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Armenian-Turkish dialogue across the Atlantic: What could be the outcome of the Sargsyan-Erdogan meeting?

08 April 2010 [15:34] - TODAY.AZ
Voltaire used to say: "If God did not exist, then he would have been invented." Some politicians act exactly the same way. If there is no "diplomatic victory," then it should be invented, for example, by describing everything as a “stunning success.”

This comes to mind whenever not only Armenian, but also other analysts claim that President Serzh Sargsyan's invitation to the "nuclear summit" in the United States is a "great diplomatic victory for Armenia." They also say that the Erdogan-Sargsyan meeting should be arranged far from Baku, both literally and figuratively, so Azerbaijan “will not interfere with” its objections and protests in the advancement of the Armenian-Turkish dialogue. And they talk about this upcoming meeting as a fait accompli.

The funny thing is that these analysts miss the main point. There is no strong need for Armenia’s presence in the global summit on nuclear security, even despite the presence of the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant. It is hard to imagine that Sargsyan’s presence is a prerequisite for fruitful discussions on the Iran issue.

It only makes sense to discuss placing an end to the smuggling of detonators on civilian flights from Tehran-Yerevan-Beirut as this tiny and impoverished Armenia shares a 42-kilometer-long border with Iran. This issue may be discussed and solved at the ambassadorial level, who will convey U.S. concerns to Yerevan.

Only extremely naive people believe that once Recep Tayyip Erdogan is far from Baku, he will immediately forget about Azerbaijan. Wherever Sargsyan meets Erdogan, if even in Australia, if even on the island of South Georgia, if even on board a Russian icebreaker near the North Pole, Erdogan will ultimately return to Ankara and have to answer the questions of his fellow citizens, And 98 percent of them are against opening the Armenian-Turkish border until the Karabakh conflict is settled.

And the Turkish PM is unlikely to forget about Azerbaijan's existence in general, as well as opinion polls and ambitious oil projects. Erdogan emphasizes in almost all his interviews that the border will not reopen until Armenia withdraws its troops from occupied Azerbaijani lands.

Washington does not want to ignore Azerbaijan for the sake of Armenian interests either. U.S. officials constantly stress the "strategic partnership" between the two countries. You also don't have to be a sophisticated analyst to see that the very clear statements from Yerevan that it will not agree to form a joint committee of historians to investigate Armenia’s historical and territorial claims are a serious obstacle to developing bilateral ties.

Finally, it is no secret that, from the outset, Washington saw the Armenian-Turkish negotiations as a measure to protect oil and gas communications coming from the Caspian to Europe. And if a forced Armenia-Turkey rapprochement would lead Azerbaijan to switch to other transit routes, then would it really be worth pushing for a dialogue "at any price?" Furthermore, the United States and Turkey are engaged in serious talks on Iran, where the positions of the two countries do not coincide. The same goes for the Middle East. On this backdrop, it would silly to risk one's relations with Ankara for the sake of Armenia.

It turns out that Sargsyan was invited to the summit not to discuss reviving political declarations of World War I, but rather to strongly advise him to take a more constructive attitude toward the Madrid principles, as opposed to trying to push new initiatives such as an agreement on the nonuse of force.

However, Armenia has one more trump card in store, as claimed by many Armenians and pro-Armenian journalists. According to these individuals, the balance of forces in the region will change radically after April 24 after U.S. President Barack Obama utters the word "genocide" as he promised during his election campaign.

However, a year ago, in his traditional appeal to ethnic Armenian Americans, Obama did not use the word "genocide." The Armenians were strongly offended, and even demanded that he lose his Nobel Prize. This year, it seems they will be let down yet again.

Day.Az writer

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