Letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper


CONGRES DES CANADIENS ARMENIENS . CONGRESS OF CANADIAN ARMENIANS
October 22, 2009

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Ottawa

Dear Prime Minister:

The accord which was signed by the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey on October 10, 2009, and which consists of two specific protocols and an annex, is expected to be ratified by the parliaments of both countries. The Congress of Canadian Armenians supports this accord. It will hopefully lead to the resumption of normal diplomatic ties and the reopening of the shared border between the two countries. This will improve the national security of Armenia and the flow of trade for the landlocked country, and it will be seen as a responsible action by Turkey facilitating its entry into the European Union.


CONGRES DES CANADIENS ARMENIENS . CONGRESS OF CANADIAN ARMENIANS
October 22, 2009

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Ottawa

Dear Prime Minister:

The accord which was signed by the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey on October 10, 2009, and which consists of two specific protocols and an annex, is expected to be ratified by the parliaments of both countries. The Congress of Canadian Armenians supports this accord. It will hopefully lead to the resumption of normal diplomatic ties and the reopening of the shared border between the two countries. This will improve the national security of Armenia and the flow of trade for the landlocked country, and it will be seen as a responsible action by Turkey facilitating its entry into the European Union.

In a statement a few days ago, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan linked the opening of the border to the resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh issue. This is unacceptable. The protocols of the accord do not mention the Nagorno Karabagh issue, and Armenia has been very clear that the normalizing of relations with Turkey cannot be linked to it. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have a right to live freely, as expressed when they exercised their legitimate right to self-determination in a democratically held referendum. Our concern is that such statements by Turkish officials, made after the signing of the accord and presumably to placate Azerbaijan, could result in the accord gathering dust on the shelves of history.

Any accord with Turkey is of course an emotional step for many Armenians to accept. It is therefore not surprising that differing views have been expressed on the accord by some Armenians in Canada and in certain other parts of the diaspora. This public dialogue has unfortunately resulted in the spreading of some misconceptions about the accord (please see the two attachments to this letter).

The Government of Armenia still has a lot of hurdles to cross in the just implementation of what has been agreed to on paper. Turkish and Azeri threats continue with respect to the resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh issue. Armenians everywhere are fast closing ranks to support the Government of Armenia as it counters these threats.

We therefore ask that the Government of Canada strongly encourage the Government of Turkey to respect the commitments it undertook when it signed the protocols, and specifically to establish normal diplomatic ties and to open its border with Armenia unconditionally and without undue delay.

Normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey is an important and overdue step, but true and lasting conciliation requires the Government of Turkey to come to terms with history and recognize the Armenian Genocide. The Congress of Canadian Armenians and its participating organizations gratefully acknowledge and thank you for steadfastly supporting the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and hope that in time you can persuade Turkey to also recognize it.

Respectfully,

CONGRESS OF CANADIAN ARMENIANS

Taro Alepian
Chairman

cc:  Hon. Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs
      Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism
      Harold Albrecht MP, Chair of Canada-Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group

Attachments
 

Attachment No.1
Some misconceptions about the accord signed by Armenia and Turkey
Misconception: The accord endangers the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

This is not true. The accord does not address this issue in any way, and President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia has clearly stated that: "No relations with Turkey can question the reality of the patricide and the genocide perpetrated against the Armenian nation". His government and Armenians and Armenian organizations worldwide will continue to work to achieve this recognition by Turkey, and to pursue any claims that arise as a result.

Some critics point to the clause in the accord that agrees to: "implement a dialogue on the historical dimension with the aim to restore mutual confidence between the two nations, including an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archives to define existing problems and formulate recommendations." This is not a commission of historians to determine whether there was a genocide or not, as Turkey had asked for and which Armenia categorically rejected, but rather an intergovernmental bilateral forum for the representatives of the two countries to discuss any existing issues in a non-binding way.

