Turkey Is Trying to Dictate to Armenia
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent – THE SEOUL TIMES
The passages of time never heal completely when such crimes have been committed and the aggressor refuses to either admit to such barbaric crimes or makes lame excuses all the time. Despite this, Armenia entered talks with Turkey in the hope of solving long held problems and in the need to stabilize the region.
However, leaders in Turkey are still trying to dictate and they are putting pre-conditions down on a conflict which is outside their remit. This applies to the ongoing crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh and the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Yet this issue involves Armenia and Azerbaijan and it is not up to Turkey to decide the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Yes, Turkey, just like the Russian Federation and Iran, and other regional nations and nations who are also concerned about this issue, does have a right to be concerned about regional problems but it must be “an honest broker” and not dictatorial. After all, would Turkey be happy if Armenia stated that Turkey must handover land to the Kurds or return land to the Armenians, Assyrians, and other ethnic groups who were “cleansed” in the early 20th century?
It also must be remembered that Turkish military forces are still based throughout northern Cyprus and this is the problem with Turkey. For it appears that the leaders of Turkey suffer from historical amnesia. Also, nationalism is still a potent force within the major institutions of Turkey.
If we look at the founding father of modern day Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, then it is clear that he himself supported the destruction of Christianity via the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Christian genocide of 1915. Therefore, it is clear that Turkish nationalism and secularism is tainted by its anti-Christian nature and also its anti-Kurdish nature. After all, the nation state of Turkey was about Turkish nationalism and secularism did not protect the religious or ethnic minorities of this diverse nation.
Some people in Turkey play “the religious card” and ply the mantra of Muslim brotherhood. However, this is also hollow because tens of thousands of mainly Muslim Kurds have been killed over the last few decades and many Kurdish villages were also destroyed. Also, the Alevi are a Muslim minority group in Turkey and they also face discrimination and massacres have taken place against them from time to time, for example in 1993 you had the Sivas massacre when radical Sunni Islamists killed many innocent people.
Turning back to recent times the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Eduard Nalbandian, was very frank about the ongoing problem with Turkey. He stated that “Had there been preconditions, we would not have started this process and reached agreements in the first place.” Nalbandian continued by stating that “If one of the parties is creating artificial obstacles, dragging out things, that means it is assuming responsibility for the failure of this process,” and this can be seen to be a tacit warning to Turkey about the ongoing problems involving Armenia and Turkey.
However, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan, stated in October 2009 that “Turkey cannot take a positive step towards Armenia unless Armenia withdraws from Azerbaijani land [...] if that issue is solved our people and our parliament will have a more positive attitude towards this protocol and this process.”
Erdogan also stated that “We will bring the protocol to parliament but parliament has to see the conditions between Azerbaijan and Armenia to decide whether this protocol can be implemented.”
Yet according to Alexander Iskandaryan, director of the Caucasus Media Institute in Yerevan, he makes it clear that “The Turkish side needs to play to its domestic audience. Erdogan and other political figures have made such statements often enough [...] It’s a fact that neither the word Karabakh nor Azerbaijan appears in the documents that were signed.”
Nalbandian also commented in January 2010 that “If Turkey takes a step back, then this will be not only a violation of the agreements with Armenia but will demonstrate that it is not respecting the international community’s opinion, with all resulting consequences and the loss of credibility in the first instance.” He continued by stating that “Armenia, on the other hand, will — let’s not say win — not lose anything that we had before this process.”
Therefore, outside nations need to put more pressure on Turkey in order for “a new chapter” to begin between Armenia and Turkey. The Nagorno-Karabakh issue is indeed serious, however, this dispute is between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. Also, the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis must be resolved by all the parties involved and by both regional and global institutions which have a vested interest in solving this complex problem.
However, the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis is a separate issue and Turkey can’t claim otherwise because this issue was outside the signed agreement between Armenia and Turkey.
The genocide of Armenians and other Christians in 1915 is an historical fact and the same applies to massacres which took place before and after this date. Turkey can never erase this history, however, this nation can start “a fresh chapter” which is based on sincerity and genuine friendship with Armenia.
Therefore, do the leaders of Turkey desire friendship and honesty or is nationalism too embedded within the mindset of the political elites of this nation?
LEE JAY WALKER
THE SEOUL TIMES