Thursday, 6 November 2008

Did Obama’s victory in the US elections make opening borders with Armenia a priority for Turkey?

Following recent statements on expected “extraordinary decisions”, “new climate” and “new developments” between Turkey and Armenia, some Turkish reports suggest that Obama’s victory in the US presidential election made opening borders with Armenia a mater of priority and strategic importance.

Today’s Zaman reports:

Democrat Barack Obama's landslide victory in the US election is a dream come true for most ordinary Turks, but it could mean more pressure on the government to speed up reforms for a better state of human rights in the country.

It is also likely to spell a definite end for the long-held Turkish policy of dealing with Armenian claims of genocide through counter-measures to suppress pro-genocide resolutions in Congress. [...]

Turkey has managed for decades to block Armenian efforts to win US recognition for genocide claims, but with the White House readying for an Obama era, it is high time for Ankara to promote a more comprehensive policy that goes far beyond addressing immediate challenges at the US Congress, experts say. Many fear that Obama’s use of the G-word in his next message for April 24 -- a traditional occasion when US presidents commemorate Armenians who perished in Anatolia in the last century -- could shatter Turkey-US ties and that following up on a recent drive for dialogue with Armenia might be the only way to save relations from a catastrophe.

“There is nothing to be afraid of; Turkey should trust itself. What needs to be done is further improving the relations with Yerevan and marginalizing the Armenian diaspora in the United States,” said Ömer Taşpınar, an expert on Turkey with the Washington-based Brookings Institution and a Today’s Zaman columnist. “By opening borders with Armenia and taking other appropriate steps, Turkey will have the trump card in its hands.”

President Abdullah Gül paid a landmark visit to Armenia in September, and officials of the two countries, which currently have no formal ties, have been having talks since then on normalizing relations.

Marc Grossman, a former US ambassador to Turkey, advised the Turkish government to keep improving ties with Armenia during a teleconference at the US Embassy in Ankara early on Wednesday. Dialogue and open borders with Armenia will give Turkey an advantage in discussing the issue with the Obama administration, he said.


artmika said...

And now Today’s Zaman reports that Turkish president moves to host a trilateral summit with his Armenian and Azeri counterparts, possibly in few months, and possibly in Istanbul. Reportedly, he already received a positive response from Aliyev, and now will convey this proposal to the Armenian side. What is also interesting is that this report cites Azeri foreign minister as saying that “agenda of the trilateral summit didn't necessarily have to be limited to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Issues related to all parties can be discussed during the meeting, the minister said, while also reiterating support for Turkey's proposal to establish a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform.”

grigor said...

It is funny that they think they can marginalize the diaspora. Of course I don't know much about behind the scene politics, but diaspora and the country Armenia are two different things with two different agendas. Armenia may say that they can start negotiations with Turkey without preconditions but if diaspora pushes and gets US recognition of the genocide then the only way Turkey might gain from the situation is if Armenia denies the genocide which can never happen. Armenia has never really been a player in the genocide issue and most countries that recognized it for political reasons did it to hurt Turkey or please the diaspora (actually I think this last one has never happened, though some claimed that the French recognition had this component) and not to please Armenia. In the US, it seems like democrats are pushing it anyway, not for political reasons, and what diaspora has done here is that they kept the issue alive for such a long time. So its hard to see that good relations with Yerevan can have any bearing on the genocide issue.