Genocide memorial visit not on Davutoglu's Yerevan agenda: officials

Genocide memorial visit not on Davutoglu's Yerevan agenda: officials

PanARMENIAN.Net - Officials in Ankara have cautioned against high expectations for Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s upcoming visit to Armenia, but indicated that there was a chance for “normalization” to follow in the future, Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Even if it does not yield any concrete outcomes, the trip will still mark a watershed, as it will be Davutoğlu’s first visit to Yerevan since the failure of efforts to normalize ties four years ago, the daily said.

The Dec 12 visit will take place on the occasion of a meeting of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), so is not a bilateral initiative. However, it is still attracting attention as it will be the first meeting since October 2009, when moves to open diplomatic ties and reopen the border failed.

Turkish officials, speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News on Dec 9, said it was still not clear whether Davutoğlu and his Armenian counterpart, Edward Nalbandian, would hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the BSEC gathering.

“We are not going there with a specific proposal,” a senior Turkish diplomat told the Daily News, in an apparent reference to several news reports in the Turkish media suggesting that Turkey would offer a proposal to the Armenian side in exchange for reopening the border. “Furthermore, such a proposal would also be premature and wrong,” added the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“However, if such a bilateral meeting takes place, we will explain our vision with regard to regional peace, including normalization of our bilateral relations. Then, the steps that could be taken may come on the scene,” he said.

Meanwhile, officials also said Davutoğlu had no plans to visit a monument dedicated to the memory of the Armenian Genocide victims. “The minister is going to Yerevan within the framework of a BSEC meeting. Visiting the monument is not on his agenda,” the diplomat said.

The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres, and deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.

The majority of Armenian Diaspora communities were formed by the Genocide survivors.

Present-day Turkey denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide, justifying the atrocities as “deportation to secure Armenians”. Only a few Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and scholar Taner Akcam, speak openly about the necessity to recognize this crime against humanity.

The Armenian Genocide was recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, the Italian Chamber of Deputies, majority of U.S. states, parliaments of Greece, Cyprus, Argentina, Belgium and Wales, National Council of Switzerland, Chamber of Commons of Canada, Polish Sejm, Vatican, European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.

The Armenian-Turkish Protocols

The Protocols aimed at normalization of bilateral ties and opening of the border between Armenia and Turkey were signed in Zurich by Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu on October 10, 2009, after a series of diplomatic talks held through Swiss mediation.

On January 12, 2010, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia found the protocols conformable to the country’s Organic Law.

Commenting on the CC ruling, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “it contains preconditions and restrictive provisions which impair the letter and spirit of the Protocols.” ”The decision undermines the very reason for negotiating these Protocols as well as their fundamental objective. This approach cannot be accepted on our part. Turkey, in line with its accustomed allegiance to its international commitments, maintains its adherence to the primary provisions of these Protocols. We expect the same allegiance from the Armenian government,” the Ministry said.

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