By Emil Danielyan
Official Yerevan expressed hope late Tuesday that Turkey will be more interested in normalizing relations with Armenia and recognizing the Armenian genocide after the difficult start of its membership talks with the European Union.
“Armenia hopes that the start of the EU accession process will prompt [Turkey] to open the border with Armenia as soon as possible and to make real efforts to protect minority rights and uphold freedom of speech and other democratic values and standards in the country,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamlet Gasparian said in a statement.
“We also hope that during the process Turkey will recognize the Armenian Genocide, something which the European Parliament deemed a precondition for Turkey’s membership of the EU in its latest resolution,” said Gasparian.
The resolution adopted on September 28 “calls on Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide” and “considers this recognition to be a prerequisite for accession to the European Union.” It also urges Ankara to drop preconditions for improving its strained ties with Yerevan. The demands were rejected by Turkish leaders, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledging to “continue on our way.”
Armenia has repeatedly urged the EU make Turkish membership conditional on genocide recognition and the lifting of the Turkish blockade imposed in 1993. But EU officials say while the Armenian demands will be on the agenda of the accession talks, they are not a precondition for Turkish’s accession to the union, which is strongly opposed by the Armenian Diaspora in Europe.
Hundreds of Armenians demonstrated on Monday outside a government building in Luxembourg where the foreign ministers of the 25 EU member states were discussing terms for the start of the accession talks. The negotiation process formally began later in the day and is expected to take 10 years or more.
(GI-Photolur photo: Turkish Foreign minister Abdullah Gul, right, arrives with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw at the EU headquarters in Luxembourg on Monday for a working session with EU foreign ministers.)