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Turkish MP: Turkey may refuse to establish relations with Armenia if U.S. exerts pressure to ratify protocols

16 March 2010 [12:00] - TODAY.AZ
Day.Az interview with Member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Parliament) from the ruling Justice and Development Party, Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Foreign Affairs Mehmet Ceylan.
How do you assess the move by the U.S. Congress House Committee on Foreign Relations to pass the Resolution 252 labeling the 1915 events in the Ottoman Empire as “genocide”?

It should be noted that the "genocide" resolution is very inappropriate and absurd project. The resolution was adopted by a margin of only one vote. But, anyway, this is a dangerous process. The voting procedure showed that the Armenian lobby can achieve its goal through pressure on the Congress where Democrats, who are supporters of the "iron democracy", make up majority.

In fact, it was a very unpleasant scene for the United States. The actions of the U.S. Democrats can be considered "black spot" in the history of American democracy. President Barack Obama, being aware of this, announced that he would try to ensure that the project is not debated by the House of Representatives. So, I think that the U.S. will no longer take risks and bring up the resolution for discussions by the full House. In addition, the United States is well aware that Turkey plays an important role in regional peacekeeping programs. Turkey is one of the great and powerful regional states.

The "genocide" resolution has caused deep resentment in the Turkish society. The U.S. analysts emphasize that the reaction of the Turkish public will be even stronger if the resolution gets Full House vote. The U.S. ambassador to Turkey in his turn announced that this resolution will not bring benefit to anyone, but cause damage to relations between the U.S. and Turkey. This shows that the U.S. public is not resolute in the issue of "genocide" and they have no unified position.

It was the U.S. which asked Turkey to contribute to normalization of relations in the Caucasus. It considered resolving problems between Turkey and Armenia as a first step to normalize ties. But instead of normalizing ties, the U.S. added fuel to the fire. If Americans wish to normalize relations in the region, they have to replace their tinderbox with barrel of water. I do not think that the U.S. will continue the path leading to deterioration of relations with Turkey.  

It is believed that the "Armenian genocide" resolution was adopted in an attempt to exert pressure on Turkey to ratify the Turkish-Armenian protocols. Do you share this opinion?

When we talk about normalization of relations in the Caucasus, primarily we have in mind relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, but not the Turkish-Armenian relations. We began to normalize relations with Armenia to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and liberate occupied territories of fraternal Azerbaijan. We thought that problems with the Armenians can be solved at negotiating table. There will be no peace, stability and cooperation in the Caucasus while Karabakh problem remains unresolved.

Turkey along with Russia is a country with an opportunity to influence ongoing processes in the Caucasus. Once Turkey can contribute to peace process in the Caucasus, why not to do this? The U.S. is mistaken if it thinks that by discussing this resolution it can put pressure on Turkey to achieve ratification of the protocols. Turkey is not a country to cede under pressure. Turkey is the most powerful country in the region and it should be the country that makes terms. If the U.S. exerts pressure on Turkey because of the protocols, Turkey will refuse to establish relations with Armenia. Then Turkey will think about other options to establish peace in the Caucasus.

The Turkish opposition calls for withdrawal from the Turkish-Armenian protocols. The protocols are in your commission at the moment. Will you discuss the protocols following the recent events?

The fact that the issue of "genocide" has been raised once again proves Armenia’s insincerity in relations with Turkey. The Turkish-Armenian protocols envisage consideration of "genocide" by a commission of historians, but not on political arena. As strange as it may seem, the United States, which was involved in refining the text of the protocols, adopted a political decision on the "genocide". So, protocols should be discussed once again. Today, the protocols are widely discussed in Turkey. I think withdrawal from the protocols at this stage may further aggravate the situation. We must wait for a favourable situation. In any case, we do not want to be a country that will bury the protocols. Let the whole world see who and what impede normalization of relations.  

There is an opinion that Armenia has made three steps against the normalization of relations: the well-known decision of the Constitutional Court of Armenia, the "genocide" resolution and the lack of progress in terms of liberation of the occupied Azerbaijani territories. Does the Turkish leadership plan to discuss these issues with Armenia again?

As far as I know, the Turkish leadership is not in contact with Armenia on this issue. Armenia often blamed Turkey for the delay in ratification of the protocols. However, after the "genocide" resolution was passed, Armenia became silent and does not push Turkey any longer. The Armenian authorities have certainly understood their contradictory policies. I think Turkey will eventually return to the issue of Turkish-Armenian protocols. But the whole situation must be clarified first.


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