Washington briefing: U.S. insists on delinking Karabakh from Armenia-Turkey normalization

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday December 12, 2009

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon, Yerevan, June 9, 2009. . Tatul Hakobyan / Armenian Reporter

Washington - Two days after the prime minister of Turkey ruled out parliamentary ratification of agreements with Armenia unless there was progress on Karabakh, the United States government reiterated its insistence that the two issues should be dealt with separately.

In the December 7 meeting between President Barack Obama and the Turkish prime minister, the president said that the United States "would like to see both [Armenian and Turkish] governments ratify the protocols . . . without preconditions and independent of any other issue," Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon told journalists at the Council on Foreign Relations on December 9.

Asked by the Armenian Reporter whether the United States continued to call for a "reasonable timeframe" for the process to be completed, Mr. Gordon said that the United States "continued to speak of a reasonable timeframe," but without defining a concrete time period.

When asked whether the United States would heed Turkey's call to step up efforts to resolve the Karabakh conflict, Mr. Gordon said that United States was already "actively engaged on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, not because we see it as linked to the Turkey-Armenian relationship, but because it could also be a contribution to peace and stability in the region."

The Karabakh issue "has long been hugely important," he said, "and it is hugely important independent of any other issue."

Prior to the December 7 meeting, President Obama responded to a letter from Armenian-American organizations that supported the signing of the protocols.

In the text made public by the Armenian Assembly of America, he repeated his earlier statement to the effect that his view on "one of the great atrocities of the 20th century . . . has not changed."

But contrary to his pre-election pledges to affirm the Armenian Genocide, he deferred to "the Armenian and Turkish people to address the facts of the past as part of their efforts to move forward." He promised "to vigorously support the normalization effort in the months ahead."

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