Trump administration unlikely to recognize Genocide – Richard Giragosian

11:35 • 21.04.17



In an interview with Tert.am, Director of the Regional Studies Center Richard Giragosian shared his expectations of regional developments in the run-up to the Genocide anniversary and the possible use by US President Donald Trump of the right legal wording in his April 24 address.



Mr Giragosian, with April 24 drawing near, Armenians are again beset with the question whether or  not [President] Trump will say “genocide” after all. Most think he will not, as he never spoke about that, and also because [US ] has [common] interests with Turkey. Certain analysts, however, find that Trump is an unpredictable [political] figure who may be expected to do absolutely anything, and even use ‘genocide’.


It is very unlikely that the Trump Administration will recognize the Armenian Genocide on 24 April. While Washington is likely to keep the same wording as previous White House statements, there are two factors suggesting that there will be no change in US policy. First, President Trump is planning a new more friendly strategy to engage Turkey in the fight against ISIS and over operations in Syria. This is also evident in Trump’s very quick message of “congratulations” to President Erdogan, despite even what the State Department saw as a flawed and tainted referendum. A second factor is, of course, Trump’s past business ties to Turkey, which seems to determine his policy preferences, in a negative way ad to the detriment of US interests.


The Armenian organizations in the United States were earlier reported to be trying to establish ties with Trump and his administration, but to the best of our knowledge, they haven’t yet succeeded in their efforts. What reasons do you think prevent them from doing that, and what are your predictions?


I have no idea. I have been living in Armenia for over 10 years, and I do not know what is going on in the Diaspora.


The US-Russia relations have entered a new phase of crisis; moreover, the Russian TV channels seem to be heralding the Third World War. With this in mind, to what extent do you think that [first President Levon] Ter-Petrosyan was realistic in his analysis that Russia has given the west it “Blessing” to settle the [Nagorno-]Karabakh conflict, with only a couple of issues remaining unsettled.


Of the many shortcomings in the former president’s analysis, his most serious error is to place too much hope and far too much power in the assumption that Russia will unilaterally determine the agenda in the region. Even for Putin, he has to be more careful, and the situation is not as basic as Ter Petrosyan seems to believe.


With Turkey’s new Constitution giving an increasing power to Islam, what hazards do you see for Armenia as a neighbor?


President Erdogan will still struggle to manage a growing set of challenges. With an economy in crisis, as unemployment is at a seven-year high, tourism has sagged, and the currency has weakened by one-fifth in less than a year, Erdogan also faces a triad of threats, comprised of a mounting internal military campaign against the Kurds, a difficult cross-border military intervention in Syria, and an ever-present terrorist threat. And with the largest Syrian refugee population in the world, the outlook for the Turkish leader, no matter how powerful, remains as discouraging as it is daunting.


At a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Iran’s minister of defense expressed hope that the Karabakh issue will be resolved without a third power’s intervention. Do you think it was a hint warning Turkey against intervention, or did he mean a third country?  

Clearly, Iran is pressing to exclude both Turkey and Russia from more active engagement in this region. And despite this message, Iran is not ready to fully or forcefully return as a regional player powerful enough to stand against either Moscow or Ankara, however.


What expectations do you think we should have from the Tsarukyan Alliance [the second majority party elected to parliament]. Is it likely to declare itself an opposition political force, and if so, will it be a radical opposition or just try to offer “an alternative” as did its predecessor [the Prosperous Armenia party].


It is still too soon to say, but there is an interesting scenario, whereby the 30-seat Tsarukyan Alliance is pressured and persuaded to enter into a new “national unity” coalition. Under both options, the Republican Party would still retain the primary position. And even based on the second option, the inherent vulnerability of Gagik Tsarukyan, the oligarch leader of the alliance whose own sources of wealth could always be justifiably used by the state as grounds for a tax audit or criminal investigation, grants the Republicans important leverage. For that reason, it is also highly unlikely that the Tsarukyan Alliance would continue to pose as an opposition force, especially as the political risks for its leader would be too high to forego the obvious benefits of returning to government.

 

Anush Dashtents





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