BAKU (RFE/RL) — It was “not nice” of Yerevan to annul diplomatic protocols that would normalize its relations with Ankara, a senior Turkish official said on a trip to Baku on Friday as reported by an Azerbaijani news agency.
In the first official public reaction of Ankara to Yerevan’s move Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmet Yildiz again linked the implementation of the agreements, which were never ratified by parliaments in either country, to the resolution of the protracted Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Turkish-Armenian accords envisaging the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of the border between the two countries was signed through the mediation of Switzerland in Zurich in late 2009. The United States and Russia supported Yerevan and Ankara in their endeavor to normalize historically strained relations.
In negotiating the deal Armenia insisted that its implementation should not be conditioned on other issues. After its signing, however, Turkey repeatedly linked it with progress in Armenia’s negotiations with its regional ally, Azerbaijan, regarding the settlement of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Citing Ankara’s continuing refusal to implement the normalization protocols unconditionally, Armenia formally annulled the agreements on March 1.
“Although the Zurich protocols between Turkey and Armenia had not been enacted, it was not nice of the Armenian side to take a decision to annul them,” said Yildiz, who attended an international forum hosted in Baku.
Azerbaijani news agency APA quoted the Turkish diplomat as claiming that Yerevan benefited more from the protocols than Ankara. “It is their decision. All the same they have demonstrated their unwillingness to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict over all these years. This way they once again demonstrate the same position. What we do expect from them above all is their withdrawal from the Azerbaijani land. This was the key to resolving this conflict. But they did not want it,” Yildiz added.
During a news briefing in Yerevan on Thursday Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian confirmed that the decision to annul the protocols was properly communicated to Turkey and reiterated that “the Armenian side is ready to conduct negotiations aimed at normalizing relations without preconditions.” “We have not received any offer from the Turkish side in that direction,” the senior Armenian diplomat said.