TODAY.AZ / Politics

Turkish expert: Turkey-Armenia protocols not to be included in Turkish parliament’s agenda

14 December 2009 [12:09] - TODAY.AZ
Day.Az interview with Nigar Geksel, Turkish expert, senior analyst at European Stability Initiative.
Day.Az: What are your views concerning Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement that Turkey will normalize relations with Armenia only after resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict marks a real progress?

Nigar Geksel: At a joint press conference with U.S. President Barack Obama, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations is linked with the process on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict carried out by the OSCE Minsk Group. Turkish MPs and officials have constantly stated the same in recent months. It seems Turkey will not ratify the protocols signed with Armenia until a progress in settlement of the Karabakh conflict.
But there are still vague points in this process. For example, will liberation of seven Armenia-occupied regions of Azerbaijan be enough for Turkey to ratify the protocols? Furthermore, what Turkey will do to demonstrate that the process of normalizing relations with Armenia continues to prevent the U.S. Congress from adopting a bill on "genocide" in April next year?

Turkey seeks to help achieve progress in resolving the Karabakh conflict within the OSCE Minsk Group. Some questions will arise unless there is no result in the conflict settlement. If Turkey is not going to push the protocols through the parliament, then why it needed to bring the negotiations with Armenia until this point? Turkey risks to be deceived by the West and Armenia and lose credibility. But Turkey may acquire credibility once there is certain progress in the Karabakh issue. It's like a gamble - you can win or to say "I wish I never played.”

So, you doubt ratification of the protocols any time soon…

Apparently, as I noted above, the protocols will not be included in agenda of the Turkish parliament till there is progress in resolving the Karabakh conflict.

Even in event of pressure on Turkey?

I believe, Turkey is under pressure both from Europe and the United States. The logic of many Western officials and organizations is as follows: "Armenian leader’s taking simultaneous steps in normalizing Turkish-Armenian relations and settlement of the Karabakh conflict is impossible due to internal politics in Armenia itself and in terms of violation of public balance in this country.”

The solution of the Karabakh problem will continue for long. It would better to open the Turkish-Armenian border rather than to wait for the settlement of the conflict which is the only step that will boost solution of all problems in the region. Thus, it will be possible to reduce Armenia’s dependence on Russia and Armenia’s claims to Turkey. This creates a situation where Armenia is granted a kind of compensation in the Karabakh issue.”

I think, this pressure has slightly decreased. 

Many experts believe that the Karabakh problem might be solved in near future. What is your opinion on this?

I think it would be difficult to achieve this as I have been communicating with people of Azerbaijan and Armenia. Unfortunately, I am not quite aware of processes taking place between countries at the highest level. Nevertheless, I hope that the conflict will be resolved.

Do you think that Erdogan's initiative to establish the Caucasus Stability and Development Platform is premature given the current problems in relations between potential members of this association?

The platform, as one of the fundamental reasons for Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s visit to Armenia, has proved itself in the Turkish society. This platform was still on the agenda
during President Demirel’s tenure and included also the European Union and the United States. But their absence in the current version has arisen a number of issues. There were suspicions that this platform aims to reduce Western influence in the region. It is somewhat like scenario which Georgia has set for itself.

It is widely believed in Turkey that country’s credibility can be enhanced through the same approach to all countries in the region. This is a controversial thesis since such an approach might disturb those countries who consider Turkey their ally.

It is impossible to combine countries in the region in a single bloc when there is difference between Azerbaijan and Armenia and Russia and Georgia. Regardless of Turkey's desire to play  role of a unifier, the reality is that in the region there are countries that have their own calculations. We should not expect that the platform will significantly change the situation in the region until this reality changes.

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