Turkey between ethics and politics: Put it all on the table

Published on Online Journal, by Raffi Hovannisian, Dec 16, 2009.

YEREVAN, Armenia — In Washington, Brussels, Moscow and elsewhere, Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan, Foreign Minister Davutoglu and others have long advocated combining into one political agenda their country’s normalization of relations with Armenia and the resolution of Mountainous Karabagh’s conflict with Azerbaijan.

I agree.

Newly independent Armenia’s ostensibly mature policy — which I supported as the nation’s first foreign affairs minister — of seeking establishment of diplomatic relations without the positing of any preconditions can today, 18 years into the game, be pronounced dead on arrival.  

Oddly but expectedly, it has been the senior government at Ankara which, instead of finally recognizing the responsibility of its Ottoman-Young Turk predecessors for the great genocide and national dispossession of 1915 or at minimum employing the facility of an unconditional official relationship to address and solve the outstanding issues that resulted from it, has from the beginning proffered a variety of unilateral conditions. The staple prerequisites of a) removing genocide and its affirmation from Armenia’s international vocabulary and b) validating the de facto Turkish-Armenian frontier which had been imposed by Bolshevik-Kemalist fiat in 1921, have since been supplemented by c) a Baku-centric regulation of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations and of Mountainous Karabagh’s legitimate quest for liberty, post-Stalinist decolonization and sovereign statehood.

The bilateral power asymmetry of the past has been conjoined with a contemporary asymmetry in diplomatic demeanor, which is underscored by Turkey’s continued bad-neighborly blockade. This makes it finally impossible to bridge the Turkish-Armenian divide by old and outdated technologies.

Turkey is right on this score. And so, for the first time in all history, bring it all out and onto the table and let’s hammer out a comprehensive blueprint that delivers us to a brave new future of peace, prosperity and shared security for the parties and for the broader region.

This daring paradigm, which will entail the constructive support of the world of nations, must provide solution and closure to a few pivotal points on the agenda: … //

… For policymaker and pundit alike, the road to regional integration in a new-age community of democratic values and global security, to the Caucasus, Central Asia and Afghanistan, to energy sourcing and other strategic priorities passes right through the long irrelevant but now tectonic killing fields of old Armenia. If the future is meant to count, no measure of NATO membership or geopolitical self-importance or moderate-Islam grandstanding can prevent the ultimate harmony of renaissance and realpolitik. (full text).

(Raffi Hovannisian, a member of Parliament, is founding director of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies).

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