ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Thursday sent a letter to his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisian assuring him that Ankara remains committed to agreements with Yerevan to normalize relations and open borders.
Gul’s message was in response to a letter from Sarkisian sent Tuesday, warning Gul that failure to implement the Turkish-Armenian protocols signed in October could roll back the rapprochement between the two nations.
“A situation when words are not supported by deeds gives rise to mistrust and skepticism, providing ample opportunities to counteract for those, who oppose the process,” Sarkisian said in a clear reference to ratification preconditions set by Ankara.
In his response, Gul thanked Sarkisian for the “kind message” but did not specify whether Turkey will unconditionally ratify the protocols anytime soon.
“I welcome the thoughts conveyed to us in your message,” Gul responded in the letter, which was also posted on his website. He said Sarkisian “should have no doubt” about the Turkish government’s determination to promote “mutual understanding and trust among our two neighboring peoples.”
“I also agree with you that responsible governance necessitates both standing behind words and supporting words with deeds,” he wrote. “Hence, we will continue to work for taking our normalization process forward based upon the understanding reached between our two countries.”
Gul said both sides need to be “aware that concluding this historic process will require honoring our commitments in their entirety as well as displaying adequate political courage and vision.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials have said in recent weeks that the Turkish parliament will not ratify the protocols unless Yerevan addresses their concerns about a ruling handed down by the Armenian Constitutional Court last month. While upholding the legality of the agreements, the court made clear that they can not hinder Yerevan’s pursuit of broader international recognition of the Armenian genocide. It also noted that the protocols could have no bearing on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Turkish leaders say this interpretation is at odds with key protocols provisions, a claim considered to be “exaggerated” by the West and Armenia. Armenia has accused the Turks of seeking more “artificial excuses” to avoid normalizing relations.
Despite that, Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has warned the ruling threatens to derail the normalization process. He complained earlier this week that the court’s decision will limit the “mission” of a historical commission outlined in the protocols.
Turkey has made no secret of its intention to use the commission to question the veracity of the Armenian Genocide. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his government will not submit the agreements to the Turkish Grand National Assembly until Armenia endorses a settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict agreeable to Azerbaijan.
Gul’s letter, however, contained no specific demands to Yerevan. The Turkish president said instead that he will “remain personally engaged in this process hoping to see it reach a satisfactory conclusion for both of our countries.”
We present the letter in its entirety below:
“Your Excellency, Dear Friend,
I would like to thank you for the kind message that you have sent on the occasion of your flight over the Turkish territory. Please accept my reciprocal greetings to you and the people of neighboring Armenia.
I welcome the thoughts conveyed to us in your message. I do share the view that our bilateral efforts aimed at the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations attracted due attention world-wide by creating a new hope for peace in our conflict-ridden geography. Overcoming the long-established prejudices and nurturing mutual understanding and trust among our two neighboring peoples were indeed our main objectives when endorsing the process of normalization between our countries. You should have no doubt that our determination to take these objectives forward is intact, provided that this resolve and commitment remains reciprocal.
I also agree with you that responsible governance necessitates both standing behind words and supporting words with deeds. Hence, we will continue to work for taking our normalization process forward based upon the understanding reached between our two countries. We have to be aware that concluding this historic process will require honoring our commitments in their entirety as well as displaying adequate political courage and vision.
A future characterized by sustainable peace, security, prosperity and cooperation for all the people living in our region is our common goal and I will remain personally engaged in this process hoping to see it reach a satisfactory conclusion for both of our countries.
Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.”