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arminfo: ASSEMBLY RESPONDS TO TURKISH INVITATION FOR DIALOGUE

WASHINGTON, DC, APRIL 5. ARMINFO. 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.”

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.

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