Davidian, Martirosyan: Prisoner’s Dilemma or Exploiting Structure in Adversarial Negotiations: Armenian-Turkish Protocols of 2009

By David Davidian and Arthur Martirosyan

This paper provides a preliminary overview of the processes associated with the Armenian-Turkish Protocols of 2009.

Cooperative gain is possible only when there is trust, otherwise both parties tend to defect and play a more adversarial game.

The lack of parliamentary ratification of the Protocols on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey can find its roots in an adversarial, rather than a cooperative, mental model of Turkish elites. Negotiation includes the tension created as parties decide when they need to cooperate or compete to achieve their goals. The main characteristic of the interaction is  uncertainty of the outcome and balance between risk and gain. Cooperative gain is possible only when there is trust, otherwise both parties tend to defect and play a more adversarial game. The adversarial mental model views the negotiation choice in stark win-lose scenarios which usually are imposed solutions of one side on the other, such as placing preconditions, implying threats, etc. The latter is more in line with the dictates of an armistice than creating mutual beneficial options upon which to synthesize a long term settlement based on the interests of all sides involved.

Regardless of whether Turkey or Armenia were compelled into sitting at the negotiating table for the greater interests of more powerful regional and international players, in this case the U.S., Russia and the EU, (the troika), the disputants were not precluded from using acts of deliberation or products of negotiation for their own interests. However, the number of parties does shape the strategy of negotiators. These were not bilateral negotiations between Armenia and Turkey; but rather were multiparty negotiations with some players exerting influence behind the scenes. In this setting, actions taken away from the table can be as important as what transpires at the table. Even after deliberations commence, negotiators continue shaping the structure by altering the agenda, introducing action-forcing events, and linking or delinking negotiations. In this case, it was through the change of structure that Armenia managed to exercise control over the process to avoid the least desirable outcome when the most desirable one was beyond its reach. 

To secure a smooth initiation of negotiations, Turks dropped their 1994 preconditions on Armenia in exchange for establishing diplomatic relations and lifting its border blockade. However, immediately after signing the Protocols, Turks reiterated the preconditions as a requirement for their ratification. These preconditions included:

1.     Armenia must end its support for expanding international recognition of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians.

2.     Armenian forces must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions—as part of an active, yet exclusive negotiation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

3.      Armenia must recognize current borders as inviolable and thus has no genocide reparatory claims on any lands in eastern Anatolia (Western Armenia). 

Armenia demanded that ratification proceed without added conditions.

Turks were fully aware that their preconditions would poison the ratification process.  Turkish ratification stalled. In response, the Armenian Constitutional Court’s rapid approval of the Protocols provided Armenia with a tactical advantage over Turkey as viewed in diplomatic circles. The Turks could not ratify the Protocols since they had no face-saving space left. The Armenian Court decision put direct pressure on Turkey to reciprocate. Turkey found itself being caught in a classic stalemate. First, Armenia unconditionally stated that any Turkish demands made regarding Armenia-Azerbaijan talks were not to be part of this negotiation. Turkey could not afford to alienate its close ally, Azerbaijan, by a unilateral border opening agreement with Armenia. Armenia adeptly changed the structure of negotiations by “inviting” an additional player and a spoiler in this case, Azerbaijan, to the table. Turkish ratification predicated on the withdrawal of Armenian troops from Nagorno-Karabakh was clearly doomed to failure.

Second, the Armenian Constitutional Court concluded the Protocols do not violate the Armenian constitution (see January 12, 2010 court decision Item 5, http://www.concourt.am/english/decisions/common/index.htm, and paragraph 11 of the Armenian Declaration of Independence which states, “11, The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.”) (See also http://www.armeniaforeignministry.com/arm/doi/main.html .) Armenia was able to reiterate its active demand for international genocide recognition as part of its legal decision regarding the Protocols.

In a broader picture, Turkish foreign policy makers claim as a goal to have zero problems with its neighbors.  Although Turkey has vibrant relations with Syria and Iran, it has continued issues with Greece and has failed with Armenia and Cyprus. Turkey continues to occupy northern Cyprus. Turkey refused to take sides during the 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict as it temporarily refused U.S. humanitarian aid to Georgia via the Bosporus. Turkey has attempted a vibrant trade with Abkhazia, in spite of Georgian disdain and their seizing of Turkish ships bound for Abkhazia. Turkey clearly does not have a zero problem policy with its neighbors, unless it counts only Islamic countries as neighbors.

