Mediators reacted very weakly to Turkey’s stance on protocols with Armenia – analyst

13:52 • 28.02.18

A stable and predictable state of Turkey is what Armenia’s interests virtually dictate, yet we do not see our western neighbor meet any of those expectations today, a leading analyst of the Yerevan-based Regional Studies Center said Monday.

In an interview with, Davit Shahnazaryan, a former director of the National Security Service
(1994-1994) and Ambassador-at-Large from 1992 to 1995, also shared his vision of future possible processes between the two countries, which he said should try to develop a dialogue without international mediators’ assistance. In his words, the reconciliation process, initiated in 2009, allowed Armenia to unmask Turkey's image on the international arena to bring attention to the country’s role as an unreliable partner.


President Serzh Sargsyan reaffirms, on international platforms, our country’s resolute decision to declare the Armenia-Turkey protocols null and void until spring. Don’t you think this kind of outcome was predictable from the outset - as Turkey was unlikely to ever agree to any normalization with Armenia? So what did Armenia want to actually prove in the past couple of years?


Serzh Sargsyan's statement, voiced first from the UN General Assembly's tribunal, was really important and necessary.  The Zurich Protocols must not be kept forever locked in the shelves of the Turkish president, and the Turkish parliament. It was clear from the very outset – much before the signing– that Turkey had to two major reasons for having those protocols signed.

First, Turkey had declared the foreign policy trend of 'zero problems with neighbors'. And to reaffirm the goal, Ankara just needed to call the international community's attention to a “constructive approach” to such problematic issues as the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia and the opening of the closed border. Yet, the “zero problems with neighbors” failed - given that Ankara currently has problems with almost all of its neighbors. Moreover, they have serious problems also with the European Union and the US.    


Second, Turkey's ultimate goal was to slow down – if not suspend – the international recognition of the Genocide - committed against the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. But that, certainly, didn't happen. Turkey attempted to also prevent [former] US President Barrack Obama from keeping his promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide. That plan succeeded as President Obama never fulfilled his pledge.  


As for Armenia's benefit, we saw that the international community was given a clear sign that Turkey always disavows its pledge, refusing to abide by its international commitments.

What prevented a successful outcome in those negotiations? And can we still expect a reconciliation after those protocols are declared null and void.


The important thing at the moment is to make a clear distinction between the Armenia-Turkey interstate relations and the Armenia-Turkey rapprochement process. A genuine reconciliation process - involving largely also the Diaspora, - may get underway only if and when we see an essential progress in the bilateral relations. If you remember, President Serzh Sargsyan recently addressed the new situation [at the International Security Conference] in Munich. What the new situation implies is, I believe, the distinction between these two processes – the interstate [relations], and the reconciliation. Besides, Turkey has become somewhat unpredictable for the international community (after President Erdogan stated that “Turkey is the Ottoman Empire's succcessor”). Armenia’s interests do require that Turkey be a stable and predictable neighbor, but we see neither the one nor the other today.  


In his speech in Munich, Serzh Sargsyan also said that Armenia took high chances by initiating the process in light of the Diaspora’s criticism.

It was really true.  Armenia demonstrated in that way that in spite of the Diaspora’s resistance, it was heading to a normalization process with Turkey. Armenia practically demonstrated to what degree Turkey can be untrustworthy as an international partner.

What are the benefits for Armenia?

Armenia in that way showed its willingness to maintain peace in the region - a fact which is no less significant, to say the least.

What about Azerbaijan’s role in the failed process?

Turkey proved that it maintains a high degree of dependence on Azerbaijan when it comes to regional issues - dealing especially with the South Caucasus. In that sense, Turkey can be said to be Azerbaijan’s hostage in a way. Turkey mimics Azerbaijan’s behavior, voicing its strong opposition to the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs’ efforts towards achieving a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Even if we rule out the Azerbaijani factor for the moment, I don’t think the normalization of the Armenia-Turkey relations and establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties are in line with the official Ankara’s current foreign policy priorities.

What is your explanation to the mediators’ somewhat passive stance on the suspension of this process?

To respond to this question, we need to first of all consider who the mediators are. They represent the United States, France and Russia – the three countries which are co-chairs in the OSCE Minsk Group – as well as Switzerland. So their mission to act as mediators was not a random choice. Their presence had obviously something to do the [unresolved] Nagorn-Karabakh conflict.  

And those mediators’ reaction was really weak to Turkey’s policy of abandoning those protocols; they did not exert any influence upon Turkey - whose closed borders with Armenia are virtually the only closed borders across Europe. That, logically, runs counter to the entire European set of values, their policies and principles, which laid the foundations of the EU. Therefore, I believe (considering also the 1990s experience), that that the negotiations between Turkey and Armenia should have been held without any mediators. And I believe we should rule out mediators’ presence also in the future, opting instead for the bilateral interstate format.



Tigranuhi Martirosyan


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