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Armenia loses as it postpones border reopening with Turkey

25 January 2010 [17:42] - TODAY.AZ
The latest actions of the Armenian government led by Serzh Sargsyan gives grounds to say that even they themselves do not know what they are doing and then ask rhetorical questions.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry highlighted another “trick” of the Armenian rulers. In a statement issued on Jan. 19, the ministry said the Armenian Constitutional Court decision “contains preconditions and restrictive provisions contradicting the letter and spirit of the protocols.” The ministry also said that “this decision also undermines the reason of talks on the protocols and their fundamental goals which is unacceptable.”

Later, Turkish PM Erdogan warned of a breakdown in the Turkey-Armenia normalization if the Armenian Constitutional Court does not revise its decision on the protocols. 

Let’s note briefly that the Armenian Constitutional Court announced the Armenia-Turkey protocols valid on Jan. 12, allowing parliament to consider them for further ratification. But things turned out to be far from ideal. Armenian officials did not make public the full text of the Constitutional Court decision in a bid to keep their trump card at hand. Nevertheless, the Turkish Foreign Ministry learned the news immediately and issued a statement on Jan. 19.

Turkey’s claims turned out to be sound. At first, it seemed the Armenian Constitutional Court has ruled obligations stipulated by the protocols as consistent with the country’s constitution. But it became known that it has affirmed the protocols with reservations, which claim that “the obligations defined by the two sides are of mutual interstate character and do not refer to third countries.”

The Armenian Constitutional Court has also ruled that the priority provision of the protocols implies the opening of the Armenia-Turkey border with remaining obligations taking force only after the borders are reopened.

The Constitutional Court set preconditions for obvious reasons. So, Armenia has come to the understanding that the border with Turkey may reopen only with the withdrawal from the occupied Azerbaijani lands, the linkage Turkish official, parliamentarians, politicians and political experts have confirmed on many occasions. Otherwise, reopening of the borders is out of the question.

In the meantime, reopening of the borders is vital for Armenia without any exaggeration. Armenia’s economy, which is lagging behind economies of the other CIS members, suffered most from the crisis. But things became even worse after the crisis. The neighboring country prayed for reopening of the borders for obvious reasons. But Armenian leaders could not honestly normalize ties with all neighboring countries as usual. In other words, they wanted to sledge, but did not want to carry the sledge with them.

“Lucid minds” of the Sargsyan government came up with a “brilliant” idea – to inject small amendments to the text of the Constitutional Court decision. Why? For the simple reason to demand Turkey to reopen borders without involving Azerbaijan, referring to the text of the protocols and reject Turkey’s calls to withdraw from Azerbaijan’s occupied lands in exchange for reopening of the borders pointing to the CC decision.

It turns out that Armenia deliberately decided to fail the signing of the protocols nullifying normalization efforts. Another “why” question arises. It is hard to give an unequivocal answer to this question. Most likely, Sargsyan was afraid of a revenge of radicals like Dashnaksutun. Maybe his ex-boss Robert Kocharian, who is quite unhappy with foreign policy of his former subordinate, had threatened him. The pressure of the influential diaspora from which Armenian is financially dependent, is not also ruled out.

The fact is a fact. Armenia did what it accused Turkey of since the protocols have been signed nullifying all normalization efforts. Turkey is less likely to take least steps to come closer to Armenia from now on. So, one should not hope for reopening of the borders in near future. 

Admittedly, this move by Armenia was not surprising for Azerbaijan since it is accustomed to similar tricks of the neighboring state. It seems the country’s first president could not also adopt any decision on his own as his was overthrown when he was a step away from doing it; neither did the parliament members who were shot in a similar situation and neither did the subsequent president who suddenly left the talks room for a lavatory from which he would not come back.

Azerbaijan’s government, which has grown wise with this sad experience, constantly warned its fraternal country of such a move, which has become some sort of a visiting card for the Armenian government.

Actually Turkey may be happy at revealing true face of the neighboring state at an early stage of relations. In the meantime, only initiators will suffer from such moves.

Sargsyan, regardless of reasons for his behavior, seems to be unwilling to understand malignancy of his step. After all, the country will face complete collapse in trade, exports, investments and closure of the remaining jobs once borders are not reopened. As a result, it may inevitably bring about a social tragedy and final anarchy. It seems the Armenian government was aware of such scenario of events and that is why hoped for reopening of borders with Turkey believing in a naïve manner that Turkey will normalize ties with Armenia for the sake of the EU admission (normalizing diplomatic relations with Armenia is one of the EU accession terms) betraying fraternal Azerbaijan’s interests.

Now Yerevan will have to rack its brain to finds ways to preserve the state on the backdrop of a blockade and full collapse. No normal state can overcome such situation without neighbor’s assistance.

So, it is not ruled out that Armenia will itself initiate to liberate Azerbaijan’s occupied lands without any preconditions asking to provide the vital sip of breath. In other words, things will take place in line with scenario that Azerbaijan has predicted long ago – border with Turkey will not open until Armenia leaves Azerbaijan’s occupied lands…

H. Hamidov

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