Tag Archives: protocols

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.

Turkey’s Parliament Receives Protocols

On Wednesday, the protocols were formerly introduced to the Turkish parliament for deliberation and anticipated approval. Anticipated primarily by the West I should add. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised that the parliament would not ratify them.

Hetq reported Deniz Baykal, who is the leader of Turkey’s Republican party, stating the following:

“We believe Turkey’s problems with Azerbaijan have gone beyond being a problem of discourse and have headed in a more serious direction. I see who is right and who is wrong regarding this issue. Turkey failed to manage the process of opening its border with Armenia and is now faced with grave problems.”

The article then points out that:

The main opposition party leader criticized the recent signing of two protocols between Turkey and Armenia, which call for the opening of the border, closed since 1993, and the restoration of diplomatic relations.

Mr. Baykal added that the main opposition party will not sacrifice Turkey’s friendship with Azerbaijan because of the bad policies of the government.

Meanwhile, Armenia claims that its National Assembly will not deliberate on the protocols until Turkey’s parliament ratifies them.

questionSo judging by this information, Turkey’s friendship with Azerbaijan is far more important than the budding one with Armenia. This was already assumed before the protocols were signed with similar statements made in the Turkish Press, including those previously stated by Prime Minister Erdogan. So why were the protocols signed, what did the signing actually accomplish? That Turkey is indeed a peace-loving, yet hypocritical nation?

Given the recent developments in the ongoing plight to accept the “gestures of goodwill,” you have to wonder what the point to this hype is. I find it hard to believe that the Turkish parliament will indeed reject the protocols since Turkey indeed has lots to gain from an opened border with Armenia and “free” commerce, not to mention a possible stronghold on Armenian’s far from stable economy. There’s also the paranoid, nevertheless legitimate fear of Pan-Turanism taking root once the border opens.

I really don’t think that Turkey—including its hardliner politicians—give a damn about how the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict will play out in the end, yet Prime Minister Erdogan claims the opposite. He’s shown his deceitful side several times in the past so I can’t really believe his words until the Turkish parliament ends up rejecting the protocols, but again, I doubt that will actually happen.

Yet let’s consider that I am wrong and the protocols are not ratified. Again, what was the point of signing them in the first place—a simple, feeble demonstration of good will? Was President Sarkisian simply gambling by agreeing to the protocols knowing quite well that they wouldn’t be approved, or was he indeed sincere about implementing them? And what was all that congratulating about on President Sarkisian’s part every time Turkey scored during the football match on October 14? (Armenia lost 2-0.) Armenians didn’t take too kindly to his behavior. Was that part of his chess-like charade, assuming there is one?

Personally I stopped caring about this process the day the protocols were signed. I realized then and there that I did all I could in the effort to stop the protocols from being signed by repeatedly writing about the dangers for Armenia on this blog and in other articles. And after judging the rather weak protests that have been ensuing in Armenia against the protocols during the last four weeks, I became even more indifferent.

I join millions of others wondering what the end-result will be from all this, without really caring that much about the outcome. Armenian citizens who are opposed to an opened border under the current circumstances should be more vocal about their beliefs, and their silence is convincing me that nothing about this process really matters.

Let’s Open The Border!

As you’ve undoubtedly read in the news during the last week, President Serge Sarkisian visited many cities around the world where large communities of Armenians exist, namely New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Beirut and Rosdov-on-Don. In the first four cities cited he was met with hundreds or else thousands of angry protestors before meeting with community leaders behind closed doors.

In Paris things became ugly when people were taken away by police for attempting to thwart the president from laying a wreath at the memorial to Gomidas Vartabed there. Naturally he didn’t comprehend what he was up against when he said at a meeting on Thursday in Yerevan that “I expected that we will put on display our unity and position on this issue with a massive demonstration, rather than a provocation by 100 persons.”

An article by RFE/RL reported this:

The president nonetheless found the trip useful, saying that he received “very important messages.” “I had a chance to once again feel just how different we are depending on our birthplace, community of residence, organizational affiliation and at the same time just how similar we are with our collective Armenian identity,” he said.
Sarkisian spent most of his speech again defending his policy of rapprochement with Turkey and trying to allay serious concerns expressed by his some Diaspora groups. He insisted in particular that the planned establishment of a Turkish-Armenian panel of historians will not stop Yerevan from pressing more countries of the world to recognize the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

“On the question of the recognition and condemnation of the genocide, we have an obligation and we will fulfill that obligation till the end,” he told the advisory body comprising Armenia’s top state officials.

Nationalist groups in Armenia and the Diaspora believe that such recognition should be eventually followed by Armenian territorial claims to parts of what is now eastern Turkey. They say that the Sarkisian administration precludes such possibility by agreeing to formally recognize Armenia’s existing border with Turkey.

“Making territorial claims is not the best way to start normalizing relations,” countered Sarkisian. “There are realities of the 21st century political culture which we must take into account.”

Sarkisian again brushed aside opposition allegations that as part of the Western-backed deal with Ankara he also agreed to ensure greater Armenian concessions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “We will never opt for unilateral concessions in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, regardless of what we could be offered in return,” he said.

The president also scoffed at suggestions that the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border would make Armenia economically dependent on Turkey and hurt domestic manufacturers. “It is like suggesting that the best remedy against headache is decapitation,” he said.

Those damn nationalists…

So basically the president didn’t take anything into consideration when he met with concerned, even pessimistic leaders of Armenian communities in private wherever he went. Seems that Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan will definitely have the go ahead in signing the protocols on Saturday (Oct. 10), then of course it’s up to the parliaments of Turkey and Armenia to verify them. The Republicans and junior coalition partners Prosperous Armenia and Orinats Yerkir have pledged their support for the protocols, so they are sure to be ratified in the National Assembly without a doubt.

I suppose the only hope for those who don’t want the border open, I would say the majority of Armenians worldwide (and even among apathetic or distressed Armenian citizens, who likely hold the majority opinion that the border should remain closed under the given circumstances despite government propaganda claiming the opposite) is that the Turkish parliament with its powerful nationalist hardliners will reject the protocols. That is most likely not to happen: the Turks have plenty to gain from an opened border. The Armenian economy will most certainly be totally controlled by Turkish business interests after some time, despite the president’s unconvincing arguement to the contrary. After all, I don’t think he really cares about Armenia’s long-term future. None of Armenia’s leadership does, otherwise they would consider what’s really at stake.

Yet I couldn’t help think this morning that as a surprise move Turkey would have perhaps even more to gain should it recognize the Armenian Genocide just before or even shortly after the protocols are ratified. Turkey will certainly make huge sums of money in tourism with hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the diaspora returning to their homeland for a visit. Emotional ones would probably buy land in their hometowns, perhaps even build a house. Before long, Armenians will find themselves in the situation they were in 100 years ago and long before–living as serfs under Turkish hegemony.

But to hell with all that. Open the border! Let’s make as much money as possible by buying and selling Turkish-made crap in the Armenian marketplace! Let the Turks come in and spend money. Let’s go to Turkey in the summer for vacationing! Let our businesses grow and prosper–that is, of course, until we are bought out completely by Turkish business rivals.

Good luck, Armenia. You’ll definitely need it.