Serzh Sargsyan: “It is important for us to have injustice be called injustice”

In an interview with the German Bild periodical, President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan touched upon the bill on recognition of the Armenian Genocide to be discussed in the German Bundestag on 2 June.

Panorama.am presents the German periodical’s interview with RA President Serzh Sargsyan in its entirety.

Bild: Mr. President, on Thursday, the Bundestag will hold a voting for the Armenian resolution. Why is it so important for the German parliament to recognize the 1915-1916 Armenian Genocide?

Serzh Sargsyan: This is about remembering the victims of the horrible crime of 1915 and keeping their memory alive. Last year, the President of Germany found the specific words to describe what happened and called the crime what it really was, that is, Genocide. The fact that the Bundestag wants to adopt that resolution is very important for our country. However, what is also important is to make sure such genocide doesn’t happen in any other part of the world. This will also be a major outcome of this resolution.

Bild: Some German political figures, including ministers wish to abstain from voting in favor of this resolution. They fear that Turkish President Erdogan, who denies the Genocide, may take political revenge.

Serzh Sargsyan: No German political figure denies that it was Genocide that became the first systematic genocide of the 20th century 101 years ago. Even those who are now suddenly against the resolution, didn’t dispute it. I believe universal values should be more important for German political figures than short-term political interests. Many countries, including France have already adopted such resolutions.

Bild: Is Germany especially responsible?

Serzh Sargsyan: Yes, I think so. There are many documents in German archives and reports by German diplomats and missionaries that describe the genocidal annihilation of the Armenian people. Historically speaking, the German Empire was an ally to the Ottoman Empire and could have done something to stop the crime. However, nothing was done.

Bild: Do you approach the fact that German political figures fear Erdogan’s sharp reaction with understanding?

Serzh Sargsyan: No, I can’t understand that. Germany is a powerful country, and the voice of the Bundestag is heard everywhere. That is exactly why Germany is especially liable and has no right to make concessions when it comes to moral issues like protecting values. When they make concessions once due to short-term political interests, they do it again and again. That is bad not only for Germany, but also Europe and the whole world.

Bild: What will happen, if Erdogan disagrees with the issue of refugees following the Bundestag’s adoption of the resolution?

Serzh Sargsyan: I have a feeling that, even without the resolution, that transaction has “feet of clay” and will be hard to carry out with a partner like Turkey. I am certain that the failure of the transaction over refugees has nothing to do with the genocide resolution. Not calling the Armenian Genocide a genocide is unfair just because the head of another state will be frustrated with that. The political figures of the Bundestag have the same understanding and won’t let anyone intimidate them.

Bild: Can Europe trust Erdogan in any way?

Serzh Sargsyan: I can’t speak on behalf of Europe, but I can speak based on my personal experience. Armenia doesn’t trust Erdogan, and it is not only about not recognizing the Armenian Genocide. For years, Armenia has been trying to establish diplomatic relations. The Turkish Parliament was supposed to ratify the Protocols signed in Zurich, but Erdogan froze them. I ask myself-why were we negotiating in that case? Europe shouldn’t blindly trust Turkey. It should find its own solutions to the refugee issue.

Bild: Armenia is in a war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. How is the situation there?

Serzh Sargsyan: At this moment, the situation is calm, and there is no firing. However, when Azerbaijan unleashed an armed attack, we didn’t see international solidarity. We would like the world to express itself more clearly about what is going on there, that is, Azerbaijan’s attack.

Bild: What are you demanding from the international community?

Serzh Sargsyan: Armenia is a small country. It is clear to us Armenians that we might be less economically interesting. It is important for us to have injustice be called injustice. The first thing that would be satisfactory for us would be to have a sufficient number of Europeans condemn Azerbaijan’s actions. If that doesn’t satisfy us, we will need to think about setting sanctions.

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