10, 2009

President Serzh Sargsyan met with the representatives of the major Armenian communities of Europe

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The Pan-Armenian tour of the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan kicked off on October 2 in Paris, where he met with over hundred representatives of the major Armenian communities of Europe.
Before that, in the morning of October 2, the President of Armenia had a meeting with Armenia’s National Hero, world famous singer Charles Aznavour. The great performer praised the Armenian President’s initiative to listen in the framework of the debates related to the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations to the opinions and concerns of our brothers and sisters in Diaspora, to soothe the existing worries, and to exchange views regarding future steps of the different parts of Diaspora on the ensuing stages.

In the afternoon, at the Canada square President Serzh Sargsyan laid a wreathe at Komitas monument dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide, conversed with the representatives of our compatriots, who organized demonstration against the signing of the Armenian-Turkish protocols.

In the evening, the President of Armenia met with the representatives of different major Armenian communities, organizations and structures and made a statement. In his statement Serzh Sargsyan reflected on the principal approaches and concern related to the process of normalization and the initialed protocols.

Observing that meetings in this format – listening to the opinions and approaches of the world spread parts of our nation on the issues of national consequence - were a new phenomenon, President Serzh Sargsyan said, “This hall represents a collective force, it represents hundreds of thousands Armenians of Europe and I am talking about it with the unconcealed pride. This collective force has solved many problems of pan-Armenian significance and has always stood by Armenia. Today, we are also together - this time to consult before making a decision and to divide our labor before embarking on an important mission.”

Noting that he too was one of hundreds of thousands of our compatriots who wake up everyday and look intently at Ararat Mountain and instinctively revolt at any mentioning of year 1915, President Serzh Sargsyan invited the representatives of the Armenian communities of Europe to conduct an open discussion on the process of normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations and its perspectives. “I want to hear concerns of the Armenians from all over the world. Such concerns are bound to exist regarding a painful issue such as this one. I want to mentally compare them to my own worries, to double check if there are any aspects that have been omitted or have not been considered. Is there a possibility that on this particular stage instead of creating opportunities for solving certain problems we carelessly close the doors on them?” President Sargsyan said.
The President of Armenia once again ruled out any possibility of preconditions for the normalization of our relations with Turkey and underscored that the negotiations have been conducted exclusively based on that premise.

Speaking about the initialed protocols, Serzh Sargsyan said, “These protocols are only the first step in the process of normalization of the relations between Armenia and Turkey. At this point, they have no other function than creating the minimally acceptable environment for negotiations. They envisage mechanisms to discuss the existing problems and unravel them in due time. The purpose of the protocols is to open the way for a complicated but at the same necessary process of normalization and provide opportunity to do it in a dignified way as it becomes the civilized nations in the 21st century.”
Afterwards, the President of Armenia spoke exhaustively about the current process of normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations, possibilities offered by the initialed protocols, and addressed main concerns related to the process. Speaking about the claim that signing of the protocols and establishment of the relations with Turkey could question the very fact of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated in Ottoman Turkey, President Sargsyan said, “I am stating without any “if” that it is a nonexistent issue.”
Speaking about the possibility that in the envisaged subcommittee on historical issues Turkey may supposedly question and challenge the very fact of the Armenian Genocide, President Sargsyan said, “The fact of the Armenian Genocide does not need any proof. And sooner or later the Turkish authorities will have to reckon over the fact of a genocidal killing of over 1,5 innocent victims, dispersion of the entire nation, and pain and anguish of their descendants. The only issue open for discussion is how we can help the people of Turkey to become more impartial while turning the pages of their own history, or to be more precise, how the repercussions of the Genocide can be dealt with.”
Regarding another worry, that the establishment of relations could jeopardize the process of international recognition of the Genocide, President Sargsyan said, “It will certainly jeopardize, if Armenians all over the world start to believe it. And vice versa – it will give a new impetus to the process, if the Armenian nation sees the opening opportunities and embark on the mission with added vigor.”
Speaking about another common concern that the establishment of relations with Turkey may be used to exert pressure on Artsakh issue, President Sargsyan said, “There is a clearly defined format for conducting negotiations on Karabakh issue and the process is moving on in that format. The initialed protocols have nothing to do with the NK issue. It is absolutely apparent that there is no allusion to Artsakh whatsoever. Our position is clear: the NK conflict settlement is not and cannot be in the realm of the Armenian-Turkish relations. Armenia is adamant on that. Moreover, the NK peace process still requires much work, which assumes that to expect signing of an agreement on that issue in the nearest future is not realistic.”
Speaking about the initialed documents, Serzh Sargsyan said, “I fully realize what kind of doors and what processes these documents may open. In my recent presentations I have been raising the same question: Are we closing some doors? I am sure, no. In reality, this is an agreement between two sovereign states, therefore it is acceptable or unacceptable for two parties. However, in reality we have been able to move forward toward the creation of the mechanisms for the resolution of the existing problems, transporting the solutions themselves in the realm of future joint work. I believe we have been able to create a document which contains nothing of irreversible nature; on the contrary it opens ways for working on all directions.”
In conclusion, President Sargsyan noted, “We are living in a new political and geopolitical environment. We must be one of those who shape that environment; we simply cannot be passive bystanders. We must conduct a proactive and inventive policy. I appeal to you to believe in our power, let’s accept that we are really strong when we are together and let’s move forward together. Armenia will not make a single move which does not serve the interests of the entire nation. Our strategic and perspective goals are unchanged, and the establishment of relations with Turkey closes no doors towards those goals, on the contrary it opens new ones.”
After President’s speech those present at the meeting engaged in an animated debate regarding the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations. All the attendees were provided with the opportunity to express their own and their organizations views on the documents and the process of normalization. They underlined that regardless of difference in approaches toward the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations, the Armenia Diaspora, as an entity, has always stood and will always stand by the Motherland, supporting Armenia and Artsakh.

In his concluding remarks the President of Armenia summed up the principle viewpoints and opinions, presented his position on each of the voiced concerns, and answered the questions raised by the participants to the meeting. “I don’t think it is appropriate to talk about the split among the different parts of the Armenian nation. I am confident that it will never be the case,” the President of Armenia assured those present.

Speaking about statements and unacceptable actions undertaken by certain political forces related to the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations, President Serzh Sargsyan said, “I fully respect all the viewpoints and voiced opinions regarding the process. However, if anyone is trying to intimidate me, he must be rather naïve.”

After the meeting, late at night on October 2, the President of Armenia answered also the questions from the media.

This morning, the delegation headed by the President of Armenia left for New York to fulfill the next leg of the Pan-Armenian tour. In New York the President of Armenia will meet with the representatives of the Armenian communities, organizations and structures of the East Coast and Canada.

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