Misconception: By agreeing to respect the existing border, Armenia has given up the right to claim back historical Armenian lands which are now in Turkey.

This is not true. The relevant clause in the accord states: "confirming the mutual recognition of the existing border between the two countries as defined by the relevant treaties of international law." The issue of the existing border between Armenia and Turkey can only be resolved through prevailing norms of international law, which is a self evident fact, and the accord does not go beyond that. It does not legally or otherwise give up the right to claim back historical Armenian lands which are now in Turkey, or to claim compensation for their loss.

Misconception: Armenia is abandoning Nagorno Karabagh by signing the accord.

This is not true. The accord does not in any way mention or relate to the resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh issue, which is an independent and separate process. Following the signing of the accord, Turkish officials have tried to placate Azerbaijan by making statements linking the opening of the common border between Turkey and Armenia to the resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh issue, but the Government of Armenia has flatly rejected this.
 
Attachment No.2
The role of the Armenian diaspora in the dialogue on the accord
 
There are two opposing statements that can be made about the role of the Armenian diaspora in the dialogue on the accord signed by Armenia and Turkey:
 
  • “It is the people of Armenia, having been born and having lived there all their suffering lives and who will be most affected by the accord, who have theright to decide the issue.”
  • “We are all Armenians no matter where we were born and where we are living today, and we all have a say in regards to what happens to our motherland andto our rights with regard to the Armenian Genocide.”
Irrespective of which of these statements one believes in, President Sargsyan of Armenia did consult with the leaders of the Armenian diaspora both before and during his recent tour of several countries, including a meeting in New York with the leaders of the Canadian Armenian community. Some in the diaspora expressed their opposition by organizing protest marches. Others strongly support the signing of the accord. Having got mixed signals from the diaspora, the President and his government did what they feel is right for Armenia and its people, while safeguarding the fundamental and historic rights of the Armenian people worldwide.
 
Established in 2004, the Congress of Canadian Armenians is comprised of many of the large Canadian Armenian organizations.
It serves as a united voice to present Armenian issues to the Canadian public and to promote Armenian interests.
 
3 comments
  1. Is the Congress of Canadian Armenians following world events?

    I am shocked and dismayed to read this release by the Congress of Canadian Armenians for a number of reasons.  Following a superficial reading of this letter, the uninformed reader would probably come to the same conclusions the Congress has dictated.  Fortunately, there are those who are truly interested in these issues and who keep themselves up to date on the reality surrounding them; such critical readers will find themselves scrambling to pull together a few shreds of truth, in the hopes of mercifully granting the Congress some credibility.  I was happy to read that the Congress is opposed to giving up Artsakh, questioning the veracity of the Genocide and forfeiting Wilsonian Armenia.  However, my applause must stop there.  It is possible that the CCA has failed to realise that in political agreements, parties (especially the more powerful of the two) are not always forthcoming of their intentions in binding documents.  Hence, one must look at what the governments of Armenia and Turkey have been saying and doing.  To claim that one can understand the topic by scrutinising the Protocols only is folly.

    This text gives the impression that only "some Armenians" have "misconceptions" about the Protocols, and that their fight against them is one based solely on "emotion."  It is undoubtedly true that those who are opposed to the Protocols feel emotionally about the issue; but to imply that they have no rational backing is to laugh in the face of reality.  
    Concerning the establishment of historical dialogue, President Gul himself invited historians to establish a commission to investigate the veracity of the Genocide (Hurriyet Daily, 7 Oct 2009).  This was before the signing of the Protocols and before this letter from the CCA was prepared.

    The Treaty of Kars outlines that Turkey and Armenia must have open borders.  When Turkey closed its side in 1993, it violated Kars, the only "agreement" settling the shared border aside from Sevres.  Sevres itself, Ara Papian states, is still active and according to the norms of international relations, was not voided by the Treaty of Kars anyway.  The Protocols call for the "existing border" to be ratified "according to the relevant treaties."  This is of course a contradiction, but since the Protocols do not clarify what border needs to be ratified, they pose the problem of the de facto border becoming legal.  If Armenia agrees to this, I fail to see how we can convincingly lay claim to Wilsonian Armenia when the time for reparations arrives.

