News > Azad-Hye Editorial > Turkey and Azerbaijan escalate pressure on Armenia
Just hours before the 22 November 2009 meeting between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev stated that his country will resort to settling the conflict of Karabakh by military means, in case the meeting fails to produce progress in the settlement.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian characterized the Azeri war-mongering statement as a "certain type of pressure", that would "create negative impression for the international community.”
In a joint statement issued by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Russia, France, USA) reference was made to "progress" in the meeting between the two presidents. The statement said: "During this meeting, the sixth such meeting this year, the two presidents engaged in a detailed and in-depth discussion of the most important unresolved points in the co-chairs' proposals. The talks, which lasted almost four hours, were constructive. In some areas, progress was made. At the same time, some issues still remain open".
The public in Armenia and Azerbaijan is not kept informed about the course of the negotiations. Azeri officials claim that the subject of the negotiations is the return of the territories under the control of Karabakh forces and the resettlement of the refugees. On the other hand, the Armenian officers say that the subject of the negotiations is the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Turkish - Armenian rapprochement has created extra tension on the Azeri side, expressed in the form of military threats against Armenia.
On 22 November 2009, the same day when the Armenian and Azeri leaders were meeting in Munich, Dubai based “Gulf News” English daily published an exclusive interview with Turkish Foreign Minster Ahmet Davutoglu, where he refers to the issues related to the normalization of the relations with Armenia in a way that the reader would conclude that Turkey is the side that has initiated the talks and has been going through it with the most sincere way.
Davutoglu says: "We took a courageous step by initiating a process of dialogue with Armenia, which culminated in the two protocols that were signed on October 10 in Zurich". In fact, Armenia was the side that initiated the dialogue and invited President Gul to visit Armenia. Armenia has been seeking the normalization of the relations with Turkey since its independence (1991), but Turkey was always trying to impose pre-conditions on Armenia on the subjects of the Genocide and Karabakh. Even by signing the Protocols, there are no indications that Turkey has stopped this policy.
Davutoglu says the Protocols "provide a significant opportunity to establish lasting peace and security between Turkish and Armenian States, as well as between Turkish and Armenian nations and beyond ...". It is common logic that without the recognition of the Genocide, lasting peace and security cannot be achieved between the two nations.
In a known tactic to create an artificial confrontation between Armenia and Diaspora Davutoglu says "There is an opposition stemming from the Armenian Diaspora towards these protocols, based on their different interpretation of the events of 1915". This is a cunningly shaped sentence, which attempts to produce the impression that Armenia and Diaspora understand the Armenian Genocide in different terms and both give different evaluations to 1915. Far from reality.
He then goes stating that, "the protocols present an opportunity to conduct an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archives on this painful episode of the Turkish-Armenian common history and shed light on the truth. A sub-commission will be created with this task. This is what we long asked for". Actually, the sub-commission (which is one of several others) will be created (using the words of the Protocols) "to implement a dialogue with the aim to restore mutual confidence between the two nations, including an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archives to define existing problems and formulate recommendations, in which Armenian, Turkish as well as Swiss and other international experts shall take part". Therefore, the sub-commission has a task of starting a dialogue, that will enhance confidence. If confidence is seen as important target, then it cannot be built on the negation of the Armenian Genocide. Obviously, Davutoglu has a different path for restoring mutual confidence between the two nations, the path of ignoring the truth, yet using it as a pretext for all steps Turkey intends to take.
The Minister continues his analysis in "Gulf News" by underlining that "Turkey has started the process of normalization with Armenia in good-faith and with a sincere political will", but before ending the sentence he does not find any difficulty in tying up his feelings of "good-faith and sincere political will" with the Karabakh problem. He reminds us that, "concrete steps for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem would also be necessary in this regard". According to him "a positive development" is needed (positive for Turkey and Azerbaijan).
At the end of his interview, Davutoglu reminds us that the fate of the Protocols is in the hands of the Turkish parliamentarians. "The protocols are now submitted to the Turkish Grand National Assembly for approval", he says. "If all the actors act with responsibility … our parliamentarians would not have much difficulty in giving their consent to these protocols, which will facilitate these two neighboring people to embrace each other again".
Davutoglu’s policy towards Armenia could be summarized with "accept the Protocols with our preconditions and embrace each other without preconditions". To make this happen, Armenia is asked to downplay the past (the Genocide against the Armenian people) and the present (embargo against Armenia and the closure of mutual borders) and aspire for a better future with Davutoglu’s assurances.
Below is the full text of Davutoglu's answer to the question related to the Armenian-Turkish relations:
Turkey would like to develop good-neighbourly relations based on mutual respect with all its neighbours. In the recent past, we have achieved progress in solving our differences with many of our neighbouring countries. We also took a courageous step by initiating a process of dialogue with Armenia, which culminated in the two protocols that were signed on October 10 in Zurich. It provides a significant opportunity to establish lasting peace and security between Turkish and Armenian States, as well as between Turkish and Armenian nations and beyond, contributing to the solving of other outstanding issues in the region.
There is an opposition stemming from the Armenian Diaspora towards these protocols based on their different interpretation of the events of 1915. However, the protocols present an opportunity to conduct an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archives on this painful episode of the Turkish-Armenian common history and shed light on the truth. A sub-commission will be created with this task. This is what we long asked for. We believe, this sub-commission will be instrumental in overcoming the conflict of collective memories with respect to the events of 1915 and reach to a just memory together.
Turkey has started the process of normalisation with Armenia in good-faith and with a sincere political will and therefore my government remains committed to taking this process forward. However, realism dictates evaluating the fate of our relations with Armenia not in a total vacuum, but rather in light of the big picture in the South Caucasus.
Our efforts with Armenia, if not supplemented with some progress in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, would not suffice to bring a comprehensive and sustainable normalisation to this region. Concrete steps for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem would also be necessary in this regard. A positive development; a tangible progress would not only contribute to the ratification process, but also to the peace and stability in the whole region. We trust that both of the parties to this conflict, as well as the co-chairs of the Minsk Group who are tasked with facilitating the negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, are well aware of this reality on the ground.
The protocols are now submitted to the Turkish Grand National Assembly for approval. If all the actors act with responsibility and do their utmost to contribute to the realisation of long awaited peace in the South Caucasus, our parliamentarians would not have much difficulty in giving their consent to these protocols which will facilitate these two neighbouring people to embrace each other again. And this is the only prospect that we would currently like to place our bets on for the sake of all the peoples of South Caucasus.
Illustration by Vahe Ashodian