By Christian Garbis understanding-or-the-demise-of-a-cause/
May 7, 2009

There has been much discussion and disappoint at President Barack
Obama's failure to use the word "genocide" in his first annual April
24 statement to the Armenian American community. Although the term
"Medz Yeghern" was used in its place-an Armenian term used only
in the context of the Armenian Genocide-and has never before been
written or spoken by a U.S. president, many were outraged, and
rightfully so. Nevertheless, that Obama did not use the "G-word"
should have been expected as only a few weeks ago he was visiting
Turkey to reinforce ties between the U.S. and its crucial ally in
the Middle East, during a time when the U.S. wages its desperate
"war on terrorism" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A far more serious issue must be concentrated on by the entire
Armenian nation at this juncture, namely the agreement of "mutual
understanding" between Armenia and Turkey that was signed on April
22. The agreement was backed by the U.S., and Obama specifically
referred to the recent diplomatic talks being held between the two
countries as the main reason for abstaining from properly acknowledging
the Armenian Genocide in a press conference held in Turkey. Obama
did not want to disrupt the discussions by antagonizing Turkey. Yet,
had the president properly recognized the genocide he would in reality
have done Armenia a favor had the talks broken down.

Here's why: Although the Armenian government still refuses to reveal
what exactly was stipulated in the "road map" and what the two nations
believed to be mutually acceptable in continuing to improve relations,
the points of the agreement were leaked to the press, which published
the information online. Subsequently the information was printed in
Armenian oppositional newspapers, but the points contained in the
agreement have yet to be discussed on news programs of television
stations that are virtually all government controlled. The five
points of the "road map" as published by Trend News on April 24 are
as follows:

1. Armenia should accept the Kars agreement signed between Turkey
and the former USSR in 1921;

2. A joint commission of historians is to be formed to investigate
genocide claims, with the participation of a third country, if

3. The border between Armenia and Turkey will open and relevant
documents will be signed to begin trade relations;

4. Diplomatic relations will be established when the ambassadors
of Armenia and Turkey present their credentials to each other's

5. The parliament [assumingly of each country] will discuss and
approve the stipulations contained in the "road map."

Naturally, the first two points are the most disturbing. The acceptance
of the current Armenian-Turkish border as defined in the Treaty of
Kars would be absurd. Without dedicated, secure access to the Black
Sea, Armenia would forever be dependent on its neighbors for ensuring
that foreign trade continues unabated. Armenia's economy is already
highly dependent on Turkey's willingness to do business despite a
closed border. As is obvious to Armenian consumers, most clothing,
construction materials, and domestic products are imported from Turkey
with all products being trucked into Armenia through Georgia. They
are purchased in huge quantities because the prices of these products
are very cheap, although their quality is usually mediocre or poor.

Armenia would need to have the boundary redrawn so that its interests
are served in a final agreement.

The formation of a joint Armenian-Turkish panel to research whether
the Armenian Genocide indeed occurred would be a mockery to the 1.5
million victims who fell beneath the Turkish sword. Indeed, it is
no longer in the hands of historians to decide whether genocide was
committed. Non-denialist historians who have researched the matter
have already unanimously determined that genocide did occur. Twenty-one
nations around the world have acknowledged the genocide. Therefore the
creation of such a body defies logic and wholly undermines worldwide
efforts by Armenian activists to have the genocide understood and

These two points are detrimental, or rather are lethal, to the
Armenian cause. If diplomatic relations between these two countries
are established with these conditions in place, then all that the
thousands of Armenian freedom fighters and political activists have
fought and died for will have been in vein. Justice will not have
been served to the remaining genocide survivors and to the offspring
of those deceased. The Armenian cause will no longer be relevant,
as there would be no need whatsoever for the Turkish government to
finally address the genocide issue with the Armenian government washing
its hands of the matter. All hopes of land reparations and a redrawn
border similar to if not exactly defined by the Treaty of Sèvres will
evaporate instantly. The Armenian cause will become pointless and moot.

Furthermore, although not stipulated as a point, Turkey will have
influence in the peace negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan
over Nagorno-Karabagh-influence that Armenia has always categorically

This worst-case scenario can naturally be avoided should Armenia keep
the diplomatic "road map" in check, or rather redefine it. If Armenia
tosses it into the wastebasket it will lose nothing, for the Armenian
economy indeed boomed in the last five years with a closed border. But
if the charted map becomes a reality, Armenia can only lose. The
Armenian cause will become irrelevant and the nation's subsequent
cemented borders will be geo-strategically weak. Armenia will also
lose control of its own economy, which it has regenerated from ashes.

Armenian political activists worldwide must refocus their agendas
to address these points of the agreement and categorically condemn
them. The Armenian government must never be allowed to downplay or
renounce the Armenian cause. Further discussions between Armenia and
Turkey based on these points of "understanding" will weaken the case
for continued genocide recognition by world nations, especially by
Turkey. The shared border that exists today, which serves more as
a cultural border than an economic one, is not a boundary that will
serve the long-term interests of the Armenian republic and therefore
should not be accepted unequivocally.

Armenia's leadership must not be allowed to give in to Turkey's
preconditions for the sake of establishing diplomatic relations.