ARMENIA DOES NOT WANT TURKEY AND WESTERN WORLD HAVE GOOD RELATIONS
Echorouk Al Yaoumi, Algeria
July 30 2007
The armenians and after they secured good ties with the Siniora’s
Lebanon, is trying to put pressure on the western world for the
"good ties" it dared having with Ankara.
The former USSR republic criticized NATO and the European Union on
Friday for turning a blind eye to Turkey’s long-running blockade of its
borders, saying Ankara’s refusal to open land routes was costing the
small, landlocked state a third of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
"Europeans are shy over these issues. They love to talk about human
rights, about democratic values but it’s much easier to talk rather
than to implement anything," Prime Minister Serzh Sarksyan told
Reuters in an interview.
Turkey shut its borders to Christian Armenia in 1993 to protest against
the capture by Armenian forces of territory inside Azerbaijan, Ankara’s
historic Muslim ally, during fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region
Ankara says it will not reopen its frontier until Armenia reaches a
peace agreement with Azerbaijan.
The blockade, coupled with similar measures by Azerbaijan, means
Armenia has to route its trade through its land border with Georgia,
or over treacherous mountain passes that link it to Iran. Those
difficulties greatly increase costs.
Sarksyan said Armenia wanted to resume relations with Turkey without
preconditions and would not obstruct Turkey’s desire to join the EU
because this might make Ankara "more predictable".
"Although NATO officials tell us that Turkey is predictable as it’s a
member of NATO, I don’t believe it because even before our blockade
Turkey was a member of NATO when it occupied Cyprus," the prime
Armenia and Turkey have a long history of enmity, arising from the
killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians under the Ottoman empire
Armenians and some European nations describe the deaths as genocide.
Turkey says they were part of a partisan conflict during World War
One. It is a crime in Turkey to refer to the killings as a genocide.
RUSSIAN TROOPS NEEDED
Sarksyan, tipped by analysts as a likely future president of Armenia,
said Armenia still needed help from its strategic ally Moscow to
defend itself. Russia has 5,000 troops stationed here.
"I do not think that the Turkish threat has disappeared and our Russian
military base is a guarantee against the Turkish threat," he added.
Sarksyan also said that if Western nations granted independence to
the Serbian province of Kosovo, they "could not fail to recognise"
the right of the majority Armenian territory of Nagorno-Karabakh
Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region located within Azerbaijan’s
internationally recognised borders, broke away from Azeri control
during a war in the 1990s and has proclaimed independence, though
this has not been accepted internationally.
Talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the future of
Nagorno-Karabakh have dragged on for years. A meeting between the
presidents of the two nations in St Petersburg last month ended with
The Azeris want Armenian forces to withdraw from all territory
surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh before starting substantial talks on
the enclave’s status.
"I see the solution of this issue based on compromise but I do not
see any steps or reactions from the Azeri side," Sarksyan said. "We
have done all we can".
Asked about his own political ambitions, Sarksyan said it was "likely"
he would be the presidential candidate of Armenia’s ruling Republican
party, although a final decision would not come until a party congress
in the autumn.
Armenia holds presidential elections next year and incumbent President
Robert Kocharyan cannot stand after serving two terms.
The elections that gave Kocharyan his second term in 2003 were marred
by allegations of ballot-stuffing although international monitors
deemed this year’s parliamentary elections won by Sarksyan’s party