Armenia alone could not possibly compel Turkey to sign the Protocols. However, since pressure came from the troika, Turkey’s non-ratification said no, not so much to Armenia, but to the troika. Armenia pulled out a tactical victory by taking a confrontational, Turkish precondition-laden ratification orientation, and cleanly placing the ball in the Turkish court. Armenia did not say no to Turkey, not because it could not, but, in the current power construct, it leveled the asymmetry by building a tactical alliance with the troika members more successfully than Turkey. The endgame is well known. Turkey failed on its signed commitment to the troika, whereas Armenia did not. While most observers became overly caught up in the substance of these negotiations— assessing interests, discussing positions, implications and consequences—it was often done at the expense of analyzing the process. Control of process design is a potent source of power, one that enabled the Armenian side to steer the proceedings toward a desired outcome.  

The political conditions and perception of interests under which negotiations start can change during deliberations. Discussions between Turks and Armenians that culminated in the 2009 Protocols began in the middle of the last decade. Since the signing of the Protocols, events that have a direct bearing on the dynamics of Turkish-Armenian relations have taken front stage and have an impact on relations going forward. The Turkish-based Gaza Flotilla in May of 2010 sparked debate in Israel regarding official recognition of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians. Turkish alignment with the Islamic world, in general; anti-Israeli rhetoric; and active relations with Syria, and in particular Iran, have caused many to question Turkey’s western positioning and even its role in NATO. As late as mid-to-late October 2010, Turkey expressed reservations regarding the proposed missile defense shield aimed at protecting NATO members from an attack by states such as Iran. This prompted reports in the Turkish press with titles such as “U.S. Plays ‘Genocide’ Card to Pressure Turkey on NATO Missile System.” (See www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=us-play-the-armenian-genocide-resolution-card-to-convince-turkey-on-missile-system-2010-10-21 )

The troika, but particularly the U.S. administration, has spent considerable diplomatic capital in support of this initiative. Failure of ratification has left the U.S. with less influence in the Caucasus and Russia taking up much of the vacuum. Increasingly, the U.S. finds itself running out of sticks or carrots, for Turkey is more confidently steering away from the Euro-Atlantic agenda to play its own game in the Caucasus and Middle East.

Over a year has passed since the signing and ratification failure of these Protocols. The Turks have taken the proverbial ball, with this stalled Turkish-Armenian Protocols, and attempted to drop it in many of its courts. For example, in September 2010, Turkish authorities allowed an Armenian church service in a Turkish-restored 10th century abandoned Armenian cathedral on an island in Lake Van, in eastern Turkey. Armenians considered this a publicity stunt. Turkish reaction to this event was quick and was evident in a Muslim prayer session that took place in the remains of another abandoned Armenian cathedral in Ani, just over the Armenian border.

In addition, many non-governmental initiatives have taken place between Armenian and Turkish citizens since the announcement of the Protocols in August of 2009. Unfortunately, these initiatives styled as “Track Two” diplomacy cannot target overcoming the barriers to negotiations. They are private efforts, civil society platforms, predominantly funded by third party countries, poorly if at all coordinated, with all the signs of peace industry that has flourished for decades in Israeli-Palestinian, Greek-Turkish and other intractable conflicts.

Some preliminary conclusions:

  • The Protocols are dead. Predictably, one or both sides could defect in this prisoner’s dilemma type game where gains from cooperation are possible if there is trust. Turkish behavior only enhanced distrust—the failure to ratify in a parliament where the ruling party has majority indicates lack of good faith. (See http://armenianweekly.com/2009/10/01/davidian-turkish-armenian-Protocols-reality-and-irrationality )
  • Unless Turkish elites can find a face-saving move it will be hard for them to get back to the table with the same agenda. 
  • The window of opportunity is shut for a couple of years as both sides are entering electoral cycles that are least conducive for unpopular moves. The troika members may undergo significant changes as they too will go through elections in 2012-13.
  • Low profile formal processes may continue but not likely to produce any breakthroughs. 
  • Leaders among negotiators know that managing internal differences poses the biggest challenge. The current Armenian leadership opted to play the game mostly alone instead of proactively building a sufficient consensus on key issues of the national interests and red lines. In the next round of this process, going it alone may produce suboptimal results. Therefore, a window of opportunity exists and should be used to build a sufficient consensus and establish consultative bodies ahead of time.

David Davidian is a Sr. System Architect at a major IT firm engaged in technical intelligence analysis. He manages the U.S. office of RegionalKinetics.com. Arthur Martirosyan is a Senior Consultant with CMPartners, with 16 years as a negotiation specialist. He has worked with negotiators in the FSU, Middle East and the Balkans.

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  1. This is one of the best informed articles I have seen on this issue. Congratulations to Messrs Davidian and Martirosyan. The question that remains unanswered by the authors: Is it possible for Armenia and Turkey to have a different attitude and work towards a win/win deal?  Mr. Davidian, we need your wits again!

  2. The real questions is, why doesn’t the Armenian government try to enlist the likes of David Davidian and Arthur Martirosyan as governmental advisors and begin utilizing one of it’s most powerful resources, the DIASPORA! Oh that is right, it is globally one of the most corrupt governments that wouldn’t want to potentially threaten it’s stranglehold on Armenia. A stranglehold that has been killing the country since independence. But obviously nothing can happen because Armenians are either too chicken, or preoccupied with their own businesses in foreign countries, aside from a myriad of issues. WAKE UP EVERYONE! If we don’t get rid of these Mafiosos and put someone like a Vartan Oskanian, Rafi Hovanessian or Tigran Sariksian in real power, we will LOSE our nation FOREVER! The Kocharians, Ter-Petrossians and Serghz Sarkisians have to go! ARMENIA’S CURRENT WELLBEING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE MEMORY OF OUR GRANDPARENTS! WAKE UP!

  3. Nishan and manooshag, did you misunderstand the article? According to the authors, the RA Government “adeptly” took control of the structure of the negotiations. They’re not even criticizing the government, let alone calling for its replacement.
    Another aspect to Prisoner’s Dilemma regarding the Protocols, besides mistrust, was the domestic unpopularity in both Turkey and Armenia. This increased the political costs to both Erdogan and Sargsian of ratifying the deal and made it too risky to ratify alone (i.e. without a guarantee that the other side would ratify). Neither side wanted to suffer the domestic political costs of ratifying if the deal would fall through in the end (i.e. if the other side didn’t ratify). Then they would have spent their political capital with nothing, no ‘peace’, to show for it.

  4. It’s amazing that Armenians like “Nishan” apparently cant read (or don’t bother reading) past headlines. And the likes of “manooshag” simply read what commentators have written to form their “opinion” instead of actually reading and comprehending the work in question. And the funniest part was “Nishan” wanting Oskanian and Hovanissian, agents of Washington in Yerevan, to become president of Armenia. No thanks, “Nishan”. Even with all his flaws I’ll stick with Serj. Anyway, I suggest you read David Davidian’s excellent essay about the Protocols. His work is the finest, most intellectual, most rational and the most sober minded analysis on the topic I have yet come across.

  5. Everyone should reread David Davidian’s brilliant essay titled – Turkish-Armenian Protocols: Reality and Irrationality

  6. Avetis, with all due respect, in this thread and in the other Davidian thread you don’t say one specific thing which you like about the article. Besides being long, academic and full of footnotes, what specific arguments impress you so much? Personally, I find problems in Davidian’s assumptions, namely that he over-inflates the interest greater powers had in the process. He also bafflingly doesn’t view Armenia’s border recognition as a concession.
    I would be happy to indulge you in a more detailed criticism of Davidian, but please give me some specific praise you have, because otherwise it seems as if you’re just a Sargsian apologist who likes any article which praises Sargsian policies (protocols).

