Bullhorn Diplomacy

This week it was announced by the Turkish media, quoting official sources, that Armenia, in an effort to accommodate Turkish foreign minister Ali Babacan’s schedule, has postponed a scheduled meeting of the Black Sea Economic Council, scheduled in Yerevan.

It took the Armenian foreign ministry two days to announce that it had not changed any dates to accommodate the Turkish foreign minister, asserting that the meeting was scheduled for April 16 to begin with.

This was yet another announcement that has appeared in the Turkish media of late that makes it appear as if Turkey is proactive in its willingness to normalize relations with Armenia.

This, coupled with the expressions of “concern” from Azeris that normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia would hinder Azerbaijan’s negotiating position in the Karabakh conflict illustrate the concerted campaign being waged.

The Turkish media and Turkish officials are also utilizing this “robust” approach by Turkey to send a message to the international community–especially the United States–that any effort to recognize the Armenian Genocide would be counterproductive to the inroads in this process.

Day in and day out we are barraged by reports on Turkey’s posturing on this and other regional issues, with the Turkish media often being used to stir the pot and leave the public in somewhat of a quandary.

Conspicuously absent from this war of words is official Yerevan, which appears to be taking a more reactionary position to issues and waiting to respond rather than to put forth a position that would be vital in this evolving process.

While the Turkish foreign ministry does not shy away from discussing the Genocide resolution and Turkish-Armenian relations on a daily basis, either through announcemen’s or clever press leaks, the Armenian foreign ministry, which stated at the onset of the new administration that the international recognition of the Genocide is a foreign policy priority, remains quiet and at times on the fringes of this discussion.

Especially important is the fact that April 24 is around the corner and efforts to introduce a Genocide resolution in Congress have begun to take shape.

The same can be said about the Karabakh conflict.

This week the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs visited the region and announced plans for another Armenian-Azeri presidential meeting.

The Azeri press is filled to the rim with reports, analysis and conjecture about the recent visit and upcoming talks, shaping public opinion both within Azerbaijan and stakeholder circles.

Armenia, on the other hand, continues to remain hush about its approaches and assessmen’s.

At a juncture where we are being told that the conflict resolution talks are centered on the very dubious Madrid Principles, conjecture and hearsay could critically hinder public opinion vis-?-vis the final peace proposal.

Whether it is Turkey’s bullhorn diplomacy or the current trend of projecting Azerbaijan as a victim, the evasiveness and ambiguity of official Yerevan does not come off as a prudent tactic.

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