By Armen Zakarian
The recognition of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide by modern-day Turkey would give Armenia an important guarantee of security apart from a sense of “historical justice,” Deputy Foreign Minister Ruben Shugarian said on Wednesday. Shugarian also acknowledged a difference of objectives in Armenia’s and its worldwide Diaspora’s campaigns for international affirmation of the tragedy.
“While for the Diaspora genocide recognition is a restoration of historical justice, for Armenia … it primarily means a guarantee of security,” he told a roundtable discussion in Yerevan.
The perceived security threat from Turkey, which supports Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, has been cited by successive Armenian governments as the main rationale for their
pursuit of close military ties with Russia. The current authorities in Yerevan say Ankara’s vehement denial of the genocide only adds to their fears. They at the same time stress that genocide recognition should not serve as a precondition for the normalization of relations between the two neighboring states.
The Turkish leaders have until now linked it to a pro-Azerbaijani solution to the Karabakh dispute. But according to Shugarian, Karabakh is no longer the number one Turkish precondition for improved ties.
“The Turkish side has recently made some hints to the effect that even though the Nagorno-Karabakh issue remains a precondition for improved Turkish-Armenian relations, it is no longer considered the top priority,” he said, echoing earlier statements by Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.
The change in Turkish policy, which was signaled last year, raised hopes for an imminent reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border. However, they were all but dashed earlier this year amid apparent Azerbaijani pressure on the cabinet of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Still, Oskanian said in June that the Turks are “sincere” in their desire to seek a rapprochement with Armenia. The statement followed his talks in Istanbul with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. The two men are expected to hold a trilateral meeting soon with their Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mamedyarov.
(Photolur photo: Ruben Shugarian.)