WASHINGTON (RFE/RL)–Turkey’s parliament would not ratify the fence-mending agreements with Armenia if they were put to a vote now, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reported on Tuesday to have told President Serzh Sarkisian during their talks in Washington.
Neither leader made any public statements on the results of the talks held on the sidelines of the ongoing nuclear security summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama. The official Turkish Anatolia news agency said they agreed to assign their foreign ministers to look for ways of implementing the two Turkish-Armenian protocols signed last October.
According to the Turkish daily “Sabah,” Erdogan told Sarkisian that the existing “political atmosphere” does not bode well for their ratification by Turkey’s Grand National Assembly. He blamed it on recent decisions by U.S. and Swedish lawmakers to recognize the 1915 massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
“If the protocols are brought to the agenda of the parliament while U.S. and Swedish parliaments are taking decisions on the issue, they will be rejected,” he reportedly said. “Sabah” also quoted Erdogan as also linking protocol ratification with decisive progress in international efforts to resolve the Karabakh conflict.
The Turkish premier similarly stressed the importance of a Karabakh settlement for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations before departing to Washington. He said he made this clear in his earlier meetings with the presidents of the United States, Russia and France. The three nations have been co-chairing the OSCE’s so-called Minsk Group on Karabakh.
“I told [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy that opening the border [with Armenia] is no big deal,” Erdogan told journalists on Sunday, according to “Today’s Zaman” daily. “I proposed that he take a car or train and then we pass through the border together as soon as the Minsk Group fulfills its duty.”
Addressing members of the Armenian community in the U.S. later on Monday, Sarkisian hinted that Ankara is sticking to its preconditions for establishing diplomatic relations with Yerevan and opening the Turkish-Armenian border. “I met this morning with the Turkish prime minister,” he said. “Our position was and is always is very clear: Turkey can’t talk with Armenian and Armenians with the language of preconditions. We will simply not allow that.”