Below is the full text of the second protocol slated to be signed by authorities from Turkey and Armenia in five weeks time. Many of these points seem to be repeated from the first protocol, which I criticized in my previous post. My comments appear in italics.
Protocol on Development of Relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey.
The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey.
Guided by the Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey signed on the same day,
Considering the perspectives of developing their bilateral relations, based on confidence and respect to their mutual interests,
Determining to develop and enhance their bilateral relations, in the political, economic, energy, transport, scientific, technical, cultural issues and other fields, based on common interest of both countries,
Supporting the promotion of the cooperation between the two countries, in the international and regional organi9zations, especially within the framework of the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the BSEC,
Taking into account the common purpose of both States to cooperate for enchancimg [stet] regional stability and security for ensuring the democratic and sustainable development of the region,
Reiterating their commitment to the peaceful settlement of regional and international disputes and the conflicts on the basis of the norms and principles of law,
Reaffirming their readiness to actively support the actions of eth international community in addressing common security threats to the region and world security and stability, such as terrorism, transnational organized crimes, illicit trafficking of drugs and arms,
1. Agree to open the common border within 2 months after the entry into force of this Protocol,
What is the rush? Let’s assume that the protocols are signed and ratified by the Armenian and Turkish parliaments and that Armenians and Turks are all happy about it. Why should the border open so soon? What about the logistics behind opening it, trade regulations, legal issues, transportation fees and so forth? First and foremost, diplomatic relations would need to be formalized, embassies would have to be established and staffed, administrative matters would need to be planned and enacted. There is a lot of work to do beforehand. How much can realistically be accomplished within only eight weeks?
2. Agree to conduct regular political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries;
implement a dialogue on the historical dimension with the aim to restore mutual confidence between the two nations, including an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archives to define existing problems and formulate recommendations;
make the best possible use of existing transport, communications and energy infrastructure and networks between the two countries, and to undertake measures in this regard;
develop the bilateral legal framework in order to foster cooperation between the two countries;
cooperate in the fields of science and education by encouraging relations between the appropriate institutions as well as promoting the exchange of specialists and students, and act with the aim of preserving the cultural heritage of both sides and launching common cultural projects;
establish consular cooperation in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 in order to provide necessary assistance and protection to the citizens of the two countries;
take concrete measures in order to develop trade, tourism and economic cooperation between the two countries;
engage in a dialogue and reinforce their cooperation on environmental issues.
The first paragraph of this point is naturally the most controversial of both protocols. It calls for establishing a joint historical commission of Turkish and Armenian “experts,” whether they will be historians or people from other professional backgrounds is not clear, which will essentially determine what exactly took place in the beginning of the 20th century, in the spirit of goodwill, forging friendly relations, and so forth. In other words, they will deliberate whether the Armenian Genocide actually happened by studying documents while sipping Turkish coffee I assume. President Sarkisian has been putting a spin on this issue, claiming that the Armenian Genocide is a fact that cannot be disputed, but it wouldn’t hurt to discuss the topic with Turkey in a gesture of good will. This information has been circulating in the press in recent months so it’s nothing new.
For this very point alone both protocols should be rejected. The Armenian authorities should not even bother returning to the table. There’s enough debate going around in public circles both in Armenia and the diaspora finding this point to be unacceptable. It defies logic for the Armenian government to agree on deliberating with anyone about whether the events of 1915-1923 constituted genocide. If Armenia is claiming that the genocide topic is hands off, then it naturally should not discuss the issue with denialists. Genocide happened, it was committed by the Turks against the Armenians, and this has been accepted time and time again by historians, including Turkish ones (who are in exile because of it). Twenty nations have acknowledged the Genocide. American congressmen have been advocating for decades that the Armenian Genocide be recognized by the US executive and legislative branches. What is there to talk about?
