It is becoming increasingly evident that the so-called “roadmap” discussions with Turkey are proceeding with preconditions, despite continuous claims by Armenian authorities that they are not.
After Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Abdullah Gul made an announcement last week following their meeting in Prague, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan not only continued his public statements that without a resolution to the Karabakh conflict there would be no border opening, but he also took his message to Azerbaijan, where in meetings with Aliyev and other leaders he reassured the Azeris that, in fact, the resolution of the conflict was a precondition.
President Sarkisian made a counter announcement condemning Erdogan’s statement, saying that Turkey’s announcement could hinder the peace process and the Turkish-Armenian “roadmap” discussion was more a slap on the wrist than a definitive posturing of a president who has agreed to an already controversial agreement.
Turkey’s continued rhetoric—-whether it’s designed to appease Azerbaijan or its own disgruntled population—-should send a clear signal to the Armenian authorities that continuing the “roadmap” process would only further hurt Armenian interests, since it is crystal clear that Turkey has three preconditions with which it is advancing its position. A resolution to the Karabakh conflict, the establishment of a “historic commission” and Armenia’s recognition of the current Turkish borders have always in, one way or another, been party’s of Turkey’s approach to this matter.
Armenia should not fall prey to the fallacy that if it pulls out from the talks it will lose credibility within the international community. This argument has been advanced by certain political forces, which have other gains in this process and sets dangerous precedents that could jeopardize Armenia’s national security.
Back in 1993, Turkey unilaterally decided to close its borders with Armenia citing the Karabakh conflict as the impetus. It is up to Turkey to open the border and by drawing Armenia into a “negotiation process” it aims to legitimize its aggressive policies. The West has immersed itself in this process to protect its own interests and has succeeded in drawing Armenia into an ultimately compromising situation.
The unfortunate announcement of the “roadmap” agreement has been made. However, if these talks are truly being held without preconditions, then Armenia has nothing to lose but more to gain from halting the process. But if the contrary is true, which it may likely be, the Armenian leadership should immediately withdraw from the “roadmap” talks and pursue a policy—vis-à-vis both Karabakh and Turkey that guarantees Armenian national interests and security.