ISTANBUL (RFE/RL) — The Turkish Foreign Ministry has rejected the formal ruling handed down on January 12 by the Armenian Constitutional Court approving the protocols signed by the two countries on establishing and developing formal diplomatic relations.
In a brief statement posted on January 18 on its website, the ministry states that the Armenian ruling “contains preconditions and restrictive provisions which impair the letter and spirit of the protocols. The said decision undermines the very reason for negotiating these protocols as well as their fundamental objective.” The Armenian Constitutional Court ruling found the two protocols, signed in Geneva on October 12 by the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers, to be “in conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia.” That statement was preceded by several pages of explanation, summarizing the text of the two protocols and their significance and implications in international law.
Two aspects of that argumentation may be unacceptable to Turkey.
First, paragraph 4 of the preceding argumentation concludes that the mutual obligations undertaken by the two countries “are, under the principles of international law, exclusively of a bilateral nature, and cannot concern, or by various references be attributed to, any third party or the relations with such third party of the signatories of the protocols.”
That formulation has been construed in Yerevan as a rejection of the argument, repeatedly adduced in recent months by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that ratification of the protocols by the Turkish parliament must be contingent on concessions by Armenia in the Karabagh peace process, specifically, the withdrawal of Armenian forces from seven districts of Azerbaijan they currently control.
Second, as veteran commentator David Petrosian pointed out on January 18, paragraph 5 of the Armenian Constitutional Court argumentation affirms that the protocols “cannot be interpreted…in a way that would contradict the provisions of the preamble to the Republic of Armenian constitution and the requirements of Paragraph 11 of the  Declaration of Independence of Armenia.” That paragraph reads: “The Republic of Armenia is for the international recognition of the Armenian genocide of 1915 committed in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.”
The second of the two protocols signed in Geneva stipulates that the two sides agree to “implement a dialogue on the historical dimension with the aim to restore mutual confidence between the two nations, including an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archives to define existing problems and formulate recommendations.” It does not specifically mention the massacres of 1915.