only a few weeks after the international conference in Yerevan, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) started pushing U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to schedule a vote on H.Res.252, a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The resolution had previously been adopted by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in March 2010. The ANCA assured that Pelosi had the opportunity and the majority to schedule a vote on the resolution just before the House adjourned its session for the year.

In the final days of the sitting, Washington witnessed one of the most intense confrontations between the Turkish and Armenian lobby groups in history.

On the Armenian side it was the ANCA, the Armenian schools, the church, the individuals in our community, anti-genocide activists, and Armenian celebrities the like of Kim Kardashian and Serj Tankian. Advocating the Turkish “cause,” however, was a state-sponsored lobby machine channeled through such influential mediums as the Congressional Turkish Caucus.

Moreover, Turkish pressure was exercised directly by Turkish government officials. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called his American counterpart Hillary Clinton, while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote a letter to President Barack Obama, both with the intention of getting senior U.S. officials to pressure the House Speaker into avoiding a vote on the resolution. The Turkish ambassador in Washington, Namik Tan, used every tool at his disposal, including Twitter, to lobby against H.Res.252. All of this demonstrates the vigilance of the Turkish administration on issues related to the Armenian Genocide, and their preparedness, time and again, to go above and beyond in their efforts to block any measure that might lead to its recognition.

The question that begs itself: Where was the Armenian government? Where was our ambassador in Washington when Armenian students, clergy, community members, and celebrities were working day and night sending emails, calling Pelosi’s office, publicizing the issue to fellow Armenian Americans and American citizens at large? Was a statement of support deemed too much? Where was Eduard Nalbandian? Was he worried that if he were to publicly support the resolution and ask the American administration to take the right stance on this issue normalization efforts with Turkey would go even further downhill? If so, why make declarations on the need to recognize the Armenian Genocide in general? Why organize a conference in Yerevan? Whatever the calculations of the Armenian government were, and it is not too difficult to guess them, the bottom line is it missed yet another perfect opportunity to translate statements into action on the issue of genocide recognition.

That being said, it is never too late. More resolutions dealing with Armenian Genocide recognition will be presented to the U.S. Congress and legislative bodies in countries across the world in the future. It is not unreasonable to expect that while the groundwork is done by Armenian lobbying organizations, the Armenian government should throw its weight behind these efforts even if at the ambassadorial level only. This would provide moral support to our activists. It would demonstrate to foreign governments that this is Yerevan’s fight, too, and not just that of the Armenian people. And by doing so, add a new kind of legitimacy to the struggle for genocide recognition.

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Houry Mayissian

Houry Mayissian is a communications professional with journalism and public relations experiences in Dubai, Beirut, and Sydney. She has studied European politics and society at the University of Oxford, specializing on the democratic reform process in Armenia as part of its European integration. She is currently based in Yerevan.

25 Comments

  1. I believe that Russia has ordered Armenia not to make an issue of the Genocide so as not to overly disturb Russian – Turkish relations.  

    If the Armenian Genocide is not on Russia’s radar, then it can’t be on Armenia’s radar since Russia basically controls the Armenian economy and foreign policy.

    The Russian Duma recognized the Armenian genocide a long time ago, but has since remained silent because Russia is even more of a genocide denier than the United States.  Russian morality hardly exists.

    This is why Russia told Armenia to sign the Protocols.  Russia wants a joint Turkish – Armenian historical commission to bury the genocide issue, until the  day when Russia may decide it wants to use the genocide issue itself.

    Russia itself is a genocidal country: the Ukraine famine and the mass murders and Gulags during Soviet days.  Why would Russia want any genocide issue to be discussed?  It would not. 

    Armenia can’t seem to break away from Russia’s grip and establish its own policies. That is why the Russian and Armenian leadership don’t push the Genocide issue. 

    The whole thing is a fraud, but Armenians don’t want to face up to their lack of power. Sorry.

  2. Dear Weekly, I was a little disappointed with your harsh article about the Armenian government in the face of having done something positive.  Probably there is a political agenda behind the article, but it strikes me as unfair.  Being positive and to encourage good deeds will bring a higher level of credibility to your paper and your party.  We should put things in perspective.  Armenia is beginning to finally grow politically and join other nations as a country.  This is in contrast with years of playing the role of minion of other countries.  Give Armenia and Armenian government room to grow.  Encourage steps like this and condemn inactions and actions that might hurt Armenia.  If you are unhappy with the pace of the progress then I highly recommend you advocate high level talents to go to Armenia to work and become an agent of change.

