Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sounded optimistic about the eventual normalization of Turkey’s relations with Armenia, while saying it is contingent on the Armenians “leaving history to historians.”
In an interview with the Istanbul-based Armenian newspaper “Jamanak” published on Thursday, Erdogan argued that his government has already managed to improve Turkey’s historically strained ties with virtually all other neighbors.
“We can do the same with Armenia,” he said. “I sincerely believe in that. By leaving history to historians, scholars, we can jointly move towards the future. I continue to believe that this is still possible.”
It was a clear reference to the decades-long Armenian campaign for international recognition of the 1915 massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. Armenia’s worldwide Diaspora has been at the forefront of that campaign fiercely opposed by successive governments in Ankara.
Erdogan described the genocide recognition effort, endorsed by Yerevan, as a “major obstacle” to Turkish-Armenian reconciliation. “I am not sure that a part of the Armenian Diaspora is doing Armenia any good,” he said.
Erdogan made no mention of another, more important Turkish precondition for normalizing ties between the two neighboring states: a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan.
The Turkish premier has repeatedly stated over the past year that Ankara will not ensure parliamentary ratification of the Turkish-Armenian protocols signed in October 2009. They envisage the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and opening of their border.
Armenia has accused the Turks of backtracking on the U.S.-backed agreements. President Serzh Sarkisian suspended the process of their ratification by the Armenian parliament in April.