Turkish Foreign Minister: Genocide resolution is “element of pressure”; would “hamper” protocol process

Turkey deems the move in US Congress to discuss another resolution calling for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey as an attempt to put pressure on it in what now appears a stalling rapprochement with Armenia.

Talking to media while returning from a major international security conference Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu insisted that Ankara won’t bow to this ‘element of pressure’ in its decision-making.

“Turkey is an independent state and it takes the decisions considering its national interests,” said Turkey’s top diplomat, according to the Turkish Hurriyet daily. “…Everyone should know that Turkey is not a country that can be spoken with in a language of pressure.”

Last week the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee scheduled for March 4 a panel vote on House Resolution 252 calling for the recognition of World War I-era mass killings and deportations of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide. The move was welcomed across the Armenian community in the US and in Armenia.

Davutoglu called this move and the recent decision by the Constitutional Court of Armenia on the Armenian-Turkish protocols “links of one chain”. Ankara is particularly unhappy with the Court’s conclusion that the diplomatic protocols signed between Armenia and Turkey last October and now awaiting ratification in the two countries’ parliaments cannot stop Armenia from seeking a broader international recognition of the Armenian genocide.

“Why do these events occur in this very period? When signing protocols with Armenia, we have demonstrated the political will and started rapprochement on a goodwill basis. They should not blackmail us with [annual Armenian genocide commemoration day] April 24. If someone wants to put pressure on us, it will be useless. Turkey is an independent state and it takes the decisions considering its national interests,” he said. “If Americans use such methods, we declare officially that the process of the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement will fail. This does not meet the interests of either Washington, or Yerevan or Ankara. Therefore, the United States should be more attentive to this issue and not hamper this process by excessive efforts.”

The text of the protocols signed in Zurich, Switzerland, on October 10 does not mention a specific date or deadline by which the two countries’ lawmakers should ratify them. This led to speculation that Turkey would use this circumstance to drag out the ratification process, in particular to put pressure on Armenia to agree to a settlement of a long-running dispute with Turkish regional ally Azerbaijan acceptable to Baku. This position was reflected in numerous statements by Turkish leaders, including repeated warnings from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Political circles in Armenia and President Serzh Sargsyan, meanwhile, have called for the ratification of the diplomatic protocols “within a reasonable timeframe”. This position has also been backed by the major sponsors of the normalization process, including the United States and Russia, which also act as major negotiators in the Karabakh peace talks.

Many in Armenia and abroad believe the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, to be marked on April 24, is a conventional ‘deadline’ for the consummation of the Armenian-Turkey protocols ratification.