Success in the reconciliation talks between Turkey and Armenia requires both sides to withdraw their preconditions, according to Armenia’s first foreign minister.
"There is asymmetry. Though in fact Armenia should put preconditions [before the reconciliatory talks], it’s Turkey that does it. If it continues like this, they won’t be possible to establish ties," Raffi K. Hovannisian told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in an interview.
Hovannisian served as the first foreign minister between 1991 and 1992 right after the country’s independence under the leadership of former President Levan Ter-Petrosyan, who pursued a moderate policy toward Turkey.
"It was a missed historical opportunity for Turkey. Turkey introduced preconditions just as it does today. Its official stance did not allow establishing diplomatic ties with Armenia. We have exerted great effort but we have not been able not succeed. After Petrosyan, Turkey also realized that the opportunity was missed," Hovannisian said. According to Hovannisian, Turkey’s preconditions before establishing ties were settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue and giving up international efforts for the recognition of the Armenian "genocide."
"All three presidents of Armenia deserve criticism of their human rights and democratic records but all of them attached great importance to relations with Turkey and reiterated their calls for dialogue without any precondition," he said. Turkey recognized the state of Armenia but did not establish diplomatic ties because Yerevan occupied one-fifth of Azerbaijan’s territory in early 1990s. The border with Armenia was also sealed due to the same reason.
Turkey and Armenia last week declared that they have agreed on a road map and framework to establish diplomatic ties, as a result of ongoing reconciliation talks. The framework includes the foundation of a joint commission of history that will analyze the 1915 events during which hundreds of thousands of people died as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. "The historians should not study whether it was genocide or not. It’s very obvious that what happened in 1915 constitutes genocide. Thus they should study how it occurred," he said.
"My roots are in Ordu, a coastal town [in Turkey] near the Black Sea. Many members of our family were the victims of genocide. But it was a Turkish family who saved my mother. We cannot blame all Turkish people for what happened at that time," Hovannisian said.