The normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations is essential for the success of Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union, a senior EU official said on Friday.
Stefan Fuele, the bloc’s commissioner for enlargement, said countries aspiring to membership of the EU should not only conform to its long list of “technical requirements.”
“It is also about having good-neighborly relations between the candidate country and its neighbors,” Fuele told journalists during a visit to Armenia. “We expect Turkey not to be an exception in this overall approach.”
Like the United States, the EU has long favored an unconditional establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia and the reopening of their border. It strongly welcomed the signing in October 2009 of Turkish-Armenian protocols envisaging the normalization of bilateral ties.
Fuele called “unfortunate” the fact that the protocols have still not been ratified by the parliaments of the two countries. “I hope very much that this will remain on the table so that once the situation is more conducive, we will be able to come back to this issue and revitalize this process,” he said.
The Turkish government has made the protocol ratification conditional on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a precondition rejected by Yerevan. Earlier this year, President Serzh Sarkisian threatened to formally annul the normalization agreements if Ankara continue to stick to this linkage.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Fuele, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said the Turkish stance is at odds with the positions of not only Armenia but the international community. “I don’t think that we can get anywhere with this approach,” he said.