Sunday, July 13, 2008

Armenia's President Takes the First Step

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan took an important step in normalizing Armenia's tense relationship with Turkey, extending a hand of friendship and cooperation through a Wall Street Journal editorial espousing the benefits of open borders between Armenia and Turkey. The result of Turkey's solidarity with cousins Azerbaijan during the Karabakh conflict, Turkey's closed policy toward Armenia only serves to damage a struggling democracy and maintain the dysfunctionality of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. Turkey and Armenia reengaging with each other would certainly upset Azeris, but it would be an important step toward a healthy Southern Caucasus and would maybe push the Azeris to reconsider their extreme animosity to all things Armenian.

During the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Turkey closed its border with Armenia as an expression of ethnic solidarity with Turkic Azerbaijan. The regrettable result is that for almost 15 years, the geopolitically vital border between Armenia and Turkey has become a barrier to diplomatic and economic cooperation. It is closed not only to Armenians and Turks who might want to visit their neighboring countries, but to trade, transport and energy flows from East to West.

There is no real alternative to the establishment of normal relations between our countries. It is my hope that both of our governments can pass through the threshold of this new open door. Establishing normal political relations would enable us to create a commission to comprehensively discuss all of the complex issues affecting Armenia and Turkey. We cannot expect tangible progress without such structured relations. Only through them can we create an effective dialogue touching upon even the most contentious historical issues.

Hopefully, Turkey will be willing to set aside old differences for the general good and President Sargsyan's goodwill and optimism(two sentiments severely lacking in the region) will not be misplaced.


James said...

It would be nice to see these countries diffuse tensions old and new. Hopefully if Turkey eases relations with Armenia, a resolution on Nogorno-Karabakh will come more quickly.

Icka said...

Yeah, that's what I was thinking too, that maybe this could be a step toward resolving that wound.