Turkey should stop covering the atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire, and recognize the Armenian genocide, Armenia’s president Serzh Sargsyan said on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the start of the mass killings.
“We want the modern Turkish authorities to shed the burden of the actions of the Ottoman Empire,”Sargsyan told Russia Today doing a sit-down interview in capital Yerevan. “The modern authorities did not commit the genocide, but when they try to justify it, they take responsibility for it.”
Despite disagreements, in 2009, Yerevan and Ankara signed a “historic” deal, that would lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of the borders, but neither the Armenian, nor the Turkish parliament have ratified it.
“The Turks don’t want, from what they have shown, to establish relations. We have demonstrated on numerous occasions that the very moment that Turkey ratifies the document, we are ratifying it,” said Sargsyan.
The Armenian leader, who has been in his post since 2008, accused Turkey of imposing “preconditions” for a deal. Ankara has refused to sign any diplomatic documents or to recognize the genocide until Armenia officially abandons its claims for lands inside Turkey, where Armenians lived prior to 1915. Another thorny issue is the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, where Ankara has supported the Muslim Azeri population, in its stand-off with the Christian Armenians.
“We haven’t posed any preconditions to Turks. We haven’t said to them that we should recognize Armenian genocide to establish normal relations with us, and I think our position was just and fair, and constructive. But the Turkish side, the Turkish leadership, to be precise, have always come up with this or that or that precondition,” said the Armenian president.
Sargsyan additionally accused Turkey of “expanding its denial toolbox” after it moved its centennial anniversary of the Gallipoli victory of the Allies to April 24, to coincide with Armenia’s Genocide Remembrance Day.
“It is not acceptable if they violate the chronology and adapt it to another date in order to divert the tension from another date. That’s where the problem is. We don’t want to have a competition of dates, and we don’t want to make April 24, a Remembrance Day for Armenian genocide victims to be in competition with Turkey, either in terms of counting the numbers of heads of states that come here, or the number of delegations that arrive here.”
While the European parliament had a symbolic vote to recognize the genocide, Barack Obama, who had liberally used the term prior to his election as US President in 2008, has shied away from it in office, presumably to avoid upsetting longtime NATO ally Turkey.
Sargsyan said the White House stance was insincere.
“I’ve spoken with US officials. No one there denies the genocide, but it is simply not in America’s national interest to recognize it officially.”