By Emil Danielyan
In a clear warning to President Serzh Sarkisian, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) on Tuesday reaffirmed its strong opposition to the idea of Turkish and Armenian historians jointly determining whether the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire constituted a genocide.
The idea was floated by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a 2005 letter to then President Robert Kocharian. Kocharian rejected it, saying that this and other issues of mutual concern should be tackled by the two governments, rather than a Turkish-Armenian commission of historians.
Sarkisian said late last month that Yerevan will not oppose the creation of such a commission if Turkey unconditionally establishes diplomatic relations and opens its land border with Armenia. Armenia’s leading opposition groups were quick to condemn the apparent policy change, saying that by accepting Ankara’s proposal in principle Sarkisian called into question the very fact of what many historians regard as the first genocide of the 20th century.
The opposition concerns were echoed by Dashnaktsutyun, which is represented in Sarkisian’s coalition government and is known for its hard line on Armenia’s relations with Turkey. The party demanded and received an explanation from the presidential administration. According to a top party spokesman, Sarkisian has clarified that he believes the would-be commission should not determine whether or not a genocide occurred in 1915-1918 and should instead research “various details of the genocide.”
Despite these assurances, the issue was on the agenda of the first session of Dashnaktsutyun’s recently elected governing Bureau held from July 3-8. “The Bureau is adamant that the fact of the Armenian genocide is not a subject of discussion, and no high-ranking official representing Armenia may have a different approach,” it said in a statement. “Universal recognition of the genocide is vital for the existence, security and future of our people and statehood.”
(Photolur photo: Dashnaktsutyun leaders pictured during a recent party congress.)