Armenia still hopes that the stalled process of normalizing its relations with Turkey will eventually resume “without any preconditions,” Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in an interview published on Tuesday.
“We hope that the process is not dead, but suspended,” he told the Austrian magazine “Profil.” “And as it was said very clearly, we will be ready to move forward if there is again a partner in Turkey ready to move forward with the normalization without any preconditions.”
The Turkish government has made clear that Turkey’s parliament will not ratify the October 2009 protocols on the normalization of relations between the two neighbors until a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh acceptable to Azerbaijan.
Nalbandian reaffirmed Yerevan’s rejection of this linkage, saying that it contradicts the protocols and the position of the international community. “All the Armenian steps on normalization process were commended by the whole international community,” he said in remarks released by the Armenian Foreign Ministry. “Even the [April] decision on suspension of the ratification process was met by understanding and applauded.”
“Not only Armenia, but also the mediators, supporters of this process, the whole international community, have publicly made it clear that Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution has no linkage to the Armenian-Turkish normalization process,” he added.
Citing the Turkish precondition, President Serzh Sarkisian suspended Armenian parliamentary ratification of the agreements but backed away from his earlier threats to scrap them altogether. Both the United States and the European Union welcomed this stance. A U.S. State Department spokesman said the two protocols may still be put into effect “over the long term.”
Visiting the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don earlier this month, Sarkisian said Yerevan plans no further fence-mending negotiations with Ankara for the time being. He branded it as “an unreliable and untrustworthy partner which periodically breaches preliminary understandings.”
Armenian officials say the Turks did not link the normalization of bilateral ties with a Karabakh settlement during the so-called “football diplomacy” that began with Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s historic September 2008 visit to Yerevan. The unprecedented rapprochement provoked a furious reaction from Azerbaijan, which threatened to downgrade its close relationship with Turkey.
When asked why he thinks the Turkish government reverted to its Karabakh precondition, Nalbandian said, “I couldn’t say that nobody knows why. I could only say that almost nobody understands.” He did not elaborate.