Thursday, April 22, 2010

Armenia / Turkey / Azerbaijan / Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenia Halts Ratification of Turkey Peace Deal
By Hasmik Mkrtchyan and Matt Robinson
Reuters dispatch, April 22, 2010
"Armenia on Thursday suspended ratification of peace accords with Turkey, setting back to square one U.S.-backed efforts to bury a century of hostility between the neighbors. Christian Armenia and Muslim Turkey signed accords in October last year to establish diplomatic relations and open their land border, trying to overcome the legacy of the World War One mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks. But the process was already deadlocked before Thursday's decision, with each side accusing the other of trying to re-write the texts and setting new conditions. Neither parliament has approved the deal, which would bring huge economic gains for poor, landlocked Armenia, burnish Turkey's credentials as an EU candidate and boost its clout in the strategic South Caucasus. Analysts said the Armenian decision, two days before the 95th anniversary of the killings, was not the end of the road, but an attempt to increase pressure on Turkey. Armenia was angered by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan saying that ratification would depend on Armenia reaching terms with Azerbaijan, Turkey's close ally and energy trading partner, over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. 'We have decided ... not to exit the process for the time being, but rather, to suspend the procedure of ratifying the protocols. We believe this to be in the best interests of our nation,' Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan said.
He said in an address to the nation that Armenia would keep its signature to the accords 'because we desire peace.' '... We shall consider moving forward when we are convinced that there is a proper environment in Turkey and there is a leadership in Ankara ready to re-engage in the normalization process.' Erdogan said in Ankara Turkey remained committed to the process. 'We have frequently expressed our commitment to the protocols in word and in spirit and our goal to fulfill them.' But he gave no sign that he would withdraw the condition that Armenia and Azerbaijan reach a deal on Nagorno-Karabakh, something that has evaded mediators for more than 15 years. 'We have expressed clearly, to all parties concerned, our intention to achieve comprehensive peace in the region.' [...]"

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