Armenian-Turkish Relations and Armenian Genocide Recognition Process in 2017

In 2017, no positive developments have been registered in the Armenian-Turkish relations in 2017. The Armenian-Turkish border remains closed, the dialogue between the two societies – limited, taking into account the tough policy pursued by the Turkish authorities against the activists and non-governmental organizations working with Armenians. Within the framework of the campaign against the Gulenists, the Turkish authorities are arresting also those politicians, activists who have a pro-Armenian position. At the end of the year it was announced that two intellectuals, Mehmet Ali Altın and Nazilli Alejak, who were arrested on the Gulen case, are one of the active supporters of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and now face life imprisonment.

However, the most interesting development in the context of Armenian-Turkish relations in 2017 was the announcement of the RA President Serzh Sargsyan made at the Armenia-Diaspora Pan-Armenian Forum and at the UN General Assembly on the Armenian-Turkish protocols.

During the Pan-Armenian Forum, the President noted that Turkey is trying to keep Armenia hostage to the signatures and officially announced that if no real steps are carried out to implement the Armenian-Turkish Protocols until the spring of 2018, Armenia will announce them null and void. In the same way, the Armenian President clearly stated to Ankara that “the Turkish leadership is mistaken if it thinks it can take the protocols hostage.”

Official Ankara did not respond directly to Serzh Sargsyan’s statement. Later, when speaking about regional economic projects, Turkish President Erdogan stated that Yerevan continues to keep the door of friendship with Turkey close “as a result of which Armenia has been driven out of transport, commercial and energy projects in the region.” Erdogan made such a statement despite the fact that in 2009 Turkey failed the “Football Diplomacy” and the Zurich process aimed at normalizing the Armenian-Turkish relations.

Already at the end of the year, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu officially stated that the Armenian-Turkish protocols will not be ratified until the preconditions put forward by Turkey regarding the Karabakh issue have not been fulfilled. Moreover, he stated as if Ankara had already signed the protocols with Yerevan with preconditions. However, this is nothing than a distortion of reality.

As for the process of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, 2017 cannot be considered to be very effective in this regard. Several US states – Wyoming, Texas, Iowa, and Indiana recognized the Armenian Genocide (48 US states have already recognized the Armenian Genocide). In 2017, the Armenian Genocide was also recognized by Spanish Sabadell city and Italian Tolfa city.

The most noteworthy one was the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the lower house of the Czech Parliament. The resolution adopted by the Czech Parliament states that “the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament condemns the crimes against humanity in the territories occupied by the Nazis during World War II against Jews, Gypsies and Slavs, as well as Genocide against Armenians and genocide against other national and religious minorities during the World War I in the Ottoman Empire.”

To summarize, it should be noted that 2017 was not so active in the context of the Genocide recognition process and it is necessary that in 2018 more active steps are taken not only towards recognition, condemnation and compensation of the Armenian Genocide, but also towards pursuing the restoration of the violated rights of the heirs of Genocide survivors.

As for the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations, at least at this stage, it is not realistic to expect any positive development and, most likely, for establishing a political dialogue with Turkey, Armenia will wait for more democratic and responsible authorities in Turkey.