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Cablegate: Armenia's Plans for April 24 Commemoration, Status

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 YEREVAN 000434

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CACEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PBTS AM TU UNHRC
SUBJECT: ARMENIA'S PLANS FOR APRIL 24 COMMEMORATION, STATUS
OF RELATIONS WITH TURKEY

Sensitive but Unclassified, Please Treat Accordingly.

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanian convoked chiefs
of mission resident in Yerevan March 10 to preview events
planned in April to mark "Genocide Memorial Day." The two
main events will be an academic conference, April 21-22,
featuring several American scholars, and the April 24 formal
commemoration ceremonies. Oskanian said that invitations had
gone out to foreign dignitaries to attend the events, but was
quick to add that foreign attendance at the events would not
be construed by Yerevan as "legal acceptance of the fact of
the 1915 genocide," and that it would not be a
"Turkey-bashing" event. Oskanian also circulated a
non-paper about Turkish-Armenian relations focusing on the
border issue, which he termed "more immediate" than questions
of history. Overall, he was at pains to stress the need for
reconciliation and constructive cooperation with Turkey,
where he sensed that some evolution in civil society on
Armenian issues was to be seen. END SUMMARY

2. (SBU) Looking fully recuperated from his recent bout of
pneumonia, Vartan Oskanian led with his main points: 1) that
attendance by foreign officials at the April 24 observance
would not be construed by Armenia as legal recognition of the
1915 events as "genocide," and 2) that the commemoration
would not be a Turkey-bashing event; in fact, there would be
a number of Turkish participants present.

3. (SBU) Oskanian said that in his estimation things were
changing in Turkey. Civil society was more open than it had
been even five years earlier, and the process of EU accession
promised to bring about further evolution. Armenia expected
two issues to be on the agenda for the accession
negotiations: genocide recognition and the border issue.
The first issue was not only an issue for the Armenian
Diaspora, but for the Armenian nation as a whole; the second
was of immediate importance to the citizens of the Republic
of Armenia, which was ready for reconciliation and
constructive cooperation with Turkey

4. (SBU) Asked whether Armenia's quest for "historical
justice" might be seen in Ankara as opening up territorial
claims, Oskanian repeated what he has said before, that any
issues of concern to Turkey could be addressed in the
protocol establishing diplomatic relations, and that the
Republic of Armenia, as a successor state to the USSR,
accepted the Soviet-era treaties fixing the current border.
As for genocide non-recognition, Oskanian termed this a moral
issue that perpetuated for Armenians the pain already felt by
descendants of survivors of 1915, but noted that the closed
border was a more "immediate" concern. He distributed a
non-paper on Turkey-Armenia Relations (full text at para 7)
that is aimed primarily at the border issue, and contains the
points about Soviet-era agreements remaining in force, as
well as a discussion of the founding documents of the
Republic of Armenia that are sometimes cited as evidence of
official Armenian territorial claims on Turkey.

5. (SBU) Oskanian noted that he would be addressing the issue
of the events of 1915 in his address to the Human Right
Commission in Geneva on March 15.

6. (SBU) The Lebanese Ambassador asked if Armenia claimed
that Armenians were the only ones who suffered during the
collapse of the Ottoman Empire, recalling that some 600,000
to 700,000 Lebanese had also perished. Oskanian said he made
no claims of exclusivity.

7. (U) Begin text of March 10 Armenian Government non-paper
on Armenia-Turkey Relations (please note internal numbering).

TURKEY-ARMENIA RELATIONS

The continuing closure of the Armenia-Turkey border
contradicts the spirit of the European Union. It also goes
counter to international treaties and customary international
law.

Since Armenia's independence, the Turkey-Armenia border has
been closed. There has been no land link between Armenia and
Turkey - not by rail, nor by road. As far as Armenia is
concerned, the border can be and ought to be open, despite
the problems that exist between the two countries. Almost
every pair of neighboring countries in the world has such
problems, and resolves them through dialogue. Armenia has
always expressed a readiness to negotiate through our
differences, and not turn them into pre-conditions, or
barriers.

Turkey, on the other hand, insists on unilateral moves from
Armenia. Their explanations for the continuing lack of
relations revolve around one or several of the following: 1)
the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, 2) the Genocide of 1915, and
3) territorial issues.

1) Nagorno Karabakh conflict

The Turkish condition: The Nagorno Karabakh conflict must be
resolved, or at the very least, territories (outside Nagorno
Karabakh proper) under "Armenian control" must be returned to
Azerbaijan.

