Armenia-Turkey issue close to actualization today - historian

12:13 * 29.08.14

In an interview with, the director of the National Academy's
Institute of History, Ashot Melkonyan, addressed the current stage and
the future prospects of the Armenia-Turkey relations, noting that the
process seems to be at the threshold of actualization today. The
historian said he thinks that the current state of affairs will cause
Turkey to bring to the agenda the frozen bilateral protocols signed in
Zurich, Switzerland in 2009 (Turkey later abandoned the deal in an
attempt to avoid offending Azerbaijan, its "younger brother"). In the
meantime, he warned against any attempt to unconditionally normalize
the relations with Turkey, noting that the clauses enshrined in the
documents are advantageous only to the Turkish side.

Mr Melkonyan, are the Armenia-Turkey relations on the threshold of
actualization today given the attitudes of Turkey's new government? In
particular, [Foreign Minister] Ahmet Davutuglu introduced a
nine-clause manifesto as a candidate for the prime minister, saying
that the Turkish foreign policy agenda consists of the Armenian and
Cyprus issues which they will never abandon.

If you remember, Davutoglu, when he was a foreign minister, declared
the slogan Zero Problems with Neighbors. He thus sought to demonstrate
that Turkey is a peacemaker in the region, which seeks to smooth over
all the historical problems with the neighbors, including the Arab
world, the Armenians, the Greeks and the Russians. Life showed that
such a policy experienced a failure: Turkey did not manage to
successfully make the policy of establishing relations with the Arabs
serve its purpose, and the Arab world very soon got disappointed with
it. The Syrian example demonstrates that Turkey is not able to be a
leading Islamic state; what's even more, it will continue the
traditional policies of remaining an enemy of the Arab world. Having
that situation in mind, he [Davutoglu] is now trying to justify the
failed policies. With the intention to become a prime minister, he is,
so to say, planning to pursue those policies of zero problems with the
neighbors. But the zero problems leave two difficulties nonetheless.
And they are so big and flagrant that there are no chances to reduce
them to zero in the foreseeable future, with Northern Cyprus remaining
under occupation and the Armenian Cause - which the Armenian statehood
re-affirmed from the initial years of its foundation - all the time
troubling Turkey. So they brought ashore those ill-fated Zurich
protocols which, in my deepest conviction, are advantageous only to
Turkey. The positive aspect for the Armenian side would be probably
the opening of borders at the cost of big sacrifices; yet it is
questionable how long the opening would last and what economic risks
it posed, especially for Armenia (given that the different levels of
economic development).

What specific proposals do you think will be made to the Armenian side now?

I now think that the frozen Zurich protocols may be brought to the
agenda again. It is not absolutely advantageous to us. The issue was
frozen or excluded from the agenda only because of Azerbaijan's tough
stance. Azerbaijan had adopted the posture of an offended side, saying
that any relations with Armenia are unacceptable to it. Whereas the
Zurich protocols are favorable to Turkey, as the first clause
envisages a legal recognition of the Armenian-Turkish border by
Armenia, i.e. - Akhuryan-Araks would be recognized as the
Armenian-Turkish border, forcing Armenia to cede Western Armenia once
and for all. That would imply a re-ratification of the 1921 Treaty of