WikiLeaks-Armenia No 59
SUBJECT: STAFFDEL TILLEMANN FOCUSES ON DEMOCRATIZATION
Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.
¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: SFRC Majority Staffmember Tomicah Tillemann visited Yerevan February 18-20, with an eye on Armenia’s May elections and MCC eligibility under the “Ruling Justly” category. In a range of meetings with GOAM officials, he made clear that, despite Armenia’s many friends on the Hill, Congress will issue no “free passes” on any democratic back-sliding in the context of MCC eligibility. Tillemann was briefed by local interlocutors on readiness for the election, on Armenia’s take on Turkish relations, and Armenia’s view on issues including the proposed “genocide” resolution in Congress. END SUMMARY
¶9. (SBU) Though he delivered the same message on free elections and MCC eligibility, Tillemann’s conversation with DFM [Deputy Foreign Minister Arman] Kirakossian focused mostly on Armenia’s relationship with Turkey. The only way to detoxify the bilateral climate was for Turkey to demonstrate its seriousness about reconciling with Armenia. The GOAM very much wanted to diversify and integrate regional trade and investment, and enjoy the fruits of normal neighbor relations.
¶10. (SBU) Kirakossian noted the different priorities that the GOAM [Government of Armenia] and politically-active Armenian Diaspora organizations bring to the public policy debate. While for many Diaspora organizations “genocide” was the single preeminent issue, the GOAM had a range of national interests it must weigh. However, the Diaspora had been and continued to be an invaluable help to Armenia economically and politically, especially during the mid-1990s when Armenia had been in crisis. Kirakossian observed that Greek Diaspora organizations in the U.S. had once been profoundly hostile to Turkey, but with the advent of warmer bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey, the Greek-American lobby had quieted considerably. He implied that, therefore, Turkey’s best way to defuse Armenian Diaspora rage would be to get seriously engaged in settling its disagreements with the Republic of Armenia. Kirakossian indicated that good faith steps from the Turkish side would be met with a positive response from Yerevan. Both Kirakossian and Nersissiants told Tilleman that Armenia’s highest priority with Turkey was to break the isolation and to open the border.
¶11. (SBU) PARLIAMENT WEIGHS IN: Republican party MPs Nikoyan and Ashotian were even more forthcoming on the Turkey issue. Nikoyan declared that if Turkey were to open the door to Armenia “even just a crack” Armenia was ready to walk through that door to establish good-neighbor relations, without preconditions. Nikoyan also described his own efforts to build rapprochement on a personal level with Azerbaijanis, and set a climate in which peace over Nagorno-Karabakh could take root. He had himself hosted an Azerbaijani member of parliament (an acquaintance from the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE) in Armenia, taking the visiting MP on a visit to the Azerbaijani’s birth village, which is in Armenia. He reported that the visitor–ostensibly an enemy–had been warmly welcomed by Armenians. Nikoyan said, however, that his Azerbaijani friend had cautioned him against trying to visit Azerbaijan, where his safety would be in jeopardy.
¶12. (U) Staffdel Tillemann has cleared on this message.