Former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian slammed on Monday the official freezing of Armenian parliamentary ratification of the fence-mending agreements with Turkey, saying that President Serzh Sarkisian has opted for the worst possible response to the Turkish delay tactic.
Oskanian said the effective collapse of the normalization process has vindicated Armenian critics of Sarkisian’s Western-backed policy of rapprochement with Turkey. He also insisted that the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiating process has taken on a dangerous turn for the Armenian side.
“I am astonished by two things,” Oskanian said in a written statement, commenting on Sarkisian’s April 22 announcement. “First, the government is openly acknowledging that for one whole year they watched as Turkey placed preconditions before them, Turkey exploited the process for its own benefit, and they not only tolerated this, but continuously insisted that this is not happening and that this whole process is a big success and an unprecedented diplomatic victory.”
“Second, if there were half a dozen possible exit strategies from this situation – from doing nothing to revoking Armenia’s signature – the government has chosen the option least beneficial to us,” he said.
“Turkey no longer has an obligation to open the border before the Karabakh conflict is resolved, which is what Turkey had wanted all along. The Armenian side did that which is most desirable for Turkey: neither ratified the protocols, nor revoked them, thus giving Turkey the opportunity to continue to remain actively engaged in the Karabakh process.”
Oskanian, who served as foreign minister in the administration of former President Robert Kocharian from 1998-2008, has been a vocal critic of the Turkish-Armenian protocols signed last October. He has repeatedly said that Ankara has no intention to unconditionally normalize ties with Yerevan and will exploit the protocols to halt broader international recognition of the Armenian genocide and try to clinch more Armenian concessions to Azerbaijan.
In his April 22 televised address to the nation, Sarkisian accused the Turks of having done “everything to protract time and fail the process.” But he said he has decided not to walk away from the deal for now “out of respect” for the United States and other foreign powers.
“It was clear from the beginning that a prolonged presentation of the desirable as real is not sustainable, and that the government would have to finally acknowledge reality,” said Oskanian.
The former minister, who currently heads a Yerevan-based think-tank, the Civilitas Foundation, also stood by his claims that Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks mediated by the U.S, Russia and France are “proceeding unfavorably” for the Armenian side. “The situation must be corrected, even if that requires making clear policy changes,” he said without elaborating.
Oskanian earlier expressed concern about the still undisclosed changes which the mediating powers made late last year in their “basic principles” of a Karabakh settlement originally put forward in 2007.
The Azerbaijani leaders have welcomed those changes, saying that they made the proposed settlement largely acceptable to Baku. Yerevan’s public reaction to the modified peace plan has been more ambiguous.