ANKARA — In response to Armenian foreign minister Edward Nalbandian’s statement made during a visit to Athens, Greece, on December 13 that Armenia would declare null and void the Armenian-Turkish protocols on the normalization of relations and establishment of diplomatic relations, signed in Zurich in 2009 because of Turkey’s groundless preconditions that run counter to the letter and spirit of the protocols, Turkey’s foreign ministry said Ankara is committed to the primary clauses of the protocols.

In a statement posted on its official website it added that these protocols are still on the agenda of the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Commission and for their ratification, it is essential that a favorable political atmosphere and peace in the South Caucasus is secured. It also says that Turkey has pursued its efforts to normalize relations with Armenia on several levels since Armenia proclaimed its independence in 1991.

Turkey and Armenia have had no diplomatic ties since Armenia became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991. Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in a show of support for its ally, Azerbaijan, which had a dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, the ethnic Armenian enclave of Azerbaijan. Ankara’s blatant support of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process and Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide are complicating the establishment of normal relations between the two countries.

The thaw in relations between the two countries began in 2008 at the Armenian president’s initiative. In 2009 October 10 Armenia and Turkey signed “Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations” and “Protocol on the Development of Bilateral Relations” in Zurich which were to be ratified by the parliaments of both countries.

However, on 22 April 2010, the president of Armenia signed a decree suspending the ratification of the protocols, stating that Turkey was not ready to continue the process.

“Turkey’s primary target pertaining to the protocols process is to realize the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia in such a way that, comprehensive peace and stability in the South Caucasus is provided. In this vein, it is necessary that in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict progress is achieved, based on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and in light of the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council. In any case, Armenia must put an end to its invasion of Azerbaijan’s territories,’ the Turkish statement says.

Concerning Turkey’s denial of the 1915 Armenian Genocide Turkey’s foreign ministry says the 1915 events are a matter of legitimate debate within the framework of freedom of expression. ‘The attempts of ill-intentioned groups to impose their one-sided narrative and to exert pressure on the world public opinion are morally and legally incorrect and do not contribute to peace and stability in our region.’

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