Genocide re-recognized by the White House: Too little, too late? 


Genocide re-recognized by the White House: Too little, too late? 

The Armenian genocide recognition by Biden, explained.

Text: Tigran Zakaryan


Many are jubilant in Armenia and Armenian communities across the world as finally, Joe Biden uttered the long-awaited “G-word” which every single US president since Ronald Reagan failed to pronounce while in his office.  The first was Ronald Reagan, who in his proclamation on Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust, in a passage once mentioned the “genocide of the Armenians” as an antecedent of the Holocaust. 
Mission accomplished? Generations of Armenians and their community organizations – particularly in the US – were seeking justice through a formal recognition of the genocide, which can have certain legal repercussions, including solidifying claims of financial compensations by the descendants of those who held insurance policies prior to the genocide, bank savings and so on. One could say that the recognition marks a major breakthrough for the Armenian cause, however the situations needs to be assessed also against the backdrop of Armenia’s current complex foreign political situation. 

In real political terms Armenia is in a situation, which is to some extent, although not exactly, reminiscent of the situation 100 years ago, with distant and powerful friends (who are not real allies though), whose loyalty was much more on a rhetoric level and whose support was limited by geographic and geostrategic circumstances. Moreover, such a moral support, given the imminent threats in the region and rivalry of other major players against the source of the support could have certain negative repercussions for the Armenian foreign policy. Therefore it is (and was long before the recognition) to elaborate national strategies of dealing with such an important political move. The formerly announced general formula by Yerevan, that the recognition of such crimes contributes to Armenia’s security need more elaboration and even a more critical revision. The issue needs to be discussed not only behind the closed doors, but also more or less public debates involving foreign policy experts, intellectuals and others, so as to have a broader discussion, bringing up arguments, instead of claiming to hold the only possible truth. 

Without such a national strategy (which admittedly could be articulated differently in Armenia and in different Armenian communities based on the specific conditions of each entity) it would be very difficult to put this recognition to best use. Instead it can turn into yet another bargaining chip between two states, who can always come to terms at the expense of others, Armenians in this case.
Now it is up to the Armenian intellectual, political elites to start up a meaningful discussion on the issue, leaving aside emotionality and assessing all possible scenarios against a pivotal value – the independence and security of Armenia.  

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