By Mehmet Ali Birand | 30 March 2010

 

The Armenian people get up each morning thinking of genocide, talking about Turkey during the day and watch news on TV about Erdoğan before going to bed. Of course, I am exaggerating but I see the same things here in Armenia that I used to experience in Greece.

Previously when I came to Armenia people would talk about genocide but not this much. During the Soviet term a struggle for genocide was forbidden. People would argue about it but it wouldn’t be carried as far as a fight with Turkey. With the dispersion of the Soviet Union and the independence of Armenia this passion increased. Since my last visit in 2000 everything has gotten out of control.

Today’s passion is best described by Dr. Hovanisyan of the Yerevan University:

“For us genocide is the start of a history, being kicked out of heaven meant starting from scratch, a milestone. It is our collective memory. As long as Turkey does not accept genocide no relationship can be put on track. Accept it and forget about it, there is no other way. That way we’d stop playing a mutual game.”

 

 

Genocide is a passion now.

Ignoring genocide means ignoring the Armenian presence, people started to believe something as unrealistic as “fire won’t burn.”

You might guess how big an excitement and political argument emerged in respect to the signed protocols in such an environment. In Turkey this subject remained within the frame of the opposition-administration fight. The border lines of this argument have expanded. Here it has created an effect as if a dynamite exploded.

Sarkisian is in a difficult situation, Erdoğan is being questioned

President Sarkisian took on a great risk in political respect when he gave a green light to the protocols. For, according to some, he made a historic mistake in respect to genocide.

“Do you know what it means to sent the genocide issue before the historians commission? It means to reopen an issue which we made the world accept and to create suspicion as to whether it was right or wrong which would mean destroying a work done over the past 100 years,” says the Armenian expert.

He also says, “Historians won’t be able to agree on a mutual decision. One will say there has been genocide committed. The other will say no there hasn’t. Our opportunity to make Turkey accept or have the parliament approve of it will be destroyed.”

Hovanisyan’s reply to the question what would Armenia’s answer be in case Turkey would want to apply to the The Hague’s International Court of Justice together with Armenia was the following:

“Why would I go to the International Court of Justice? I am not after anything. What would I want to prove? Genocide is for real, why would I want to argue over it?”

Now this is the suspicion part of Armenians and part of the diaspora seriously carries. That is the reason why Sarkisian is in a difficult position.

If the protocols are not approved Turkey experiences a loss in different ways. I.e. it will lose the opportunity to freeze genocide allegations or put them on hold.

Erdoğan has a strange reputation here.

On one side they praise him for his brave steps and applaud him as a leader who started initiatives no one else could. They believe if one day a solution is to be found Erdoğan will find it. Especially the Armenian community in Turkey for the first time praises Erdoğan as a Turkish Prime Minister.

On the other side he is criticized for being a leader who allies with the Armenians and would deport illegal Armenian workers which revives in them previous exile days. And even attempts of a gesture like apologizing to the leaders of the Armenian community in Istanbul or opening the Armenian church on the island of Akdamar for worshipping once a year did not satisfy people. I met people saying, “What does opening the church for worship once a year mean? It’s like a donation. If you want to do some good then keep it constantly open…”

Like an academic said in respect to Erdoğan, “Can’t live with him, can’t live without him.”

We can’t wait for too long

The Armenians are about to attack in a diplomatic way.

“We will knock on the doors of those who were standing behind our two ministers of foreign affairs and applauding while they were signing the protocols to ask them to make Turkey comply with its signature,” says an upper level official. He continued saying that the first step will be taken in April in Washington with President Obama and others will follow because they are not willing to wait for months. He also said, “As we wait, the Azerbaijanis will become stiffer in respect to Karabağ. And since they have leaned their backs on Turkey, negotiations are becoming a drag.”

So, do we know what will happen in case the protocols are approved and borders opened? Will the Armenian become richer? What will happen?