Turkey remains adamant in making the normalization of its relations with Armenia conditional on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Tuesday.
“Nagorno-Karabakh is a Muslim, Azerbaijani and Turkic land occupied by Armenia,” Bozdag told journalists during a visit to Baku. “The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is our common problem.”
“Until Armenia pulls out of Nagorno-Karabakh, until the rights of Azerbaijanis of that region are restored Turkish-Armenian relations will not be normalized,” he said, according to the Trend news agency.
Ankara has followed this line even after signing in 2009 two protocols with Yerevan that committed the two sides to establish diplomatic relations and open the Turkish-Armenian border. Turkish leaders have repeatedly said that the protocols will not be ratified by Turkey’s parliament before a breakthrough in the international efforts to broker an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal on Karabakh.
The Armenian side rejects this precondition, accusing the Turks of acting against the letter and spirit of the Western-backed protocols. President Serzh Sarkisian last year threatened to withdraw Yerevan’s signature from the deal.
Sarkisian mentioned the failed Turkish-Armenian normalization process when he addressed a congress of his Republican Party on Saturday. He insisted that despite the fiasco the unprecedented rapprochement between the two neighboring nations, which began in 2008, was worth it.
“The entire world came to see that the only obstacle to the establishment of relations between Armenia and Turkey is in Ankara and another capital … but in no way or shape Yerevan,” Sarkisian said. He argued that Ankara was “compelled” in 2009 to sign a legally binding document that calls for an unconditional normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.
Turkey has stood by the Karabakh linkage despite pressure from the United States. Visiting Ankara in December, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden expressed hope that the Turkish parliament will ratify the protocols “in the months ahead.”