  3. It is very disapointing that the Armenian Government on the issue of the Armenian Genocide is not working in harmony with the Armenian Diaspora to have the long delayed & well documented Genocide pushed for recognition.  The Armenian Government is the main lobby for getting in with the U.S. President & State Dept. to attack the Turkish Government for their false statements on our Armenian Genocide. Shame on our Armenian Government for not getting involved.  Stephan Dulgarian

  4. Nervaynanum em vor tesnum em mer govertmenti antamnera voch mi ban chen anum…It is times like the one when Palosi should have brought forth our Resolution to the floor when we needed our govt of Armenia to step up and do her part.. but unfortunately, we did not hear a peep…

    I agree with Siranoush.. Russia is the puppet Master behind US… if they say jump, Armenia says how high.. that is how much power they have over Armenia.. and until they are ready to use the Armenian Genocide for their benefit, they will nto allow anything to move forward… Russia controls majority of ARmenia.. i am surprised Russian has not bought Armenia all together.. they are as bad as Turks…

    Gayane

  5.  Once again I believe that Frederick has made a very astute observation. I was bit coonfused when reading the article. It is listed under the opinion section; yet it is a combination of news reporting and opinion. I think it would have been more effective to report the facts of the conference to your readers and then offer an editorial or op ed piece on the conduct of the government vis a vis the genocide recognition issue. It is not clear if the article’s intent is to inform the public or criticize the government’s performance. Both have places in this paper, but it will add to jornalistic credibility if they are differentiated. This especially true when it comes to the Republic of Armenia. I do appreciate the Weekly committment to keeping the Armenian community informed.

  6. The question that should be asked for Gates, Obama and Pelosi is why have they forsaken us in their eyes…..forsaken us in their thoughts…….forsaken us in their minds……..forsaken us in their hearts?
    January 8, 1945, Ernest H. Dervishian was awarded the Medal of Honor. Today is his anniversary of the Medal of Honor award. American veterans of Armenian heritage would like to mourn for Arman T. Manookian (U.S.M.C.) as well by visiting his grave site in Hawaii. However, these veterans can’t even mourn because Manookian is buried in an unmarked grave and his soul is lost and forgotten in Obama’s backyard. Manookian introduced the notion of soft power through his art to win hearts and minds of the indigenous peoples as well as Americans.
    Why have they forsaken us?
     

  7. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist……and puff….like that he was gone.
     

  8. Obama should get the permission of the Turkish government to lay a wreath at Manookian’s grave site if he can find it.

  9. Kiazer,

    My, how one-sided of you! Do you really believe that Armenians are God’s gift to the world? News flash…They’re not!! Don’t you think that God is trying to tell you people something? Like TELLING THE TRUTH for once!!! Also, the two Armenian-American servicemen who were decorated, they are to be commended for their galantry and sacrifice!! However, they were NOT the only ones who served in the US armed forces! Believe it or not, there were Turkish-Americans who also served and were decorated (especially in Vietnam)! In addition, there was a war back in the early 1950s. Perhaps you heard of it. It was known as the Korean Conflict (a.k.a. Korean War). Do you know anything about it? Consult any history text, or ask any Korean War vet about the Turkish Brigade. Then you will learn the meaning of true heroism!! 

    Stephan,

    I fear it an impossiblity to ever reach you. By your own words you damn yourself! May God help you see the light!  

