YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Serzh Sarkisian has threatened to formally annul Armenia’s normalization agreements with Turkey if Ankara continues to link their parliamentary ratification with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station aired late on Wednesday, he also said that Armenia is prepared for another war with Azerbaijan and insisted that Karabakh’s final status be determined by the disputed territory’s indigenous Armenian population.
Sarkisian made clear that the stalled process of Turkish-Armenian normalization could resume only if Turkey’s parliament ratifies “without preconditions” the protocols signed by the two governments in October 2009. “I therefore see no point in starting new negotiations,” he said. “The only continuation can be the ratification of those protocols by Turkey’s parliament.”
“If all continues like this, it is possible that the only way out for us will be the withdrawal of our signature from those protocols, and in that case, those protocols will have no legal force anymore, even after being ratified by Turkey,” he warned.
Shortly after the signing of the protocols in Zurich–attended by top diplomats from the United States, Europe and Russia–Ankara made clear that the Turkish parliament will not ratify them without decisive progress in the Karabakh peace process. Azerbaijan, which has been highly critical of the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, welcomed this linkage.
Sarkisian responded by freezing the process of protocol ratification by Armenia’s parliament in late April. In a televised address to the nation, he said he decided not to scrap the agreements altogether at the request of the U.S. and other foreign powers. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised this stance as “very statesmanlike” when she visited Yerevan in July.
The Armenian president raised the temperature in the dispute with Ankara during a state visit to Cyprus last week. Addressing the occupied island’s parliament, he accused the Turks of “destroying” the normalization process and denounced their perceived efforts to take on a leadership role in the region.
Sarkisian similarly blasted Turkish foreign policy in the Ekho Moskvy interview. “The policy of ‘zero problems’ [with neighbors] declared by the Turks amounts to looking for solutions only beneficial for Turkey,” he said.
“We do realize that Turkey is a big state, that the Turkish economy has grown strongly in recent years, that Turkey is a member of the G20 [group of nations.] But that doesn’t mean they can act like our mentors. They are not our instructors,” he added.
Turning to the Karabakh conflict, Sarkisian said that the only way to resolve it is to eventually hold a referendum on self-determination in Karabakh and again denounced Azerbaijani threats of military action. “We are prepared for any development of events,” he said when asked about the possibility of renewed large-scale fighting.
Sarkisian further noted that he thinks Russia is capable of preventing another Armenian-Azerbaijani war. “Given Russia’s big weight and possibilities in our region, our expectations from it are very high,” he said.