The National Assembly began debating on Tuesday a government bill that would make it easier for Armenia to annul its normalization agreements with Turkey if Ankara continues to delay their ratification.
The proposed amendments to an Armenian law on international treaties envisage the suspension or termination of agreements signed by Yerevan before their entry into force.
President Serzh Sarkisian announced his intention to enact such amendments in December in response to Turkish leaders’ continuing statements making the ratification of the Turkish-Armenian “protocols” conditional on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh. He made clear that Yerevan will walk away from the deal if Ankara fails to implement it within a “reasonable” time frame.
Addressing the parliament, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian effectively admitted that the amendments were drafted on Sarkisian’s orders. “The president of the republic made a statement on and I have nothing to add to it,” he said.
Opposition and independent lawmakers criticized the initiative, saying that Armenian law and international conventions signed by Yerevan already allow for the abrogation of international treaties.
“I am sure that our legislation in no way restricts the president’s authority to suspend the process of terminating the ratification of any treaty,” said former parliament speaker Tigran Torosian. “I am more than convinced that there is absolutely no need to pass this bill,” he added.
The bill was included on the parliament agenda just days after Sarkisian formally sent the two protocols to the parliament for ratification. But the National Assembly and its committee on foreign relations are in no rush to debate the documents envisaging the establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey and opening of their border.
A spokesman for Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), which has a clear majority in the assembly, on Tuesday again made clear that it will not vote on the protocols before their ratification by the Turkish parliament. Like other Armenian officials, Eduard Sharmazanov again avoided setting any deadlines for Turkish ratification.
David Harutiunian, the chairman of the parliament committee on legal affairs, said Yerevan may wait for “one or two or several months” before deciding whether to discontinue the normalization process. “It’s not possible to give a definite answer at this point. It depends on many processes,” Harutiunian told journalists when asked what the Armenian side means by a “reasonable timeframe.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly reiterated on Monday that Turkey will not implement the protocols unless there is a breakthrough in international efforts to settle the Karabakh conflict.