President Serzh Sargsyan invited a meeting of the National Security Council in the extended format
08 / 10 / 2009
This morning, the President of the Republic of Armenia, President of the National Security Council Serzh Sargsyan invited a meeting of the National Security Council in the extended format which along with the members of the Council was attended by His Holiness, Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II, Chairman of Prosperous Armenia political party Gagik Tsarukyan, Chairman of the Public Council Vazgen Manukyan, and the Minister for Diaspora Affairs Hranush Hakopyan.
Discussed at the meeting was the current stage of the Armenia-Turkey normalization process, as well as forthcoming steps of our country on that direction. Also summarized were public discussions related to the process of normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations and President’s Pan-Armenian tour.
In his opening remarks the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan said,
There is only one item on today’s agenda of the National Security Council meeting – the current situation with our initiative to normalize the Armenian-Turkish relations and related steps.
The time has come to sum up public discussions which lasted for over six weeks. I have concluded my Pan-Armenian tour, during which I had an opportunity to familiarize with the viewpoint of our brothers and sisters in Diaspora, their worries, concerns, and proposals. Today, I will share with you my impressions of those meetings and conclusions. Afterwards, we will speak about issues related to the signing of the Armenian-Turkish protocols and next phases of this process.
In one week I visited pivotal centers of the Armenian Diaspora – Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Beirut and Rostov-on-Don. In each of these venues meetings took place, which were regional in scope since they were attended by the representatives of the Armenian structures and communities from the given region.
We realized from the start that it would be impossible to provide a level of participation, which would please everyone. Nevertheless, I think we were able to set a format which allowed to offer a wide range of opinions and approaches. Since the tour was not intended to provide digital analysis for the Diaspora’s collective outlook, we were not concerned with securing at the meetings a proportioned representation for each and every viewpoint. It was much more important to listen to all existing views and to acquire all possible counseling on this issue. I think in that we have succeeded.
During the tour it was frequently asked if these consultations were belated considering the fact that the protocols had already been initialed. I think this approach is for those who believe that the process of normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations ends with the initialed protocols. It’s not the case. For me debates held in Diaspora were extremely important for devising our tactics and strategy for each step in a complex and elaborate chain from initialing to signing, from singing to ratification, from ratification to implementation.
During the meetings a concern was frequently voiced that Armenia doesn’t have sufficient resources – human, financial, economic, and political to conduct these relations as an equal. I believe it is a flawed approach. Yes, we need to mobilize our resources and use Diaspora’s potential in its full. However, in my opinion, this is not a valid argument for closing up in our own shell and isolating ourselves from the world.
Also concerns were raised that the establishment of relations and opening of borders could result in demographic and economic invasion. I think is sounds almost similar to the notion that the best way to get rid of a headache is to cut off one’s head. I had the opportunity to reconfirm our position that we do not think that the protocols could be viewed as a restrictive factor regarding Armenia’s position in the negotiations on Nagorno Karabagh. Moreover, I reiterated our position regarding the settlement: the legal status of the people of Nagorno Karabagh is to be decided through their freely expressed will. I attach great importance to the fact that it was also reiterated by the President of the United States, Barak Obama, with whom I spoke on the phone while in Los Angeles. With this regard concerns of our compatriots and occasionally made statements of the Turkish leadership are quite understandable. Understandably, in our small region all processes influence one another. But what I am saying is different – we will not make any unilateral concessions on NK issue, regardless of what we are promised in return.
The next major concern is a possible retreat on the process of the international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide. I believe it is quite obvious that any Armenian can give all reasons why we became a world-spread nation deprived of its own living space. We have responsibilities regarding the recognition and condemnation of the Genocide, and we will fulfill those responsibilities is full.
I regret to see that on the wave of emotions some of our sisters and brothers have lost the ideological base of their actions. If our just demand for the Armenian-Turkish relations is the articulation of the importance to accept the fact of the Genocide, then that was exactly the purpose of my symbolical commencing the Pan-Armenian tour from Paris, from the Komitas monument dedicated to the victims of the Genocide. I was expecting not a provocation organized by a hundred people, but a multi-thousand demonstration to prove our unity and position on that issue.
And finally, there was a concern regarding the recognition of the current borders. My answer throughout was the same – territorial claims are not the best way to normalize relations. Political culture of the 21st century has its realities which must be reckoned with. I have also had the opportunity to underlined it myself and hear it in a just claim of our sisters and brothers from Spyurk that the Armenian-Turkish relations are much more than relations between Armenia and Turkey.
My short but very intense tour of the Armenian communities abroad gave me a strong impetus. I had the opportunity to once again appreciate the potential of our collective identity. I had the opportunity to once again realize how different we are, depending on our birthplace, community in which we live, organizations we are member to, and at the same time, how similar we are, thanks to our collective Armenian identity.
In Spyurk I have also heard many words of encouragement and support. I will not speak about it now since we bear the entire responsibility for signing the protocols as a state and as statesmen. We will not shift the burden of responsibility to someone else. It wasn’t my purpose at all to come back from the tour and to announce that the Spyurk in its entirety supports the signing of the existing protocols.”
Afterwards, the National Security Council discussed the current stage of normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations. All participants of the extended meeting of the National Security Council expressed their support for the initialed protocols.