International Crisis Group: No rapid progress in normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations
Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan.18 / Trend E. Tariverdiyeva /
Rapid progress should not be expected in the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations in the first half of this year, International Crisis Group Europe Program Director Sabine Freizer believes.
"The lack of progress will be due to the fact parliamentary elections are scheduled for June in Turkey and the government is unwilling to confront nationalist parties on the Armenian question at this time," Freizer wrote Trend in an e-mail.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, summing up Armenia's foreign policy activity in 2010, said Armenia has taken steps and now it is Turkey's turn.
"Yerevan will not change its policy in terms of Armenian-Turkish relations in 2011. If anyone should change its position, it is Turkey, the country must change its tactics of preconditions in the Armenian-Turkish issue," Nalbandian said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Nalbandian signed the Ankara-Yerevan protocols in Zurich on Oct. 10 to normalize bilateral relations. However, the protocols have not been yet ratified by the two countries' parliaments.
Diplomatic ties between Turkey and Armenia were severed in 1993 due to Armenia's claims of a so-called "Armenian Genocide" and the occupation of Nagorno Karabakh.
According to Freizer, Armenia is not ready to establish relations with Turkey.
Similarly, Armenian President Serzhe Sargsyan and his administration are unlikely to seek rapprochement with the Turkish government due to pressures from hardliners, Freizer said.
Freizer noted that contacts between the Turkish and Armenian civil societies, businesses, journalists and youth are continuing, though, and in many cases increasing.
"While Turkey continues to close its border with Armenia in solidarity with Azerbaijan and due to the occupation of Azeri lands, ties between average Turks and Armenians should not be cut. Better relations between Armenians and Turks can have a positive effect on the way to support peace and stability in the region," Freizer said.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts.