Interview of Turan with the US analyst on Turkey issue Mark Meirowitz, a member of the Board of Directors of the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New York. PDF Print E-mail

    Question: Releasing a statement on April 24th --the date Armenians commemorated 1915 incidents - US President Barack Obama did not use the expression "genocide" for the incidents. Instead, he used Armenian expression "Meds Yeghern", meaning "great tragedy". How will it influence the negotiations over establishment Turkish-Armenian relations and Nagorno-Karabakh adjustment process? Also how do you believe all sides should behave after that?

    Answer: Thankfully, April 24th has passed. President Obama's statement on Armenian Remembrance Day, by using the term "Meds Yeghern", really pleased no one. However, the President satisfied Turkey's demand that the statement should not use the term "genocide". This will hopefully allow all parties to move forward. The overheated speculation about the President's statement (whether he would or would not use the term "genocide") is now over, and the focus needs to continue to be on the Turkey-Armenia protocols, which must be the first priority. While Armenia's announcement that it was suspending ratification of the protocols is surely a step backward in the complicated chess game that is the negotiation over the Turkey-Armenia protocols, most likely this was just a short-term maneuver. It is clearly in Armenia's national interest to proceed with the Protocols and the normalization process.
    Turkey has in the past sought to link the Turkey-Armenia protocols to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, while the United States has urged that these two issues not be linked. The logic of de-linkage is that without the Turkey-Armenia Protocols, the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is a virtual non-starter. The Azerbaijan leadership needs to be patient and allow the tortuous Turkey-Armenia political process to go forward. The main objective must be the normalization of relations and opening of borders between Turkey and Armenia.
    Question: While being a presidency candidate, Obama promised to recognize the events of 1915 as “genocide”. On the other hand, the US is trying to settle the rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia. Right now both Turks and Armenians are uncertified Obama’s policy. Do you believe US should stand aside from these process or try to rebuilt the trust in itself from the sides?
    Answer: The United States needs to be actively engaged in the Turkey-Armenia normalization process. The President's April 24th was not satisfactory to either party, but it did not cross the line enough to completely alienate Turkey or Armenia. To mollify Turkey, the President did not use the term "genocide". To satisfy the Armenians, the President used the term "Meds Yeghern" which apparently is understood by some Armenians to refer to the Armenian genocide, but can also mean great tragedy.
    Also, in his statement, the President indicated that his personal view on the Armenian issue was known, and this was a veiled reference to his previous statements on this issue, for example, during his presidential campaign and while he was a US Senator, when he did use the term "genocide" to refer to the Armenian events. Trying to please everyone often pleases no one, but at least April 24th is over without too much damage - the bridge has been crossed and not burned down. Rebuilding trust will be a daunting endeavor. Nevertheless, the urgency of the Turkey-Armenia normalization process and the opening of borders must be the main objective, notwithstanding that it will be very difficult to achieve. America will undoubtedly continue to be heavily involved in these issues. Question: Because of these processes Azerbaijan is also unsatisfied with the US, especially with the fact, that president Aliyev wasn’t invited to the dialog in DC. What should be US’s policy on Nagorno-Karabakh after that?
    Answer: This is a very thorny issue. The United States presumably did not invite President Aliyev to the recent Nuclear Summit because he wanted to allow the Turkish and Armenian leaders to meet with him, and to focus on diplomacy that would move the two parties forward on the normalization and the ratification of the Turkey-Armenia protocols.
    I believe that the US view was that having Azerbaijan at the summit would have been a distraction to the effort to reach rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia. In fact, no great breakthroughs occurred at the summit.
    As for US policy, US diplomats have said that the US is committed to solving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, but that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue should not be linked to the Turkey-Armenia Protocols. US policy has been that the parties should move forward on Nagorno-Karabakh and the Turkey-Armenia Protocols, but that the priority is nailing down the normalization between Turkey and Armenia, and the ratification of the Protocols. It remains to be seen if the US approach will prove to be the right one. -25B-

appeared in TURAN NEWS AGENCY, 28 APRIL 2010,