Davutoglu’s Charm Offensive During Visit to Armenia

Harut Sassounian

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

The wily Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu used every diplomatic trick to take maximum advantage of his presence in Yerevan during the Black Sea Economic Cooperation conference (BSEC) last week.

Davutoglu and his diplomatic team had initially launched a disinformation campaign by announcing that he might not participate in the conference because of other commitments, thus giving the impression of not being eager to travel to Armenia. Later on, he conditioned his attendance on the positive outcome of the meetings between the Presidents and Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan. To reassure Pres. Aliyev of Azerbaijan that Turkey was minding the interests of its junior brother, the Turkish Foreign Ministry falsely tipped off the press that Armenia had agreed to withdraw from two regions around Karabakh (Artsakh).

Foreign Minister Davutoglu’s real intent in unleashing a charm offensive during his Yerevan trip was to preempt the anticipated worldwide campaign against Turkey during the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide in 2015. He wanted to impress the international community of his country’s willingness to reconcile with Armenia, while helping to advance Turkey’s application for European Union membership.

In response, Armenian officials did everything possible to lessen the success of the Turkish charm offensive. Armenia’s strategy was to keep Davutoglu’s Yerevan trip within the confines of the BSEC conference rather than engage in bilateral Armenian-Turkish relations, and exclude any discussion of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols and the Artsakh conflict.

It is therefore not surprising that there was no meeting in Yerevan between Armenia’s President and Turkey’s Foreign Minister. The only official encounter was with Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, who also met with several BSEC participants as host of the conference.

To be sure, Davutoglu faced some obstacles during his stay in the Armenian capital. He had to enter the Marriott Hotel, the venue of the conference, through the back door to avoid young political activists protesting his visit. Meanwhile, Nalbandian issued a series of terse statements before, during, and after the BSEC conference, warning Turkey that Armenia would not accept any preconditions, such as a partial withdrawal from the Artsakh area, in return for establishing diplomatic relations and opening the border between Armenia and Turkey.

Nalbandian’s resolute stand forced Davutoglu to back down, fearing that his trip to Armenia would be characterized as a failure. At the risk of alienating Azerbaijan, the Turkish Minister acknowledged that he had not come to present concrete proposals on Armenian-Turkish relations, and had not asked Armenia to withdraw from two regions around Artsakh. After the conference, Davutoglu changed his tune, insisting that his only purpose for coming to Yerevan was to overcome the “psychological barrier” between Armenia and Turkey and initiate renewed dialogue and trust.

In his stated quest for improved relations, Davutoglu held a meeting with former Defense and Prime Minister Vazgen Manukian, during which he belittled the Genocide as “certain past events” and urged everyone “to move forward.” When Manukian recounted the deaths of his four uncles during the Genocide, Davutoglu promised to say a prayer during his next visit to their birthplace — Moks, South of Lake Van. Yet audaciously he advised Armenians not to forget Turkish victims of World War I. He also suggested that Diaspora Armenians return to their former homeland, present-day Turkey. The most intriguing aspect of the meeting with Manukian was Davutoglu’s revelation that one of the buildings in the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Ankara had belonged to an Armenian — thus raising the possibility of a lawsuit by the former owner’s heirs.

Foreign Minister Davutoglu made one last attempt at undermining the preparations for the Armenian Genocide Centennial, by telling Turkish reporters on board his flight that the “deportation” of Armenians in 1915 was “inhumane.” By claiming that Turkey had never supported this move, he condemned the “deportation” as a “totally wrong practice done by [the Ottoman-era rulers under the Committee of the Union and Progress].”

Davutoglu also revealed that he has been meeting with Diaspora Armenians during his trips abroad, but had not publicized these encounters concerned that “extremist Armenians would cause problems.”

The Turkish charm offensive left a good impression on those who are hell-bent on Armenian-Turkish reconciliation and have no qualms in equating the executioner with the victim. The United States and Canada were the only two countries that officially welcomed the Turkish Foreign Minister’s visit to Armenia, urging further dialogue between the two sides.