  10. Robert(Oghlu)
    YOU ARE  THE PERSONALIZATION/EMBODIMENT  OF THE DEVIL,SATAN ,MY DAR COMPATRIOT  SOUZE  ABOVE HINTS AT.
    NOW GIT A LOAD  OF THIS!!!!  THAT war in korea  you  mention….and you think  there is no Armenian  here  who can strip you down -CLARIFY  YOUR TOTALLY DIFFERENTLY PRESENTING THE TRUTH ABOUT SAID WAS  IN  K  O  R  E  A  .
    GET  THE TIME MAGAZINE  OF THE TIME AND LEAF THROUGH PAGES, YOU WILL SEE PHOTO AND READ THE FEW LINES  THAT BEST DESCRIBES    TOIKISH,SORRY TURKISH  HEROISM  THERE….AFTER  YOUR SOLDIERS THE BRIGADE-THERE FOR SHOW    NOTHING MORE….GOES THROUGH  KILLED  KOREANS      C    U     T       S       THEIR  EARS  OFF AND THEN DANGLES  THESE  ON THEIR BELTS  FOR THE YANKS  TO SEE  THAT  INDEED  THE TURKS  HAVE   PUT IN THEIR  SHARE…
    ARE YOU THAT INCOGNIZANT  OF  THESE OR SIMILAR  ACTS  BY YOUR COUNTRYMEN WHO WANT TO CHEAT  THE WORLD.  JUST BY SHOWCASING  SUCH  SCENARIOS?????
    who do you think you    k  i  d  …INNOCENT LADIES  LIKE souze…
    PEOPLE  LIKE  ARE THERE  TO STRIP YOU DOWN TO SHOW  HOW UGLY  MINDED  YOU ARE  AND BE ASSURED  THAT DO WHATEVER  YOU DO OR YOUR LIKE , YOU CANNOT      E   S    C   A    P   E       THE  T   R  U  T  H ….

  11. Turkeys do not participate in any wars – since WWI, when a turkey was with the losers and then during WWII, a turkey only joined the Allies, a the LAST possible moment in order to be with the winners of WWII.  Since, as turkey only ‘submits’ a limited amount of their military to any of the ongoing wars.. a turkey does not war since Genocides are the turkey mode of gaining goals.  A turkey excels in the realm of perpetrating Genocides – as this assures the turkey of being the winner… ‘eliminating’ humans, torturing humans, and worse, committing their Genocides since the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries… denying any Genocides, but yet, committing Genocides ongoing/unending – still.. And why not?  When has a turkey been made to face justice for its inhumanity to humans – in all these three centuries of Genocides of the Greeks, Pontians, Syrians, Assyrians, the Armenians a turkey then has the GALL to to state: ‘muslims donot commit Genocides’. LIES… thus turkey leaderships say and do so much against the non-muslim nations… yet ‘gets away with murders’… still lies to the world, still lies to their own citizens, still is guilty of all their Genocides over the centuries – yet acts as if a turkey is due and owing whatever, whereas, it is the civilized nations of the world that are overdue and owing from all that a turkey has foisted upon civilized and ancients peoples over the years, into today 2010. WHY? What does a muslim turkey share of consequence with the world aside from all the Genocides ongoing/unending… lying denials-ongoing/unending PLOYs – and today has assaulted the Woodrow Wilson memorial! in Washington DC! in the United States of America.  NOT the USA State Department and NOT the leadership in the White House speak out against this crime against Wilson’s memorial.  The USA government is ‘gagged’ and will not/have not acknowledged a turkey attack against the United States of America by a turkey whose stance is tolerated by the USA (even with their ‘foreign relations’) Too, HOWever, WHERever, WHOMever, a muslim turkey deigns and chooses to pursue – a turkey seems to have free reign… BUT try to use these same tactics againsT a turkey… A TURKEY WILL LIE, WILL NEVER TOLERATE THAT WHICH A TURKEY USES IN THEIR PLOYS AGAINST ANY AND ALL CIVILIZED NATIONS.
    Makes one wonder, who has created this  uncontrollable turkey… which nation/s have been the supporters and the ‘aiders’ of allowing the hordes of Asia to advance thus far… Did they think that by ‘supporting’ a turkey that a turkey would be able to join the civilized nations of the world – eventually?  Did they think how long it would take for such a self-centered and deluded turkish leaderships to create a real ‘democratic’ nation… Appears now that it will take centuries for those of a turkey who seek such freedoms… Too, even with the continued assistance of the any of the civilized nations (especially the USA State Department and the USA White House leadership) it is evident a turkey shall remain… a turkey.  Manooshag
     

  12. Let us show these shills and Turks/Azeris/Taliban what men of will really can do silently through the power of boycott. Let us starve them in worse condition than the victims of Genocide by the Turks.

  13. Hey Robert, 

    The following site is put out by the Germans and it is from Germany’s archives that speaks from the mouths of German political figures who were stationed in Turkey as well as in Syria.  Also by German medical and educational personnel and by journalists.
    Here’s the site:  http://www.centerar.org/aghet/

  14. In my above post, I’d like to remind to Robert et al that the German personnel who viewed the Armenian Genocide in Turkey and in Syria were there from 1914 through 1923.

