The Zurich Protocols that were to improve diplomatic relations between the two countries have been awaiting ratification for eight years
The Armenian-Turkish Protocols will be annulled in the spring of 2018 – the Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan, said at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.
As he pointed out, it was Armenia who initiated the normalization process which resulted in the signing of the Zürich Protocols. However, the documents haven’t been ratified so far as the Turkish government has come up with some preposterous preconditions.
The Armenian-Turkish Protocols, also referred to as the Zürich Protocols ‘On the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations’ and ‘Development of Relations Between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey’ were signed in Zürich on 10 October 2009. The documents were signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries, Ahmet Davutoğlu for Turkey and Eduard Nalbandyan for Armenia.
Turkey in fact recognized the independence of Armenia in 1991, though it has refused to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia up until now. In 1993, Turkey unilaterally closed its air and land borders with Armenia. However, later in 1995, the airspace was reopened after being pressured by the world community. The Zürich Protocols also provide for the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border.
Upon signing, the documents were submitted to the Turkish and Armenian Parliaments for ratification.
The Turkish Premier, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in December 2009 that Ankara wouldn’t ratify the Protocols until the Karabakh conflict had finally been settled. Ratification of the documents in the Turkish Parliament was put on hold.
The Armenian side, in turn, insisted that the Protocols be ratified without any preconditions. However, on 22 April 2010, the Armenian side decided to suspend the ratification process. Thereafter on 16 February 2015, the Armenian President recalled the Armenian-Turkish Protocols from the National Assembly (Parliament).
In this regard, President Sargsyan addressed the National Assembly Speaker with a letter which read as follows: “At the outset of the process of normalization of the Armenian-Turkish ties without preconditions, we had a good idea of all possible scenarios. We were similarly ready for comprehensive rapprochement through ratification of the protocols and their failure. We had nothing to conceal, as it would become clear to the international community which party was to be blamed for missing the chance to open the last closed border in Europe.”
Speaking at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, President Sargsyan said:
“Now the time has come for additional explanations. The Turkish authorities are mistaken if they think that those documents can be held hostage forever and be ratified only at the most opportune occasion from their very point of view. The Protocols have been negotiated in present-day circumstances in order to find solutions to the existing problems.
“Armenia will declare those two Protocols null and void, given the lack of any positive progress towards their implementation. Regrettably, we will enter the spring of 2018 without those, as our experience has shown, futile Protocols.”
The Armenian President emphasized that Armenia, nevertheless, continued to believe that any two neighboring states need to establish and enjoy normal relations in order to address any possible discord between them and to find solutions thereto.