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Turkey-Armenia: The Freeze in Relations

Fulya Inci writes for EA:

The reconciliation process in Turkey-Armenia relations seems to be frozen after the resolutions of U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs and Swedish Parliament in early March calling the events of 1915 as “genocide”. The Turkish Government reacted loudly to the decisions, and the two neighbouring countries now blame each other for not taking concrete steps to political resolution.

The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee resolution on 4 March declaring “genocide”, supporting the Armenian case, stunned Turkish officials because they thought they had conducted an effective lobbying campaign. Committee members voting against the resolution indicated that they approved the finding of genocide but that the timing of the declaration was wrong. They mentioned that it would damage the Turkey-US alliance, especially in Afghanistan, and the normalization process between Turkey and Armenia.

However, the resolution passed by a 23- 22 vote, and Turkish ambassador Namık Tan was soon recalled by Ankara. Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized President Obama for his late intervention. Tan is still in Turkey, and his return subject to a "clear stance" of Obama demanded by Erdogan.

A similar resolution was approved by the Swedish parliament in a 131-130 vote on 11 March, alleging genocide of Assyrians and Pontic Greeks at the same time. Although Swedish senior officials said that they do not support the bill, diplomatic tensions have risen.

Now the Turkish-Armenian protocols signed in October are in limbo. Armenia has made the recognition of genocide a pre-condition for further development of relations while Turkey insists on a resolution of Azeri-Armenian conflict, including over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Turkish Parliament has not ratified the protocols. Erdogan's interview with BBC Turkish Service during his last visit to London, with remarks of “deporting 100.000 Armenians living illegally in case the normalization process does not work", has been condemned.

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