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7 Comments

  1. David Dilanchian said:

    Armenians stop following Turkey’s whimsical lies, thy are only trying to look good in the eyes of the World. Turkey has no intention of willingly to take a single step that would benefit Armenia. Turkey”s neighbors will vouch for this. Armenians should only listen to Turkey if she genuinely and openly has any desire to discuss
    any topic in writing. Turkey is like an opportunist jackal over the years helped by others.

  2. hirair said:

    ARMENIA AND THE ARMENIANS HAVE LEARNED NEVER TO TRUST TURKEY, TURKEY SHOULD NEVER THINK THAT IT CAN BARGAIN IN THE BAZAAR FOR THE TRUTH OF ITS OWN GUILT FOR THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE. THERE IS NO PARTIAL GUILT ON THE TRUTH OF 100% GUILTY OF GENOCIDE.NO MORE BAZARLIG TURKEY JOIN THE CIVILIZED WORLD.

  3. Sarkis said:

    Good observations by Mr. Sassounian as usual. Can’t really say davidoglu’s trickery is surprising, turks are used to pursuing a foreign policy based on lies and posturing, particularly with smaller and weaker nations such as Armenia. What is important to note here is that davidoglu, despite his diminutive size and frail, weak and generally sickly physical appearance actually harbors delusions of turksih grandeur and a resurrection of perceived ottoman glory. For a big talking little guy like davidoglu to suck it up and swallow his pride and come crawling to Yerevan, a city that in his wrapped mind belonged to the turks ever since the mongol, seljuk and ottoman occupations of the region during the part millennium.
    The reason davidoglu is all of a sudden appearing in Yerevan is mainly connected with President Serj Sargsyan’s announcement on September 3 in Moscow that Armenia will be ascending to the Russian-led Customs Union and planned Eurasian Union. It is no secret to anyone that turkey, with its massive, American-funded, American-armed and American-trained military is not too worried about Armenia’s noble, but relatively tiny, military. The ONLY factor preventing a final turkish-azeri invasion and destruction of Armenia has been the Russian presence in Armenia, including Russian investments in Armenia and the Russian military base in Gyumri and the joint Russian-Armenian air based at Erebuni. We know from past experience that America and Europe would look the other way and limit their response to limp-wristed declarations if such an invasion took place, and western energy interests would overtly support the turks and azeris. That is why western and turkish manipulators posing as experts, including Matthew Bryza, George Friedman and Barçin Yinanç have been silent about the turkey/nato blockade of Armenia and calling for the removal of Russian troops from Armenia (so that the turks can “deal” with Armenians without anyone standing in their way). yinanç recently authored a piece a few days ago trying to turn the Armenian Diaspora into a turkish tool to “fight” the Russian presence in Armenia.
    Now that Yerevan has made the right decision, dropped its silly policy of feigning interest in the EU, which will be majority muslim if not outright majority turkish in a few decades anyway, turkey is desparately trying to create some leverage/influence in Yerevan because it realizes that its junior brother azerbaijan is isolated by anti-turkish and pro-Russian governments in Armenia, Iran and hopefully soon enough Georgia. Expect more such empty moves by turkey over the next few years. Thankfully the government of Serj Sargsyan has been stellar in its diplomatic track record for the past five years, and the turks have lost every major battle. In fact, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Yerevan pulls the still signed but unimplemented Protocols with turkey one day soon and shoves it in the faces of turkey and its American, European and even Canadian supporters.

  4. Jesus Inodoro said:

    The wily Turk and his charming offensive is futile, vapid, and inane. What Armenian will fall for its spell ? Fortunately we have Russia as our ally. The Russia’s will jolt the Armenians awake in case they forget.

    • Alex Postallian said:

      The COWARDLY turks,will never assail Armenia,as long as the big baer,ls watching..They only prevail when a country is 50 times smaller,UNARMED,WOMEN,CHILDREN,OLD PEOPLE,after confiscating their arms…THAT SPELLS COWARDS…

  5. GB said:

    Davoood OIghlooos balls hanging with full of Turkish delights Christmas ornaments. It seems to me Turks do not fulfill EU’s dream in Caucasus region, they fail as they failed in Syrian’s internal conflicts…after Iran’s tie with Western countries, fake nation Turkey will start to have 100% problems with her neighbors!!

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