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South Caucasus


Georgi Vanyan
Interview Day.Az with the chairman of Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives Georgi Vanyan

Mr. Vanyan, how do people in Armenia regard the fact of secret negotiations held between Armenian and Turkish diplomats?

I don’t understand what secret negotiations you are talking about? I can only point out that today under present circumstances any Armenian-Turkish relations can be called “secret”, no matter if they are the meetings of diplomats, the representatives of state structures, non-governmental organizations or art figures.

Since the content and especially the results of such contacts remain to be a big secret for the public of Armenia and at the same time the so-called “secrecy” feeds our primitive political scientists and politicians who are actively working out the assumption about the “significance and concernment of the processes” and by fortifying yourself with geopolitical formulas, they give out forecasts for future. In my opinion, the clue to it is very simple. At the present moment all these contacts are the process for the sake of the processes. That is they are dull and void of any significance, except for the elements of tourism and entertainments.

How significant are the Armenian-Turkish relations today?

Commerce. There is no point in quoting the figures. A large scale of Turkish goods is being imported to Armenia. A huge scale of Armenian business is being carried out in Turkey. If you go shopping in Armenia, you can hardly guess that the frontier is closed. There exists another sphere of Armenian-Turkish contacts. That is the so-called “shuttles” and a great army of illegal working immigrants, the citizens of Armenia.

Diplomacy, as such for good reasons, can be classified as “non-official” that adjoins tourism. A reception given in respect of the Armenian delegation in Turkey can be characterized as “Eat and drink, enjoy yourselves as much as you wish, but avoid talking about serious matters…”. Tourism in its clear form and in some scope is supported by certain well-to-do circles of the citizens of Armenia who are having their rest either in Antalya, Cyprus or Spain. Original non-traditional or alternative tourism is currently growing which can be regarded as “repatriation for a moment”. Practically anyone wishing to visit the land of their ancestors is offered an opportunity to see the sights of an Armenian origin. It is not a bad business at all. But the increase of the scope of a similar tourism is becoming another dividing factor. I think, there is need to explain why.

What will Armenia benefit by the opening of the Armenian-Turkish frontier?

The opening of the Armenian-Turkish frontier is to become a constituent part of the settlement of the Armenian-Turkish relations. It shall be an incentive for the holding of a political dialogue. It shall be the basis for the formation of a social order for the establishment of good-neighbour relations. It shall be the practical basis for the reconciliation between both of the nations. All these processes shall lead to the levelling of speculations, gradual and exhaustive solution of all the contradictions. The settlement of the relations with Turkey presumes recomprehension of the national interest and review of priorities of the development of Armenia. The settlement of the relations with Turkey is a necessary prerequisite for the formation of Armenia as an independent international subject.

Is Armenia ready for the cessation of the activity directed at the recognition of “Armenian Genocide” and the return of occupied territories of Azerbaijan in exchange of the opening of the Armenian-Turkish frontier?

A similar statement of the question concerns the sphere of propaganda and not politics. It is the absence of political processes that the absolute vacuum in the Armenian-Turkish relations for many years has been filled out by the speculative postulate of “exchange”, a false “reference point” leading one into a dead end. The settlement of the Karabakh conflict in reality, not a cosmetic settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijanian relations, cannot be subject to the defeat of third factors. It is a vital issue for both of our countries, for our nations and the significance of the said issue is incomparable with the factor of an opened or closed frontier with Turkey.

What do you think whether Turkey can ignore the question concerning the liberation of Nagorno Karabakh by Armenia for the sake of its interests?

I cannot say what Turkey can and cannot do. The unleashing and freezing of the Armenian-Azerbaijanian conflict is “a small change” for third countries. The settlement of the conflict lies in the zone of the immediate Armenian-Azerbaijanian relations. Our internal potential should be used for the purpose. The settlement of the conflict with Azerbaijan is a vital and priority-driven question for Armenia. It cannot lie on the level of the so-called “change of interests” of some third countries, no matter if they are neighbouring countries, super or common empires.

Let me paraphrase the question: can we expect any improvements in Armenian-Azerbaijanian relations after the improvement of Armenian-Turkish relations?

If any improvements set in, that is a real change in Armenian-Turkish relations is made, then there is no doubt that certain progress in solving the Armenian-Azerbaijanian conflict will set in, as well. But it has nothing to do with geopolitics. The improvements of relations can set in only when drastic changes are made in Armenia. It does not imply the change of authorities. I mean long matured recomprehension of national interests and review of priorities of the development.

Unfortunately, regardless of the fact whether Abdullah Gul will be present at the football match as long as the relations with Turkey are being reviewed in Armenia concerning the internal intrigues such as Kocharyan’s critical remark, speculative-market “loyalty” of the opposition, the discontent and resentment of the members of the ruling coalition “Dashaktsutyun” regarding the given step undertaken by the president. The first step is the hardest, isn’t it? Armenia needs to get out of this hell.

Akper Hasanov