President Serzh Sarkisian appeared to have renewed on Wednesday his threats to annul the 2009 Turkish-Armenian normalization agreements if Turkey continues to link their parliamentary ratification with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In a speech at the UN General Assembly in New York, Sarkisian also criticized the Turkish government for refusing to recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire. He said Ankara is sending “ambiguous and ulterior messages in which the victim and the slaughterer are equated and the history falsified.”
“Armenia has never conditioned the normalization of the bilateral relations with Turkey by the recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” said Sarkisian. “In fact, Armenia was the party that initiated such a process which culminated in the signing of the Zurich Protocols in 2009.”
“Ankara declares publicly that it will ratify those protocols only if the Armenians cede Nagorno-Karabakh, the free Artsakh, to Azerbaijan. In Armenia and Artsakh ordinary people often react to such preconditions very simply, ‘To hell with you ratification,’” he said.
“It is in these circumstances that official Yerevan is now seriously considering recalling the Armenian-Turkish protocols from the [Armenian] parliament,” he warned.
Sarkisian did not specify whether such a recall would be followed by a formal invalidation of the U.S.-backed agreements that commit Turkey and Armenia to establishing diplomatic relations and opening their border.
Ankara has repeatedly made clear that the Turkish parliament will not ratify the protocols until a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan. It insists on this linkage despite pressure from the United States, which stands for an unconditional normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.
Sarkisian has threatened to withdraw Armenia signature from the protocols on at least three occasions in the past. In February 2010, for example, he told then Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that he will do so unless the Turks ratify the accords “within the shortest possible time.”
“The Turkish side has to understand that these protocols are not an open-ended opportunity,” the Armenian president stated in August 2011.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed the UN General Assembly later on Wednesday. He did not respond to Sarkisian’s statements.