ArmeniaNow: Is Armenia any less secure
for the American community here than it was a
few days ago?
Aghajanian: I don't think Armenia is any less
secure for the American community here than it
was two or three days ago because nothing has
changed in the country and the security situation
within the country mostly dictates the condition
of security of all people living there whether
they or foreigners or nationals.
. . . After Sept. 11 there was a warning in the
State Department that asked all its nationals
to be on guard and to increase the security within
the embassies area and within the periphery of
the embassies and we met the request of the US
embassy then. We haven't gotten anything like
that (this week) because I don't think there's
much of a terrorist threat from Armenia itself
or anybody living in Armenia that could pose a
threat to the US embassy. However from what I
know the State Department has issued a warning
to its nationals as it usually does to warn them
of travel to areas that might be unsafe given
AN: When families of those living in Armenia
look at a map and realize that we are this close
to Baghdad, it becomes a different matter than
just the notion of a general threat of terrorism
which has been almost daily for Americans since
DA: Geography plays a major role here.
Although we are close to the region we are still
far from the field of battle. However it has its
positive and negative aspects. The positive aspect
is that when we will not be engaged in any way
in the instability that will be coming because
of war in the immediate neighborhood. But the
negative side is that there will be an outflow
of people and the Armenian community living in
Baghdad and iraq will be part of this people who
will be leaving the country. We should be ready
to receive them because we are the mother land
and it is quite natural for at least some of them
to ask to get refuge in our country . . .
AN: And what if the war moves north and
forces Kurds out of Iraq . . .
DA: I don't think we will be making any
difference for those coming form Iraq whether
they are Armenians or Kurdish population because
according to international law if you give refuge
to people leaving war areas you cannot make any
difference and you cannot discriminate based on
We are thinking and getting ready for the cases
that might come up and thinking of certain mechanisms
that will help us to ease the situation and give
proper shelter to those who might be coming. .
. . We cannot simply disregard the fact that several
10s of people or 100s of people will be wanting
to come to Armenia.
AN: Armenia is in a very tender spot,
needing to maintain neutrality. Is that possible?
DA: Till now it has been possible and
we are still keeping our neutrality to this effect
or to the fact that we would have liked to have
seen the international community acting in unity
and trying to get Iraq disarmed in a peaceful
way and have the diplomatic effort succeed. Unfortunately
it didn't happen and I guess no one can tell what
will follow. It is very hard to say at this moment
what will be the status or the kind of relationship
between the countries of Iraq and Armenia or any
other country and Iraq as no one knows what will
AN: Concerning US-Armenian relations.
You've seen how the US has ostracized some countries
who have refused to join the coalition. Are you
concerned that might also be a condition of those
who have merely remained neutral?
DA: I don't think there will be the same
kind of reaction to Armenia given the state of
Armenia-US relations and the basis of it because
it's not based simply on the alliance with regard
to this issue. It is a more fundamental relationship
based on the interests of the countries, on the
big Armenian community living there . . . on the
US role in Nagorno Karabakh conflict and a number
of issues that dictate the relation we have with
AN: By its geographic position and its
Christian heritage, Armenia has a rare opportunity
to be of assistance to the United States. Has
Armenia been called upon to assist in any way
in the confrontation with Iraq?
DA: In this case our geographic position
made it easier for us to choose because there
is no way that Armenia's territory could have
been used for this war in that sense (or that)
the air corridor could have been useful. For that
simple reason we haven't been approached with
specific requests on assistance.
AN: The time may still come when Armenia
could be called upon to participate in any post-war
reconciliation . . .
DA: We are ready for that. The Foreign
Minister, while answering questions yesterday
at the national assembly stated specifically that
Armenia will be ready to participate in post-conflict
rehabilitation also given the fact that we have
a big community there and simply to serve and
help them in the post-conflict phase.
AN: There have been unsubstantiated reports
that aides to President Bush suggested using Genocide
recognition as a threat to get Turkey's full cooperation
in helping the US get into Iraq. Do you have any
information to substantiate that claim?
DA: I have been following the press and
media coverage of that. We have not received any
official paper that would state that. But whatever
has come up in the press we have been familiar
with all the interpretations given by the US side
and the Turkish side.
AN: From the position of this office,
what is the likelihood that Genocide recognition
could have been a playing card in negotiations?
DA: In diplomacy every other card is being
used. Hypothetically it is quite possible it could
have been raised, but I don't think it would have
been considered seriously.
AN: Could Turkey's reluctance or refusal
to give the US everything it was asking for in
this war effort have some de facto positive impact
on further negotiations in Genocide recognition?
DA: I wouldn't link those two issues because
though they both refer to Turkish policy and the
Turkish attitude they are totally different parts
. . .
AN: But does Turkey's position on Iraq
put Genocide lobbyists in a better position to
say to the United States: "Now you have at
least one reason to not be so friendly to the
DA: It's quite possible that the lobbyist
will use that particular issue, but I think Turkey
has quite a basis for being reluctant given the
internal instability that could come up if the
northern Iraq part is destabilized and they get
more Kurdish influence in their country. It's
quite understandable why they may be concerned
and take a more cautious approach toward giving
the US full support in that sense. . .
AN: So invading Iraq for the purpose of
removing Saddam Hussein is, in Turkish relations,
a different matter than liberating Kuwait?
DA: If you remember when Iraq occupied
Kuwait the international community came up with
the decision and the UN security counsel endorsed
that decision. . . . In this case it is different
and it complicates the whole situation more.
AN: Would Armenia profit from a democratic
government in Iraq?
DA: I think Armenia will profit from a
democratic society in any part of the world and
in neighboring countries specifically. It goes
without saying that the more democratic our neighbors
are the better the condition in the region is
and the better the living standards will be and
the economic cooperation will be. Armenia has
been standing for democratization in the whole
region . . . I don't think any other country would
say that democracy will not work in this case
as well. But the people of Iraq are the ones that
should go for democracy and choose the government
that they want to have. This is my personal opinion.
AN: Is the United States out of place
to have invaded Iraq?
DA: This particular action puts the international
community in a very, very hard position and it
challenged international norms and standards in
general and I think the international community
and the US have to do a lot to regain what has