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Strained Ties With Armenia ‘Undermine Turkey’s Clout’


Armenia - A screenshot of Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian's interview with CNN, 15Jun2011.

Armenia - A screenshot of Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian's interview with CNN, 15Jun2011.

Turkey will only boost its international standing if it agrees to unconditionally normalize relations with Armenia, according to Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian.


In an interview with CNN aired late on Wednesday, Sarkisian also indicated that he supports, in principle, Turkey’s eventual membership in the European Union.

“It’s not just an issue for Armenia,” he said, commenting on historically strained relations between the two neighboring states. “Turkey’s political clout and weight will only grow if Turkey follows international rules of the game. Its clout is undermined by problems that Turkey is continuing to have with its neighbors.”

“Turkey should continue to carry out the democratic reforms on the path towards EU accession, in which case we are able to easily build a sustainable relationship with our neighboring country,” added Sarkisian.

Sarkisian referred to Ankara’s refusal to establish diplomatic relations with Yerevan and open the Turkish-Armenian border in line with two bilateral protocols signed in 2009. Turkish leaders have repeatedly said that the Turkish parliament will not ratify them until there is decisive progress in international efforts to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

Yerevan has rejected this precondition, accusing the Turks of acting against the letter and the spirit of the protocols. President Serzh Sarkisian and other Armenian leaders have also threatened to formally annul them.

The United States and the European Union likewise favor an unconditional normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. Visiting Yerevan in late April, the EU’s commissioner for enlargement, Stefan Fuele, said that is essential for the success of Turkey’s efforts to join the bloc.

Tigran Sarkisian further insisted that Armenia’s political leadership is committed to finding a compromise solution to the Karabakh conflict. “The Armenian leadership has the political will to move on to an agreement and we realize it’s not easy,” he said. “But we also hope that our Azerbaijani counterparts will demonstrate political will as well.”

The Armenian premier was interviewed by CNN on a visit to London during which he was due to attend a fundraising dinner organized by Britain’s Prince Charles and Armen Sarkisian, a London-based former Armenian prime minister (no relation). Proceeds from the event will be used for restoring four old buildings in Yerevan and a medieval castle in Scotland.

Charles and Armen Sarkisian organized a similar fundraiser in Windsor Castle last year. It was attended by President Sarkisian.
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