By Emil Danielyan
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) has urged Yerevan to exercise caution in the ongoing rapprochement with Turkey, saying that Ankara is using it to scuttle worldwide recognition of the Armenian genocide.
The issue was on the agenda of a three-day meeting of the pan-Armenian party’s top governing body, the Bureau, that finished its work in Beirut on Monday.
In a statement circulated on Thursday, Dashnaktsutyun said Bureau members agreed that “Turkey has still not taken any positive step” to reciprocate President Serzh Sarkisian’s diplomatic overtures. “On the contrary, there are attempts to use the existing [Turkish-Armenian] contacts for halting the genocide recognition process and making relations between the two states conditional Armenia’s relations with a third country, Azerbaijan,” it said.
Some Dashnaktsutyun leaders warned earlier that the incoming U.S. administration will have second thoughts about its pledge to recognize the genocide if Yerevan agrees to a Turkish-Armenian academic study of the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire which is sought by Ankara. Sarkisian has indicated that he is not against the idea in principle.
The Dashnaktsutyun statement said that Armenia’s “supreme leadership” views genocide recognition by the international community and Turkey as a top foreign policy priority. But in a thinly veiled warning to Sarkisian, the party represented in Armenia’s government added: “On the other hand, it was stressed [during the Bureau meeting] that the immediate importance of normalizing Armenia-Turkey relations must not take precedence over the rights of generations.”
Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official reportedly said on Thursday the two neighboring states have come close to establishing diplomatic relations after months of intensive diplomatic contacts. The Mediamax news agency quoted Deputy Assistant Secretary of States Matthew Bryza as making this assertion after a fresh meeting of the Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers held on the sidelines of a high-level OSCE meeting in Helsinki. The two ministers already met in Istanbul late last month.
Turkey has long made the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of its border with Armenia contingent on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and an end to the Armenian campaign for genocide recognition. Despite the dramatic thaw in Turkish-Armenian ties, Ankara has so far given no indication, at least in public, that it is ready to drop these preconditions.