Are the protocols signed with Armenia still alive? Even if they are alive, it is obvious that the process is under intensive care. The atmosphere that Armenia is trying to create via the Turkish press points to Ankara as the party responsible for this.
However, we advise Armenians to look at themselves in the mirror. In the face of comments originating from Yerevan that have appeared in the Turkish press during the last two days, I am forced to reiterate some facts:
1. Those who accuse Turkey these days should not forget that Turkey launched its Armenian initiative as part of its new strategic vision in foreign policy. This process was initiated as a result of Turkey's search for zero problems with neighbors and economic and social integration with its immediate region. Turkey's efforts to implement this vision with all of its neighbors and the progress it made are obvious. Therefore, no one can question Turkey's sincerity about this process.
2. Turkey has informed the Azerbaijani administration at every stage of this process. Even, it must be noted, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev thanked Ankara as the protocols accelerated the peace process concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Therefore, the argument that Turkey has started to put forward Nagorno-Karabakh as a precondition when Azerbaijan raised objections has nothing to do with the truth. It should not be forgotten that there is a game within a game in these affairs while one accuses Ankara.
3. What blocks the process today is not its connection with Nagorno-Karabakh, but the reasoned decision of the Armenian Constitutional Court. The most important aspect of the normalization process for Turkey is the establishment of a joint committee of historians. However, the reasoned decision clearly renders this committee meaningless. Moreover, this decision is binding upon the Armenian government. But this is not something Turkey has negotiated and accepted. Now that these kinds of decision are integral to their reasoning, it is meaningless to argue that they are not important if the protocols are ratified. If Armenia is sincere, why does it refrain from giving the written guarantees Turkey demanded?
4. The Nagorno-Karabakh issue is, of course, an important part of the process. The fact that it was not written as a precondition in the protocols was a goodwill gesture that would move things ahead, or more correctly, start. Avoiding seeing this, but trying to use this constructive ambiguity against Turkey is nothing but an abuse of good will. This is what Armenia does. Any process with the Nagorno-Karabakh issue will be the result both of the process and of the political balances in the southern Caucasus. Those who argue that no progress will be made if the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is made a precondition, since it is a complicated issue, cannot deny that if the Karabakh issue cannot be settled, the normalization between Turkey and Armenia will continue to have the potential of being broken at any time. Why do the advocates of normalization in Armenian-Turkish relations turn out to be proponents of abnormality in Armenian-Azerbaijani relations?
"Where does this Karabakh precondition come from?" This is the answer from Turkish diplomats: "We have not written it down on paper, but we have explained it to our Armenian counterparts at every state of negotiations. We said to them, 'We won't write it down here, but the process is reliant on progress with the Karabakh issue.' Armenia did not hear the Nagorno-Karabakh connection first during Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's speech in the Azerbaijani parliament."
In addition to this, Russia is the primary factor that must not be ruled out. Russia declared that they "are against any prescription for the region penned from outside, and we will not exert pressure on the parties," Russian Ambassador to Turkey Vladimir Ivanovsky said (TV program "Küresel Oyun," March 18).
How can you so easily believe that Armenia can seek peace independent of the Kremlin at a time when Russians do not view a Caucasian peace fit for their interests? With this in mind, isn't it a bit shameless to argue that Armenia has fulfilled its responsibilities. As April 24 nears, Armenians are trying to corner Turkey by saying that they will withdraw the protocols. Perhaps we should stop losing time with Yerevan and get down to more serious negotiations with the real boss, the Kremlin.
03 April 2010, Saturday