12/14/2021, 11.11
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Armenian Patriarch invokes a peace 'without preconditions' between Yerevan and Ankara

The two countries are ready to appoint envoys to negotiate the normalization of relations. Recognition of genocide remains legitimate, as "moral duty" towards those who lost their lives. The role of the Church in favor of rights, including religious freedom. Defense of identity and fraternity must be points of reference in all dialogue. 

Yerevan (AsiaNews) - The Armenian people "is a peaceful people and wants peace" and in this vein sees the diplomatic initiative underway between Yerevan and Ankara, with the mutual appointment of envoys to negotiate the normalization of relations as "positive," the Armenian Catholic Patriarch Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian tells AsiaNews. The religious leader specifies at the same time that the dialogue must be "without preconditions" and that the diaspora "has every right" to claim recognition of the genocide not in order to obtain "material compensation", but as a "moral duty" towards those who "lost their lives". 

Yesterday Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey and Armenia will proceed to the mutual appointment of special envoys, to discuss "measures" to normalize relations. The resumption of air links between Istanbul and the capital Yerevan is lso on the table. In 2009, the two countries signed a historic peace agreement for the resumption of ties and the reopening of borders, but the document has never been ratified and relations remain tense.

Relations were soured by the war fought last year in Nagorno-Karabakh, in which Ankara supported Azerbaijan and accused Yerevan of occupying Azerbaijani territory. Tensions were rekindled in recent weeks and caused the death of Armenian soldiers, in a framework of continuing instability and attacks - diplomatic and military - each other. 

The Armenian government, recalls Patriarch Minassian, said in the recent past that "this will be the century of peace" and together with the other side "we will try to find peaceful solutions" aimed at coexistence. However, he continues, an "essential element" is that this peace, the dialogues through which it can be achieved, must be "without preconditions" within a "free" relationship of exchange and confrontation. It remains open the table on Nagorno-Karabakh where "we lost the battle, but not the war".

"There must be equal treatment between one country and another for a common good, to live honorably also because a détente between Armenia and Turkey can have beneficial implications for other nations and for the whole region," he adds. 

According to the Armenian primate, the government in Yerevan is "well disposed" to dialogue and the search for an agreement, but "we cannot know for sure the position of the other side." One of the nodes of the dispute, recalls the primate, remains that relating to the resources of Nagorno-Karabakh, especially the water that "feeds Armenia and passes through the territory controlled by the Azerbaijani government" putting at risk the supply. There are still points "to be resolved", he warns, going beyond slogans and claims "of victory". 

The Armenian Church intends to protect and safeguard "the rights and lives" of Catholics living in those territories. And in a perspective of dialogue and confrontation, it wants to put at the center of attention also the issue of "religious freedom" that must be mutual and valid "for all" in Armenia as in Nagorno-Karabakh, because "in the end we believe in one God".

The  patriacrh concludes, "the Church works for peace, dignity and freedom of the human person, as Pope Francis himself states in the encyclical 'Brothers All' which is our point of reference. Because to appreciate the other we must not lose our identity, always claiming mutual respect." 


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