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Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
24 April 2008 - ERAREN
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!à‡`="justify">The prospective foreign policy of the new Armenian government towards Turkey is not totally clear yet. However, it can be concluded that there will not be a major change, at least in principle. Because the new major decision makers are not new actors.

iod; the new Prime Minister had contributed to the policy-formation of the former governments particularly in the economic field. Finally, the new Foreign Minister had served as the Armenian Ambassador to Paris during the tenure of former governments. The irreconcilable policies of Kocharian had impeded the development of Turkish-Armenian relations as well as Armenian-Azeri relations and this resulted in Armenian isolation in the Southern Caucasus. Therefore, it is for the interest of the new government to follow policies of reconciliation despite the possible reaction of the nationalist circles.

There are three major questions between Turkey and Armenia:

First question is the recognition of the non-violability of the borders, in other words, the recognition of territorial integrity. Without such recognition, it is impossible to establish relations between neighboring countries on the basis of mutual confidence. Due to the ‘Greater Armenia’ dreams, which have still been present in the mindset of the majority of the Armenians, Armenian governments refrained from this recognition for the last sixteen years after independence. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Oskanyan has sometimes tried to distract reactions to declare verbally that the Treaty of Kars is still valid; however this is not sufficient. Two countries had to declare clearly that they recognized territorial integrity of each other with an official document.

The second question is the genocide allegations. Unlike the presidency of Ter-Petrosyan, the governments established in the presidency of Kocharian stated international recognition of genocide allegations as a major item in their foreign policy agendas. In reality, Armenian diplomacy has showed intense efforts through hoping that in case of an increase in the recognition of the genocide allegations Turkey would accept them as well and this would result in payment of compensation and realization of some Armenian territorial demands. However, just the opposite has happened, and increasing international recognition of the genocide allegations resulted in a more determinate Turkish attitude in this respect. Determination of what had happened in 1915 is the business of scholars not parliaments. Turkish offer of the establishment of a joint commission of historians, which has been appreciated more and more, provides the most fertile ground for handling this question. Meanwhile, if Tigran Sarkisyan’s government program, which will be declared in a few days, will not include the issue of international recognition of genocide allegations, this will create a positive atmosphere in Turkey towards Armenia.

The third question is the Karabagh Question. Armenia wanted Turkey to take an objective stance in this matter; however, this is not a realistic attitude because of intimate relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan. The resolution of the Karabagh question is not only important for Armenia and Azerbaijan but also for the security of the Southern Caucasus; therefore it is quite urgent. On the other hand, it should be considered that the resolution of this question will ultimately lead to opening of land borders between Turkey and Armenia.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan sent a message to the new Foreign Minister of Armenia, Edvard Nalbandyan and congratulated him. He further stated that Turkey wants to normalize her relations with Armenia and is open to dialogue for that purpose. In other words, Turkey once more showed her good intentions towards Armenia.

Establishment of a new government in Armenia and Turkish declaration of being open for dialogue creates a favorable atmosphere for initiating serious negotiations.

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