3. Agree on the establishment of an intergovernmental bilateral commission which shall comprise separate sub-commissions for the prompt implementation of the commitments mentioned in operational paragraph 2 above in this Protocol. To prepare the working modalities of the intergovernmental commission and its sub-commissions, a working group headed by the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs shall be created 2 months after the day following the entry into force of this Protocol. Within 3 months after the entry into force of this Protocol, these modalities shall be approved at ministerial level. The intergovernmental commission shall meet for the first time immediately after the adoption of the said modalities. The sub-commissions shall start their work at the latest 1 month thereafter and they shall work continuously until the completion of their mandates. The timetable and elements agreed by both sides for the implementation of this Protocol are mentioned in the annexed document, which is integral part of this Protocol.
This Protocol and the Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey shall enter into force on the same day, i.e. on the first day of the first month following the exchange of instruments of ratification.
Signed in (place) on (date) in Armenian, Turkish and English authentic copies in duplicate. In case of divergence of interpretation, the English text shall prevail.
For the Republic of Armenia
For the Republic of Turkey
There is also an “annexed document” indicating a timeline of events that are to take place after the protocols are signed, the first being the opening of the border. The border should open within a two-month period after having signed the protocols, even before the commission and various sub-commissions are formed to work out the logistics of opening he border, which is dangerous and totally irresponsible in my opinion. Then again, the intentions of these protocols are dubious to begin with.
Summing up, no further discussions about establishing diplomatic relations should be held at all until Turkey recognizes that it committed genocide against the Armenian people. You cannot have mutual trust and understanding without resolving this issue once and for all from the start, and it is preposterous to believe that this issue should be separated from deliberations to normalize relations. The Armenian Genocide issue is a political one now, it is not something for historians to deliberate on any longer—that’s already been done. Turkey has to understand this and repent for its unleashed calamity, then discussions about understanding and mutual trust can be held. If these protocols are signed using this verbiage, there will never be any way of pressuring Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide again.
Secondly, the border between Armenia and Turkey cannot ever be opened before the Nagorno-Karabagh issue is finally resolved. It would be irresponsible for the Armenian leadership to endorse the initiatives outlined in both protocols, not to mention an absolute foreign policy disaster, before a peace agreement is signed. They are two distinct, entirely separate issues that cannot be lumped together to establish peace in the region. Armenia was at war with Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, not with Turkey. And Armenia does not demonstrate antagonism towards Turkey, not when trips to Antalya are promoted on billboards in Yerevan and Turkish goods are purchased in tons per week. The two issues cannot be combined into an all-inclusive package deal for developing relations with Armenia’s neighbors, they need to be negotiated upon and resolved separately and conclusively.
Armenians worldwide cannot let these protocols be approved in five weeks. Armenia has a lot to lose in these protocols, first and foremost the satisfaction of Armenian Genocide recognition by Turkey. Armenia cannot refuse its right to claim lands by accepting the current border as being an absolute line of demarcation. Once these documents are signed, there can never be any further discussion about the return of historic Armenian lands, before the topic has even been opened.
Millions of Armenians since the dawn of the 20th century have struggled for a set of principles and ideals that are well known as the Armenian Cause. It has been fought in countless forums and stages—from the battlefront at Sardarabad in 1918 to classrooms in Massachusetts where students learn about the Armenian Genocide as part of the school curriculum. Several thousands died during the Nagorno-Karabagh war to secure the self-determination of Armenians living there. Activists worldwide still campaign for realizing the cause, mostly by persuading governments and various official or non-governmental bodies of influence to recognize the Armenian Genocide as a factual, historic event. There are also discussions now and then about making valid claims for the return of Western Armenian lands controlled by Turkey to this day. Their efforts have been fantastic and the Armenians have enjoyed much success in having their case heard globally, especially in the US and Europe in recent years. All of that is about to go down the drain. With the signing of these protocols the Armenian Cause will be effectively dead for the reasons I have already mentioned in my comments.
Armenians have to decide what they want out of their own future as a nation in pursuit of receiving due justice for past tragedies that it had been made to endure time and time again. At present, the fate of the Armenian nation is in its own hands, and it is a make or break moment. The cause cannot die, not when we still have the chance to save it.