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Genocide Bill Seen As U.S. Pressure On Turkey In Yerevan


Armenia -- Razmik Zohrabian, one of the leaders of the ruling HHK in a press conference. 05Oct2009

Armenia -- Razmik Zohrabian, one of the leaders of the ruling HHK in a press conference. 05Oct2009

Washington did not prevent a U.S. congressional panel from approving the Armenian genocide resolution on Thursday in order to press Turkey to ratify its normalization agreements with Armenia, leading pro-government politicians in Yerevan speculated on Friday.


Official Yerevan swiftly hailed the decision by the House Foreign Affairs Committee as a “an important step toward the prevention of the crimes against humanity.” But senior representatives of Armenia’s two largest governing parties saw other, more important factors were also behind the development.

Razmik Zohrabian, a deputy chairman of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK), said the U.S. administration is increasingly frustrated with Ankara’s reluctance to unconditionally ratify the Turkish-Armenian protocols. The administration hopes the prospect of U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide will make the Turks drop their ratification preconditions, he said.

“I think those who voted for the resolution … also felt that they should spur the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation process that has stalled of late,” agreed Aram Safarian, a senior lawmaker from the Prosperous Armenia Party, the HHK’s junior coalition partner.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Safarian claimed that the Turkish government and parliament will increasingly understand the need to take “practical steps towards the ratification of these protocols” in the weeks ahead. “Otherwise, U.S., European Union and Russian sponsorship of the Turkish-Armenian dialogue prove to be a waste of time,” he said.

U.S. officials have repeatedly called on Ankara and Yerevan to implement the agreements “without preconditions and within a reasonable timeframe.” The Armenian government has warned that it will walk away from the deal if the Turks persist in linking protocol ratification with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“If Turkey’s parliament ratifies the protocols with reservations … that will amount to the abrogation of the agreements,” Zohrabian told RFE/RL. “We will definitely not ratify them in that case.”

Aleksandr Arzumanian, a former foreign minister affiliated with the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) also construed the genocide bill’s approval as U.S. pressure on Ankara. But he said the administration of President Barack Obama will prevent the bill from reaching the House floor in any case.

“I’m sure they will use their administrative resources in full to keep the [House] speaker from putting the bill to a House vote,” Arzumanian told RFE/RL.
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