AGBU’s Statement Regarding the Protocols

On August 31, 2009 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, together with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, jointly produced two documents of protocol concerning the establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey and the development of bilateral relations. These documents provide details on the initial steps to be taken for the normalization of relations, the establishment of consular representation, and the opening of the current border between the two countries.

On August 31, 2009 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, together with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, jointly produced two documents of protocol concerning the establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey and the development of bilateral relations. These documents provide details on the initial steps to be taken for the normalization of relations, the establishment of consular representation, and the opening of the current border between the two countries.
This marks a significant moment in the history of relations between the Armenian and Turkish peoples. It presents major ramifications for both the government of the newly independent Republic of Armenia and the Armenian nation worldwide. The Armenian people in both the homeland and the Diaspora have followed these negotiations with great interest and concern.

We recognize the great geopolitical challenges faced by Armenia — its concern for its national security, the need to improve its accessibility and communication links vital to its economic development, the desire to participate in regional programs of political and economic cooperation. All of these objectives motivate the Armenian government to be positive and sincere in its approach to these negotiations and to adopt a pragmatic policy with regard to Turkey. However, as practical as such a policy may be, it should not be implemented at the expense of the fundamental and historic rights of the Armenian people. We believe the official governmental authorities in Armenia are both the administrators of the state and the guardians of its future. Therefore, they must be guided by pan-national goals and aspirations in making these difficult and far-reaching decisions.

The documents establishing diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey touch directly or indirectly upon the enduring issues of the Armenian Genocide and our territorial demands. We understand the importance for the Republic of Armenia to have normal diplomatic relations with neighboring states, including Turkey. We also believe that justice for the sacred Armenian Case and the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide should transcend and not be sacrificed for any immediate diplomatic consideration.

The start of negotiations between Armenia and Turkey has been favorably encouraged by the international community. The sole opponent to this dialogue between Armenia and Turkey has been the country of Azerbaijan. For almost two decades, Turkey has joined with Azerbaijan in the blockade of Armenia due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

š In the past, Turkey has used the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as justification for its refusal to pursue a separate rapprochement with Armenia. This current effort to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey should not be pre-conditioned by any terms of concession involving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have already clearly expressed their will to live freely through their exercise of the sacred right of peoples for self-determination.

This is a rare moment of opportunity for Turkey. It must show that it is ready to move forward in earnest. If it falters, hesitates or withdraws, it will expose itself to the reproach of the international major powers and those regional nations which are fostering this rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey.

As this bold diplomatic initiative moves toward normalized relations between the two countries, Turkey will find itself subjected to even greater international scrutiny. To justify its membership in the European Union, Turkey will be under pressure to fulfill its international commitments. It will become more exposed and accountable to world public opinion. It will be forced to adhere to principles of human rights and democratic rule and to cooperate with its neighboring countries.

We know the authorities in Armenia face a difficult path as they endeavor to build new relations with Turkey without imposed preconditions. We also believe the government of Armenia shares our serious concerns about the sincerity of Turkey, given its historic anti-Armenian policy that has continued to the present time. We commend their initiative and lend our support in their efforts to find a just and fair outcome in the building of good neighborly relations between Armenia and Turkey, while safeguarding the historic claims and rights of the Armenian People.

The Armenian General Benevolent Union has been steadfast in serving the Armenian people for more than a century. It has been a leading voice for the desires and aspirations of the Diaspora. AGBU unwaveringly adheres to its time-honored policy of supporting the homeland, safeguarding the rights of the Armenian nation, and promoting the historic and cultural legacy of our people.

On this occasion, we appeal to all Armenians to face the challenges of this historical moment, in collaboration with the government of the Republic of Armenia, with wisdom, national unity and the spirit of cooperation among our people.

Armenian General Benevolent Union
Central Board of Directors
September 10, 2009

  1. Setrakian does it again

    We were not expecting anything different from "AGBU". The real AGBU that was founded by Noubar pasha had far different purpose than the current organization. Even though the initial organization has been for all Armenians as the main charitable organization, the current one that has taken the name "AGBU" does not represent the initial values AGBU stood for. It has betrayed the Armenian people on many grounds.

    –  Closure of several schools in Lebanon.
    –  Closure of Melkonian Institution
    – Alec Manougian centers in many countries, including in Toronto is nothing but a private banquet hall serving non-Armenians.

    Setrakian, who heads this organization, has no Armenian education and cannot relate to the real Armenian issues.

    We hope the members realize that Setrakian himself made statements some twenty years ago, where he was suggesting the surrender of Artsakh. Setrakian in his secret meetings with the previous administration in Armenia suggested that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey and US was a waste of time and effort. In his remarks, he also made the following comments: “… no other genocides were condemned by US administration and no reparation were paid except to the victims of the Jewish holocaust."

