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  • ANKARA: Deputy Armenian FM: Who Said We Do Not Recognize TurkishBord

    By Selahattin Sevi, Yerevan

    Zaman, Turkey
    April 24 2006

    Celebrating the anniversary of the so called genocide today, the
    Yerevan administration indicated they are working for recognition of
    the so-called genocide, and emphasized they have never requested land
    from Turkey.

    Despite this statement of Armenia, references to the eastern part of
    Turkey in Armenia's constitution and declaration of independence have
    already been made. The Mount Ararat is among the state's symbols. In
    an interview with Zaman, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Arman
    Kirakossian also evaluated this contradiction. Upon being reminded
    the 1921 Treaty of Kars that determined the border between the two
    countries, Kirakossian responded by asking, "Who said we do not
    recognize the Treaty of Kars?" and posed for a photograph in front
    of the painting of Mount Ararat hanging in his office.

    Kirakossian responded: "Things I say have no importance unless
    diplomatic relationships between Turkey and Armenia are established.

    We can say we are respectful towards each other's unity of territory
    in reciprocal agreements" when asked, "Can you say Armenia does not
    have any demand for Turkish lands?"

    When reminded of Turkey's proposal to "Have the incidents of 1915
    be investigate by an independent commission made up of historians,
    and accept the results," the Armenian authority said: "Our history is
    an indisputable reality," and referred to Armenian President Robert
    Kocharian's proposal to "Establish an intergovernmental commission.

    If Turkey had set up a diplomatic relationship with us in 1991,
    we might be speaking at a different level now."

    The Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Arman Kirakossian responded to
    the following questions Zaman posed:

    You want Turkey to open its Armenian border? Does this mean you accept
    the 1921 Treaty of Kars and therefore recognize the border you want
    to be opened?

    Who said we do not recognize the Treaty of Kars?

    But there are references to the eastern regions of Turkey in your
    official documents...

    I want to say something officially as a representative of the Republic
    of Armenia. After Armenia's independence in 1991, Armenia has wanted
    to set up relationships without preconditions with Turkey.

    The Republic of Armenia has not declared that it does not recognize
    the Treaty of Kars. The preconditions have always been set forth
    by Turkey during this time, especially with the problems of the
    Mountainous Karabag (Karabakh) and the Armenian genocide.

    Can you say that Armenia has no documented evidence of its claims
    over eastern Turkish provinces?

    What I say will not have any value until we establish actual diplomatic
    relations between Armenia and Turkey. Only after we build ties we can
    claim to have respect for the territorial integrity of both countries
    in mutual agreements.

    Because of the ongoing Armenian efforts to prove the so-called genocide
    happened, the border is closed and your country is suffering from an
    economic depression. Many Armenians tend to leave the country. How
    much longer can you keep this up?

    Armenia does not suffer economic difficulties. A look at the traffic
    in Yerevan will explain my point. Our economy adjusted itself to the
    situation within the past 15 years. Of course, we would like to have
    a stronger and advanced economy. The opening of borders would be of
    great benefit to us. We would like to say that we are ready to have
    relations with Turkey and without any prerequisites. If Turkey accepts
    it, we could sit around the table and discuss our problems.

    Your newspaper [Zaman] is reporting that we are in talks.

    Washington will host a guest, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, for
    an exchange of official contacts at a time when there is concentrated
    discussion of Iran's nuclear involvement. Are you worried about
    this visit?

    No, I am not, since we have excellent relations with the administration
    in the United States (US). In accordance with the Millennium Challenge
    Program, there has been a transfer of $235 million to Armenia, and US
    President George W. Bush acknowledges this program is useful to our
    economy. Azerbaijan is not eligible for this transfer of financial
    aid, since the government in Azerbaijan is not eligible to be part
    of the program. The Armenian president will probably be another guest
    in Washington in the upcoming days, after Aliyev.

    Armenia and the Diaspora carry out intense efforts regarding the
    events of 1915. They have 450,000 web-sites set up for this purpose
    alone. While efforts are being made regarding an event that happened 90
    years ago, 800,000 refugees exiled from Azerbaijan struggle to survive
    in negative conditions. Have you ever considered empathizing with them?

    We do not accept the figure of 800,000. However, the number is
    unimportant. We have 300,000 refugees from Karabakh and Azerbaijan.

    The dialogue, which includes this issue between Azerbaijan and Armenia,
    still goes on.

    Turkey proposes to leave the allegations regarding the events in 1915
    to the historians and accept the outcome. Will you keep rejecting it?

    Right, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made such
    a proposal. On the other hand, Armenian President Robert Kocharian
    proposed to the formation of a commission to handle various problems
    concerning politics, economy, borders and agreements.

    We believe the Turkish people are not responsible for the events of
    1915. The Turkish administration at that time is the responsible
    party. We expect a step from Turkey akin to the one taken by the
    German government. Armenia wants to have unconditional, good and
    friendly relations with all its neighbors, especially with Turkey.

    The future of the two countries will not be decided by the findings
    of historians. Politicians will determine the fate of the two
    countries. If Turkey had made diplomatic relations with us, we could
    have been holding this conversation at a much different level.