NEW IMPETUS NEEDED TO MOVE TURKISH-ARMENIAN INITIATIVE FORWARD

Hurriyet Daily News
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=a-ne w-impetus-is-needed-to-move-the-turkish-armenian-i nitiative-forward-2010-04-28
April 28 2010
Turkey

One cannot solve any problem by putting up a wall to the world. No
regional conflict can be settled by the parties situated in the
concerned region. We need try to figure out the progress of the
Turkish-Armenian and Azerbaijani-Armenian relations through a larger
perspective, to evaluate them at the international level and understand
their reasons and results.

That Armenia decided to suspend the protocols affirmed the current
circumstance. This decision proved that the decision of Armenia was
related to domestic policy and the government was not ready to take
a step on the Karabakh matter. President Serge Sarkisian has had
his back to the wall against the pressure of the opposition and the
diaspora, which began the genocide allegations within the content of
the protocols and felt uneasy about approving the Turkish borders.

While doing so, he tried to lay the blame on Turkey, stating that an
acceptable waiting period had ended as the Turkish government delayed
forwarding the protocols to Parliament.

In the same days Sarkisian went to Moscow. The Kremlin said, "Russia
will continue to give the necessary support to Yerevan and Baku so
that they can come to a mutually acceptable agreement," according
to news reports. When the aforementioned meeting was carried out,
there was more progress as Russia and Ukraine reached a compromise on
two critical issues, military and energy, following a dispute between
Moscow and Kiev in winter 2009. Russian leader Dimitry Medvedev and
his counterpart, Viktor Yanukovych, agreed on reducing the natural gas
price supplied to Kiev by Russia. In addition, Yanukovych allowed the
Russian base in Sevastopol to carry on its activities for 25 years. It
means the parties are able to reach an agreement all of a sudden even
after an energy dispute, which set Europe on fire. An agreement can be
reached or it could be reached through demand. We cannot think that
Sarkisian made a statement which already ended the expectations of
a pull-out from districts in Azerbaijan without the approval of Russia.

One must consider how the initiative will shape in the Azerbaijan side
within this framework, though the Karabakh issue is not included in
the protocols. On the Turkish front, it was stated that the government
would not move until the elections, implying the condition is not
suitable for voting in Parliament. Therefore, it was decided to wait
due to mutual reservations. Mr. Crowley, the U.S. State Department
spokesman, said, "If you think it is not the right time that does
not matter. We can take steps backward and overview how we will go
forward." These words manifest the logic of suspension until the
parties are ready.

Turkish-Armenian relations have never been easy. The relations
during and after the protocols became difficult, too. The agenda in
Turkey and the composition of the Turkish Parliament requires things
to wait for now. Both parties are aware that the protocols do not
reflect their demands. In these cases no party satisfies everything
fully. The important point is to reach an agreement to compromise on
both parties' interests.

In addition, that the protocols are in the eye of the world public
often prevents them from easily remaining inactive. The Karabakh and
genocide matter have been left as ambiguous and disputed issues to
be negotiated by the parties in the future.

On the Caucasus matter, one must state that a result can be obtained
by the decision of the U.S. and balanced decision of the Russia, the
main decision-maker in the region. This fact is known by Turkey and
Azerbaijan. Not only on this issue, but on other international issues,
America and Russia, particularly on security, energy and military ones,
cooperate or share dominant fields, negotiating them.

Turkey's rising in the region and her change by an impetus beyond the
still Cold War stance and toward ensuring peace, welfare and stability
needed the support of the EU and the U.S. This change is not supported
by the EU but supported by the U.S. Russia gave controlled support in
the regions she influences. Turkey, within these plans, may have to
act in accordance with the timing of these decision-makers. Therefore,
it has been required to follow how the process will go on, what Russia
and America will decide in Georgia and wait for the parties to reach
an agreement on Ossetia and Abkhazia. Azerbaijan, in one sense, asked
the West to solve the Karabakh matter through Turkey if it wants the
isolation of Armenia to be ended and integrated with the West.

All of the Caucasian problems have not been solved and some, as it is
in the normalization process with Armenia, are hobbled and strung out.

On the other hand, it is estimated that the Russian investments
in Armenia may gain value in case the Armenian border with Turkey,
even if not in short term, opens. This case requires that diplomatic
relations between Turkey and Armenia set up and build a mechanism to
operate the open border and international trade.

In these circumstances:

There may always be some hardliners such as the Turks saying they do
not want Turkish-Armenian relations to normalize;

Armenians saying first Turks must accept the genocide allegations
and then the relations might normalize; we have a historical fight
so peace will not be made;

Azerbaijanis saying Turkey must sacrifice her interest for the sake
of them.

But it is likely to be claimed that this attitude will not stop the
progressing initiative, though it may take long time. The countries,
which have an interest in solving the problem, shall bring about
the solution though it may take long time. There may be parties that
are happy with the deadlock, but it is likely that Russia may find
a solution for a problem that has not been solved for two decades
when re-planning the Caucasus. One must remember that Russia will
let Armenia ruin the relations with Turkey and keep the rein as the
Turkish-Russian cooperation reaches a strategic partnership level.

When suffering from the April 24 pangs nowadays, one must recognize
that the attempts to approve the genocide allegations by the U.S. or
other countries' senates are logically not true.

"History" is not a store to take certain things out of the "history
bag" by anyone who wishes to do so and accuse others.

* Göknur Akcadag is an assistant professor at Yıldız Technical
University's Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and a
columnist for turkishny.com and turkofamerica.com/Turkish-American
business magazine in the U.S.