YEREVAN—The foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey had what appeared to be a tense phone conversation Wednesday that further dimmed prospects for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
The conversation, initiated by Armenia’s Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian, was in response to Tuesday’s Turkish Foreign Ministry statement, which claimed that last week’s Constitutional Court ruling on the Armenia-Turkey protocols placed “preconditions and restrictive provisions which impair the letter and spirit of the Protocols.”
Nalbandian was quick to respond Tuesday, pledging a phone call to his counterpart to express “bewilderment” of the Turkish position, since from the onset of the normalization process, Turkey has imposed preconditions saying that the process would not move forward without a Karabakh peace deal that favors Azerbaijan.
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Nalbandian told Davutoglu that such statements are “creating the impression of a search for artificial pretexts” for Turkey’s refusal to establish diplomatic relations and open its border with Armenia, reported RFE/RL.
A ministry statement said he urged the Turks to stick to “the letter and spirit of the protocols” and “move forward fast.” It said Nalbandian insisted that the Constitutional Court ruling only testifies to the Armenian side’s desire to have them implemented “without undue delays.”
Davutoglu stood by this claim during the phone call with his Armenian counterpart. A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman was reported to say that Davutoglu also claimed that the ratification process is at a far more advanced stage in Turkey than in Armenia, reported RFE/RL.
On January 12, Armenia’s high Court ruled that the agreements were in line with the country’s Constitution. The Court also said that the protocols could not have any bearing with the ongoing Karabakh peace process nor should they impede the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. To reinforce the latter point, the court cited Article 11 of Armenia’s 1990 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.”
Despite Turkey’s claims to the contrary, the Turkish Foreign Ministry statement aims to further Ankara’s preconditions on the protocols and find an escape route from its commitments in the international community, Armenian Revolutionary Federation Political Affairs Director Giro Manoyan told a press conference in Yerevan Wednesday.
“The decision of the Armenian Constitutional Court and the subsequent statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry will lead to new developments,” said Manoyan who did not rule out the possibility of phone calls to Armenia’s leadership by the Secretary of State or the Vice-President to “secure assurances.”
He also presumed that Turkey may take action toward ratification of the Protocols in March-April 2010. “If Turkey drags out the process, Armenia will have to say it quits negotiations.”
Manoyan asserted that the Constitutional Court could have used the same provisions to rule the protocols unconstitutional, adding that the points outlined by the Court could serve as a basis for the parliament to not ratify the documents.
The ARF leader said that the party’s parliamentary faction was prepared to introduce legislation, which would require the inclusion of the Court’s rationale in the wording of the protocols.