Saving the protocols

Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and his colleagues from the ministry have the "impossible mission" of pursuing peace in the Caucasus and te Middle East.

You will remember that the indirect talks that were launched between Syria and Israel after months of preparation had come to an immediate halt with Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Though not as serious as this, a similar thing seems to be happening to the protocols signed between Turkey and Armenia. This time the process is being undermined by a decision given by the Constitutional Court of Armenia concerning the protocols. As you read this article, Sinirlioğlu and accompanying high-ranking bureaucrats from the Turkish Foreign Ministry will have completed their talks in Switzerland. From Switzerland they will fly to the United States, where they will try to ensure that the protocols can survive.

The logical decision by the Constitutional Court of Armenia has done great damage both to the wording and spirit of the protocols, which had been signed in Zurich after months of hard work.

There is a famous Turkish saying: "A madman throws a stone into a well, and 40 smart men cannot remove it." Sinirlioğlu and his squad are now trying to remove that stone thrown into the well in Yerevan.

The Constitutional Court of Armenia approved the protocols, but at the same time, it introduced so precise "prerequisites" and "restrictive clauses" that it virtually made the protocols unenforceable.

Article 5 of its binding decision reads: "The RA Constitutional Court also finds that the provisions of the Protocol on Development of Relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey cannot be interpreted or applied in the legislative process and application practice of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the interstate relations in a way that would contradict the provisions of the Preamble to the RA Constitution and the requirements of Paragraph 11 of the Declaration of Independence of Armenia."

What does Paragraph 11 of the Declaration of Independence of Armenia say?

"The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia."

However, under the protocols signed on Oct. 10, it was agreed that a joint commission should be established. What would this commission do? Let us read from the protocols how this commission is defined: "The sub-commission on the historical dimension to implement a dialogue with the aim to restore mutual confidence between the two nations, including an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archive to define existing problems and formulate recommendations, in which Armenian, Turkish as well as Swiss and other international experts shall take part."

Thus, we understand that "an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archive" is sought.

Who will conduct this "impartial scientific examination"? Let us read again from the Protocols: "Armenian, Turkish as well as Swiss and other international experts."

Now we musk ask: What is the use of these phrases in the protocols after the binding decision of the Constitutional Court of Armenia? If the Armenian government insists on calling the 1915 incidents a "genocide" and strives to achieve its international recognition, why should we establish this sub-commission on the historical dimension?

If you continue to refer to the eastern provinces of Turkey as "Western Armenia," how can you expect the relationships to be normalized?

Turkey has the right to expect Armenia to be loyal to the protocols it signed. Switzerland as a mediator and the US as a country closely monitoring the developments cannot continue to act as if nothing had happened. Indeed, some things really happened. The Armenian court meddled with the protocols signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries, imposing prerequisites and limitations.

How will these protocols be implemented: as they are signed or according to the prerequisites and limitations imposed by the court?

At this point, certain written commitments must be made to Turkey.

Turkey had three basic targets in mind as it signed the protocols: first, to establish good neighborly relations with Armenia; second, to get rid of the burdens inherited by Turkish and Armenian peoples from history; and third, to establish a lasting peace in the Caucasus.

These targets are visible both in spirit and in letter of the protocols.

Sinirlioğlu will explain this to his counterparts in Switzerland and the US and demand an explanation. If they sincerely seek peace in the Caucasus, they must give him support.

06 February 2010, Saturday