YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia has nullified two 2009 protocols agreements to normalize its relations with neighboring Turkey, citing Ankara’s continuing refusal to implement them unconditionally.
President Serzh Sarkisian signed a relevant decree immediately after chairing a meeting of his National Security Council which discussed and approved his long-anticipated move.
“I am asking the foreign minister [Edward Nalbandian] to notify Turkey about our decision, after which no obligation stemming from those agreements will be legally binding for us,” he said at the meeting. He said he has already sent letters to the presidents of the United States, France, Russia and Switzerland explaining reasons for the decision.
The two protocols signed in Zurich in October 2009 committed Turkey and Armenia to establishing diplomatic relations and opening their border. Shortly after the high-profile signing ceremony, Ankara made clear that Turkey’s parliament will ratify the deal only if there is decisive progress towards a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan.
The Armenian government has rejected this precondition all along, arguing that the protocols make no reference to the conflict. The United States, the European Union and Russia have likewise repeatedly called for their unconditional implementation by both sides.
In February 2015, Sarkisian said he had asked parliament speaker Galust Sahakian to return the protocols to him since “the Turkish government has no political will, distorts the spirit and letter of the protocols, and continues its policy of setting preconditions.”
In September 2017, Sarkisian told the United Nations General Assembly that Armenia would declare the “futile” protocols “null and void” in the spring of 2018 if Ankara did not show any progress toward their implementation.
“The leadership of Turkey are mistaken if they think that those documents can be held hostage forever and ratified only at the most opportune occasion from their very point of view,” Sarkisian said.
On February 21, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian told the European Parliament that Yerevan was close to scrapping the protocols, stating that Armenia spared no effort” to see the deal succeed but that “Turkey has missed a historic chance of reconciliation.”