Armenia on Thursday explicitly threatened to walk away from its landmark agreements with Turkey if Ankara continues to make their implementation conditional on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
President Serzh Sarkisian issued the warning in response to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's latest linkage between the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations and a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Azerbaijan.
"I am stating again that the Republic of Armenia is prepared to properly honor its international commitments. Namely, to ratify the Turkish-Armenian protocols," Sarkisian told a joint news conference with his visiting Latvian counterpart, Valdis Zatlers.
"But you will recall that I have also stated before that if Turkey drags out the ratification of the protocols, then Armenia will immediately make use of possibilities stemming from international law," he said. "And so I am declaring now that I have instructed relevant state bodies to prepare amendments to those of our laws that pertain to the signing, ratification and abrogation of international agreements."
The two protocols signed in Zurich in October commit the two neighbors to establish diplomatic relations and reopen their border within two months of the documents' entry into force, which in turn is contingent on their ratification by the Armenian and Turkish parliaments.
Although the protocols make no reference to Karabakh, Turkish leaders have made clear that Turkey's Grand National Assembly will not endorse them unless international efforts to end the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute yield a breakthrough. Erdogan, whose government has a clear majority in the assembly, reiterated that after talks with U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House on Monday.
"Turkey's objective is to link Turkish-Armenian relations with the Nagorno-Karabakh problem," Sarkisian said, commenting on Erdogan's statements. "I must once again repeat that those attempts are a priori doomed to failure."
Sarkisian set no deadlines for the Turkish ratification of the agreements welcomed by the international community. Like Obama and other top U.S. officials, he has previously stressed the need for their implementation within a "reasonable time frame." According to some pro-government politicians in Armenia, by that Yerevan means the beginning of the next spring.
Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.