Armenia should stop pressing for an official Turkish recognition of the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire and instead help Turkey join the European Union, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian said on Tuesday.
In another newspaper article, the opposition leader also reiterated, albeit cautiously, his criticism of a declaration on the 100th anniversary of the genocide that was adopted by President Serzh Sarkisian and leaders of Armenian Diaspora organizations last month.
The declaration calls on the Turkish state to “face up to its own history and past” by ending its long-running denial of a deliberate government effort to exterminate the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. It makes clear that Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora will keep campaigning for a greater international recognition of the 1915 genocide.
Writing in the “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” daily, Ter-Petrosian said Sarkisian should have made a different appeal to the international community ahead of the genocide centennial. He said it should have said that “Armenia does not demand that Turkey recognize the genocide” because it considers that Ankara’s “internal affair.”
In Ter-Petrosian’s words, the Armenian president should also urge the EU not to make Turkey’s accession to the EU conditional on its recognition of the Armenian genocide. The 70-year-old ex-president, who leads the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), stood by his unconventional view that Turkish entry to the EU would be good for Armenia.
In contrast to his previous pronouncements, Ter-Petrosian stressed that his position on the subject does not necessarily represent the “ultimate truth” and that he is “ready to listen to and take into account proposals, comments and amendments from all interested parties.” They presumably include Sarkisian.
Ter-Petrosian already unexpectedly offered to meet Sarkisian and discuss the issue last month, just days after harshly criticizing the “pan-Armenian declaration” on the genocide centenary. The offer followed the collapse of the HAK’s anti-government alliance with Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK). Tsarukian resigned as BHK leader and retired from politics under strong government pressure, heralding his party’s eventual demise.
In a February 20 reply, Sarkisian rejected Ter-Petrosian’s criticism of his stance on the genocide issue but expressed readiness to meet one of his most bitter detractors. Ter-Petrosian responded by saying that he no longer wants such a meeting.
With his latest article, the HAK leader appears to have reopened the door to a potential dialogue with Sarkisian.