By Hagop Vartivarian
“If it should be in the interest of the Armenian people to shake the hand of the Turk one day, you must forget that that hand has been dipped in the blood of your father. Politics is not poetry. There aren’t any permanent friends and permanent enemies when it comes to peoples. There are permanent interests and damages. As long as you cannot restrain your feelings, you can’t become the leader of your people. You remain a poet-agitator. What is worse, you aren’t the one who is pushing the crowd; rather, it is the crowd that is pulling you behind it.”
—Ruben (Pasha) Ter Minassian
The above quote pertaining to Armeno-Turkish interrelations reflects the judgment of one of the well-known figures of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), particularly during his youth. This is the sober judgment of an Armenian activist, who had walked alongside Antranig, the incomparable Megerdich Avedisian and the great Mourad of Sebastia during the days when the Armenian people was subjected to genocide by the Ottoman Turks, Young Turks and Kemalist Turks.
This is not the first time that the Armenian people have been forced to establish relations with the Turks. Generally familiar are the treaties of Batumi and Kars, and especially the shameful Treaty of Alexandropol, which were signed by the Dashnak authorities of the first Republic of Armenia and the Turkish government representatives in the early 1920s, with the former relinquishing territorial claims.
It should also not be forgotten that the Dashnaks, having embraced the Young Turks in 1908, not only extended a helping hand to them, but also collaborated with them.
Today, Armenia is facing a new political order in the otherwise explosive region of the Caucasus. On the east, there is the Karabagh independence movement against Azerbaijan; on the west, the blockade by Turkey. On the north, there is the prospect of Georgia’s uncertain political future, coupled with the demands of the Javakhk Armenians for their rights; on the south, the rather hard-line position of the West with regard to Iran. These realities force the Armenian authorities to adopt a prudent stance, politically and militarily.