YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Serzh Sarkisian continued to defend his conciliatory policy on Turkey on Monday, reiterating that his administration will not stop seeking international recognition of the Armenian genocide or make additional concessions to Azerbaijan.
He made the assurances at the Echmiadzin headquarters of the Armenian Apostolic Church while attending a meeting of top clerical and secular representatives of its worldwide dioceses that was chaired by His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II.
Sarkisian delivered a speech there before answering questions from the participants. Statements issued by the president’s and the Catholicos’s offices following the event mainly related to Armenia’s fence-mending protocols with Turkey and the current state of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In a written statement, the presidential press service cited Sarkisian as saying that the signing of the protocols “does not mean, in any way, a renunciation of efforts at international recognition of the Genocide.”
Sarkisian has significantly complicated those efforts by accepting a Turkish proposal to set up a joint panel that would look into the events of the Armenian Genocide. Ankara has long sought such a commission to exploit the existence to prevent more countries from recognizing its crime against the Armenian people.
Many analysts close to the negotiations with Turkey and Azerbaijan say that Sarkisian has effectively agreed to speed up the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with more concessions to Azerbaijan. Armenian leaders have repeatedly denied that, arguing that none of the Turkish-Armenian protocols makes mention of the conflict. But Turkey’s top leadership has repeatedly made clear that Turkey’s parliament will not ratify the protocols until Armenia agrees to a resolution to the conflict favoring Azerbaijan.
According to the presidential statement, Sarkisian “once again reiterated that those two process are in no way connected with each other.” Armenia’s disputes with Azerbaijan and Turkey should be settled “separately,” he said.
Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian likewise insisted on Friday that the Armenian-Turkish thaw and the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations are “two separate processes.”
“This is not only the Armenian approach but the approach of the international community,” he told Reuters.
But Nalbandian’s Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, said earlier in the week that the Turkish parliament will not ratify the agreements unless international efforts to end the Karabakh dispute yield a breakthrough soon.
Armenian leaders have implicitly threatened to annul the agreements if the Turks “drag out” the ratification process. “If one of the sides will delay and create some obstacles in the way of ratification and implementation, I think it could bear all the responsibility for the negative consequences,” warned Nalbandian. He also made clear that Armenia and Azerbaijan will not cut a framework deal on Karabakh “tomorrow or in one month’s time or in a very short period of time.”
Sarkisian, for his part, said on Monday that Yerevan has already devised contingency plans for various “possible scenarios of the process of normalizing relations with Turkey.” He did not elaborate.