08, 2009

Interview of the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan to BBC correspondent Gabriel Gatehouse

BBC: Mr. President, will you be going to Turkey to watch the return match of the two national football teams?

Serzh Sargsyan: Well, this question has two answers. The first answer is that my going or not going is not important. You see, we can detach attending the game from the relations with Turkey. Let’s assume there are at least two scenarios. Suppose, we freeze our negotiations with Turkey and I go to Turkey to watch the game. And the second scenario, we resume the negotiations but I don’t go. Which one is more important? That will be my answer if you ask your question in the context of negotiations with Turkey and whether we are able to register some results before October.

BBC: What steps do you expect from Turkey to de-freeze the negotiations?

Serzh Sargsyan: I have made two statements on that issue and said the following: I will go to Turkey to watch the game if our borders are open or if we are on the threshold of opening them. That is to say, it is one thing if the Turks are ready to deliver on our agreements and quite another - if they are not. We have agreements. I think it is a normal and right course for the parties to carry out the agreements. Unfortunately, until now I haven’t seen any signs or desire to do it. Our wish remains unchanged: to establish relations without preconditions.

BBC: Are you ready to make concessions regarding the events of 1915 and on the issue whether Turkey recognizes them as genocide or not?

Serzh Sargsyan: Evidently, it is very important. It is important for our nation, it is important for Turkey and the entire world. It is important that historical justice prevails. It is important for our two nations to establish normal relations. And eventually, it is important that it never happens again. However, we do not view the Genocide as a precondition for establishing relations.

BBC: It means that there is a possibility of a compromise?

Serzh Sargsyan: No, it cannot be called a compromise. In this case there is no room for compromise. We say - yes, what took place was genocide and regardless of whether Turkey recognizes it or not, it’s a fact which has been accepted as such by all the genocide experts around the world, it has been recognized by numerous countries of the world. But we do not put it forward as a precondition for establishing relations with Turkey.

BBC: Nonetheless, it hinders your relations with Turkey. A person I spoke to in Yerevan made the following comparison: when you’re driving a car you must check the situation on the road behind you and from time to time look into the rear-view mirror. But the road ahead is what really important. Does this comparison reflect the situation?

Serzh Sargsyan: Yes, it does. I know what that person wanted to say. He means that we need to look toward future. He also says, however, that we may not forget the past.

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