Turkey: Four Years Later, Normalization Accords with Armenia Still Dead
When they were signed in Switzerland in October of 2009, the normalization accords between Turkey and Armenia promised to be perhaps the fullest expression of Ankara's then new (and now failed) "zero problems with neighbors" policy, restoring diplomatic ties with a country that had strong historical grievances against Turkey.
Sadly, the accords never went much further, languishing to this day in the Turkish and Armenian parliaments, where they have yet to be ratified. Although both sides blame the other for the failure of the process, the general consensus among experts is that what mostly doomed the process was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's insistence after the protocols were signed that their ratification be linked to the successful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, a precondition that was not part of the original negotiations between Ankara and Yerevan. (For a thorough history of the rise and fall of the protocols, take a look at this report by David L. Phillips, Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights Institute for the Study of Human Rights.)
Is there any prospect for the Turkey-Armenia normalization process to be revived? Yesterday, on the signing's fourth anniversary, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu suggested Turkey is still trying to find ways to move forward. From Today's Zaman:
Speaking in Switzerland, where Turkey and Armenia signed twin protocols in 2009 normalizing ties, after a meeting with Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, Davutoğlu pointed out that relations with Armenia are important for Turkey and that Turkey is trying to find new ideas and solutions to develop and cover more ground in the relations. Davutoğlu said Turkey will increase its studies for better ties with its neighbor in the upcoming days. However, he stipulated that Armenia should deal with the problems in the South Caucasus, particularly the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, and should leave the Azerbaijani territories it occupied.
Perhaps as a sign of what little goodwill is left in the process, Yerevan quickly rejected Davutoglu's statement. Reports Armenia's Mediamax:
[Foreign Ministry spokesman] Tigran Balayan said that “since the signing of the Protocols four years have passed and during that period we hear the same old song from the Turkish side on some creative ideas”.
“These are nothing else than continuation of efforts to hide Turkey’s failure of the ratification and implementation process of the protocols without any preconditions, something expected by the international community”, said the spokesman answering Arminfo’s question.
For now, absent any movement on the Nagorno-Karabakh front, it would seem the effort to restore diplomatic ties between Turkey and Armenia is truly dead.