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Nalbandian Shuts Out the Press

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My colleague Khatchig Mouradian, the editor of the Armenian Weekly, reported on May 6 that requests to interview Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian while he was in Washington were denied.

This is most troubling, especially at a time when the flow of information from official Yerevan is so little that we are forced to decipher propaganda-laced news reports from Turkey and Azerbaijan to make sense of this so-called “road map” for the normalization of ties between Turkey and Armenia.

By shutting out interview requests, Nalbandian has missed a golden opportunity to shed much-needed light on whether the road map is more than just an agreement to negotiate or comes with detrimental strings attached for Armenia. It would also have served as a way for Armenia to lay to rest the speculations and disinformation surrounding this matter and, once and for all, lift the veil of secrecy that has shrouded the talks—especially from the Armenian government.

Now, more than ever, the need for transparency and frankness with the Armenian people is of utmost importance.

Nalbandian’s refusal to discuss this and other matters of interest with the Armenian press calls into question the strategy being pursued by the Armenian authorities and further clouds the already murky atmosphere created after the April 22 announcement of the “road map” deal.

Aside from the three burning questions—on whether there’s been an agreement to establish a historical commission to discuss the genocide, Armenia’s recognition of the Kars Treaty, and a parallel resolution to the Karabagh conflict—Mouradian probably had a series of other related and important questions for Nalbandian.

Here are a few examples: If the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a stated priority in Armenia’s foreign policy, how then can Armenia’s president tell the Wall Street Journal that he was not asking President Obama to recognize the genocide? Did Obama, in fact, use his campaign pledge as a bargaining chip to ensure that U.S. interests were realized? What role does the foreign ministry envision the diaspora playing in this “roadmap” process? Will the appointment of a new foreign minister in Turkey affect the talks? How is the foreign ministry dealing with the vocal opposition by Karabagh Armenians to this effort, and are their concerns being taken into account during the “fruitful” discussions with Clinton and others? And lastly, why all the secrecy?

Since the press was shut out of this process and any semblance of frank dialogue was denied, it leaves us to wonder about these and other questions that are related to the “road map.”

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