As Armenia’s foreign minister, Eduard Nalbandian told reporters Wednesday that there was no need to panic over the Turkey-Armenia roadmap protocols, his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu promised a swift resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In fact, Nalbandian brushed aside legitimate concerns about national issues, and in a rather pedestrian move used yet another animal analogy. When asked whether the provision on recognizing present-day borders amounted to Armenia’s acceptance of the Kars Treaty, Nalbandian said: “Don’t look for a calf under a bull.” This, coupled with his “don’t fish in murky waters” from several weeks ago demonstrates the level of sophistication of Armenia’s chief diplomat and the indifference with which this new page in Armenian history is being treated.
This non-chalance—or arrogance—further exasperates matters, as Turkey, having raised its position through the provisions of the protocols, is moving forward and engaging stakeholders and players to garner a resolution on Karabakh.
“To be able to turn this normalization [between Turkey and Armenia] into permanent peace, we are expecting a forthwith settlement on the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan with the contributions of the international community,” Davutoglu told reporters late Tuesday.
Turkey has already launched a new diplomatic initiative for mobilizing international actors in this regard, according to sources. Davutoglu held a long phone conversation with the foreign ministers of France and the United States, two members of the Minsk Group. The issue was already largely discussed with Russia.
Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan will also be a harbinger for a quick fix to Karabakh when next month he attends the UN General Assembly, of which Turkey is a permanent member.
So, assurances by President Sarkisian and Nalbandian do not silence the alarm that was sounded after Monday’s announcement. Nor, does it reassure Armenians around the world that their very national interests are not up for grabs for the myriad nebulous benefits the opening of the border is said to bring.
What has become crystal clear since Monday is that continued insistence by Armenia’s leaders that they have demanded no preconditions in the negotiation process was misleading at best and a lie at worst.
Unless the definition of the word “precondition” has changed since April 22 when the so-called “roadmap” agreement was announced, the provisions on the establishment of relations between Armenia and Turkey are peppered with preconditions that corner Armenia into making concessions and pose an extreme threat to our national interests, security and future. Clearly, Turkey is not wasting any time.
The Sarkisian administration’s self-righteous posturing and hollow promises signal that they are either truly out of touch or are the stranglehold on Armenia is so tight that they are unable to catch up with the paradigm shifts that have occurred since that ill-fated day in Moscow in 2008 when Sarkisian extended the invitation and kicked off the so-called “soccer diplomacy” fiasco.
From the onset this process was doomed and the administration did not ask for or seek national consensus, instead it turned away allies, alienated a significant portion of the Diaspora and polarized the entire nation.
The upcoming six weeks are a critical time for Armenia and Armenians. The protocol-mandated six week domestic political vetting period leading up to the return soccer match in Istanbul and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs visit at the end of this month with the revised Madrid Principles will test how adeptly we, as a nation, can maneuver this crucial turning point in history.
Political forces and organizations in the Diaspora must come together to ensure that their decades-long struggle is not pushed to the side in favor of a defeatist agreement and the Armenian government, with its president, foreign ministry and Diaspora ministry should rally the entire nation toward an uncompromising national solution.