Armenia's response: Those territories, acquired during war,
now serve as a buffer zone, ensuring a balance, enabling the
ceasefire, preventing resumption of military activities.
They are all part of a package that has to be negotiated - a
package that includes, first and foremost, the status and
security of Nagorno Karabakh. Isolating one item -
territories - and demanding that they be returned, without
addressing the rest of the issues is disingenuous. Further,
the Nagorno Karabakh issue is between Armenians and
Azerbaijan. Turkey is a sovereign, independent third
country. Its involvement in this issue is based on ethnic
solidarity. But although Turkey's support of Azerbaijan is
understandable, the manner of its support goes counter to
accepted international practice and customary law. Even in
the case of Cyprus, where Greeks are in strong solidarity
with their Cypriot brothers, the existence of Turkish troops
in Northern Cyprus has not kept either the Greeks, or for
that matter the Turks, from continuing to maintain diplomatic
relations with each other, even in the face of the most
vocal, visible manifestation of ethnic solidarity by each
side. They continue to both voice and iron out their
differences. They are able to do so exactly because they
have diplomatic relations and open borders. There are many
other such examples in the world.

2) The Armenian Genocide of 1915

The Turkish condition: Armenians must drop the Genocide
issue, and must halt their efforts in international
organizations and with individual countries to achieve
international recognition of the Genocide.

Armenia's response: Armenia and Armenians cannot drop,
forget or deny the Genocide of Armenians in 1915 in the
Ottoman Empire. All Armenians - in Armenia and the Diaspora
-- are engaged in the matter of Genocide recognition. That
process is an independent process and has a long history,
going back to before Armenia's independence. On the other
hand, Armenians - the victims of that Genocide - have never
demanded Genocide recognition, by Turkey or any one else, as
a pre-condition for normal relations with Turkey. Instead,
Armenia is ready to take up normal relations and make it
possible for the two societies to discuss, differ, convince,
agree, argue, reconcile these and other matters between them.
Regardless of historical realities, difficulties, even
animosities, the two peoples are destined to live next door
to each other. The establishment of relations will make it
possible to freely, democratically, discuss even these
difficult issues that have been inherited from the past.
There are hardly any two neighboring countries in the world
which don't have difficult historical issues between them.
Yet, none of these has resulted in closed borders.

3) Territorial Issues

The Turkish condition: Armenians must unilaterally affirm
Turkey's territorial integrity and renounce territorial
claims against Turkey.

Armenia's response: Armenia is the successor state of the
Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. All of the agreements
which the ASSR signed continue to be in force unless new
agreements have been signed to replace them, or unless
statements have been made about not recognizing those
agreements. These agreements are still in force and have not
been renounced. In addition, upon establishing diplomatic
relations, the protocol that is signed can explicitly mention
respect for each other's territorial integrity,
noninterference and sovereignty.

Turkey also claims that there are territorial claims embedded
in the Republic's founding documents. The relevant passages
from the Constitution (which cites the Declaration of
Independence just once) and from the Declaration itself are
given below. The reader can judge for himself whether these
paragraphs amount to territorial claims.

=======================================
Constitution of the Republic of Armenia
=======================================

The Armenian People, Recognizing as a basis the fundamental
principles of Armenian statehood and the national aspirations
engraved in the Declaration of Independence of Armenia,
Having fulfilled the sacred legacy of its freedom loving
ancestors for the restoration of the sovereign state,
Committed to the strengthening and prosperity of the
fatherland.

============================================= =======
Declaration of Independence
The Supreme Council of the Armenian Soviet Socialist
Republic

(Preamble)
Expressing the united will of the Armenian people;
Aware of its historic responsibility for the destiny of the
Armenian people engaged in the realization of the aspirations
of all Armenians and the restoration of historical justice;
(Article 11) The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the
task of achieving international recognition of the 1915
Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.

============================================= =======


Importance of Open Borders

The importance of open borders goes beyond the obvious
economic, regional and security factors. Open Armenia-Turkey
borders will directly decrease Armenian security concerns and
will create a more favorable context within which to seek a
resolution for the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Turkey, too,
will become more credibly engaged in the process and in other
regional developments.

Armenians and Turks will be able to together discuss and
explore their common history. More importantly, they will be
able to transcend it together and move forward together.

The European Neighborhood policy will become truly meaningful
and will make it possible for the region to truly engage with
and integrate with the European Union, contribute to Europe's
prosperity, and become an equal and promising European
partner.


Yerevan
March 10, 2005

End Text.
EVANS

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