Breakthrough or diplomatic tactics? Armenia and Turkey could solve first bilateral dispute in the region

European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA) sees a historic window of opportunity in the new roadmap and timeframe for the establishment of diplomatic links and open borders between Turkey and Armenia without precondition. The joint statement released yesterday evening by the two countries reinserts momentum into what could become the first peaceful settlement of a bilateral conflict in the region for many decades.

 

“If the two governments really manage to pull this through, their Presidents should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize! The positive effect and signal for both countries and the region as a whole would be tremendous”, says Secretary General Michael Kambeck. “Let’s hope that during the consultations in the coming days, Turkey won’t come up with new conditions again, following Azeri intimidation. Turkey should be too proud to let the tail wag the dog.”

 

The plan followed a series of Swiss brokered “football diplomacy” meetings, which were triggered by Serzh Sargsyan’s invitation to Abdullah Gül to watch the Armenia-Turkey qualification match in Yerevan last year. Both Presidents made courageous steps by accepting in principle that the two neighbouring countries should first normalise relations before addressing the problems between them. The window of opportunity is short and unique, as the Armenian President Sargsyan has declared that he would only attend the return football match in Turkey on 14 October if a breakthrough was achieved. This followed Turkish back paddling in May, triggered by Azeri protests about the initiative.

The plan (all original documents are available on www.eufoa.org) now foresees 6 weeks of “consultations”, before the signature of the two protocols, on diplomatic relations and opening the border, and submission to the two parliaments. This means that the two countries could have presidential signatures under these protocols before 14 October, followed by ratifications in the two parliaments. While both sides committed themselves to a timely implementation of the plan, it is unclear whether the parliamentary procedure could be open ended or burdened with new political conditions.

 

The key to a success lies in the decoupling of these negotiations from sensitive issues which still need to be resolved once relations are normalised, especially the recognition of the Ottoman Genocide against 1,5 million Armenians in 1915 and the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

 

Press enquiries: EuFoA is happy to provide commenting or background analysis in English, German, French, Italian, Russian and Armenian. Members of the Europe-Armenia Advisory Council may also be available for comments; for enquiries please contact our secretariat. Free to use picture material is available on our website and upon request.

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