Within the context of Armenian-Turkish rapprochement, Ankara is in the driver’s seat; the first news about the appointment of the representatives of the two countries was announced by Mevlut Çavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, to the surprise of news media in Armenia.

The second wave of news is also emerging from the same source; indeed, Mr. Çavusoglu recently announced that Armenia’s foreign minister would be participating in the Antalya Diplomacy Forum scheduled to take place March 11 to 13, also with Armenia’s representative to the negotiations, member of parliament Ruben Rubinyan, while Armenian official sources are maintaining that Turkey’s invitation for the forum is still under consideration.

Leaders and foreign ministers from 45 countries will participate in the forum to discuss and resolve regional and global issues in international relations.

Turkey’s foreign minister has already defined the agenda for Armenia’s delegates. He stated that Azerbaijan will also be represented by Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and that Turkey would like to see each side express its own positions. After supplying drones and jihadis to Azerbaijan during the 44-day war, in Antalya Ankara is wearing the mantle of an unbiased mediator seeking to restore peace. As a matter of fact, Turkey is trying to impress on the international community that it has adopted the same role between Russia and Ukraine, after supplying Bayrakdar drones to Kyiv and announcing that Ankara does not recognize Russia’s takeover of Crimea.

As the Armenian side approaches the negotiation table, our historic experience has to serve as a guide, to gauge and understand Turkey’s intentions and goals. Turkey’s current policy is derived from its perennial goals of developing and leading a Turanic empire. Some historians and analysts believe that this idea is a figment of the Armenian imagination, but this was countered by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself in Baku, celebrating on the ashes of Shushi and evoking Enver Pasha’s presence in the Caucasus and in Central Asia to muster forces to build a sultanate with him at the helm. Erdogan revived that dream by stating during that same celebration that “we are here to achieve the dream of our ancestors.”

In order for Turkey to achieve that “dream,” it has to eliminate an independent republic of Armenia, which now stands in its way.

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It seems that Turkey, under any flag or administration, has been pursuing those goals. Under Mustafa Kemal, it destroyed the potential emergence of Armenian home rule in Cilicia, with the help of Bolshevik Russia. The same scenario was repeated when General Kazim Karabekir forced the Treaty of Alexandropol on Armenia in 1920, reducing the Republic of Armenia to a shadow of its former self.

Armed with these historical facts and precedents, Armenia’s aim should be to survive through diplomacy, build its armed forces and develop a system of alliances with countries in the region targeted by Turkey.

In dealing with the situation in and around Armenia and analyzing the political situation there, one should avoid personalizing politics, because that would lead us to a cult of personality, the damage from which is still extant in Armenia. However, politics is too personal there. Any judgement or statement on any political move is still interpreted as either pro or anti Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Seldom is a statement judged on its own merit or in reference to Armenia’s overall interests.

This hysteria creates strange bedfellows. A case in point was a vote at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) by an Armenian opposition member of parliament on January 27. PACE released a report favorable to Armenia. Only representatives of Turkey and Azerbaijan voted against the report, joined by Hayk Mamijanyan, a member of the opposition from Serzh Sargsyan’s party, Pativ Ounem (I Have Honor), who justified his stand by stating that the report favored Pashinyan!

Incidentally, the Russian delegate abstained from voting.

This attitude of personalization is deeply ingrained in Armenia’s polarized political system.

If Turkey has decided to improve relations with Armenia, it means that there is a “wind of change” in the region. Although Armenia was defeated during the recent war, there are some factors which favor its position. One factor is Turkey’s battered economy, which has tamed its bellicose rhetoric and posture.

Although perhaps only temporarily, Ankara is forced to improve its relations not only with Armenia, but also with other regional nations.

The other factor is President Joe Biden’s request to President Erdogan to lift the blockade of Armenia and establish diplomatic relations. Of course, President Biden’s action did not stem from charity, because governments do not formulate policies based on the goodness of their hearts. Armenian advocacy may have had an impact on the president’s decision. Certainly it does not constitute the overriding factor, but serves rather as a complementary factor to the US’s foreign policy of containing Russia and weaning away peripheral allies like Armenia.