    On October 11, Prime Minister Erdogan asked Armenia to withdraw from Artsakh and clearly stated that the borders cannot be opened until this is done (AP).  This came the day after the protocols were signed!  Similar statements had been made at least eight times between April 2009 and October 10 … and yet the Congress believes Turkey has no intention of having NKR squashed.

    Finally, it is quite naive of the CCA to believe that the meetings with President Sargsyan were an opportunity to change the text of the Protocols.  On the contrary, they were an opportunity for him to try and explain himself to Diasporan Armenians (an "information session," if you will), in hopes of acquiescing our concerns; in no way was he accepting the expressed ideas as input for future policy (Asbarez, October 4; Horizon, October 3).
    I sincerely hope not many buy into the CCA’s misguided and ill-informed stance, so narcissistically taken against the face of such blatant proofs.  The Congress claims to "serve as a unified voice" for Canadian Armenians; I, for one, wish they would not presume to speak on my behalf.

    Daniel Ohanian

  2. Armenian President Serge


    Armenian President Serge Sarkissian clearly stated, a couple of hours before the signature of the protocols that Armenia will not continue the talks with Turkey, IF Turkey tries to link the protocols with Nagorno Karabakh and the Armenian Genocide issues. And also, he promised the Armenian people that he will not visit Turkey IF the borders are not open.

    Unfortunately, our president couldn’t respect his words. Davitoglu on Oct 26, clearly stated during an interview on Al Jazeera that he will not present the protocols to his government unless there is a progress in Nagorno Karabakh issue, and he also stated that the Historical Committee will discuss the Armenian Genocide and he was confident that the outcome of this commission will be to conclude that the Genocide didn’t happen. In the meantime we all know that Mr Serge visited Turkey and saw the game, but the borders are still closed.

    Our president, as well as the author of this article tried to show that we won’t have any problems to claim our lands back even if the protocols are ratified. Mr. Ara Papian, as an expert on the issues claims otherwise.

    It is clear that the author of this article has only read the President’s articles and press releases. It seems he didn’t have the courage to read what the enemy says  and realize how that enemy thinks.

    CCA is far from being a political organization and Mr Taro is far from being the right person to write such political statements and articles as he has no political formation whatsoever.

     
  3. Who voted for the Congress ?

    The Congress of Armenians is a group of individuals  who either have ulterior motives or are self hating, naive Armenians who do not speak on behalf of  neither the majority or minority of Armenians!

    Did the Congress consult its members , conduct a poll or a vote before they decided to write this letter to the Honourable Prime Minister ?  Who voted for this Congress and if there was a vote, how many Armenians voted ?

    Armenians have  put too much trust in their traditional political parties, organizations and their church. Did the Congress or any Armenian institution write a letter condemning the sex trade in Armenia?  Fortunately, Armenians in the diaspora have woken up and are demanding accountability. In theory, a Congress would represent the democratic wishes of its members as representatives would be voted by the community.

    These protocols were not presented to the Armenian people, nor did they have any say.  If the Armenian government is confident that it has the support of its citizens it should have had a referendum.  However, we have a mafia in Armenia  and not an elected government.  Almost every institution in Armenia has been infiltrated by the Mafia; the security apparatus, the military, parliament and  even the church.  Those Armenians who oppose the government policy are either killed as we saw in Armenia's parliament or thrown in prison.

    Serj was not elected and remains unpopular, something that the Congress has no clue about  except that the opening of the border is good for trade.  In other words, throw out your principles, recognition of international treaties, declarations of human rights, recognition of the genocide by the U.N. , pursuit of social justice and a civil society for money.

    Shame on you, Congress of Canadian Armenian oligarchs.

     

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