YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—Turkey will have betrayed its commitments to Armenia and the international community if it fails to quickly ratify fence-mending agreements signed with Armenia last October, according to an analyst at the International Crisis Group (ICG), the Azeri Trend News Agency reported Friday.
“If Turkey doesn’t pass the protocols in Parliament in the coming months, but Armenia does, it will look like Turkey betrayed its commitments,” explained Sabine Freizer, ICG’s Europe Program Director.
The two countries’ foreign ministers signed two protocols for establishing diplomatic relations and opening borders on October 10, 2009. The documents, which require Armenia to agree to a historical commission on the Genocide and recognize its de-facto border with Turkey, have been highly unpopular among Armenians in the homeland and Diaspora.
The Armenian Constitutional Court on January 12 ruled in favor of the agreements, paving the way for Armenia’s parliament to begin debates on their ratification. Turkey, however, continues to holdup ratification of the documents, saying that Armenia must first agree to a settlement of the Karabakh conflict in Azerbaijan’s favor before it’s parliament can debate the protocols.
Ankara needs to make progress on its relations “because of the linkage that Turkey, but not Armenia, is making between the protocols and Nagorno-Karabakh,” Freizer said.
According to Freizer, however, progress on the Karabakh issue is extremely important for Turkey because of “the promises it has made to Azerbaijan not to open its border with Armenia until there is progress on Karabakh.”
But Turkey’s continued stonewalling of the agreements will undermine its entire foreign policy agenda, which ostensibly aims to secure peace and stability in the South Caucasus, she said, adding that the situation is made all the more complicated because Turkey has also “committed to Armenia to open the border in the two protocols signed last October.”
Freizer believes this is why Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan implicitly urged the Russians to do more to broker a Karabakh settlement during talks on Wednesday with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Erdogan told the Russian Premier that Russia can become “the most important actor” in the Karabakh peace process.
Putin in response, publicly told Erdogan during a press conference that Turkey should not link the normalization of its relations with Armenia to further progress in international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He did, however, reaffirm Moscow’s support for Turkey’s rapprochement with Armenia, his country’s main regional.
“Russia’s ability to actually push through an agreement is perhaps the strongest among all international players, but remains limited, Freizer said. “It is only when the two countries and the two societies are ready to accept these basic principles that there would be an agreement.”
Freizer said Turkey needs to understand that Russia does not have all the keys to the problem. She pointed to a largely hollow agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia in 2008 as an example of Russia’s limitations in influencing a peace.
“The Russian Leadership did step in and was successful in getting a signature from the two presidents, but this did not change anything on the ground or get the sides closer to a comprehensive agreement,” she said, adding that a real solution on the basic principles for peace will only come from within Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“I think it is good if there is more high level involvement from the OSCE countries including Russia, but again it needs to be accompanied by a broader debate in Azerbaijan and in Armenia about the basic principles, because it is only when the two countries and the two societies are ready to accept these basic principles that there would be an agreement,” Freizer explained.
“So, the principles cannot be forced upon Armenia and Azerbaijan from Russia or from the US, the societies also need to agree on them themselves,” she added.