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199 Turkey and Armenia Opening Minds Opening Borders

199 Turkey and Armenia Opening Minds Opening Borders

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10/30/2011

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TURKEY AND ARMENIA: OPENING MINDS, OPENING BORDERS
Europe Report N°199 – 14 April 2009 
 
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS.................................................iI.
 
INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................................1
 
II.
 
THE STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS................................................................................4
 
A.
 
E
STABLISHING
D
IPLOMATIC
ELATIONS
......................................................................................4
 
B.
 
O
PENING THE
L
AND
B
ORDER 
.......................................................................................................5
 
C.
 
B
ILATERAL
C
OMMISSIONS AND
H
ISTORY
.....................................................................................5
 
D.
 
T
HE
 N
AGORNO
-K 
ARABAKH
L
INK 
................................................................................................6
 
III.
 
THE BURDENS OF CONFLICTING HISTORIES.....................................................8
 
A.
 
G
ENOCIDE OR 
G
REAT
C
ATASTROPHE
?.........................................................................................8
 
1.
 
Legal definitions..........................................................................................................................9
 
2.
 
The Armenian view of the 1915 events.....................................................................................10
 
3.
 
The Turkish view of the 1915 events.........................................................................................11
 
4.
 
Aftershocks and the ASALA murders.......................................................................................12
 
B.
 
T
ERRITORIAL
I
 NTEGRITY
,
 
ESTITUTION AND
EPARATIONS
......................................................13
 
C.
 
I
 NTERNATIONAL
G
ENOCIDE
ESOLUTIONS
................................................................................14
 
IV.
 
EXTERNAL INFLUENCES..........................................................................................16
 
A.
 
T
HE
C
RITICAL
U.S.
 
OLE
..........................................................................................................16
 
B.
 
C
ONVINCING
A
ZERBAIJAN
.........................................................................................................18
 
1.
 
Turkey shuffles priorities...........................................................................................................18
 
2.
 
Azerbaijani worries....................................................................................................................19
 
C.
 
T
HE
OLE OF
USSIA
.................................................................................................................21
 
V.
 
PUBLIC OPINION.........................................................................................................22
 
A.
 
T
URKISH
I
 NTELLECTUALS
A
POLOGISE
.......................................................................................23
 
B.
 
D
EBATES IN
A
RMENIA
...............................................................................................................25
 
C.
 
T
RENDS IN THE
D
IASPORA
.........................................................................................................26
 
VI.
 
THE WAY FORWARD..................................................................................................28
 
A.
 
T
HE
E
CONOMIC
D
IVIDEND
.........................................................................................................28
 
1.
 
A new impetus for landlocked Armenia....................................................................................28
 
2.
 
A boon for eastern Turkey.........................................................................................................29
 
B.
 
B
EYOND
O
PENING THE
B
ORDER 
................................................................................................29
 
C.
 
C
OMING TO
T
ERMS WITH
H
ISTORY
............................................................................................30
 
VII.
 
CONCLUSION..........................................................................................................33
 
APPENDICES
A.
 
M
AP OF
T
URKEY AND
A
RMENIA
......................................................................................................34
B.
 
C
HRONOLOGY OF
T
URKEY
-A
RMENIA
ELATIONS
............................................................................35
C.
 
A
BOUT THE
I
 NTERNATIONAL
C
RISIS
G
ROUP
....................................................................................36
D.
 
C
RISIS
G
ROUP
EPORTS AND
B
RIEFINGS ON
E
UROPE SINCE
2006....................................................37
E.
 
C
RISIS
G
ROUP
B
OARD OF
T
RUSTEES
................................................................................................38
 
 
Europe Report N°199 14 April 2009 
TURKEY AND ARMENIA: OPENING MINDS, OPENING BORDERSEXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS 
Turkey and Armenia are close to settling a dispute thathas long roiled Caucasus politics, isolated Armeniaand cast a shadow over Turkey’s European Union (EU)ambition. For a decade and a half, relations have been poisoned by disagreement about issues including howto address a common past and compensate for crimes,territorial disputes, distrust bred in Soviet times andArmenian occupation of Azerbaijani land. But recently, progressively intense official engagement, civil soci-ety interaction and public opinion change have trans-formed the relationship, bringing both sides to the brink of an historic agreement to open borders, establishdiplomatic ties and begin joint work on reconciliation.They should seize this opportunity to normalise. The politicised debate whether to recognise as genocide thedestruction of much of the Ottoman Armenian popu-lation and the stalemated Armenia-Azerbaijan conflictover Nagorno-Karabakh should not halt momentum.The U.S., EU, Russia and others should maintain sup- port for reconciliation and avoid harming it with state-ments about history at a critical and promising time.Turks’ and Armenians’ once uncompromising, bipolar views of history are significantly converging, showingthat the deep traumas can be healed. Most importantly,the advance in bilateral relations demonstrates that adesire for reconciliation can overcome old enmities andclosed borders. Given the heritage and culture shared by Armenians and Turks, there is every reason to hopethat normalisation of relations between the two coun-tries can be achieved and sustained.Internal divisions persist on both sides. Armenia doesnot make normalisation conditional on Turkey’s formalrecognition as genocide of the 1915 forced relocationand massacres of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire.But it must take into account the views of Armeniansscattered throughout the global diaspora, which is twiceas large as the population of Armenia itself and haslong had hardline representatives. New trends in thatdiaspora, however, have softened and to some degreeremoved demands that Turkey surrender territory inits north east, where Armenians were a substantialminority before 1915.Over the past decade, Turkey has moved far from itsformer blanket denial of any Ottoman wrongdoing.Important parts of the ruling AK Party, bureaucracy, business communities on the Armenian border andliberal elite in western cities support normalisation withArmenia and some expression of contritition. Tradi-tional hardliners, including Turkic nationalists and partof the security services, oppose compromise, especiallyas international genocide recognition continues and inthe absence of Armenian troop withdrawals from sub-stantial areas they occupy of Turkey’s ally, Azerbaijan.These divisions surfaced in events surrounding theassassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist HrantDink in January 2007. That the new tendencies aregaining ground, however, was shown by the extraor-dinary outpouring of solidarity with Armenians duringthe Dink funeral in Istanbul and a campaign by Turkishintellectuals to apologise to Armenians for the “GreatCatastrophe” of 1915.The unresolved Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over  Nagorno-Karabakh still risks undermining full adop-tion and implementation of the potential package deal between Turkey and Armenia on recognition, bordersand establishment of bilateral commissions to dealwith multiple issues, including the historical dimen-sion of their relations. Azerbaijan has strong links toTurkey based on energy cooperation and the Turkiccountries’ shared linguistic and cultural origins. EthnicArmenian forces’ rapid advance into Azerbaijan in1993 scuttled plans to open diplomatic ties and causedTurkey to close the railway line that was then the onlytransport link between the two countries. For years,Turkey conditioned any improvement in bilateral rela-tions on Armenian troop withdrawals. Baku threatensthat if this condition is lifted, it will restrict Turkey’s participation in the expansion of Azerbaijani energyexports. While Azerbaijani attitudes remain a con-straint, significant elements in Turkey agree it is timefor a new approach. Bilateral détente with Armeniaultimately could help Baku recover territory better thanthe current stalemate.

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