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ARMENIA: COURT GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO PEACE PLAN WITH TURKEY
BayBak, Azerbaijan | 1222 days ago | Wednesday, 13th January , 2010 , 00:42 [am] | Azerbaijan
|.|| Armeniaâ€™s Constitutional Court on January 12 approved a draft agreement for reconciliation with Turkey, but heated opposition to the agreement shows no sign of dying down.
As protestors in downtown Yerevan yelled for “No concessions to the Turks!,” the Court, guarded by a police line, ruled that the “[o]bligations” contained in the protocols signed
Armeniaâ€™s Constitutional Court on January 12 approved a draft agreement for reconciliation with Turkey, but heated opposition to the agreement shows no sign of dying down.
As protestors in downtown Yerevan yelled for “No concessions to the Turks!,” the Court, guarded by a police line, ruled that the “[o]bligations” contained in the protocols signed on October 10, 2009 by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul” comply with the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia. [For details, see the Eurasia Insight archive.]
The protocols will next go to Armeniaâ€™s National Assembly for a vote on ratification. Turkeyâ€™s parliament has yet to ratify the documents.
The protests and the Courtâ€™s prolonged deliberation – Sargsyan submitted the protocols for review on November 19, 2009 – sparked some speculation that a decision by the bodyâ€™s nine judges might be delayed. But the final verdict took few Armenians by surprise. The Court is not known for going against the Sargsyan administrationâ€™s policies.
Controversy over whether or not the protocols will hold Armenia to so-called “pre-conditions” – an expression that embodies multiple popular misgivings – nonetheless looks set to continue.
Many Armenians fear that the protocols presume an Armenian withdrawal from territories surrounding the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh that are claimed by Turkish ally Azerbaijan. Others take issue with the formation of a commission of historians to review materials related to Ottoman Turkeyâ€™s 1915 slaughter of ethnic Armenians; an event most Armenians see as an indisputable case of genocide. Still others worry that the protocolsâ€™ call for the recognition of the Armenian and Turkish borders means the permanent loss of lands in Turkey once held by Armenia.
Ruling Republican Party of Armenia spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov counters that the reconciliation process is proceeding according to plan, and presents no cause for alarm.
“We will never agree to establish ties [with Turkey] with any preconditions, as we have repeatedly declared,” Sharmazanov told EurasiaNet.
The Court found that the protocolsâ€™ terms “have an exclusively bilateral, interstate character and cannot relate to or be attributed to a third party. . .”
But that finding will most likely do little to persuade domestic critics of the peace process. The nationalist Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Dashnaktsutiun and 14 other political groups have announced plans for a joint lobbying effort to persuade parliament to vote against ratification. Protestors earlier burned copies of the documents outside the Constitutional Court.
“The Armenian authorities got carelessly stuck in the Armenian-Turkish process, but cannot master it,” fumed Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Dashnaktsutiun member Armen Rustamian at a January 11 rally in Yerevan. “The earlier they realize their mistakes, the easier it will be to avoid the threats looming over the country and the people.”
Armeniaâ€™s government coalition holds a clear majority in parliament, but that tactical advantage does not discourage key members of one minority opposition party allied with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun.
Opposition Heritage Party parliamentary faction leader Stepan Safarian charged that Turkeyâ€™s ongoing references to Nagorno Karabakh leave but one option open for Armeniaâ€™s opposition, despite government reassurances that concessions on the issue will not be made. “We will do our best both in the parliament and outside it to suspend this . . . unpatriotic process,” Safarian pledged.eurasianet, Voice of a Nation