Turkey says Armenian top court’s ruling on protocols not acceptable

Turkey says Armenian top court’s ruling on protocols not acceptable

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (R) and his Armenian counterpart, Edward Nalbandian, sign protocols on the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations as top US, Russian and European officials watch during a ceremony in Zurich on Oct. 10, 2009.

January 20, 2010, Wednesday/ 16:19:00
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has stated that there are preconditions which contradict the letter and essence of the Armenian-Turkish protocols in the Armenian Constitutional Court’s decision approving the protocols signed between the two countries last year.

The statement released by the Foreign Ministry Monday evening said: “The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia declared its decision of constitutional conformity on the protocols between Turkey and Armenia signed on Oct. 10, 2009 with a short statement on Jan. 12, 2010. The Constitutional Court has recently published its grounds of decision. It has been observed that this decision contains preconditions and restrictive provisions which impair the letter and spirit of the protocols.”

Additionally, the Foreign Ministry statement said: “The decision undermines the very reason for negotiating these Protocols as well as their fundamental objective. This approach cannot be accepted on our part. Turkey, in line with its accustomed allegiance to its international commitments, maintains its adherence to the primary provisions of these protocols. We expect the same allegiance from the Armenian government.”

Turkey and Armenia signed two protocols in Zurich on Oct. 10 last year relating to the establishment of diplomatic relations and the development of bilateral relations between the two countries, including the opening of their common border. The Armenian Constitutional Court ruling found the two protocols to be “in conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia.”

According to sources from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the Armenian top court’s reference to Article 11 of the Armenian Declaration of Independence is problematic, as this has been perceived as a “precondition” by the Foreign Ministry.

The same source said that the Foreign Ministry will issue another statement on Tuesday to make Turkey’s concerns clearer, but it did not come out as Today’s Zaman went to press.

The Armenian court states that the protocols “cannot be interpreted or applied in the legislative process and application practice of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the interstate relations in a way that would contradict the provisions of the preamble to the RA Constitution and the requirements of Paragraph 11 of the Declaration of Independence of Armenia.”

Article 11 of the Armenian Declaration of Independence of Aug. 23, 1990 refers to Eastern Anatolia, in Turkey, as Western Armenia and as such holds that this area is part of Armenia. Since the Armenian constitution recognizes as a basis “the fundamental principles of the Armenian statehood and national aspirations engraved in the Declaration of Independence of Armenia,” it likewise accepts the characterization of Eastern Anatolia as Western Armenia and Turkey is concerned that this might translate into the advancement of territorial claims.

The second of the two protocols signed in Geneva stipulates that the two sides agree to “implement a dialogue on the historical dimension 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.” It does not specifically mention the massacres of 1915.

Another aspect which may not be acceptable to Turkey could be the fourth paragraph, as mentioned in a story on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s RFE/RL Web site.

Paragraph four of the preceding argumentation concludes that the mutual obligations undertaken by the two countries “are, under the principles of international law, exclusively of a bilateral nature, and cannot concern, or by various references be attributed to, any third party or the relations with such third party of the signatories of the protocols.”

That formulation has been construed in Yerevan as a rejection of the argument, repeatedly made in recent months by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, that ratification of the protocols by the Turkish parliament must be contingent on concessions by Armenia in the Karabakh peace process; specifically, the withdrawal of Armenian forces from seven districts of Azerbaijan they currently control.

On the other hand, an expert in Armenia said that the Constitutional Court’s decision doesn’t contain any clause that contradicts the Armenian-Turkish protocols.

Constitution analyst Vardan Poghosyan said that the Constitutional Court’s decision only clarifies how the tenets in the protocols should be interpreted. “Overall, it’s evident that the Constitutional Court’s decision doesn’t include any preconditions or stipulations whatsoever, but only clarifies how the tenets of the signed Armenian-Turkish documents should be interpreted,” he said as quoted by Armenia’s Tert.am.

The top court’s approval of the protocols came amid fierce protests by opponents. The nationalist Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun) threatened that it will seek to depose President Serzh Sarksyan if the protocols are ratified by the Armenian parliament.

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