The latest developments in Turkish-Armenian relations have confirmed my previous article in which I have stated that “2015 would be a definitive year for Turkish-Armenian ties.” In that article, I have noted that this year, the centennial of the tragic events of 1915 that led to the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I, would be a time that Turkish-Armenian relations would face several challenges.
Those who follow Turkish-Armenian relations these days witness a “war of letters” between the two countries. This war started earlier this year when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent an invitation to his Armenian counterpart to visit Turkey for the commemoration of the Çanakkale (Dardanelles) battle victory on April 24, which coincides with the centennial of the 1915 events.
Turkey, in order to counter the adverse effects of Armenian efforts for the centennial, sent letters to more than 100 leaders and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan was one of them. Needless to say, April 24 is a long-awaited date for the Armenians, who have been preparing for their own events to remember the mass killings a century ago; therefore it was not surprising to see the harsh reaction from the Armenian side over Turkey’s move.
Those who follow Turkish-Armenian relations these days witness a “war of letters” between the two countriesSinem Cengiz
Prior to the Turkish invitation, it was the Armenian side that invited Erdoğan to visit the capital Yerevan on April 24. “It’s not an Armenian custom to accept an invitation from someone who has not yet responded to an invitation from the intended guest,” said Sargsyan in his letter.
Turkey strongly reacted to the Armenian president’s words, saying that Turkey returns back the remarks of Sargsyan who acted against diplomatic practices.
The “battle of letters” waged between the Turkish and Armenian leaders with bitter words undermine the earlier normalization attempts and lead two sides to miss historic opportunities.
However, the last straw came when Sargsyan stated on Monday that he withdrew from Parliament the protocols signed with Turkey in 2009 to normalize relations and establish diplomatic relations between the two estranged neighbors.
The historic protocols, which were inked after a period of hostility between two countries, not only aimed to develop relations but also to reopen the Turkish-Armenian border, which has been closed since 1993. That significant reconciliation process, which was launched as part of Turkey’s policy of “zero problems with neighbors,” was not welcomed by some sides, such as Azerbaijan and both Turkish and Armenian nationalists. Therefore, since then, the ratification of the protocols in both the parliaments stalled.