WASHINGTON (RFE/RL)–The United States welcomed a ruling by Armenia’s Constitutional Court late on Friday, effectively dismissing Turkey’s claims that it runs counter to the Turkish-Armenian fence-mending agreements.
“We view the court decision as a positive step forward in the ratification process of the normalization protocols between Turkey and Armenia,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon said in written comments sent to RFE/RL. “The court decision permits the protocols, as they were negotiated and signed, to move forward towards parliamentary ratification, and does not appear to limit or qualify them in any way.”
“We are confident that both Turkey and Armenia take their commitment to the protocols seriously, and we urge timely ratification of the protocols by both countries,” added Gordon.
Despite Gordon’s upbeat statement on the court ruling, the situation remains tense with the vast majority of Armenians–especially Armenian Americans–opposing the protocols. The Armenian National Committee of America responded to Asst. Secretary Gordon’s interpretation of the accords.
“Assistant Secretary Gordon, rather than constantly arm-twisting Armenia, this time in the form of public statements misreading the Armenian Constitutional Court’s decision on the Protocols – or, more precisely, reading the State Department’s interests into its legally binding limits and qualifications – should leave decisions regarding the rights, security, and future of the Armenian nation to the Armenian people,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA.
“The constant drumbeat of State Department pressure on Armenia to accept these one-sided accords is profoundly troubling to Armenian American voters, particularly in the wake of the Obama-Biden Administration’s broken pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide, its dramatic cuts in economic aid to Armenia, its efforts to tilt the U.S. military aid balance in favor of Azerbaijan, and its drive to impose the patently undemocratic Madrid Principles on the Nagorno Karabagh Republic,” Hamparian added.
The comments followed a reported phone conversation between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. The Anatolia news agency quoted an unnamed Turkish Foreign Ministry official as saying that Davutoglu reiterated Ankara’s claims that the Armenian court’s interpretation of the protocols’ implications contradicts their “essence and substance.” Davutoglu said earlier on Friday that he will urge his U.S. and Swiss counterparts to put pressure on the Armenian leadership.
Washington’s reaction to the Turkish claims represents a significant boost to Yerevan’s position in the row which has raised more questions about the success of the U.S.-backed normalization process. U.S. officials have repeatedly urged Armenia and Turkey to implement the landmark agreements without preconditions and within a “reasonable” period of time.
“Our position remains the same,” said Gordon. “We support the normalization process, which we believe contributes to peace and stability in the Caucasus. What is critical is to keep the parties focused on the vital importance of moving ahead.”