Armenia Says Turkey Must Vote First on Protocols


LONDON, Feb 10 (Reuters) — Accords aimed at burying a century of hostility between Turkey and Armenia must be voted on by the Turkish parliament before Armenia’s parliament will approve them, Armenia’s president said on Wednesday.

Serge Sargisian also warned that Armenia could break off the effort to normalize relations if Turkey dragged its feet.

Armenia and Turkey agreed last year to establish diplomatic ties and open their common border within two months of parliamentary approval.
The accords were signed with the endorsement of the United States, European Union and Russia, but the Armenian and Turkish governments have since accused each other of trying to re-write the texts, throwing the process into question.

Sargisian said he would tell his staff on Wednesday to submit the accords to the Armenian parliament, but that Turkey’s parliament would have to be first to ratify them.

“The parliament of Armenia will vote on the protocols if the Turkish parliament goes ahead with that,” he said, answering questions at the Chatham House thinktank in London.

“Otherwise we can find ourselves in a situation where the Armenian parliament ratifies and the Turkish parliament fails to,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

Sargisian said he could guarantee a positive vote in the Armenian parliament “if the Turkish side does it in a reasonable time frame and without pre-conditions.”

But he said Turkish officials had said their parliament was independent and its decisions unpredictable.

The deal is the closest the sides have come to overcoming the legacy of the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I.
It would bring big economic gains to landlocked Armenia. Turkey would burnish its credentials as a potential EU entry state and boost its clout in the South Caucasus, a region criss-crossed by pipelines carrying oil and gas to the West.

Sargisian said Armenia was committed to rapprochement with Turkey. “We have agreed to move forward without any pre-conditions, not making our relations contingent upon Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide,”  Sargisian said. “However, if, as many suspect, it is proven that Turkey’s goal is to protract rather than to normalize relations, we will have to discontinue this process,” he said.

Turkey has also warned that the peace process could fail unless it was carried out properly.

It has demanded that ethnic Armenian forces pull back from the frontlines of Nagorno- Karabagh as a condition for ratifying the peace deal. This has aroused fierce resistance in Armenia.