Clinton, Sargisian Discuss Turkey-Armenia Ties

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MUNICH, Germany (RFE/RL) — The United States would like to help Armenia and Turkey kick-start their stalled normalization process, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly told President Serge Sargisian last weekend.

The two met on the sidelines of a security conference attended by government leaders from around the world. According to Sargisian’s press office, they discussed USArmenian ties, the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict and Armenia’s strained relationship with Turkey.

In a statement, the office said, “Turning to Armenia-Turkey relations, the secretary of state emphasized the determination of the United States to assist in continuing the process of establishing normal relations between the two countries.” It did not elaborate.

The US was actively involved in Turkish- Armenian fence-mending negotiations that led to the signing in October 2009 of two protocols envisaging the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations and the opening of their border. Turkey made clear afterwards that its parliament will not ratify the deal without a breakthrough in the Nagorno-Karabagh peace process.

Citing the Turkish precondition, Sargisian last month accused Ankara of “destroying” the US-backed normalization process. He also threatened to formally annul the protocols “if things continue like this.”

Clinton is likely to have discussed that threat with Sargisian. With the State Departments and US diplomats making no statements on the Munich meeting, it is not known what her reaction was, though.

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Clinton earlier praised the Armenian leader for not scrapping the protocols altogether. She also said the onus is on the Turkish government to revive the Turkish- Armenian rapprochement with “the steps that it promised to take.”

According to Sargisian’s office, the Armenian president stressed the importance of Washington’s “active role” in regional stability and international efforts to resolve the Karabagh conflict. He also thanked Clinton for her “clear and balanced position” on the issue that was voiced at the Organization for Security and Cooperation’s (OSCE) December summit in Astana.

Contrary to some hopes, the summit did not yield any Armenian-Azerbaijani agreements. Sargisian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev only promised “more decisive efforts” at Karabagh peace in a joint statement that was also signed by Clinton, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

The internal political situation in Armenia was apparently also on the agenda of Sargisian’s talks with Clinton. Sargisian’s office said they discussed “the course of reforms implemented in Armenia” but gave no details.