Turkey-Armenia protocols have ended in compete fiasco

Interview with member of Turkey’s Grand National Assembly (Parliament), Deputy Chair of Republican People’s Party parliamentary faction Hakki Suha Okay.
Much has happened with regard to the Armenian-Turkish protocols lately. The Armenian Constitutional Court decision sparked a strong anger by Turkey. What is the source of great concern to Turkey in this matter?

The People’s Republican Party’s position on the protocols is clear. Our Party has stated that Armenia must first answer some questions of the Turkish people, to abandon its ambitions, and only then we can sit down to the negotiating table with them. The Turkish Government should have considered views of the Turkish public and the people in these matters. The Government should have reckoned with peoples’ interests and determine what is right and what is not. We should have understood our responsibility to Azerbaijan over the Karabakh problem, and also understand reasons that led to closure of the borders in 1993.

But Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party ignored public opinion and took a wrong path. The Zurich Protocols signed in October 2009 were targeted against interests of the Turkish people. People’s pressure and the opposition prevented the authorities to take another step under to the protocols. When the Armenian Constitutional Court decision became known, our government realized in what disadvantageous situation it has wound up. They should not have got involved in this case and not spoil relations with Azerbaijan. Once we say we are «one nation, two states», our actions must conform to these words.

Regarding your question, Prime Minister Erdogan once noted in his speech that «we have signed these protocols without any changes and comments. Once these protocols appear in the parliament, they will leave it unchanged.” But at the same time, he added that if there is no progress in resolving the Karabakh conflict, the Turkish parliament will not ratify the protocols. In fact, the decision of the Armenian Constitutional Court is in favor of our government. It must now seize this chance. It must be grateful to Armenia for this. The Turkish government needs not to worry now. The protocols are likely to become history.

The Armenian side claims that it may ratify the protocols after the Constitutional Court decision. Can the Turkish parliament discuss the ratification of the protocols before April 24 under outside pressure?

Armenia made the changes it desired to the protocols with the help of the Constitutional Court. They indicate what steps should be taken first. This means that Turkey should also adopt changes. In other words, the parties should adopt the protocols with the new changes and then submit them for ratification. Today this is impossible. From this perspective we can say that the «Zurich protocols have sunk into oblivion.” The recent events have shown that the protocols have ended in complete fiasco. One still wonders what version of the protocols Armenia will ratify before April 24. As for Turkey, I think that it will ratify the protocols neither before nor after April 24.

Armenian FM Edward Nalbandian has stated that Turkey’s position not to ratify the protocols until the Karabakh conflict is resolved delays the process. Does Armenia want to throw the blame on Turkey this way?

Statements by Nalbandian, Sargsyan and others are unimportant to us. Turkey’s interests are more important. These protocols contradict Turkey’s interests. How can Turkey establish relations with a country that has invaded territory of its neighbor, indicates territory of the neighboring country as its own in its Constitution and which has not renounced its «genocide» claims and has not put an end to Karabakh’s occupation which has left about one million people homeless?! The protocols’ process is not inhibited by Turkey, but the Armenian Constitutional Court. Let Nalbandian not blame Turkey in vain.

The Armenian parliamentarians will put a bill which will enable the country to withdraw its signature from international treaties into the parliament’s agenda. If this bill is adopted, Armenia will be able to withdraw its signature from the Zurich protocols …

We are confident that Armenia may withdraw its signature from any international documents and treaties at any time even without this law. I do not think that Armenia is going to adopt this law in connection with the Zurich protocols. They are mostly concerned over Gumri and Kars Treaty signed in 1920-1921. Armenia tirelessly argues that these treaties have lost their force.

But, as far as I know, Armenia has also acceded to the Convention on Contracts of 1963. It clearly says that the bilateral agreement can not be broken unilaterally. I do not know to what Armenia will attribute adoption of such a law. Somehow the world is silent about this while Armenia continues to flout international norms with impunity.

Armenia has never in its history stood behind its signature and has never performed its contractual obligations till the end. When we were saying that «after some time Armenia will find a way out of the situation with the protocols” we have had in mind what we are witnessing now. Armenia lost the confidence of all except Russia. We warned our Government in this regard. We said: «It is necessary to specify everything down to the smallest detail with Armenia. If any gap is left, they will fill it in their own way.” But the government did not want to listen us. It is now clear who was right and who was wrong.