US Hopes For Sarkisian Visit To Turkey

Minsk Group US Co-chairman Matthew Bryza

Minsk Group US Co-chairman Matthew Bryza

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The United States hopes that President Serzh Sarkisian will visit Turkey in October to continue the so-called “soccer diplomacy” with Ankara, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza said over the weekend.

Bryza acknowledged at the same time that the U.S.-backed Turkish-Armenian dialogue has stalled of late and that he is now less optimistic about chances for the normalization of relations between the two estranged neighbors.

“What I had hoped was going to happen did not happen,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “Sometimes, if I’m asked to make a prediction, the prediction does not come true. I thought that there was a specific step that was about to occur.”

“There is no reason why those steps still can not happen, and we are working together with the Swiss mediators to try to help the parties think through what it is that they each can do to get the process moving again. I do have some hope that that will happen, but I can’t predict how quickly or what can be agreed,” he added.

Speaking to RFE/RL on May 28, Bryza insisted that Armenia’s rapprochement with Turkey has not reached an impasse despite Ankara’s renewed linkage between the normalization of bilateral relations and a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. Visiting Yerevan two weeks later, Philip Gordon, the newly appointed U.S. assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian, likewise sounded upbeat on the normalization prospects.

Sarkisian has since increasingly expressed his frustration with Ankara’ stance, implicitly accusing the Turks of reneging on agreements reached during year-long negotiations with his government. The Armenian leader made clear last month that he will not accept Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s invitation to watch with him the October 14 return match of the two countries’ national soccer teams unless Turkey takes “real steps” to reopen its border with Armenia. The two presidents attended the first game played in Yerevan in September last year.

In Bryza’s words, Sarkisian’s visit to Turkey would be “very good news for America” because it would mean that “two of our friends are coming together.” “We were so pleased when President Gul came to Yerevan and we would be happy if President Sarkisian went to Turkey,” he said.

Bryza stressed, however, that Washington will not press Sarkisian to accept Gul’s invitation. “It’s important not to conflate or confuse our desire for something to happen with pressure,” he said. “I have seen some absolutely ridiculous accusations by some here in Armenia that the United States is pressuring Armenia to agree to one thing or another.”

Bryza also insisted that the success of the Turkish-Armenian dialogue does not hinge on a breakthrough in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks mediated by the U.S., Russia and France. “These two processes are separate,” he said. “What is true is that, as I’ve said so many times, if there is progress in one process, that will help to generate a more positive mood throughout the entire region and then help to reduce tension and facilitate progress in the other process.”

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  1. John Kara said:

    I am sure US is pressuring Sarkissian like there is no tomorrow. He should resist and not go to Turkey even if the border is opened. Opening the border now is equal to a death sentence for Armenia

  2. Roman Arzumanov said:

    US, RUSSIA, France all of them pressure Armenia. And look at the history my friends, look at 1918-1923 Armenian territory that was brokered by same three countries. Screw them. We make our own history now. Lets help our beloved Armenian land with as much money as we can, so that it does not have to rely on mercy of us or Russia. There is an opportunity to have Artsakh join Our Homeland and we should not let that opportunity slide.

  3. Ishkhan Babajanian Md said:

    We sick and tired from this “Khrtivilak” man’s statements, It would be foolish for Armenians to believe him

  4. antranik Soultanian said:

    Mr Bryza

    Contrary to what you say Washigton IS pressing Mr Sarkisian to accept Gul’s invitation.You may talk about this ridiculous accusations by the Armenian media till the cows come home,they are true.The fact is Turkey has added preconditions since that infamus “so called road map”.i ask myself why is it that Mr Sarkisian has not pulled out from thisborder negotiations by now.Very simple,pressure+money from US,EU and up to a point from Russia.

  5. Samvel Jeshmaridian said:

    Mr Bryza knows for sure that Armenian Prezident will go to Turkey.
    Mr Bryza also knows why Swiss mediation did not work.
    But Mr Bryza does not know that He will never write a book either on 10/27 or 9/11

  6. Floss Shahbegian said:

    Bryza is certainly not to be trusted. He is a mouthpiece for the U.S. interests. Our past history has proven to be naive and too trusting. We must not continue to be so trusting. We have been at the mercy of the political interests of the U.S., Russia, England and France in the past and it is still continuing to this day. Turkey calls the shots and we do not retaliate forcefully. Sarkisian doesn’t seem to have any clout and I suspect that he will ultimately relinquish Armenia’s position.

  7. Katia K. said:

    Turkey massacred an entire population, took their homeland and drew its own borders. Mr Bryza, the Turkish borders should not be opened before their legality is established. A review of US history is in order here. President Woodraw Wilson offered the six Turkish Armenian provinces to the Armenians and drew Armenia’s borders to include those provinces in the Treaty of Sevres. The legal borders start at the province of Sivas. Why do we have to hang from the words of people who want to erase, modify and rewrite OUR history to suit the needs of their employers. Come on guys, we KNOW our history. We should understand and KNOW what is GOOD FOR US! What is good for us, is for the borders to stay closed for now, for Armenia to get economically and militarily strong, for Karabak’s rightful self-determination be established and Artsakh be joined to Armenia. We have nothing to hide. We should defend our rights courageously and proudly. Let’s stop being weak pushovers. Bryza who?