Armenia Is Coming Out from the Zurich Process with an Important Achievement
Armenia has withdrawn its signature from the Armenian-Turkish protocols signed in Switzerland in 2009. In fact, the initiative of President Serzh Sargsyan, which was once called “football diplomacy” aimed at the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, reached its logical end.
In 2008, speaking on this initiative, the Armenian side pursued several goals,
- to achieve normalization of relations and opening of the border closed by Turkey,
- breaking “the stereotype of a country with problems with all neighbors”, which was actively used by Ankara and Baku,
- to show the international community that Armenia is not the obstacle in the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations,
- raise the country’s international reputation.
As the process showed, the Armenian side’s initiative was more than well-considered from the perspective of possible risks and developments. At the same time it was a completely new word in the Armenian diplomacy, which justified itself. The international community also assessed the Armenian initiative as worthy one, which is expressed in various EU, RF and US high-level statements.
The Turkish side, which at the time adopted the thesis of regulating all the problems with the neighbors, could not essentially reject the Armenian side’s proposal, as a result of which the Zurich Protocols were signed. However, as for their ratification, the Turkish authorities were unable to demonstrate sufficient political will and we witnessed Ankara’s preconditions, which contradicted the spirit and logic of the settlement process.
Finally, making sure that the Turkish side does not have enough political will, the Armenian authorities have gone through the cancellation of the protocols. In this process, which lasted several years, official Yerevan has also used its legal instruments, freezing the process of ratification of the protocols by the RA NA, their recalling from the parliament and now their final withdrawal. In addition, before each step, in the UN, PACE and other influential international institutions clear messages were sent to the international community and the official Ankara. In fact, Armenia was guided by rather transparent, step-by-step moves in the initiation and subsequent stages of the Armenian-Turkish normalization process. Due to this kind of behavior, it became clear for the international community that the side, which broke the process is Turkey, and Armenia is a reliable partner that is loyal to its commitments.
To summarize, Armenia’s ”football diplomacy” is a good manifestation of pragmatic policy, but at the same time a missed opportunity for both Turkey and the whole region. Regardless of the outcome, the Armenian side, with its very important achievement, was involved in this process 10 years ago, and both for the international community and the power centers it is already obvious that Armenia is not an obstacle to the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations.