PASADENA, Calif. — On Friday, October 16, AGBU President Berge Setrakian and members of the AGBU Central Board of Directors attended a special forum at the AGBU Center here. The event was attended by leaders of AGBU’s chapters and committees in Southern California and it provided local Armenian Americans the opportunity to ask about AGBU’s position in support of the Protocols for the Process of Normalization of Relations between Armenia and Turkey.
The following are the key issues discussed during the event and Setrakian’s responses to the questions.
Q: AGBU was one of the first organizations that took a stand in support of the Armenia-Turkey normalization process, and it was also one of the five signatories of a joint statement in support of the process. Why did AGBU extend its support to the initiative of the Armenian government?
Berge Setrakian: In connection with the normalization process of relations between Armenia and Turkey and the opening of the borders, we believe that the president of the Republic of Armenia has exercised strong leadership and a realistic understanding of the state of affairs of regional and international diplomacy. He has acted as a responsible leader taking a bold and somewhat difficult step forward.
We know that this process was not easy to engage, as it represents significant challenges for the President and for all Armenians. We believe it is important for the Armenian authorities to have the trust, support, and feedback of the people in order to be able to negotiate from a position of strength, and face any difficulties ahead. We all know that this will be a long and arduous exercise, which will involve hard choices and diplomatic maneuvers that Armenians will have to understand in order to navigate. Though the end result is still unknown, the initiative and the attempt to resolve our issues at hand are worth a genuine effort. We must remember the past and fight realistically for our rights, while looking forward to build a strong future.