Friday, 16 October 2009

Protocol News

Los Angeles Times
Turkey and Armenia: reconciling history
The two countries must get beyond the 1915-1918 genocide because it's
in both of their interests.
October 13, 2009

More than a million Armenians were massacred in the final years of the
Ottoman Empire, from 1915 to 1918. This bloody chapter of World War I
should be recognized as genocide and remembered, not only to honor the
victims but for its lessons to future generations
. It should not,
however, prevent Turkey and Armenia from approving the historic
accords signed Saturday in Zurich to restore diplomatic ties and open
their shared border. Nor should Armenia's fraught relationship with
neighboring Azerbaijan -- Turkey's ally -- derail a rapprochement. The
Armenian and Turkish parliaments must ratify the agreements hammered
out with the help of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
because reconciliation is in the interests of both nations.

The slaughter is a painful issue for Armenians, particularly so for
the diaspora that has fought unsuccessfully for official Turkish and
U.S. recognition of the genocide. That is understandable, and they
should continue pressing Turkey for an accurate public
. Some Armenians fear that the commission to be
established under the accords for an "impartial" examination of the
massacre is simply a means for Turkey to continue denying history. We
also are concerned about this part of the agreement, but we hope in
the end it will offer an opportunity for the two sides to face the
issue together.

Turkey, meanwhile, should not condition ratification of the accord to
open its border on an Armenian withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh, an
enclave of Azerbaijan inhabited largely by ethnic Armenians and
occupied by Armenia since 1993. In fact, a thaw in bilateral relations
between Turkey and Armenia should make it easier to resolve the issue
between Armenia and Azerbaijan. If Armenia feels more secure, it is
likely to be more flexible.

As in all negotiations, both sides must give on important issues if
they are to alter the stasis. Armenia is economically strangled. Its
need for open borders and a lifeline to Western Europe was driven home
during the 2008 war in Georgia, when its main trade route was
blocked. The country is losing its best and brightest, who have no
real prospects at home. Turkey is seeking further integration with
Europe and incorporation into the European Union, and Armenia is one
of the issues standing in the way; the Turks must confront their past
to better their future.

Fortunately, leaders in Turkey and Armenia understand this and should
be applauded for the political risk they are taking at the bargaining
table -- as well as in the soccer stadium. Last year, Turkish
President Abdullah Gul attended a World Cup qualifier between the two
national teams in Yerevan, Armenia, and now Armenian President Serge
Sarkisian says he plans to attend one on Wednesday in Turkey. Their
sporting spirit is sending the right message to nationalists in both
RFE/RL Reports
Sarkisian To Discuss Protocol Ratification In Turkey
Turkey -- A Turkish army watch tower at Dogu Kapi border gate with
Armenia, in Akyaka, province of Kars, 15Apr2009
Irina Hovannisian

President Serzh Sarkisian will press for a speedy implementation of the
newly signed Turkish-Armenian agreements during his landmark visit to
Turkey on Wednesday, a senior pro-government lawmaker in Yerevan said on

Sarkisian and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul are due to hold
face-to-face talks and have dinner before watching the second leg of a
World Cup qualifier between Turkey's and Armenia's national soccer teams
in the northwestern city of Bursa. The two leaders will then attend a
reception given by Gul.

In the words of Razmik Zohrabian, deputy chairman of the ruling
Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), Sarkisian plans to raise with Gul the
mandatory parliamentary ratification of the two protocols that were
signed in Zurich over the weekend
. The protocols envisage the
establishment of diplomatic relations and the reopening of the border
between the two estranged neighbors.

`This may be the last meeting of the two leaders before the
parliamentary ratifications,' Zohrabian told RFE/RL. `They will be
talking not only about football at their meeting. They will also be
talking about Turkish-Armenian relations, about how to have the two
parliaments endorse this document.'

