After 24 April: A To-Do List for Armenia


After 24 April: A To-Do List for Armenia

Text:  Tigran Zakaryan


Every year Armenians worldwide commemorate the symbolic date of the start of the Armenian Genocide. The leaders of countries with influential Armenian minorities, US and France first and foremost, articulate their support for Armenians and condemn of the atrocities. Yet, with the same regularity, Turkey denies those “accusations” suggesting that their death en masse is hardly the fault of any specific party. Instead, Ankara offers a nominal “condolence” aslip service to Armenians mentioned as mere “sufferers” in World War 1. 

One might ask a simple question- How useful is this pattern for Armenia, which claims that the genocide recognition is instrumental in building its security in the future?. We saw that three major countries US, France, and Russia (which recognized the Armenian Genocide to varying degrees) did little to prevent the war unleashed by Azerbaijan in 2020 and supported by Turkey. We see that the humanitarian principles rarely guide policies unless they serve to strengthen them. In this case, these principles might have served the purpose of focusing more attention on the issue but are clearly insufficient for modifying the specific policies.

The core question regarding the handling of the Armenian Genocide is whether Yerevan should weaponize the issue. We see that some major players do that on their own will, regardless of Armenia’s wishes. In fact, if Turkey wanted to stop that it has to negotiate with each of those countries rather than Armenia. Thus, it would be pointless to discuss it in bilateral talks with Ankara. 

On the other hand, the genocide issue should not be on the Armenia-Turkey normalization agenda to avoid turning it into a bargaining chip, which is unacceptable. On the other hand, all discussion on possible “abandoning genocide claims” sometimes pushed by Ankara should be discarded immediately as something which is “beyond the red line”. 

Armenian diplomacy, public politicians and experts have a hard task of separating genocide memory from the country’s practical need of discussing relations with our non-friendly neighbor (to say the least). All parties need to discuss the issue based on plausible arguments rather than a constant recollection of ancient wounds, to start with. Armenian elites need also to rule out any possible intervention on this matter from without.