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Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
26 January 2007 - ERAREN
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gn="justify"> Having come to Istanbul to attend the funeral of Hrant Dink, the Armenian Assistant Foreign Minister Kirakosian, told a number of newspapers that Armenia was prepared to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey devoid of any preconditions which made the headlines of many papers.

~the headlines of many papers.

Before analyzing this issue we shall pause for a moment to elaborate on the meaning of establishing diplomatic ties without any preconditions.

It is quite normal for unconditional diplomatic relations to be established between two countries in situations where there are no problems to be spoken of. However if there are areas of conflict and establishing diplomatic relations would not resolve but cause the continuation of these problems, then one of the sides requesting the resolution of the problems as a precondition is only to be expected.

As it stands, there exists three main problems between Turkey and Armenia:

 The first is Armenia not having recognized Turkey’s territorial integrity. In this manner, Armenia believes that it retains the right to request land from Turkey at a future date.

The second is Armenia advancing genocide allegations against Turkey, and granting support to the Diaspora’s claims of reparations from Turkey.

The third is Armenia having occupied approximately 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory and having made approximately one million Azeri’s become fugitives.  As a reaction, Turkey closed its border gate with Armenia.

If unconditional diplomatic relations were to be established, then Armenia would have no reason to resolve these three problems.

On this point it should be noted that as a response to the request made by all Turkish governments since 1991 to resolve these problems in advance, Armenia set forth the “unconditional diplomatic solution” as a means of taking advantage of the positive connotation associated with the word ‘unconditional’. In this manner Armenia has tried to frame Turkey as the side which has refrained from establishing relations.

Interestingly, almost all Turkish newspapers have made Armenia’s call for establishing diplomatic relations their headline story as if it were a new proposal. Several newspapers interpreted Kirakosian’s proposal as signifying the thawing of relations between Armenia and Turkey. Ironically, one newspaper misinterpreted the words “we want to develop good relations with Armenia” expressed by Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, as meaning that a positive reply was given to Kirakosian. Similar story lines were aired on television. To our knowledge, only one newspaper, having consulted the Foreign Ministry, stated how Kirakosian’s call was not new and that the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia was contingent upon the solution of the three problems mentioned above.

Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that the Turkish media has, to a degree, done service to the aim of Armenian attempts to blame Turkey for the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

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