Armenia has used the first anniversary of its ill-fated agreements with Turkey to again accuse Ankara of reneging on them and urge it to drop “preconditions” for normalizing bilateral relations.
In an op-ed article published by “The Wall Street Journal” on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian also claimed that the Turks have “hypocritically” exploited the rapprochement with Armenia to try to prevent a broader international recognition of the Armenian genocide.
“Unfortunately Turkey has backtracked from the agreements,” he wrote, referring to the two “protocols” which he and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu signed in Zurich one year ago. “Not only has it refrained from ratifying the protocols, but Ankara has returned to the language of preconditions that it had used before the beginning of the process.”
Nalbandian pointed to the Turkish government’s linkage between parliamentary ratification of the protocols and decisive progress in international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “Any Turkish attempts to interfere in the Karabakh process or to link the normalization of its relations with Armenia upon its own perception of progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh talks, harms both processes,” he said. “This is a position that … the whole international community have emphasized several times.”
Armenian leaders have repeatedly argued over the past year that the protocols, which commit the two neighboring states to establish diplomatic relations and open their border, make no reference to the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute. Turkish officials claim, however, that the deal implicitly links the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations with a Karabakh settlement.
“It seems we speak in different languages,” said Nalbandian. “Turkey pretends that all problems in the region must have a ‘comprehensive solution’ once and for all. This is a beautiful phrase, but how realistic is it? It is a mere rhetoric, all words and no performance,” he added.
The Turkish-Armenian protocols and President Serzh Sarkisian’s broader conciliatory line on Turkey have been strongly criticized by Armenia’s leading opposition groups as well as Armenian Diaspora leaders. They have said, both before and after the signing of the protocols, that Ankara will not unconditionally normalize ties with Yerevan and is using the process to deter more countries from recognizing the 1915 massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
Nalbandian effectively acknowledged that in his article. “Hypocritically Turkey also uses the normalization process as a smokescreen for baseless argument that the adoption of resolutions on the Armenian Genocide in various countries can damage the normalization process,” he said.
The minister also reiterated that Yerevan will be ready to kick-start the stalled process if the Turkish government abandons its “preconditions.” “Today various world capitals recall that the ball is in the Turkish court, that Armenia has done its part and that Turkey should take the steps that it promised to take,” he said, echoing statements made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July.
Visiting Yerevan, Clinton hailed as “very statesmanlike” Sarkisian’s April decision to freeze Armenian parliamentary ratification of the protocols, rather than annul them altogether.