The End of the Turkey-Armenia Protocols: Must We Wait until Next Spring?


Last week, Armenia’s president, Serge Sarkisian, made an important pronouncement. Standing before the United Nations General Assembly, he announced the end of the Turkey-Armenia Protocols.

Sarkisian said the so-called Zurich Protocols, which were signed in 2009 to allow the opening of borders and set up formal diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia, “continuously lacked” any positive progress toward implementation.

A scene from the signing of the Turkey-Armenia Protocols in 2009

“We will enter the spring of 2018 without those—as our experience has demonstrated, futile— Protocols,” the President announced during his address.

Unfortunately, with his references to next spring, the President’s timeline remains vague. After eight wasted years, must we really wait six more months for the end of this folly?

Indeed, from the outset, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) viewed the Protocols as dangerous and ill-advised. Had they been implemented, Artsakh’s right to self-determination would have been subordinated, the veracity of the Armenian Genocide questioned, and Armenia’s current, arbitrary border with Turkey codified—all in the name of supposed good relations with an unrepentant Turkey.

Turkey’s insincerity was evident throughout the process, made apparent by its insatiable demands for even more concessions.

These failed Protocols should serve as a lesson for the United States and others that pressured Armenia down this flawed path.

Normalization of Armenia’s relations with Turkey is an important objective that should be pursued, but it cannot be done at the expense of our nation’s core interests. Moreover, it cannot be done at the expense of the basic tenet of equal partnership.

From their onset, the Protocols set out to hold hostage the present and future Armenia and the Armenian people, and could never serve as a foundation for respectful and friendly relations between Turkey and Armenia.

While long overdue, President Sarkisian’s step is welcome nonetheless. We must be confident that Armenia can now move forward, unencumbered by the specter of the Protocols.

Spring 2018 is nearly half a year away. It’s time to expedite the process and declare the failed Protocols “null and void” immediately.


Rupen Janbazian

Rupen Janbazian is the former editor of The Armenian Weekly. His writings primarily focus on politics, human rights, community, literature, and Armenian culture. He has reported from Armenia, Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh), Turkey, Canada, the United States, and Western Armenia. He has served on the local and national executives of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) of Canada and Hamazkayin Toronto, and served as the administrator of the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Toronto. Janbazian also taught Armenian History and Creative Writing at the ARS Armenian Private School of Toronto, and has worked on several translations.

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  1. This ıs an extremely negatıve and sad article. Sabre rattling and for what? The reality is that we suffer because of closed borders and could benefıt hugely by simply opening them. It is not Turkey holding back but Armenıa failing to look forward and make conciliatory steps. The benfıts of open borders are huge and the people of Armenia should not be fooled by ARF rants. The world has changed and needs Christian countrıes to be bold and take the fırst step to reconciliation.

    • Turkey oppresses Kurds from gaining their independence and doesn’t accept the genocide of the Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians. On the other hand, its cousin Azerbaijan wipes out all historical traces of an ancient Armenian presence from our occupied lands, similarly Turkey desecrates Armenian cemeteries in order to build toilet facilities on top… And you want Armenia to take the first step to reconcile and concede? you sir don’t make sense.

    • There’s that word again “reconciliation”. That’s exactly what the denialist Turks are waiting for ….. over
      time the Armenians will seek “reconciliation”. No recognition of the crime! No reparations for the evil genocide! Just move on!
      Sorry not happening. Reconciliation will happen when the healing is enabled with recognition and reparation. The protocols were a reflection of a deal where Armenia gave everything. The duplicitous Turks had no intention of honoring the agreement. They proved their intentions by attempting to use the protocols to squeeze Armenia on Artsakh. Typical disingenuous behavior. Look at their record on the international scene since then …. oppressing Kurds, discriminating against Armenians, attacking the US allies in Syria, invading northern Iraq……and now threatening the Kurds in Iraq for displaying a desire for self-determination.
      Please don’t lecture Armenia on this.

  2. Pointless to have this go on when there is nothing of any consequent. turkey has no interest and has ulterior motives. Agree with you Rupen.

  3. I agree with you 100% that the protocols should be repealed immediately; it was more appropriate to repeal them in 2009. Once Serge went along with those protocols and cheered in Turkey when Turkey scored a goal against Armenia in soccer, I became convinced he was not the man to run our country. His stance against Sepilian, a Diasporan hero not in it for his own skin (like virtually all the leaders of our homeland), emboldened my disapproval of him. Finally the corruption during the last election was truly unbecoming of a Democracy.

    I’d give credit to ARF for condemning the protocols. However, ARF had enabled Serge with his excesses, which include an officially reported income of $230M last year, the most of any national figure. Sepilian is a true “Revolutionary” and Sasna Tsrer’s are the true “ARF.” Sadly, the leaders of ARF have chosen to support Serge and live like fat cats at the expense of the masses.

  4. It was null & void from day one. President Sarkissian knew that from day one also. We can never have any agreement with our hostile neighbors as long as they continue to deny & destroy our race & keep us hostage or have any relationship with ENEMIES OF OUR PEOPLE & OUR LAND.

  5. There is no need to wait a second these treacherous protocols were only signed to please US/Hillary at the time not in the national interests of Armenia.

  6. I know this has nothing to do about the article itself, but it’s just great to see Armenians commenting and having a decent discussion. I see many interesting articles but seldom see people commenting.

  7. @ ‘Prof. Stephen J Avalyan Newton’
    Your post is nothing more than an anti-Armenian diatribe.

    It’s laughable that you blame Armenia, while Turkey is the one having closed the border. Doesn’t fit your agenda to lecture Turkey, perhaps? If there was one iota of sincerity to your post, that was even lost with “ARF rants”.

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