  15. I would like to say a special good night to Monte Melkonian (wherever he is). You see, I believe Monte was the real “Jason Borne.”

  16. Parev Kiazer, I don’t know aout Borne, but I do favor the blessed memory of Monte Melkonian.  I just wish a million times that he was alive now and became the president of Armenia, to lead our nation into the light, into hope and into a much brighter future for our beloved nation.  I believe if he was alive and he had that post, he would never let us down.  I also believe that he is now with Jesus and with God and in heaven.

  17. While we are on the topic of Korean War, I would like to add the following for reference.  As usual, I would like to stick to facts and figures:

    “4500 soldiers in the middle of the firing line have known how to create miracle. The sacrifices of the Turks will eternally remain in our minds.” – Washington Tribune
    “The courageous battles of the Turkish Brigade have created a favorable effect on the whole United Nations Forces.” – Time
    “The surprise of the Korean battles were not the Chinese but the Turks. It is impossible at this moment to find a word to describe the heroism which the Turks have shown in the battles.” – Abent Post
    “The Turks have shown in Kunuri a heroism worthy of their glorious history. The Turks have gained the admiration of the whole world through their glorious fighting in the battles.” – Figaro
    “The Turks who have been known throughout history by their courage and decency, have proved that they have kept these characteristics, in the war which the United Nations undertook in Korea.” – Burner – U.S. Congressman
    “There is no one left who does not know that the Turks, our valuable allies, are hard warriors and that they have accomplished very great feats at the front.” – Claude Pepper, U.S. Senator
    “I now understand that the vote I gave in favor of assistance to Turkey was the most fitting vote I gave in my life. Courage, bravery and heroism are the greatest virtues which will sooner or later conquer. In this matter, I know no nation superior to the Turks.” – Rose – U.S. Senator
    “While the Turks were for a long time fighting against the enemy and dying, the British and Americans were withdrawing. The Turks, who were out of ammunition, affixed their bayonets and attacked the enemy and there ensued a terrible hand to hand combat. The Turks succeeded in withdrawing by continuous combat and by carrying their injured comrades on their backs. They paraded at Pyongyang with their heads held high.” – G.G. Martin – British Lieutenant General
    “The Turkish forces have shown success above that expected in the battles they gave in Korea.” – General Collings – Commander US Army
    “We owe the escape of thousands of United Nations troops out of a certain encirclement to the heroism of the Turkish soldiers. The Turkish soldiers in Korea have added a new and unforgettable page of honor to the customs and legends of heroism of the Turkish nation.” – Emanuel Shinwell – U.K. Minister of Defense
    “The heroic soldiers of a heroic nation, you have saved the Eighth Army and the IX’th Army Crops from encirclement and the 2nd Division from destruction. I came here today to thank you on behalf of the United Nations Army.” – General Walton H. Walker, Commander, Eighth Army
    “The Turks are the hero of heroes. There is no impossibility for the Turkish Brigade.” – General Douglas MacArthur – United Nations Forces Commander in Chief

  18. Robert,

    This is not the first time you talk about your Korean brigade. We have heard enough. And sorry, it’s not that easy for us to get impressed by your heroes. We have seen better.

    Do you know how many officers and commanders of Armenian nationality served in the Soviet Army and contributed to our victory against the Nazi Germany? Just to name the top two–Hovhannes Bagramian and Hovhannes Ter-Isahakian, aka Ivan Isakov.

    Bagramian was a Marshal of the Soviet Union and the commander of the Baltic Front (no kidding!), the first non-slavic commander of a Front. I bet you have no idea that a Marshall was de facto the highest military rank in the Soviet military and extremely few people had that rank. The village where Bagramian was born provided another Marshal–Babajanian, 12 generals, and 7 heroes of the Soviet Union. All these stars came from just one single village.

    Isakov (Ter Isahakyan) was the Admiral of the Fleet in the Soviet Army, which is the naval equivalent of a Marshal, and is credited for the monumental role he played in shaping the Soviet navy during World War II. How remarkable it is that a nation left land-locked can give birth to a renouned Admiral, and, no more no less–in the Soviet Army! We could go on and on.

    So, please, spare us the bragging about your Korean war heroes. With all due respect, we have seen better.

