President Serzh Sarkisian made late on Thursday his most explicit threat yet to annul Armenia’s normalization agreements with Turkey in what appeared to be a tense conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reported the next day. (UPDATED)
The two men spoke in Kiev on the sidelines of the swearing-in of Ukraine’s newly elected president, Viktor Yanukovich. Davutoglu told Turkish journalists there that the “meeting” centered on Turkish-Armenian relations and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“We reviewed the Turkish -Armenian normalization relationship in its entirety with open hearts today, including our anxieties and the obstacles we face,” Davutoglu said, according to “Hurriyet Daily News.” “We spoke about Armenian- Azerbaijan relations and the activities of the Minsk Group as related to the Karabakh issue.”
Sarkisian’s press office clarified that the two held on talks as such, saying that Davutoglu “approached and exchanged views” with the Armenian president during a reception hosted by Yanukovich. It said Sarkisian told him that the ratification of the Turkish-Armenian “protocols” must be completed “within the shortest possible time.”
“Or else, as was stated before, the Republic of Armenia will withdraw its signatures from the protocols,” the office said in a statement circulated on Friday.
Sarkisian first publicly warned of such possibility in early December. He instructed the Armenian government to draft legal amendments regulating Yerevan’s possible pullout from international treaties. The Armenian parliament adopted them in the final reading on Thursday.
Sarkisian was quoted by his office as also telling Davutoglu that Turkey could open its border with Armenia before ratifying the protocols. “A country dreaming about a region without borders should take the first step and end Armenia’s blockade,” he said, scoffing at Ankara’s stated efforts to promote peace and stability in the South Caucasus.
“If Azerbaijani pressure does not allow Turkey’s parliament to ratify the protocols, then nothing keeps Turkey’s executive authority from opening, even before the protocol ratification, the border between the two states which it itself had closed,” he added.
Sarkisian also ruled out any Turkish involvement in the Karabakh peace process. He pointed to Turkey’s “unilateral military assistance” to Azerbaijan and “biased statements” on Karabakh made by Turkish leaders.
In a related development, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed on Thursday Washington’s support for the quick and unconditional ratification of the protocols. “We are working very hard to assist Armenia and Turkey in their efforts and we would like to continue to support that effort and not be diverted in any way at all,” Clinton told U.S. lawmakers.
“The normalization process, which carries important benefits for both sides, should take place without preconditions and within an obvious, reasonable timeframe,” she said.