President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday again defended his administration’s 2009 normalization agreements with Turkey against strong criticism voiced in Armenia and especially its worldwide Diaspora.
Sarkisian gave no indications that he is ready to formally annul the two U.S.-brokered protocols despite Ankara’s refusal to ratify them unconditionally.
“If, as many said, the two protocols are not good for the Armenians and clearly stem from Turkey’s interests, why have they still not been ratified by the Turks? Does that mean that they don’t know their interests or that some Armenians know better what Turkish interests are?” he said at a meeting with senior officials at the Defense Ministry in Yerevan.
“Obviously, if those documents stemmed from the Turks’ interests, they would have stopped at nothing -- neither Azerbaijan’s nor anybody else’s opinion -- and would have promptly ratified those documents,” he added.
The protocols hailed by the international community envisaged the establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey and the opening of their border. They also committed Yerevan to explicitly recognizing the inviolability of that border and agreeing to a joint examination of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
The latter provisions were strongly condemned by some major political groups in Armenia as well as many organizations in the Armenian Diaspora. In particular, they said that the joint study would help Ankara keep more countries from recognizing the Armenian genocide.
Sarkisian insisted that time has proved the critics wrong. He said foreign legislatures and key committees of the U.S. Congress in particular have continued to pass resolutions affirming the genocide. He pointed to one such bill that was approved by the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee last week.
Sarkisian also said the Turkish government’s refusal to implement the protocols before a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has vindicated Armenia in the eyes of the international community. “Those who support and wish us well have been finally convinced that the Armenian side is not to blame for the absence of Turkish-Armenian relations,” he said.
Both the United States and the European Union stand for an unconditional ratification of the Turkish-Armenian accords.
Sarkisian noted that he is commenting on the subject now because of “recent events.” He did not elaborate.
It was not clear if he referred to conditions set by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), a vocal critic of the protocols. Dashnaktsutyun quit Armenia’s governing coalition in 2009 in protest against Sarkisian’s policy of rapprochement with Turkey. Leaders of the nationalist party have made clear that they will join a new government currently formed by Sarkisian only if he accepts a number of their demands. One of them is a formal annulment of the protocols by Yerevan.