That policy is also in line with Turkey’s policy both as a NATO ally and as a matter of self-interest.

The third factor which favors Armenia is the issue of the Genocide, which has taken a life of its own internationally, independent of Armenia. Whether Armenia presses Turkey to recognize the Genocide is irrelevant to the fact that the case has become a monumental humanitarian and human rights issue and has been used and will continued to be used by any country that has a score to settle with Ankara.

Simply put, the legacy of the Armenian martyrs has become a huge debt for Ankara vis-à-vis the world community. The key to absolving Turkey is in Armenia’s hand and must not be given away easily.

But contrary to the existence of these favorable factors, the government in Yerevan has already made down payments to Turkey even before negotiations start.

Thus the first concession may be considered Pashinyan’s lifting of the ban on Turkish imports. That may impact Turkey’s economy infinitesimally, but perhaps it showed the Armenian side welcomes Turkey’s initiative of improving relations.

The other concession was directed at Azerbaijan, when Prime Minister Pashinyan stated that with regard to Karabakh, the ball is in the court of the United Nations’ Security Council, which has omitted any reference in documents it has issued to consider Karabakh outside of Azerbaijan’s territory. This statement even biases any action by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group co-chairs, who still insist that the Karabakh issue has not been settled, contrary to President Ilham Aliyev’s claims to the contrary and that the enclave’s status issue remains on the agenda.

A member of Pashinyan’s party in the parliament has stated that no administration in Armenia has expressed any doubt on the current border between Armenia and Turkey. That is a backhanded compliment to Ankara because the issue had to be formulated in reverse. By learning about this statement coming from the parliament in Armenia, policymakers there can interpret that the current administration has indirectly endorsed the Kars Treaty of 1921 which determines the current border between Armenia and Turkey. The treaty was signed by the Bolshevik government in Russia and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Neither entity was an internationally recognized government at the time. The treaty later on was forced on Armenia.

The Treaty of Kars has surfaced directly or indirectly every time Armenia and Turkey have had any semblance of rapprochement.

It was a blatant denial of the Armenian Case when during his latest press conference, the prime minister stated that “Armenian government has never conducted a policy of the Armenian Case and in the case of Genocide recognition. The diaspora has performed the role of the locomotive.”

This is abdicating the legacy of the genocide victims. The Armenian Case is composed of two components: one is the extermination of 1.5 million Armenians and the other is the loss of the ancestral homeland of a millennia. The diaspora is not a government entity to present the case in world courts. That is the right and responsibility of an internationally recognized Armenian government.

However, Pashinyan is not alone in abdicating the case of genocide. His accomplice is former President Serzh Sargsyan, who had called then-Vice President Joe Biden to report to him that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the US administration was not a priority for the Armenian government. Perhaps the former president resorted to that treachery to promote his “Football Diplomacy,” which was destined to failure.

A fundamental question should be raised here: if the top figures in Armenia do not bother to pursue the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, why should President Biden or any other head of state bother?

Last but not least, there was a disguised cowardly action in canceling the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the founding of Armenia’s armed forces. That was supposed to be celebrated on January 28 but was cancelled because Mr. Pashinyan and many of the Armenian army brass had contracted COVID. This is not the first time that Mr. Pashinyan was afflicted by a well-timed contraction of this virus.

Speculations abound about this decision. Most plausible are the ones suggesting it was done to avoid irritating President Aliyev by displaying Armenia’s new weaponry, which is traditionally exhibited during such celebrations. Aliyev had warned that Armenia and any revanchist movement rearming the country would be neutralized.

Now that Armenia is prepared to sit at the negotiating table without preconditions, what are those preconditions that would hamper the success of the negotiations, when Armenia has disarmed itself even before battle?

Anyone familiar with Turkish policy planners will recognize that no concession will satisfy Turkey and it will demand even more.

Already, Mr. Çavusoglu’s statement is a loaded one when he assured his audience that any step by Turkey will be coordinated with Azerbaijan. That was already a precondition by itself, when Baku insisted on getting the Zangezur Corridor on behalf of itself and Ankara.

There should have been no paying down before the start of negotiations.

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