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Armenian Opposition Condemns Signing Of Turkey Deal


Armenia -- Thousands of people rally in Yerevan in protest against controversial Turkish-Armenian agreements.

Armenia -- Thousands of people rally in Yerevan in protest against controversial Turkish-Armenian agreements.

Armenia’s leading opposition forces reacted angrily on Monday to the signing of far-reaching Turkish-Armenian protocols, again branding them as a sellout.

The most vocal critic of the deal, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), said it will fight against the protocols’ ratification by parliament “by all possible means” and again threatened to campaign for President Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation.

“The Armenian Revolutionary Federation is determined to fight for the scuttling of the protocols,” the nationalist party said in a statement. “To that end, Dashnaktsutyun will resort to all political and constitutional means, including regime change.”

The statement reiterated the party’s main arguments against the agreements, including a claim that they could thwart broader international recognition of the Armenian genocide. It said Sarkisian himself shared opposition concerns about rapprochement with Turkey in his latest public pronouncements on the subject.

Giro Manoyan, a senior party representative, told journalists that a Dashnaktsutyun-led coalition of a dozen opposition parties will stage another demonstration against Sarkisian’s policy on Friday. One of those parties, Zharangutyun, was also quick to condemn the high-profile signing of the two agreements welcomed around the world.

Zharangutyun’s U.S.-born top leader, Raffi Hovannisian, described it as “the latest entry in the ledger of crimes committed, and covered up, against the Armenian nation.”

“As a servant of the Armenian nation … I am appalled by this latest offense,” Hovannisian said in an “open letter to the Armenian nation.” “As an Armenian citizen … I ache as the soul of our nation is traded away for illusory promises of ‘good will’ and ‘open borders’ with Turkey.”

Like Dashnaktsutyun, Hovannisian condemned Yerevan for pledging to formally recognize Armenia’s existing border with Turkey and agreeing to the formation of a joint panel that would look into the 1915 extermination and deportation of the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian population. That, he said, “not only challenges the untouchable veracity of the Genocide, but secures the complicity of the Armenian state in absolving Turkey of any responsibility for its genocidal actions.”

The charge was echoed by a leading member of the Armenian National Congress (HAK), the country’s largest opposition alliance that has more moderate views on Turkey than Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun. Levon Zurabian accused Sarkisian of “forfeiting the genocide” to gain strong international support for his rule challenged at home. “Armenia is not getting an open border even at the expense of renouncing genocide recognition,” he told RFE/RL, pointing to Ankara’s renewed linkage between Turkish-Armenian relations and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution.

Zurabian said the HAK will officially react to the development later this week. The opposition bloc led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian stopped short of rejecting the Turkish-Armenian protocols as a whole in a statement issued last month.

Also condemning the Zurich accords was Armenia’s longtime former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian. “It is difficult to imagine a more demeaning signing or a more demeaning document,” read a statement issued by Oskanian’s Civilitas Foundation think-tank. “The parties themselves and the representatives of the world powers, all were present but all remained silent.”

Foreign Ministers Eduard Nalbandian of Armenia (L) and Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey sign landmark agreements to normalize Turkish-Armenian relations in Zurich.
“When such a `historic' moment goes by with none of the sides or the witnesses able to say anything acceptable or in agreement with the rest … it is difficult to see how this document can provide the serious basis of trust and respect necessary for stable and respectful relations between the parties,” the statement said, scoffing at a compromise arrangement that salvaged the Turkish-Armenian deal.

By contrast, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) described the protocol signing as an “achievement.” Galust Sahakian, the leader of the HHK’s faction in parliament, also downplayed Turkey’s possible refusal to ratify the protocols and open the border with Armenia before a Karabakh settlement.

“Of course, we would certainly not gain from that,” Sahakian told a news conference. “But we wouldn’t lose anything either. In any case, it is Turkey that would be in a difficult situation.” The Armenian side will “stop the negotiating process” if the Turks drag their feet over the protocol ratification, he said.

Zurabian insisted, however, that Turkey will manage to keep more countries from recognizing the Armenian massacres as genocide even if it declines to implement the agreements.
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