Armenia Scrapping Protocols To Normalize Relations With Turkey
RFE/RL March 01, 2018
Armenia has canceled two 2009 protocols aimed at normalizing bilateral relations with bitter regional rival Turkey, the Caucasus country's presidential office says.
President Serzh Sarkisian declared the normalization deal invalid and that details of the move would be published in the near future, spokesman Vladimir Hakobian said on March 1.
Media in the region have previously reported that Sarkisian has said he was open to new negotiations to normalize relations "under new conditions."
The two protocols, signed by the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers in Zurich in October 2009, would have established diplomatic relations between Ankara and Yerevan as well as reopened the countries' mutual border.
However, the deal was frowned upon in both Yerevan and Ankara. Parliaments in both countries have failed to ratify the documents and scrapping of the protocols had been long discussed in Armenia.
In February 2015, Sarkisian said he had asked parliament speaker Galust Sahakian to return the protocols to him since "the Turkish government has no political will, distorts the spirit and letter of the protocols, and continues its policy of setting preconditions."
In September 2017, Sarkisian told the United Nations General Assembly that Armenia would declare the "futile" protocols "null and void" in the spring of 2018 if Ankara did not show any progress toward their implementation.
"The leadership of Turkey are mistaken if they think that those documents can be held hostage forever and ratified only at the most opportune occasion from their very point of view," Sarkisian said.
On February 21, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian told the European Parliament that Yerevan was close to scrapping the protocols, claiming that Armenia spared no effort" to see the deal succeed but that "Turkey has missed a historic chance of reconciliation."
Turkey did not immediately comment on Yerevan's move to scrap the deal.
Relations between Turkey and Armenia have been strained for years over their differing accounts of the mass killings of Armenians.
The World War I-era mass slaughter and deportation of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks is considered by many historians and several nations as genocide. Turkey objects, saying that Armenians died in much smaller numbers and because of civil strife rather than a planned Ottoman government effort to annihilate the Christian minority.
Armenia has also been locked in a long conflict with Turkish ally Azerbaijan over Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which has led to the closing of the Turkey-Armenia border.
Nagorno-Karabakh, populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, declared independence from Azerbaijan amid a 1988-94 war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
Internationally mediated negotiations with the involvement of the OSCE's so-called Minsk Group have failed to result in a resolution. The Minsk Group is co-chaired by France, Russia, and the United States.
With reporting by RFE/RL's Armenian Service, Reuters, PanArmenia.net, Asbarez, and Interfax
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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