Armenian president creates coalition with anti-Turkish party
YEREVAN – Agence France-PresseArmenian President Serzh Sarksyan on Feb. 24 invited a fiercely anti-Turkish party to join his government, in a controversial power-sharing deal highlighting a stalemate in efforts to normalize ties with arch-foe Ankara.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation, or Dashnaktsutyun, took three ministerial posts and appointed two regional governors, according to the memorandum it signed with Sarksyan’s s ruling Republican Party (HHK).
“This agreement marks the beginning of a long-term political cooperation based on common values and joint goals and action plans,” the HHK deputy chairman, Armen Ashotyan, told journalists.
In a decree signed by Sarksyan, Dashnaktsutyun’s Avik Minasyan was named economy minister. Davit Lokyan and Levon Mkrtchyan were appointed ministers of education and of the local administration respectively.
Armenia and Turkey are at loggerheads largely because of a historical dispute over the 1915 killings of Ottoman Armenian during World War I-era, which Armenia regards as “genocide.”
Dashnaktsutyun, a socialist party which currently holds five seats in Armenia’s 131-member parliament, also advocates territorial claims to Turkey.
Highly popular among Armenia’s influential diaspora abroad, Dashnaktsutyun went over to the opposition in 2009 after Armenia and Turkey signed an agreement to normalize relations.
The so-called Zurich protocols, which would have led to the opening up of the border between the two neighbors, have since languished without ratification in both nations’ parliaments.
In February 2015, Sarksyan recalled the protocols - brokered by the United States, France and Russia - from parliament, citing the “absence of political will” on the Turkish side.
While around 20 countries formally recognize the killing of Armenian citizens at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 as “genocide,” Turkey denies that the killings, at a time when Turkish troops were fighting Russian forces during World War I, constituted genocide. It has said there was no organized campaign to wipe out Armenians and no evidence of any such orders from Ottoman authorities. Turkey claims a comparable number of Turks were also killed during the time.