In a clear toughening of its position, Armenia’s largest opposition alliance has officially condemned as “immoral and inadmissible” the signing of landmark agreements to normalize Turkish-Armenian agreements.
The Armenian National Congress (HAK) again accused President Serzh Sarkisian of willingly sacrificing greater international recognition of the Armenian genocide in return for what it called false Turkish promises to unconditionally reopen the border between the two countries.
“No Armenian leader has ever given such big gifts to the Turkish state and nation,” Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s central office coordinator, charged on Wednesday, presenting the bloc’s official reaction to the weekend signing ceremony in Zurich that made headlines in the international media.
“The signing of the Turkey-Armenia protocols is the latest unfortunate proof of the ruling regime’s political bankruptcy and diplomatic wretchedness,” read a separate statement issued by the HAK.
The alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian again based its criticism on a protocol clause that calls for a joint Turkish-Armenian study of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Like many in Armenia and its Diaspora, it believes that the Turks would exploit the study to prevent more countries from recognizing what many historians consider the first genocide of the 20th century.
“Even this immoral and inadmissible deal did not live up to Armenia’s expectations,” the HAK statement said, pointing to Turkish leaders’ continuing linkage between border opening and a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It said Ankara will achieve its main objectives even if it fails to ensure the mandatory ratification of the protocols by the Turkish parliament.
The HAK similarly condemned the planned formation of a Turkish-Armenian historical “sub-commission” when it reacted to the August 31 publication of the two protocols in an early September statement. Still, it said at the time that the documents mark “considerable progress” towards the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, something which Ter-Petrosian himself had championed during his 1991-1998 presidency.
Ter-Petrosian stood by that statement when he addressed thousands of supporters rallying in Yerevan on September 18. He harshly criticized instead Sarkisian’s conciliatory policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In its latest statement, the HAK likewise accused Sarkisian of seeking to make “equally unacceptable concessions” to Azerbaijan. The bloc repeated its claims that the only way to thwart “this anti-national process” is for Armenia’s leading political groups to form an anti-government coalition and force Sarkisian into resignation.
Zurabian made clear that the HAK has no plans to join a newly formed grouping of a dozen opposition parties led by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) which was formed earlier this month to fight against the implementation of the Turkish-Armenian accord. He claimed that Dashnaktsutyun maintains close ties with the government, arguing that it is still not seeking Sarkisian’s resignation despite its harsh criticism of his policy on Turkey.
Dashnaktsutyun leaders have said that they will fight for “regime change” in the country only if they fail to prevent the protocols’ ratification by Armenia’s parliament.