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"Lost in Translation", or ratification in Armenian style

26 February 2010 [14:47] - TODAY.AZ
Wise men claim that the surest way to become a laughing stock in politics is to say “A” but not ready to say “B.” The launch of the ratification process of the Armenia-Turkey protocols signed in Zurich by Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers is a really classic example of this case.

First, in London's Chatham House Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan made a series of shocking allegations about Karabakh, trying to show that he is the greatest supporter of mending relations with Turkey and promised to send the protocols to parliament for ratification. Sargsyan kept his promise by forwarding the protocols to parliament. However, Armenian lawmakers seem to not know what to do with them next.

The situation becomes more ambiguous every day. In fact, Turkey declared from the beginning that the opening of borders will be possible only after Armenian troops withdraw from Azerbaijan’s occupied lands. The West may not agree with this approach. The United States, Europe, Russia, and other diplomats can assert that the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation should not be linked to the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. However, it will not work to rebuke Turkey for inconsistency or deviation from the accords.

Taking Armenia as a “peacekeeper” in the South Caucuses, it seems that it is much more complicated for Armenia to ratify the protocols than for Turkey. The process will certainly slow down in the “manipulated” Armenian Parliament; the Committee on Foreign Relations has only discussed and has no not taken any decision, while the Committee on Public and Legal Policy refused to discuss them at all...
However, the difficulty and danger lie elsewhere. As the Armenian Constitutional Court’s scandalous decision demonstrated, the documents are not what the two ministers signed in Zurich.

Armenian legislators concluded that the protocols don’t say that Armenia recognizes the Turkish border, that the two countries have agreed to do a joint study of controversial historical issues, that Agri-Dagh can feature in the country’s coat of arms and that Armenia can keep on demanding from Turkey to confess to “genocide.”

Today, we can only puzzle over what these so-called cases of “Lost in Translation” were. It is unlikely that Armenia, like Turkey, was unaware of what it was signing. It could probably be assumed that making sure that Turkey is unwilling to open the border without taking into account Azerbaijan, Sargsyan decided to stabilize the domestic situation at least. Those in Armenia took the willingness to recognize the border with Turkey as a betrayal.

Of course, diplomatic documents are often prepared in a very evasive and vague terms.

It seems that Armenia was not going to recognize the borders from the beginning. By signing the protocols, it showed that it will interpret them in its own way. Armenia decided to make  revisions to the protocols. It is easy to guess that these protocols will be differ even more from those signed in Zurich.

It becomes clear that the process of Armenian-Turkish reconciliation has “dropped to zero point” because the entire “conciliatory entourage” failed to solve the main problem, the recognition of borders. Armenia is still not ready for this.

Day.Az writer 

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