       

  19. This has come to my sober understanding, those Islamic countries, regardless of whether they are moderate, radical or secular....killing and destroying others who are called “Kafir” or by Turks  “Gavur” is not part of human killings or Genocides…it is part of Allah’s will against none Muslims…if you look into history of mankind in Middle East you will find the answer.. look into the fall of Persian Empire by Arabs..look into Fall of Byzantine Empire by Muslim Turks…or many many more …all those killings and Genocides was acceptable based on Allah’s will and Koran..therefor Islamized Turks accepted killing of none Muslim as an act of Allah, and do not consider by Western standard as Genocide.. this is why most Islamic countries believe in Jihadism… killing of none Muslims is a part of their believes, and do not categorized as genocides…if you listen to Erdogan or other Islamic leaders…you will hear that “Islam can not commit Genocides”..it is true because Genocide is part of Western Standard, especially “Christian believes” about being as human, where most Islamized population of the world still fighting for their own basic human rights freedom…Turks are not different from other Muslims, unfortunately they have occupied a huge Christian Civilizations (Armenians, Greek, Assyrians, Serbs, Croat…..) and still do not know what to do or where to go next…may God open their head.
     

  20. To the people above who are boosting about the Turkish heroism.  Yes the Turks are fighters, but they fight very dirty and too.  Don’t forget that they have made an army out of Armenian little boys that they stole from their mothers and they were called “yeniceris” on or before 1915.  Thus the blood of the Turks of today is mixed with Armenian and Greek blood.  After 1915-1923 when they stole thousands and thousands of Armenian women and made them part of their harems and undoubtedly to the Greeks as well, their DNA today is 65% Greek.  Greeks and Armenians have very similar DNA’s as they derived from closeby regions and were mixed from ancient tribal migrations.  Any heroism must be 65% attributed to the Greek and to the Armenian bloods that the Turks stole it from us.

  21. “While we are on the topic of Korean War…”

    We are NOT at all on the topic of Korean War. Keep your bargging to yourself. We do not care.

  22. Exactly Seervart jan.. i don’t even think Robert and Murat know that all those “Turks” who were fighting in the Korean wars probably are not Turks…as you said Seervart, they may have been part of Greek, part of Armenian, or part of Assyrian.. Modern Turks are sooo proud of everything of theirs but they don’t know half of it.. they don’t believe that what they are proud of or what they benefit from are not theirs.. was never theirs…

    Gina jan… well said…but do i know for a fact that both Robert and Mura, the “brothers”, have no idea about any of the brave Armenians who fought in many wars.. of course they do not know.. or they know but irants ESHI tegh en dnum.. either way, Robert is great at pulling Murat and Murat is great at pulling Robert… that is how they work..

    but both represents nothing but emptiness or ignorance with great deal of arrogance… that is my take…

    Robert.. God is on our side sir.. not yours.. so you wishing God to show the light to Stephan is just another one of your crazy statements.. Stephan is the child of God and is on the side of the truth and justice meaning God is on his side and already shines the light on him.. but can’t say the same about you sir.. unfortunately… so the right statement would have been ”  May God help me, Robert and why not Murat too, see the light once and for all..:

    Gayane

  23. Dear Gayane,  Unfortunately these guys don’t know that their belongings, their riches, their soil and even their blood comes from the Armenians and the Greeks, and the Assyrians as well.  Check the site I put it out above and I will put it again as this time it comes from the Germans, when they are talking extenseviley about the Armenian Genocide and how Germany was also responsible for the AG, because they didn’t demand that their ally the Turks not to go ahead with it.  It’s in the film that the Turks and the Kurds would loot and take over the houses and all the riches of the Armenians after they were forced by the government to walk the death marches into oblivion; into death.  It was the death of a nation, “OUR NATION”.  In the chaos the Turks would claim and steal the most beautiful of our girls and made them part of their harems.  Yet the not so pretty ones the Turks and the Kurds used them as servants.  Check the site Gayane jan.  The interesting part is that the truth once again it comes out, but this time it’s not from the Armenians but from the Germans’ archives – Turkeys allies in WWI.
    http://www.centerar.org/aghet/

  24. I agree with you Seervart jan… i saw that video a while back… and with all this evidence, they STILL act dumb and stupid.. unbelievable… seriously.. how much evidence can we show these monsters?

    I am getting so frustrating with all the super powers for protecting this evil but i know for a fact, that the judgement day will come and all those who played part of covering or denying this horrible chapter in our history will face their fears… and there will be no one to protect them.. let them continue the denial, lies and cover ups…

    G

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