The opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) denounced on Monday the U.S. State Department for welcoming an Armenian Constitutional Court ruling on Turkey that has sparked a diplomatic dispute between Yerevan and Ankara.
Dashnaktsutyun leaders claimed that by effectively siding with Armenia in the row, the United States is pressurizing its leadership to unconditionally implement the controversial Turkish-Armenian agreements which their party considers a sellout to Turkey.
While upholding the constitutionality of the two “protocols,” the Constitutional Court ruled on January 12 that they place no obligations on Armenia with regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and can not inhibit its pursuit of greater international recognition of the Armenian genocide.
Dashnaktsutyun welcomed this interpretation of the U.S.-backed protocols, saying that the Armenian parliament should ratify them with corresponding “reservations.” Its top representatives said in particular that the court effectively invalidated a protocol clause that commits Armenia to explicitly recognizing the existing border with Turkey.
The Turkish government has likewise claimed that the ruling runs counter to the letter and spirit of the deal and jeopardizes its implementation by Turkey. Armenia’s leadership has brushed aside these claims, accusing Ankara of seeking “artificial pretexts” for delaying its parliamentary ratification.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon told RFE/RL on Friday that Washington regards the judgment as a “positive step forward in the ratification process of the normalization protocols” that “does not appear to limit or qualify them in any way.” Armenian pro-government politicians and media were quick to welcome the U.S. reaction as a crucial endorsement of Yerevan’s position in the dispute. Dashnaktsutyun strongly disagree with that.
“It was a statement made a bit prematurely, and I don’t think that it is only aimed at somehow benefiting Armenia,” Artsvik Minasian, a senior Dashnaktsutyun member, told RFE/RL, commenting on Gordon’s remarks. “What is more, I think that was a form of pressure on Armenia aimed at making sure that we don’t ratify the protocols with reservations,” he said.
Giro Manoyan, the party’s chief foreign policy spokesman, also accused Washington of pressurizing Yerevan. “When a representative of a foreign state tries to teach us some lessons I don’t think that is acceptable,” he told RFE/RL.
According to Minasian, Dashnaktsutyun has drafted legal amendments that would empower Armenia’s parliament to ratify international treaties and agreements signed by the executive branch with conditions or reservations. He said they will be presented this week to 13 other mostly small opposition groups aligned in a Dashnaktsutyun-led coalition staunchly opposed to the protocols.
Leaders of those parties met at the Dashnaktsutyun headquarters in Yerevan over the weekend to discuss their further actions. One of them, Armen Martirosian of the Zharangutyun party, was skeptical about the Dashnaktsutyun bill. Martirosian predicted on Monday that the parliament majority loyal to President Serzh Sarkisian will unconditionally endorse the protocols should they be put to the vote.
A deputy chairman of Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia, which has a clear majority in the National Assembly, confirmed that. “If we add reservations to the protocols, the Turks will never ratify them,” Razmik Zohrabian told RFE/RL. “We should therefore avoid any reservations.”
Zohrabian also hailed the U.S. reaction to the Armenian court ruling, saying that it shows just how “vulnerable and superficial” the Turkish diplomacy can be.