YEREVAN (Hurriyet)–Time is running out for Ankara to ratify agreements signed in October to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey, an assistant to the Armenian President warned on Friday during a press conference in Yerevan with visiting Turkish journalists, the Turkish Hurriyet daily reported.
Vigen Sarkisian said Armenia will withdraw from the process if progress does not occur by March. “In March, there will be a point of no return. January is the best timeframe. After that, every morning it will be more difficult to do this than the day before.”
“The whole world has supported these protocols and they should be approved at once,” Nalbandian was quoted by Hurriyet as saying. He expressed frustration that the deal has become embroiled with Turkish demands for Armenia to capitulate to a pro-Azerbaijani settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Armenia’s parliament has yet to ratify the protocols and, according to Hurriyet, officials in Yerevan said Friday they would do so only if the Turkish Parliament does so first.
During the course of the press conference, Nalbandian was asked whether Armenia would make a symbolic step on the Karabakh front to appease Turkey and move the ratification process forward. Nalbandian insisted that the Karabakh issue is an absolute non-starter for Armenia, adding that the Karabakh peace process and the Turkey-Armenia rapprochement are two distinct and “parallel,” issues that cannot be coupled.
“There can be no preconditions – in the protocols there are absolutely no preconditions,” Nalbandian said, adding that he was “saddened that three journalists have now asked the same question about Armenia taking a step on Nagorno-Karabakh.”
He said the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents have met repeatedly on the matter, and that is where any discussion of Nagorno-Karabakh must remain.
He said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the domestic politics of Turkey behind Erdogan’s declarations but said if the border-opening initiative dies, it will be the next generation of Turks and Armenians who will have to resolve their differences.
“Turkey and Armenia have been divided for nearly 100 years,” he said. “Let’s not live this for another 100 years.”