We begin the month of April, a symbolic period for the Armenian nation which suffered genocide and deportation by Turkey not so long ago. Those dark and painful pages of history continue to be an integral part of our collective memories, not only during the month of April, but during all months throughout the year.
This is the first April, since the end of the second Artsakh war, which we commemorate the tragic occasion with a heavier heart, disturbed emotions and an added pressure on our lives. It is still difficult to come to terms with the fact that Erdogan’s Turkey, with its direct involvement in the war, played a key role in our territorial losses and suffering of thousands of casualties as if history repeated itself at the hands of the same enemy.
The subject of future relations with Turkey is back on the agenda. Anytime this question is brought up, there is a clash between our emotions and political realities, a phenomenon which is not new in the course of our history in the last century.
Armen Grigoryan, Secretary of the National Security Council of Armenia, during his recent interview on Public Television, repeatedly avoided calling Turkey an enemy of Armenia. Similarly, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, during his visit to the Armavir region, spoke about the economic benefits of opening the means of communication and roads throughout the region.
In light of these developments, there were speculations that some kind of secret talks are taking place between Armenia and Turkey. The issue was also raised in the National Assembly, where Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian indicated that the Armenian Foreign Ministry is not aware of any format of official consultations or negotiations with Ankara. “The people who survived the Genocide know best the price of peace and do not look for enemies. Armenia has tried to normalize relations with Turkey, but the principle of reciprocity has never worked,” the Foreign Minister stated.
It is difficult to speculate whether there are current talks between Armenia and Turkey in any format. However, secret or semi-secret negotiations are tools that are often used in international diplomacy. The Armenian-Turkish Reconciliation Protocols signed in 2009, during the presidency of Serzh Sargsyan, were the result of such negotiations. The agreement was not implemented, not because of the Armenian side, but because Turkey put forward unacceptable conditions related to the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) issue and the recognition of the Genocide. These terms were unacceptable to Armenia, which resulted in the Turkish parliament’s refusal to ratify the agreement.
The Social Democrat Hunchakian Party has always believed in the importance of dialogue between the Armenian and Turkish peoples and has reaffirmed its stance during its last worldwide convention. The Party also took practical steps in that direction, establishing lasting ties with progressive Turkish organizations and intellectuals who have recognized the Armenian Genocide.
Given the new regional realities, Armenian-Turkish relations need a broad and expert analysis of the geopolitical risks and benefits to understand whether such relations are in the best interests of Armenia economically and politically.
In this column and elsewhere, we can call Turkey an enemy, but a high-ranking state official must be careful in their public pronouncements so as not to close the door to any future negotiations. Therefore, we are not among those who consider the Armenian leadership’s approach “treasonous.”