The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) reaffirmed on Thursday its strong condemnation of the agreements to normalize Armenia’s relations with Turkey.
Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s central office coordinator, charged that the signing of the two agreements in Zurich last month marked the “disgraceful failure” of President Serzh Sarkisian’s policy of rapprochement with Turkey. He said the Turkish parliament will not ratify them unless Armenia makes more concessions to Azerbaijan to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“The Turkish parliament will drag out the ratification as long as it takes to put pressure over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” Zurabian told RFE/RL. “Turkey loses nothing by not ratifying the protocols. It has already received what it needed. It is Armenia that is to gain something after the ratification.”
“So this is the trap in which the Armenian authorities have found themselves,” he said. “It’s hard to described that as anything other than a disgraceful failure.”
The HAK, which is led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, gave a mostly positive assessment of the protocols when they were first publicized by the Ankara and Yerevan on August 31. In a September 1 statement, the opposition alliance described them as “considerable progress,” while condemning the planned creation of a Turkish-Armenian body that will look into the 1915 massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Ter-Petrosian stood by that statement when he addressed thousands of supporters rallying in Yerevan on September 18.
But in another statement issued last month, the HAK rejected the deal as “immoral and inadmissible.” Zurabian claimed on Thursday that the international community will step up the pressure on the Armenian side over Karabakh in an effort to facilitate its ratification by the Turkish parliament.
But a top representative of Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) claimed the opposite, saying that it is Turkey that will come under international pressure if it drags its feet during the ratification process. “The party that will stall or create artificial obstacles will have a problem with the international community,” Eduard Sharmazanov told RFE/RL.
“The United States, the European Union and Russia have said all along that [the protocols] should be ratified within a reasonable time frame. Naturally, several years can’t be a reasonable timeframe. But several months can be deemed a reasonable timeframe,” he said.
Both Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian have repeatedly stated that the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement can not have a direct effect on the Karabakh peace process. They argued that none of the Turkish-Armenian protocols makes any reference to the Karabakh conflict.