The Turkish press reacts to the Armenia protocols

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday September 26, 2009

Washington - Most of the Turkish political class as well as Turkey's lobbyists in the United States have welcomed the Turkish government's intention to sign protocols on relations with Armenia. Resistance, naturally, has come from the political opposition, including the nationalist opposition parties in and out of parliament. Below is a round-up of some of the reactions made public.

Türkiye: Ankara is confident

September 6, 2009

Two protocols signed between Turkey and Armenia have paved the way for the establishment of a historical committee to study claims of "genocide". Turkey is confident of itself with around one million documents on Armenians. Former chairman of the Turkish Historical Society Yusuf Halacoglu said that the opportunity to study "genocide" claims should not be missed.

Radikal: Please don't jinx me

September 5, 2009

by Ismet Berkan

Turkey is trying to solve some fixed foreign and domestic political problems and consequently consolidate its internal peace as well as promote it in the region. Armenia may be a small country whose name is rarely mentioned, but even it can create trouble for Turkey in the world. The fact that this problem can be solved through fair and reasonable methods poses no harm to anyone but has benefits. However, in our own country, it seems that not only politicians but columnists as well feel they have the responsibility to disapprove of the government's operations and are therefore slowly sharpening their blades.

Bugün: Turkey could experience another shock

September 5, 2009

by Erhan Basyurt

The protocol to "open borders" between Turkey and Armenia is attracting interesting reactions. In Turkey, the opposition in particular is reluctant about protocols.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) announced that it would oppose it if it came to Parliament for approval. If there is strong public pressure, there may be a drop in support from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) as well. If that happens, the protocol will have to be shelved. One concern the government has in return is that the Armenian parliament will reject the agreement. Armenia does not have a well-established state tradition or a strong democratic culture. Armenian presidents Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarksyan are both from Nagorno-Karabakh. Their power came as a result of the war. The anti-protocol Dashnaks and the diaspora have strong public support. Under current conditions, Turkey could face another Annan plan shock. Even though Turkey has agreed, everything may be left up in the air. However, Turkey could still benefit from the process. First, foreign pressure to recognize genocide and to open its borders will decrease. Second, the entire world will confirm that Ankara is a country that promotes peace, not crises. In other words, even if the protocol is not signed, Turkish diplomatic activities and Turkey's international weight are going to increase.

todayszaman.com: Football diplomacy in full swing in the Caucasus

September 4, 2009

by Ibrahim Kalin

The announcement by the Turkish and Armenian governments that they expect to normalize relations came at the most unexpected time, when Turkey was bogged down in a heated debate about the new Kurdish initiative.

Stalled by Azerbaijan's concerns over the future of the Karabakh region, negotiations were frozen for a while. So we thought. As it turns out, the Turkish and Armenian sides were in full swing, working through the Swiss.

Let's get the facts right first. The official declaration of the agreed protocol between the two countries is an expression of will and only the beginning of open negotiations between Turkey and Armenia. There is a general road map, but its details are to be worked out. From what we know so far, diplomatic relations will be established gradually and within a certain timeframe. Both countries will officially recognize their borders, i.e., Armenia will abide by the 1921 Kars Agreement. Embassies will be opened. Trade and other relations will be improved. Finally, a commission of historians will be formed to look into the events of 1915-1916. As you may remember, Armenia has rejected this Turkish proposal before.

But there are also concerns on all sides. Armenia insists on keeping its relations with Turkey strictly bilateral, i.e., no injection of the Karabakh issue, which relates to Azerbaijan and not to Turkey. Turkey insists on opening up a new page in the Armenian genocide claims. On the Azerbaijani side, they are concerned that they will be left out in the cold if Turks and Armenians reach an agreement without a settlement on the Karabakh issue, a settlement that will be accepted in Baku.

Can Azerbaijan stall the process again? It is difficult to predict because the Azerbaijani-Armenian track is still a big riddle. The Minsk group will play a key role. So will Turkey. Turkey does not and will not want to lose the Azerbaijanis in order to make peace with Armenia. It is both a matter of national pride and domestic politics. That's why Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in Cyprus that "no process is more important that the Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship."

The real test of the new Turkish-Armenian protocols will be the resistance of domestic politics. According to the agreement, the protocols will have to be approved by the respective parliaments of the two countries. The bitter battle between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the opposition over the Kurdish issue will not help the process in the Turkish Parliament. As a habit, both the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will oppose the new plan for purely domestic political considerations. The Erdogan government will have to undertake football diplomacy with the opposition parties, too!

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