The open letter on Armenia-Turkey rapprochement issued by EuFoA’s Europe-Armenia Advisory Council has received a wide coverage in the media and feedback from the European institutions. EuFoA discussed the open letter with representatives of all EU institutions and received very positive feedback.
Below we provide you with an op-ed article by Europe-Armenia Advisory Council member, Frank Engel, MEP, on the Turkey-Armenia relations, published in this week’s edition of New Europe.
Turkey’s credibility at stake
(New Europe, http://www.neurope.eu/articles/99126.php)
On 9 February, the Armenian President Mr Serzh Sargsyan made a remarkable appeal to the President of the Republic of Turkey Mr Abdullah Gul urging him to conclude rapprochement process between the two countries. This strong and clear sign of the Armenian will to continue the process is the last one in this historic development. Indeed, 10 October 2009 has been a historic day for Turkey and Armenia that marked the beginning of the normalisation process between the two countries. Seventeen years after closing the border, Turkey and Armenia have made a first step towards a rapprochement which all the region of South Caucasus would benefit from.
The signature of the protocols and the following negotiations for their ratification represent a historic turning point that will deeply affect the future diplomatic and strategic balances of the whole region. There is no doubt that the success of the ongoing rapprochement will engender positive effects increasing peace and stability in the entire South Caucasus.
In spite of the first positive signals, it seems that the normalisation process is being hampered by a lack of political commitment and a clear willingness to distort the protocols’ core principles. It is time for regional actors and for the international community to contribute constructively to the ongoing negotiations. Turkey and Armenia need to continue the ratification of the signed protocols without setting preconditions, otherwise the window of opportunity to settle this issue diplomatically might soon be lost for many years. At the same time, the Armenian government and the Armenian Diaspora around the world should resist the Turkish government’s new attempt to link the ratification of the protocols to the international recognition of the Armenian genocide.
The support shown by the US State Department to the Armenian Constitutional Court’s ruling on the Armenia-Turkey protocols, qualifying it as a positive step in the ratification process, should inspire other decision makers on the international scene to support steps ahead and push for a prompt ratification of the agreements. In this regard, we should expect the European Union, as a now better-equipped international actor and advocate for effective multilateralism, to have an active role in the process. Thanks to its strong link with the parties involved and to its growing influence in the promotion of an effective multilateral system, the EU appears to be the best-positioned honest-broker and guarantor for the ongoing process.
The European Union has the possibility of playing a key role in this process showing once more its ability to contribute to conflict resolutions in the international scenario taking a more proactive approach and boosting the rapprochement between the two parties. I hope that all EU Institutions will intervene with all their possible instruments, including a high-level visit to the region, in order to urge both sides to ratify the protocols without preconditions and within a reasonable timeframe, which should not exceed two months. I firmly believe that by participating in a stronger manner in the process, the European Union can seize a great opportunity to score one more success in conflict settlement and the stabilisation of the region. The winner of all this will be all parties who seek a tight and profitable cooperation in the region.
Let us not forget that this is the first attempt to find a diplomatic solution for the longest-standing dispute in the South Caucasus. We are so close. Nothing should impede this process now. We should hope that all parties involved will continue the historic endeavour to re-establish ties between Turkey and Armenia. Populism is certainly not the right tool to use when making history.
Frank Engel is a Member of the European Parliament from Luxembourg and a member of the European People’s Party Group