'Turkish policy has been clear that there will not be open borders between Turkey and Armenia before the conflict is resolved.'
Vartan Oskanian, former Foreign Minister of Armenia (1998-2008), founder of the Civilitas Foundation and member of the Prosperous Armenia Party, has said that if the problem over the Nagorno-Karabakh could be solved by Armenia and Turkey, then Turkey could open its border with Armenia.
“The Armenian government wants to normalize ties with Turkey. The problem is how to do it. This whole protocol process made clear to everyone that there are obstacles in the way. The question is how both sides could overcome these obstacles. The major obstacle is the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As long as that issue is not being addressed or somehow resolved I really don’t see how we can move forward on Turkey-Armenia ties,” he said to a group of reporters on Monday from Turkey who came to Armenia with the sponsorship of the Hrant Dink Foundation and the Heinrich Böll Foundation.
Declaring the protocols “dead,” Oskanian said that the Turkish policy has been clear that there will not be open borders between Turkey and Armenia before the conflict is resolved.
“Overcoming that obstacle depends not only on Armenia but also on Azerbaijan. So, our bilateral ties are held hostage to Turkey’s relations with Azerbaijan,” he said. “For me it is very clear that the border will not be opened unless the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is resolved.”
Oskanian added that he was critical of the Armenian government’s position in signing the protocols with Turkey, explaining, “The current [Armenian] administration did not want to listen. They said no, there is a possibility that Turkey delinked our bilateral relations over the issue of Karabakh. But eventually they themselves became convinced eventually that is not the case.”
He added that the most Armenians understand that it is a priority for Turkey that Azerbaijani interests be addressed and met before Turkey opens its border with Armenia. Asked if there is hope for a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Oskanian said that it is difficult.
“I am not hopeless but it will not be easy. The Karabakh conflict has already lasted 20 years and it is not going to be resolved unless Turkey changes its position -- which I very much doubt will happen since they haven’t done it in 20 years,” he said.
“Negotiations are continuing but the process as far as I am concerned is in a deadlock. After these [Armenian] parliamentary elections, I don’t know if the process will be resuscitated.”
Asked by the Turkish reporters if Turkey’s proposal for the establishment of a historical commission to study the 1915 events was acceptable for the Armenians, Oskanian said:
“That would mean putting the whole genocide issue up for study again, something that has been done and conclusions have been reached by international scholars and by Armenians that the 1915 events are genocide. The Armenian side will never accept such a commission. So the demand that is put by Turkish Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is not realistic as far as the Armenian side is concerned. We would suggest that Turkey opens the border without conditions, we normalize our ties and then, at the governmental level, we can address the issues that are raised by one side or the other. But to create a specific commission for genocide will not be acceptable by the Armenian side, in my view, under any administration.”