Turkey cool to Armenia's decision to halt ratification of protocols

By Serkan Demirtaş, Vercihan Ziflioğlu

Yerevan’s call to halt ratification of an accord on normalizing ties has Turkey evaluating the possible legal and political repercussions, and prompted the country’s leader to reiterate his commitment to the normalization process.


It is up to them to decide how they want to move with the ratification process,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters in Ankara on Thursday. “I have expressed our loyalty to the protocols on numerous occasions. We will press ahead with the process on the principle that treaties are binding.

The prime minister’s remarks came as Armenia’s ruling coalition announced earlier Thursday that it was halting ratification of the peace accord on account of Turkey’s refusal to ratify the text “without preconditions and in a reasonable timeframe.

Soon after the coalition parties’ statement, Armenian President Serge Sarkisian confirmed his country’s freezing of the ratification of the protocols with neighboring Turkey.

The coalition, which holds the majority in the Armenian parliament, described as “unacceptable” recent statements by Erdoğan linking the process of ratifying the protocols to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, according to a report by Agence France-Presse. The declaration was made by the ruling Republican, Prosperous Armenia and Country of Law parties.

In Tallinn, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the government had not yet received any official statement about the accords.

What we are doing now is evaluating the content of this statement,” ministry spokesman Burak Özügergin told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in the Estonian capital, where Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was attending a NATO meeting. Özügergin added that Turkey is also discussing what steps it could take in the upcoming period.

Following the Armenian statement, Davutoğlu called Erdoğan to inform him about the developments. In Ankara, Erdoğan said his country’s stance concerning the ratification of the protocols is clear. “How the ratification process could move forward and how a comprehensive peace objective can be achieved in the region has been explained to the parties concerned.

Turkey and Armenia signed a deal in October to establish diplomatic ties and open their border in a step toward ending decades of hostility over Armenian allegations that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenians, a claim that Turkey rejects.

The deal, comprised of two protocols, needs parliamentary ratification to take effect. The reconciliation process has since stalled, with both sides questioning each other’s commitment to peace.
Three points

Early analyses made by Turkish diplomats on the ruling Armenian coalition’s decision are based on the timing of the announcement as well as its legal and political dimensions.

The statement came just two days before April 24, the day Armenians mark the events of 1915, which they consider genocide. On the same day, a number of countries, including the United States, issue annual statements to commemorate the Armenian deaths.

The timing of the statement is important. They are trying to force Obama to be straighter in his statement,” a senior Turkish diplomat told the Daily News. Last year, U.S. President Barack Obama did not use the word “genocide” in his April 24 statement, but described the 1915 incidents as “one of the great atrocities of the 20th century.

Following a meeting with Obama last week in Washington, Erdoğan said he was sure that the U.S. president would not use the word “genocide” in his statement this year.

A group of experts at the Turkish Foreign Ministry have already begun to look into the meaning of the statement and how it could affect Turkey’s legal position.

Political consequences will be felt in the ongoing normalization process, but the move could also be a tactical one to mobilize opposition parties to force the government in Turkey to withdraw the protocols from Parliament.
Right decision

A senior official from the Dashnaktsutyun party, which left the ruling coalition over its opposition to the normalization efforts, hailed the move, saying, “the Sarkisian administration finally made the right decision.

Armenia will never yield to Erdoğan’s preconditions, and never back down on the Karabakh issue or the international recognition of genocide,” Vahan Hovanesian told the Daily News in Yerevan.

David Shahnazarian from the Armenian National Congress also criticized what he called Turkey’s “never-ending” pre-conditions. “Under the influence of Azerbaijan, Turkey cannot make progress on the protocols.

Ruben Safrastian, the director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Republic of Armenia’s National Academy of Sciences, said the protocols had already come to a halt and put the responsibility for that on Turkey. “We have missed the historic opportunity between Turkey and Armenia. We must initiate a new process urgently, otherwise the Turkey-Armenia relationship will head to an irreversible period,” Safrastian told the Daily News.

Davutoğlu was scheduled to meet Thursday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Tallinn on the sidelines of the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting. A senior diplomat confirmed that Davutoğlu was planning to raise this issue during the meeting. “It is equally important to see how Americans interpret this statement,” the diplomat said. “That will help us complete our own analyses.




The meeting of Serzh Sargsyan and Recep Tayyip Erdogan