Last week, the Turkish and Azeri press reported that US Deputy Undersecretary of State Philip Gordon said that Turkey-Armenia rapprochement was linked with a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
A transcript of Gordon’s comments obtained from the US Embassy in Ankara tells a different story.
In response to an inquiry regarding Turkey’s long-standing position of preconditioning a resolution to the Karabakh conflict with the ratification of the protocols by the Turkish parliament, Gordon said: “…You are right to say that Turkish leaders have said that they see the prospects for ratification dim unless there is progress in Nagorno- Karabakh. We don’t link the two issues.”
“It shouldn’t be linked to anything else and we also support Nagorno-Karabakh settlement because we think it would benefit both parties and it doesn’t need to be linked to anything else. So we are actively working as co-chairs of the Minsk group on the Nagorno Karabakh solution, regardless of anything else,” added Gordon.
On the issue of the protocols, Gordon called the process “historic” and one that would benefit both Armenia and Turkey.
“We applaud the courage and vision of the leaders on both sides. We know this wasn’t easy. There is lot of opposition in Turkey, there is lot opposition in Armenia and yet the leaders were insightful enough and bold enough to make the case that this is in their interest and go and sign the protocols. We supported that process and we applaud their agreement to do so. We would like to see it move forward. The protocols have been referred to Parliaments for ratification and obviously they need to be ratified before they are implemented. If they can be ratified and implemented then this can lead to open borders, more trade, prosperity and peace among neighbors. So, that’s why we are so strong, we are supportive of this process,” explained Gordon.