YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — President Serge Sargisian has reportedly rejected as “unacceptable” the idea of a joint Turkish-Armenian study of the World War I-era mass killings and deportations of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey.
“The creation of a [Turkish-Armenian history] commission would make sense only if Turkey finally confessed its guilt,” he said in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel published over the weekend. “After that scholars would be able to jointly determine the causes of that tragedy.”
In two protocols signed last October, the Armenian and Turkish governments agreed to set up a joint commission tasked with expediting the normalization of their historically strained relations. It would be divided into several “sub-commissions” specializing in various areas of mutual interests.
One of those sub-commissions would engage in an “impartial scientific examination of historical documents and archives.” This was widely seen as an official euphemism for a joint examination of the Armenian massacres.
Yerevan has been at pains to assure Armenian critics of the Protocols that the panel would not seek to determine whether the massacres constituted genocide. Turkish leaders have implied the opposite, however.
“The main thing for Ankara is only to delay decisions,” Der Spiegel quoted Sargisian as saying. “Every time the parliaments or governments of foreign states try to adopt genocide resolutions, they would say, ‘Let’s first wait for the findings of the historical commission.’”
“Setting up such a commission would mean calling into question the fact of the genocide perpetrated against our people,” he said, echoing a key argument of Armenian opponents of his conciliatory line on Turkey.