Are The Protocols Coming Undone?

Seems that Ankara is not happy with last week’s Armenian Constitutional Court decision regarding the protocols, and they’re letting the whole world know it.

Hetq Online reports the following:

An article in Today’s Zaman, entitled “Normalization with Armenia at risk, says PM Erdogan”, states that during yesterday’s phone call between foreign ministers of the two nations, the Turkish Foreign Mnister Davutoglu told his Armenian counterpart that right after the documents were signed, a public awareness campaign was launched in Turkey and the Protocols were sent to Parliament, whereas Armenia has not yet done so.

According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s statement on Jan. 18, the Armenian constitutional court’s “grounds for decision” over the conformity of the protocols to their constitution “contain preconditions and restrictive provisions which impair the letter and spirit of the protocols” and “undermine the very reason for negotiating these protocols as well as their fundamental objective.”

Burak Özügergin, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson, told Today’s Zaman that Armenia has taken the heart out of the protocols and created a new, restrictive situation. He further explained that on the one hand, the court had ruled to approve the protocols, which call for the establishment of a joint commission of historians to better understand past events, but on the other it refers to the Declaration of Independence of Armenia.

Paragraph 11 of the Declaration of Independence states, “The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.”

“Then why establish a commission of historians?” Özügergin said.

In the fifth paragraph of the Armenian court’s ruling it says that the protocols “cannot be interpreted or applied” in a way that would contradict the provisions of the preamble to Armenia’s constitution and the requirements of paragraph 11 of its Declaration of Independence.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Özügergin pointed out another issue of concern for the Turkish side — the main limitations the Armenian court has placed on the protocols in that the court made all clauses of the protocols conditional on the implementation of two main obligations: “establish diplomatic relations” and “open the common border.”

On Wednesday, Hurriyet quoted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying, “We took it directly to our Parliament, without making changes. We didn’t employ a mediator on the text. We didn’t carry out any read-between-the-lines operations. This is a proof of our sincerity. Armenia has tried to change the text.”

Now it is Turkey who is playing the blame game about preconditions attached to the protocols. Wasn’t it Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who repeatedly stated to the Turkish and international pressafter the protocols had been signed that the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia cannot be established without a Nagorno-Karakagh peace deal in Azerbaijan’s favor? They have been saying this repeatedly and unabashedly for months now. There is not one provision in the protocols that alludes to a peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict in exchange for an opened border. Last week when Erdogan visited Moscow Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stated essentially that Turkey had to back off and not confuse the two issues, and Washington has alluded to the same, although in more vague language.

I think, given the rhetoric that Turkish diplomats have been reiterating, the Constitutional Court’s ruling is certainly helpful to the Armenian side, because it clearly shows that Yerevan can also play hardball. Naturally, Ankara is demonstrating that it isn’t happy, just as it has all along, which is good. I’m looking forward to a derailing of the protocols quite honestly. I thought it was foolish for Yerevan to sign them in the first place, and given the recent bickering, both sides are probably regretting having been pressured to get on with the diplomatic fence-mending process.

I really don’t think that the Turks and Armenians are anywhere close to resolving their differences in the spirit of peace and mutual understanding, which is evidently absent.

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