ANKARA—Citing a decision by Armenia’s Constitutional Court, which ruled in favor of the Armenia-Turkey protocols last month, the chairman of a key parliamentary commission of the Turkish parliament said Tuesday that it would be difficult for Turkey to ratify the protocols.
“I think it is very difficult for Turkey to ratify the protocols under these conditions because there is some level of uncertainty. There is no clarity about how the protocols will be interpreted. Without this clarity, we should not expect the Turkish Parliament to ratify the protocols. While there is a negative attitude regarding two critical factors from Turkey’s perspective, I don’t think it is likely for Turkey to accept just opening the borders,” said Turkish Parliament Foreign Affairs Commission Chairman Murat Mercan in an interview with Today’s Zaman.
Armenia’s Constitutional Court concluded that the protocols did not violate the constitution, adding that the normalization of relations with Turkey cannot be linked with a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, nor impede Armenia from attaining international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, as stipulated in the Constitution.
Since this ruling, Turkey has accused Armenia of attaching preconditions to the ratification of the protocols, a move that has been rejected by Armenia and the United States.
“When we look at the Armenian constitutional court’s ruling, we see that there are clear provisions in the text stating how the protocols can and cannot be interpreted. After all, it is an agreement between two countries. It is not an international agreement. Only those countries that are party to an agreement are bound by that agreement,” said Mercan.
“At best there is uncertainty. In this kind of a situation, the conditions for implementing an international bilateral agreement are not completely clear. Take, for example, the issue of opening borders. The court’s decision clearly states that ‘opening the borders does not mean recognition of the Treaty of Kars,’” added Mercan.
The parliamentary leader also discussed another “uncertainty” emanating from NATO’s role in Afghanistan and Turkey role in the regional political reality. He immediately brought up the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“There are two main problems in the Caucasus that directly concern Turkey. One of these is relations between Turkey and Armenia, and the other is solving the problems between Armenia and Azerbaijan. When we look at these two balances, if the ratification of the protocols between Turkey and Armenia is going to exacerbate problems between Armenia and Azerbaijan or severely jeopardize Azerbaijan’s national interest, then the world should not want it, either. In other words, it’s very important to maintain a balance,” explained Mercan.
“It’s important to clearly see what Armenia will gain if the border is opened, if diplomatic relations are established and if the problems between Armenia and Azerbaijan are solved,” he added. “The advantages that are obvious as of now are Armenia’s border to the international world will be opened, Armenia’s foreign trade will increase and Armenia will be added to the natural gas and oil pipeline routes originating from Azerbaijan.”
Mercan said all these changes “will significantly contribute to Armenia’s economy.”
He pointed to a conversation with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, where the latter “clearly told [him] that once problems were solved, good economic relations would be established between Armenia and Azerbaijan as well.”
“Armenia is going to obtain a major advantage in terms of economy. On the other hand, Turkey will have made a certain level of progress on the recognition of its borders and on the genocide issue. If the problem is solved and Armenia withdraws from Azerbaijan’s territories, Armenia will not lose anything. That is because the international community sees Armenia as an occupier and does not approve of its occupation,” said Mercan.
“If this does not happen, in other words, if relations between Turkey and Armenia normalize but other balances are not considered, then the international community should be unhappy about this as it will become harder to solve the problems, and conditions that will most likely lead to conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan will develop. In other words, the risk the international community will face if the problem is not completely solved will be greater than the risk they currently face,” he stated. “Countries in the region, Europe, America and Russia should not want this possibility. It is for this reason that we should not look at the issue as one that only concerns Turkey and Armenia because this would be an incorrect point of view.”
“The failure to show the necessary level of caution and sensitivity could lead the countries mentioned above to sacrifice their own strategic interests and policies for domestic policies. A prudent person would realize the need for caution. Strategic interests should not be sacrificed,” added Mercan.