YEREVAN — Armenia’s Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (SDHP) organized a seminar discussion on The Syrian Conflict: Possible Influence of Russian-Turkey Relations on Armenia”
“Daily developments in the Middle East are rapidly changing the geopolitical situation, and Armenia is directly linked to the developments,” said Narek Galstyan, Chair of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party’s Armenia Executive Committee. “As the crisis deepens in Syria, Turkey has even launched air strikes at the positions of Kurdish militias and the Syrian army. The stability of Kurdish life inside Turkey and in Syria is also deteriorating. All the while, Israel is issuing statements on a need for a Kurdish state. Armenia must calculate all possible scenarios of developments in both the Middle East and our region. Armenia should be consistent in its steps and be ready to protect its interests and if need be, its original lands in Western Armenia.”
“Armenia cannot stand aside during these processes. How well is our country and foreign policy prepared to meet the current challenges? Armenia, Armenian political and civil intellects must be prepared.” continued Galstyan.
Syrian-Armenian columnist, and political analyst, Hakob Mikaelian said that he had lived in Syria for about 70 years and enjoyed the country’s favorable attitude. According to him, there are many “why’s” in the Syria conflict, and no question has so far been answered. “The Syrian regime has always had pro-Russian views, thus it is no surprise the level of global and regional proxy war being engaged in Syria,” he said. “The Armenian communities in Syria, with all the Armenian organizations, educational and cultural centers, were well respected, yet the Armenian communities of Syria and to a lesser degree the Middle East are in danger of disappearing.” Mikaelyan is sure that Turkey strives to leave no Armenian trace in the region. “While we were preparing to commemorate the centennial of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Empire, Turkey was celebrating that date by aiding the destruction of our cultural heritage in Syria,” the analyst concluded.
“Turkey considers the Middle East and the region from the perspective of neo-Ottoman syndrome. It does not come to terms with the loss of its influence in the region.” stated Aram Ananyan, an expert in Turkish studies. “When the Treaty of Lausanne was signed in 1923 and Turkey confined itself within the southern borders, even at that time there were complaints. Turkey had ambitions towards the north of Iraq and Syria. Examining the “Justice and Development” party’s policy, we see that there is a big difference between their declared values and policy. This force came to power with such slogans that expressed willingness to solve problems, but, when faced with the reality both inside the Turkey and in the region, completely another situation was formed. Turkey led “zero issue with neighbors” policy and as the result it got ‘Zero neighbors’ and numerous issues, Aram Ananyan said.
As to the question whether in what terms the recent developments of the Syrian conflict are important and fundamental for the citizens of Armenia, Aram Ananyan highlighted the issue on maintenance of Armenian community, historical, cultural and spiritual heritage. “The Armenian community of Syria is the direct generation of descendants of the Armenian Genocide and this community is the constant reminder of the Genocide issue. Today Syria is keen on conservation issue of the community, monasteries, churches and schools.”
“There is another important issue for us: the memory of the Armenian Genocide. The north of Syria was the biggest concentration camp; 100 years before when Ottoman power was destroying our nation’s people. Explosion of Holy Martyrs Church was a signal that development promoters in Syria have negative attitude towards the historical memory for Armenians.” Aram Ananyan added.
Political scientist Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan pointed out the significance of regional developments, while Armenia can only follow them by means of mass media. Moreover, experts do not often voice their opinions on the ongoing processes. “By and large, geopolitical rivalry has entered a new stage. And ignoring this new stage is tantamount to a great threat to Armenia’s own security,” the expert said. Speaking of Russia’s influence on the conflict, Mr Melik-Shahnazaryan noted that Russia realized its non-participation would undermine its influence on both the Black Sea and Middle East and threaten its national security.
“Russia is attempting to preserve its influence on the international arena,” the expert said. He is sure that the relative peace in the South Caucasus is the credit of the Armenian army that is capable enough to rebuff any provocations.