Sarkisian said on Saturday that Yerevan will take `appropriate steps' if
Ankara fails to push the documents through the Turkish parliament
`within a reasonable timeframe.' He also warned the Turks against
linking the ratification process with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

According to Zohrabian, the Armenian side may well annul the agreements
if they do not come into force `before next spring.' `If the process
drags on, then we could declare the signed document null and void in
accordance with international law,' he said.

Zohrabian also played down nationalist street protests that could greet
the Armenian president in Turkey. He argued that Gul himself faced
peaceful demonstrations by Armenian nationalists when he visited Yerevan
in September last year. `There will be similar protests against Serzh
Sarkisian in Turkey,' he said.

Turkey Reassures Azerbaijan Over Armenian Border
Czech Republic -- Presidents Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Abdullah
Gul of Turkey meet in Prague, 07May2009

Turkey has given Azerbaijan fresh assurances that it will not normalize
relations with Armenia until a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict satisfying Azerbaijani demands.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated on Tuesday that further
progress in the Karabakh peace process will be a determining factor in
the consideration by the Turkish parliament of the Turkish-Armenian
agreements signed in Zurich over the weekend

`The parliament will look at the developments in the problems between
Azerbaijan and Armenia,' AFP news agency quoted Erdogan as telling a
meeting of his party's lawmakers, who hold the majority of seats in
Turkey's Grand National Assembly.

`If the problems... are put on the track of solution, the Turkish people
will embrace more the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations and
the Turkish parliament's ratification of the protocols will become much
easier,' he said.

The Turkish embassy in Baku was even more explicit about the Karabakh
linkage as it tried to soothe Azerbaijani concerns about the
Turkish-Armenian rapprochement in a statement released on Monday. `As
our country's prime minister repeatedly stated in his earlier
statements, the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border will be
impossible as long as the occupied Azerbaijani territories are not
liberated,' read the statement cited by Azerbaijani media

`The opening of border is quite a lengthy process,' added the embassy.
`This process must run parallel to the process of resolving the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and liberating the occupied Azerbaijani

The assurances did not satisfy several dozen angry Azerbaijanis who
staged a brief protest near the Turkish embassy on Tuesday, burning
pictures of Erdogan and Turkey's President Abdullah Gul and shouting
`Turkey, don't sell Karabakh to the Armenians,' and `Shame on the
Turkish leadership.' Reuters news agency said the police later broke up
the demonstration and several people were arrested.

The protest was organized by the Karabakh Liberation Organization, a
hard-line pressure group hostile to any compromise with the Armenians.

Erdogan Vows `Turkish Hospitality' For Armenia Soccer Game
Turkey -- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses parliament in
Ankara, 13Oct2009

(Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday urged
soccer fans to keep politics away when Turkey and Armenia face each
other on the pitch in a World Cup qualifier, as the two neighbors aim to
restore diplomatic ties.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has confirmed his attendance at a
World Cup qualifier in Turkey on Wednesday, which will take place days
after Ankara and Yerevan signed an accord to end a century of hostility.

Turkish leader Abdullah Gul went last year to Yerevan to the first leg
of what has been called "soccer diplomacy" between the two countries,
whose ties are traumatized by the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman
Turks during World War One.

"The Armenian president and the Armenian national team will see what
Turkish hospitality is
," Erdogan told deputies of his ruling AK Party
ahead of the game in the city of Bursa.

"I know our soccer fans in Bursa and in the rest of the country will
behave like respectable fans. I believe our country and the citizens of
Bursa will not bow their heads to politics and to the aims of those who
want to use the game to achieve something else," Erdogan said.

Turkish media said authorities will undertake tight security measures to
avoid possible provocations during the game. `Aksam' newspaper said fans
would not be allowed to buy tickets for the match, instead authorities
would control ticket distribution.

The governor of Bursa has said Azeri flags will not be allowed into the
stadium for the match, media reports said, but Turkish nationalists have
made some 10,000 of the flags and are distributing them in the
northwestern town.

No comments: