Turkey Has Begun to Exert Its Anticipated Pressures, Making Them Ineffectual

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By Dr. Noubar Berberian

In this historic period defined by a policy of rapprochement between Yerevan and Ankara, when mostly the Armenian Diaspora, for mutually explainable reasons, adopted contrary positions, we found ourselves facing extremes, which served merely to obscure the truths.

However, one positive aspect was forgotten, which, in my opinion, is extremely honorable for the Armenian people as a whole: this international initiative achieved new heights in the present troubled period.

Despite our prolonged indifference, which undoubtedly had occasioned the dissatisfaction of us all, we welcomed with hidden satisfaction a curiosity present in us all with regard to the evolution of current political events and politics in general.

For the most part, the Diasporan-Armenian press played an undeniable role in the aforementioned positive main point. With its editorials, analyses, international political reviews and even detailed coverage of major and minor political news, this press of ours kept the interest of the reading public permanently peaked. Thus, we gained a better understanding of what we read, what we knew, and what we supposed, predicted and anticipated.

Undoubtedly we all became informed that protocols, indispensable negotiations and, finally, mutual parliamentary approvals for the purpose of speedy execution are necessary in order for diplomatic relations to be reestablished between Turkey and Armenia.

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Furthermore, we noted that a fundamental point was not specified in advance — a deadline for parliamentary approval was not indicated. In reality, a deadline was deliberately not specified by Turkey, so that it would feel absolutely free to act as it pleased, if necessary — in other words, to exert pressure on us.

However, we had already anticipated all the possibilities of that intentional omission….And with the clairvoyance granted by our anticipations, we were neither surprised, nor bewildered nor perplexed when, exactly one day after October 10, namely the day of the signing of the protocols, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and, recently, Ahmet Davutoglu, the foreign minister of that country, announced that the reopening of the borders remained subject to the precondition that concessions be made by us in connection with the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.

On this occasion, we note with deep satisfaction that the reaction of Armenia’s foreign affairs ministry was swift; Yerevan immediately rejected this eleventh-hour, albeit anticipated, precondition of the Turkish side, explaining that the process of bilateral negotiations, proceeding on its natural course, now faces mutual parliamentary approval.

Armenia’s ever-active foreign affairs minister Eduard Nalbandian announced a few days ago that the policy of Armeno-Turkish rapprochement and the knotty Karabagh issue “suppose two separate processes” and that both sides had signed the protocols without any precondition.

Indeed, if the opposing side gives itself the right to propose a precondition at the last minute, which undeniably corresponds to the exertion of a new pressure, then we, in turn, are capable of proposing that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide be made a precondition …and so justifiably, at that.

Now, perhaps some will object that since Turkey and Armenia were not states with practically equivalent power, was it not to be expected that we, as a small country, would often be subjected to new pressures?

It’s true that although Turkey’s power politics puts us in a kind of weak position, nevertheless we must not adopt a defeatist attitude anywhere and at any time, understand profoundly that Turkey today, whatever it may be, is not at all an omnipotent and invincible state.

If you are skeptical in this regard, consider the following panorama: the policy of Armeno-Turkish rapprochement, undertaken separately by these two countries of ours, has not been put on a course to be accomplished today; rather, the world’s most powerful country, the United States of America, again-turned-superpower Russia, the European Union, headed by France, as well as other important countries, are closely following the events of the day. For example, they know that the insertion of preconditions is not permissible by one side or the other, and that it is time for approval by both parliaments, opening the road to the resumption of diplomatic relations and the opening of the borders.

This notwithstanding, there’s another main point, which our leaders in the homeland should never forget; namely, that the time will come when the question of who is right or wrong doesn’t seem as vital, through various and sundry arguments, as who severed the ongoing relations. Therefore, any severing must not be done by our side. Let Ankara sever those relations if it is really willing to assume responsibility for such a critical act.

And despite all kinds of major and minor pressures, by keeping our relations intact, we will have shown our sincerity, honesty, belief in invincibility and resoluteness to the civilized world. In the final analysis, if this process completely fails, Armenia won’t be the only loser, as weighty as our loss may be; the other loser will be law-breaking Turkey and, believe me, for numerous serious reasons more worrisome than generally supposed until now.

(Noubar Berberian is a former longtime editor of Baikar daily, and a the secretary of the Tekeyan Cultural Association Central Board of Directors. This article was translated by Aris G. Sevag.)