Clinton Phones Sarkisian After Armenian Warning To Turkey


a-turkey/967-clinton-phones-sarkisian-after-armeni an-warning-to-turkey.html
Friday, 11 December 2009 19:26

RFE/RL by Emil Danielyan — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
telephoned President Serzh Sarkisian late Thursday just hours after he
threatened to annul Armenia’s fence-mending agreements with Turkey if
Ankara fails to unconditionally implement them, it emerged on Friday.

Speaking at a news conference in Yerevan, Sarkisian said Ankara’s
continuing linkage of the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations
and the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict runs counter to
the U.S.-backed agreements signed in October. He said he has already
instructed his administration to draft amendments to Armenian laws that
"pertain to the signing, ratification and abrogation of international

According to Sarkisian’s press office, Clinton initiated the phone
conversation to brief the Armenian leader on President Barack Obama’s
Monday talks with the visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan. A U.S. official told RFE/RL that the Turkish-Armenian
rapprochement topped the agenda of the talks.

"During the phone conversation, Secretary of State Clinton once again
emphasized that the United States will continue with its consistent
support for a speedy normalization of relations between Armenia
and Turkey without preconditions," the presidential office said in
a statement.

The statement said Sarkisian asked Clinton to express his "gratitude"
to Obama for adhering to this position. It also cited him as
reaffirming Yerevan’s readiness to press ahead with the normalization
process and expressing hope that "the Turkish side will display
similar readiness and responsibility." There was no word on whether
the two touched upon the Armenian threats to walk away from the deal.

In a letter to a leading Armenian-American organization publicized last
week, Obama said the process "should move forward without preconditions
and within a reasonable timeframe." According to Sarkisian’s office,
Clinton likewise stated that Washington views the Turkish-Armenian
normalization and efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as
"separate processes."

However, Erdogan insisted after the talks with Obama that from
Ankara’s perspective, the two processes are "very much related." He
said Turkey’s parliament is unlikely to ratify the two Turkish-Armenian
"protocols" unless there is a breakthrough in the Armenian-Azerbaijani
peace talks.

The protocols commit Ankara to establish diplomatic relations with
Yerevan and reopen the Turkish-Armenian border within two months of
their entry into force. Neither document makes any reference to the
Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute.

Still, citing pro-Azerbaijani statements made by Erdogan and other
Turkish officials, Armenian opponents of the deal claim that Yerevan
confidentially agreed to make more concessions to Azerbaijan during
the fence-mending negotiations with the Turks. Sarkisian and his
political allies strongly deny this.

The Sarkisian administration has also been on the defensive over a key
protocol clause that envisages the formation of a Turkish-Armenian
panel of historians that would look into the 1915 massacres of
Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Its critics say Ankara would exploit
the existence of the body to deter more countries from recognizing
the massacres as genocide. Sarkisian insisted in a November 28 speech,
however, that the rapprochement with Turkey will actually help Armenia
and its worldwide Diaspora "accelerate the recognition process."

Clinton has been personally involved in the drawing up and signing
of the Turkish-Armenian protocols. She was among foreign dignitaries
that attended the signing ceremony held in Zurich on October 10. The
top U.S. diplomat already phoned Sarkisian in August and September to
discuss the dramatic thaw in the historically strained Turkish-Armenian