YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Serzh Sarkisian is jeopardizing Armenia’s national security with his diplomatic overtures to Turkey, a leading member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation said on Monday.
Vahan Hovannisian, who leads the party’s faction in parliament, criticized the Armenian government’s “dangerous foreign policy course” as he and other ARF members campaigned for the May 31 municipal elections in Yerevan.
“As an opposition force, we will now certainly bring to your attention many other shortcomings which we might have considered secondary until now because of being convinced that at least the country’s national security is not in danger,” Hovannisian told students of a private university in the capital. “Now it is in danger.”
The former deputy parliament speaker and presidential candidate clearly referred to the Sarkisian administration’s conciliatory policy toward Turkey that led his party to pull out of Armenia’s governing coalition late last month. The move followed Ankara’s and Yerevan’s announcement that they have agreed on a “roadmap” for normalizing Turkish-Armenian relations.
The ARF strongly condemned the April 22 roadmap agreement and left the governing coalition, citing “insurmountable, fundamental disagreements” over the government’s approach toward normalizing relations with Turkey.
The still unpublicized agreement enabled U.S. President Barack Obama to backtrack on his earlier pledges to recognize the Armenian Genocide in his April 24 statement. The ARF says the roadmap has allowed Turkey to manipulate the negotiations. Since negotiations began in September, Yerevan has been making serious concessions to Ankara while failing to secure the lifting of Turkey’s 16-year blockade of Armenia or any guarantees that Turkey will not be allowed a role in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks.
Both Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian insist that the Turkish-Armenian negotiations have been going on without any preconditions. Sarkisian said after Thursday talks in Prague with Turkish President Abdullah Gul that they agreed to mend ties “within reasonable time frames.”
However, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated the next day that Ankara will not establish diplomatic relations and reopen the Turkish-Armenian border before a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“No document, including the roadmap, describes the talks as unconditional,” Hurriyet Daily News quoted an unnamed senior Turkish diplomatic as saying on Monday. “Both sides’ conditions are always in their dossiers and guiding the talks.”