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RECOGNITION OF TURKEYâ??S BORDERS BY ARMENIA

Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
14 June 2006 - İKSAREN
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!á½pellspacing="0" ceÿd,RECOGNITION OF TURKEYâ??S BORDERS BY ARMENIAThe Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanian, in an interview given on television, remarked that some Turkish politicians have stated that provisions in the Armenian constitution prohibits Armenia from recognizing Turkey’s sovereign borders.ñtution prohibits Armenia from recognizing Turkey’s sovereign borders. The minister went on to say that the Armenian constitution, although encompassing references to the Proclamation of Independence in accord with Armenia’s history, does not contain any clauses as such that could threaten Turkey.

The Armenian Foreign Minister further alleged that Turkey was not ready to engage in diplomatic relations with Armenia and was using the recognition of borders issue as an excuse.

Oskanian added that a protocol establishing diplomatic relations would also solve the border issue. However, he expressed that Turkey still requests a separate declaration on the recognition of Turkey’s borders by Armenia but that even if Armenia was to comply there is no guarantee that Turkey would follow through with establishing diplomatic relations with Armenia.

The Armenian Foreign Minister’s statements reflects the truth only in part.

The eleventh article of the Proclamation of Independence, adopted by in Armenia on the 23rd of August 1990, states that: “The Republic of Armenia supports the aim of achieving the international recognition of the 1915 genocide that took place in Turkey and western Armenia.” This article not only validates the allegations of genocide that Turkey rejects, but translates into how Armenia will strive for the international recognition of this allegation. What is more important however, is the fact that this article regards eastern Anatolia as western Armenia. In this aspect this article indirectly fails to recognize Turkey’s sovereign borders.

This proclamation is still valid due to the fact that the Armenian constitution endorses the national goals set forth thereof.
 
The main reason behind the Armenian reluctance to recognize Turkey’s borders lies within the Proclamation of Independence and reference made to it by the Constitution. This makes the Armenian recognition of Turkey’s sovereign borders exceedingly difficult. This is also the reason behind why Armenia has not officially stated that it accepts the Kars agreement signed on the 3rd  of April 1921 which defines the Turkish -Armenian border.

As mentioned above the Armenian Foreign Minister also states that a protocol establishing diplomatic relations would also solve the border issue. In that case, this protocol would also contain clauses regarding the mutual recognition of national borders. However, this aspect of the protocol could always be deemed unconstitutional and in conflict with the provisions of the Proclamation of Independence.

It is known that the Kocarian administration aims to normalize political relations with Turkey as soon as possible, and leave to future Armenian governments disputed issues such as land claims and reparations. Accordingly Turkey’s national borders and sovereignty over her lands could be recognized at present. However in the future, a stronger Armenia could denounce this protocol as being in conflict with the Proclamation of Independence and the Constitution and consequently may request land and reparations from Turkey. As can be clearly discerned, this unrealistic scenario aims to normalize relations with Turkey whilst promising extremist groups such as the Dashnaks that they have not forgone their request for land and reparations from Turkey but have postponed them.

It should be noted that the Armenian Constitution was subject to wide scale revision in November 2005. However, the provisions pertaining to the Proclamation of Independence were left untouched; which in other words means that the text still refers to eastern Anatolia as western Armenia.

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