ANKARA (Hurriyet)—Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan complained Wednesday that a ruling by a Armenia’s Constitutional Court could derail efforts to ratify agreements committing the two countries to normalizing relations pending in the parliaments of both countries.
Erdogan made his remarks while on an official trip to Saudi Arabia. He said the court’s reference both to the “killing of Armenians” and to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh is problematic. “This will challenge the process unless the mistake is corrected. It’s definitely unacceptable to Turkey,” Erdogan told a news conference.
On January 12, Armenia’s Constitutional Court upheld the constitutionality of the protocols, which had been submitted to it by President Serzh Sarkisian. The court found, however, that the documents cannot have any connection with the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process or impede Armenia of its pursuit of international recognition of the Armenia Genocide. To reinforce the latter point, the Court referenced Article 11 of Armenia’s Declaration of Independence, which states: “The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.”
“We have never taken the protocol to our Constitutional Court. We took it directly to our Parliament, without making changes. We didn’t employ a mediator on the text. We didn’t carry out any read-between-the-lines operations. This is a proof of our sincerity. Armenia has tried to change the text,” he said.
The accords, signed by the foreign ministers of Turkey and Armenia in October 2009, need parliamentary approval in both countries for ratification. Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which controls parliament, has stonewalled the agreements, refusing to vote on them until Armenia agrees to settle the Karabakh conflict on Azerbaijan’s terms.
Another source of uneasiness for Ankara, Erdogan said, is the ruling’s fourth article, which stipulates that the mutual obligations being undertaken by the protocols are being conducted under principles of international law.
The court also said the protocols have an exclusively bilateral and interstate nature and do not concern any third party. But analysts close to the situation say that the final provision was interpreted as a response to Turkey’s linking of the protocols’ success with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Turkey has repeatedly said progress on full normalization with Armenia depends on Yerevan making concessions in its unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan over the occupied province.