MUNICH, Germany (RFE/RL)–The United States would like to help Armenia and Turkey kick-start their stalled normalization process, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly told Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian over the weekend.
The two met in Munich, Germany on the sidelines of a security conference attended by government leaders from around the world. According to Sarkisian’s press office, they discussed U.S.-Armenian ties, the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Armenia’s strained relationship with Turkey.
In a statement, the office said, “Turning to Armenia-Turkey relations, the secretary of state emphasized the determination of the United States to assist in continuing the process of establishing normal relations between the two countries.” It did not elaborate.
The U.S. was actively involved in Turkish-Armenian fence-mending negotiations that led to the signing in October 2009 of two protocols envisaging the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations and the opening of their border. Turkey made clear afterwards that its parliament will not ratify the deal without a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process favoring its ally Azerbaijan.
Citing the Turkish precondition, Sarkisian last month accused Ankara of “destroying” the U.S.-backed normalization process. He also threatened to formally annul the protocols “if things continue like this.”
Clinton is likely to have discussed that threat with Sarkisian. With the State Department and U.S. diplomats making no statements on the Munich meeting, it is not known what her reaction was, though.
Clinton earlier praised the Armenian leader for not scrapping the protocols altogether. She also said the onus is on the Turkish government to revive the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement with “the steps that it promised to take.”
According to Sarkisian’s office, the Armenian president stressed the importance of Washington’s “active role” in regional stability and international efforts to resolve the Karabakh conflict. He also thanked Clinton for her “clear and balanced position” on the issue that was voiced at the OSCE’s December summit in Astana.
Contrary to some hopes, the summit did not yield any Armenian-Azerbaijani agreements. Sarkisian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev only promised “more decisive efforts” at Karabakh peace in a joint statement that was also signed by Clinton, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.
The internal political situation in Armenia was apparently also on the agenda of Sarkisian’s talks with Clinton. Sarkisian’s office said they discussed “the course of reforms implemented in Armenia” but gave no details.
Clinton also met with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov on the sidelines of the conference, the Azeri News.az website reported. The two discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, with Mammadyarov outlining Baku’s position on the peace process, mediated by the US, French and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
According to the Azeri Foreign Ministry, Clinton stressed the need to jump-start the Karabakh peace process and make progress on the decade’s long effort to resolve the issue. She also thanked Azerbaijan for its assistance in “anti-terror operations in Afghanistan.”