Thursday, January 21, 2010

Accords in Discord

It appears that both sides in the shotgun wedding that is the stalled Turkish-Armenian reconciliation process might be looking for a way out. Ankara has warned Yerevan, in fairly strong terms, that the conditions that the Armenian Constitutional Court has put on the historic accords are unacceptable and could jeopardize the process. Yerevan, meanwhile, is reminding Ankara that it is the one that put preconditions on the process, by linking it to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, and by letting the accords languish in parliament.

Milliyet's Semih Idiz has a good column in today's Hurriyet Daily News looking at how each side in the matter is giving the other one the excuse it needs to get out of the forced arrangement. From his column:
It is clear, however, that these protocols are not moving. There is a tangible reluctance and reserve on both sides in this respect. The Recep Tayyip Erdoğan government is not blameless either having effectively slapped a “Karabakh condition” on the ratification of the protocols by the Turkish Parliament.

Erdoğan boasts that “his government is one step ahead of the Armenian government,” having sent the protocols to Parliament for ratification. He argues that the rest is up to Parliament now.

In the meantime he keeps insisting that it is unlikely that Parliament will ratify the protocols, unless there is movement on the Karabakh front to Azerbaijan’s advantage.

This is completely disingenuous.

Erdoğan is playing to the political gallery because he knows there is serious opposition in Turkey to the protocols. If he wanted to show real leadership, however, he could guide his party, which has a majority in Parliament, to vote for the protocols without delay.

Some argue, of course, that many of Erdoğan’s own deputies would vote against the protocols given the sensitivity of all issues related to Armenia and Armenians. If so, that begs an even bigger question. Why did the Erdoğan government initiate this process in the first place then if it was not going to be able to complete it?

In the meantime, the confusing ruling of the Constitutional Court has given a fresh argument for those in Ankara who are reluctant about the Turkish-Armenian process.

Neither does there seem to be extreme enthusiasm in Yerevan over the issue.

The government there has said it will only endorse the protocols if the Turkish Parliament does and hence the current stalemate. It also appears to be doing little to support the protocols in public against harsh opposition and criticism.

Put openly, there is no will in Ankara or Yerevan at the present time to find a way to move forward in their ties. If there was, that way forward would be found regardless of the difficulties.
You can read the whole piece here. For some background on the accords and the hurdles facing them, take a look this previous post.

(Photo: the Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers shaking hands after signing their October accords agreement in Zurich.)

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