Discussion: Statements from Turkey Prior to April 2015 and their Subsequent Denials
On the eve of the centennial anniversary of the Armenian Genocide Turkey continues setting the agenda through official and unofficial means thus creating an illusion for the international community that certain steps are being taken to reestablish Armenian-Turkish relations.

The Media Center initiated panel discussion referred to the signals coming from Turkey in the period preceding the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, particularly the news published by the Turkish mass media and their official denial, as well as the main objective of such policy.

The panelists included Giro Manoyan, Leader of ARF Bureau for Armenian Cause and Political Affairs Office; Ara Papian, Head of Modus Vivendi Center; Aris Nalcı, journalist, news program director of IMC Turkish TV channel. The panel discussion was moderated by Lilit Gasparyan, Coordinator of PJC Armenian-Turkish Programs.

The article published in the July 4th issue of the Turkish Taraf newspaper reported that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan intends to carry on the efforts toward Armenian-Turkish reconciliation by taking a second step, namely opening of theborders. The first step, as claimed by the periodical, was Erdoğan’s condolence message addressed to ‘the generations of the deceased in the first World War.’

Afterwards the Turkish Foreign Ministry officially denied the information. The statement of the speaker of the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Turkey closed the border in 1993 due to the Armenian occupation of the Azerbaijani territories, and, as framed by the speaker, they will open the border only after the conflict settlement.

Turkey creates an illusion of the issue settlement through various announcements over the border opening.

 ‘I believe Turkey’s previous and further actions are mainly determined by the centennial anniversary of the Armenian Genocide,’ said Ara Papian who qualified the Taraf article on the opening of the borders as a message to the world community aiming to  show that there is willingness to improve the relations with Armenia but there exist certain impeding circumstances. Therefore, ‘there is an illusion of a process, which, Papian believes, is created since  there is an international pressure on Turkey and which is sometimes mitigated through such publications.’

Giro Manoyan stated that Turkey is trying to apply various means to normalize the relations with Armenia and Armenians before April 24, 2015 but their plans are not to materalize since Turkey’s actions continue being driven by Azerbaijani-Turkish relations.

What will the opening, even a partial one, offer Turkey?

Ara Papian commented that the border opening is determined first of all by political interests. In fact, Turkey intends to create a positive image for the USA first and secondly European Union.

However, whatever Turkey undertakes, it will last till May-July, 2015, after which Turkey will return to its previous diplomacy.

Giro Manoyan noted that any attempt by Turkey to open the border is motivated by Turkey’s intention to hinder the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Generally, according to Giro Manoyan, the case with the Taraf has been paid much attention to. Meanwhile, such reaction can be advantageous for the Turkish authorities who are signaling to the West that they have initiated establishing relations with Armenia. On the other hand, the Taraf attempts to hit Erdoğan from inside.

With respect to international community and experts, the panelist emphasized that Turkey managed to plant the belief that the only problem existing between Armenia and Turkey is the closed border whereas it is far from being true. 

The reaction to the Taraf article was not as negative as it could have been.

Aris Nalcı stated that the same article would have received quite different feedback 5 years ago. With respect to the denial issued by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Aris Nalcı said that the Ministry does not claim that they do not intend to open the border, on the contrary, it states that ‘the border has been closed since 1993, the South Caucasian roads are to be reconstructed, the policy is to change only after which questions will have new responses.’

Aris Nalcı pointed out Russia as a possible interested party in the opening of the border because Russia’s involvement in the negotiations has increased.

Giro Manoyan disagreed with the last viewpoint, stating that ‘Russia does not have a crucial role in the Armenian-Turkish relations.’

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