The United States still hopes to salvage the faltering agreements to normalize Armenia’s relations with Turkey despite the apparent lack of progress in the latest Turkish-Armenian negotiations, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.
“The process has stalled from last fall when the countries signed the protocols on normalization,” department spokesman Philip Crowley told a daily news briefing in Washington. “We want to see Turkey and Armenia ratify those protocols, normalize relations, open borders.
“That has significant benefits for both countries. And we continue to work with both to see if we can find the right formula, the right timing to see ratification and the benefits that come with ratification.”
“We know this is a difficult process,” Crowley said, referring to the mandatory parliamentary ratification of the two protocols. “We know it involves emotion on both sides, risk on both sides, and we will continue to work constructively with Armenia and Turkey to try to see this process through.”
The U.S. official spoke just days after a flurry of high-level Turkish-Armenian diplomatic activity that involved U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Obama held talks with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the two leaders met on the margins of a nuclear security summit in Washington on Monday. Clinton, for her part, met separately with Sarkisian and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Crowley, who is also a U.S. assistant secretary of state for public affairs, described those discussions as “very meaningful.” But he said nothing about their results.
The talks appear to have failed to bring the two sides closer to implementing the U.S.-brokered agreements. Erdogan insisted that the Turkish parliament, in which his government has a clear majority, will not ratify them before a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict sought by Azerbaijan.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said on Tuesday that this stance has left the Armenian side wondering “whether there are partners on the [Turkish] side with whom we can continue the process.” He said Yerevan is now even more confident about the wisdom about a still unpublicized decision on the future of the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement which Sarkisian claimed to have made before departing to Washington.
Armenian leaders have repeatedly threatened to walk away from the protocols if the Turks fail to ratify them “within a reasonable time frame.” U.S. officials have yet to publicly comment on these threats.