One year ago today, the Armenian government put its signature on a tragic document aimed at compromising the interests of its people.
The so-called Protocols for the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between Armenia and Turkey, signed in Zurich on October 10, 2009, sought to squeeze out of the Armenian nation that which it for so long refused to surrender: justice, restitution, and self-determination.
With its stipulation that bilateral relations be subject to the creation of a sub-commission on the historical dimension to carry out a scientific examination of the historical records, the Protocols were a clear attempt to cast doubt on the veracity of the Armenian Genocide.
The provision in the Protocols requiring recognition of the existing border between the two countries was an overt demand for Armenians to forfeit their legal and moral claims to their historic homeland. Signing on to such a capitulation would mean accepting the criminal dispossession and exile Armenians were brutally subject to at the hands of the Turkish government.
Perhaps the most sinister aspect of the ill-fated Protocols, however, was its repeated emphasis on territorial integrity, the inviolability of frontiers, and non-intervention in internal affairs of other states. This languageand the absence of any reference to self-determinationwas unmistakably geared toward undermining the freedom and security of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. As expected, Turkey subsequently used the Protocols as leverage over the Karabakh negotiations and linked ratification of the agreement to concessions to Azerbaijan.
Despite euphoric talk of normalization without preconditions and an end to Turkeys illegal blockade, the Armenian people recognized the Protocols for what they really were: a detrimental threat to our national interests.
The nation stood up in all corners of the world and sounded a collective NO to the evident signing away of Armenias security, viability and future. Major demonstrations took place in virtually every major Armenian-populated city; leading Armenian academics and Genocide scholars voiced their dissent; two former Foreign Ministers of Armenia came out against the documents; countless political parties and organizations stood against ratification of the measure; and every poll which was conducted on the issue showed a majority of Armenian citizens opposed to the signing.
Here in Los Angeles, the AYF and countless Armenian youth took to the streets in a show of force against the Protocols. We pledged to do everything in our power to prevent the Protocols from being pushed through. We engaged in community lectures, meetings, demonstrations, hunger strikes, official delegations, leafleting, and outreach against the dangers of the agreement.
Finally, in April, the Armenian government officially suspended ratification of the Protocols, citing Ankaras preconditions and stonewalling. We know that the unprecedented outcry of the Armenians worldwide influenced this step from Yerevan. We know that the witnessed mass opposition served as a check on the schemes of the ruling elite who put their signature on such a flawed document.
Today, we recommit ourselves to the defense of our national interests. We pledge to stay vigilant against any similar attempts to sign away our collective rights.
As such, we call on the Armenian government to fully renounce and withdraw its signature from the Protocols, once and for all. The damage done by this process has already proven to be costly enough; hanging on to such a failed endeavor only opens the door for the future pursuit of this detrimental agreement.
Furthermore, we call on the Armenian people to realize its strength and fulfill its potential by organizing, uniting, and taking more concerted action in pursuit of the Armenian Cause. Only by standing together will we forge a better future.