TURKEY SHOULD CLEARLY SEPARATE ITS OWN INTERESTS FROM AZERBAIJAN'S INTERESTS AND IMMEDIATELY ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH ARMENIA - TURKISH PARTICIPANTS OF INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR SAY

NOYAN TAPAN - ARMENIANS TODAY
MAY 14, 2010
SALZBURG

SALZBURG, MAY 14, NOYAN TAPAN - ARMENIANS TODAY. During the Salzburg
Global Seminar in the Austrian city of Salzburg, issues related to
the present and the future of Armenia-Turkey protocols, the opening of
Armenian-Turkish border and the establishment of bilateral relations,
the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey were discussed at
the suggestion of President of the Forum of Armenian Associations of
Europe (FAAE) Ashot Grigorian. Ashot Grigorian informed Noyan Tapan
that one of the peculiarities of the seminar that it was allowed to
publish the concrete answers of the speakers without giving their
names. It can only be mentioned that representatives of Turkey's top
leadership responded to the questions of A. Grigorian. Below are Mr.
Grigorian's questions and the answers of the Turkish side.

A Grigorian: During last year's meetings, the Armenian Diaspora warned
President Serzh Sargsyan that Turkey's conduct was not sincere and it
would not carry out the agreements stipulated in the Armenian-Turkish
protocols. Diaspora's demand was the following: it was Turkey that
closed the border, so it was obliged to open it without preconditions.

Sargsyan assured them that he believed Turkish President Gul, with whom
an agreement was reached to open the border without preconditions. It
turned out that we - the Diaspora figures were correct: Turkey raised
the Nagorno Karabakh problem as a precondition, thus worsening its
relations with Armenia and straining the situation in the South
Caucasus - contrary to its statement about "zero problems with
neighbors". What awaits the protocols in the future? Is Turkey ready
to approve them?

Answer: Turkey is sincerely interested in normalizing relations
with Armenia, but it is necessary to take into account the moods of
the parliamentary opposition. For that reason there is an emergency
situation with Armenia. Any progress in the protocols is impossible
until Armenia solves the issue of Azerbaijan's territories it has
occupied.

The negotiating process has passed from the "football diplomacy" to the
"status of silence", in other words, the negotiations will be conducted
without society's being informed about them, but the condition is the
proposal that Prime Minister Erdogan made in Washington: to return
immediately at least two regions (Fizuli and Agdam). We apply to the
Armenian Diaspora with the proposal to support President Sargsyan
and agree with Erdogan's proposal.

A. Grigorian: Does Turkey have the right to speak about its accession
to the European Union when it has closed its border with a European
neighbor? Do you believe that you will be allowed to become an EU
member without opening the border?

Answer: Turkey understands that it must honor its obligations
proceeding from international law, but the solution is being hindered
for the above mentioned reason.

Then the working group discussed problems of finding solutions to the
issues of the protocols and the South Caucasus. Speeches were made
by A. Grigorian and representatives of Azerbaijan. The senior advisor
to the Turkish prime minister, deputy of Grand National Assembly Suat
Kiniklioglu and others participated in the discussions.

A. Grigorian: What would you say about the inadmissibility of 2
conditions included in the protocols: first, Turkey's desire to
call the problem of the Genocide into question and to discuss it,
and second, the inadmissibility of the Treaty of Kars by Armenian
Diaspora? After the 1915 genocide and deportations, Turkey occupied
the territory of Western Armenia in 1920. Under the Treaty of Sevres,
Turkey was to return a territory of approximately 160 thousand square
kilometers to Armenia. Instead, Turkey signed the Treaty of Kars
with Soviet Russia, under which it occupied another two provinces
in the area of Mount Ararat. Armenia did not sign the Treaty of
Kars and has the right not to accept it. This issue necessitates
diplomatic discussions, and it is possible to solve this problem
when Turkey establishes diplomatic relations with Armenia. Don't you
believe that it is in your interests to rapidly establish diplomatic
relations with Armenia if you think about ensuring a stable peace in
the South Caucasus?

Many countries have unsolved problems, territorial claims to each
other, even in Europe, but in the 21st century no civilized state shuts
its neighbor's border. Why doesn't Turkey start diplomatic relations
with Armenia, just as normal democratic countries of Europe do, and why
doesn't it solve its problems in accordance with the accepted norms?

Answer: After the Treaty of Kars, Armenia and Turkey have never
signed a document to call the Treaty of Kars into question, while
the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia proceeds from
the interests of both sides, and Turkey is interested in separating
its own inetersts and Azerbaijan's interests in this issue and in
finding a solution. It will take some time. On the whole, 6-8 month
work in the regime of "silence status" is envisaged for returning
to the protocols. Turkey is in the mood to solve these issues by the
end of this year.

A. Grigorian: Turkey has occupied Northern Cyprus and calls Armenia
an occupant, while Armenia liberated Karabakh, when defending itself
against Azerbaijani aggression. After all, following the collapse
of the Soviet Union, all the Soviet peoples, including Karabakh and
Armenia, seceded from that country. In response to the referendum
held in Karabakh, Azerbaijan attacked Karabakh and a war broke out,
during which Azerbaijan was defeated and lost its territories. First,
by what authority does Turkey, being an occupant itself, call the
Armenian people's self-defensive war an aggression? Secondly, it
was Azerbaijan that started the war and lost it, losing territories
as a result of that. Where is your objectivity, when you, being an
aggressor state, call Armenia an aggressor, whereas Armenia is a
peace-loving state committed to international norms and requirements?

Answer: The Turkish side declared that Turkey did not occupy
a territory of Cyprus, but it intervened because the change of
leadership in Greece had resulted in a very dangerous situation,
so in accordance with international norms, Turkey had the right to
intervene in order to protect its compatriots.

A. Grigorain: Under the same international law and in accordance
with international norms, in response to Artsakh referendum, Armenia
defended and continues to defend the interests of Artsakh, therefore
we declare that Turkey has no right to call what happened an aggression
and to call those territories occupied.

The final session of the forum took place on May 12, during which
a high opinion was expressed in connection with the fact that the
Armenian side was well informed about the subjects discussed, and a
proposal was made to the Turkish side to discuss these issues with the
country's leaders and to make a decision about establishing diplomatic
relations with Armenia and ratifying the unfinished protocols. In
response to that, the Turkish side declared that in all likelihood,
the first results can be expected during two-month work in the regime
of "silence status".