CHICAGO — On Saturday, November 21, the AGBU Onnig Norehad Center was packed with members of the Armenian community to hear a presentation and discussion about the Protocols recently signed between the governments of Armenia and Turkey. The three guest speakers were Dr. Henry Theriault, a professor of philosophy at Worcester State College, in Worcester, Mass.; Oscar Tatosian, chairman of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) and Ken Hachikian, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The opening remarks were made by Greg Bedian, chairman of Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Chicago Chapter, who described the event as a way to bring the Chicago Armenians together to exchange different ideas and opinions about the Protocols and how they might impact the Armenian nation.
Each of the panelists spoke for 20 minutes, giving their views and their arguments for and against the Protocols, as they understand it. Following their statements, the panelists submitted each other questions, after which they took questions from the floor.
The first speaker was Theriault. In his view, the Protocols, especially the historical commission, will allow Turkey to consolidate its gains by seriously questioning the reality of the Genocide.
The next speaker, Tatosian, argued that President Serge Sargisian was dedicated to the recognition of the Genocide, and the Protocol provisions excluded references to the Genocide and the Karabagh question. The Protocols do not close the door on Armenian territorial claims either, he said. Concerning the border issue, Tatosian pointed out that Armenia had recognized the international borders with Turkey when it joined the United Nations and also when it became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States in the early 1990s. Tatosian argued that the Protocols will open new possibilities for Armenia to increase exports and balance its foreign trade, and thus improve the economy and reduce emigration. He reassured the audience that the Armenian-Turkish relations would not be settled at the expense of the Genocide, Karabagh and the Armenian territorial claims.
Finally, Hachikian spoke and argued that the Protocols involved too many sacrifices on the part of Armenia. He agreed that the borders should be open, but he said he felt that the sacrifices are too big to justify the signing of the Protocols.
There was enthusiasm on the part of the audience, who asked many questions. A reception followed the presentation.