He indicated that Yerevan will wait for no more than several months for an unconditional normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, which is envisaged by the two protocols signed in 2009.
“The Turkish side has to understand that these protocols are not an open-ended opportunity,” Sarkisian told an annual meeting in Yerevan of Armenian ambassadors and other senior diplomats.
“Many of our [foreign] friends advised us to wait until the [June] parliamentary elections in Turkey,” he said. “So in the next several months we will see whether there has been a change of approaches in Turkey after those elections. But frankly speaking, the past two months have not given us grounds for optimism.”
“On the basis of those observations, we will also decide our further steps regarding the protocols,” he warned.
Sarkisian already threatened to withdraw Yerevan’s signature from the protocols in January. He said that the Turks “destroyed” the Western-backed rapprochement between the two historical foes with their Karabakh linkage.
Foreign Ministers Eduard Nalbandian of Armenia (L) and Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey sign landmark agreements to normalize Turkish-Armenian relations in Zurich.
Shortly after the signing of the protocols in Zurich attended by top diplomats from the United States, Europe and Russia, Ankara made clear that the Turkish parliament will not ratify them without decisive progress in the Karabakh peace process. Azerbaijan welcomed this condition.
Sarkisian responded by freezing the process of protocol ratification by Armenia’s parliament in April 2010. In a televised address to the nation, he said he decided not to scrap the agreements altogether at the request of the United States and other foreign powers.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised this stance as “very statesmanlike” when she visited Yerevan in July 2010. Clinton reportedly pressed the Turkish government to unconditionally comply with the protocols during a visit to Istanbul last month.
However, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish leaders have continued to state that Turkey will not establish diplomatic relations and open its border with Armenia until a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Azerbaijan.
Tensions between the two neighboring states rose further later in July after Ankara accused Sarkisian of voicing Armenian territorial claims to Turkey. Erdogan publicly demanded that the Armenian leader apologize for the “provocation.” Officials in Yerevan rejected the accusations.
Sarkisian insisted on Tuesday that despite the lack of tangible results, he does not regret embarking on a policy of rapprochement with Turkey shortly after taking office in April 2008. “I think that those present in this audience understand that that initiative has boosted Armenia’s international standing and dispelled our partners’ illusions about a new and contemporary Turkey,” he said.
Sarkisian has been accused by critics in Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora of making too many concessions to the Turks in the normalization process and gaining little in return. One of them, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party, quit his coalition government in protest in 2009.