Armenia : Presidential Visit To Russia Sparks Speculation
On Turkish-Armenian Relations
By Haroutiun Khachatrian
EurasiaNet – 27/6/2008
The venue for Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan's first official visit abroad
-- Moscow -- came as no surprise. But, in a potential sign of a fresh
Armenian foreign policy initiative, it was Turkey that stole the show.
Sargsyan's June 23-25 trip was designed to emphasize the importance of
Armenia's "strategic partnership' with Russia. There were the usual touches
-- meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin, and the chairs of both chambers of parliament. He also placed a wreath
at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and met with political experts and
And there were the usual expressions of mutual support. In a June 24
statement, Medvedev described the partnership between Moscow and Yerevan as
critical to the entire South Caucasus. The two countries have declared that
they will coordinate their foreign policy to further that relationship. "We
are confident that close cooperation between Russia and Armenia is a pledge
for the stable ... development of the whole region," Medvedev said.
Medvedev also reiterated Russia's support for a solution to the conflict with
Azerbaijan over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region via existing
But the three-day visit was not without surprises -- at least for Armenians.
On June 23, Sargsyan, who has requested that the "Sarkisian" spelling of his
last name be dropped, announced that he wants to normalize relations with
Turkey as quickly as possible. As a means to that end, he has pledged to
invite Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Yerevan to watch the September 6
World Cup qualifying match between Turkey and Armenia. The Armenian capital
will be hosting the game.
Sargsyan's assertion that he would not object to a panel of Armenian-Turkish
experts examining the massive 1915 killing of ethnic Armenians by Ottoman
Turks was cause for further discussion among Ar