Reports: U.S. praises Armenia, unhappy with Turkey

In DC Azerbaijan reps. defend Turkey, assail Armenia

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Monday March 01, 2010

Philip Gordon.

Washington - A State Department official who manages U.S. policies in Europe and Eurasia praised Armenia's "constructive" position in talks with Turkey, just as reports in Turkish media claimed Ankara was singled out for blame over talks' apparent failure.

Armenian president Serge Sargsyan heard the remarks from Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon during their February 25 meeting in Kiev where both visited to participate in the inauguration of Ukraine's newly-elected President Viktor Yanukovich.

According to the Armenian president's office, Mr. Gordon also repeated the U.S. position that Armenia and Turkey should ratify the agreements they signed last October "without linking them to other existing problems."

Turkish leaders have made clear there will not be ratification unless there is what they would consider "progress" in Karabakh talks, an additional condition that is not part of the original agreement. Armenia's president, by contrast, has made assurances that Armenia's parliament would ratify the protocols as soon as Turkey's parliament does.

As a result, Turkish media reports, Washington has blamed Ankara for the impasse. According to Hurriyet's February 22 translation of a column by Mehmet Ali Birand, "evaluations and statements made by those monitoring upper-level authorities in Washington closely" Turkey's disagreements with U.S. policy on Iran and hostility in Israel-Turkey relations have also opened way for Congress to take up the Genocide resolution.

Meantime, Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) hosted a seminar that featured three Azerbaijani and one Turkish officials and no speaker to present Armenia's, Georgia's or U.S perspectives.

According to audio of the February 23 proceedings, entitled "South Caucasus Fault Lines: Security, Energy, and U.S. Interests" speakers argued that U.S. was wrong not to link Armenia-Turkey normalization with Karabakh talks, a position shared by Azerbaijan and Turkey, but not by U.S. or Armenia. Armenia was also blamed for lack of progress in normalization process with Turkey.

Vlad Socor, a contributor to the Jamestown Foundation and frequent Azerbaijan booster, claimed that Armenia won U.S. support for the Turkey normalization policy through "deception" and complained that American policies were alienating Azerbaijan because its demands were overlooked.

Varuzhan Nersessian from Armenia's Embassy in Washington intervened during Q&A period to reiterate Armenia's position (also supported by U.S., Russia and Europe), that Armenia- Turkey talks and Karabakh peace process should not be linked.

While also supporting a link between two processes, security expert Steve Blank urged Turkey to address its past treatment of Armenians to be able to win credibility in the West. He also warned of "catastrophic" consequences should Azerbaijan resort to military force in Karabakh, as its leaders have long threatened.

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