On Freezing the Current Armenia -Turkey Process


Vartan Oskanian, Civilitas, 26 April 2010

It was clear from the beginning that a prolonged presentation of the desirable as real is not sustainable, and that the government would have to finally acknowledge reality.

I am astonished by two things, however. First, the government is openly acknowledging that for one whole year they watched as Turkey placed preconditions before them, Turkey exploited the process for its own benefit, and they not only tolerated this, but continuously insisted that this is not happening and that this whole process is a big success and an unprecedented diplomatic victory.


Vartan Oskanian, Civilitas, 26 April 2010

It was clear from the beginning that a prolonged presentation of the desirable as real is not sustainable, and that the government would have to finally acknowledge reality.

I am astonished by two things, however. First, the government is openly acknowledging that for one whole year they watched as Turkey placed preconditions before them, Turkey exploited the process for its own benefit, and they not only tolerated this, but continuously insisted that this is not happening and that this whole process is a big success and an unprecedented diplomatic victory.

Second, if there were half a dozen possible exit strategies from this situation – from doing nothing to revoking Armenia’s signature – the government has chosen the option least beneficial to us. Turkey no longer has an obligation to open the border before the Karabakh conflict is resolved which is what Turkey had wanted all along. The Armenian side did that which is most desirable for Turkey: neither ratified the protocols nor revoked them thus giving Turkey the opportunity to continue to remain actively engaged in the Karabakh process.

For a whole year, the authorities rejected the problems in the Armenia-Turkey process and responded to all criticism by insisting that all is well. Today, in fact, we see that they did understand that things were not proceeding as desired, yet they prolonged the process for more than a year, hoping that it would be possible to avoid accepting the truthfulness of the criticism.

Today, I want to invite attention to the fact that the same problems are inherent in the Karabakh process. In response to my criticism, they continue to insist that all is well, and there are no dangerous developments.

But this is no time to gloat. Nor is this about stubbornly insisting on the absolute truthfulness of one’s own position. The facts cannot be ignored. The negotiations are proceeding unfavorably. The situation must be corrected, even if that requires making clear policy changes. The government must boldly assess the situation, and acknowledge its seriousness so that we will not find ourselves in the same situation regarding Karabakh.

But for that, there first must be acknowledgement and acceptance that there are in fact problems, there must be an attempt to identify their root causes, and no longer resort to the tradition of negating reality.

I am also worried about another trend. For two years, various government representatives applauded the Armenia-Turkey process and ignored all the problems. They raised public expectations about a speedy normalization of relations and opening of the border. And when none of that happened for reasons that were obvious from the beginning, there is an opposite and equally extreme reaction. The same public relations machine is subsumed by anti-Turkish propaganda. Various government representatives have adopted extremist stereotypical positions. Incautious policies all-around have brought us to a dead-end in Armenia-Turkey relations and this new tendency can further deteriorate an already-delicate situation, and render impossible necessary future positive developments.

For Armenian version of the text click here.

 

2 comments
  1. On Freezing the Current Armenia -Turkey Process

    I don’t dispute Mr. Voskanian’s above comments, but I do have an honest question for him hoping that he would respond sincerely.

    Mr. Voskanian, The "Kars Treaty" was reaching to its expiry date. Why did you then sign its renewal, and who pushed you into committing that unforgiveable act?

    Have you ever been in Kars to see what have we lost?

  2. As always, Mr. Oskanian

    As always, Mr. Oskanian raises an important point all the while highlighting the lack of strategic thinking by our state department officials. Mind you, many could have brought the same allegations against the same department that was at the time under his control (see post above by Mack on his renewal of the Kars Treaty), but let us not dwell on the past…

    One thing is clear. Our foreign policy, or at least the implementation of such a policy, if it exists (I still fail to find a rationale for it, therefore I have come to the conclusion there is none), is not consistent… Our government says that we support the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations and the subsequent opening of the borders without preconditions, yet our parliament and it’s state department handlers fail to swiftly and resolutely adopt the protocols (mind you, I personally don’t think that the "Protocols" are the best and wises way of normalizing relations, but what’s done is done). The "inviolability of borders" argument is not a wise one, as one fails to realize that such an agreement could actually turn out to be in our favour and provide an additional layer of protection from Turkish invasion if ever the region becomes unstable in the future. Furthermore, it does not preclude the legal establishment of a free and independent state of Karabagh based on a people’s right to declare independence (especially when the same people had not been part of that country only 50 years prior, and were annexed against their will), which is what our current objective is…

    Our actions, or should I say inactions, are again inadequate when confronted to such political opportunities, or dangers… Diplomacy is a two edged sword, and the savvy diplomat can quickly turn a dangerous situation into his/her favour… I doubt that the current situation is the result of a lack of education, since many of our foreign affairs officials are well educated in diplomacy, but I fear that internal political issues (and the subsequent corruption it entails) prevail in Armenia, which results in a lack of clear forsight in terms of the importance of foreign issues. When will our government learn that despite the quabbles in internal politics, we must have a unified external policy, and enforce it unequivocally. The current situation is totally unacceptable from a foreign perspective since it makes us look weak, and I think the current Sarkisyan government is starting to realise it (slowly, but surely)…

    Therefore, I am cautiously optimistic that the powers that be will soon realise that we have a dire need to agree on a clear-cut foreign policy, and stick to it…

Comments are closed.

You May Also Like
Read More

Դիմում եմ հատկապես ՆԻԿՈԼԻՆ ու ՎԱԶԳԵՆԻՆ․ «Եթե իրոք թանկ է ձեզ համար ՀԱՅՐԵՆԻՔԸ, ուրեմն…»

Պրոֆ. Աշոտ Տէր-Մինասեան դասախօս է Երեւանի Պետ. Համալսարանի Բանասիրական բաժնէն ներս։ Ան հեղինակ է գրականագիտական աշխատութիւններու եւ ուսումնասիրութիւններու։…
Read More