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Armenian Leader Defends Turkey Rapprochement

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian
YEREVAN -- Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian says that normalizing relations between Yerevan and Ankara won't thwart greater international recognition of the Armenian genocide or result in Armenian concessions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

In a spirited defense of his government's rapprochement with Turkey, Sarkisian told a group of 36 pro-establishment members of the presidential Public Council in Yerevan on September 30 that if they are "unable or unprepared" to negotiate with Turkey, why " become [should Armenia have become] independent in the first place?"

Council head Vazgen Manukian told RFE/RL that the members "discussed all the pluses and minuses, drew a line, added things up, and got a [positive result]."

But two members of the group, who are historians, expressed concern over a Turkish-Armenian subcommission that would look into the World War I-era mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

Sarkisian acknowledged their concerns but reminded them that "no sensible Armenian can forget the genocide" and assured them that the Turks will not be able to control the commission single-handedly because both sides will be equally represented on the panel.