Turkey and Armenia have worked out a framework to normalize relations, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday. The U.S. welcomed the news, which came weeks after President Barack Obama encouraged talks between the hostile neighboring countries.
Armenia has long wanted Turkey to acknowledge that the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks between 1915-1917 constituted genocide.
The Foreign Ministry ’s announcement comes just before Armenia marks Martyrs’ Day, a day to commemorate the killings, on Friday.
Earlier this month while in Turkey, Obama avoided using the term “genocide” to describe the killings, drawing anger from some Armenians.
Blogger “artmika” is skeptical about the sincerity of the announced “road map:”
I genuinely do want to see the normalilsation of relations between Armenia and Turkey but all these empty statements which contain only abstract words, without any details provided, seem to be too staged to trust. It’s like the ‘normalisation’ was specifically ‘achieved’ 1 day before the expected Obama statement re Armenian Genocide. I think this is made to ‘justify’ Obama’s not using the G-word. I do not feel that the real agreement is there yet. Let them prove me wrong.
The “Life in the Armenian Diaspora” blog is also wary, writing that the announcement will merely serve to allow Obama to again avoid addressing the genocide question:
So an announcement like this can only mean one thing. It’s April 22nd, and Turkey is worried Obama will say GENOCIDE in his April 24th statement. After making all those announcements before Obama’s Turkey visit about how close they were to normalizing relations, Turkey has said three times in the last few days that it will absolutely not normalize without the Karabakh precondition. So now everything is all settled? Just yesterday Turkey pulled their Ambassador to Canada because Canadian officials attended a genocide related event. I will say this, I just can’t wait to see this roadmap.
Will Obama keep his promise, or will the Turkish games win the day? I want to believe that good will prevail, that this time, the campaign promises could be believed, but… the doubt is strong in me.
Doug Merrill of “A Fistful of Euros” takes a more optimistic tone, noting that Armenia will benefit from normalized relations:
[...]Quick two cents' worth: Normalization is clearly a big win for Armenia. Open borders to the west would substantially improve its links with the world, while also making it less dependent on Russia as its main great-power ally. Also a win at the margins for Georgia, as a larger regional role for Turkey means a relatively lesser role for Russia. Normal Turkish-Armenian relations also means clearer paths for European institutions, if only because it means one obstacle less. For Turkey, this will help to lessen an irritant in its relations with the rest of Europe. If the current Turkish position on the massacres (whatever that turns out to be when relations are resumed) is good enough for Armenia, Turkish emissaries will surely contend, it ought to be good enough for France and the rest of the EU.
The “Yandunts” blog disagrees, saying that Armenia is losing out, though the “road map” with Turkey could impact Armenia’s internal politics:
Coming on eve of April 24 it is essentially a fig leaf for President Obama to be able to obviate his repeated pre-election pledges to recognize the genocide with some pretense of Armenian rationale.
So if Turkey neutralizes the annoying resolutions and Obama gets his fig leaf, what does Armenia get?
Nothing good as far as one can see right now. May be an invitation for Serge Sargsian to visit Washington? Maybe. But this is an awfully high price to pay considering this contributes to eroding Sargsian’s legitimacy at home. And besides, without clearly outlined foreign policy priorities a visit to U.S. is likely to be just protocol and tourism.
[...]One possible positive outcome of this development could be a political realignment in Armenia and creation of a credible patriotic opposition ahead of the elections for Yerevan city council. That remains to be seen.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Bob* under a Creative Commons license.