Turkey Warns Protocols Could Fall Through

LONDON (Combined Sources)–Efforts to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia and open their common border could fail unless the process is carried out “properly,” Turkey’s foreign minister said Friday, referring to a ruling by Armenia’s Constitutional Court over the protocols.

“If we are not convinced that the process is being carried out properly, there is no possibility to carry it forward,” Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkish journalists a London.

Davutoglu’s warning is the strongest response yet from Turkey to an Armenian court ruling this month that has cast doubt over accords signed in October.

Armenia’s Constitutional Court reaffirmed the constitutionality of the agreements on January 12, but highlighted that the agreements could have no bearing on the Armenian government’s constitutional obligation to seek international recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Ottoman Turkey. The court also reiterated that the protocols could have no link to the Karabakh conflict.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian is bound by the constitution to include the high court’s reservations when he submits the protocols to parliament for ratification.

Davutoglu has accused Armenia of trying to rewrite the protocols that launched the reconciliation three months ago.

“We respect every country’s way of functioning. It is their own process, but what concerns us is not changing the documents amid that ongoing functioning,” he said in reference to the court ruling, the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Davutoglu made his remarks after meeting Thursday with his Armenian counterpart, Edward Nalbandian, on the sidelines of an international conference regarding Afghanistan.

“We believe [the court ruling] brings restrictions to the protocols. We raised our expectation that the process should not be blurred,” Davutoglu said of his meeting with Nalbandian.

Davutoglu said he is seeking clarification from the Armenian side over the extent to which Sarkisian’s administration will adhere to the court ruling.

“We have worked with Nalbandian on various stages and gone through a difficult process. There were disagreements but the process that has carried us this far should not be harmed,” Davutoglu said, adding that “mutual determination, mutual goodwill and mutual political will are needed for normalization” of relations.

Davutoglu predictably made no mention of growing international frustration with Turkey over its attempts to insert preconditions into the normalization process by linking the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to its parliament’s ratification of the protocols.

“We have open-mindedly exchanged our views [with Nalbandian],” said Davutoğlu, who declined to elaborate further, saying only, “The Armenian side is well aware of our opinion.”

The two ministers agreed to meet more in the coming days. One of those meetings could be on the sidelines of an international security conference in Munich, Germany next week, Hurriyet said, quoting unnamed Turkish diplomats. Nalbandian, however, is reportedly not to attend the Munich conference, according to the Armenian Foreign Ministry.

“There is not a visit to Munich and a meeting with Turkey’s Foreign Minister in Mr. Nalbandian’s schedule,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan was quoted as saying.

The Armenian court ruling spurred much diplomatic traffic on the sidelines of the London conference. Davutoglu met with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, on Thursday for talks on the matter.

Davutoglu also held a 15-minute meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday and said he conveyed Turkey’s concerns over the Armenian court decision to Washington. “I am of the opinion that the United States better understands Turkey’s concerns.” Clinton met separately with Nalbandian.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also met separately with Nalbandian and his Azeri counterpart over the ongoing Minsk Group Karabakh negotiations.

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