By Ruzanna Stepanian
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) plans a major shift in its decades-long campaign for international recognition of the Armenian genocide that will aim to hold modern-day Turkey accountable for the events of 1915-1918, it emerged on Friday.
Giro Manoyan, the spokesman for the pan-Armenian party’s governing Bureau, said that genocide recognition alone would not restore historic justice and that the international community should now “hold Turkey accountable” for the extermination of some 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
“There is no longer a need to merely prove a historic fact,” Manoyan told RFE/RL. He indicated that this will be at the heart of a planned “adjustment” of the activities Dashnaktsutyun’s lobbying structures in the United States, Europe and elsewhere in the world.
Representatives of those structures began on Friday a two-day meeting to discuss the shift in the nationalist party’s emphases. The meeting took place behind the closed doors.
The policy change is in tune with one of the main tenets of Dashnaktsutyun which has never made secret of its desire to get Turkey to not only admit to the genocide but also pay material compensation to Armenia and descendants of genocide victims.
Earlier this year, Dashnaktsutyun accused the United States of prodding Turkey to recognize the genocide “without consequences.” Its leaders also want Yerevan to keep the door open for future territorial and financial claims to Ankara.
“We believe that Armenia is unable to make such demands today,” Manoyan told RFE/RL in April. “But this doesn’t mean that it will be unable to do so tomorrow.”
This stance contrasts with the official position of the Armenian government in which Dashnaktsutyun is represented with three ministers. “We are not talking about compensations, this is only about a moral issue,” President Robert Kocharian said recently.
Manoyan claimed on Friday that in seeking Turkish reparations the Armenians can count on the support of countries like France that want Turkey to address the genocide issue before joining the European Union. “Incidentally, these are the countries that have said ‘no’ to the EU constitution,” he said. “According to commentators in those countries, the ‘no’ vote was in large part due to the prospect of Turkey’s EU membership.”
However, neither France nor other EU nations that recognized the Armenian genocide have ever called for Turkish reparations. In a landmark 1987 resolution, the European Parliament stressed that “neither political nor legal or material claims against present-day Turkey can be derived from the recognition of this historical event as an act of genocide.”