WSJ: “Turkey and Armenia Pave Way for Historic Accords”

Turkey and Armenia could soon announce a deal aimed at reopening their border and restoring relations, the Wall Street Journal writes, citing “diplomats”, and saying the move could help “stabilize a region that’s increasingly important as a transit route for oil and gas”.

The WSJ also says the Turkish and Armenian governments have agreed on terms to open talks: opening and fixing borders, restoring diplomatic relations and setting up commissions to look at disputes, including one on the tense history between the two nations, according to the diplomats, all of whom declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the talks.

I’ve highlighted a couple of curious words in the paragraph above. I’d be really interested to know what the “fixing” borders and setting up “commissions” – not just one “commission” is all about. Sadly, my numerous attempts to get a response from the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesperson failed today. Will try again tomorrow. Further on the WSJ writes:

Announcement of a Turkish-Armenian pact is also being influenced by Mr. Obama’s campaign promise to support a Congressional resolution that would recognize as genocide the Ottoman Empire’s 1915 killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in what is now central and eastern Turkey. 

A Senior Turkish foreign-policy official said the U.S. is trying to facilitate the agreement with Armenia. 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said on Turkish television last week he would discuss Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian “genocide” and relations between Russia and Georgia with the U.S. president, among other issues.

One date under discussion for signing the deal with Armenia, diplomats say, is April 16. 

The full story at the Wall Street Journal, which by the way, has a comments section with only 2 comments at this point, is here.

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10 thoughts on “WSJ: “Turkey and Armenia Pave Way for Historic Accords”

  1. Nothing secret or sinister in the “commissions” and they’re well known and been referred to already:

    Analysts following two years of secret talks said the two sides have now agreed on a sweeping package that includes opening a shared border closed since 1993, beginning diplomatic relations and setting up a bilateral intergovernmental commission on issues ranging from customs, tax and public health to history.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2009/0327/1224243552256.html

    As for fixing borders, my understanding is that Armenia has not officially recognized the Turkish border and renounced claims on territory it will never get anyway )and which are full of many more Kurds and Turks).

    Hopefully all of this will now happen and Armenia and Turkey can open a new and log overdue chapter in relations which will also means that the latter will slowly come to terms with its own past. This can only help both countries and Obama knows it.

    Ironically, when it comes to the border opening, both Azerbaijan and nationalists or lobbying groups in the U.S.-Armenian Diaspora seem to be agreement.

    They really don’t want this to happen. Azerbaijan doesn’t because it strengthens Armenia’s position, and the Diaspora lobbying groups don’t because they never think about Armenia anyway. They should probably work together on this one… ;-)

  2. Onnik
    Are you planning to start businesses with turks, otherwise what’s the reason of lobbying border opening?
    “it will never get anyway “-very arguable statement//
    “full of many more Kurds and Turks”- before it was full of Armenians. By the way,congratulations with deliberation of Karvatchar region(which was full of Azeris and Kurds):)

    Never say never/c/:)

  3. The phrase ‘fixing borders’ attracted my attention, because in all my contacts with Turkish journalists and NGO leaders they always spoke of Turkish government’s demand for Armenia to ‘recognise’ Turkey’s borders. Now we see this strange phrase – ‘fixing borders’. Naturally I find it surprising: whose borders? What does fixing imply? Is it just me who finds this change of language surprising?

  4. Armenian foreign minister Edvard Nadbandian will visit Istanbul on April 6-7th, the exact same days when US President Obama makes his visit to Turkey.

    Speaking to RFE/RL’s Emil Danielyan, Foreign ministry spokesperson Tigran Balayan expressed “moderate optimism” about a possible deal with Turkey on border opening and said a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babajan is “possible”. Balayan didn’t comment on the WSJ and similar news reports claiming a border-opening deal is possible during Turkish Foreign Minsiter’s visit to Yerevan on April 16th.

  5. Tigran – How likely do you think it is that territories in Eastern Turkey will be reunited with Armenia? (Or maybe I misunderstood)

    Ditord – Please keep us updated on any response you do get from the Ministry.

  6. Here’s how the White House Press Secretary danced around the issue yesterday:

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2009/04/press_gaggle_by_press_secretary_robert_gibbs_2.php

    […]
    Q What’s the goal in Turkey? What are the goals of the trip?

    MR. GIBBS: I mean, again, I think it’s to strengthen an important relationship and reach out to — and demonstrate the importance of — their importance in our relationship and, again, issues that we have in common that we want to work on. I mean, look, I think it’s an opportunity to probably go also to a country that people may not have expected us to visit on our first trip over here, and I think it’s an important signal for the President.

    Q Does the President still believe that the Turks committed genocide against the Armenians?

    MR. GIBBS: We’ll get into that I think later on.

    Q During this trip?

    MR. GIBBS: I’ll leave that for — I can’t give away everything in one gaggle, for goodness sakes.

  7. In another interesting development, Turkey has withdrawn its objections to a Dane being the new head of NATO:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-obama-nato5-2009apr05,0,2215744.story
    […]
    Turkey had threatened to block the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s secretary-general because, as premier, he had defended the right of a Danish newspaper to publish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. Those cartoons sparked protests and riots across the Muslim world in late 2005 and early 2006.
    But after a closed-door session at a summit here on the Franco-German border, the alliance announced that Rasmussen was its unanimous choice to take over as secretary-general on Aug. 1.

    “Every head of state and government is fully convinced that Anders Fogh Rasmussen is the man who will take up the transformation of NATO and who will play an extremely important role in guiding NATO and guiding our 28 allies through the coming period of the 21st century,” said the outgoing secretary-general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

    It was not immediately apparent how Turkey was persuaded to support Rasmussen’s appointment after previously being opposed to it.
    […]

    • Here’s a follow-up, explaining Turkey’s withdrawal of its objections–if true, then it’s not directly linked to Armenian issue:

      http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL4594859

      Turkey said on Saturday it had dropped its objections to Dane Anders Fogh Rasmussen becoming the next head of NATO after U.S. President Barack Obama offered promises that one of Rasmussen’s deputies would be a Turk.

      Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, whose country had threatened to veto Rasmussen because of his handling of a 2006 crisis over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a Danish newspaper, said Obama had also given Turkey guarantees that Turkish commanders would be present at the alliance’s command.

      “We explained our reservations on Rasmussen to Obama and he gave us guarantees on our reservations. Then our president accepted Rasmussen’s candidacy,” Erdogan told Turkish television.

      “One of the issues is to have a Turk as one of his (Rasmussen) deputies and to have our commanders in NATO command,” Erdogan told reporters in Ankara.
      […]
      Erdogan, who will host Obama on the same dates, said Turkey had brought up the issue with Obama of Kurdish ROJ TV, which has close links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a separatist guerrilla group, but is allowed to broadcast from Denmark.

      Erdogan has said he has asked Rasmussen to shut down the station many times, but that the Dane had ignored his pleas.
      […]

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