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Turkey has accused Armenia of setting “unacceptable” preconditions for normalizing bilateral ties, citing the Armenian Constitutional Court’s interpretation of the ground-breaking agreements signed by the two estranged nations. (UPDATED)


Official Yerevan expressed on Tuesday its “bewilderment” with the claim, suggesting that the Turkish government might be seeking a new excuse to delay the parliamentary ratification of the agreements.

The court upheld on January 12 the legality of the two protocols that commit Ankara to establish diplomatic relations with Yerevan and open the Turkish-Armenian boarder. In an apparent response to domestic criticism of the deal, it also indicated that the documents can not have any bearing on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict or inhibit Armenia’s pursuit of greater international recognition of the Armenian genocide.

The ruling specifically mentioned Armenia’s 1990 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union that refers to the “genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.” The opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the most vocal detractor of the deal, has construed that as a de facto invalidation of key provisions of the protocols. The nationalist party wants the Armenian parliament to ratify them with corresponding “reservations.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry offered late on Monday a similar interpretation of the Constitutional Court ruling. “It has been observed that this decision contains preconditions and restrictive provisions which impair the letter and spirit of the Protocols,” it said in a statement.

“The said decision undermines the very reason for negotiating these Protocols as well as their fundamental objective. This approach cannot be accepted on our part,” the ministry said without elaboration.

“Turkey, in line with its accustomed allegiance to its international commitments, maintains its adherence to the primary provisions of these Protocols. We expect the same allegiance from the Armenian Government,” added the statement.

Successive Turkish governments have longed portrayed the reference to “Western Armenia” as proof of Armenian claims to areas in eastern Turkey that were populated by many Armenians until their 1915-1918 mass killings and deportations. Dashnaktsutyun likewise believes that the 1990 declaration, which is mentioned in the Armenian constitution’s preamble, bars Yerevan from explicitly recognizing the existing Turkish-Armenian border.

Switzerland -- Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (2ndR) and his Armenian counterpart Eduard Nalbandiana (2nd L) shake hands as they hold signed documents after a signing ceremony, Zurich, 10Oct2009
In a written statement issued late on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian said he will phone his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, to “express my bewilderment and clarify where exactly Turkish side sees preconditions and just how the decision by Armenia’s Constitutional Court contradicts the fundamental objectives of the protocols.”

“I hope that with such a statement the Turkish side is not trying to justify its continuous attempts to set preconditions and disguise an undue stalling of the process of protocol ratification,” warned Nalbandian.

Armenia’s leadership has repeatedly accused the Turks of acting against the letter and spirit of the Turkish-Armenian agreements with statements linking their implementation to the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. President Serzh Sarkisian warned last month that Yerevan will walk away from the deal if Ankara fails to ratify it “within a reasonable time frame.”
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