03, 2010

President Serzh Sargsyan’s interview with Le Figaro

Why the Armenian-Turkish process of normalization entered a deadlock?

We have a history of thorny relations. For ninety-five years Turkey has been denying the fact of the Genocide perpetrated against the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. When I invited the President of Turkey to Armenia to watch the football game between our two national teams, my point was to promote the establishment of relations between our countries without preconditions. In 2009, before the Protocols were signed, an agreement was reached that they should be ratified in a reasonable timeframe and without preconditions. We declared that Armenia would ratify the Protocols right after Turkey has ratified them. However, Turkey continues to tie the ratification to different preconditions, and the main of them is the issue Nagorno Karabakh.

What can Armenia do to facilitate the resolution of the NK issue?

We are doing the utmost: Azerbaijan is trying to create an impression that Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh are not interested in the resolution of the conflict which is certainly not true. We have to put an end to the blockade because it causes us losses. Azerbaijan is in a different situation: they rely on their natural riches and oil money to buy arms and settle the issue by force. They make no secret of their intentions.

Are you afraid of war?

War is not welcome, ever, and one must always be afraid of war. At the same time, we are not afraid to fight if it is absolutely necessary. However our position is as follows: we believe that the problem must be solved through peaceful means, based on mutual concessions.

How can the impasse with Turkey be resolved?

The issue should be resolved by the Turks. In the 21st closed borders and language of preconditions are unacceptable. Our position is: Let’s establish relations first and then discuss everything there is to discuss. Both Armenia and Turkey strive to deepen their relations with Europe and share common values, which precludes any hostile act against each other. I believe, the international community should clearly articulate its position on that issue.

Do you doubt a possibility of reconciliation with Turkey?

Many do. And not only in Armenia. My initiative aimed at the normalization of the relations caused countless concerns among the Armenians all over the world. Procrastination of the ratification process wears out the number of the Protocols’ supporters.

Do you still believe that the normalization has a chance?

I do aspire the establishment of normal relations. However, recent statements of the Turkish side make me believe that they will not ratify the Protocols in the foreseeable future. We have warned that the moment we see that Turkey makes use of the process for other purposes, we would take corresponding steps; in such case we will rescind our signature from the Protocols.

The U.S. Administration declared that it would block the adoption of the resolution on the Armenian Genocide, which was earlier adopted by the Commission on Foreign Affairs, in the House of Representatives. Could you comment on that?

Undoubtedly, our greatest desire is to have not only the United States but also Turkey and all the countries of the world recognize the Armenian Genocide. However, I don’t think that Congress and the State Department make their decisions based on our wishes or views.

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