  7. Avetis, Davidian’s essay titled “Turkish-Armenian Protocols: Reality and Irrationality” might be “brilliant” to you personally, but it’s been widely and heavily criticized on these pages and beyond as technocratic, one-dimensional, and somewhat schematic in that the essay failed to take into account the implications of race and power politics, as well as hidden context and possible ramifications of the known provisions in the Protocols.

    These guys appear to serve an agenda, and I wouldn’t want another agents of influence in or anywhere near Armenia…

  8. Applying labels does not mean criticizing. Nor critique has anything to do with personal attacks. Implications of race? Power politics? Say something about those. This one or the previous article do not set as a goal covering everything that may be bothering you. A quick summary of the process. Nothing else. There is something in the Armenian culture that inhibits learning from lessons and mistakes. And that something is petty egos of name-calling buffoons.

  9. Alex,

    I have written extensively about the topic in question, but not here. I am in no mood now to repeat myself. This is a complex topic. Nevertheless, you are fooling yourself if you think that major powers do not have a great interest in what is occurring between Yerevan and Ankara. The primary architect of the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement was not Armenia, not Turkey, not Europe, not America – is was and is Moscow. Serj first reached his hand out to Ankara – during an official visit to Moscow – in the spring of 2008. In the aftermath of the preplanned Russian-Georgian war that summer (during which the idiot of Tbilisi took Putin’s bait), a historic war which essentially resulted in the expulsion of NATO/American interests from the region, Ankara was forced to swallow its Turkic pride and sit down at the negotiation with Yerevan.

    In short, Russia is projecting its regional political/economic power from its secure foothold in Armenia. Moscow wants to turn all regional nations, including Turkey, dependent on it. Armenia has become a geopolitical gear/tool in all this, and it stands to gain great dividends if Moscow’s regional plans succeed.

    Don’t think issues regarding the protocols are over. They are  being worked on as we speak. Ankara will be forced to open its border with Armenia sooner than later and Saakashvili’s time in office are numbered as well. I can refer you to a lot of non-Armenian assessments of the geopolitical situation in the region to make you better understand what is occurring in the region. In the meanwhile, try not to pay too much attention to what the ARF or the self-destructive peasantry in Armenia’s so-called “opposition” say. Just do some research and assess what you see/hear/read objectively and in a proper geopolitical and historical context.

  10. Arthur, are you the author of the article? If so, then congratulations and thank you for this overlooked but necessary focus on process.
    I wonder if you can comment on the role of domestic unpopularity in contributing to the mistrust (which incentivized defection), and if you see any parallels between these negotiations and the failed Israeli-Syrian negotiations of 2000 (i.e. where fear of domestic backlash made Israel, just like Turkey, unwilling to act)?
    Thank you.

  11. Alex, it may have escaped you but Armenia recognized Turkey’s and even Azerbaijan’s borders in 1992. Armenia’s borders, too, have been recognized since that very time. I won’t bother you with footnotes and references to these simple facts. Can you be more specific about border recognition as “concession”? Just out of curiosity.

  12. Below is Arthur Martirosyan’s profile I got from GlobalSecurity.org site. Pretty impressive, in my opinion.

    Arthur G. Martirosyan is a Program Manager for Mercy Corps Conflict Management Group (CMG) and Director of The Momentum Program: Leadership and Negotiation Culture Change in the Former Soviet Union. In fourteen years with CMG, Mr. Martirosyan has been involved in the design and successful implementation negotiation projects in some of the most complex ethno-political conflicts world-wide, including Chechnya, South Ossetia, Abkhazia (Georgia), Israel-Palestine, and Iraq.

    Mr. Martirosyan is Co-Director of the Network of Early Warning and Ethnological Monitoring of Conflict in the Former Soviet Union and has authored a number of articles on the status of conflicts and negotiation processes in the Caucasus.

    For the last five years, Mr. Martirosyan has been managing the Israeli-Palestinian Negotiation Partners program that provides leadership and cooperative negotiation skills to a network of negotiators from both sides. Since 2005, Mr. Martirosyan has been the lead negotiation trainer for a group of Iraqi professionals and officials from four southern provinces of Iraq as part of the USAID-funded Iraq Community Action Program. Prior to joining CMG in 1994, Mr. Martirosyan was a program associate with the Civic Education Project, a not-for-profit organization working with East European and FSU universities.

