A Snare of Words

By Ara Papian

It is simply incredible how innovatively the snares have been woven into that unfortunate pair of Armenian-Turkish protocols. Let us take up but one of many.

Many drew attention to the fact that the vagueness in deadlines in the protocols for parliamentary ratifications can cause the parties to drag out the actual enforcing of the protocols. This is a very valid concern. Even more so, when those in power in Turkey have announced on numerous occasions that the protocols would not be carried out “without significant progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”.
Progress, naturally, à la Turquie.

However, the protocols themselves contain two more loopholes for procrastination on acting on them. The penultimate clauses of the protocols clearly state that the protocols would be enforced “following the exchange of instruments of ratification”. In general, international or inter-state ratification of documents proceed as follows. Upon parliamentary approval (which, for some reason, is referred to as “ratification” in the Armenian Constitution), the protocols have to be ratified by the heads of state, as is the order, and only then would instruments of ratification be exchanged. International law does not take into account any deadlines when it comes to exchanging instruments of ratification and the ratification itself by heads of state of documents that have been approved (or “ratified”) by legislatures. Since that process, even in general terms, has not been clearly outlined in the pair of protocols as well, then it turns out that the protocols contain a three-tier possibility of delay: parliamentary approval (“ratification”), presidential ratification, and the exchange of the instruments of ratification.

For example, the ill-reputed Treaty of Moscow (of the 16th of March, 1921), had a provision of the exchange of instruments of ratification “as soon as possible”.  The Treaty of Kars – even more ill-reputed – demanded it “within the shortest possible time”.

Of course, it is possible that the Turks not delay at all the parliamentary approval of the protocols and the exchange of the instruments of ratification. Ultimately, they are working towards the complete fulfillment of their demand, that the Republic of Armenia “confirm[…] … the existing border between the two countries”. The rest – the Genocide issue, Nagorno-Karabakh, etc. – are simply bonuses. If they pull it off, all well and good. If they don’t manage it now, even then it comes to the same thing, as they are to hold the reins to the Armenian state from now on.

If some people are ready today to pay a high, an unjustifiably high price in order to lift the blockade on Armenia by Turkey, then they need to act such that the delivery on the paid goods be made on time and that there not be any further, hidden costs.


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