President Serzh Sarkisian urged Turkey on Tuesday to comply with its fence-mending agreements with Armenia, warning that any further delay could roll back the “historic” rapprochement between the two nations.
In a message sent to his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul, Sarkisian said “now the time has come to manifest determination to make next major step and leave to the coming generations a stable and secure region.”
It was a clear reference to the mandatory ratification by the Turkish parliament of the two “protocols” that commit Ankara and Yerevan to establish diplomatic relations and open the Turkish-Armenian border. Turkish leaders have repeatedly made the ratification conditional on a breakthrough in the protracted international efforts to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
They also cite a recent ruling on the protocols handed down by Armenia’s Constitutional Court as another obstacle to the implementation of the deal strongly backed by the international community. Yerevan has responded by accusing the Turks of seeking more “artificial excuses” to avoid an unconditional normalization of bilateral ties.
“We can achieve results only if there are trust, resolve, and unfaltering stance,” said Sarkisian. “A situation when words are not supported by deeds gives rise to mistrust and skepticism, providing ample opportunities to counteract for those, who oppose the process.”
“We should be mindful of the fact that in this particular case, the time is working not for but against the process,” he warned.
Sarkisian appealed to Gul as he flew over Turkish territory on his way to London. The Armenian leader began the letter, publicized by his press office, with “greetings to you and the people of neighboring Turkey.”
The Turkish-Armenian rapprochement gained momentum in September 2008 when Gul paid a historic visit to Yerevan to watch with Sarkisian a first-ever game between Armenia’s and Turkey’s national soccer teams. The two presidents watched the return leg of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers in the Turkish city of Bursa in October last year. “We are not writing history, we are making history,” Gul said during their ensuing talks.
Sarkisian likewise spoke of a “historic moment” in Turkish-Armenian relations on Friday, saying that it would not have been possible without the support of the United States and other world powers. “At the same time, I believe no matter how interested friendly states might be in a positive resolution of the impasse, there are certain things that can be done only by our two nations,” he said.
Sarkisian earlier threatened to walk away from the agreements if Turkey fails to ratify them within a “reasonable timeframe.” Some Armenian officials and pro-government politicians have said the Turks have until the end of March to endorse the deal or face its unilateral annulment by Armenia.
The unofficial deadline is widely linked with the April 24 annual remembrance of more than one million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Turks in 1915-1918. Sarkisian was accused by Armenian opponents of his conciliatory line on Turkey of helping U.S. President Barack Obama backtrack in April 2009 on a campaign pledge to recognize the massacres as genocide.