By Karine Kalantarian
A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) on Tuesday dismissed as unserious an offer to engage in “dialogue” with Turkey voiced by a prominent Turkish advocate of unfettered commerce with Armenia.
Levon Mkrtchian, who heads the Dashnaktsutyun faction in parliament, questioned the credentials of Kaan Soyak, the co-chairman of the Turkish-Armenian Business Council (TABC), a private group that has been lobbying for improved relations between the two neighbors.
“Dashnaktsutyun has received no formal offers to that effect,” Mkrtchian told RFE/RL. “I don’t know who that person represents, what goals he is pursuing here and how substantiated his proposals are.”
Soyak made the offer at a news conference in Yerevan. He did not specify whether the Turkish government would like to negotiate with the pan-Armenian nationalist party that a long history of anti-Turkish struggle.
“Offers of a dialogue addressed to Dashnaktsutyun must be much more serious. They must specify the subjects or topics of such a dialogue. Dashnaktsutyun ascertained those topics long ago,” Mkrtchian added.
Dashnaktsutyun believes that Turkey’s recognition of the 1915-1918 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide must be key to normalizing relations between the two nations. The party represented in Armenia’s government is also against the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border before such recognition.
Mkrtchian argued that Turkish-Armenian rapprochement and reconciliation is hardly possible because Turkey’s ruling establishment remains unwilling to come to terms with its Ottoman past. “Modern-day Turkey, given its position on the genocide issue and policy on the Republic of Armenia, has nothing to offer Dashnaktsutyun in a dialogue,” he said.
(Photolur photo: Levon Mkrtchian.)