By Harry Tamrazian
After a tense start the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) ends its three-day meeting today in New York. Theodore Sorensen, who was an aid to former US President J.F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, has moderated the meeting of the non-governmental commission, which is created to promote diplomatic and economic ties between Armenia and Turkey.
Prior to the meeting it was expected a new Armenian member would be added to the Commission. However, no decisions have been made in this regard, and the only new participant was Ani Kalajian, the chairperson of the Association of Armenian-American Psychologists. She attended the meeting as an expert.
In an interview with the RFE/RL Armenian Service Wednesday morning, a member of TARC, Andranik Mihranian said that the meeting started in a tense atmosphere. A Moscow-based prominent expert on Russian and international affairs Andranik Mihranian also served in the administration of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin as his adviser.
The Armenian side was unhappy with statements and remarks made by some Turkish commissioners, which according to Mihranian, could be damaging for the Commission's work. He added that the Armenian members of the Commission threatened to stop their participation in TARC in case there is no real progress and if it is apparent that the Commission's work is preventing further recognition of the Armenian genocide by international organizations. Armenian members stressed the fact that the EU and German parliaments refused to mention the Armenian genocide, citing the existence of TARC as a possible means of resolving Armenian-Turkish dispute. Following this tense start, the atmosphere improved and the meeting continued, according to Mr. Mihranian.
The meeting was scheduled to end Wednesday afternoon in New York but the members of the commission could not be reached for comments on the final results. However, the statement is expected to be issued by the commission. Lifting visa restrictions imposed by Turkey against citizens of Armenia and ending Turkey's closure of its border with Armenia were among the important items of the agenda.
Andranik Mihranian also told RFE/RL that TARC will probably set up a permanent secretariat, with an office in New York and branches in Istanbul and Yerevan. The next meeting of TARC will be held in January 2002, again in New York, according to Andranik Mihranian.