AAA: Assembly Responds to Turkish Invitation for Dialogue

Armenian Assembly of America
122 C Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-393-3434
Fax: 202-638-4904
Email: [email protected]
April 2, 2004
CONTACT: David Zenian
E-mail: [email protected]


Washington, DC – The Armenian Assembly leadership this week told a senior
Turkish official it was ready to resume dialogue, but not during the month
of April and not until a critical assessment of Turkish policy since the
last exchange in June of 2003.

Responding to an invitation by Ambassador Ecvet Tezcan, Assembly Board of
Directors Chairman Anthony Barsamian said dialogue without results is
meaningless and therefore it was imperative to “lay out our objectives”
prior to any future discussions.

“The Armenian Assembly of America appreciates your invitation on behalf of
your Foreign Ministry to continue our dialogue begun last June in New York,”
Barsamian said in his reply to Ambassador Tezcan.

“While our organization remains committed to continuing our full and frank
exchanges on issues that presently divide us, the next meeting cannot take
place during the month of April as you propose. As you are well aware, this
solemn month for all Armenians is a time for remembrance of the Armenian
Genocide. Your government’s inexplicable denial policy remains unchanged,
making it impossible to convene this month,” Barsamian added.

Similar meetings with Tezcan in June last year in New York and Los Angeles,
that included in LA representatives from the Armenian General Benevolent
Union (AGBU), and the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of America,
underscored the community message that Armenian-Americans are united in
their insistence that Turkey deal with the issue of the Armenian Genocide,
establish normal relations with Armenia that are not dictated by the
Azerbaijani position on Nagorno Karabakh and end restrictions and pressure
on the Armenian minority in Turkey.

After the June discussions, then-Assembly Board of Directors Chairman Peter
Vosbikian said while there was no breakthrough, it still provided an
opportunity for a “frank exchange of views” which “at minimum … will
prevent Turkey’s friends from using an outright refusal to meet against us
in their lobbying in Capitol Hill.”

“Turkey now needs to validate its dialogue and positive statements with
deeds on all of the historic and contemporary questions that comprise the
Armenia-Turkey agenda,” Vosbikian said.

But nearly ten months since the last face-to-face encounter, there has been
no change in Turkish attitudes or behavior.

“I know that you concur that dialogue without results is not in anyone’s
interest, and we need to lay out objectives prior to meeting. Your
government’s statements and actions on the Armenian Genocide since last
June, the lack of movement on opening the border with Armenia despite calls
from the Bush Administration and the European Union to do so, and, the
failure to implement minority rights reforms, indicate that our dialogue
must be more urgent and result oriented,” Barsamian said.

“Our organization looks forward to a more focused process that begins to
deal with these and other pressing issues on our common agenda,” Barsamian
added in is response to the latest invitation for a new round of dialogue
with the Turkish side.

The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide
organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian
issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.