President Serzh Sarkisian again warned Turkey against delaying the implementation of its agreements with Armenia and vowed a “tough” response to a possible Azerbaijani attempt to win back Nagorno-Karabakh by force as he defended his foreign policy over the weekend.
Sarkisian also insisted that the controversial agreements signed last month will not hamper greater international recognition of the Armenian genocide.
Critics say Ankara will exploit the formation of a Turkish-Armenian commission of historians, envisaged by one of the two “protocols,” to keep more countries from officially recognizing the 1915-1918 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
Sarkisian again dismissed these fears as he addressed a congress of his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) on Saturday. “On the contrary, I am confident that by establishing relations with Turkey, by coming into contact with Turkish society it will be possible to accelerate the recognition process within Turkey and the entire world,” he said.
Accordingly, Sarkisian defended the Western-backed Turkish-Armenian rapprochement that began shortly after he took office in April last year. He said Ankara and Yerevan have managed to “break the ice” in bilateral relations characterized by mutual hostility and mistrust until now.
But in what appeared to be another implicit threat to walk away from the agreements, the Armenian leader reiterated that he expects the Turkish parliament, in which the ruling Justice and Development Party has a clear majority, to ratify them within a “reasonable time frame.” “If Turkey drags out the ratification process, then, as I have already said, Armenia will not hesitate to take adequate steps conforming to international law,” he said.
Turkish leaders have indicated that Turkey’s parliament will not ratify the protocols without a breakthrough in international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Sarkisian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev reportedly made further progress in that direction during their fresh talks held in Munich earlier this month. But whether they could cut a peace deal along the lines of the “basic principles” of a Karabakh settlement proposed by international mediators in the coming months is still not clear.
Sarkisian again cautioned on Saturday that the conflict’s resolution “may take years.” “However, the current stage of the conflict’s resolution gives me reason to hope that we could bring it to a logical conclusion within a reasonable period of time,” he said without elaboration.
He also issued a stern warning to Aliyev, who publicly threatened the Armenians with renewed war ahead of the Munich talks. “Armenia stands for a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but we will not allow any inroads against Nagorno-Karabakh and are ready to counter any inroads by toughest means,” he said.