AUSTIN, Texas (Combined Sources)–Stratfor, a private intelligence organization based in Texas has called a recent accord between Turkey and Armenia to normalize relations and open borders a “hollow” agreement that can be “easily reversed.”
Stratfor published an analysis article on October 13 titled, “Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan: Meeting Russia’s Interests,” where it described the signing of the protocols by the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers in Zurich on Oct 10 as a “symbolic deal” fraught with “several important and interwoven hurdles still.”
Those hurdles, it explained, include Azerbaijan’s refusal to compromise in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Russia’s “widespread influence throughout the region.”
The protocols are now scheduled to be sent to each country’s parliament for final ratification.
But Turkey is not pleased with what Stratfor described as a collapse in talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan days before the signing of the protocols. Citing unnamed sources, the intelligence service said that “Azerbaijan has warned that if Turkey agrees to a deal with Armenia without addressing the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, it would do its best to stymie or complicate Ankara’s normalization with Yerevan.”
“While the meeting between Armenia and Turkey was certainly significant, the agreements reached were primarily symbolic in nature; the two countries still face obstacles in completing the normalization process,” the report said.
“Indeed, the protocol signing came after a meeting between Armenia and Azerbaijan collapsed just days earlier. According to STRATFOR sources in Armenia, Turkey was not pleased that these talks failed, with the main issue of the disputed enclave Nagorno-Karabakh left unsettled.
“Turkey has now given Armenia an ultimatum: It will not follow through on the opening of the border between the two countries until this particular issue is solved — protocol or not,” the Strafor report said, quoting anonymous sources. “This is quite a threat by Turkey, and it shows that the protocols may be hollow and easily reversed.”
Meanwhile, pressure on Armenia’s government is also mounting within Armenia, as opposition to the protocols continues to grow.
“On the Armenian side, there is an enormous level of internal displeasure and dissent over the deal, the analysis report said. “Both the Armenian public and the government are still deeply divided over a rapprochement with the Turks, with the genocide issue still firmly in their collective minds.”
It pointed to two opposition parties in Armenia’s parliament—The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and the Heritage Party–that have already voiced their fierce opposition to the National Assembly’s ratification of the protocols.
While the ARF and Heritage hold only 23 out of 121 seats in Parliament, Stratfor quoted sources as saying that the ruling Republican Party of President Sarkisain, which holds 64 seats in parliament, “is split in half on this issue.”
The two organizations have also formed a loose coalition to fight the protocols with over a dozen other political parties in Armenia. At a demonstration in Yerevan on Friday, October 16, the ARF said the coalition will work to compel members of parliament in the Republican Party who oppose the protocols to vote against its ratification.
The Stratfor report pointed to Moscow as a “key player,” whose actions should be observe d as the “persistent triangle of conflict between Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan continues to play out.”
“Moscow has been deeply involved in these negotiations, with President Dmitri Medvedev overseeing the meeting between Armenia and Azerbaijan that collapsed” the report said, adding that “more meetings between Medvedev and the leaders of these countries are scheduled for the coming days.”
According to Stratfor, “Russia knows it can make or break negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and it is wary of a resurgent Turkey encroaching too deeply in its sphere of influence in the Caucasus.”
The report underscored that although this “does not rule out the possibility of formal agreements being reached and implemented, both between Turkey and Armenia and between Armenia and Azerbaijan, it does mean that such agreements would need to meet the interests of Moscow.”
“Until Russia decides that its interests are met, the whole process will be in limbo,” the report concluded, noting that Moscow “holds the most sway” over Armenia.