YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The internationally backed efforts to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey could end in failure soon, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said on Friday, accusing Ankara of obstructing the process with preconditions and “artificial” claims.
“If Turkey is not ready to ratify the [Turkish-Armenian] protocols, if it continues, as it has until now, to speak in the language of preconditions, make some linkages and obstruct progress in this process, then of course I don’t exclude it,” Nalbandian told a news conference.
But he added: “Nobody can say for certain that a particular process will end in one or another way. Generally speaking, I don’t like making that kind of predictions.”
Turkish leaders said this week that Armenia itself set preconditions for normalizing bilateral relations with an interpretation of the protocols that was made by its Constitutional Court this month. They specifically referred to the court’s view that the protocols can have no legal implications for the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process or stop Yerevan from seeking greater international recognition of the Armenian genocide. Ankara claims this runs counter to the letter and spirit of the documents signed in October.
Nalbandian dismissed the Turkish claims as “nonsense.” “To say that Armenia is dragging out the ratification process is also nonsense,” he said. “We hope that the Turks will not try to cite artificial excuses for not ratifying these protocols.” The Armenian side remains committed to their speedy and unconditional implementation, he added.
“Guided by the initiative of the President of the Republic of Armenia to establish relations with Turkey without preconditions, intensive talks were held with the Turkish side and protocols on normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations were signed in Zurich on October10,” Nalbandian said.
Nalbandian passed a similar message to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a phone conversation on Wednesday. Davutoglu described as “totally baseless” his claims that Ankara has thwarted any progress towards the protocols’ endorsement by the Turkish parliament.
Speaking at a news conference in Ankara on Friday, Davutoglu insisted that the Armenian court ruling “is against the letter and spirit of the protocols.” “Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian told me in a telephone conversation that the ruling did not affect previously agreed points in the protocols. But we expect a clearer picture, explanation over this,” he said, according to AFP news agency.
President Serzh Sarkisian said last month that Armenia will walk away from the deal if the Turks fail to validate it “within a reasonable timeframe.” But neither he, nor other Armenian officials have set more precise deadlines for Turkish ratification yet.
In Nalbandian’s words, Yerevan is confident that the international community would blame Turkey, rather than Armenia, for the possible collapse of the process.
“Today Armenia appears to the world as a predictable and reliable partner, whose approaches are comprehended and appreciated,” Nalbandian said, adding that key international players and centers of power respect Armenia for its “proven reliability on both regional and international levels.”
To bolster his position, Nablandian said his Ministry took big steps in 2009 to deepen and reinforce Armenia’s cooperation with partner countries. “Armenia followed its policy of European integration both in bilateral format and within the framework of European structures. Our country jointed the EU Eastern Partnership Program,” Nalbandian said.
“Armenia also played an active role in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Community,” he said. “Our country was consistent in implementing the Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO and expanded its participation in international peacekeeping activity.”
“A number of reciprocal visits, political consultations, meetings and other events took place last year; about 100 international agreements were concluded. The Armenian President made 22 foreign visits and the presidents of eight countries visited Armenia,” he added.
According to the Foreign Minister, the diplomatic activism of his ministry has “created favorable conditions for the development of the republic, presented Armenia’s positions on the international arena, raised the effectiveness of the defense of rights of the Republic and its citizens abroad, and deepened Armenia’s involvement in international organizations and processes.”
Nalbandian said he believed that these steps have gained greater support for Armenia’s position in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “For the first time, the right of peoples to self-determination was mentioned in the statement of the OSCE Ministerial as an indispensable principle of settlement, a number of international documents stressed the importance of the principle of non-use of force or threat of force,” he said.