    Mr. Martirosyan received his MA in English Literature and Translation Techniques at St. Petersburg University, Russia, and MA in International Relations at Yale University. Martirosyan is fluent in Armenian, Russian, Georgian and conversant in German and French.

  13. Yes, I am the co-author of the article, Alex. Domestic agenda clearly played a role here. Neither Turkey nor Armenia had a sufficient internal consensus for the deal. It turned out that Turks did not have it even among their own majority in the Parliament. This is one of the indications of their participation in the process not in good faith. They were interested in the process per se and in small delaying tactical gains. In short, they needed this time to learn how to say no to the Obama administration.  Each of the players in this process had his tactical, short-term interests. If any of the parties especially mediators, the troika, were serious about it, they would design the process differently, they would increase the fines for defection. Unfortunately, we did not have space in a short article like this to provide in-depth analysis of interests of various players. This would require more serious research and data analysis and a thirty page paper on the subject.
    “The P process” was flawed in many other ways but you are certainly right in drawing parallels with Israel and Syria and many other instances of negotiation breakdown because trust is deficient among and within parties involved. Finally, the purpose of this article is not to praise Sargsyan and his team but rather to provide a process perspective beyond the traditional blame game as an invitation to open up a learning process.

  14. Avetis, thank you, the bio is slightly outdated though. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to answer any questions that readers may have beyond tomorrow since I will be gone to Kosovo for three weeks.

  15. Rather than to paint somebody as an apologist or having some unspecified hidden agenda, commentary should continue based on the content of what is written. This is especially important considering there seems to be a lack of analysis in the post-Protocol era, as there was throughout the Protocol process. It is one thing if one has something to say, another is to shoot the messenger when articles are not harmonious with a certain political bias. The intent in crafting the article was to enhance the leaning process.
    David Davidian

  16. By the way, Mr. Arthur Martirosyan you do have a very impressive profile.  Where were you all this time?  Now go and try to lead our nation.

    “The current Armenian leadership opted to play the game mostly alone instead of proactively building a sufficient consensus on key issues of the national interests and red lines.  In the next round of this process, going it alone may produce suboptimal results.  Therefore, a window of opportunity exists and should be used to build a sufficient consensus and establish consultative bodies ahead of time.”

    Yes Arthur, That’s why the Diaspora was annoyed and upset with the current Sarkisian government.  They never consulted with knowledgeable political savvy people like yourself and Mr. David Davidian and other knowledgeable parties in Diaspora; rather they had little interest on the national level to pursue and put Armenia’s signature on the dreadful protocols that were doomed from it’s inception.  If they did have hardcore interest for the nation than they should have approached it differently.  That is, by consulting with more knowledgeable people in politics and who had great interest in the nation.

    Your next thought is very well taken also.  That is going forward, the Armenian government should gather around the table good politicians like yourselves and others also from diaspora, if there is none existing in the nation if a subject of such magnitude will have to be dealt with in the future.

  17. Mr. Davidian
    I personally want to thank you for your sober-minded and lucid take on the geopolitical matter in question. During the self-destructive, genocide obsessed hysteria that was gripping the global Armenian community last year, your essay alone helped me not lose whatever little faith I had left in our nation’s collective abilities.

  18. Arthur,
    I would appreciate it if you could provide me with some footnotes and references, because all the evidence I have seen points to the contrary. Armenia has not recognized the border, which is why this clause was included in the protocols.
    Here is a European Parliament report on the border closure in August 2007. It says the following (p. 7-8):
    “While establishing diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan and Georgia in 1992, Turkey called for Armenia’s official recognition of the 1921 Treaty of Kars and thus Yerevan’s acceptance of Turkey’s territorial integrity as a precondition for establishing diplomatic relations. Armenia refused to concede this official recognition, claiming there was no need for a new declaration, in so far as the Treaty had never been revoked by either side.
    The border quagmire also has a bilateral Turkish-Armenian dimension to it. Armenia continues to be ambivalent over its recognition of its common border with Turkey. Turkey continues to demand an official acknowledgment that Armenia has no territorial claims on Turkey. In supporting its demands, Ankara points to Armenia’s 1990 Declaration of Independence, which describes the Eastern part of Turkey, where most Armenians lived until 1915, as ‘Western Armenia’; the Armenian Constitution’s preamble, which makes specific references to the Declaration of Independence; and Article 13.2 of the Constitution, which depicts Mount Ağrı (Mount Ararat) – situated
    in Turkey – in the Armenian coat of arms. Turkey insists that Armenia should officially renounce irredentism and specifically recognize the current Turkish-Armenian border.”
    This is an authoritative and recent source.
    Border recognition is thus a concession since it forfeits Armenia’s legal claims to land under the Treaty of Sevres.
    Thank you.

