Oskanian Makes Discordant Statements


22 Oct 04

Foreign minister Vartan Oskanian is making discordant statements these
days about Turkey’s possible membership in EU, Armenia’s blockade and
Armenian-Turkish relations.

“There are no diplomatic relations between Armenian and Turkey today,
and the border is closed putting Armenia in a tough situation”,
ITAR-TASS quoted Vartan Oskanian as saying this in Rome on
October19. Oskanian noted at the round table called “South Caucasus:
Stability and Safety” organized by the Italian I nstitute of Foreign
Affairs and the Armenian embassy to Italy that Turkey’s integration to
EU will open a new door for Yerevan-Ankara relations.

The CNN-Turk touched on Oskanian’s speech. “We wish that the
Armenian-Turkish border-gate opened. The fact that we have no
border-gate with Turkey and Azerbaijan causes lot of troubles. Armenia
is a European state by its spirit and is taking important steps to
reach European standards. Turkey’s membership to EU will bring
Europe’s borders closer to Armenia. Acknowledgment ofthe Armenian
Genocide is not a precondition for starting talks with Ankara”,
Oskanian said.

A press release spread by Foreign Ministry’s press center reads: “The
minister touched on Turkey’s membership to EU and presented Armenia’s
position on the issue”. But the press release keeps silent about
Oskanian’s speech. That’s why we turned to ITAR-TASS and CNN-Turk for

Minister Oskanian’s words uttered in Rome do not correspond with his
statement at a press conference a month ago that Armenia’s economy
will develop without either oil or gas pipelines and even in a

Vartan Oskanian certainly new the audience before which he was
standing but Armenian officials’ statements very often contain
contradiction especially in case of Armenia-Turkish relations.

Oskanian declares Turkey’s integration to EU as beneficial for
Armenian-Turkish relations in Rome whereas in Yerevan, October 11, he
stated that Turkey is unworthy of EU admittance talks. “A country that
has blockaded Armenia and has recently passed a law making the
recognition of the Armenian Genocide, as well as any claim to withdraw
Turkish forces from Cyprus, a criminal act isnot worthy even the
negotiations for EU accession. We think that Turkey is not ready for
that”, Oskanian said.

Defense Minister Serge Sargsian in his turn told Marko Zakera, deputy
chairman of East European Union, that Armenia considers Turkey’s
membership in EU favorable.

As opposed to Yerevan, Ankara hews to its chosen line in relations
with Armenia. This is a policy of blockade and threats.

It seems that Armenia also has a straightforward Turkish policy: not
to put forward preconditions for starting diplomatic relations. But
Armenian officials become shaky when it comes up to Turkey’s
admittance to the EU. Europe in its turn considers the “Armenian
factor” a trifling issue. Europe is not going to ask Armenia or
Diaspora whether to admit Turkey or not. The “Armenian factor” may
become a subject of bargain at best.

By Tatoul Hakobian