Turkey continues to link the implementation of its normalization agreements with Armenia with significant progress towards the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said on Friday.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service in Ankara, the official, Selim Yener, indicated that Ankara would settle for a partial Armenian troop withdrawal from Azerbaijani territories surrounding Karabakh.
“It is a sensitive matter for both Armenia and Turkey, and we hope that there could be gestures and some movements on the Armenian side so that our parliament can go ahead and approve this important document,” he said, referring to the two “protocols” signed by the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers in Zurich a year ago.
“We do hope that if Armenia could take some steps with regard to removing some of its troops from certain regions, I think this would be extremely helpful,” added Yener. “This would show that Armenia is taking peace efforts seriously and that it is going in the right direction.”
Official Yerevan is bound to reject this precondition. Armenian leaders have argued all along that neither protocol makes any reference to the Karabakh conflict, a view shared by the United States, the leading international backer of the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement.
Visiting Yerevan in July, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Ankara to unconditionally implement the normalization deal. “Now the ball is in the other court,” she said.
Turkish officials insist, however, that the protocols contain an implicit linkage between their parliamentary ratification and the Karabakh issue. “We have to think of everything in a context,” said Yener. “The protocols were not signed in isolation from reality.”