  19. Avetis,
    I hate to disagree so strongly, but your claims are unfounded. I have interviewed many academics on this matter, including Caucasus experts Vicken Cheterian and Lincoln Mitchell (feel free to google them for their credentials). Please don’t patronize me by telling me to research objectively; I am at a top university and my views on the Caucasus are not shaped by Russophilic conspiracy theories or a resentment towards my fellow “genocide-obsessed” compatriots, as yours are.
    Greater powers have a stake in the open Turkish-Armenian border. But it is not as big as you or Davidian claim. The Russia-Georgia war showed that the oil and gas pipelines which run through Georgia are safe in the event of conflict, and there was no pressing need to make Armenia (a mountainous territory inhospitable to pipelines) a future pipeline route. Most Central Asian oil and gas goes to China anyway. Moreover, the EU wants to remain Russia’s primary market because this is the only way the West has any leverage over Russia regarding matters such as Iran. Davidian’s central claim on “interplay of competing interests” in his last essay was that the West needed to open the border for safer energy routes. This is not an urgent need as explained.
    Your claims regarding Russia’s primacy are delusional. Russia lost from this deal. An open Armenia-Turkey border means Armenia is pulled AWAY from Russia’s orbit, not that Russia can “make Turkey dependent on it.” That is simply ridiculous. Russia’s strategy in controlling the Caucasus has always been to divide and rule–see what they did with Karabakh, Nakhichevan, and Abkhazia. They do want to create small states dependent on it, but sending Armenia into the Turkish/West orbit will produce the opposite effect.
    Other tidbits like “pre-planned Russia-Georgia war” show your ignorance on this matter.
    Take care.

  20. Well presented work by the authors — it is imperative for us to be able to discuss the protocols and their aftermath rationally.  We need not rally around any “one”analysis, but be willing to discuss different theses with actual and factual evidence to learn from the mistakes of the process and build on its successes.
    There are many issues such as why and how the negotiation process started way back, the nature and details of influences from the troika, the lack of (or appearance of) prep work for opening borders by Armenia, the decision to go it alone (vis a vis meaningful input from the Diaspora and other parties in Armenia), the mistakes made in the process,  the choice of the announcement on April 22, and most importantly the apparent lack of true confidence building measures to reintroduce some elements of trust between these two entities before undertaking a process of this magnitude/importance and many many other issues that require more in depth analysis and thought than we are mostly used to deal with in Armenian circles.

  21. Just one more thing Avetis. In your exemplary research, have you bothered to consult Turkish sources? Or have you just read Russian sources since they would cast favourable light onto Moscow?
    Turkey’s geopolitical motivation to open the border with Armenia, besides ending Armenian territorial claims and delaying genocide recognition, was to actually begin a real policy in the Caucasus, which they haven’t done yet since their only Caucasus ‘policy’ until today has been to have no relations with Armenia. Such a policy is not a policy. But if it established diplomatic relations with Armenia, Turkey could begin to project real power and influence into the Caucasus. Tell me, how does this constitute a great victory for Moscow?

