Armenia would swiftly ratify its U.S.-backed normalization agreements with Turkey signed in 2009 as soon as the Turkish government drops its preconditions for their implementation, according to President Serzh Sarkisian.
In an interview with a group of foreign reporters, Sarkisian downplayed his decision last month to withdraw the two Turkish-Armenian protocols from the Armenian parliament because of Ankara’s refusal to unconditionally ratify them.
“It was a political message and it does not presuppose any legal consequences because I did not withdraw Armenia’s signatures from the protocols,” Sarkisian said in remarks publicized by Panorama.am on Thursday.
“I think that the Turkish authorities still have time to ratify the protocols,” he stated, answering a question from the CNN-Turk TV channel. “When they ratify we won’t need much time, under our national legislation, to send those protocols to the [Armenian] National Assembly.”
“But if the Turkish authorities deliberate for too long I think that one day those protocols will be invalidated because it makes no sense to spend decades sticking to a document one of the signatories to whichrefuses to implement it.”
The protocols signed in Zurich commit Turkey and Armenia to establishing diplomatic relations and opening their border. Shortly after the signing ceremony Ankara made clear that Turkey’s parliament will ratify the deal only in case of a breakthrough in international efforts to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The Sarkisian administration has repeatedly rejected this precondition, arguing that the protocols make no reference to the conflict. The United States also favors their unconditional implementation by both sides. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly said that “the ball is in Turkey’s court.”
Speaking on Wednesday evening, Sarkisian also made clear that a possible normalization of relations with Turkey would not stop Yerevan from continuing to campaign for a greater international recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.
“Who said that when the border is opened the campaign for the genocide recognition will stop? Who said that when the border is opened we will stop commemorating our innocent victims? Who said that when the border is opened we will stop fighting for our rights. No, we won’t,” he stressed.
The Armenian leader went on to reaffirm his view that full reconciliation between the two estranged nations is impossible without Turkey officially recognizing the genocide. By strongly denying that the 1915 mass killings of Armenians constituted genocide Ankara “shares responsibility” with the Ottoman rulers who masterminded and oversaw the slaughter, he said.