Turkey Backtracks Again

Restates Preconditions for Lifting of Armenia Blockade

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WASHINGTON, DC – Less than 24 hours after the signing of the controversial Turkey-Armenia Protocols, Turkey’s top leaders outlined their preconditions to the opening of the Turkey-Armenia border, once again connecting the resolution of the Karabagh conflict to Ankara’s willingness to lift its illegal blockade of Armenia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“Once again, Turkey’s leaders have made it abundantly clear, most recently in their public pledge to keep their blockade in place until Azerbaijan agrees to its lifting, that the Protocols represent simply another vehicle for them to impose pressure on Yerevan and secure concessions from the Armenian people,” stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.  “The Obama Administration, rather than continuing to lean on Armenia to accept agreements that threaten her security and cast doubt on the Armenian Genocide, should call out Turkey for its cynical and transparent manipulation of the Protocols process to advance its anti-Armenian policies.”

According to the Wall Street Journal and hundreds of similar reports, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party on Sunday, “As long as Armenia has not withdrawn from Azerbaijani territory that it is occupying, Turkey cannot have a positive attitude on this subject [border opening].”

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, today, that Prime Minister Erdogan assured Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev that “further progress in the Karabakh peace process will be a determining factor in the consideration by the Turkish parliament of the Turkish-Armenian agreements.”  RFE/RL also reports that a Turkish Embassy press statement was even more explicit.  “As our country’s Prime Minister repeatedly stated in his earlier statements, the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border will be impossible as long as the occupied Azerbaijani territories are not liberated,” read the Turkish Embassy statement.  “The opening of the border is quite a lengthy process… This process must run parallel to the process of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and liberating the occupied Azerbaijani territories.”

The ANCA joined with Armenians around the world in opposing the Turkey-Armenia Protocols, citing, among other reservations, Turkey’s efforts to use the document to tilt the Nagorno Karabagh negotiations in favor of Azerbaijan, as well as its use of the Protocols to establish a “historical commission” which would question the historical truth of the Armenian Genocide.

Upon the signing of the document, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian commented, “President Obama, rather than honoring his pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide, went in exactly the opposite direction, applying the full force of our nation’s diplomacy to twist the arm of a landlocked and blockaded Armenia – a nation still struggling with the brutal legacy of its near-destruction – into accepting a dangerous set of protocols that call into question this very crime against humanity.”

Armenian President Serge Sarkisian is set to travel to Turkey on October 14th to attend a soccer match between the two countries. The agenda will reportedly include discussion of the protocols ratification process.

For more information, read:

Turkey Again Links Armenia Moves With Karabakh | 10/12/09
http://www.armenialiberty.org/content/article/1849079.html

Turkey Reassures Azerbaijan Over Armenian Border | 10/13/09
http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/1850769.html

Hurdles to Turkey-Armenia Pact | 10/12/09
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125528674209778731.html

ANCA Statement on the signing of the Turkey-Armenia Protocols
http://www.anca.org/press_releases/press_releases.php?prid=1762

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