  22. Alex,
    Actually, my “exemplary research” did included the Turkish perspective regarding Ankara’s rapprochement with Armenia. Yes, Turks wanted to play a bigger role in the Caucasus throughout the 1990s and well into the 2000s. For a long time Ankara’s main Caucasus policy was to deal with Georgia and Azerbaijan and provide assistance for Chechen rebels. The Islamic insurgency in Chechnya was an international effort to wrestle the Caucasus/Caspian Sea region away from Russian control. Until recently, Ankara did not take Armenia seriously enough to have a serious “policy” towards it. Now that the geopolitical climate in the world has begun to change, Ankara is forced to at least talk to Yerevan. Ever since several geopolitical developments in the region, not the least of which was the Russian-Georgian war in 2008 and the Ukrainian elections in 2009, Turks are beginning to realize that the territory in question is essentially Russian property and if they want to get anything done in the region they need to consult with Russians. Moreover, around 70% of Turkey’s natural gas requirments are provided by Russia.
    Despite Moscow’s lucrative relationship with Ankara, Russian officials see Armenia is their insurance policy in the region and their sledgehammer hanging over Turkish heads, just in case. Russian officials realize the dangers of Turkic and Iranian expansion in the Caucasus much more than we Armenians. The Caucasus came very close to being overrun by Islamic-Turkic-Western interests in the 1990s while Russia was still on its knees. Had the Turko-Western agenda for the Caucasus succeeded at the time, not only would we be lamenting the lose of Western Armenia today, we would also be lamenting the lose of Artsakh and most probably portions of the Armenian Republic as well.
    Like I said, regardless of what goes on between Russia and Turkey, Moscow will do all in its power to keep Armenia firmly within its orbit. That is why we are seeing hundreds of millions of dollars in Russian investments in Armenia and an increasing Russian military presence there. This is a complex geopolitical topic and I can go on literally for hours. I am simply trying to present a single factor here as simple as possible.

  23. Alex,
    May be this is not the best place for debating these issues. I don’t want to challenge your knowledge of the Caucasus or Russian policy. Assuming you are an expert who is writing this,
    “Your claims regarding Russia’s primacy are delusional. Russia lost from this deal.”
    The deal is dead. Russia did not lose anything. If you knew a couple more things, you’d at least ponder over this – why did the Russian intelligence inform President Aliev of the Turkish-Armenian negotiations? When did it happen? What impact this structural change had on the process?
    The more I read what you are writing, the more I am convinced that you want to argue on substantive aspects of the Protocols. A wrong choice of opponents then. I am not here to defend the Protocols. The article is about process, not substance.

  24. “I am not here to defend the Protocols. The article is about process, not substance.” How nice! In “Turkish-Armenian Protocols: Reality and Irrationality” one of the authors, who was virtually the sole supporter of Davidian’s flawed analysis, now joining his BFF as a co-author, expressed divergently different views. They were aimed at actually defending the Protocols and their substance. What happened? What miraculous metamorphosis has he undergone now that the authors appear to admit as a preliminary conclusion that the Protocols were dead born at their conception? I wonder if it’s a demonstration of dilatory maturity or sheer political weathercockery?

  25. As a proponent of an optimally balanced stance in Armenia’s foreign affairs, I normally disagree with Avetis’ excessive Russophilia. I’m also appalled by his derogating Armenians as “self-destructing peasantry.” But I have to agree with him on his last post. At this historical juncture, Armenia’s partnership, although the term that’d better describe Armenia’s relations with Russia would be “client-patron relationship,” with Russia is vital. I don’t think that if West succeeds in pulling Armenia out of the Russian sphere of influence it’d be beneficial for Armenia and for advancing the genocide recognition agenda. Not that I’m pleased with Armenia’s staying in the Russian orbit, but I think, given the geographic proximity and cultural affinity with the Russians, Moscow represents the lesser evil. None of these power centers will be interested in advancing Armenia’s national interest. Even if hypothetically Armenia will have to sway to the Western orbit, none of Western power centers—either the U.S or Europe—will safeguard Armenia from Turkish or Azeri military, economic, demographic, or ideological provocations of explicit projection of force. I tend to believe that Armenia’s open borders with Turkey served mainly Western military and economic interests in the broader region, and if it means pressuring corrupted Armenian government to sign idiotic protocols with provisions that tacitly imply recognition of borders, past treaties, and historical commissions re-discovering the fact of Turkish genocide of Armenians, Westerns would push for it without batting an eyelid. Russians would do the same if something would suit their national interest, but so far Armenians were able to round off rough corners with them.

