If Obama on April 24, 2010, uses the term “Genocide”, this could shut down Turkey-US relations for an indefinite period PDF Print E-mail

Washington. Isabel Levine – APA. APA’s Washington correspondent’s interview with American analyst on the Turkey issues Mark Meirowitz, who holds a doctorate in Politics and teaches undergraduate courses in Politics, History and Law at various colleges in New York

- After Turkish Prime minister’s visit to the Washington DC, how do you think, can US President Obama recognize “Armenian genocide” thus spoiling strategic relations with Turkey?

- Being the astute politician that President Obama is (and based on the meetings at the recent Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., among Prime Minister Erdoğan, President Sargsyan and President Obama), it is fairly certain that President Obama will not use the term “Genocide” in his statement on April 24, 2010, on Armenian Remembrance Day, when referring the events in Armenia in 1915.
President Obama is fully aware of Turkey’s forceful pushback (including recalling Turkey’s ambassador to the US) after the unfortunate and misguided approval by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs of a non-binding resolution (H.R. 252) calling on the US President to characterize the events in Armenia in 1915 as “genocide” in his April 24th statement.
In 2009, on April 24th, Obama used an Armenian word "Meds Yeghern" to describe the 1915 events, a term which to Armenians means “genocide” but may also be interpreted to mean a great tragedy. This approach which attempted to please all sides actually didn’t please anyone, but at least the “genocide” term was not utilized.
This year, for the April 24, 2010 statement, the President needs to say very little, and certainly not use the term “genocide” or any term even remotely similar, or this will provoke a very negative reaction from Turkey.

- How will it influence the negotiations over Turkish-Armenian normalization?

- The April 24, 2010 statement will have little influence if the President avoids the issue, and does not use the term “Genocide” or any similar term.
If, however, the President, on April 24, 2010, uses the term “Genocide” to describe the events in 1915 in Armenia, this would have a disastrous effect on Turkish-US relations and could even shut down these relations for an indefinite period and lead to other serious and severe repercussions.

- Also how do you believe Azerbaijan should behave in such a situation?

- Azerbaijan is in a difficult position. Turkey has taken the position that the Turkey/Armenia Protocols should be linked to the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. However, the United States has made it clear that it advocates decoupling these issues, so the Protocols can proceed and the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue can proceed separately. The Protocols have been on shaky ground and have not yet been ratified by the Turkish or Armenian Parliaments.
It was also unfortunate that President Obama did not invite Azerbaijan to the Nuclear Summit in Washington (perhaps because the White House thought that the presence of Azerbaijan would detract from Obama’s focus on the Turkey/Armenia protocols).
Azerbaijan needs to work with its friends in Turkey, and with the United States, perhaps taking the approach of “trust but verify”, meaning to allow the Protocols to proceed separately, and resolving Nagorno-Karabakh separately.
Without the Protocols, the normalization process is a no-starter, and it is in the interests of Turkey and Azerbaijan to get the Turkey/Armenia normalization process going as soon as possible.
As normalization proceeds and becomes solidified, the Nagorno-Karabakh issue can be tackled. To link these issues at the outset, as the US has argued, makes getting this complicated process off the ground virtually impossible.

Originally appeared on Azeri Press Agency