06 03 30 -Minster Oskanian's interview to Turkish newspaper
|Minister Oskanian's interview to the Turkish Hurriyet Daily March 27, 2006
1. What will happen after the Armenian Constitutional Referendum? How will it affect Turkish-Armenian relationship?
The Armenian Constitutional Referendum was a domestic process. It can have no effect, one way or another, on Armenian-Turkish relations. It brought about changes in government structure, checks and balances, and as a result, will strengthen Armenia's democratic processes.
2. There are some rumors in Turkey about double-citizenship. Your New Constitution doesn't prohibit the double-citizenship. What will happen if Diaspora becomes more influential on Armenian political life?
Dual citizenship is an issue that will still be discussed and addressed in Armenia. The conditions and requirements of dual citizenship have yet to be defined. The degree and kind of engagement and responsibility of Diaspora Armenians must still be explored and agreed upon. It is clear however, that in Armenia, as in any sovereign country, our political life will be determined by the people who live in Armenia. In any case, those, too, are domestic issues. However, your question is correct in that there are many rumors, misunderstandings and misperceptions about Armenia in Turkey. Part of the reason for this is that the Turkish government refuses
to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia. If there were relations between our two countries, and our peoples were able to interact, then the
obvious would become clear to the people of Turkey - that they have nothing to fear from Armenia.
3. Most people in Turkey believe that Armenian and Turkish relationship would be better if Diaspora didn't exist. What do you think - is Diaspora the main barrier between Turkey and Armenia?
I can't help but to respond by saying that the Diaspora would not exist in this form if it were not for the events of 1915. Armenia and Diaspora both want recognition and condemnation of those events.
Furthermore, I am convinced that closed borders, absence of relations simply exasperates and further deepens the abyss that exists between the two peoples today. Our peoples do not have the opportunity to share new experiences, to create new memories to replace old memories. The Diaspora wants what is best for Armenia, and what is best for Armenia are normal
relations with all its neighbors. We hope and expect that the people of Turkey, too, want good relations with their neighbors.
4. Does Diaspora have the right of voting or being elected?
It does not.
5. Do Turkish Armenians have the same right with the rest of Diaspora in Armenia?
All Armenians living outside Armenia have the same right, opportunity, and even the obligation to become part of life in Armenia, in any way that
they choose. Armenia wants and needs all its compatriots everywhere in the world. But relationships between Turks and Armenians, between Armenians from Turkey and Armenians from Armenia, cannot and do not replace the need for official relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey. The Turkish government cannot keep repeating that there are Armenian tourists in Turkey, or that there are Turkish flights to Armenia. That is lamentably insufficient. That is certainly not the same as having official relations, knowing that the country and people on the other side of the
border can cooperate and interact when necessary so that both feel safer, prosper and live in peace and security with each other.
6. Do you have perceptible offers for Turkish people for regional peace and credibility?
Peace and stability anywhere can only exist when there are normal relations, when there is dialogue. Armenia's President Robert Kocharian said
that Prime Minister Erdogan's suggestion of a historic commission can be considered as part of a larger intergovernmental dialogue which takes place
under normal conditions - with diplomatic relations and open borders. Turkey has not responded to that offer. The European Union has said that Turkey
must have, as any normal country in the world today must have, normal relations with all its neighbors, even those with whom it has disagreements.
Turkey has disagreements, some serious ones, with almost all its neighbors, yet it has relations with all of them. Why does it insist on pretending that
Armenia and Armenians are not across the border? Turkey, as a major power in the region, is obliged to enter into normal relations with its neighbors,
not because the European Union demands it, but because that is what is good for its own citizens, and for the region. It is a political reality that
both Turkey and Armenia exist today in the international community with their current borders. It is a political reality that we are neighbors and
we will live alongside each other. It is a political reality that Armenia is not a security threat to Turkey. We, too, want regional peace and security.
That is why we have said that if the Kars-Gyumri-Tbilisi railroad were to be made operational again - Armenia would be willing not to use or benefit from
that railroad because we know that regional security, even European security, would benefit from that transportation line. Just let it begin to run. Let's begin to create some normalcy in this region. There is $120 million in trade between our countries, now, through third countries, with difficulty, at extra cost to all sides. Imagine if there could be direct
trade. Imagine the benefit to Turkey's eastern provinces and cities.
7. Turkey is discussing Armenian problem and looking for real answers to what happened in 1915. What is your comment about this kind of discussions in Turkey? Do you follow them?
We do follow the discussions in Turkey and we are encouraged that there is greater openness in recent months. We can only hope that there will
be greater freedoms for speech and expression so that the Turkish people become familiar with the events of 1915, reject them for what they were and condemn them. Today's Turks do not bear the guilt of the perpetrators, unless they choose to defend and identify with them. Armenians are able to
distinguish between the perpetrators and today's Turkey. As with any nation, we hope that these internal discussions will lead to Turks coming to terms with their history, recognizing the good and denouncing the bad. That is what every modern state has had to do, after World War II, after the fall of
the USSR, and Turkey, too, will have to go through that process.
Thank you very much.
Embassy of Armenia
28, rue Montoyer,
Tel. 32 2 348 44 00 /03
Fax. 32 2 348 44 01