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Armenian National Assembly in Yerevan
Armenian National Assembly in Yerevan. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

At the end of 2007, the Armenian Parliament's Standing Committee on Foreign Relations held a series of hearings on Armenian-Turkish relations.

The Committee, chaired since 2003 by ARF representative Armen Rustamian, invited representatives from the government, the NGO sector, civil society, and international organizations to the hearing.[34] Representatives from Turkey had been invited but did not attend.

One of the issues which weighed heavily on the minds of the Armenian participants was the proposal, made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of a historians' commission to study the events of 1915.

Vardan Oskanian, then Armenia's Foreign Minister, rejected Erdogan's initiative.

"How can we take Erdogan's letter seriously when an article of his country's Criminal Code [art. 301] anticipates criminal punishment not only for those who dare utter the word genocide, but even for those who discuss the events of 1915? … And lastly, that letter could not have been received seriously because, after all, conditions are not normal; there is no atmosphere for discussing such an important issue; the borders are closed, there are no diplomatic relations. Despite all this, the President of the Republic of Armenia did reply to the letter … They are distorting the truth by saying that they got no answer from Armenia to their suggestion."[35]

Some of the other speakers, like ARF member and Deputy Speaker Vahan Hovhannisian and Ara Papian, a former diplomat, made strong arguments regarding the illegality of the Kars Treaty of 1921. As Hovhannnisian said:

"It is time to assert publicly that Turkey committed two crimes against the Armenians and we should separate them from one another. First of all, Turkey committed genocide, which lasted for decades, as the Armenians were being annihilated since the end of the 19th century; 1915 was merely the culmination. … But then there's what happened in 1921, when the recognized Republic of Armenia with its western border, which included Kars, Ardahan, Igdir, Surmalu and Ughtis, was subjected to aggression by the Bolsheviks and the Kemalists and carved up [by Turkey and the Soviet Union], just as in the Molotov-Ribbentrop act. That was an aggression against the Republic of Armenia, and this should not be connected with the genocide."[36]

Ultimately, added Hovhannnisian, "the internal changes in Turkish society are the only route through which we may find some beneficial solution" to Armenian-Turkish relations.

Armen Ayvazian, director of Ararat Centre, criticised successive Armenian governments for not being assertive enough in claiming territory from Turkey

August 2009

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