  26. I agree with mjm. I followed the discussion in “Davidian: Turkish-Armenian Protocols: Reality and Irrationality.” Apart from a few supporting comments, the co-authors were the only ones defending the substance of the protocols. There they insisted that the three notorious provisions—historical subcommission, recognition of borders, reconfirmation of signed treaties—did not imply preconditions on the part of the Turks. Yet, here we come to discover that authors believe that “Turks reiterated the preconditions as a requirement for their [protocols’] ratification.” It seems that almost everyone except authors understand that “reiterated” referred to the protocols and not to some Turkish position in the distant year of 1994. Protocols in their form and substance were rejected by the majority of Armenians in the republic and the diasporas worldwide. What’s the need to knock on a dead man’s coffin now? Is it an attempt to taste waters before the possible next protocol-like “reconciliation” ploy? “The Protocols are dead! Long Live the Protocols!”? Noted also are passages depicting various developments as “tactical victories” of the Armenian side. As if they tacitly imply that it was “worth” initiating and engaging in the nerve-wracking, potentially hazardous process that had ultimately come to a preliminary deadend. The co-authors contend they produced the piece for “learning purposes.” Well, the world has already learnt how to produce standard memorandums of understandings. They typically contain no contentious provisions other than the intent of the parties to establish good-neighborly relations and open the common border. Either such a terse-and-clear document or nothing. End of story…

  27. Dear mjm:
    I will make the reiteration: this article is not about the substance of the Protocol, but rather the process. International negotiation is not the same as bargaining at a bazaar or buying a used car, but more like a game of chess. That game is not won by ideologues, zero-sum stubbornness, demogogic audacity, or not understanding the rules. An evaluation of the Protocol process is a way to understand the structure of those negotiations, the possible positions, options, and interests of players, as well as those of regional and big powers.
    It is entirely possible to analyze an event that one wishes never happened. This article discusses the process associated with the Protocol based on available information. Neither authors have any more information than the average person. We looked back through time and provided a cursory explanation of the game. Last September it was not clear that Turkey was running out of options — it was very clear by year’s end. Conditions change over time – the process is a continuum.
    It is entirely possible that better explanations of the Protocol process are waiting to be published — an effort that should be encouraged. However, to imply that a Protocol process should be beyond analysis because of disagreement with its substance is as closed minded as forcing an analysis of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne off the table because Armenian interests were ignored in its conclusion.
    In fact this is what appears to the the case with many commentators on this page who do not want any mention made of the Protocols unless it is in stark condemnation.
    David Davidian

  28. Armen,
    You are confusing Turkish preconditions on Armenia that existed since 1994, and subsequently lifted so the Protocols could proceed, with what many read between the lines of the Protocol text. These 1994 conditions were lifted because the Armenian side would not have engaged the Turks without the lifting of those conditions. If I recall accurately, immediately after the signing in Berne, the Turks attempted to link the Protocol to progress, a la Turka, on Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations, which left only a few nails left to hammer into Protocol ratification..
    You claim, “It seems that almost everyone except authors understand that “reiterated” referred to the protocols and not to some Turkish position in the distant year of 1994.“ Please explain, considering we stated these Turkish preconditions existed since 1994 and specifically listed them.
    You claim,” Noted also are passages depicting various developments as “tactical victories” of the Armenian side. As if they tacitly imply that it was “worth” initiating and engaging in the nerve-wracking, potentially hazardous process that had ultimately come to a preliminary deadend.” There was no tacit judgment given or implied. It is now a year after the signing if the Protocol. The past was simply evaluated. I have no idea what if any negotiation is being planned between Turkey and Armenia.
    You claim, “The co-authors contend they produced the piece for “learning purposes.” Well, the world has already learnt how to produce standard memorandums of understandings.” Your claim is non-seqitur. In any case, there are no standard memorandums of understanding in such relations. After you think you have found examples of such by a simple google search of international memorandums of understanding, you had better do some deep research on all previous negotiations between the parties that resulted in such simple MOUs.
    You claim, “They typically contain no contentious provisions other than the intent of the parties to establish good-neighborly relations and open the common border. Either such a terse-and-clear document or nothing.” Well, diplomacy is the art of the possible, something quite different from haggling with a used car dealer.
    David Davidian

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