President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday urged Turkey to recognize the 1915 Armenian massacres in the Ottoman Empire as genocide and unconditionally implement 2009 agreements to normalize its relations with Armenia.
“Today, we stand on the threshold of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. This can afford Turkey a good chance to repent and to set aside the historical stigma in case if they can make efforts to set free their state’s future from this heavy burden,” Sarkisian said in a written address to the nation issued ahead of the 99th anniversary of the tragedy to be marked on Thursday.
“At the same time, I publicly reaffirm: we do not consider the Turkish society as our enemy,” he stressed. “Bowing to the memory of the innocent victims we remember all those Turks, Turkish families who lent a helping hand to their Armenian neighbors and friends being annihilated by the barbarians and helped numerous Armenian children escape from the clutches of the mob. God bless the memories of those who gave plenty of our compatriots a helping hand by risking even their and their families’ lives.”
“The year 2015 should convey a strong message to Turkey,” the Armenian leader added in reference to the approaching 100th anniversary of the genocide. “The attitude toward Armenia can no longer be measured by words because it presumes clear steps: the opening of the closed borders and the establishment of normal relations [with Armenia.]”
“Our position on the Armenian-Turkish protocols has not changed and the idea of ‘reasonable time frames’ [for their ratification] is becoming more urgent than ever,” he warned.
The two protocols signed in 2009 in the presence of top U.S., European and Russian diplomats call for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. Ankara makes their ratification by Turkey’s parliament conditional on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a precondition rejected by Yerevan.
Sarkisian has threatened in the past to withdraw his government’s signature from the Western-backed accords if the Turks continue to insist on this linkage. In recent days, the Armenian press has been rife with speculation that he could act on that threat soon. Sarkisian’s office has commented ambiguously on such a possibility.