17 10 2007 -Armenia's foreign policy must be based on a comprehensive response to the Armenian Question
|This is the English version of the article originally published in Armenian and Russian
(AZG daily, 10 Oct 2007; YERKIR weekly, 12 Oct 2007; REGNUM News Agency, 12.10.2007)
Armenia's foreign policy must be based on a comprehensive response to the Armenian Question
The process of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide is at the threshold of a new phase: it is very possible that the U.S. House of Representatives (and the Senate, with lesser likelihood) will adopt the Resolution 106 on the Armenian Genocide, introduced in the U.S. Congress in January. If it were to happen, many other countries would adopt similar resolutions in a chain reaction. However, what will follow then? That is the principal question, which unfortunately has not been answered by the Armenian political structures. And where could such an answer come from if the currently achieved and discussed recognitions were not subjected to a more or less adequate analysis? We are facing serious problems.
Above all is the problem of information and analysis (including elementary awareness). The media reports daily on the process of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. However, who in Armenia has seen or read the text of the very recent R106? Has the Armenian press printed the actual resolution to enable its serious and professional study by political forces, experts and the public in general? Where is its official Armenian translation provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia? Where is the comparative analysis of this and previous resolutions adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1975 and 1984 (the 148th and 247th resolutions, respectively)? Nothing of this sort has been undertaken. Here, it will only be noted that the R106 qualitatively differs from the 1975 and 1984 resolutions in its thorough historical and legal formulation (it consists of 30 articles well supported by the facts and arguments). It confirms the historical truth. It outlines the chronological framework of the Armenian Genocide more comprehensively: from 1915 to 1923 (unlike the resolution adopted in 1975, which only noted the year of 1915). It clearly states the number of victims: 2 million deportees, of whom 1.5 million were killed. The resolution underscores a circumstance that is very important from political and legal perspectives: “the Armenian Genocide... succeeded in the elimination of the over 2,500-year presence of Armenians in their historic homeland.”
The problem of correct and sober assessment is particularly sensitive. What would the adoption of this resolution mean to Armenia? For example, Italy, Canada, Poland recognized the Armenian Genocide, but what changes took place in their policies towards Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, or the problem of Artsakh? In reality, nothing changed. Most importantly, to what extent can such resolutions contribute to the most urgent task – the guarantee of the security of Armenia?
The question of Genocide recognition was raised even before the independence of Armenia and for decades it was the main field of political activity of the Armenian Diaspora – the Spyurk. However, today the situation of Armenia and Armenians has changed radically: there is the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the situation in Javakhq, the Azerbaijani-Turkish blockade, the danger of the resumption of war. In short, the problem of the physical security of Armenia is a very real one.
However, the genocide recognition campaign, conducted without serious research and planning, still remains the main aim of political activity of the Diaspora, consuming huge amounts of national resources and human potential at the expense of efforts on other important national fronts. In their activities the Diaspora’s organizational structures give an obvious priority to the international recognition of the Genocide over current security problems of Armenia.
Armenia itself still separates the Karabakh problem from the process of international recognition of the Genocide, and considers it apart even from the Armenian Question at large. But the possible universal recognition of the Genocide in the not-so-distant future will not mean the vanishing of the Armenian Question from the international political arena. Since the essence of the Armenian question is not the international recognition of the Genocide, but the creation of a mature Armenian state on such a territory, which would insure a safe, viable existence and development of the Armenian civilization. From that perspective there are no developed plans on further activities of the Armenians.
In short, the Armenian political elite and society on the whole display an irresponsible, almost childish approach to the question of international recognition of the Genocide, one that resembles the whimsical game “she loves me, she loves me not”, in this case with the refrain “she recognizes, she does not recognize”. In the meantime, a correct reorientation (regardless how difficult) of this process may give immense political capital to Armenia and the Armenians in general.
It is long overdue that Armenia and Armenians evaluated similar resolutions with their own (still not formulated) criteria, which would correspond to the historical reality as well as national and state interests. Below are five main criteria for such assessment:
• Accurate indication of the chronology of the Genocide: 1894-1923;
• Necessary mentioning of the fact that the Armenians were annihilated in their homeland – the western part of Armenia;
• Unambiguous indication of the state, which committed this crime against humanity, i.e. Ottoman Turkey, as well as the direct condemnation of its legal successor, the Republic of Turkey, for denying the Armenian Genocide and committing hostile acts towards present-day Armenia (the blockade, the refusal to establish diplomatic relations, the information warfare, the military aid to Azerbaijan, etc.);
• Recognition of the responsibility of the Turkish state before the Armenian state, the ultimate representative of the interests of the Armenian nation, and the necessity of compensating, particularly, the Republic of Armenia (implying, above all, the territorial compensation);
• Mandatory linkage of the consequences of the Genocide with the current geopolitical situation in the region. In other words – the acknowledgement of the foremost effect of the Genocide on the security of Armenia and the region.
The truth is that the Genocide created a territorial problem by decreasing the historical area of habitation of Armenians to a critically dangerous scale, threatening the very existence of the nation. It is exactly in this context that one must view the issue of liberation of Artsakh (thanks to which the borders of Armenia acquired defensibility and minimally necessary strategic depth), as well as the provision for the secure development of the Armenians of Javakhq.
The task of Armenian diplomacy is to skillfully tie the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide to a just resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and the achievement of lasting security in the region. By recognizing the Genocide, the international community is obligated to make the next logical step and recognize the right of Armenians to Artsakh, including all of the liberated territory. Meanwhile, in parallel with the increase in attention to the issue of the Genocide in the publications of western media as well as in the politics of certain countries, recently, there is a notable tendency of strengthening pro-Azerbaijani positions regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This may completely devalue the process of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
The above-mentioned criteria regarding responsibility and compensation have not yet been included in any of the resolutions adopted by international institutions. The R106 is not an exception either. It does not contain a clear and unambiguous condemnation of the current Republic of Turkey. Though by accepting the timeframe of the Armenian Genocide between the years of 1915 to 1923, the resolution necessarily implies the responsibility of the founders of this republic as well (they were in control of the most of current territory of Turkey since 1920).
It is true that the last section of the resolution calls upon the US President “to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide and the consequences of the failure to realize a just resolution.” However, the fair statement about "the consequences of the failure to realize a just resolution" is ambiguous. A direct referring to the current geopolitical predicament of Armenia as a consequence of the Genocide is absolutely needed.
Moreover, after meeting with the Turkish Ambassador on October 10th of 2007 the second-ranking Democrat in the House, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a supporter of the R106, expressed hope that Turkey would realize it is not a condemnation of its current government but rather of "another government, at another time." The Democratic Representative Tom Lantos, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in turn, said he would soon propose a second resolution reaffirming the US-Turkish alliance and friendship.
Anyway, time does not wait. It is today that Armenia must begin the development and realization of the next phase of the policy for overcoming the consequences of the Genocide. Tomorrow, when it will have on the one hand the universal recognition of the Genocide and, on the other, a dwindled and weakened Diaspora (as a result of an accelerated process of assimilation) it will be too late.
The pragmatism of the foreign policy of Armenia means not the blatant ignoring of the apparent animosity of Turkey, but a comprehensive response to the Armenian Question, first of all with the help of realistically thought out propositions regarding territorial compensations to Armenia.
Ph.D. in Political Science, Director of the “Ararat” Center for Strategic Research