Armenian FM: Turkey has lied for 99 years

Recognition of Armenian genocide is still the main obstacle to normalizing ties with Ankara, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in an interview with Buenos Aires Herald.

Turkey is to blame for the failure to advance in the normalization of ties with Armenia because the government of Recep Erdogan demands “impossible” pre-conditions, the Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said yesterday during a visit to Buenos Aires.

“Our president attempted to normalize relations between our two countries. We agreed on two protocols to normalize our relations, including the establishment of diplomatic relations. Unfortunately, after the signing ceremony — which took place in Zurich in October, 2009 — the Turkish Parliament hasn’t been able to ratify and implement agreements and Turkey is now coming up with new pre-conditions,” Nalbandian told the Herald yesterday, during an interview at the Alvear Hotel.

Nalbandian is part of the delegation that accompanied President Serzh Sargsyan to Argentina, where the two participated in the inauguration of the Museum of Armenian Genocide yesterday, the first of its kind outside Armenian borders. According to Nalbandian, the opening of the museum “is a very important step and we appreciated it very much, as well as the recognition of the genocide (by the Argentine government) through a special law.”

The recognition of the Armenian genocide is an extremely thorny issue between the two countries. Turkey acknowledges that atrocities were committed against Armenians starting in 1915 but says that, at most, the killings were just another chapter of a messy war that spelled the end of the Ottoman empire. Most mainstream historians, however, agree with Armenia that the massacres constituted genocide.

Why is it so important for Armenians that the international community acknowledges the genocide? “It was the first genocide of the 20th century. And unfortunately, the fact that it was not recognized by the international community at the time made it possible for other genocides to take place. So we feel a responsibility as a people who suffered the first genocide in the 20th century not to allow new crimes against humanity in the future,” Nalbandian said yesterday.

Regarding Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge the scale of the killings, the Foreign Minister said that “it has less to do with the reparations that the Turkish state would have to pay to Armenian families (of victims), than with the fact that it is difficult to look at your own people in the eye and say: ‘we’ve been lying to you for 99 years’.”

Armenians around the world will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the massacre next year and Nalbandian said he was confident “that many countries in the world will express their solidarity to the Armenian people.”

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