ANKARA—During an interview last week with the Turkish Sabah newspaper, the US Ambassador to Turkey said the Armenia-Turkey protocols recognize the Kars Treaty and do not touch on the Genocide, explaining the Armenia’s Constitutional Court ruling did not negate any of the aforementioned issues.
Asbarez reported last week that US Ambassador James Jeffrey told the Turkish parliament that if Turkey did not ratify the protocols, the Congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide could be approved.
Below is a transcript of the Jeffrey’s interview with Sabah correspondent Nur Batur:
Nur Batur: The protocol signed with Armenia has been one of the most important pillars of the “zero problems with neighbors” policy. Is the protocol dead now?
Ambassador James Jeffrey: No. The Armenian Constitutional Court has given the green light for the implementation of the protocol. [Turkey’s] Foreign Minister [Ahmet] Davutoglu is in contact with [Armenia’] Foreign Minister [Eduard] Nalbandian. We are working with the Turks almost every day. We are trying to make progress with regard to Karabakh. Actually, these two are separate processes. But, Turkey considers them the same. Conflicts in the Caucasus must definitely be settled. These issues may keep different paces but all of them are important. These are parallel processes. US Ambassador in the Minsk Group was in Ankara last week. Nothing is dead.
However, Foreign Minister Davutoglu found the decision to be in contradiction with the spirit of the protocol. He wants an assurance that would protect the spirit of the protocol. Some expressions in the decision caused discomfort for Turks but we think that the decision is a positive one. It opens the way for passing the protocol at the Parliament. I know, for instance, that when a constitution court reviews a decision, some paragraphs can be found to be in violation of the Constitution in some states. This is not the case with the Armenian court decision. We believe that both sides are serious about their commitment to the protocol.
N.B: Nonetheless, the Constitution says that “the genocide is undeniable”. The court has made references to paragraph 11. They do not recognize the agreement that defines borders.
J.J.: Paragraph 11 does not contain the term “border.” The decision says that “Armenian Government shall not interpret the protocol in a way in contradiction with the genocide that occurred in ‘Ottoman Turkey and the Western Armenia.’ We had jurists review the decision. The protocol contains a clear commitment that the existing borders shall be mutually recognized in accordance with Kars agreement and others. There is not a covert reference to the events defined as “genocide” that took place somewhere in West Armenia, whereabouts of which are not really clear at all. We do not think there is a legal obstacle that would put the recognition of borders at risk. At any rate, the protocol does not touch on the genocide issue in any way. It only mentions a committee of historians that could be set up to investigate the 1915 events. That is, it does not introduce a limitation to the positions. Turks would not have signed the protocol if it had meant a change in borders.
N.B.: What happens if borders are opened and Armenians say that the genocide is indisputable?
J.J.: These are all intertwined steps in the protocol. Steps are being taken, including the establishment of a committee. These are linked to each other. Davutoglu underlined the spirit of the protocol. I understand that. Whenever the position of Armenia and the approval of protocol come up on the agenda, it creates a stir in domestic policy. We have similar problems in the U.S. Senate. But in legal terms, we think that the decision is only giving a green light to the approval of the protocol and that there is nothing else to read into it. Moreover, Armenian government has also stated that it stands by the protocol.
N.B.: Could Turkey get a written assurance?
J.J.: We are trying to understand what both sides exactly want. We would like to understand how the spirit of the protocol comes across.
N.B.: Do you mean mediation? Could there be a way out soon?
J.J.: It is not being a mediator. We are in touch with all parties only. Everyone exerts efforts.