2009-10-05 – Scenesetter — Armenia And The October 10 Signing Of Protocols With Turkey

by on 2009/10/05  •  In Wikileaks

Viewing cable 09YEREVAN706, SCENESETTER — ARMENIA AND THE OCTOBER 10 SIGNING

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09YEREVAN706 2009-10-05 11:09 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Yerevan
INFO  LOG-00   AF-00    AID-00   CIAE-00  INL-00   DODE-00  PERC-00  
      DS-00    EAP-00   EUR-00   FBIE-00  VCI-00   H-00     TEDE-00  
      INR-00   IO-00    MFLO-00  MOFM-00  MOF-00   M-00     VCIE-00  
      NSAE-00  NIMA-00  MCC-00   PM-00    FMPC-00  SSO-00   PMB-00   
      DSCC-00  PRM-00   DRL-00   SCA-00   CARC-00  NFAT-00  SAS-00   
      FA-00    SWCI-00  PESU-00  SANA-00    /000W

O 051109Z OCT 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY YEREVAN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9568
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY BAKU PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY
S E C R E T YEREVAN 000706 

FOR THE SECRETARY FROM AMBASSADOR YOVANOVITCH 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/04/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV TU AM
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER -- ARMENIA AND THE OCTOBER 10 SIGNING 
OF PROTOCOLS WITH TURKEY 

REF: ANKARA 1432 

Classified By: Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch, reasons 1.5(b,d) 

------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 

1. (S) For Armenia, the October 10 signing of the 
normalization protocols with Turkey in Zurich represents the 
culmination of President Sargsian's boldest foreign 
initiative, and one that carries significant political risk. 
Sargsian is under heavy fire by nationalists and political 
opposition at home and from many in the Armenian diaspora for 
allegedly "selling out" Armenia's historical claims and 
undermining efforts to achieve international recognition of 
the Armenian "genocide."  Many have called for the 
resignation of FM Nalbandian, who will sign the agreements 
with his Turkish counterpart.  Your presence at the ceremony 
will have enormous significance for the Armenians, who view 
the United States as the "guarantor" of the normalization 
process and are counting on the U.S. to ensure that the 
protocols are implemented.  Armenian leaders remain skeptical 
of Turkish motives and worried that the Turkish parliament 
will not ratify the protocols in the face of pressure from 
Azerbaijan.  The President has told us that a delay in 
ratification on the Turkish side will weaken his position at 
home.  The signing ceremony affords the opportunity for you 
to reinforce U.S. support for Armenia's commitment to 
normalization, praise the political courage of President 
Sargsian and FM Nalbandian for staying the course in the face 
of virulent opposition, and encourage the GOAM to proceed 
with ratification as soon as possible.  Finally, you should 
reiterate to Nalbandian that while we view the NK process as 
separate from normalization, a constructive approach by 
Armenia in Minsk Group discussions would be positive for its 
own sake and make it easier for Turkey to ratify the 
protocols.  End Summary. 

-------------------------------- 
ARMENIA TAKES A RISK WITH TURKEY 
-------------------------------- 

2. (S) The prospect of normalization of relations with Turkey 
has captured the attention of the Armenian nation -- those in 
Armenia as well in the diaspora --  as no other issue since 
Armenia's independence.  The angry demonstrations against 
President Sargsian by diaspora groups in Paris, New York, and 
Los Angeles are the tip of a much larger iceberg.  Armenian 
blogs -- mostly in the diaspora -- are full of vitriol 
against the Government, branding the President and Foreign 
Minister as "traitors" prepared to "sell out" the interests 
of Armenians, particularly their historical claims against 
Turkey and the push for international recognition of the 
"genocide."  Although other diaspora organizations have 
spoken out in support of the protocols, a position we believe 
is shared by most Armenians in Armenia, the furor of the 
naysayers clearly has the President rattled. 

3. (S) Your presence in Zurich is critical as a visible 
demonstration of U.S. support for the normalization process 
and for the embattled Armenian leadership.  Your praise for 
Armenia's steadfastness in the face of risk and encouragement 
to stay the course will go a long way in shoring up the 
Government's determination to move forward.  Although the 
Swiss have mediated from the beginning, the Armenians have 
increasingly viewed the U.S. as the "guarantor" in the 
process and believe that only continued engagement by the 
U.S. with the GOT can ensure that the protocols are ratified 
and implemented in a reasonable timeframe.  Sargsian has told 
us that his "nightmare scenario" is a long delay between 
signing and Turkish ratification and implementation, because 
it will be hard to maintain support for normalization in the 
face of overwhelming Armenian skepticism. 

---------------------------- 
ARMENIA TO RATIFY, BUT WHEN? 
---------------------------- 

4. (S) There is little question that the Armenian National 
Assembly has the votes to ratify the protocols with Turkey. 
The President and his coalition partners have a commanding 
majority, and Armenian MPs rarely deviate from the 
President's script.  FM Nalbandian and others outside the 
Government, however, have told us that the GOAM may await 
action by the Turkish Parliament before moving forward.  From 
an Oriental point of view, they argue, a quick ratification 
by Armenia followed by a long delay on the Turkish side will 
be seen as a humiliation for the GOAM.  We have argued 
strongly that this would be a mistake -- early ratification 
by Armenia will ensure that, whatever the outcome in Turkey, 
everyone understands that the GOAM did all it could to 
achieve normalization.  A delay in parliamentary action by 
Yerevan will give the Turks a welcome justification to stall 
the process as well.  It would be useful for you to push FM 
Nalbandian for immediate submission and support of the 
protocols for ratification -- just as we are asking the Turks 
to do. 

----------------------------------- 
NK PROCESS: SEPARATE, BUT IMPORTANT 
----------------------------------- 

5. (S) The Armenians have been adamant from the start that 
the Turkey-Armenia process is entirely separate from efforts 
to find a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict, a 
position that you have supported publicly.  Statements by 
senior Turkish officials, especially PM Erdogan, that 
implementation of the protocols is contingent on an NK 
solution have infuriated the GOAM and reduced Sargsian's 
short-term room to maneuver in the Minsk Group talks.  As 
Embassy Ankara has reported, however, political reality in 
Turkey will require something that the GOT can point to as 
"progress" on NK if the protocols are to have any chance of 
being ratified by the Turkish side. 

6. (S) While repeating our view that the processes are 
separate, you should also make clear to Nalbandian that a 
constructive approach by Armenia in Minsk Group discussions 
will be beneficial for its own sake, and will increase the 
likelihood that the Turks can achieve ratification of the 
protocols.  We need to be clear, however, that "progress" is 
not the same as "unilateral concessions by Armenia," and 
recognize explicitly that we will also expect Aliyev to be 
constructive even though he may see it in Azerbaijan's 
short-term interest to obstruct in order to prevent 
Turkey-Armenia normalization.  As embassies Yerevan and Baku 
have reported, there is little ground on either side to 
expect a "breakthrough" on NK in the near term.  You should 
reassure Nalbandian that we will engage with the Turks and 
Azerbaijanis to ensure that NK "progress" is defined in a 
realistic way in the context of the ongoing Minsk Group 
discussions. 

YOVANOVITCH

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