ARMENIAN AND TURKISH GOVERNMENTS TO HOLD INTENSE TALKS FOR RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF DIPLOMATIC TIES

World Markets Research Centre
Global Insight
September 1, 2009

Yesterday, the Foreign Affairs Ministries of Armenia and Turkey issued
an encouraging joint statement for supporters of the reconciliation
process. Officials from the two countries are set to start negotiations
soon; the six-week talks will be chaired by Swiss officials, and should
result in the signing of protocols on the establishment of diplomatic
ties and better relations. The statements did not mention when the
highly contentious issue of the killing of Armenians by members of
the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1918 would start, or how it would
be tackled. The talks will end at around the time of a world cup
qualification match between Turkey and Armenia in Istanbul, to which
the Turkish government has invited Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian.

Significance:The beginning of negotiations is the green shot in
Turko-Armenian bilateral ties. The two sides have made cautious steps
towards a normalisation of ties since 2008 (seeTurkey - Armenia: 23
April 2009:). Their efforts are boosted by the common need to increase
economic growth rates, and considerable pressure by the senior figures
from the European Union (EU) and the United States. Yet the willingness
for a change in relations does not reach far enough for now; although
the cabinets may be willing to give it a try under the auspices of
the Swiss government, the Armenian and Turkish parliaments and radical
forces in the two countries may reject a thaw in ties. The protocols
would need to be backed by the countries' parliaments to enter into
force. Turkish authorities may worry about restitution requests by
Armenian citizens, while Armenian authorities may regard the thaw as a
Trojan horse through which the Turkish government--together with the EU
and the United States--may try to force a detrimental peace deal with
neighbouring Azerbaijan. Turkey was previously a staunch supporter
of Azerbaijan in its dispute with the Armenian government; the Azeri
government now worries that this may change and prove negative for
its efforts with regards to the Armenia-supported breakaway republic
of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan (seeTurkey - Armenia - Azerbaijan:
14 May 2009:).