    Free Armenian Organization
    1. AGBU and Setrakian

      Dear Hagop,

      I read your comment, "Setrakian Does It Again".  Seems you have read my mind about AGBU and Setrakian.

      I completely agree with your comment and bring to your attention that in Johannesburg we had a cultural center called Missak Museum, the residence of late Missak on a 12,000 meter square in the most prestigious area of Johannesburg, full of all types of precious articles of art and antiques.

      Late Missak mentioned in his will that after his death it will serve as Armenian cultural center, but if one day it gets sold, the money should be distributed between AGBU, 75% of its value, and a monastery in England by 25%. Of course late Missak had in mind the AGBU of Noubar Pasha and not today’s AGBU.

      Anita Anserlian, the P.A. of Setrakian, assigned her friend Mr. and Mrs. Jacques and Janine Adanalian to sell this Armenian cultural home.  The latter did so, including the valuable belongings of Missak museum without the knowledge of the local Armenians.

      After we heard about the sale, we approached AGBU to offer us a small cultural center with a small percentage of the money of Missak Museum. The answer, dated 2004 was, "We will come back to you in the very near future". Since then we never heard back from AGBU.

      I have no doubt that, in so many hidden places of the world, there are instances such as Missak museum of Johannesburg being inherited and sold by today’s AGBU, and nobody hears about it. All we hear and know of is Melkonian, Alec Manougian, Demirdjian and etc… 
      Let me stop here before I get a stroke at a time after midnight in South African local time.
      1. AGBU

        Vicken, I know how you feel.  The recent acts of AGBU are hidden games and the intricacies are not disclosed to Armenians.  It’s like a company where the executives forgot their employees…reminds me of Enron.

        Their current leadership does not feel and act as true Armenians. Mainly, Louise Manoogian Simone is married to a non-Armenian and as far as I know, she’s the main person who started selling AGBU assets around the world and dismantling the whole organization slowly-but-surely until 2002, then she turned over the reins to Berge Setrakian who doesn’t have proper "Armenian" education. For them it’s just a business, for Armenians it’s a heritage.  For me AGBU is a dead entity.


        1. AGBU and Adanalian
          You are right, I completely agree with you on all what you say about today’s AGBU. I am surprised where do they find these people who even do not have any Armenian education to join them on the board of AGBU?

          I would like to bring to your attention that Jacques and Janine Adanalian, who sold "MISSAK MUSEUM" in Johannesburg also have no Armenian education at all.

          Until today The Armenian Society of South Africa has no single place to come together and none of the local Armenians know where the money went.

          If anybody from AGBU can update us what happened to the money, we will be very thankful.

          1. A request to AGBU

            We would kindly request from AGBU to update us in which year’s statement appears the income of the sale of Missak Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa.  If the money is still not transferred to AGBU New York since 2005,  then what was the goal of Ms. A. Anserlian and Mr & Mrs. Jacques and Janine Adanalian selling our only get-together place in such a rush? We could have used it for another five more years.
            In the last two years, in South Africa, prime interest rates dropped from 16% to 10.5% which means for the capital of the sale value which was around US$1.5Million, with the interest earned in one year, we, the Armenian Society of South Africa could have bought a new place, and still we are not considering the interest of five years since the sale of Missak Museum.

            In 2004 Ms. Anita Anserlian was asked by the Armenian Society of South Africa (When I was serving as chairman and now I serve as vice chairman of the society) to consider offering a small percentage of that money to us, to buy a small and less fancy place for which she promised to get back to us in the very near future, and after six years, we are still waiting for that so called "very near future" and her response.

            Note that, Missak museum was not donated by AGBU, it was the residence of late Missak who donated it to the local community.

          2. don’t waste your time

            Vicken, don’t waste your time waiting for an answer from AGBU, they will never answer your question or your request. Their silence is a sign of acceptance of guilt.

            Vicken, as your friend, as far as I know you, since your arrival to South Africa which was more than a decade ago, you donated your work. At one stage your house had become like an Armenian club. Once a month you were organizing come together parties for the local Armenians. You did all different donations to bring The Armenian Society of South Africa to its gloriest times and you succeeded.  As they say in Armenian, "VARTSKET GADAR".

            Others were jealous of you, because they stayed in the shade while you were shining like the sun of the community. I remember the poems you were reciting at each party, every time a couple of different pieces.  To tell the truth, nobody has as much Armenian knowledge as you do in South Africa. On the other hand others had no Armenian education at all, which was the key reason for their wrong doings to the community.  For every Armenian it was so clear the reason why AGBU and some local supporters of the move sold Missak center so discretely,  without the knowledge of any local Armenian. We all knew the hidden agenda, yet they got away with it…

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